There has been a fair amount of debate among bloggers recently on the subject of text books in schools. Some folks are in favour of buying them and others are against. Among the contributors to the debate are Vicki Davis (for) and Stephen Downes (against). The origin of the debate (this time around, anyway) is apparently this post from Wes Fryer. Just for the record, I follow all three of these people on Twitter and Wes and Stephen are both Facebook friends of mine.
I acknowledge that, as someone who has never been a school teacher, my view probably doesn't count for much, but here it is anyway...
I am trying very hard to remain objective here, but there is one major impediment: I love books.
I am always reading at least one book - most of the time, I have more than one on the go. I am working from home today, and have a clear view into my lounge which boasts three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, some shelves of which carry the beginnings of a second layer of books on the outside of the first. Ours is the sort of house with piles of books beside the beds and in the loos (Americans: read bathrooms). When I read and enjoy a book, or section thereof, I go out and buy it. I love to own books. I love the smell of new books and I love that sense of anticipation when I hold a new book in my hands: what surprises does it hold? So you can guess which side of the debate comes more naturally to me ;-)
I have tried hard to remain neutral on this subject but when I list the pros and cons regarding text books, I find it far easier to come up with rebuttals for the cons. For example:
- Books cost money - well, so do computers
- Books date - so do online publications, computer hardware and software, besides - students can learn critical thinking from the challenge of discovering where a text has been superceded by more recent discovery
- Books require the sacrifice of trees - and technology requires no sacrifices?
- Books involve all sorts of un-green production processes - so does hardware
- You can scribble in the margins and underline passages in a book
- You can study a book in places where there is no internet connection
- The tactile experience of a book carries value in itself
- You can happily and safely fall asleep reading a book in bed (don't scoff - I do it all the time!)
I can't get beyond the view of books as a treasure, and this remains the barrier - the reason my voice can't join the other side of the debate.