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Being literate ≠ being a reader

1 min

School teaches kids how to become literate. It does not teach them how to become readers. In reality, school traumatizes readers.

In school, students get assigned books. They are forced to comply. Not interested in Shakespearian book of sonnets like Midsummer’s Night Dream? Too bad, school says read it anyways.

Students are forced to read books that they don’t like. The alternative options are:

(1) To not read and lookup Cliffnotes summaries

(2) To not read and risk failing the class

This is a terrible experience. It’s like a vegetarian being ready to eat and being given a plate of ribeye steak. It’s not surprising to see why many kids don’t like reading.

And after graduating from school, kids don’t know what to read because everything was assigned to them. They aren’t shown the path of how to uncover their own curiosity. If they start a book that ends up being boring, they’ll quit reading altogether rather than quitting that book. Students have been conditioned to finish every book they read.

Ironically, the same institution that is supposed to inspire kids to become curious about education creates the opposite effect.

As Gustave Flaubert shared in 1867, “Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” There is so much that the gift of literacy can offer to students of life, yet dread gets drilled into them instead.

Naval Ravikant’s practical theory for reading is to see how many ideas he can understand and use. It is better to reread the best 100 books and know those ideas really well than read all the books. Rather than stretch for the number of books completed, seek for understanding of the best ideas while reading.

Spark the fire for your love of reading even if school took that away. Afterall, reading is the closest humanity has to time-travel.


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