I cut my hand on a piece of paper recently and the stupid thing would not stop bleeding. That followed a nasty bruise I received from a favorite book that fell corner first on the top of my foot. On more than one occasion I’ve sliced various parts of my fingers on staples that stuck out at precarious angles. And once, doing some internship hours at a middle school I had to deal with the physical, emotional, and social fallout that came from a rather pointed paper airplane that actually managed to find its way into the eye of some unsuspecting and unintended 7th grader.
In my early years as a high school assistant principal, in one massive magazine sting operation, I managed to confiscate enough adult “reading” material plastered to the inside of lockers, stuffed inside backpacks, and concealed in car trunks that Mr. Geils’ angel would have herself blushed. The number of people, both student and outside adult, involved in the (reportedly profitable) exchange of these periodicals left me stunned.
All over our schools, I see students from every demographic slice of society who are flirting with varying degrees of physical strain and possible injury from overweight bags an backpacks slung across shoulders, backs, arms and hands. Many of these same students often, quite unexpectedly, a required to pay fines for damages to these books resulting from their highlighting and note-taking in an attempt to make sense of their contents. Ironically, there is a growing demand at the college level for these well-marked books and an enterprising few are capitalizing of these augmented book-ideas. Often enough to be nearly commonplace, educational records, report cards, and, yes, diplomas are held hostage until missing books are ransomed or returned.
In our school libraries and classrooms our students’ minds have been and are being changed and challenged by ancient wisdom and new ideas contained in printed texts, magazines, books, and newspapers. While many school librarians bristle at having their paper reading materials censored, they are because of space, money, politics, use, relevance, or whatever. Because of these ideas set in print, protests have been launched, books have been banned -sometimes burned, and landmark cases have been decided. Are there some nice, sterilized encyclopedias and reference books for them to read for their facts? Sure. But when they do bend the binding on these tomes they often find inaccurate and outdated data. The cost to replace these materials as often as the information in them changes is more than a poor librarian’s budget can bear.
Students, in their attempts to interact with their texts, find their efforts to efficiently search through books for meaningful and relevant information thwarted by their linear layouts and lacking indexes -when they exist at all. Cross referencing subjects in more than one paper source grinds to a halt amid a flurry of note cards, bookmarks, and sticky-notes. They simply get overwhelmed by the massive amount of information there. We don’t really want to talk about those online catalogs, electronic databases, and computer-based resources because that’s way too overwhelming we all know students will just plagiarize that information anyway. At least they don’t do that with paper materials.
Sadly, when (and if) our kids enter public libraries and bookstores (both physical and digital), they often lack the intellectual discernment needed to make appropriate decisions because so much of the paper-base world has been filtered, intentionally or not, from them. When they are confronted with the overwhelming diversity of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, business, self-help, home improvement, religion, cooking, children’s books, graphic novels, political and social commentary, mature reading, art, photography, humor, and on and on, our kids, in their naïve and unintended ignorance, may and sometimes do choose materials that adults around them would frown upon.
Unfortunately the world outside of school holds no positive models for our students either. The public reporting that happens through paper spreadsheets, internal memos, quarterly statements, reconstituted shredded documents, legislative bills, unclassified documents, etc. all contain information that is dangerous and potentially misleading to our children. Their homes are also being invaded by newspapers, subscriptions, junk mail, solicitations, and all sorts of printed materials hung on doorknobs and stuffed into door frames. Look around you now with a critical eye and see the pervasive printedness everywhere around you and what you are exposing your kids to. Shame, shame, shame.
It is unconscionable that we continue to let the villainy of material printed on paper threaten and imperil our children. I propose we flood our state and national legislatures demanding the passage of the Children’s Printed Paper Protection Act. ChiPPPA will provide national safeguards for defending our kids from the dangers of printed materials. Under ChiPPPA our kids will be free from the nefarious influences associated with print.
Our teachers will be relieved from the worrisome tasks of having to determine the educational value of printed materials because only at school each student will have his or her own personal Constant Readability Access Paper filter. While at school the CRAP filter will be every student’s defense against the many dangers of the print medium. Every piece of written material that a student may interact with will be removed and archived by the CRAP filter. So those adults in the schools don’t waste valuable district resources or expose students to the dangers inherent in the vast printed resources, they will also receive CRAP filter as well.
Even more beneficially, since every person in a school might interact with printed resources, every person will need a CRAP filter. These CRAP filters will be highly trained individuals specializing in speed reading. With the addition of the CRAP filters, there will be more jobs in schools and entire departments and staff development resources will be needed, increasing spending and stimulating the local and national economies. The money school districts will save by eliminating printed materials will be used to employ the CRAP filters.
Act today and urge your legislators to pass ChiPPPA and save our children from the dangers of printed materials.
No comments yet.