This article on CNN today was supposed to be a quick read, but it stopped me in my tracks. This man from Ethiopia received a $1200 grant twenty-two years ago to buy books for the children in his home country – but he couldn’t because there weren’t any books written in the language. Can you imagine that? NO BOOKS written in that language, and no books relating the stories, poems, songs, history, and culture of an entire people. That boggles my mind.
So what did he do? He became an author! Bravo. He has since established a children’s library of 15,000 books in Ethiopia.
This story reminded me not to take for granted the vast wealth of knowledge and access to knowledge that my family and I enjoy every day.
Alvin Trusty’s daughter’s spanish teacher apparently requires students to look up unfamiliar words in a paper dictionary (see his blog post on the topic here). Alvin says is it ridiculous not to allow students to use an online resource, and I agree wholeheartedly, for the reasons he states in his blog.
However, he also says that, “Students must know how to use a paper-based dictionary properly.” I’m not sure I agree with that statement. If I need to look up a word, I do it online. It’s faster, easier, and probably more accurate, especially if it’s a recent word or term. Kids do need to know how to properly alphabetize items in a list, but that is a broader skill than looking words up in a dictionary.
My children’s elementary school librarian personally believes that that everyone should know the Dewey Decimal classification system. My husband, a library aide in college, thinks that knowing the 10 general classification categories are enough. I think they are both wrong! If I want to know where something is, I’ll do an online search and go right to the item I want.
The reality is that my dictionary, thesaurus, Bartlett’s quotation book, and Strunk and White grammar rules book are all gathering dust upstairs because my web resources are more convenient and up-to-date.