Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

The future of reading

A professor of education explains why reading is such a challenging skill to learn — and to teach.
A child reading a book on floor at home, above view.
Reading is more than just looking at letters and coming up with a word. | Shutterstock/New Africa

Rebecca Silverman is an expert in how humans learn to read. 

It’s a complex process, she says. First we must connect letters and sounds to decode words in texts. Researchers know a lot about the decoding process and how to teach it. But, beyond that, we must also comprehend what the words in texts are conveying. Comprehension is complex, and researchers know much less about the comprehension process and how to teach it, Silverman tells host Russ Altman on this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast.

Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

oEmbed URL



[00:00:00] Rebecca Silverman: One of the hardest things that kids learn to do in school, um, that is actually not very natural for them and is a, it's kind of a huge hurdle for them to overcome and actually allows them to access everything else in school. You know, math has word problems in it, science they need to read the textbook, social studies they need to, you know, understand source documents so that in order for them to access the rest of education, um, so you really need to be able to unlock this very complex problem of learning to read.

[00:00:37] Russ Altman: This is Stanford Engineering's The Future of Everything, and I'm your host, Russ Altman. If you enjoy The Future of Everything, please follow or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. This will guarantee that you'll never miss an episode. 

[00:00:49] Today, Rebecca Silverman will tell us that learning to read is hard. First you need to learn to decode the letters and turn them into words. Then you need to comprehend what's being said. It turns out that that comprehension part is the hardest. It's the future of reading. 

[00:01:06] Before I get started, please remember to follow the podcast if you're not doing so already. And if you're listening on Spotify, hit the bell icon. This ensures that you'll get alerted to the new episodes. And as I love to say, you won't miss the future of anything.

[00:01:22] Now, reading is key to life and to learning. We read all the time, we see signs, we automatically read the words that are presented to us. But most of us learned how to read as a kid, and there's huge variability in that experience. Some kids learn very early, remarkably early. Others take some time, others may struggle with it for much longer periods of time. Different cultures have different challenges in learning how to read because they have different letters. Some cultures have easy letters, some cultures have more difficult to read symbols. And that can affect the speed at which people learn to read. 

[00:02:04] But really, reading is not just, yes, I can read, no, I can't read. It's a lifelong experience of getting better and better at decoding the words and then understanding what the author is trying to tell you. 

[00:02:16] Well, Rebecca Silverman is a professor of education at Stanford University. She's an expert at literacy, child development, and how people learn how to read. She studies this from the perspective of the students, of the teachers, of the families, and of the technologies that are becoming available to help kids and others learn how to read.

[00:02:37] Rebecca, how should we think about reading? Like, it's more than just looking at letters and coming up with a word. I think, and your research has shown this. So, as we start this conversation, how should I think about the process of reading and acquiring the ability to read? 

[00:02:55] Rebecca Silverman: So, I think as adults, many of us, uh, think of reading as just almost second nature. It's just something we can't, we almost can't help but read the signs on the street. We can't help but, you know, read the magazine covers in the, the grocery aisle. Um, but when we think about kids learning to read or even adults who've never read before, it is an incredibly complex task. And so, I think the way we should think about it is one of the hardest things that kids learn to do in school, um, that is actually not very natural for them and is a, it's kind of a huge hurdle for them to overcome. Um, and actually allows them to access everything else in school.

[00:03:37] You know, math has word problems in it, science, they need to read the textbook, social studies, they need to, you know, understand source documents. So that in order for them to access the rest of education, um, they really need to be able to unlock this very complex problem of learning to read. 

[00:03:53] Russ Altman: And it's intimately connected, I believe, and I think you've written about this, it's connected to, um, their understanding of like narrative and stories. It's, not just decoding single words, but it becomes decoding sentences at a time. So how do you break down the elements of reading when you try to study it kind of scientifically? 

[00:04:14] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, so research has of, um, gelled on this. It's a very simple model of reading. It's kind of a way to think about reading as the combination of decoding and linguistic comprehension. So decoding is putting together those letters and sounds, linguistic comprehension is understanding the meanings of the words and concepts that, you know, those sounds create. And so when you put those together, you've got reading, essentially. 

[00:04:40] What we know and what we, um, have figured out pretty well is how to teach the connecting letters and sounds. Um, it's a fairly, um, constrained process. You know, there's only so many letters, only so many sounds we need to learn. Um, and once we've done that, we become automatic and we can decode. Um, the comprehension part of it is a lot more challenging. Um, the way that we put together words into sentences, the way that, um, words mean different things in different contexts, all of that is incredibly complex, um, and takes children a lifetime to learn. I mean, we're still learning words even this day, you know, new words are being invented as we speak.

