Monday, 19 April 2010

Random considerations of education

I'm currently reading Clive James - Cultural Amnesia. In the chapter on Gianfranco Contini, he makes the point that the art of learning by heart has all but disappeared from the British Education System. System? Don't make me laugh!Contini made the point, that if you didn't learn to recite poetry by heart, how could you possibly understand how a language should flow. He wasn't wrong.Growing up in the 50s, a lot of my schooling was learnt by repitition. Almost all of what I learnt has stayed with me throughout life. Not just poetry, but mnemonics for important stuff like math, grammar and spelling."i before e, except after c" et al.
I'm a heavy user of an internet forum, and at times the grammar and spelling are so appalling, I have trouble deciphering the meaning of some of the posts. How hard is it, to learn the difference between 'they're' 'their' and 'there'. And why, oh why, do people say 'would of' 'could of'. It's WOULD HAVE and COULD HAVE!!!
I don't consider myself particularly well-educated, but I do consider my education to have been a great deal better than it is today.
Yes, knowledge is more accessible today than it has ever been, but there's a world of difference between knowledge and understanding.
Mobile phones and the internet have a great deal to answer for. To partially gloss over mobile phones for the moment, text speak does nothing to make people conscious of either grammar or spelling.
The Internet is, I believe, harmful in a sense to understanding. How often, needing to know something, do you 'Google' for it? That's fine. The Internet is a totally brilliant way of getting instant access to all kinds of information that has previously passed you by. I use it myself, a lot.
However, most of what it gives you are facts, not understanding.For instance, look someone up, and it will tell you he did this. What it doesn't tell you is why that person did whatever. What led him to do it? Was it something in his earlier life?
Most of this sort of detail generally comes from books. An in-depth understanding of a person usually comes from a biography, not from a Wiki on the 'net.
There is also a feeling among some education specialists, that the instant availability of information is discouraging people from reading books, and further, is actually harming their ability to concentrate on a passage of prose for more than a few minutes.
Reading and a love of books was instilled in me at a very young age, by both my mother and my teachers. I still love to read, fiction, non-fiction and poetry all have me enthralled.
It will be a sadder world, if our future generations lose love for their language and for in-depth study.
A world of just facts will be a sadder place.

No comments:

Post a Comment