You are here
Reading, writing are really about freedom
We speak about the importance of reading and writing, but I wonder sometimes if anyone really stops to think about what these skills really mean for our lives. Reading and writing are about far more than being able to decipher or form letters, make words, create or process sentences or pass exams.
Reading is about far more than being able to comprehend Harry Potter or Twilight, Jane Eyre or The Dragon Can’t Dance. Being able to read and write means the ability to perceive a whole new world that can be envisioned through the power of thought. I love the visual world of movies, TV and the Internet, but I recognise that reading and writing provides a layer of existence—indeed a realm of existence—that is vitally important to self-expression. And therein lies the power of words.
When we watch a movie, we see someone else’s vision of the world. We become robots, happy robots, programmed to see and feel and experience what the creator intends us to experience. Watching a movie or a TV show is a passive way of gathering information.
When we read, images and thoughts form in our own minds. We have to process thoughts and feelings. We are responsible for making sense of what we read. We make realisations inside of ourselves as opposed to the images that are processed outside of ourselves. When we write, we learn to put letters and words and thoughts together. I am not quite sure how or why it happens, but words on a piece of paper take on a life of their own.
Visual images—like a car chase in a movie—can bombard us in rapid succession so that we don’t have time to think about what we’re seeing. There’s the adrenalin of the chase, but no time to run the gamut of emotions that we should go through: excitement, fear, anger, disdain…There’s no time to process how dumb that action is; how it endangers innocent people and enables adrenalin junkies.
Reading and writing allows us to slow down and think our way through an issue. Reading a good book and savouring the language allows us to understand the structure and beauty of language even if we don’t always realise we are engaging in some form of analysis.
Writing a letter—a real letter—not the e-mail version that allows quick spurts of thoughts to transmit at lightning speed—or writing an academic essay, translates into thinking about a structure: a beginning, middle and end. An argumentative essay means examining an issue, organising a position, creating support for that issue and pulling everything together into a conclusion.
Writing allows thoughts and feelings and emotions to pour out in some semblance of organisation that we are responsible for ,as opposed to some outside force. If anyone doubts what I’m saying, I suggest keeping a diary. What pours onto those pages will be an amazing journey of self-discovery. Although thoughts might be random, some semblance of organisation takes place in our mind as we face and process feelings.
Those who do not read or take the time to write cheat themselves out of invaluable opportunities to learn about people and the world around them. They miss the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the issues that surround us.
Reading and writing are really about freedom: the freedom to express ourselves; the freedom to find ourselves. It is no coincidence that people who read generally get into less trouble. This is because readers learn to master the process of thinking.
This is not to say that movies, the Internet and TV are bad, but there needs to be a balance in life, and you only get that balance in this visual world we live in if you read. As the new school year begins, it is my deepest hope and biggest wish that students will begin to take reading and writing more seriously. I wish that teachers would realise that the handful of books students are tested on for CXC English Literature is not enough to develop the life skills that students need.
I wish that parents would realise the importance of reading to children and think about investing money in books and a personal library in their children’s bedrooms. I hope that parents will realise that money spent on books is never wasted money. It’s an investment in their children’s future. I hope that students will realise that they deserve to express themselves at a higher level. I wish students would realise that success in life at every level—personally and academically—begins with reading.
I can only hope that businesses will realise that they should invest in developing a reading nation by pumping money into school and community-based reading programmes. I wish that businesses would discover the value of supporting students and schools with incentives to read so that we could have a healthier, happier nation. Businesses should realise that an investment in reading could go a long way to solving our crime problems. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a nation to develop a reader.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.