Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reading habit for future managers

Reading Habit For Our Future Managers.

Zulkefli Abdul Rahman

Faculty of Office Management and Technology

Universiti Teknologi MARA Perak


The objective of having a knowledgeable society seems to be a very challenging and exciting task in the character building among our children. Tremendous work and promotion have been geared towards improving the interest in reading nationwide, thus making reading habit another form of training and educating the society. The government is very much concerned with improving our society by allocating provision for educating children and to increase awareness among parents on the importance of reading as well as developing appropriate interests and support programs initiated by government or non-government organizations. Despite the mass electronic media with powerful influences on children’s social life, it is our responsibility when current generations are inheriting a technologically mediated world of work and leisure which is very much different from how most of us grew up.


We urge all parents and educators to stress on the importance of reading because it is part of learning. In fact, developing literacy among students has always been one of the major goals of education. Research shows that children who love to read are likely to succeed in the classroom. It also shows children need practice in reading to become good readers. Reading should trigger the mind, causing one to relate things and formulate ideas. It should light the candles that remain unlit in one’s brain. It should be able by all means to effect some changes in one’s thinking and one’s attitude to the way one looks at things. As we lead our daily lives, we are all the time reading; reading symbols, reading signs, icons, reading people’s gestures, reading our and other people’s emotions and so forth.

Before the inventions of the alphabets and books, people read the language of birds, the imprints of wild animals left on the ground, the threatening looks of clouds, the signs in the sky, the earthquake, the behavior of insects or fish, etc. Ancient Egyptians read pictures that symbolized sounds or maybe ideas. The Incas or Aztecs read more or less similar symbols and astrologers have always been reading the shape and the movement of stars. American Red Indians read the smoke puffs that rose from the mountains and if negotiations failed they had to be ready for war. Famous magicians or fortune tellers would read the lines on your palms and tell you that you would be laughing all the way to the bank. The South African Bushmen read broken twigs and dried animal droppings to stalk their preys. For the Muslims, the first words the angel Jabril (Gabrielle) ever said to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was "Iqra (read)",(Sura ‘Alaq, Holy Quran 96:1-5). It can rightly be said that a Muslim's mandate has been to read then to expand the thought and to be educated (Ahmad Deedat, 1993). But unfortunately Wajeeda Al-Huwaider (Arab News) questioned this, “What is the excuse for such ignorance and illiteracy among a people whose first revealed religious command was “Read”? This shows reading should be a habit in social practice and it is a cultivated skill that requires both interest and insight.

But today, TV is the mass social educator on social life, people’s worldviews, consumer behavior and the shaping of public sentiment. In Australia (Luke, 1996) 99% of all households own a TV set and 72% of all TV households own a VCR. Clearly, everyone is exposed to TV’s version of social reality. Television takes up more of children’s time than any other activity except sleeping. Again in his findings, by age 18, the average viewer has watched some 14,000 hours of TV and yet during the same time has spent only 12,000 hours in classrooms in front of teachers and texts.

Childhood and Youth Culture

Long before children enter school, most have already been socialized into play, social values, behaviors, attitudes and linguistic which are partly shaped by the video games. This is the new generations. It is not for those who are forty something and fifty something who are still assimilating the internet into their jobs as it evolves. According to Lowell Monke (2005), as the computer has amplified our youth’s ability to virtually go anywhere at any time, it has also eroded their sense of belonging anywhere, any time, to anybody, or for any reason. He said when he was growing up in rural Iowa, he certainly lacked so many things but always and in many ways felt belonged. He knew their farm where the snowdrifts would be in the morning after blizzard, where and when the warmest and the coolest spots where he played with the spider, and knew about worms by hands on experience by digging in the soil, watching the worms retreat into its hole and of course feeling them wiggle in the hand. Children today, can anytime find information about worms on the internet. However, the computer can only teach the student about worms and only through abstracts symbols of images and text on the screen.

Experts argued that the fast moving, hyper-competitive nature of our society is seriously damaging children’s mental and emotional well being. They suggested that junk food, computer games and even constant testing in schools were directly responsible for the well documented escalation in childhood depression. Certainly children growing up today are subject to increasing containment and surveillance, and the tyranny of consumer and moral choice (Libby Brooks, 2007). There is no doubt that children’s access to media where sex and violence has vastly increased. Young people are using technology to make music and learn and connect with friends across the globe. Look at the characters in Street Fighters, World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and many more super hero characters, either from video games (PS2 or 3, X box) or movies, that have become children’s idol today.

