"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Your Mind on Reading

Socrates feared that reading would undermine interactive dialogue. ... reading is different from talking.

Reading changed the nature of education completely, from the Socratic method of face-to-face dialogues to lectures supplemented with large amounts of reading. I think most of us feel that reading characterizes education now even more than classroom experience, at least after the early elementary grades. It's funny that Socrates feared that reading would ruin things. Nowadays, we're afraid that people will stop reading. I wonder what the next educational paradigm will be? And how we will work it into education, alongside lectures and assigned reading.

When a monkey sees a T shape in the world, it is very likely to indicate the edge of an object — something the monkey can grab and maybe even eat. A particular area of its brain pays special attention to those significant shapes. Human brains use the same area to process letters. Dehaene makes a compelling case that these brain areas have been “recycled” for reading. “We did not invent most of our letter shapes,” he writes. “They lay dormant in our brains for millions of years, and were merely rediscovered when our species invented writing and the alphabet.”

An alphabet in the shape of trees, fruits, etc., and people who read instead of swinging in trees and foraging for food. We read for excitement. We read recipes. As children, we draw triangular A- or M-shaped mountains and round O-suns shining on T- or Y-shaped trees. It's intriguing.

Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention
by Stanislas Dehaene, reviewed at the NY Times.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Is there anymore information you can give on this subject. It answers a lot of my questions but there is still more info I need. I will drop you an email if I can find it. Never mind I will just use the contact form. Hopefully you can help me further.

- Robson

Zen of Writing said...

Not any more than I'd find by a google search, sorry. Thanks for stopping by.