How Might A Read/write Preference Impact Online Learning

Psychology Today, “Read” vs. “Write” Preference Impacts Online Learning—and What it Says About Learning Preferences.

When, at the age of 15, Tom Lowell did not complete a term paper on the subject of biology, he sent his coach a letter with an assessment that “I’ve always struggled with my draft writing and I’d like you to pick out some statements of fact for me to address in the paper.” His coach was so impressed by this young boy’s talent for storytelling that the coach urged Lowell to write letters to Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver, comedian Wanda Sykes, and author Nicholas Sparks. He was simply an all-American kid who wanted to be successful; this kid knew what he wanted, and wanted it in the right way.

But before you jump into writing your best letters to famous people with, “Dear Madame Winfrey, I think I’m ready to write,” take a moment to think about how a willingness to read and write are not necessarily related. Nobody tells us that we are supposed to be proud of our spelling and grammar. The Internet seemed invented by inventors. And, except for traditional newspaper or weekly magazines, writing is no longer viewed as something that becomes a skill that is taught and studied. Writers of books and song lyrics are taking far less time to craft their best work than is required to achieve artistic greatness and in some cases mediocrity.

I used to have writer’s block, and I told everyone what I had to do to solve it. I would put an article of literature in the kitchen sink with these clear instructions: I will read it daily for the next six months, and if it helps me forget all about my personal life, then I will copy it. Now, I’m trying to think of something totally different and turn a negative experience into a source of empowerment. I’ve had moments when I thought I could write all day, but this has only worked during semesters with work ahead of me. I am just grateful that I’m able to have time to think, if only I can get my mind straight.

Let’s say for a moment that you can’t focus on writing all day; rather, you want to get a text in the afternoon that you can peruse and reflect on before bed. You don’t realize you’ve been following a “me-first” or ADD style, when what you really wanted was to write. Research suggests that “screen addicts” use the screen because they are trying to let go of their thoughts. “Screen addicts” suffer from a right brain deficit and cannot “unlearn habits and patterns” created on social media. A recent U.K. study estimates that 11 percent of children use social media between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Moreover, 11 percent of adults suffer from neglectful parent-child relationships because they were too busy on the screen. (Author, Sophia Nelson, is currently working on a book called Life in the Fast Lane, which explores how parents’ neglectful relationship with their children, about whether they spend enough time with their children, affects their own health.)

Consistency is a quality that seems to be lacking in our daily lives. We only see people who are consistent to a certain degree. For example, people who are constantly doing the same thing — in my case, writing a daily column — appear to do it well. They clearly know how to do it and how to get more from it. New Yorkers love how Alex Kuczynski is able to handle big disasters. Her New York Times columnist column, The Bitchbook, is published from the perspective of a single mom who’s understanding of why people succeed in the harsh world of New York City.

Just saying we need to learn to be a better writer isn’t going to do us any good. I don’t know anybody who has never wondered how they could have been an Einstein. Couldn’t have taken a chemistry class and turned into Einstein? I’m not against taking writing lessons and learning to improve on aspects of our writing style, but I’m also not against spending time reading and talking about issues that matter to us.

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