The Forum podcast has a segment called the Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World, where scholars get a chance to pitch a quirky idea that could make the world a better place. My idea was picked for the week: Get rid of school books and replace them with artifacts!
Bring in objects from museums and let students hold, feel, and interact with them. This addresses many issues in society today: people being unable to evaluate sources, lack of empathy, poor understanding of the world, conspiracy theories, and short attention spans. Human societies used to be built around objects- your past and identity was based on feeling and holding reality. Today we take these objects and lock them up behind glass cases or only show people photographs. The most popular exhibits in the British Museum are those that allow people to touch artifacts. This is because we learn through interaction, not just reading. Text gives the writer an assumed authority (that they don’t always deserve), decreases empathy in readers, and reduces decision making. Interaction with objects allows us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, feel what is real, evaluate narratives, and it captures audience’s attention longer than written texts. Take text books out of people’s hands and instead give them the Rosetta stone, a Roman spear, or moon rock!