The average seven-year-old is a computer whiz. Parents are astounded at the ease with which he uses gadgets. But is he a fluent reader? Not always.
Parents may ignore this. After all, he’s so smart with the computer. But they often do not realise that computers are designed to be mastered by anyone. With their natural intuition, every kid would figure out how to operate them. This should not be viewed as an extraordinary ability.
Through the 1900s, the USA was one of the most creative and productive societies. In the 21st century, however, that has changed. America has begun to realise that their young population entering the workforce is ill-prepared to continue this rich legacy. A generation that grew up on a diet of excessive television, computers and video games and too little time reading is now facing extraordinary limitations.
In a passionate address talking about the reemphasis on reading in the education policy Barack Obama recently said:
‘These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent -- for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home.’
India is today where the USA was 20 years ago. With the proliferation of cable television, computers and video games in Indian society over the last few years, our children are now achieving reading proficiency almost 2 years later than the previous generation did and reading much less. This will result in children who grow up to function intellectually and emotionally well below their potential.
So the next time anybody says that reading may not be that important in the computer age, think again. Help your child become an early and enthusiastic reader and you have empowered your child more than you can imagine.
- Written by C. P. Viswanath, Director, Karadi Tales