In Defense of the Book

Cardinal Newman Society | 6/23/2018 | Staff
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The quality of education is closely connected to the quality of reading, a thing threatened in the age of screens. The question of book or Nook, of novel or Kindle, of ink or e-ink, is a real question these days. The dichotomy is based upon the difference between the physical and digital experience of reading—and it is a difference that can make all the difference in education.

Despite how individual judgments may lean, screens are by general judgment convenient, and therefore the tablet is the trendy way to read. While its convenience has not statistically caused an increase in reading books, it is making physical books a less common commodity. Of all the endangered things in the modern world, the book seems to be getting rather short shrift.

Shift - Paper - Pixels - Experience - People

The shift from paper to pixels can compromise the educational experience of young people who are already compromised by screens. The reasons are not difficult to grasp. Nothing compares to the feel and smell and weight of a proper book. A book is reliable, tactile, and real. It is proportioned to the human body in a way that computers are not. The stuff of the digital realm is by nature mutable. The stuff of a book is permanent, or in any event enduring. Its printed pages are not subject to the whirlwind of copying, pasting, deleting, or remote modification. It is, in the end, more real because it is more concrete, more constant, and gives an experience that partakes more fully in reality—a preferable thing in a good education.

But, in any case, why discard the book so summarily? Books have not lost any argument, have they? There has not even been an argument. The problem is that technology always seems to get a free pass. Has anyone posed the question, “Are we sure that...
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