While the overall text only touched on education from time to time, I couldn’t help but read through it while constantly finding ways to apply it to K-12 education, which is our group’s theme. That being said, the one thing that stuck with me as I read was the lack of concern (or ability) in scribe culture to retain authorship or accuracy. The books changed slightly from one version to the next, like a comment being whispered from one child’s ear to the next in some game.

While I was aware of the efforts to reprint – and retain – the Bible through scribe culture, I didn’t fully grasp how other texts could have fallen by the wayside, and how difficult that would make codifying knowledge outside of the Church. “The fact that identical images, maps, and diagrams could be viewed simultaneously by scattered readers,” writes Eisenstein, “constituted a kind of communications revolution in itself.” And how much more would education be improved through these identical resources!

But it wasn’t just identical resources that aided learning, but the abundance allowed via printing. One could educate one’s self in a trade or subject, and not have to rely on a master tradesman or spotty oral history. Books were more plentiful, and so was the opportunity to read more. This led to the transformation “from image culture to word culture”,  where before ideas were expressed more in graphical form than in text. Now, text could be used along side images and both would serve each other in relaying ideas instead of one supplementing the other.

While hand gestures and oral instruction were the norm out of necessity before printed books, they were hardly ideal. The new technology allowed for sharper images and codified texts that allowed for authoritative, organized instruction in ways much more effective than before.

– Andy Odom