Aug 9, 2009

Schools: Bye-Bye Books, hello Internet Clippings

This one is about news, or more like headlines. If I recall correctly, it was the New York Times (that paper going bankrupt anf selling several floors of its HQ building... yeah, that one), that contained an article about the education system incentivating the teachers to leave the books and use more information from the net in their classes. I would like to know who thinks that's a good idea. I certainly see no good in it. It might work in research, but it's not the best path to walk down when it comes to education. Lemme explain you why.

Books, particularly textbooks fulfill several important functions in our lives and in our education. Unlike the Internet, they are a constant source of reference that can't be altered or "hacked" as easily as a site in the Internet. It's easy to use, simple, and also easy to reference. A mistyped word won't send you to a different book, and add to it, usually all book include a table of contents that helps people get an idea of what does it has. Books are stable, and unless you jump from edition to edition, they usually contain the same information. That allows professors and educational teams to study several textbooks, compare them and choose those which prove to be better and fulfill the requierements of a given educational curriculum. These books are also checked up by editorial houses, and often even by scholars and education specilists, who make sure the information contained in them are right and proper for the given age for which they are being intended. (Young children don't really need all the gore from history, now do they?) But are internet articles, Wikipedia information, or any other source, whatever other source in the net, checked up by someone? Does someone make sure everything on the net is right and proper? We all know anything goes online, you can't guarantee the truth or quality of what you read. A textbook can often make it up for a not-so-good teacher, and we all know there are plenty of not-so-good teachers and down right mediocre teachers who rather bully kids with tests and hard questions for which they don't have the answers, than admit they have no idea what should they be teaching. But if you leave the teacher to the Internet, how can the student make sure he or she is really studying facts? Truth?

Books also help stablish an order in the study material. Books make sure that year after year all students go through the same subjects, so that no kid is stuck learning several years in a row the exact same topic. That actually happened to me. I was forced to study for eleven years Costa Rica's history, which helped me only block the entire thing out until up to today I know nothing. Yes, that was before the Age of the Net, but back then teachers used xeroxed pages, and left the books behind, or changed a good textbook collection for several versions of the same thing.

Then, when you give a kid a book, the kid can page forward, look into things that haven't been talked over at class and maybe something triggers his or her curiousity and sends him or her on a "little research party". Sure, they might not be many, but what about these kids? I was one, and I remember reading parts from what was left behind, sad because we didn't get to study it in class. However it gave me the push to take off by myself and read other things. But in a cacophonic ocean as the Internet, where can a child find guidance?

If books have worked so well these past years, why should they be replaced? Government can subside them, make them affordable or even make them available for free to the students. You don't need any hardware, any handset or equipment to read a book, you don't need to tangle yourself into any bill, make it electrical bill, phone bill, internet bill, any bill to read a book. All you need are your eyes, or your fingers, if you are blind and need a Braille book. With the Internet is another story. Either articles will have to be xeroxed, and all those copies must be paid somehow, must likely by parents, or the computer, the internet bill and the jump in the electrical bill will be a requierement to go to school. For the middle class family maybe that's not a surplus, but what about the low income families? Those where the parents have to take many jobs to suppor the family, or can't because of the crisis and no one is hiring, and money at home ain't enough? Would kids have to make a line at the local library, and let's hope that's a safe neighbourhood, spend time waiting for a computer, and hopefully that goes for free, and then that it wouldn't take all their time. But then there's a time when a kid can study, and really, how many of us prefered to study at night? Could these kids do that? Will the printing of the material for school be for free? And could a kid concentrate at the computer on homework and don't go rather playing online?

A lot of kids grow up stupid already thanks to the ongoing monotone, boring teaching style that goes running in circles, but throwing books away in favor of the Internet is the last step into absolute, massified stupidity around the world.

-books are still the best, most convenient way of studying.


Dragonfly said...

Creo que el único libro de texto, que puedo decir que yo realemente adorada era precisamente el de historia... me encanta la historia, pero sobre todo la internacional... no tanto la tica.

Los demás libros eran solo para que me doliera la espalda... He, he, heeeee

Besos ;)

Storm Bunny said...

Igual!!! El libro de 9no era mi favorito, pero como no lo vimos, al final, me lo leí yo solita. Luego había una antología de espaňol que tenía cuentos y poemas buenísimos que nunca leímos en clase porque los gerundios y transitivos eran más importantes.

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