From here to illiteracy: ‘X’ marks our sad spot
Updated: June 9, 2012 9:22AM
The second you suggest there’s a negative side effect from technology, three-dozen berserk tech addicts will converge upon you and beat you senseless with their smartphones.
Still, I have this hideous feeling that our heavy reliance on technology is making us illiterate. Of the three old-fashioned R’s — reading, writing and ’rithmetic, we’re losing the first two.
Bear with me as I explain.
Remember the Depression-era days when the poor and illiterate signed a contract with an “X”? They couldn’t write their names; they couldn’t spell; they couldn’t read.
The push toward higher education helped tackle illiteracy. We began reading Shakespeare, National Geographic magazines. Life and Look flourished.
Now we read value-meal menus and an Us Weekly magazine teeming with actress photos and captions like, “Who Wore the Sweat Pants Best?”. Book, magazine and newspaper sales are down. Oh, stop threatening me with your eReaders and iPads.
I know you’re subscribed online.
If technology has advanced us in every way, how can we explain the 10-point drop in SAT literacy scores at high schools in the past 20 years? How can bringing computers into classrooms help students focus and concentrate when a website is all about jumping around and clicking?
Kids can no longer write legibly and cursive writing is becoming obsolete. People crow that it’s keyboard progress. We don’t need to write.
Wait a sec, though. Isn’t handwriting part of literacy?
Many kids can’t spell, punctuate or have a grasp of grammar. Isn’t that a part of literacy?
A 2008 study on fluid intelligence suggested we stimulate our brains best by doing it the hard way.
That means putting away the calculators, the GPS devices, the spell-checkers.
Do long-division on paper. Use a map. And refer to a dictionary.
Yes, we’ll all be miserable.
Think about it, though. The brain’s like a muscle. If we don’t use our muscle, it turns to mush.
If we rely on technology to do everything for us, won’t our brains become lazy and expect to be entertained, rather than worked?
So, going back to that Depression era “X” instead of the signature.
How far is “X” from “LOL”?