Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to start phasing out textbooks in California classrooms in favour of information obtained online. His reasoning is that it will save money and ensure that children always have the most up to date information available.
I find this decision deeply saddening. While I admit that I”ve long had a love affair with books that is not born into every one. I believe that there is a lot to be learned from sitting quietly and reading books. In fact I’d go so far to say that in some ways it”s easier to scan for the information you are looking for in a book than it is on the internet, especially if you don’t know the correct “key word” to type into a search engine.
Books are typically written by people at least somewhat qualified to write them unlike the internet which is full of both information and disinformation that any man and their dog can post.
While I agree that it is impossible to keep textbooks completely up to date I wonder how often this is really critical. For example, how much more “up to date” information can the internet contain on Henry the VII”s 6 wives? How metamorphic rocks are formed? Or perhaps on Freud”s theories?
Teaching children straight off the internet without teaching them to use books is like learning to read a digital watch and never learning an analogue. Or driving an automatic car and never learning to drive standard. Yes it is possible but yes you also miss something in the process.
Perhaps I am a stick in the mud and the world will eventually change to be truly paperless… I think I”ll be the last person out of the “book section” of the libary.