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Books are still the real source of knowledge?   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2019-4-14 20:47:22 |Display all floors

With an increasing number of Chinese people, especially youngsters, getting addicted to watching short video clips on their smartphones, reading seems to have become a dying hobby. Books are not only the most powerful source of knowledge, they also open people's minds to new, innovative ideas and give flight to their imagination. How can more people be encouraged to read books?Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily. Excerpts follow:

Create atmosphere to promote reading

In a broader sense, newspapers, magazines, even online articles offer reading materials. But more strictly speaking, reading means reading books. And since reading books seems to be going out of fashion, it has raised people's concerns.

The annual national reading survey shows people's reading habits have barely changed over the past several years. The survey says about 59 percent of the adults in China read books, with one adult, on average, reading 4-5 books a year. This means a large number of people don't read, and those who do so read only a few books a year.

An equally worrying fact is that even students, teenagers in particular, seem to be avoiding books as they spend more time and energy swiping through videos.

There are many reasons why fewer people today read books. To begin with, given the fast-changing social atmosphere, many people today tend to spend time on hobbies other than reading. In addition, many senior family members have become indifferent to reading, thereby failing to inculcate the love for books among their children and grandchildren. So senior family members, parents in particular, should create an atmosphere that would prompt their children to read books.

The lack of public libraries, too, might be responsible for the falling number of readers. For example, China has less than 3,300 public libraries, compared with more than 160,000 in the United States. And unlike countries such as the US and Britain which promote reading among communities, China lacks a well-established public service system to provide books for readers.

There is an inherent link between reading books and national development. The more the people read, the better they can propel China's reform and development.

Individual reading, even if scattered, can help strengthen Chinese values and culture. Therefore, to encourage more people to read books, newspapers and magazines, governments at all levels should improve the existing public libraries, especially in rural areas, and set up community bookstores.

The governments should also create diversified digital and public welfare platforms for readers and hold promotional activities, especially in the western region, to popularize reading.

And publishing houses should focus on printing books that are good both in content and production value to attract more people to books.

Wei Yushan, director of Chinese Academy of Press and Publication

Fragmented knowledge prevents development

That reading habits have changed can be gauged from the amount of time young people spend swiping through short videos on their smartphones. Perhaps they do so because they are accustomed to the habit since childhood.

Some people claim the short videos contain a lot of information, and are easier to browse through. But, compared with books, the short videos have fragmented and incoherent contents, which could affect people's understanding of a subject. At best, they can be called "fast-food reading".

There is a need, therefore, to find novel, attractive ways to guide the younger generation toward books, so they can discover the charm of reading.

Reading articles and short posts on smartphone screens could mean that people today are exposed to more reading materials than before. But since the contents are fragmented and inconsistent, such people may not be able to gather adequate knowledge on any one subject.

Reading plays an important role in integrating knowledge and achievement, and influences social development. But fragmented knowledge could prevent us from thinking logically or acting in a pragmatic manner.

A country's true development is measured in terms of its philosophical, scientific and technological development. Cultural development, too, plays a role in a country's overall development. But without the help of books, people cannot take these developments forward.

In order to encourage people to read more books, the government should take measures to educate the public about the advantages of serious reading, and Chinese publishers should learn from the experiences of their foreign counterparts to publish books that not only have rich contents but also can attract more readers. Publishers should also set up foundations that can recommend valuable books, especially for students.

Moreover, government departments could set some special days for theme-based reading in order to encourage more people to read books.

Li Yan, deputy general manager of China Publishing and Media Holdings Co Ltd

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Post time 2019-4-14 21:58:44 |Display all floors
I think it is most important  to make clear at first why people need to read.

If the reason is to get information, then it is fine to read with other means than a paper book.

If the reason is to show others the reading as it used to look like, then we should get computers and cell phones destroyed completely and without delay.

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Post time 2019-4-14 22:56:19 |Display all floors
All that is said in the opening post here is true. The situation is particularly sad for China as one of the first civilizations of the written script.

And if you ask me to describe an example of a literate society with an appreciation for learning, i would recall the vision of the old couple sitting together on the bench on the first floor of a Beijing bookshop, engrossed in their books.

