David Rothman Hearts His XO

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The OLPC laptop as a promising school and library machine–plus detailed e-reading tips for people lucky enough to own XOs already

Just as we need balance between books and the Web, however, so do we need it between constructivism and an appreciation of life’s immutable sequences. Fiction and other narrative can provide that; what better place to start than through the reading of such works as David Copperfield, the first chapter of which bears an apt title: “I am born.” Yes, novels can have flashback and other devices, but generally events happen because they unfold in a certain sequence. Isn’t time the ultimate algorithm? The core fact of David Copperfield’s life is his being orphaned . You cannot route around it, Internet fashion. No, you need to absorb this, along with the accompanying emotions, which Dickens can impart better than any textbook or Wiki writer, in order to understand what follows. I’m not suggesting that students on a Peruvian mountaintop start out with Dickens, but surely they can do the same with novelists meaningful to them.

Such thoughts would not seem to relate to the development of vocational skills. But, as educators understandably keep reminding us, is the job of schools just to train worker drones? Besides, by understanding the algorithms of life, which can help students excel as humans, too, they can also be better at work and as citizens. It isn’t enough to be brilliant at Java or spreadsheeting. K-12 students need to understand how one human’s thoughts and actions can influence another’s, or multitudes’; that is what good fiction can provide, not turning us into saints but improving us as people in other ways.

It’s a long piece filled with deep thinking (as shown above). Go read.

Explore posts in the same categories: eBooks, Tech - Other

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