A few days ago, I kind of bashed the Kindle for all the things it can’t do. And all the ways in which kids will mock the device for being given somewhat of an 8 track handheld in a world of streaming digital listen/play/write/compose/construct your own music, visuals, words, ideas, graphs and so on device.
But that is not to say buying every kid in a school a Kindle wouldn’t be a leap forward. Indeed, it would be. My point that is that it would not be a big enough leap – especially knowing how hard and arduous it is to get schools to make any sort of leap at all in the first place.
I mean if schools are going to leap, let’s get them to do it FAR. Settling for a small leap when we know already they are going to need to take a second, bigger leap immediately thereafter doesn’t strike me as a best play.
However, the Kindle does offer a lot of things on the positive side. Especially when I see how our schools currently function. (Author’s Note: Subconsciously, I am not sure whether or not I am writing this so that Jeff Bezos and Amazon don’t banish me entirely from their marketplace so that when you type the name SITOMER in to try and purchase one of my books in earth’s biggest bookstore (Amazon), you don’t get a “Sorry, no titles seem to exist by that author, we have blackballed him into permanent obscurity” type of note. Let’s face it, critics of Mao didn’t last too long. Kidding, Mr. Bezos. Kidding!)
Now, back to our main point… the upside of Kindles – of which there certainly are many.
Let’s look at Lynwood High, the place where I teach. My school must own 1,100 copies of THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN in hardback format. I mean somebody must have loved that title so much they just kept ordering it and ordering it and yet, I don’t think that 1,100 copies of HUCK have ever been checked out from the school library at the same time.
From a financial point of view, owning physical books requires guesstimates as to how many copies a school should order/spend money upon. BTW, this is not really a finger pointing escapade; this is a “somebody was forced to guesstimate our literary needs” exploration. It’s just how our world has always worked.
But buying Kindles for all the kids, eliminates the guestimating of how much cash should cash we spend question (which always leads to either over or under-spending) because the ebook of HUCK is free. (Public domain).
And so are the complete works of Shakespeare.
And so are all the works by Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens and on and on and on and on.
So not only is a school buying a Kindle, they are buying an unlimited supply of the canon. (Not all of it, but certainly more great books than a school curriculum could work through before the kids graduate from high school.)
Hello, I am an English teacher. Why in the world would I argue with that?
The Kindle gives me more literature than my school could ever hope to buy or house absolutely free with its purchase. To that end, the Kindle is amazing.
So yes, buying every kid in a school a Kindle would indeed be a leap forward. Just not a big enough leap because the device doesn’t do as much as our kids are capable of doing if they have more sophisticated tools placed in their hands.
(And one search of my books here reveals that I seem to have not shattered my relationship entirely with Amazon… happy to say.)