« The Good News about Computer Science | Main | Seeking Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Interested in Computing! »

There's Nothing Like a Good Book!

I understand there are good reasons to push for more digital texts, and for the "fully immersive digital experience". But there is nothing like a good book, there is nothing like being lost in a good book. I worry that kids will lose all creativity, all ability to use their imagination. And where will the great leaps come from, the aha moments, if people don't use their imaginations. Sure, I'm all for kids being able to pull out an iPad or notebook computer, pull up text for a classroom discussion, not kill their backs lugging five tomes around school all day, save millions of trees. But let's not give up on books altogether. Turning pages, letting the mind wander, flipping back and forth between chapters, revisiting a character or an idea in an early section, being able to find on page 30 the formula you need on page 50. These are the activities that actually underly critical thinking. I love technology, but reading on a screen enforces linearity. And it promotes loss of focus. Yes, you can follow a hyperlink, but in some ways you then risk never coming back to the starting point. You get sucked into the vortex of the Internet. You forget why you were following the link in the first place.

My two favorite ways to read; sitting with just a book, or sitting with a book and a computer. Then I can look up things on the computer, but the book is still my touchstone, always calling me back. I still read with pencil or pen in hand. I make notes, mark up things. I still return to the books I read in college for English and political science, I reread, and I also read my notes. I would never dig around to find some electronic file of ruminations, but when the notes are right there I can easily revisit the thoughts of my younger self.

Arne Duncan, rethink where you take us. Sure, use digital text in some circumstances, use it in ways that make sense. But don't use it 100% of the time, don't create a generation of young people who don't appreciate the value of a good book in all its papered glory.

Valerie Barr
Computational Thinking Task Force chair

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)