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Don’t abandon textbooks

In the age of smartphones, tablets and pads, at least one Nashua Board of Education candidate wants to eliminate the use of textbooks and other printed materials from the curriculum.

Call us old fashioned if you choose, but we believe this would be a profound mistake – especially at a time when the New Hampshire Department of Education reports that student proficiency rates for English are on the decline.

“It’s not necessary for us to use printed materials,” BOE candidate Burt Janz told students during a Tuesday candidate forum at Nashua High School South. “You are growing up with materials: phones, tablets, laptops, webpages. You’re growing up with this material. This is what you’re familiar with. This is what you use.”

“Look, this is the 21st century. Let’s start using 21st century materials and 21st century teaching methods,” Janz added.

While reading these comments, we are reminded of another elected official who, approximately 10 years ago, said students would no longer have to learn how to read because they would simply have everything done for them by computers.

We hope we are not alone in fearing the consequences of a society in which children no longer learn to read.

Suppose that schools stopped teaching children how to read: What is to prevent these students from knowing truth from fiction? Should they just take whatever a computer verbalizes to them as unquestioned fact?

What if someone hacks into computer systems one day and causes them to completely malfunction?

If fairness to Janz, he is right to call for greater usage of electronic teaching tools. Certainly, in the world today, students and teachers must embrace technology.

However, we believe it unwise to simply abandon textbooks at a time when New Hampshire students seem to already be struggling to learn English.