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17 May 2014 @ 06:21 pm
"research" and the "news"  
I am using air quotes above because it seems to me of late that there are many "news" articles and posts asserting they are based on "research." The problem is that we cannot see the research. The latest example comes from Common Sense Media. I am NO fan of this site which reviews books and movies ostensibly to help guide (clueless) parents. Check out the web site: https://www.commonsensemedia.org. It seems innocuous. Looks are deceiving. Take a peek at the entry for TWO BOYS KISSING: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/two-boys-kissing. The book is deemed acceptable for 12 year olds and up but there is caution about language and about anti-gay language (which is sort of out of context). But that is not my quarrel with Common Sense Media.

I am concerned about the play they are getting for some "research" they have compiled about teens and their assertion that teens are not reading like they used to. Sigh. This story has run on NPR, in Time, and in many newspapers. Here is the hand-wringing quote that appears in all the various reports: "But a roundup of studies, put together by the nonprofit Common Sense Media, shows a clear decline over time. Nearly half of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one or two times a year — if that." The spokesperson for CSM suggests this has to do with kids being more online. What I love is that he says there is nothing in the research to support this "fact" he has shared with various news outlets.

This version of the CSM report adds in data from Renaissance Learning to draw conclusions: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2014/05/13/kids-dont-read-books-because-parents-dont-read-books/?ss=forbeswoman&utm_campaign=fwtwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social. Conclusions? Kids are not reading classics because they are reading Twilight and The Hunger Games. Middle school kids read the most words per grade levels. "Gendered" reading starts early. Sigh.

Here is the NYT take in an op-ed piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/13/opinion/bruni-read-kids-read.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1. Here is the piece I howled at: " I arranged a conference call with David Levithan and Amanda Maciel. Both have written fiction in the young adult genre, whose current robustness is cause to rejoice, and they rightly noted that the intensity of the connection that a person feels to a favorite novel, with which he or she spends eight or 10 or 20 hours, is unlike any response to a movie." All other references were to those outside of education and the classroom.

What has been ignored has been some of the online discussion among teachers and librarians who assert that kids ARE reading. But their reading is not always valued. Do they read tweets, posts, online documents, etc? They are READING. But it is tough to measure some of this because even kids do not always think this counts as reading.

The bottom line is that we cannot let the "news" report "research" without calling BS when we see it. I call BS. I bet some of my teacher and librarian friends can also call BS. Right, Donalyn, Paul, Katherine, John, Travis, Colby, Chris?
 
 
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