They don’t even read the instructions…
In a recent article in the American Chronicle, Dave Gibson shares his disappointment in the modern trend of “video games” in the public library. His comments are firmly on the opposition of such activities in the library and his arguments rely on the failing literacy rates and basic knowledge drought in America.
I find his tenous connection of video gaming and movies in public libraries as a major contributor to our sliding educational values, to be illogical and ill-informed. To me this is like someone blaming the grocer for not selling the products on the shelves that they really enjoy and complaining that his advertisements for other products are obscene.
Frankly, the only part of his article that truly addressed the real issue here is when he reflects on his past experiences with libraries. To quote Mr. Gibson:
When I was a kid, libraries were places of literate study and my parents took me there every Saturday. I read all of my books throughout the week so that I could check out more the following Saturday. It was something in which the whole family participated and something to which we all looked forward.
In this statement, the real source of his love of not only reading but self-education, was instilled by his supportive family. It is unfortunate that many children don’t have this level of suppot and are never exposed to the “classics” he mentions. Additionally those children tend to view education as more chore than delight and cave in to peer pressure when they reveal their curiosity for knowledge.
I personally take offense to blatant attacks on video games for being “low brow” or “low class” forms of entertainment. True they are quite different from classical Greek poetry, but many of our classics today were less than acclaimed when they were released. Many well produced video games are often more complex, thought provoking, and engaging than their film or literary equivalents. There are countless movements to reinvigorate our younger generation’s love of reading and knowledge, but at the same time all too many antecedents draw their attention away from such pursuits.
Back to the point, our literacy rates are falling for many reasons, but I would wager libraries introducing new outreach programs using video games is less than the prime concern. Parents have less time for their own reading excursions, which then leads to less influence on their children’s reading habits. The school systems continue to wage battles on funding, curriculum, and standardized exams, that seem to be truly “leaving the children behind.” I have yet to meet a librarian who doesn’t enjoy reading and who doesn’t attempt to inspire informational curiosity at any given moment.
Librarians can’t be designated the sole supervisor for children learning to read or be responsible for their cultural education. We are an additional support structure for these developments and can add a dizzying array of unforeseen avenues to any informational pursuit. But if the malady of our nation becoming “unintelligent” is not fully healed by our application of Harry Potter bandages, why aren’t those pouring salt in the wounds being held to the same inquiry.
As a side I find the name dropping technique when posing an argument to be rather crude and nearly an elitist tactic to show your own pseudo-superiority. Especially when your argument states a concern about only the wealthy obtaining an education. It’s like that line from Dickens…. wait you almost got me there.