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Misleading Reading

if:book has a great critique of brilliant critique of the NEA Reading report
The NEA’s misreading of reading:
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum writes an elegant and concise critique of the National Endowment for the Arts’ ominously titled new study of American reading trends, “To Read or Not to Read”, which is a sequel to their 2004 opus “Reading at Risk.” The basic argument is that reading, or what they rather awkwardly refer to as “voluntary reading” (that is, reading done purely for pleasure or self-improvement) is in a precipitious state of decline, especially among the young — a situation which poses a grave threat to our culture, democracy and civic fabric.
Though clearly offered with the best of intentions, the report demonstrates an astonishingly simplistic view of what reading is and where it is and isn’t occurring. Overflowing with bar graphs and and charts measuring hours and minutes spent reading within various age brackets, the study tries to let statistics do the persuading, but fails at almost every turn to put these numbers in their proper social or historical context, or to measure them adequately against other widespread forms of reading taking place on computers and the net.
The NEA report is here. And Kirschenbaum’s analysis is here.

Posted on: November 30, 2007, 7:49 pm Category: Uncategorized

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