Lecturer Nicholas Morton recalls his shock on being told that “Students don’t like reading”. He found this to be true – most of his students prefer computer games to books. In the Times Higher he describes his practical response to this situation
Recently, I decided to act on this expectation and launched a “Reading Challenge” to my history undergraduates. This voluntary event encourages them to read 20 books for pleasure during their degree. It is not an attempt to force on them a “canon” of worthy literature; it presents them with a wide range of books from which they select titles that interest them.
Those who wish to take part receive a long bibliography broken into sections, including 20th-century fiction, philosophy, short stories and so on. The idea is that they choose and read at least two works from each area until they have reached the required number. Successful participants will receive a certificate and a small prize, but this will not be large enough to be an incentive in its own right.
He says it is too early to judge whether it is a success, but the initial response from students has been positive. He hopes that the reading challenge will help to form informed, rounded human beings.
I wonder if this is something that would work in the sciences? What should science students be encouraged to read – popular science and science history, literary fiction, philosophy, lablit?