OPINION

Why are they burning books?

Why do students burn their textbooks at the end of the academic year? We all burned or tore up our schoolbooks at one time, as we looked forward to a summer of swimming and hanging out with our friends. I feel, however, that today teens have other reasons for burning their books, reasons more powerful than the prospect of summer freedom. I believe this has to do with the books themselves, the books of a system that has disappointed its students, books that have nothing to teach. Books worthy only of scorn. Yesterday, the Greek education system turned to thousands of students to learn the reasons for its failures. To learn why teenagers reach a point of hating their schools, their books, the entire university entrance exam system. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t seem to know, and needs to ask. It doesn’t know that so many of these teaching manuals – for that is all they are – are written badly, amateurishly. They are commissioned and chosen according to political criteria that do not take their educational value into account, mistakes and omissions are reproduced from one edition to the next, until an even worse volume is introduced. What can any student love about these books? Their ugly appearance? Parroting their solecisms and misprints? These miserable examples of teaching material put them off reading other books or even from spending time in the phantasmagoric world of the Internet – at least on the Internet they’ll write something, read something, even if its English, random thoughts, blogs and chats – and it will be a fun and interactive experience. Teenagers burn their bridges with school over the years, shedding light on their passage into lives after school. But, they do not burn anything. There are some things they remember with fondness: a handful of affable teachers, school friends, the courtyard and basketball court, one riveting history class or math lesson – all the things that take place away from the books, outside the curriculum, on the fringes of the system.