In a recent Herald article, Caro Rainsford, a director of Google in New Zealand, argued that the lockdown’s closure of schools and universities, paved a new education future of digital learning.

She’s talking nonsense.

In education terms the Internet is doing no more than has been done for centuries, only with books.

But whether reading books or a screen, reading is only one, certainly important part of an education. Equally critical is talking, whether with seminar discussions or one-on-one with teachers.

Caro also argued that the internet enabled a wider audience. Doubtless that’s true in Africa, India and the like but the fact is books have never been cheaper to produce. Thanks to technology the major cost of yesteryear, namely type-setting, no longer applies.

That said, I’m biased. Books have been a life-long personal passion virtually as an object of veneration. This is not uncommon, many of my friends and family sharing that sentiment.

Unfortunately it has a price, namely a constant niggling frustration at not being able to read and re-read them all at once.


markscreaminggoosearmstrong August 19, 2020 at 9:16 am

I share your passion and have only recently been able to confine my book purchases to non-fiction in my special areas of interest and a few quality fictions, along with, of course, a selection of satire.
It is very sad that we spend a large sum of our rates on public libraries and the young appear to use them only for free internet access, usually for gaming.

    No one in their right mind would game at most libraries given the speed and limitations of the free internet. Pissing around on social media or even watching videos though for sure.

    To me they are handy for older more ‘obscure’ titles, some of Sir Robert’s work I first found and read in the Wellington library for example.

Surely it’s the educators that are the problem. This “Millennial” generation has the greatest access to information in the history of civilisation but, somehow, they are proving to be perhaps the stupidest yet. I suspect this rampant stupidity can be traced back to the feminisation of the education system in the 80’s.

    This is illustrated well by the destroyers of statues indiscriminately pulling down those of anti-slavery reformers and fighters, when their rage is allegedly over past “evils”. They might tell you there isn’t anything “good” in our history that is worth preserving the memory of; which is not merely ignorant, but dangerously so, at Orwellian levels.

Yeah,let’s hear it for books and the great amusement,provocation, and learning available therein.

It is an odd thing that some Ebooks are more expensive than paper ones. MY sone has started at VUW this year and being with like-minded people and opening “new doors” is proof that education, as you say, is importantly a social contact matter.

    While I much prefer physical copies for a host of reasons, you can find most things online, books included, if you know where to look, often for free. Plenty of people save money on expensive text books that way.

    VUW itself has gotten in trouble a few times as I understand it for for the amount of copying texts its staff did routinely, which prompted some overhauls a few years back.

I live in a provincial town so one of our daughters would need accommodation in Auckland. I bought a shoe box sized apartment, ten minutes walk from the university. She told me, as we celebrated her B.A. award, that although she was very grateful for the neat accommodation at the price she liked paying, viz zero, she had walked home for lunch in a thrifty manner. What she missed was the informative and stimulating lunches in the quadrangle, because she was having a cost effective lunch in the apartment, alone. Talking is such an important part of one’s education.

I spent some time on the Board of Trustees of a school.
It caused me think about the purpose of the education system.
I concluded a very important role of schools was maintaining social control. Keeping kids off the street while they grow up is an important function, not to be underestimated.

Indeed Caro is talking utter bollocks. Talking, social interaction, figuring out the other sex, sport, activity, punch-ups, etc etc. All necessary in the great tapestry of life. The most boring and stupid people are those who live on the screen. Get out and live, bloody hard with the present maniac dictating life to the team of 5 million.

    School isn’t really about education, or at least not for the most part, it’s more child-care, socialisation, and a few other things, as you say, with a little bit of formal education mixed in. If you really wanted to educated a child you’d do it yourself or hire a private tutor, which is probably so many of rich were starting to move towards homeschooling long before lockdowns.

Hell Bob, why did you bother to become so rich if all you need to be happy is a book! lol.

Digital learning is powerful if it’s utilised in the right way. Eg. Make a good lecture, online, and let the students watch it for homework (no distractions). They then come to class the next day to do the exercises, already 80% expert on what they’re learning. They students then help each other while they’re all together, and teacher is left almost redundant (whoops!).

Video material is also excellent for practical skills, and job training.

Online education in some form is the future, but I very much take your point.

I would say in many respects the apprenticeship model is actually probably the best form of education for many skills or ‘professions’ but it is sadly lacking formally anywhere outside of the trades.

Though nothing can quite compete with autodidactism and self-directed reading of course, but there are benefits to be gained from bouncing off other people in real time, whether tutors or friends etc.

Hi Bob, my wife is an English teacher at a secondary school… needless to say she is a huge lover of books! Our kids inherited her passion, assisted mildly by me through evening readings of their current favourite book. Digital learning covers far more than just reading – the way students submit work, receive feedback and even engage with their teachers is very different from when I was at College in the mid 80’s – all enabled by “the internet”. The internet has also rather helpfully done more to reduce teen pregnancy and drinking that probably any government initiative! My son, studying Commerce and Arts at University, hasn’t really missed a beat this year (academically). Auckland was very well set up for digital learning. Some other universities were not…

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