Electronic Books For Schools?

The leader of the opposition party here in Greece recently talked about introducing electronic books in schools. I think it would be a good idea and will almost certainly happen at some point, but the thing is, even with an electronic book, what is going to be contained in the book?

At the moment, children are provided with free books - which is good - but the state produces all the books and all schools have to use them. There is no choice. This situation leads to two basic problems.

Firstly, it encourages pupils just to learn things parrot-fashion and memorise specific chunks from the books to answer the exam questions. Freedom of thought is in no way cultivated, nor are children taught to think for themselves. As I mentioned in a previous post, Socrates Would Be Turning In His Grave, Greeks take pride - quite rightly - in the minds of the ancient Greeks, but the ironic thing is that Socrates used the method of teaching whereby his students were encouraged to find the answers for themselves. 2.500 years later, the exact opposite is happening in the same country!

Secondly, I always think it is dangerous for young children to be given the state's view of what they should be learning. This is especially the case with history. Authoritarian states classicly influence the minds of the youth with their own version of facts. Now, Greece is obviously not an authoritarian state, but at the same time, children from a young age are forced to take in the 'official slant' on all the subjects. Schools should be encouraged to choose whichever books they consider best, which would in turn encourage writers and publishers to strive to produce better materials and would encourage youngsters to think for themselves and answer exam questions with their own understanding and reasoning rather than just memorise critical passages from one book.

That being done, then an electronic book would certainly make life easier for them. For example, the Amazon Kindle, which is a wireless reading device, is extremely light and can hold over 200 titles that you can download in less than a minute. The cost of these books is also much less than the hard copies.

So, yes, let's have electronic books for schoolchildren, but firstly let's focus on the content and the teaching methods. Technology can only complement that, not replace it!

More Corfu Books

Following my post 10 Corfu Books, I got a couple of comments recommending another two books. Of course, whenever you make up any list of 10 you're going to have to leave out a lot of others, and all my lists of 10 on this blog are not necessarily the best 10.

However, seeing as that these people kindly took the time to recommend the books, I'm going to mention them here.

has this to say about Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson - "The best Corfu novel for years. It came out last summer, and is a lovely evocative read, set around Kalami and Agni with wonderful descriptions of the landscape and the sea. Loosely based on Lawrence Durrell."

Another comment came recommending The Greek For Love by James Chatto - "A very touching and also funny account of moving to Corfu for a summer and just not leaving. It has became one of my favourite books."

Many thanks to both of you for these recommendations!

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Social Media In Plain English

I came across this short video which quite succinctly - in plain English - describes how social media works. I think it's an excellent presentation and worth watching.

10 Corfu Books

Continuing the occasional series Corfu Lists of 10, this is a list of 10 books about Corfu, which aren't guides.

The most famous writers who lived in Corfu and wrote about it were the Durrells - Gerald and Lawrence. I have listed 3 of their books here - this is obviously not all of their work but are the books they wrote about Corfu.

The first and arguably best-known - there was a British TV series based on it many years ago - is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. The books not only covers the natural history of the island, but is also a wonderful and amusing account of the Durrell family's experiences there when Gerald was a young boy.

Gerald also wrote Birds, Beasts and Relatives, which is the sequel to My Family and Other Animals and is also another nature guide along with delightful childhood memories and stories from the island.

Gerald's brother Lawrence wrote Prospero's Cell, which famously includes the suggestion that Corfu was the setting for Shakespeare's The Tempest. Here, we read about a young man whose escape from England to Corfu is interrupted by the onset of World War 2.

I love this delightful book by Emma Tennant, A House in Corfu, which relates her own childhood visits to Corfu and the acquisition of a piece of land and a house on the island's west coast.

Prospero's Daughters by Sally Stewart is a mystery whose heroine, an English writer, goes to Corfu in search of the origins of a painting that her grandfather brought back from Greece.

Kim Green's Paging Aphrodite is a fast-racing and well plotted story about four women who end up on the island of Corfu for their own various reasons.

to watch the waves go by is Peter Stoneley's amusing account of 30 years of struggle against Greek law, customs, government, weather and wildlife on the island of Corfu.

Captain from Corfu by Muriel Maddox is a romantic story about the love affair between Nikos, who is a Greek captain of a cruise ship, and Alexa, a beautiful American widow.

Alice Padova Anderson's Corfu Cooking combines local recipes with various stories from the author's childhood on the island of Corfu. The book includes illustrations of Corfu taken from the author's photos.

Corfu Sketches by John Waller is full of sketches, as the title would suggest, of Corfu Town, villages and countryside. For those who have been to the island it is a delightful reminder of their visit and for those who haven't been it is a wonderful incentive to visit!

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