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article imageEducation by sheer trickery

By Paul Wallis     Aug 23, 2007 in World
From the unsuspected depths of Minnesota comes a tale of intrigue, guile and chicanery. Yep, they’re trying to teach teenagers to read books. This ancient hobby was once popular among humans. Even politicians could read, once.
The current crop of teenagers could not possibly be accused of being over-exposed to literature. Nor for that matter are they too heavily exposed to anything much resembling the use of any actual language. So a local library in Minnesota has come up with a devious plan to at least put teens and books in the same building a bit more regularly.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul has found a conspiracy. Librarians might have a reputation for being relatively innocuous, compared to say, chainsaw-wielding mass murderers, but this is downright sneaky:
1. Set up video games and stuff for after school. Turn the library into a hang.
2. Show the kids some technology, things like how to use a digital video camera, the sort of materials they don’t have at home. This is a low income zone, without most of the paraphernalia of civilized life. (Talking about uncivilized, even parents are allowed to come to the library with their kids, which is a terrifying look at another world, all of itself.)
3. The library also provides Internet access, which puts these kids well behind the human race, if they can't get it elsewhere. (In America, there’s somewhere they can’t get the net? What are you guys doing over there?)
4. Kids notice there are also books. Innocently, they pick up the books, and they’re beginning to become unintentionally literate. At another school kids would take breaks from the video games, and were actually looking at the library books, voluntarily, without use of firearms or other traditional means to encourage them.
The terrible thunder clouds of teenage literacy are now gathering over Minnesota. Who knows what horrors await? Could this hideous plague spread across the country? Is it possible that in some distant future even major media might be affected, and descend from its present euphoric state into mere turgid relevance? What will become of our noble society, if a generation of kids becomes able to read?
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