A culture of loving reading

Writelike teaches an important but narrow range of skills: analysing text, identifying patterns, and adapting patterns for personal purposes.

For these skills to feel valuable, students need to be immersed in a text-rich culture.

They need to love reading, be inspired by what they read and maybe not love writing—the process of writing can be agony no matter how skilled you are—but at least care enough to put effort into writing and hopefully take pleasure and pride in the results.

Book fort

One function of school is to be this community, and as a teacher you probably cherish your role as cultural curator, guide and critic.

Writelike cannot be this culture, but we can try to help you build this culture in your school.

  • We can save you time teaching basic craft skills so that you can spend more time talking about things that matter with your students.
  • We can expose students to diverse and surprising texts so that maybe a snippet will spark a student's curiosity to further explore a writer, book, or topic.

Nobody reads

Technology is rapidly reshaping our communication and consumption habits. We have more video, audio, and games on demand than any human can consume in a lifetime, plus the dopamine streams from a billion people's social media accounts.

In this environment, text consumption might well be at an all-time high, but long-form reading might be on a severe decline. Ain't nobody got the attention span.

Nobody reads

Everyone is trying to figure out ways to cope with unprecedented volumes of information and stimulus. 

(Although in another sense this is nothing new. History is full of despairing comments about disruptive media, from the impact of print on memorisation in oral traditions, to the difficulty in keeping up with the news in the lead-up to World War II.)

Newspapers on train

While we want to create a culture of reading, it's important not to get too caught up in a rosy view of the past.

We want to have realistic expectations, to encourage a love of story, history, analysis, argument—text and language in all its forms.

And we want to be open-minded about new formats, opportunistic about student interests, and use whatever credibility and rapport we can establish to introduce students to challenging texts outside of their experience.

So how do we realistically get students engaged in long-form reading and writing in the face of such pressures?

We here at Writelike don't have a good answer.

One thing we can say is that long-form text is still essential, even if consumers aren't aware they're consuming it.

For instance, while video and audio may be the most popular formats, much of the most valuable content is built on a foundation of long-form text: whether because scripts are written, or books and articles are discussed.

So the skills that writing represents—analysing, ordering, sequencing, combining, expressing—are valuable, it's just that the competitive pressures on the average consumers mean that sitting and reading for extended periods of time may be in decline.

Hence the rise of podcasts and audiobooks, which can be coupled with physical activity, so much the better for a time-poor but stimulus-hungry audience.

In praise of walking