Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Pupil Is Not Above His Teacher, But a Baboon's Butt is Smarter Than This School Board

Tired of hearing how bad our schools are? Cheer up! In the UK, they have a school that's getting rid of its library because it's just unneeded.

...And it's unneeded because the school is to become a virtual learning environment.

Now, whether you think the word virtual is meant to modify learning, environment, or both, let's review what the word means (for those people who might need a little refresher):

If we leave out those meanings of virtual that are rare or obsolete, and those having to do with optics or particle physics, then we have two options:

a. Digitally simulated.
b. In essence or effect, although not formally or actually; admitting of being called by the name so far as the effect or result is concerned.

So it's not actually a learning environment, though it might seem that way in digital renderings, or it could be, insofar as learning may occur in its environment, though that's certainly not its formal purpose. "Learning environment" is really more of a nickname, you know. Its full name is That Pit of the Intellect, Whereto the Blind Lead the Blind and the Ignorant, the Ignorant.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Virtually, no, literally idiotic.

I can't even think of anything else to say.

Miriam Forster said...

No books? No BOOKS?


I'm gonna have nightmares now....

Someone in that school is going to go virtually insane and shoot everyone. Kids need escape that ISN'T technology based.

Dumb, dumb, dumb...

Anonymous said...

There does seem to be a very troubling tendency for schools to direct children to computers rather than libraries. Aside from the effects this has on literacy, it encourages intellectual laziness in children. You would not believe how difficult it is to get university students to use libraries now. It's quite shocking. To be fair, many of them haven't been taught how to use library catalogues and resources. However, it is abundantly clear that school administrators and governments need to take a far greater interest in the 'basics', rather than cutting costs and being 'hi tech'.

Ebony McKenna. said...

That's so painfully sad.
Those poor kids.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Well, in the short term the kids will probably be happy-- while going high-tech hasn't been shown to increase learning, it DOES give the kids more time to play games, chat, and surf the web!!!!!

I have to admit -- my HS library might as WELL have been virtual.

We were only allowed in if we were with a class on a certain assignment, and then only to use certain reference books (DLB, some Chem stuff, etc), and we got in trouble if we browsed.

Even though the collection was great since the librarian was a retired English teacher.

Luckily, I worked at the public library.... otherwise I would have gone broke at Borders!

Jean Wogaman said...

No. They can't be teaching kids not to use books. That's crazy. What'll they read when the power goes out?

Cheryl Reif said...

Tell me there are at least eBooks for the kids--those would count as virtual, wouldn't they? The best parts of a an online environment for learning, imo, are the areas where they include real books, but perhaps add search features. Even online encyclopedias, though, tend to chop everything up into quickie sound bites that aren't very info-dense. Bummer for these kids, unless their school is doing some MAJOR work to create an astonishing virtual learning environment. And even then... ~Cheryl

Deirdre Mundy said...

E-textbooks would be nice... it'd be much easier to transport them (reader isntead of backpack!) you could skip going to your locker between classes, and you'd have them everywhere you went!

Anonymous said...

Ok, granted, e-books and e-journals take up less storage space and personnel. But aside from the visceral experiences of cracking open a musty book, thumbing through the index, and (gasp) taking notes from a book, I have always found it harder to track on a computer screen than on a page. Also, if a student is unsure about how to use an online/virtual database or index, there are mounds of information that can be completely skipped. A librarian could have helped that.

Anonymous said...

I have to say this doesn't surprise me, even though it is tragic.

When my oldest child was in 6 th grade, his English teacher had to teach most of the kids how to use a dictionary! Honestly, there were many kids who did not even know how to look up the meaning/origins of a word in a book.

Now, there are going to be all of these kids who don't know how to use any kind of reference book. How sad.

Susan York Meyers said...

How do you even begin to number the things we lose when we lose books? I love my computer, but would never, ever claim it could replace a book! And the thought that fiction is unnecessary???
These moves are so short-sighted.

God Bless,

writtenwyrdd said...

Wow. Just, wow. How dumb can it get?

Liz said...

It is nauseating - a friend of mine is a school librarian here in the UK. Their budget has been cut by two thirds, so they can buy very few new books. Not only that, but they have cut the hours the library is open too. She buys some books out of her own pocket, the books she knows her kids at school would enjoy reading.

I review books online and have got a large selection of children's books which I've read and reviewed, and I am donating these to her library and the "family" of libraries that the schools belong to - purely because I can't cope with these kids not having the newer books to read. How unfair is that? Penalised by a school board who would rather have the yobs play soccer on a new field outside, instead of encouraging learning and preparing for the future.


A Fish Alone said...

Politicians and bureaucrats are under the misguided belief that computers educate better than books or even teachers. As an American educator I have seen first hand how this delusion of circuit boards saving us leads to policies that only hurt children.

Anonymous said...

While, yes, there are major moves in the publishing industry to make books available electronically, we aren't nearly there yet. Besides, as the article seems to hint, this seems to be a cost-cutting measure which means the schools likely won't bother buying online books for the kids to experience in their "virtual learning environments." I'm also with Anonymous here. I don't see how they can justify getting rid of librarians along with the library considering most kids competence with finding valuable online resources is minimal. Libraries are a fundamental part of equal access as well. Plenty of kids don't have computers at home and may not be able to do reading at home without access to libraries. This is simply appalling.

Marian Perera said...

Maybe I'm biased because I was always given books at Christmas and never had an ebook reader or a Kindle.

But I just like books - actual books. Books that don't need to be plugged in before you can read them. Books that won't be damaged if you drop them. Thick leatherbound tomes and little paperbacks with brightly colored covers. I love them all.

When we had free periods in the school, we had to spend them in the library and I discovered a volume of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations on a shelf. I spent hours reading fragments of poetry and quotations in that book.

Those poor kids.

Sarah said...

What makes this even sadder is the fact that the library aforementioned probably is useless. The library at my high school has become so computer oriented that the books have been abandoned, even by the librarians. They're better techies than they are at knowing their inventory. Not to mention that they haven't updated their inventory in ages. I have yet to find a single reference book dated after 1990. The library's website has a better reference selection than the library its self. It may as well be useless unless you want a quiet place to do homework.

But, that doesn't give anyone an excuse to take the books away. A book is a book is a book. There is nothing else in the world you can cuddle with on a couch (other than your significant other).

Anonymous said...

Are you KIDDING me???

Anonymous said...

Anyone seen Idiocracy?

Just wondering...

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