Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
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Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
An Educator's Reading List of Contemporary Literature, Literacy, and Reading Issues. Visit us at
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Is “Screen Time” Dangerous for Children?

Is “Screen Time” Dangerous for Children? | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
A child psychologist—and grandmother—says such fears are overblown.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:
25 November 2016

Am I the only Literary Reading educator who has become a cheerleader for the importance of Informational Reading? Of course not. For this reason I found this article fascinating on multiple fronts. 

I remember one of the best lessons I learned about effective interviewing questions while teaching journalism.. "Avoid phrasing questions that can be answers "Yes" or "No." Instead, attempt to phrase questions that require an informed explanation. The same general rule also applies to the kinds of questions we ask when attempting to stimulate a contemplative, higher level class discussion. 

The phrasing of the headline for this article, which by the way, may not have been written by the article's author, runs the danger of reducing contemplation to a simplistic "either / or" in spite of the quite apparent complexity of the issue in question. "Yes" or "No" is a conclusion to be drawn ONLY after "Pros" or "Cons" have been considered. 

Okay. I know. There are forms of debate that begin with a statement to which debating teams take either an affirmative or or negative position and then argue their respective points of view. This is not unlike the Thesis Statement first then defense via Topic Sentences supported by evidence structure commonly taught in high school. It works when actual consideration of the pros and cons have been given due diligence. But, we all know the extent to which existing personal opinion can, and often does, short-circuit the due diligence ending up with attempts that choose a thesis prior to the due diligence and then defending the thesis via cherry picking supporting evidence and avoiding opposing evidence more than building an informed thesis after completing a balanced consideration.

The headline aside, this article nailed some of the best arguments to consider rather than merely turning up the volume on existing inadequately considered canned cherry picking and avoidance of sufficient depth of consideration of all the evidence.

Just a few of my favorite lines...

"My own childhood was dominated by a powerful device that used an optical interface to transport the user to an alternate reality. I spent most of my waking hours in its grip, oblivious of the world around me. The device was, of course, the book."

I love the intentional misdirection. From the beginning of the quote until the kicker last sentence, I was thinking TV.  I smiled at having been caught off guard. Happy to see the article turning in favor of books over screens. This is true even though personally, I lean toward book text viewed on a screen for the most part. 

Yeah accurate representations of books in any delivery system are fine with me. And, I believe literary books are a direct route to the wisdom of the ages that seem to get short-circuited in the simplistic tug-of-war between Literary Reading and Informational Reading.

And then the author threw me another curve ball, speaking the author's affection for books...

"As far as I can tell, this early immersion didn’t hamper my development, but it did leave me with some illusions—my idea of romantic love surely came from novels."

Ooh. ouch! 

So, where's she going with this? Is she really trashing books so that she can declare screen time the victor? 

Consider this quote from the article...

"The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend strict restrictions on screen exposure. Last year, the organization examined the relevant science more thoroughly, and, as a result, changed its recommendations."

Actually a quite clever set for killing the question favor of real question...

"The new guidelines emphasize that what matters is content and context, what children watch and with whom. Each child, after all, will have some hundred thousand hours of conscious experience before turning sixteen. Those hours can be like the marvellous ones that Augie and I spent together bee-watching [videos], or they can be violent or mindless—and that’s true whether those hours are occupied by apps or TV or books or just by talk."

Hoping to tease readers into reading the actual article, I'm choosing to purposely not address the author's last two paragraphs. I'll just say that the conclusion tosses the simplistic "Yes" or "No" in favor of the much more important consideration of "premature speculation."

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A Field Guide To Identifying A White Nationalist

A Field Guide To Identifying A White Nationalist | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
“It becomes one of those ‘if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck’ kind of things."
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:
18 November 2016

A bit concerned about posting this article as I do not want to be mistaken as promoting any political view; not only because I do not believe that it would be appropriate, but also because this is considered definitely inappropriate for nonprofits.

Rather, I've decided that it might be an article of interest to those tasked with teaching informational reading skills. The article focuses upon what might be compared to "rebranding" efforts made to counter negative impressions triggered by previous branding practices. For example, today's extremists are more likely to present themselves as "normies." wearing suits than wearing sheets, or obvious tattoos that carry negative reactions. 

There is a recognition that reducing or pre-empting  the instant negative reactions and repackaging themselves as appearing more towards the look of the mainstream is more effective than the previous branding that hoped to be effective via fear and intimidation.

It is my hope that many charged with raising awareness while reading for information include the term "cherry picking" as an important and intentional side-stepping tactic used to mislead.

Another distinction that I hope is made in every informational reading curriculum is the difference between being  "well-informed" and being "ill-informed,"  "misinformed," or "disinformed."

The article uses the term "obfuscate" which ought to be part of every thinking person's critical thinking detection skill set.

The article suggests that the intentional rebranding of what are considered radical and negative ideologies "...becomes one of those 'if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck' kind of things.'" 

I might begin a lesson on this intentional misdirection common in public discourse, commercial promotion, and much social interaction with the reading of Aesop's "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing." 

The wolves learned early on that  hunting sheep while looking like wolves was less effective than pretending to look like sheep..

(A shout out to the truth to be found in LITERARY READING!)

I might end the lesson by having students search for the pattern in their email spam folders.

One of my favorite sayings is, "Don't believe everything you think."

brought to you by GLT Global ED | Google Lit Trips an educational nonprofit
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