This Article is the second in a two-part series called "What Would Henry David Do?" Use this link to read "What Would Henry David Do? Part 1".
This is the modern state of affairs. Because of things like tablets and smartphones, and the technology that has developed before them and because of them, we have the ability to, in an instant, shut ourselves off from the rest of the world and venture into ourselves. The digital natives of this world understand this in an unconscious sort of way.
They have always been self-contained little beings with music, games, friends, and God knows what else at their ready disposal. If Thoreau were here today, he may understand the tradeoffs of such a life, but I am convinced that—in the name of simplicity—he would have embraced our modern, uber-connected lifestyle.
I think Thoreau, being the intelligent guy that he was, would have attempted to harness the power of the device he held in his hands. He would have seen no point in fighting against it.
Even if he liked the feel of a page of a book, he would like even more the feeling of not being bogged down by the physical weight of his library. He would like even more the notion that dust can’t collect on what is not physically there. He would have been enamored with his iPad that could hold thousands of books that he could read, annotate, and search at will.
The beauty of the iPad is its simplicity—in design and function. Great pains have been taken to make it sleek, to make it super-user-friendly, ultra-accessible, and highly functional. The iPad, iPhone, and other devices like them do just about everything but transport you physically from one place to another.
Here’s the hocus pocus. Ready?
The reason why I love my job and the company I work for is because we understand (like Thoreau would have understood, if he were here), that simple is best. We live in a world ruled by Internet technology. The conspicuous nature of tablets and iPhones changes the landscape of education in general and college and life-readiness specifically.
If we want to be efficient and productive when it comes to education, we need to begin to see clearly that traditional practices bog us down. That’s not to say they have no role in education, but they cannot stymie progress. They shouldn’t prevent us from using new and better tools that we find in our hands. There is, then, a role for a physical classroom.
There is a place for a books, but we can’t be dominated by backward vision of education that ignores the relative ease with which a class can be taught remotely.
As schools, we shouldn’t be stuck in a paradigm of buying big ‘ole test prep books for each student at $30 a pop when we could have a web-based test prep program for all students in a high school for as little as $3 per kid!
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I’m not quoting that because I’m saying it now.
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