Information overload – get a Google reader!

I’m constantly amazed by the changes I have seen in myself over the last two and a bit years. They’re not physical (not to say that I’ve been unaffected by the ravages of time!), but more attitudinal. As I’ve become more familiar with technology, I’ve noticed a shift in my reading habits. I’m a Teacher- Librarian and English teacher, and have a deep love of the written word. I love eloquent, simple language that can evoke feeling and move me in some way. I love being so completely immersed in a novel that it transcends all else and I can do nothing but turn the pages. I love sharing the reading experience with my students. But I’ve noticed a change in my reading habits.

As I’ve developed my interest in what is possible with the Web, my love affair with the novel has waned. Maybe it’s just that I’m reading the wrong books, but I’m finding it more difficult to become engaged and commit the time needed to complete a novel. Two years ago I felt overwhelmed by the wealth of information flooding from the Web; today, not so much. I think this is because the type of reading I am doing has changed.  An essential part of my reading today is via my Google Reader. Here I access the latest feeds from people who write blogs that are of interest to me. Most of these are people involved in education from various corners of the world. These people are filtering the information overload that is the Web for me,  and I, in turn, am doing my bit by writing this blog and adding to the filtering process. By being part of this community I am helping to manage my own professional development and hopefully am assisting other people with theirs.  

What’s led me to this moment of introspection is a post from Will Richardson. He refers to an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Thomas Washington, a School Librarian. He discusses student reading habits and the perception that students dislike reading and have an aversion to it. He speculates that it is not an aversion, but rather a reaction to the information overload that is our modern world. He says, “For them, and now maybe for me, moving on to something else is an adaptive tactic for negotiating the jungle that is our information-besotted culture of verbiage.”

As much as I recognise a shift in my reading habits, I hope that I never tire of the pleasure that comes from total immersion in a story that moves me in some way. A large part of my job is to encourage students to read for their own enjoyment. I’m pleased to say that at my school there is a strong reading culture and we have many readers accessing our fiction collection, along with our biography/autobiographies and high interest non-fiction. One book of late that has had that special immersion factor is Meg Rosoff’s ‘What I Was’. I can’t tell you what it is about – it’s one of those novels that you spoil if you reveal too much. Meg’s novels are always interesting with unexpected plot twists and turns. Give it a go.   

2 Replies to “Information overload – get a Google reader!”

  1. If students have an aversion to reading, I wonder how many books their PARENTS have in the house or if mom and pop would be caught dead with a novel in their hands. Our kids always saw my wife and I devouring a book and caught on to the wonder and love of reading at an early age. Do people who aren’t raised readers develop a love of books at any point in their lives or are they lost forever? This author would like to know…

  2. I don’t know the answer to this Cliff. I suspect there is no right formula to create a reader. I have been an avid reader all my life and have a swathe of books with me all the time, but it certainly hasn’t turned my children into readers. Neither of them choose to read – they will choose a visual medium every time. I’ve spoken to many students who tell me they only really discovered the joy of reading when they were older – Year 9 and up. Let’s hope that kids do develop reading habits sometime – it would be great in their early years but I’ll be happy if it kicks in with my kids as they get older!

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