by Sara Breetzke
TCA Head of School
In his book Life Under Compulsion, English Professor Anthony Esolen states, “The book is the most sophisticated and human tool we have ever produced.” At Trinity Classical Academy, we agree. We believe books are the best classroom technology any school can have to offer.
Are you wondering how that can be true in a digital world? Here are four reasons that we believe more books and fewer gadgets will lead your children to the best educational experience.
We are committed to running a lean, well-managed, fiscally responsible school. If we invest your tuition dollars in technology, we want to be sure that equipment will directly promote academic excellence.
Therefore, we take seriously studies like this one from 2015, completed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The study states,“[H]elping kids build strong conceptual skills in reading and math ‘will do more to create equal opportunities in the digital world’ than expanding or subsidizing access to high-tech tools.”
Focusing on basic skills and using paper texts allows TCA to offer effective education for less money – even in this digital age.
REFLECTION AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Successful people have the intellectual power to reflect deeply on information and to solve problems creatively. Reading books supports this kind of thinking. Technology writer Nicholas Carr explains, “the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative.”
In contrast, increased use of the Internet has created a reading environment where “distraction is the norm, consistent attention is impossible, imagination is unnecessary, and memory is inhibited.”
We believe attention and imagination are key aspects of a child’s development, so we turn first to books, not screens, to educate.
Classical education is embodied learning, which means that the materials of learning matter as much as the content. Recent evidence and polls show that reading from a screen “fail[s] to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that … prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.”
We want our children to consistently find the written word a satisfying experience, so we’ll stick with our physical books.
A UNIQUE TOOL
In a world of smartphones and laptops, we can forget that a book is a form of technology. But if we reflect on what this simple tool actually does, we realize its power. As Esolen says, in a book “I see drama portrayed in ink illustrations here and there. I have memories of words, memories that are visual, auditory, and tactile.”
Any tool with such abilities to focus and enhance our thinking is certainly a powerful technology. Esolen continues, “In [the] words [of a book] the mind of a man, his personality, his thoughts, his manner of expression, his view of the world, enter my own mind – not as a commercial battering against my ears but as a friend, with an arm around my shoulder.”
So at TCA, we teach first from books. They’re not flashy or new, but they are our faithful companions, transporting us to new worlds and introducing us to those wise men and women who have traveled this same road of learning before us.