The Book Test

Children reading on couch

image via Jeremy Hiebert

In my most recent post at, I suggested that one way of identifying overreactions to digital technologies is to replace the technology in question with a book.

I want to propose a test: How would we react to the worrisome, antisocial behaviors Hall notes in her essay if we simply replaced the ipads in her descriptions with books?

For example, this is how she describes the moment when her students first received the devices, but with the references to tablets replaced by references to books:

“I placed a book into the outstretched hands of each of my third-grade students, and a reverent, text-induced hush descended on our classroom. We were circled together on our gathering rug, just finished with a conversation about “democratic citizenship” and “library safety” and “our school district bought us these books to help us learn, so we are using them for learning purposes.” They’d nodded vigorously, thrilled by the thought of their very own books to take home every night and bring to school every day. Some of them had never owned a book before, and I watched them cradle the clean, uncreased covers in their arms. They flashed their gap-toothed grins — not at each other but at the open pages before them. That was the first of many moments when I wished I could send the books back.”

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