[00:05:18] So, um, all of that, you know, creates a huge kind of challenge. And one of the things that, I think one of the things that's that we've discovered in education is that reading comprehension is one of the most difficult things to change in terms of being able to do an intervention and change that that trajectory for kids.

[00:05:34] So we're still trying to figure it out. We've got the decoding down pretty well. We kind of understand what we're doing there. There's a lot less consensus on the comprehend, the linguistic comprehension part of things. 

[00:05:44] Russ Altman: Yeah, so tell me more about that because I'm not even sure I know what it means to say, um, you would change somebody's reading comprehension. Do you mean that their depth of understanding of the text that they're reading? And when you say it's difficult to change, do you mean over time? Um, if they're not great at it, it's harder to get them to become great at it? 

[00:06:04] Rebecca Silverman: Right. So with decoding, um, when we're teaching letters and sounds, we can teach those in a fairly linear trajectory. Um, we can do that over a fairly, um, constrained period of time. Um, and then once kids know that, they become fluent and they take off. With reading comprehension, um, you're involving things like understanding word meaning, understanding how words change, um, in different contexts, understanding how sentences are put together, how those sentences combine to make paragraphs. How those paragraphs combine to make larger text, um, and then you need text structure, you need background knowledge, you need all of this stuff to put those ideas together. Um, and that, intervening on that, you know, kind of when, if kids have challenges with that, um, it, we can't do it in a few weeks. We can't do it even in a few months. Uh, for many children, we need to focus on this year after year after year to give them support in understanding how language, uh, connects and is constructed in order to make meaning in text. So it's a big project. 

[00:07:06] Russ Altman: Makes perfect sense. And I even see it, you know, teaching undergraduates at Stanford University how to write, that they come in with very different abilities to make the mappings that you were just discussing.

[00:07:17] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:07:18] Russ Altman: And it is hard to move them, although we can move them, that's why we're teachers. We're committed to the idea that we can help our students get better. Okay, my head is exploding with questions, so I want to go back to a few basic things. How much variability do we see in the acquisition of reading, uh, in typical children?

[00:07:36] So I'm, of course there will be children with disabilities, and I don't know if you want to include them or put them aside. But for children who don't have obvious disabilities, how much variability do we see and what are the sources of those variability?

[00:07:47] Rebecca Silverman: So we see huge variability. Some children, um, we estimate like roughly five, uh, to twenty percent of kids learn to read fairly quickly. They comprehend things fairly easily. Um, another say, forty, thirty, thirty to forty percent of kids, they struggle a little bit, but they need some instruction. And then you've got a good, you know, twenty to thirty percent of the kids who really have difficulty. Um, and those difficulties could come from decoding, could come from linguistic comprehension. It could also come from a variety of other things like their memory ability, their, um, their executive functioning ability, um, their motivation, their engagement, their, their, uh, socioemotional, uh, context. So there's so many things that go into, um, what it takes to become a reader that, um, the individual variation is quite large.

[00:08:38] And so, um, when my daughter entered kindergarten, she didn't know how to read very well. Um, she was learning her letters and sounds like most kindergartners, but there was a kid in her class of the same sort of socioeconomic background, um, who was reading chapter books. You know, this is in kindergarten. So, you know, you just think of the range that is in any given class, any given, group of kids and it's huge and it's a huge challenge for teachers, too. 

[00:09:04] Russ Altman: I'm sure it is, and do they have an, uh, a knowledge about how much of this is environmental versus kind of inborn, and, and I don't even know how relevant that question is but I’m sure people have shown some interest in it.

[00:09:15] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, absolutely and it's kind of like a nature nurture interaction you know, there's a certain extent to which um kids are bored with certain you know, linguistic abilities, certain memory capabilities, those kinds of things are gonna feed into their ability to learn to read. 

[00:09:26] And then there's the environmental part, you know, how much exposure do they have to text? How much language do they have in their environment? Um, how many conversations are they having about books, all of these things? And so when you combine those two things, you get lots of different combinations. And so that's why we can't, you know, we can't say just because somebody is in this environment, that they're gonna be this kind of reader. Or just because they're born this way they're going to be this kind of reader. It's really the interaction between the two.

[00:09:55] Russ Altman: What about cross culturally? Do we see the same kind of timing and acquisition of reading skills? I'm thinking of, you know, Chinese and Hebrew and then European languages. They're all very different even in terms of what the letters look like and left to right, right to left, whether they're pictures or whether they're phonetic. Tell me about the global picture of reading. 

[00:10:15] Rebecca Silverman: Sure. So, um, those two basic components that I talked about, the decoding and the language comprehension, um, we found that those are consistent across languages and cultures. So those are kind of basic building blocks, basic elements. 

[00:10:29] However, the trajectory of those things is going to be different across languages. So some languages are what we call very transparent. They, um, the letters kind of clearly match the sounds and so kids don't spend a whole lot of time on the decoding part and can move very quickly to the comprehension part of things. That would be a language like Finnish, for example. Children in Finland learn, learn to read, learn the decoding part pretty quickly because that language is very transparent. Um, other languages are much more opaque. English is very opaque, um, and because we borrow, uh, language combinations and spellings from all kinds of languages. So it takes much longer, um, for kids in, that are speaking English, um, to learn to read.

[00:11:14] And then you have, um, I think in an even more difficult level, um, when you have kids who are learning, uh, symbols and putting those symbols to sounds, that's an even more opaque uh, kind of language. And takes perhaps longer for kids to learn to read and write with characters. So you've got this kind of trajectory, but the same basic components are there across the languages.

[00:11:35] Russ Altman: What are the present research challenges that an expert like you is focusing on? Like there's so much of this, there's so many ways to attack this. So how do you choose to spend your time? What are the big questions that you ask in your, in your work? 

[00:11:49] Rebecca Silverman: So the two probably biggest things I think about are, how do we identify which kids are having difficulty specifically with either decoding or language comprehension or both? Um, and so in that space, I think about how do we develop measures to identify these kids? How do we develop systems to identify these kids? And then on the other hand, it's once we've identified them, how do we support them through intervention? 

[00:12:15] And so, um, different kids are going to need different things. They might need more of the decoding, more of the language comprehension. And then when we get to the language comprehension, for kids who have difficulty with that, um, really, how do we break that down for them? How do we support them in understanding all of the things that they need to know in order to be able to understand text?

[00:12:36] Um, and so some of the intervention work that I do is, um, involved, uh, we kind of breakdown language. You know, what do words mean? Um, how are words built? Uh, how are sentences built? Um, and then we go all the way out to a very macro level. How do we think about ideas? How do we, um, debate different perspectives? Uh, and so even fourth and fifth graders are doing this like really big work just like college kids, um, in order to become readers. 

[00:13:03] Russ Altman: Okay. So that, those are great questions and maybe we can go back and just take them, uh, one at a time. So the first one, the first challenge is identifying, uh, the kids who might have challenges. How do we do this? What is our, what is the state of our ability? I mean, I remember, you know, growing up, it was, you know, this was a long time ago. And even as a first grader, I could tell that this was very coarse. You know, it was like jets and turtles and rabbits or whatever, and like, that was it. And, um, it was thinly veiled how much confidence the teacher had in each of our abilities to read. Uh, have we gotten any better? 

[00:13:38] Rebecca Silverman: We have, um, we have, particularly with the decoding. There are really good measures that help us identify kids who are going to struggle with that, either because they have a hard time, uh, discerning the sounds of the language or because they have a hard time matching those sounds to letters.

[00:13:52] We're, we have good measures of that. Um, I think we're still at a point where we're trying to make sure that all schools are using those measures and using them consistently. So there's sort of this like more systemic and policy level, um, aspect to education. Um, the measures of language comprehension, uh, we're much further behind.

[00:14:11] And so we have a much harder time, um, figuring out is it, for example, because a child has a, uh, disability in the language comprehension area, or is it because maybe they multiple languages and haven't quite figured out English yet, for example. So we have a lot more, uh of a challenge and a problem to solve in terms of how do we capture and how do we identify kids with comprehension based difficulties.

[00:14:38] Russ Altman: Do they tend to be, um, and forgive me for being so simplistic, but like read this passage and answer questions? Is that still where we are? 

[00:14:46] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, absolutely. And sometimes it's broken down a little bit more into like, what does this word mean? And you've got some multiple-choice options. But we're pretty, uh, we're pretty basic when it comes to how to measure those things right now. And so I think coming up with new ways to do that is really, uh, is really going to be important in the future. 

