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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!

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