Being in the publishing business, perched between the online and paper worlds, we probably understand a little better than most that the industry is in the midst of unprecedented change. So, we are somewhat sympathetic to the Floyd County Board of Education’s desire to move instruction beyond textbooks and into the digital future.
At the same time, we cannot help but be troubled by some of the things we learned last week, when we decided to look into complaints about textbooks at Prestonsburg High School.
Utilizing the endless number of resources availble online makes perfect sense. Seeking to upgrade the electronic infrastructure at our county’s school does, too. For that matter, so does looking ahead and envisioning a day when students’ textbooks are carried on their laptops and tablets.
But maintaining a supply of disintegrating textbooks, some outdated, does not. Neither does allowing individual teachers to implement a policy of forbidding students from taking their books home for further study.
One day, probably very soon, there will not be a need for those heavy, clunky textbooks that students have lugged around for generations. Instead, students will be able to store all of those books in electronic form on any number of devices. We imagine that change will provide many benefits, such as allowing biology students to watch videos of dissections before they lay hands on a scalpel, or or allowing foreign language students to hear an authentic pronunciation of their vocabulary words.
But that day is not here, yet.
Yes, many of those same benefits are available during classtime, and enterprising students can scour the Internet to avail themselves of those same tools.
But not all students have Internet access at home, and not all who do are enterprising enough to seek out such tools, with so much else occupying our teens’ lives.
We can support the efforts of schools and the board of education to upgrade the resources upon which students rely. We understand that change will not occur overnight, nor will it be inexpensive.
That is why it remains important for schools to continue investing in textbooks in the interim. Regardless of how far we want future students to go, we cannot sacrifice the few years before then by providing them with substandard educational resources or restricting their access to those resources to school hours.
— The Floyd County Times