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A Is for Ox: The Collapse of Literacy and the Rise of Violence in an Electronic Age
     

A Is for Ox: The Collapse of Literacy and the Rise of Violence in an Electronic Age

by Barry Sanders
 

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The twin crises of illiteracy and youth violence haunt our age; the failure of increasing numbers of young people to attain even minimal levels of literacy signals a catastrophe at the deepest levels of our culture.
 
A is for Ox is an important and impassioned work that both proves this conclusion and suggests what can be done to change it.

Overview

The twin crises of illiteracy and youth violence haunt our age; the failure of increasing numbers of young people to attain even minimal levels of literacy signals a catastrophe at the deepest levels of our culture.
 
A is for Ox is an important and impassioned work that both proves this conclusion and suggests what can be done to change it. Sanders argues that because of the omnipresence of electronically generated images and sounds in contemporary culture, children grow up lacking the oral experience of language crucial to attaining true literacy; without the technologies of reading and writing, the development of self is stunted. By tracing the long history of literacy in the West, Sanders demonstrates how the culture of electronic media is changing both cognitive development and social interaction. Taking the issue of literacy out of the narrow context of schooling and education, Sanders compels us to consider it in relation to the fundamental issues of both personal identity and a person's unforced consent to the social contract.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A brilliant, disturbing reflection on the collapsing moral order of post-modern America. If literacy is the wellspring of selfhood, as Sanders makes clear, our aggressive, image-addicted society is unwittingly committing cultural suicide."—Mike Davis
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The electronic media have made many young people prisoners, barred from reading and writing, asserts Sanders, coauthor of ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind with Ivan Illich. To begin this quirky essay, he explores the foundation of what he calls ``orality.'' Speaking demands human interaction, but most children now rely on ``electronic wizardry'' which renders them unable to interrupt and join in. (But what about the Internet?) Thus he roundly condemns television, as clichd and without nuance, contributing to a ``post-illiterate'' generation, and he criticizes absent parents and a paternalistic education model that ignores vernacular language. Only books, not the computer, can provide ``inner space'' for the self; literacy, he suggests cogently, can provide the ``internalized constraints'' sadly lacking in gang members, whom he takes as emblematic of society. Though the author's indictment is overwrought-``word processors have turned everyone into ghostwriters''-he has worthy advice: train children's ears before their eyes, and let them develop their imagination outside technology. (Oct.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679742852
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1995
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,212,179
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.62(d)

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