As concerns grow that the Internet is making us intellectually shallow, some educators are rallying behind the slow-reading movement.
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Is the Internet making us intellectually shallow? Yes, says journalist Nicholas Carr, among others. In his new book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Carr concludes that the Internet is changing not only what we think about (gossip, up-to-the-minute news) but how we think. “Media ... supply the stuff of thought,” he writes, and “also shape the process of thought.”
For many of today's readers – young ones in particular – reading has come to mean a rapid skim across a sea of websites, text messages, and e-mails.
Thomas Newkirk, a professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, is one of a growing number of educators concerned that – in the rush to race through more material – something essential is being lost. "You see schools where reading is turned into a race, you see kids on the stopwatch to see how many words they can read in a minute," he told the Associated Press. "That tells students a story about what reading is. It tells students to be fast is to be good."
Like the slow-eating movement, the slow-reading movement is focused on enhancing the elements of pleasure and discovery. Among other techniques, Newkirk favors a return to practices like reading aloud and memorization to help students "taste" – rather than fly by – the words that they read.