Why are the fundamentals of education apparently so little changed in our era of digital technology? Is their obstinate persistence evidence of resilience or obsolescence? Such questions can best be answered not by imagining an uncertain high-tech future, but by examining a well-documented past—a history of instruction and media that extends from Gilgamesh to Google. Norm Friesen looks to the combination and reconfiguration of oral, textual, and more recent media forms to understand the longevity of so many educational arrangements and practices.
Friesen examines the interrelationship of reading, writing, and pedagogy in the case of the lecture and the textbook—from their premodern to their postmodern incarnations. Over hundreds of years, these two forms have integrated textual, oral, and (more recently) digital media and connected them with changing pedagogical and cultural priorities. The Textbook and the Lecture opens new possibilities for understanding not only mediated pedagogical practices and their reform but also gradual changes in our conceptions of the knowing subject and of knowledge itself.
Drawing on wide-ranging scholarship in fields as diverse as media ecology and German-language media studies, Foucauldian historiography, and even archaeological research, The Textbook and the Lecture is a fascinating investigation of educational media.