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2000 Robyn Boswell: Future Problem Solving - NZ kids foot it

2000 Alan Cooper: Thinking to learn

2000 Gwen Gawith: Information literacy in action at SCONZ

2000 Gwen Gawith: Blooming questions

1999 Art Costa: An interview with Art Costa

1999 Robyn Boswell: International Future Problem Solving success

1999 Gwen Gawith: The survival of the book: Co-existing with Gog and Magog

1999 Gwen Gawith: Lost the plot: Reading for what?

1999 Gwen Gawith: Rushkoff and visual literacy

1999 Gwen Gawith: KFL: Knowledge Free learning?

1998 Gwen Gawith: Ban projects: Teach information literacy

1998 Gwen Gawith: The cry for deep learning…

1998 Gwen Gawith: The Mercury model of information literacy

1998 David Hyerle: Thinking literacy in an age of ICT

1998 Pauline Donaldson: A virtual classroom with 3500 students

1997 Jeff Bruce and Gwen Gawith: information literacy and Infolink

1997 Gwen Gawith: How to ? or not to?: That is the ?

1997 Gwen Gawith: Unlocking learning: Key words

1996 Gwen Gawith: Epistemic fluency or the cognitive trots!

1995 Gwen Gawith: A serious look at self-efficacy: waking beeping Slooty!

1993 Gwen Gawith: The National Curriculum and the information process

information literacy:
learning & thinking

The survival of the book: Coexisting with Gog and Magog

This article was published in Good Teacher, Term 1 1999

Gwen Gawith

Predicting the future is a mug's game... this mug looked upon the horizon and saw the gathering forces of film, television, Nintendo 64, CD-ROM interactive, the Net - all the unholy forces of Gog and Magog... But Luddite ranting is useless, And I suspect, unwarranted. I do notfeel that the computer will ever replace the book... My contention is that what we do in books - what we do best - is simply not being done anywhere else. The electronic world is endlessly diverting but that's the problem - it is endless, which is its greatest draw and finally its greatest drawback (Tim Wynne-Jones, 1997).

Katherine Paterson, the author of the unforgettable The great Gilly Hopkins, The bridge to Terabithia and Jacob have I loved, says, "I take great hope in the resurgence of storytelling in our country. There is obviously a hunger today among people, young and old, to listen to the well-told tale."

There would be few New Zealand teachers who would deny the value of reading aloud to children, instilling a love of literature. Most recognise that a love of reading and a love of learning go hand in hand, and that we have the most wonderful storytellers, authors and books - and opportunities to experience living story'.

Katherine Paterson (1998) points out that:

...by the early 19th century those people who could read were, by and large, reading extensively. In addition to books, all kinds of journals and newspapers were available, so the reader read a page or an item only once, racing to get to the next bit of reading material. In our day, adults who read generally read this way, although today's pace in relation to the pace of the past century is like that of a fast-forwarded cartoon to a painting on the wall of a cave. There is so much more paper coming into our houses and places of business these days that to glimpse a page of print is to read.

She goes on to say, "We who write for children still have the advantage," because children are still willing to take the time to read slowly and deeply.

This is a key point. Kids who happily surf the net and surf the channels will dig deep into a book story if it yields the narrative satisfactions they seek.

Screen story provides its own satisfactions; video watching co-exists happily with TV watching and with the resurgence in cinema going. In the same way book story co-exists happily with screen story. Through CDs and interactive narrative-based games boundaries have blurred.

The negative side is that, for children who grow up only with screen story, reading books is like learning a second language.

It isn't just a horses-for-courses alternative. If they haven't grown up being read to and read with, reading is a a poor substitute for the instant satisfactions of screen story, and what's the point? Telling these kids that 'reading is FUN' is simply silly. For them it isn't, and will never be until they experience books, realising that words aren't linear - they are symbols that trigger wonderful feelings, wonderful pictures in the mind, and feed a hunger for deeply experienced knowledge that is far harder to achieve with fast-paced screen media.

New Zealand's children's literature champions, including Tessa Duder, Mollie Furnell and John McKenzie, have pointed out that good children's literature is international. The emotions and satisfactions underpinning the best stories of past and present - Katherine Paterson's, for example - are international.

We, as teachers, must model the kind of reading which will allow children to experience these stories deeply. Even students who can't read themselves will listen and respond if teachers themselves are passionate about the books, and read aloud to share their enthusiasm. Of course this is true; good literature is international and we need to cast our net wide. But starting at home is a good place, if what is published is good enough. Where can you find out what is good enough?

Buying books just because they are shortlisted for an award is not necessarily a reliable method of selection. Nor is buying books from a catalogue or book rep's boxes. Every school should subscribe to the Australian Journal Magpies which has good reviews of New Zealand material by New Zealand reviewers. And every school should subscribe to Talespinners which is produced by John McKenzie and Doreen Darnell at Christchurch College of Education.

Why not start the year with a reading binge, with students learning to experience book story more deeply than they ever need to experience screen story? Katerine Paterson says, "But we who care about children and ultimately about wisdom must share, with whose who do not know, the riches and depth of human experience, with the hope that they may become wise leaders for the confused masses milling at the crossroads."

References

Paterson, Katherine (1998). Confusion at the crossroads. School Library Journal, May 1998

Wynne-Jones, Tim (1997). 'The suwival of the book. Signal.