Sweden was a pioneer in the use of technology in the classroom. Interacting and participating in classes seemed easier with computers. They were fed up with textbooks, always with the same explanations, identical photographs and exercises. It was time to introduce screens in education, to try to achieve a more up-to-date rhythm to the needs of each student.
When I went to school, I liked textbooks. They were often nomadic books, traveling from school to home, up and down. I loved that the paper was white and the pages smelled of ink. Each one was like a box of secrets: he underlined phrases, scattered questions, exclamation points, personal comments. He even copied a verse or a stanza from the songs he heard. I made them mine, I took care of them. At times I loved them, at times they made me angry if I had to memorize uninteresting concepts.
Suddenly, textbooks were considered old junk. The classrooms were filled with screens into which the students were immersed with prodigious ease. Europe chose to teach through computers, and this was very useful for us at the height of the pandemic, for example, when online teaching saved us from isolation and lack of communication.
As the displays were introduced, the books were removed. Not just textbooks, but all books. Thus began the disaster. Because? The screen opened up a universe of teaching possibilities, but also leisure. The students depended on the screens. Real lives were replaced by the lives of technologies: games, avatars, watsaps, photos and networks. We intended to increase the creativity and reasoning capacity of the students, transversal and interdisciplinary learning, but we did not know how. We dwarfed their thought.
We must not reduce knowledge of the world and relationships with others to a screen
The Swedish government has decided to back down because the level of reading and writing of students has made a free fall from 2016 to date. The results of the Pirls report on reading comprehension have been very bad. In Spain, the reading rates are lower than in Sweden.
It is evident that the fault does not lie with technology, but with how we use it. Who said that screens and books are incompatible? If we had to choose, I would opt for books. Nothing stimulates creativity, the critical spirit, the ability to question reality, the desire to know as much as books. Reading is the most enjoyable and enriching activity in the world, but technology can be a magnificent learning tool.
We must not reduce knowledge of the world and relationships with others to a screen. Sweden was a pioneer in digitization, and now rectifies. Welcome books to the classroom and to life! However, it is not necessary to fall into simplicity: technology is part of our world and improves it, if we know how to use it. We do not live in a dilemma between technology and books. It is not about choosing one option and eliminating another from our map of possibilities. The choice is different: do we learn to love books and get young people excited about reading them? Do we also use technologies to approach reading? If we know how to do it, we will win. A world without readers is like a desert.
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