In the digital age, some professors might grumble that students today don’t even know how to read a newspaper. Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History, Harvard College Professor, and chair of the History and Literature Program, knows that they’re right.
Lepore recently shared her story during “Reality Matters,” organized by Harvard Library Strategic Conservations, which explored the use of items from the wealth of Harvard’s library and museum collections, and the benefits and challenges of both tactile and digital versions for teaching and learning.
“I’ve really struggled with the implications of a generational gap between me and my students, wherein their principal encounter with many different kinds of information has only ever been digital,” Lepore said.
Lepore joined with Leah Price, professor of English, to develop a course called “How to Read a Book,” in which students read books that focus on reading, such as Fahrenheit 451. In the class, students were asked to take notes using a variety of note-taking devices: making their own clay tablets, using ink and quills, and even typewriters.
“Students really learned from that, and we learned a lot from it,” she said, noting that the students found taking notes on clay tablets was surprisingly challenging.