May 15, 2009

Hanging Out in 1984, Bored Stiff

For the final in English 101, I included a portion of an article printed in the New York Times contrasting reading in a book and reading on the web. The article didn't discuss blogs, but instead the distractions posed by web reading, and the non-linear way it pulls a reader through material. Since I'm a teacher, I ended where it champions book reading.

The students had to first annotate the excerpt for the argument, then in a written answer discuss the argument and support.

The answers were all over the map, as about half of them couldn't discern the argument in this short (1 page) piece. {Note to self: lead with annotation in the next term, and with a discussion of argument.}

I was intrigued with one young man's rationale for why his age group (discussed in the article) doesn't read, as opposed to the older, wrinkled, and nearly dead folks who do (that would be people like me, you see):
"In this article they state that a fifth of 17-year-olds said they read for fun and in 1984 more 17-year-olds read for fun. Most people in 1984 really didn't have much to do back then, so of course more people are going to read for fun. Now that we have better technology people read on-line. Time has changed and more and more people rely on technology more then books. Although books could help on certain subjects."
There you have it, misspellings, errors and all. Take it from the authority: if you were hanging around in 1984, you weren't having much fun.


  1. I had a lot of fun in '84 and read a lot! As educators we've got our jobs cut out for us.

  2. Not only do English teachers have our work cut out for them, but apparently History teachers do, too!

    I get the feeling this student thinks that 1984 was more like 1884 as in: Most people in 1984 really didn't have that much to do back then...except for milk cows, tend the fields, and make their own soap.

    Part of me shakes my head, but another (big) part of me smiles at what all our students have yet to learn. And we get to be the ones to share that with them!

  3. I had a lot of fun in 1984! And I read books too. I even read "1984"! :) I just can't imagine not reading for fun. Too bad for him.

  4. this is too funny but not too surprising when you think of the changes that have happened since 1984 - young people must think it was like the dark ages - as to having fun - I certainly had a lot of fun in 1984 too