Importance of Reading

Reading is critical if you want to succeed in a professional career. Be it teachers, lecturers, accountants, surveyors, engineers or even entertainers. There is no doubt in the world of IT, everybody now is supposed to know about computers. Again reading is more important today to make one an informed citizen and to succeed in one’s chosen career. This has been true for a long time. But now, in today’s information technology world, it is difficult to be employed if you are not a pretty good reader with computer knowledge. Research also shows that adults who can barely read are more likely to live in poverty. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S, children in families with income below the poverty line are less likely to read than children in families which incomes are at or above the poverty line. Thirty eight percent of children in families in poverty read everyday in 1999, down from 46 percent in 1996, compared with 58 percent of children in families at or above the poverty line, down from 61 percent in 1996. This shows that reading can reduce the disparities between the rich and poor by promoting reading among the lower income neighborhoods. Furthermore, if you don’t have the reading skills that allow you to choose what you want to do for a living, you will be forced to work for whatever employer. But a person who reads well has almost unlimited opportunities for career and personal growth.

Let’s look at Walt Disney. Most people know who Walt Disney was. Seth Sherwood a journalist in Tio Alecc wrote Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, made lots of movies and build Disneyland. He accomplished a lot in his life, and he was a very wealthy man. But most people do not know that he said this; “There is more treasure in BOOKS than in all the pirates loot on Treasure Island and, best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”(Walt Disney)

In a world of distractions, like television, movies, music and video games, this important skill is sometimes neglected. We can’t let this happen. Both adults and children need to take the responsibility and help children develop the habit of reading every day. It requires a little discipline at first but it will give magnificent benefits in the long run. Children who read well do better in other subjects and in all aspects of schooling and beyond. As the world becomes more complex, reading is increasingly important for children trying to find their place in it. That is why almost all nations in the world have set up programs for reading. According to the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics), reading is a significant aid in brain development and encourages a solidifying, emotional bond between parent and child. The AAP recommends initiating a daily routine of reading for infants as well as older children. However, their records reveal that only 50% of parents read to their children every day.

A report from Chicago Sun-Times, an estimated 880 million of the world’s adults cannot read or write and more than 120 million children lack access to education. To acknowledge the importance of literacy and reading in the lives of the children, The Chicago Sun – Times Newspaper In Education program has partnered with Macy’s Gives and the Chicago Public Library to produce a special eight-page educational section inside the newspaper daily. And again according to the U.S Department of education, reading to young children promotes language acquisition and correlates with literacy development and later on with achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school. The percentage of young children being read aloud to daily by a family member is one indicator of how well young children are prepared for school. This is why the Singapore government is worried with the USSR (Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading) or the ERP (Extensive Reading Program) programs which are supposed to be a success in enhancing students’ habit of reading (Anthony Seow, 1999).

4.0 Initiatives to Promote Reading

The need to inculcate the reading habit among Malaysian youths has prompted the Government to incorporate reading activities in any youth related programmes. Malaysia Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said (2004) stressed that adopting a book lifetime will incorporate reading in daily life. This will contribute to mental growth and maturity which are necessary for future leaders of the country. “Physical activities such as sports give us personal satisfaction and a sense of peace that we have given our best to win in a competition. Reading provides us with a refuge that contributes as a getaway to knowledge. Young people should be taught to read as there is so much to gain from it,” she said at an outlet in One Utama, Kuala Lumpur. In June 2004, The Education Ministry cooperated with The Housing and Local Government Ministry, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry and Information Ministry to promote the interest in reading. It’s minister, Datuk Hishamuddin Tun Hussein said the Housing and Local Government Ministry would provide space for the community halls whereas the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry would help with the cost of imported books. The Arts, Culture and heritage Ministry would study the aspect on developing reading culture and The Information Ministry would be involved in the broadcasting of campaigns through the media such as the radio and television. Apart from that, Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) leaders are leading by example by reading books in “car, bed and office” to promote the reading habit, party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said. MCA was emphasizing the need to read at least one book a month as part of its Life-long Learning Campaign. He explained that the campaign was meant to benefit all Malaysians and not exclusively for the Chinese community only. Malaysians needed to practice life-long learning to arm themselves with the necessary knowledge in the globalization era.

