In an article in The American Thinker recently, Richard Miniter propounds the idea that with the advent of ereaders, both school text books and schools themselves will become obsolete and that kids will receive all the education they need at home, with the help of ebooks.
The basis of his thinking is the undeniable fact that most schooling is based on one text book per subject, and thus is very likely to be highly biased in one direction or another, in other words more a matter of conditioning rather than educating the child.
Approved text books brain wash kids:
Another aspect of approved school text books that concerns him is the manner in which (in the USA at least) such text books are chosen by school boards, and the manner in which these text books reflect the accepted views of that school board. The whole argument about Darwin versus the “God Did It All” camps is a good example of this problem.
Cheap and free ebooks make it possible:
He then goes on to compare this to the wide availability of free or very cheap ebooks on just about any subject you can imagine, plus the existence of sites such as Gutenberg, who have hundreds of thousands of ebooks written over the last 2000 years. His view being that a child can read a number of ebooks around a given topic, and thus acquire a much broader understanding of the subject matter, also undeniable.
Home schooling thus:
Basically his argument is that the massive availability of cheap or free ebooks makes it economically possible for parents to educate their kids at home, and that with any luck, schools will wither on the vine and cease to exist.
So, he envisions a world in which kids are educated at home by their parents, in a structured manner, but not influenced by the fixed views of school boards, educational departments or teachers, and no longer go to huge, noisy, scary and brainwashing centres of learning any more, but spend a few hours each day in a sort of Socratic form of self-study under the benevolent eyes of their parents.
Not all parents will go for this:
Sadly though, he ignores the fact that is all too well known to all teachers, which is that the great majority of parents would almost rather cut off their arms than undertake the task of educating their kids. Either because they themselves are hardly educated, and would thus have no idea how to set up and run a useful form of home schooling for their kids, or because the parents both have jobs and are thus in no position to look after the education of their kids, or keep an eye on them for the remainder of the day after the home schooling for the day has been completed.
Ereaders and ebooks do open possibilities:
For those relatively few parents who are prepared to take on the task of educating their children, the arrival of the Kindle, Sony, Nook et.al do open up a wealth of cheap resources for them to use in educating their kids at home, but in fact nothing else has really changed since in most places, in order to be allowed to home school your kids, you are obliged to follow the approved curriculum of the area in which you live…. The kids have to pass the exams after all, no matter where they are educated.
So, in my view, what ereaders offer parents is the possibility, should they have the interest in taking the trouble to achieve it, of giving their kids a wider range of information on any given topic than the school text books will give them. Scarcely revolutionary really.
Link to Miniter’s article: The American Thinker.
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Do you think that he has the right idea, and that schools are now bound to disappear in favour of home schooling, or is he wrong in his assumptions of the effect of the arrival of ereaders and ebooks? Do share your views with us here.