Read­ing is more than leisure

The Niagara Falls Review - - Arts & Life - LAURA TRABUCCO Laura Trabucco is the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment li­brar­ian at Fort Erie Pub­lic Li­brary.

STEM — which stands for sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, and math­e­mat­ics — sub­jects are of­ten touted as the most im­por­tant as­pects of ed­u­ca­tion. And so, it was sur­pris­ing when Dex Tor­ricke-Bar­ton, a me­dia con­sul­tant and for­mer speech­writer for the CEOs of Face­book and Google, re­cently shared a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive:

“Stop telling kids to learn to code. AI will take the cod­ing jobs faster than you can think. Teach kids to think, to cre­ate, to use tech well, to think crit­i­cally about ethics, val­ues and in­sti­tu­tions. They’ll be amaz­ing en­gi­neers or what­ever else they want to be.”

While ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence might take many, many years to be able to code — per­haps even gen­er­a­tions — Tor­rick­eBar­ton makes an ex­cel­lent point. While STEM ed­u­ca­tion is un­de­ni­ably im­por­tant, it’s still cru­cial to pro­vide a well-rounded, bal­anced ed­u­ca­tion, and to re­mem­ber that read­ing is far more than a leisure ac­tiv­ity. Re­search has shown that read­ing sets the stage for em­pa­thy, cre­ativ­ity and crit­i­cal think­ing.

Read to your kids — let them love sto­ries and read­ing. Teach them to learn in­de­pen­dently, to think crit­i­cally about the world, to learn and ex­plore. These skills, though they may be harder to quan­tify than some­thing like math, re­main im­por­tant even as tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to de­velop and change the world we live in.

The li­brary is a place where any­one can learn and ex­plore. Un­like a class­room, there’s no set read­ing list, no as­sign­ments and no fi­nal ex­ams. There is open ended learn­ing, and you can ap­proach that learn­ing any way you want: read a book, use our on­line data­bases or at­tend a pro­gram.

Li­brary pro­grams, such as story time, Tween Club and Stuffie Sleep­over, stim­u­late chil­dren’s imag­i­na­tions. They en­cour­age crit­i­cal think­ing, cre­ativ­ity, and help kids de­velop new so­cial skills. They ex­pose chil­dren to sto­ries, and pro­vide an un­struc­tured way to learn that is wholly dif­fer­ent than the way many chil­dren are ex­pected to learn at school.

And age is no rea­son to stop learn­ing — we have lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties for adults to try new things, learn a new skill or leave their com­fort zone. We have classes that teach how to use com­put­ers, crafts for adults, ed­u­ca­tional talks and more com­ing all the time.

Tech­nol­ogy is im­por­tant, but so is read­ing. Keep read­ing, and keep learn­ing.

The li­brary is here to help — for book rec­om­men­da­tions, dig­i­tal re­sources and ex­cit­ing pro­grams. Visit our web­site, www.fepl.ca, or stop in to pick up a news­let­ter to see all the ways the li­brary can help you learn.

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