The Bookless Library?

No longer an oxymoron at one New England private school.

See the debate in the New York Times here.

The Head of School says that the school is simply ahead of the curve in meeting student’s new research and reading habits.

Are those habits serving the students well?  Is learning simply about collecting information efficiently?  Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress (Yeah Matt!), finds that he reads more with a digital reader than he did with print books.  Read his views and those of other media luminaries here.

I, as you may have guessed, side with those who believe that the long focus, the peaceful contemplation, that the reading of a real book allows can lead to  deeper thinking.

I think of reading as having a long conversation with a mind from another time and place, and probably a much higher IQ level, than mine.  If I hurry through this conversation with a TV on in the background (links, tools, maybe even ads around digital content) what are the chances I’ll get all I could out of the exchange?

Actually, for me, the reading is only the first step.  I think the digital life-style, with it’s self-created quick-cut editing, is the real issue because of its focus on quantity and speed.  Time to reflect, to sift, store, and record your understanding of what you’ve read and it’s implications for your life are where the real work of learning takes place.

If anything, we probably read too much of the wrong stuff these days… scarfing down intellectual potato chips, while the nutritious foods and the slow chewing and  digestion they require remain untouched and undone.

With all the media we consume these days, it seems to me that we need to ask ourselves one question before taking on any reading:

Is there a good chance that I will change the way I work and live from what I learn here?

If the chances are slim, put down the media and walk outside.  If you’re looking at media, ancient or au courant, that stands a good chance of refining or elevating your personal philosophy or understanding of yourself or others in a way that will lead you to make different choices and take different actions tomorrow, read on!