The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

The power of the written word, or…

Whenever I see old photos like this I try and imagine being there in the room, able to look around at parts of the scene that aren’t in the picture. At first this photo appealed to me because it shows the power of literacy, the kids appear quite engrossed with the story, or at least most of them do. But then I started walking around the room and realized that right beside the kids is a photographer with a very large camera (this is ca. 1910), some of the kids are looking at the camera but most of them aren’t, so then I have to wonder is the photo a ‘set-up’ taken to demonstrate the power of stories and to promote the library? If you aren’t a cynic like me who looks for set ups and fakery then it works, it does promote literacy and in turn the library, the kids look engrossed, and anything that promotes opening a book is o.k. by me.

A bit about me.

I’m a technology education teacher in Victoria. For a number of years now I’ve been dealing with everyone immediately assuming that I teach something to do with computers. Actually Technology Education is what you would call (correctly) ‘shop class’. My interest in this class comes from a few directions, at one time I was an English major and I’ve always been interested in books and reading, note I said ‘books’, I’m a book person and at this point I’m holding on tight to the idea of being able to hold a book and have it physically in my hand. I can’t see me ever enjoying holding on to a little computer to read a piece of fiction, but I think it’s coming. So I guess this class is to help me with the shock of the new. The other reason I’m interested in the class is because in my field I deal primarily in the verbal rather than the written, so I’m interested in how communication changes and varies from verbal to written or vice versa.

Jim McDonald


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