The Book is an Artifact

Those of you in the education innovation space will know what I am talking about when I say that the era of the book has come and gone.

The book is an artifact. It’s a holdover from an era where knowledge was plentiful (relatively) but access to knowledge was limited. Therefore, it was easy for those with access to call themselves scholars and gatekeepers, and those who did not have access to call themselves serfs or blue collar workers, or the people who just needed a little bit more to get by.

Only ten years ago, that little bit more cost a lot. It wasn’t available. School was not the place where you sought to find the skills that propelled you beyond your class or station. It was the place where you learned that you were what you would always be and that all you were doing was walking into school to get a diploma, to walk out again continuing that path to mediocrity.

That’s not true anymore. The internet changed things. It gave us methods whereby we would radically change not only our station in life, but even change the culture rules that we lived by. How?

It’s interesting to ask how. The answer is, the internet showed us that rules are made up, culture is made up, and reality is the collective belief that everyone can tacitly agree on as being good enough.

We are entering an era where the book is a throw away. It has exercises in it. You can use a book to improve your math. Or, you can use a book to read the poems that you are supposed to memorize and use in your class to understand deeper ways of thinking like metaphor or simile. You can bend your mind space with a book.

But you can’t really create a new culture with one.

Think about this. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door, he wasn’t interested in printing a book, or using a book. He knew that if he put it in a book, it wouldn’t get to the right people. It would be censored. It would be curtailed.

He nailed that stuff to the door because everyone would see it. Everyone would talk about it. And even if you never saw it, someone you knew knew someone who knew someone who saw it, or read it, or heard about it from Martin Luther’s second cousin.

That’s the internet.

School is a filter. Teachers these days will not be disseminators of knowledge. They will be moderators of information. They will be learning at the same time as their students. They will realize that you can’t put a clamp on the tap. The flow of information has been cracked wide open.

All we can do now is pick and choose what bits of it we want to pick up, and barring failures in communication, which communities we want to join with to learn their take on things.

We are not far away from a school in Dubuque, Iowa linking up with a college in China to teach the students Mandarin Chinese AND the China art world.

We used to learn to be dominant.

We will begin to learn, using everything at our disposal, to get along. To join. To enmesh ourselves in a multi-colored cloak of cultures and ideals that are partly ours and partly someone else’s. And we will be fine.

They will write about us on the Internet.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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