COVID-19 Made Reading And Critical Thinking Skills Worse For US Students

March 31, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first time in history remote learning was implemented for all educational levels. As the guinea pig generation, students were forced to deal with technical interruptions and, unfortunately, not the best education. Higher achieving and average students will be able to compensate for the last two years of education, but the lower achievers will have trouble. The pandemic, however, exasperated an issue with learning.

Kids have been reading less with each passing year, because of they spend more time consuming social media and videogames. Kids are reading, except they are absorbing a butchered form of the English language and not engaging their critical thinking skills. Social media and videogames are passive activities, Another problem for the low reading skills says The New York Times in, “The Pandemic Has Worsened The Reading Crisis In Schools” is the lack of educators:

“The causes are multifaceted, but many experts point to a shortage of educators trained in phonics and phonemic awareness — the foundational skills of linking the sounds of spoken English to the letters that appear on the page.”

According to the article, remote learning lessened the quality of learning elementary school received on reading fundamentals. It is essential for kids to pickup the basics in elementary school, otherwise higher education will be more difficult. Federal funding is being used for assistance programs, but there is a lack of personnel. Trained individuals are leaving public education for the private sector, because it is more lucrative.

Poor reading skills feed into poor critical skills. The Next Web explores the dangers of deep fakes and how easily they fool people: “Deep fakes Study Finds Doctored Text Is More Manipulative Than Phony Video.” Deep fakes are a dangerous AI threat, but MIT Media Lab scientists discovered that people have a hard time discerning fake sound bites:

“Scientists at the MIT Media Lab showed almost 6,000 people 16 authentic political speeches and 16 that were doctored by AI. The sound bites were presented in permutations of text, video, and audio, such as video with subtitles or only text. The participants were told that half of the content was fake, and asked which snippets they believed were fabricated.”

When the participants were only shown text they barely discovered the falsehoods with a 57% success rate, while they were more accurate at video with subtitles (66%) and the best at video and text combined (82%). Participants relied on tone and vocal conveyance to discover the fakes, which makes sense given that is how people discover lying:

“The study authors said the participants relied more on how something was said than the speech content itself: ‘The finding that fabricated videos of political speeches are easier to discern than fabricated text transcripts highlights the need to re-introduce and explain the oft-forgotten second half of the ‘seeing is believing’ adage.’ There is, however, a caveat to their conclusions: their deep fakes weren’t exactly hyper-realistic.”

Low quality deep fakes are not as dangerous as a single video with high resolution, great audio, and spot on duplicates of the subjects. Even the smartest people will be tricked by one high quality deep fake than thousands of bad ones.

It is more alarming that participants did not do well with the text only sound bites. Dd they lack the critical thinking and reading skills they should have learned in elementary school or did the lack of delivery from a human stump them?

Students need to focus on the basics of reading and critical thinking to establish their entire education. It is more fundamental than anything else.

Whitney Grace, March 31, 2022


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta