Technology 'is replacing reading'

Reading and literature is in danger of being "swept away" by new technologies that are commanding more of children's time, the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard said yesterday.

English and the humanities are vitally important to a child's education and should not be sidelined, he added. "I am aware that there's more competition for one's attention nowadays. The printed word is no longer as in demand as when I was of the age of pupils or even at the age of the teachers teaching them," he said.

He added that we live "in a world of technology" where "the moving image" takes precedence in children's lives over "the printed page". He said: "I think that's to the detriment."

However, he said his sons and grandchildren all knew things of which he was unaware because of technology, and that he was not making a case for "good and bad".

Sir Tom was speaking ahead of his address to the Prince's Teaching Institute summer school, which encourages teachers to rediscover their love of their subject.