Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Read this (or not)

Posted on | November 19, 2007 | 4 Comments

The news in the communications just keeps getting worse. But this dispatch from the Associated Press tolls a mournful bell for our society as a whole: an increasing number of adult Americans don’t read a single book in a given year. One one in three of those with bachelor’s degrees are considered proficient readers of prose.
The good news for those of us in the communications business? No one can write! Employers deem three-quarters of high-school-graduate workers deficient in writing. And it’s almost a direct correlation to the lack of writing. We’ll be employed forever! Or at least until people stop reading entirely.
But the really chilling trend is that there’s clearly a divide between readers and non-readers. Readers are more engaged with their communities, its politics and economics and social fabric. Non-readers aren’t. In many cases, readers are three to four times as likely to go to concerts, museums, exercise, and create things than non-readers. Readers get good jobs, good promotions and raises.
The report, brought to my attention by avid reader Christian Fahlen, can be read, yes read, in its entirety right here.
Reading and writing skills have been eroding for a long time. In fact one could argue that they began eroding not long after public education brought skyrocketing literacy rates to this country. Still, in an era of information overload, of complex topics oversimplified and advertising infiltrating every moment of our media experiences, this trend hits a tipping point soon, if it hasn’t already.
Society doesn’t function at its best when only a small percentage of its citizens are carrying the water for everyone else.
What’s the answer?
As always, Kill Your TV.

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4 Responses to “Read this (or not)”

  1. Kerri
    November 20th, 2007 @ 7:51 am

    Hey, is that report available as a podcast?

  2. Lou
    November 20th, 2007 @ 10:08 am

    rkavcskwI know this will really piss off a lot of people in the science and engineering side, but a lot of the problem has to be the emphasis on those two areas in our high schools.

    I’ve seen the pressure put on hundreds of high schoolers in the mid Peninsula to strive for high grades in math and science with almost no emphasis on basic reading skills. And this includes my own children–one and actor and the other a musician. The curriculum is focused primarily on making the kids qualified to get into UC Berkeley to be an engineering student.
    When my daughter told her counselor in her sophomore year what calas she wanted to take (Drama, AP English and Dance) to prepare her to go to study in the UK, he told her “that course load will never get you into Berkeley.” She replied, “I don’t want to go to Berkeley.” He responded, “Of course you do.”
    I’m serious.
    My daughter reads five books at a time, she’s an excellent writer and just finished her first gig as a director for a small community theater (a paying gig at that). But she got very little encouragement to foilow that path in high school.
    After learning our lesson with her, we home schooled our son, who turned out to be severely dyslexic. He is now getting his GED and excelling in both math and science scores, but plans to make his living as a music technician. He would never have figured that out in high school.
    We’ve been living in terror or the Asian braniac invasion for years now and have geared our educational system to compete with it, and in the process destroyed the critical thinking skills that comes from a well-read populace.
    There once was a time that when you wanted to become a lawyer, you didn’t go to law school. You apprenticed yourself to a lawyer and spent your time reading the law. Might be time for a return to that scheme for many professions.

  3. Paul Miller
    November 20th, 2007 @ 4:34 pm

    hey brian…do you still have my Gallipoli book 🙂

    Here’s my top 20 books read this year…

    be kind

  4. Anonymous
    July 31st, 2008 @ 12:26 am

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