“Unfortunately, the system of reading we inherited from the ancient scribes — the method of reading you are most likely using right now — has been fundamentally shaped by engineering constraints that were relevant in centuries past, but no longer appropriate in our information age.”
Matthew Schneps, MIT
Our education system today is measuring our students not by how well they gain knowledge and are able to express the knowledge they have gained, but by how well they read and write. Our current education model is not inclusive. Buckminster Fuller states, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Our education model is obsolete, and at what cost?
▪ 44 million adults are unable to read a simple story to their children.
▪ 50 percent of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth-grade level.
▪ School dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.
Technology has put us at a crossroads where technology has created a pathway, not yet used, to a new digital foundation in education where every word sits on top of the internet of things (IoT). With this new pathway, emergence starts to shed light and darkness on our future and our past.
“The human brain did not evolve to read — literacy has been commonplace only in the last two centuries — so the brain must repurpose regions that evolved for very different ends. And the evolutionary newness of reading may leave the brain without a backup plan. Reading is so demanding that there’s not a successful alternative pathway that works as well,” says John Gabrieli, MIT neuroscientist.
There is a backup plan through technology to a new digital foundation in education. Technology has allowed us to return to processing the printed word in our first language. Our first language is listening and speaking, while writing is our second language and reading is our third language; to read something, somebody must write.
“While the visual pathways are being strained to capacity by reading, the auditory network for language remains relatively under-utilized,” says Schneps.
Almost all individuals can participate in education through technology by returning to our first language, which is the ability to gain our knowledge through our auditory network and to express our knowledge through our ability to speak.
Most use speech to text when texting, which empowers them to be creative by using words they know but don’t know how to spell. Smartphone and like devices allow them to speak it and it is spelled correctly. But the reading acceleration program (RAP) uses our auditory network, which is currently underutilized.
One device has led this digital revolution to the trailhead for the pathway to the new digital foundation. Currently, the only device I know which has the innate ability to speak information in our first language, listening and speaking, is Apple’s iPad/ iPod/ iPhone with its embedded RAP and speech to text.
By allowing the use of RAP, also known as text-to-speech, the hurdles which the printed word has created for so many have now been leveled. Let us as a society, as a state, as a county embrace this technology and empower us to succeed not by how well individuals read and write, but by our ability to retain and express knowledge!
Recently graduating from Brandeis University with honors, my diagnosis is “When Davis is required to read in a normal fashion and comprehend information, his score plummets from 98% comprehension ‘450 words per minute’ (using Bookshare and ‘TTS’ software) to at or above the first percentile, ‘69 words per minute’.”