If ever you’ve educated the young and have tried to impart the joyous importance of reading you know that while even Sisyphus might empathize with you, he does not envy you.
Why Reading Matters, a documentary by science writer Rita Carter, explores the effects of reading on the evolved brain and if multimedia, specifically video games,threatens those evolutionary gains thus far. Despite not being programmed to read, she explains, when we do, it exercises and strengthens our ability to empathize with the characters of a novel and learn from their past mistakes in order to apply those lessons to real life. Some scientists argue that video games, in particular, do not exercise the brain enough in that way due to their lack of content. Though the evidence is inconclusive, I agree; while video games exercise other brain functions like eye hand coordination they do not exercise empathy enough. Even the collaborative qualities of mission-based, multi-player videos games do not develop the narrative and character enough to give us the empathy the real world is so desperate for us to learn. What do you think? Does digital media threaten the evolutionary benefits of reading?
For English Language Learners, their educators, and parents this documentary explains why for them practicing reading is even more crucial to academic development. In part 2 of 6, minute 5, Professor of Education Usha Goswami at Cambridge University validates what most of us who learn English as a Second Language have known all along: English is much harder to learn than any other language! She asserts that English is so hard that our brains must develop a whole different system to support this function than when we learn any other language. For educators this is huge, science validates the frustrations of our students trying to learn content and English at the same time. It is huge for them to know that there is nothing wrong with them nor with us trying to lead them down this rabbit whole.