Notice how much time they spend reading a book…
An interesting piece in the February 29th Wall Street Journal examines the differences between the US educational system and that of Finland, which consistently places far above the USA on an international academic test (The Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA.) Finnish students earned some of the top scores by 15 year-old students who were tested in 57 countries, while American students finished among the world’s C students. In this test, the average score was 500 out of a possible 1000 points. Finland’s scores were Science, 563, Math 548, and Reading 547. Canada’s scores were 534, 527, and 527, and the USA’s were 489, 474, and 495, respectively. When officials from the US Dept. of Education visited Finland to see what they could learn about their educational system, they discovered that Finnish teachers’ salaries are comparable to those of American teachers, but they have considerably more freedom and discretion in choosing books and customizing lessons for their students than their American counterparts. Apparently in Finland, there is little standardized testing, no gifted classes, and kids don’t even start school til the age of seven. Oh, and college tuition is zero.
The article goes on to say:
“One explanation for the Finns’ success is their love of reading. Parents of newborns receive a government-paid gift pack that includes a picture book. Some libraries are attached to shopping malls, and a book bus travels to more remote neighborhoods like a Good Humor truck.”
So, if we want a nation of readers, it appears that all that we need to do is test the kids less and let them read more. Comments?
By now most people who follow technology have heard about Steve Jobs famous dismissal of the Kindle, quoted below:
Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
Full article here:
But, he doesn’t seem to be aware of the other 60%, who apparently do read:
But here’s one very important statistic: According to Nielsen, books remain the number one selling item on the Internet. 875 million consumers have shopped online; 41% of them have bought books. While online hasn’t been as kind to magazines, the boon to book sales can be summed up in one word: Amazon (AMZN). Meanwhile, company executives continue to insist that supplies of Kindle — the iPod of books — are far outpacing demand. Sure, no one’s actually seen one of these high-tech devices in real life, but numbers don’t lie.
The above passage is excerpted from an article appearing on the site Minyanville, “A Creative Education and Entertainment Community”. You can find the complete article here:
The piece concludes with a somewhat ominous comparison:
Are we ready to give up the great tangible quality of our books? What’s that you say? CD? Never heard of it.
Click below to link to a post about another e-book reader that has just been announced. With a touch screen and the ability to turn pages by sliding your fingers across the screen it certainly trumps the Kindle in design elegance. But lacking the wireless connectivity and vast online bookstore that the Kindle comes with, it’s not likely to detract from Amazon’s sales. It could however provide some inspiration for Kindle 2.0’s feature set…
Are you interested in getting Kindles for your Kids?
We are currently accepting applications from organizations and schools that work with at-risk and low income youths, in grade levels 6 to 12. Some obvious ones jump quickly to mind: Inner city school districts with a high percentage of Title I students, organizations that target at-risk and underserved populations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, KIPP Academy, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, to name just a few. Organizations such as these have the infrastructure and programs in place that would be needed to administer the distribution and monitoring of the Kindle units. Suggestions for willing and committed organizations are welcome.