[00:15:03] Russ Altman: I had a very strange experience as a child where one of my teachers after a standardized test of reading came up to me and said, Russ, you're a much better reader than I thought. And even as a kid, I could tell he was saying, it was my English teacher, I could tell he was saying, I thought you were not so good at reading and didn't understand. But evidently this test is indicating that you do. And I remember being confused about what signals I was sending in class that he kind of thought I was, uh, not very strong even. And he was so surprised by these test results. Uh, it's just like seventh grade. And it was, he was a great teacher. 

[00:15:42] So I, this is a much bigger tech discussion. But I want to ask you about technology and the role of technology. Um, uh, is there data about the differences of reading on paper, on a tablet, on a computer. Uh, as an old guy, I am extremely aware that I am so much better with paper, and for serious things that I really care about, I know it kills trees, but I just have to print things out, and I don't know if that's just an anecdote, or if there's actually data about this. 

[00:16:12] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, so there is research that looks at the complexity of reading, um, in a, uh, on paper versus in a digital environment. And part of what you need to consider is that the actual act of reading in those two, um, contexts is very different. In paper, you're going, you know, you're turning pages. You can't really move around as much, uh, as easily. Um, whereas on a digital text, you kind of need to understand, um, parts about like the digital nature, like that you can move very easily from one place to another. Sometimes there's, you know, little pop outs or hypertext that you need to pay attention to in order to understand what's going on. Um, so yes, uh, reading in a digital realm is more difficult, um, and can be harder for kids. But it's something that kids can learn and it's something that we can teach them to do better.

[00:17:00] Um, so I would say that, you know, when we're thinking about the world in the future. I think kids will be reading on e-readers and on, online and that kind of thing. And so part of our job is to teach them about how that might be similar and different from reading on paper. 

[00:17:15] Russ Altman: And I take it that most kids these days are still learning on paper.

[00:17:19] Rebecca Silverman: Not necessarily. I mean to some extent, yes, they're learning in paper first. But they quickly moved to e-readers in a lot of contexts. Um, there's been, particularly in the pandemic, there was a lot of exposure to technology. And so now there's a lot of, um, tools where kids can access books online, um, which allows them to have this whole other library outside of their school that they can access. Um, and so kids are reading online at a much earlier age and, um, and much more consistently than they ever had in the past. 

[00:17:49] Russ Altman: This is the Future of Everything with Russ Altman, more with Rebecca Silverman next.

[00:18:08] Welcome back to The Future of Everything. I'm Russ Altman and I'm speaking with my guest professor Rebecca Silverman, about how people learn how to read. 

[00:18:15] In the last segment, we went over some of the key challenges in reading, decoding the words, comprehending the words, and a little bit about some of the technologies and techniques that are used to identify when it's going well and when it's a problem.

[00:18:29] In this segment, Rebecca will tell us about the role of technology in learning. She'll tell us about the role of families and family life, and she'll talk about teachers, the ones to whom many of these responsibilities fall in the end. 

[00:18:42] Rebecca, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about technology. It's everywhere. We're seeing a boom in AI. I'm guessing that this is affecting readers, new readers, new learners, and their teachers a lot. So, how is technology doing with the, in the reading industry? 

[00:18:58] Rebecca Silverman: So, especially in the last few years, there's been a huge boom in educational technology, specifically focused on literacy. Um, and so one of the things that we see is, um, parents, families using a lot more technology in their homes, teachers using and accessing a lot more technology. Um, I think one issue is that not all of these technologies have been explored in research. So we don't know exactly how all of them, uh, play out. What we do know is that, um, we need to teach kids how to use them and how to use them appropriately, um, in order to get the learning that we want from them. Um, we also know that some content is better than other content, so content that's built for specific purposes and that have really thought about how learners learn and instructional design, those tools are going to be better than tools that, you know, are just fun. 

[00:19:47] Russ Altman: Yes.

[00:19:47] Rebecca Silverman: Um, and, uh, we also know that some tools do seem to have, uh, really positive effects and have had studies that have shown that specifically, and this will tie back to what we were talking about before in the area of decoding. We know what it means to teach decoding, and we've kind of figured that out in a digital world as well. Less so on the language comprehension side of things. 

[00:20:07] Russ Altman: Yeah, the comprehension seems to be a holy grail that has come up now a couple of times, as we really are, that's an area of focus in the future, it sounds like. 

[00:20:15] Rebecca Silverman: Absolutely, and trying to figure out, there have been studies of how, um, say, instructional agents, in, um, in a virtual world might be able to support, uh, learners in thinking about text or thinking about, um, you know, words and meaning in text. And so that's an area of, um, of kind of future growth. But I think that's definitely a realm, uh, of exploration in the future. 

[00:20:38] Russ Altman: Great. And then what about, uh, what about families? You mentioned families just now in your answer that families are bringing tools into the home and then new learners about reading or being exposed to these. Let's talk a little bit about the greater role of families. You know, people are always told it's critical to read to your kid, like even maybe even in utero, but certainly ex-utero. You know, we want to be sitting down, um, you know, even with kids who don't talk yet and then having them look at the pictures and look at the words. Um, what's understood about that process and what are the best practices and the best advice these days about, uh, new parents, uh, and their child?

[00:21:13] Rebecca Silverman: So, I think some of the same things are still there. We want to talk to kids, we want to read to kids. I think, um, what's important for families to know is that they should do that in the way that is most comfortable for them, whether culturally or linguistically. So, if families speak a certain language in the home and kids might learn a different language at school, that's fine. Speak to them in their home language. What we know is that developing that home language is crucially important for kids developing, um, their language and literacy skills later on. Um, and also, um, in ways that are culturally appropriate, you know, some families do more storytelling than book reading, and that's okay. That's still setting up the same fundamental functions of, you know, using language to make meaning, um, and to, uh, use for communication. And so I think… 

[00:21:58] Russ Altman: That's great news. It's actually great news that telling stories and an oral tradition, you shouldn't feel bad about doing that. It's still contributing potentially even to the comprehension, in fact, definitely to the comprehension part of the, uh, ledger.

[00:22:13] Rebecca Silverman: Absolutely. I think parents a lot of times feel like, you know, oh, I should be doing it this way. And it feels unnatural to them. It feels like they're engaging with their kids in a way that's not comfortable with them. And I think I would say to parents, you know, go back to what makes sense for you and your family. And most of the time that's going to set kids up for success in school. 

[00:22:31] Russ Altman: You know, speaking about families, I want to ask a slightly off-track question. But it was one that I had written down and I really wanted to know the answer, which is sometimes people, uh, for whatever reason in their life haven't learned how to read as a kid and they take on the learning of reading as an adult. Um, we know for languages, like that there's a golden period where kids can learn languages, like speaking a new language very easily and that becomes much more hard. Is it the same situation for reading or is it different? 

[00:22:59] Rebecca Silverman: So, reading is going to be hard no matter, you know, when we do it. So it's going to be hard as an adult. It's going to be hard as an adult because it feels like we're doing something that, you know, kids can learn to do. And so in that sense, it is going to feel harder. But it's the same task, especially if, um, adults have already developed a lot of the, um, vocabulary skills and language skills that would help them understand things. Then what they're doing is really just figuring out how to break the code, how to connect letters and sounds. Um, and so it's really the fundamentally the same task. And, um, you know, as long as adults kind of recognize that it's going to be harder because they're older and it feels, uh, you know, like something a child should be able to do, they can learn, um, to read.

[00:23:43] Russ Altman: Great. So this is really good news. And it's not like language. They, you're always in the game for learning how to be a reader.

[00:23:51] Rebecca Silverman: Absolutely. 

[00:23:52] Russ Altman: So that's great news. Okay. Well, we've gone twenty-one minutes and we've hardly talked about teachers. But I think it's time you've been a teacher of students, of small children. Tell me how this world is for teachers. I mean, I guess it's kind of, as you said, it's kind of first grade, maybe in kindergarten, but certainly in first grade, that becomes a main focus. And, you know, these are six-year-olds, there's so many things going on. I guess, my first question is just to paint a picture for what it's like to be that teacher whose job it is to get this to start to happen.

[00:24:25] Rebecca Silverman: Sure. So, I mean, one thing is that I think that the range of teachers who are kind of focusing on literacy is much, much larger. So, we think about early childhood teachers, teachers who are teaching two-year-olds, three-year-olds, and how they're already starting to think about how to support kids’ foundational literacy skills. Um, all the way up through elementary school and into middle and high school, you have teachers thinking about literacy. Um, the thing is because reading and literacy is so complex and we talked about that earlier, um, teachers need to know a lot about what it takes to help kids become better readers. And so when they, uh, when they're thinking about what are all the skills that I need to focus on, how do I focus on them best? What does the research say? That's a huge task for teachers, and we spend a lot of time in teacher education doing that. Um, then, especially for elementary, early childhood and elementary school teachers, you also think about all of the other things that they need to be doing. They need to be doing classroom management, math, science, social studies, social, emotional skills, all of those things.

