Books or computers, is that the question?

Sweden was a pioneer in the use of technology in classrooms.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
08 June 2023 Thursday 04:52
3 Reads
Books or computers, is that the question?

Sweden was a pioneer in the use of technology in classrooms. Interacting and participating in classes seemed simpler with computers. They were fed up with textbooks, always with the same explanations, identical photographs and exercises. It was time to introduce screens to education, to try to achieve a more up-to-date rhythm to the needs of each student.

When I was at school, I liked textbooks. They were often nomadic books, traveling from school to home, up and down. I loved that the paper was white and the pages smelled of ink. Each one was like a box of secrets: I underlined sentences, scattered questions, exclamation marks, personal comments. He even copied a verse or a stanza from the songs he was listening to. I made them mine, I took care of them. Sometimes I loved them, and sometimes they pissed me off if I had to memorize uninteresting concepts.

Suddenly textbooks were considered old andromedas. The classrooms were filled with screens where the students immersed themselves with prodigious ease. Europe chose to teach through computers, and this was very useful for us in the midst of the pandemic, for example, when online teaching saved us from isolation and incommunicado.

As the screens were brought in, the books were withdrawn. Not just text books, but all books. Thus began the disaster. For what reason? The screen opened up a universe of educational possibilities but also of leisure. Students became dependent on screens. Real lives were replaced by the lives of technologies: games, avatars, watsaps, photographs and networks. We intended to increase students' creativity and reasoning ability, transversal and interdisciplinary learning, but we didn't hear about it. We challenged their thinking.

The Swedish Government has decided to backtrack because the level of reading and writing of students has been in free fall from 2016 until today. The results of the Pirls report on reading comprehension have been very poor. In Spain, reading rates are lower than in Sweden.

Clearly, the fault lies not with the technology, but with how we use it. Who said screens and books are incompatible? If we had to choose, I would choose the books. Nothing stimulates creativity, the critical spirit, the ability to question reality, the desire to know as much as books. Reading is the most pleasurable and enriching activity in the world, but technology can be a great learning tool.

We should not reduce knowledge of the world and relationships with others to a screen. Sweden was a pioneer in digitization, and now it is rectifying. Welcome books to classrooms and to life! However, there is no need to fall into simplism: technology is part of our world and improves it, if we know how to use it. We do not live in a dilemma between technology and books. It is not about choosing one option and eliminating the other from our map of possibilities. The option is another: do we learn to love books and make young people enthusiastic about them? Do we also use technology to approach reading? If we know how to do it, we will win. A world without readers is like a desert.