"Students finish university without ever reading an entire book" complains Orlando Figes

Historians in the News
tags: education, history crisis



Students are graduating from university without ever reading a book from cover to cover, a London professor warned.

Instead of reading whole books, undergraduates are using the index to find relevant points, reading articles and looking information up on Wikipedia, according to Orlando Figes, professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London.

He warned that children are encouraged to read this way at school to pass exams, and carry on doing it as they get older.

He said: “At university, too, they are trained in the academic discipline of “using” books (riffling through the index, reading introductions and conclusions, skim reading, or approaching them via book reviews) to construct an argument or engage with a scholarly controversy.”

But he said students who do not read whole books miss out on true understanding and knowledge. Writing in the Times Educational Supplement he said: “Good books swallowed whole transform our lives. We lose ourselves in them, emerging from  them changed, richer intellectually, with new questions and ideas about the world. To read such a book in its entirety is to comprehend how its argument is constructed, to appreciate it as a work of literature and to be immersed in reading. This must surely help students to lengthen their attention span, deal with texts that are difficult and assimilate knowledge.”




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