Maturity: Irrelevance Is Best, Part 4

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Aug
  • 25
  • 2006

It’s entirely possible that reading stories irrelevant to your life is the best thing for you. Imagine keeping your knowledge so limited that you only know about the things in the immediate life you lead. Irrelevant material makes you more aware of how you fit into the world. I want to make this clear to students.

On Being Mature

Teachers often hear complaints that students don’t see how it matters, that they can’t relate to the story. When describing writing they enjoy reading, “being able to relate to it” pops to the top of the list every time.

Reading employs and polishes critical thinking skills, skills put to good use in any subject area. Forcing the reader to forge new connections to a piece of reading may work these thinking skills even more. From a purely (and somewhat limited) biological standpoint, those new connections mean new dendrites built in the brain — stimulation and increased capacity in an important organ.

Further, reading something seemingly irrelevant is exposure and new knowledge, possibly even providing a stronger sense of self. Irrelevant reading means that you’ve opened yourself up to something that’s outside your normal routine. It means that you are starting to look beyond your own selfish existence and it means that you are beginning to realize that the world is much more expansive than the little route you travel each day. None of those things are bad things and none of those things will mean that you have a less enriching life experience.

Opening up to new things, looking beyond yourself, realizing the size of the world, all of those things are steps in maturation, aren’t they?

If this is the case, how can we possibly mature if we only read things that relate directly to our daily lives? Maybe pushing yourself outside your normal boundaries through reading is a primary way to grow up, to become mature.

Monday: Refuse To Spoil

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