Weekly Warm-Up: The Very First Text

Stump your students by posing the question: What was the very first text?

In our tech-driven world, this is sort of a trick question. Your students will LOL when they find out that many scholars consider the first text to be a book printed with moveable type.

The Gutenberg Bible was the first European book published on a printing press using moveable metal type. Printed in Latin, the right page here displays “Genesi,” or Genesis, the first book of the Christian Bible. Image courtesy Library of Congress

The Gutenberg Bible is celebrated by many scholars as the first book printed with moveable type in the 15th century. Read more about this milestone in media with your class.

Can your students make the connection between science, technology, engineering, media, and communication? Can your students imagine the world without computers, tablets, or mobile devices? These technologies exist for communication, but without science and engineering, they wouldn’t exist at all.

Today, we are constantly consumed with messages and media from a variety of outlets: our family and friends, our favorite television programs, and our favorite websites, just to name a few. But back in Johannes Gutenberg’s day, it was difficult for ordinary people to communicate with each other and to share ideas and information. Books were hand-written, and they took a long time to make. Only the very weathly and scholars had access to books. Gutenberg’s printing press changed the accessibility of information; it also provided a foundation for the growth of media technology.

What can your students learn from studying the invention of the printing press and the Gutenberg Bible? Are there other examples of media technology you share with your students to get them thinking about the impact science and engineering has on modern-day communication?


More related resources from National Geographic Education

This Day in Geographic History: 1455 – Gutenberg Bible Published

Video: The Birth of Technology – Inside the Stone

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