I was thinking recently about the process of learning. I know how we learn is a complex process and of course this column is not intended to provide all the scientific or logical aspects of learning. I suppose we can agree that we do our first learning by hearing and observing and those ways to learn stay with us throughout our lives. I am convinced that one of the most effective ways to learn is by reading. Reading not only provides knowledge but it is entertaining as well. In other words reading is fun as well as informative.
There are programs that encourage kids to read and those programs start kids reading by providing age-appropriate books from a very early age. Teaching youngsters to love books and to read is one of the greatest favors we can do them. I am convinced that if the fun of reading is instilled into kids it will likely affect them in a very positive way.
I love books and I read a lot. Most of my reading is non-fiction. While I have a lot to learn, I think most of my learning has come through reading. Since I have such great regard for books, I recently began to think of some folks who have made books possible. Of course there must be writers. Publishers are necessary but a few hardy souls self-publish. Also, those folks who over time improved languages were very important.
But there is one person that sticks in my mind as one of the greatest contributors to reading and consequently to the dissemination of knowledge. That person is Johann Gutenberg. Gutenberg is the inventor of printing by movable type and that has made a great difference in the world of knowledge.
Gutenberg is credited with making the first printed Bible. He was born in Mainz, Germany between 1394 and 1299. He died in 1468. Gutenberg’s invention was crude when compared to modern day printing presses, but it was a start. Some great men have said that their success was possible only because they stood on the shoulders of giants — referring to the men and women who have paved the way to their success. Gutenberg is, no doubt, one who helped to start the great industry of printing and has been remembered for his contribution to the spread of knowledge.
While much information can be gotten from other sources than books, and some folks think the printed page will someday be obsolete, I believe there will always be a place for books. Books are very portable. They jog the imagination. They provide fun and knowledge. We have Gutenberg to thank for getting the ball rolling and just look at the printing industry today.
As I close this column, my plea to youngsters is to get involved in reading. Read for information. Read for amusement. Read about your proposed chosen field of work. Read! Read! Read! Reading has served me well. As you grow older you’ll find that it is a good way to spend your leisure time. I don’t know how much emphasis the educational community places on reading these days, but I hope the emphasis is substantial. Reading is an important tool for learning the other subjects in school and it is something that is of immense value throughout life.