Why I do not read books

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This article by Dr Piotr Wozniak is part of SuperMemo Guru series on memory, learning, creativity, and problem solving.

Coercion and deprivation

Coercion in learning results in natural reactance, i.e. resistance that characterizes healthy autonomous minds. This is why coercion often backfires. Kids forced to learn end up learning less in the long run (see: Education counteracts evolution).

Coercion combined with limits on freedom, and restriction of available rewarding activities, may lead to the opposite: obsession with banned outlets. This is how gaming disorder is often fueled. Those obsessions are generated by the mechanism of variable reward.

Kids who are limited in their access to electronic devices, develop exaggerated cravings that may lead to an addiction (see: Reward diversity in preventing addictions).

Coercion killed my love for books

Personal anecdote. Why use anecdotes?
For me, the most dramatic outcome of the coercion of schooling is that I stopped reading fiction. From an avid reader in the primary school, I became a young man full of contempt for fiction in high school. I have not recovered since. My mom tried to control my bedtime in youth. I recall reading books with a torch under the coverlet. It was the time my attraction to books reached its peak. I was a voracious reader. When reading books became compulsory in high school, and when the choice of the books was controlled at the ministerial level, I developed a hate for Polish literature. Today, I do not read books. However, the ultimate reason is unrelated to schooling. I use incremental reading, which makes me read a lot and better (on a computer screen). However, the old days of systematic plodding through science books are gone as well. Incremental reading is superior to speed-reading, analytical reading, and deep reading. It combines the best features of them all. My new reading habits also make it hard for me to read voluminous linear fiction

Conclusion

Coercion backfires. This simple observation should be familiar to any minimally observant parent of a child characterized by a reasonably preserved autonomy. Sadly, the commonality of the phenomenon has little impact on the design of education systems around the world. Hate of learning by teen age is nearly universal (see: Why kids hate school).

Further reading



For more texts on memory, learning, sleep, creativity, and problem solving, see Super Memory Guru