Books: Paper vs. Screen
old book clipart

Recently, the High School English Department had me pulling out my hair. I don’t have much to spare so you can imagine my frustration levels. They assigned non-fiction war memoirs and the students were responsible for obtaining their own copies. The books were not available in the text book center and the teacher did not have a class set. This would have worked fine if we were in the States where there is Barns and Noble seemingly in every city or Amazon can deliver anything within a couple of days. However, we are in the Philippines  and getting a paperback copy of a non-fiction war memoir can be tricky. This left my students to find a copy online. Only one of my students have a kindle and another one was planning on asking his parents to borrow their IPAD. The rest were planning on finding a PDF version online or trying to torrent a copy of the book.

I found myself frustrated with this solution because I feel students would be better served with a paper copy of the book. I decided to go online to do some research. Like anything online you can find evidence to support what you want to believe. Take a look at this, and then take a look at this.

I see the validity of both sides. E Readers are great! It’s a library that fits into your bookbag! It’s especially handy overseas, when bookstores aren’t stocked with the titles you are looking for, and I think most importantly when you have a wife who goes to bed way earlier then you and doesn’t like when you keep the nightlight on. However, I find there is something comforting about holding a book in your hand, the fact that it is not an illuminated screen, and, most importantly, how smart you look when you have a really great looking, custom built book case in your living room. I digress.

On just pure observation with no research to back up my claim, I feel that the ADHD male teenage population (the majority of the students I work with) have a very hard time respectfully using the technology at their disposal. To put it bluntly they are not the most responsible digital citizens. All students have multiple tabs open and use google chat to talk with their friends, however, they are able to get back to the task at hand. My boys get caught in digital vortex they can’t climb out of. It’s one long dark hole of youtube skate videos and subreddits. They are never fast enough with the three finger swipe left to take them back where they are supposed to be, a kind of digital middle finger, plus another two, to the teacher. Which brings me back to the digital books. I knew how hard the upcoming unit was going to be, research be damned. My boys already didn’t like to read, now they have to read a book online, probably with a computer (or IPAD) with all those digital distractions right at their fingertips! Sacré bleu




Author: mrbakerism

I am a high school learning support teacher at the International School Manila. Welcome to my site!

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