by Grace aka costofcollege
Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn’t make it through a book anymore….
Slow readers list numerous benefits to a regular reading habit, saying it improves their ability to concentrate, reduces stress levels and deepens their ability to think, listen and empathize. The movement echoes a resurgence in other old-fashioned, time-consuming pursuits that offset the ever-faster pace of life, such as cooking the “slow-food” way or knitting by hand.
Clicking on links may actually lead to lower comprehension.
Screens have changed our reading patterns from the linear, left-to-right sequence of years past to a wild skimming and skipping pattern as we hunt for important words and information.
More academics and writers are advocating a return to absorbing, uninterrupted reading—slow reading, as they call it. One 2006 study of the eye movements of 232 people looking at Web pages found they read in an “F” pattern, scanning all the way across the top line of text but only halfway across the next few lines, eventually sliding their eyes down the left side of the page in a vertical movement toward the bottom.
None of this is good for our ability to comprehend deeply, scientists say. Reading text punctuated with links leads to weaker comprehension than reading plain text, several studies have shown. A 2007 study involving 100 people found that a multimedia presentation mixing words, sounds and moving pictures resulted in lower comprehension than reading plain text did.
Skimming news articles online is different than reading a book or other longer pieces that require closer concentration, and I can see how too much Twitter and Tumblr could create habits that impair reading comprehension skills needed in other areas. Here’s an antidote:
At Least 30 Minutes of Uninterrupted Reading With a Book or E-Book Helps
What’s your take? How important are “slow reading” skills, or does a future filled mainly with videos and Tweets make them unnecessary? Should schools change their instruction in any way?
Test your reading speed by clicking this link: How Fast Do You Read? I’m betting most Totebaggers are fast readers.
QUESTION FOR EVERYONE: ARE YOU INTERESTED IN A TOTEBAG BOOK CLUB? If so, would you like to suggest a book? The idea of a book club has come up before, but I don’t remember if anyone expressed a willingness to organize and lead it. If you are interested in taking on that role, please let me know.