In Uganda, initiatives by its government were quite successful in promoting the habits of reading. Among the effective programs was the Tent reading. Students cluster around a table searching for just the right book to read. Once they find one, they settle back under the giant tent, enjoying an extended period of reading for pleasure. This is all part of the Reading Tent, a project organized by the Reading Association of Uganda (RAU) to promote reading throughout the country. Each Reading Tent lasts three days and involves a number of activities aimed at creating a reading culture among young people. Here are some of the key components.

In the new millennium, according to the International Education Association (IEA) on Civic Education Study; nearly all countries, students who display more civic knowledge come from homes that have more books. These students also and aspire to higher levels of education themselves. That means reading should become a habit as proclaimed by Horace Mann, an American Educator (1796 – 1859), “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day and at last, we cannot break it.” A very good example is a young girl (Afiqah) in Ipoh. It was reported that in Utusan Malaysia (22 Dec 2007) newspaper, that she has read about 2,200 books comprising of academic, fiction and non-fiction as well as novels or story books, by the age of 11 years old. And now she still keeps to this habit and tries to achieve 3,500 units by the end of 2007.

Employees of the Future

Computers are fast becoming integrated into nearly every aspect of daily living, from school to work, to banking and shopping, to paying taxes and even voting. They provide access to a wide range of information without a trip to the library. They convey messages in place of the post office or telephone and they compete with the newspapers, radio and television in providing entertainment and news of the day. Not only are computers changing the way goods and services are manufactured, distributed and purchased but they are also changing the skills workers need to be productive and earn a living. Almost every job today requires at least some knowledge of the computer and for an increasing number of jobs, productivity is related to an individual’s level of computer expertise. In forecasting the future. Tapscott (1997) said that we bring in the children because of the demographic revolution intersecting with technology revolution, there is a huge opportunity to listen to the kids. If you are a CEO you have got to find a way to get these kids into your company. My web site was developed by teenagers. One of them is 15 and his own site gets 20 million page views a month. These kids can tell us a lot about what kinds of firms we need to create and how we can interact with markets and customers. And when they come to us, we’re not going to be able to treat them the way we did to traditional employees, they have got much greater mobility and they are going to have a share in the wealth they create. We are going to treat them as investors in the intellectual capital rather than the way we treat labor today, which is as a variable cost on balance sheets. So this is going to lead to some big changes in the whole way we manage employees and there are going to be big changes in terms of stock options and things like that. In accordance with that, Meg Mitchell (2000) added that today’s school children are growing up with paramount access to technology and are poised to march in to the new millennium with the laptop in tow and computer knowledge firmly ensconced in their little heads. And over the next couple of decades, they will start changing the workforce.


Thomas Edison was a great inventor but a lousy prognosticator. This was the comment by Lowell Monke (2005 ) when he presented his paper. When Thomas Edison proclaimed in 1922 that the motion picture would replace textbooks in schools, he began a long string of spectacularly wrong predictions regarding the capacity of various technologies to revolutionize teaching. To date none of them, from film to television have lived up to the hype. Even the computer, which is now a standard feature of most classrooms, has not been able to show a consistent record of improving education. This shows that computer is only a tool for the children and yet reading is a habit that can enhance analytic skills. To the question whether we have lost our reading culture does not arise here because there is still no research to show that reading has declined. Instead, the local publishing industry is booming and record shows that our local writers can earns up to RM 150,000 a year by a single novel on royalty (Abdullah Hassan, 2005). In addition, look at author J.K Rowling, the richest writer in the world, who has sold an estimated 300 million copies of the Harry Porters’ final book called Harry Porter and the Deathly Hallows worldwide. In fact, this is a positive impact of ICT towards the book industry. However, as parents, educators or policy makers, we are convinced to encourage children to discover who they are and what kind of world they must live. Concerning programs related to reading, it is time for us to support formal reading activities in schools to increase pupils’ desire to read and develop a life-long love of reading.


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