One problem these days is short attention spans. Because of too many and ever-changing sensory distractions. Moreover, excused by wanting to take short-cuts thinking it's practical to do so when the process of thinking through what is read is the real objective of reading, not the amount of time needed to get the last page of the back cover.

So what can one do when faced with the lack of motivation to read paper books? Enthuse more to read e-books using their tablets. If they don't have the patience - and that is understandable because most books are padded with unnecessary waffling anyway for commercial reasons - then entice them to read e-summaries of books. These would be condensations of contents of entire books, spelled out in say 20 pages.

Now reading e-summaries itself can also be a chore because they are fact-packed and condensed and you can't read them like a novel. So what to do? Get the author of the original book to present on tv or in streaming video his own ideas chapter by chapter. Then get the viewers at the end of his presentation to read the e-summary of the book, now animated by their recall of the presentation.  It may be more circuitous than getting everyone to pick up the book and read it cover to cover. But it's a start to stop the slide with view to later generate more interest to read paper books.

Take books in the english language. If you look at their numbers twenty years to-date, about two million serious titles. Say eighty percent of each title can be distilled into twenty dense pages of content. And a few hundred thousand more titles are textbook stuff packed with diagrams, equations, graphs, charts, data, photos and manuals instructions which are hard to be summarized. Yet these collections are what form the kernel of knowledge, thoughts, ideas and narrated experience.  Even the most prolific technocrat would have had to read and apply some of them in his own field from years of intense study, examination and review.

If China wants to propel herself as mother of a learned and literate society, reading books, e-books, and their summaries, must be returned full force if only because each set of real national developments will depend on innovation and innovation will depend on successive - and increasing - waves of applied knowledge.  Knowledge accumulated from one group, and generation, to the next.  Moreover, one must share thoughts with others so that common interests groups can interact to generate more ideas.

China has been sharing a lot of her own discoveries. The other day, a group of Chinese researchers wrote and published globally and openly a cutting-edge technical paper on batteries.

Alas the sky is getting darker again. Gloom and doom are winds being blown from the west, eastwards. Sad for world of knowledge. Bad for everyone.

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Post time 2019-4-15 10:57:38 |Display all floors
This post was edited by SEARU at 2019-4-15 10:59

No! Such saying is prejudice!  That billionare had no schooling background at all who has gained enough valuable ‘knowledge’ from the society-university!  He said he had learned a lot from others in the colorful social practice!
As a teacher in vocational middle school, I had met with terrible difficulty in dealing with the relationship between textbook and experiment! On one hand, I had to translate the deep electrical science into plain oral words and tried to teach the poor kids with simple tests as much as possible! I have benifit a lot from the master-level workers in factories who can tell theory according to their own comprehension!
I think in China parents and teachers have emphasized too much about the importance of book-knowledge instead of the real ability on how to deal with books!
Childish pure  mindset can simplify your life which let you live in a light way! Without man-made troubles you will work in high efficiency!

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Post time 2019-4-15 11:23:21 |Display all floors
You're trying to solve a personal problem but applied downwards for a whole society trying to come up.

In other countries, people have already gone ahead and higher to solve global problems and applied upwards.

Without learning from books, lectures etc, how was deep research possible that was done and had led to the invention of the microchip? By just interacting with others on the shop-floor and societal pavement?

Nobody died from reading a book with view to learning more things to improve. It is extremely inefficient to try and reinvent the wheel and also by trial-and-error.

Just because you faced problems as a teacher in a place at a certain time doesn't mean education can be divorced from the value of reading books.

In the past, there was a discussion to diminish science and math (STEM) education. And now this discussion to diminish book reading and knowledge accumulation. Both are new weaknesses of the west and old weaknesses of other barely-developing countries.

Why try to shoot oneself in the foot? China must seize the advantage to maintain both science and math educational supremacy add: technology, AND, a love for knowledge from reading good books.

Ignorance is the easiest way to get conquered again.

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Post time 2019-4-15 11:34:06 |Display all floors
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Post time 2019-4-15 12:12:23 |Display all floors
If the objective is to promote reading, then e-books are just as good a paper books. Actually, e-books are far more convenient to read, one does not have to lug around a heavy paper book, which is discarded once the contents are read, contributing to paper waste, not environmentally friendly!

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