Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Forgotten World of Pad and Pencil



"You don't need anything but a pad and a pencil," according to Ray Bradbury. Oh, Lord... the old wise ones who easily bore the dickens out of a younger Google generation brought up on fast paced, give it to me quick, get-to-the-point kind of discussions.

Well, this one is worth a like, a tweet, a post, a listen. Bradbury has that good old fashioned wit; he is part of an old world, a vanishing world, a pre-digital era. Bradbury promotes resourcefulness, simplicity. Make no mistake, he is far from simple and encourages complexity, minus the technology. His method is cheap, simple, and readily available--it's called the book.

In 2013 ,and for the past decade or more, we are breeding nonbook readers. The hard cover book is at risk for becoming archaic, a relic in its time. Well, maybe that's a tad hyperbolic. But as Bradbury insists, we need to be mindful of resourcefulness. Undeniably, we are tech-dependent, and frequently glued to a screen, knee deep in technology, networking, sloshing through the mire of social media, increasing followers with a tweet, liking pages, subscribing, promoting this and that. I can have 20K followers on my twitter account, 30k, 90k ... but what does it all mean? Critics will argue that  it is an isolating, impersonal connecting of sorts--the ruin of us. I don't know if I agree, entirely. But admit that a phone conversation, or a lunch date, or a hug, or face to face conversation is always much better than a like on my FB page.

(Warning: Grossly self-indulgent, self-promotion coming up)

In my latest wip, which is a dystopian novel, I explore the repercussions of a section of the population that is stripped of all technology, forced backwards in time. They are powerless, easily controlled by DEF (Digital Enforcement Faction); in this dystopian world, freedoms are removed, and even book reading is prohibited. Needless to say, it is not a nice place to live if you happen to reside in the mid-west or eastern sections of what was once the U.S.

Maybe I'm biased. I always espoused to the notion that you are what you read. Now, I'm wiser, realize that there other ways of knowing. Still, I agree with Bradbury that books teach us everything we need to know, empower us, encourage us to consider other viewpoints, realities, and fantastical musings. It is no wonder that in a dystopian world books are removed.

I know that schools promote good old fashioned instruction, and it's not working. I know the copier is the greatest asset in any school. It is always overused and always breaking down. The paper wasted in our schools is astronomical. Yet, most students abhor paper and pencil, worksheet packets, heavy text books. They are part of a digital age; one might say they enter the classroom digitally programmed to learn in a new way. Why make 200 copies when you can use an LCD and project the same information on the screen? Or give the students the URL and they can find it themselves and read online? For assessment of learning, have students respond in a blog.

The classroom is lagging behind. That's the reality. So, we either get with the program and allow for more self-study, more integration of technology, or we stand to keep losing ground. Students are saavy, know they can Google what they want to know. So, why not allow it?  Ray Bradbury, a critic of current formal schooling, is on board with self-study; he suggests the library is your schooling. You can learn anything you want in a book. You can find your match. As he states "We are all looking for someone like ourselves...Jesus, God, if I were to go to a deserted island tomorrow what books would I bring?...the Bible of course and the essays of George Bernard Shaw."

I'm going to try to get my hands on those Shaw essays. They must be something if Bradbury liked them so much. I'll Google and more than likely come up with numerous hits. I don't know if Bradbury would approve or not. But he said it himself "Whatever works."

thx for the read. follow me on twitter bethbrown555.