[00:25:23] It's an incredibly tough job to be a teacher, and particularly in this day and age when the stressors are there, um, you know, we're coming out of a pandemic. There's a lot of, um challenges that kids and teachers face. It's a very challenging job and unfortunately we're losing a lot of teachers because of that. Um, so I think in the future we need to figure out ways to recruit teachers, train teachers, support teachers throughout their teaching profession so that we have the educators we need to support the children who are going to be the future of our generation.

[00:25:54] Russ Altman: And I'm guessing, and you can tell me if I'm right, that a teacher in those early childhood years also has to assess each individual student. And like, if they have fifteen, twenty, twenty-five students in the class, they kind of have to have a personalized program for each student. And then you mentioned all the other things that they're thinking about.

[00:26:11] So what kind of support, like what is the training that teachers are getting and how do they learn about the new things that you're doing that might change the way they do their, their job because of new findings and like, what's effective and what's not effective? Do they do kind of, I guess, a professional ongoing education? Do they specialize? I don't remember first grade and second grade teachers like coming in for math or coming in for reading. It was just, at least a long time ago, it was one teacher for the day. So I'm just trying to understand, how do they keep abreast and how do they even begin to come up with personalized programs for all the different students?

[00:26:50] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, I think we've got a long way to come, and earlier we were talking about technology and like how AI might become involved. I think those are ways that we can support teachers with technology. Um, using assessments to generate, um, uh, suggestions for teachers. I think that's, um, that's one way we can help them.

[00:27:06] But, but for now, it usually is one teacher in a room with twenty kids all day long doing all the subjects. Um, I don't think that's a great plan long term. I think actually having teachers specialize would be a much better way to go. Um, I'm a huge proponent of having you know, a literacy specialist who knows the ins and outs of literacy and can kind of direct the other teachers and how to support literacy. Same for math, same for other areas. And I think in that way, the act of being able to look at data, uh, figure out what kids need, what are their strengths, what are their needs in the area of a specific skill like literacy, and then differentiating would be a lot more manageable. Right now, it's just a huge task.

[00:27:44] Russ Altman: So I guess my final question is, you mentioned AI a minute ago. Are you generally optimistic about the outlook for AI to help in this situation? Cause I could imagine you coming in and saying, it's a nightmare. So, where are we on the nightmare to, um, you know, solution to all of our problems in this context for things like AI, ChatGPT that talks, things like that. 

[00:28:07] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, so I think we're, in the infancy of where we will end up. I think there is a lot of promise for how, um, AI and other, uh, technological approaches can be used to help us use the information we have, use the research that we have. And apply it more quickly and efficiently for supporting kids.

[00:28:27] I think right now we're kind of a long way from that. So there's a lot of work to be done to get from point A to point B. But I do think there's a lot of promise there. I think we have to as researchers, as, uh, developers in the field, we need to be very careful though, to really keep in mind that, um, we need to have human eyes on this.

[00:28:47] Russ Altman: Yes. 

[00:28:48] Rebecca Silverman: We need to think like teachers. We need to think about what works in particular contexts, um, in kind of checking the AI. 

[00:28:55] Russ Altman: Yeah.

[00:28:55] Rebecca Silverman: To make sure that we're not just using data randomly without context and input. 

[00:29:00] Russ Altman: Yeah, it sounds like a partnership of the humans and the teachers with the AI is the prudent way to go forward. And it would be kind of a disaster scenario to have, you know, to throw a tablet at a kid and leave the room and expect good things to happen.

[00:29:14] Rebecca Silverman: Yeah, and, and we've done that and that doesn't that it doesn't work. So just giving kids technology isn't going to help, just giving teachers technology isn't going to help. It's really that the inner, interplay between the two that I think is we have work to do in that area. 

[00:29:29] Russ Altman: Thanks to Rebecca Silverman. That was the future of reading. 

[00:29:34] You've been listening to The Future of Everything and I'm your host, Russ Altman. With more than 250 episodes in our back catalog, you can listen to interesting conversations on our broad diversity of topics. And they're ready whenever you are. If you're enjoying the show, please consider leaving it a 5-star rating and some comments about why you love it. That will help the show grow, and it'll help other people discover it. You can connect with me on X or Twitter, @RBaltman, and you can connect with Stanford Engineering @StanfordENG.