I am the product of the public education system of the 50s and 60s. So it’s understandable that things have changed since my day. Knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. The world is a much smaller place. The students today need to know every thing I needed to know and so much more. The world has always been a competitive place but it is much more so today.
Without a doubt, I had some teachers that were terrible teachers. It was obvious that they really didn’t want to be teachers. But these teachers were the exception and not the rule. I had many fine and capable teachers.
I always liked math and science; English and literature not so much, which explains why I became an engineer. However, there was one English-Lit teacher I had in my sophomore year of highschool that changed me forever. She was hard as nails and very demanding. She had a knack for assessing a students potential and she adjusted her teaching accordingly. In other words, she demanded that every student work up to their ability. She did not demand more from any student. She would often send a group of the better students to the library to do some special assignment while she worked with the rest of us. From her I learned how to truly read and not just the words if you know what I mean. One day something unthinkable, to me, happened. I was sent off to the library along with the better students to do a special assignment. Let me tell you, from that day forward I would have moved heaven and hell to prove her faith in me was justified. This one teacher opened up a whole other world to me.
All of this is to say that I find books to be something almost sacred. So when I read this article in “The American Spectator”, which was based on this article in “Houston Press Blogs” I was dumbfounded.
This story takes place in Houston, Texas, where
Principal James McSwain of Lamar High School….has thrown out nearly all the books and filled the space they were unnecessarily taking up with couches and coffee and food and told his students that they can access the exciting world of reading through e-books! And if they don’t have a laptop of their own and Internet access to do so, they can use one of the laptop computers in the library coffeeshop!
He’s even expanded the library coffeeshop hours to 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. which works great if you’re one of those kids with your own transportation and not one who is too young, too poor or with rotten parents who won’t let you drive to school yourself rather than riding the bus.
And he’s bought 35 new laptops! For a Houston ISD flagship school with more than 3,000 students in it.
Now let me be clear. I think the internet is the greatest educational tool ever. I love it. But come on! I’ve read many books on-line and I’m sorry but I find the experience a far second best to reading a real book. Tol hold in your hands the thoughts and visions of another person is just not the same thing as reading on-line. And for a highschool to literally throw away the books from their library is utter foolishness, a sacrilidge.
So am I an old fuddy duddy that has fallen behind the times? What do you think?