Jennifer Sieben

3/13/11

The Dangers of Literacy

Teaching a child to read is often thought of as the most important step in development. Through literacy, children can learn about the world around them, develop their imagination, and increase their curiosity to learn more. A parent could not be prouder when their child reads their first book aloud, all by themselves.

New studies have found this to be false. It appears that reading may damage a child in irreversible ways. It destroys their common sense and renders them useless in a situation without written instructions.

One test placed two groups of five students into an empty room. There was nothing in the room, except for a push-to-open door with no handle. The children were brought in blindfolded and were told to lower the blindfold only after the researchers had left the room.

The first group of students were not readers; they proudly declared that they had not laid hands on a book since first grade. Working together, these students quickly figured out which wall contained the door and, by being pushed into it during an argument, one student opened the door for the rest of them.

The second group of students were avid readers. The researchers attempted to separate them from their books, but once inside the room they each pulled out a backup book from their pocket. After finishing their book and each of the others, they finally set to escaping. Finding no exit signs they looked around confused. One student pulled a stick out of his back pocket and yelled 'Alohamora!' with no success. Another student proposed that they smoke a cigar and see which way the smoke drifted; none of them had a cigar to smoke though. Another student attempted to karate kick the walls down. The others joined in, kicking the walls, until one student finally kicked the door open.

The researchers found this all quite hilarious. Dr. Richard Stone, head of the research team at Brickenshire University, stated "it was utterly hilarious! We had hidden cameras in the room so that we could monitor the students. While group two was reading we were laughing at group one fighting each other and took bets on who would bleed first. Then when subject seven in the other group tried to cast a spell with that stick," he paused to laugh again. "We had all fallen out of our chairs laughing so hard. I was crying!"

Similar to subject seven, many avid readers have displayed troubling signs of mental instability. Many worried parents have said that their children seem to live in another world, always making bizarre statements and laughing at simple statements no one else finds humorous. Some have taken it so far as to run off with old men with long white beards; in books they are normally a good wizard who can guide you to greatness.

Some, like Mr. Roth, have found it very unnerving. "I was the father who encouraged his children to read. Now these young 'uns are following me like I am some sort of hero who can fix all of their problems. They won't leave me alone!" He throws his hands un in exasperation. "And all of this from reading."

Some teachers are also worried. "My students keep ditching class to 'solve a mystery' or 'save the world'," Ms. Cara Burton of Avon High informs us. "I tell them schooling is very important to their future but they insist that if they do not do their duty, there will be no future. While I could almost admire their selflessness, it is based on unstable assumptions. It is very disheartening for an English teacher."

Parents of students are also worried about their communication skills. Mrs. Amnell frets that "my son speaks with such big words, no one can understand him. I am never sure if he is trying to ask for help or cast some hex on me." She adds, "I know the teenage years are always trying on a parent-child relationship, but I can't help but think that this is a little much."

Mr. Amnell is worried too, but for a different reason. "I am a practical businessman and the most important thing in the business world is communication, getting your ideas across. If my son cannot learn how to communicate from an early age, he will get nowhere in this harsh world. He will end up living on the streets, begging for his daily bread in front of a book store."

When we asked their son, Chase, if he thought communication was important we got this reply: "To be sure, conversing is imperative, safe with the wrong individual. Aforementioned individual must be able to comprehend me, I shall not diminish myself to their standing. My adytum is only open to those with the key. To do otherwise would be to deny myself. We can only be who we are, no more, no less. I am a bibliophage." It was all mumbo jumbo to us.

Aside from the worrying mental stability of these children, physical harm can come of their habit too. Many children cannot bear to be separated from a book for any amount of time. This leads to students trying to read while they blindly navigate the crowded hallways of their schools. School nurses have reported that the most calls are from children reading and then walking into walls, posts, you name it.

Police have also been called when concerned drivers stop traffic for children who have not noticed that they are reading and walking in the middle of the street. Despite the honking, the readers do not notice and proceed in their blind walk to their demise. More than once, drivers have not been able to slow down fast enough as a child walked into the street holding a book.

Reading has rendered our kids incapable of doing anything without written instructions, has put them in harm's way, and has seemingly locked them into fantastical worlds. Reading kills. So what are you doing? Put this down and stop the youth of this world ... before it's too late.