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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Joined up thinking? ...

I cannot believe that our libraries are in danger from the same government who claim to want a return to a 'traditional' curriculum and 'traditional' values in teaching and assessment.  How can this be?

On the one hand, we are told that spelling, grammar and punctuation should be assessed on all GCSE and A Level papers with marks deducted for errors, whilst on the other, the rich resource of reading is being pulled out from under our feet.

This is such shortsightedness and an incredible threat to our culture.  While I could not wholeheartedly accept the 'return to tradition' rhetoric around kings and queens and Dickens and Austen, it's lunacy to deprive people of access to good and varied reading material.

Yes, Michael Gove and Ed Vaizey, I blame you.  Maybe you should speak to one another - like the writing blogosphere is today.

As a parent, I use the library regularly with my two girls (currently 7 and 12), who value it for its offer to try something new, to take a risk in your reading with an author or genre you've never come across before.  And now that real bookshops are crowded off the highstreets in our cookie cutter shopping malls, libraries are more important for this than ever.

As a teacher, I often encourage my students (sixth formers taking A Level English) to use their local library - to encounter a dictionary that fills a whole shelf, to access a wide range of written language for analysis, or to use the internet or even just a quiet place when it's tricky to work at home (you try studying for A Levels when sharing a bedroom and having no online access at home).

These are just the immediate concerns that I as an individual have - where will my girls find those happy stumbled-upon treasures, and how can our college library offer everything my students need?  Others have eloquently blogged about wider concerns - see the links below as a starting point, and/or check out the #cftb (Campaign for the Book) threads on Twitter.



  1. Namaste, brother writer. I am pleased to have found your site. I look forward to following your thoughts.

    Being a lover of libraries for over 40 years, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. What passes for bookstores is a sham.
    With that said, I find the internet has provided an outstanding vehicle for acquiring knowledge.

    The degradation and demise of the public library system is more a function of the dumbing down of children. Our collective education systems continue to impoverish the natural desire children have for discovery. However, further to this tragedy; mercury in vaccines, fluoride in water, food additives like msg, aspartame, effects of wireless technology, TV, Biphenol A in plastics, a host of pharmaceutical panaceas, chem trial spraying result in countless daily attacks on the neural and biological system of our children. The piper is being paid, cancer is through the roof, more children are being drugged in one year today than ever before. Children can't concentrate as well, they can't create as well. Their behaviour reflects the society they perceive, erratic and undisciplined.

    Hinting at the desecration of intelligent thinking, the canary in the coal mine sings to a select few who actually still read. A staggering 50% of all Americans cannot find the U.S.A. on a globe. Few people know that the famous Mensa I.Q. rating must be bell curved each year to reestablish the values. If this continued maintenance were not performed we would see a massive and continual dip in the average I.Q. Further to this, correlated data from Mensa highlights the percent of the population attaining genius status has greatly reduced.

    Even the casual observer quickly picks up on the conspiracy afoot. We are being dumbed down by a fascist regime which is quickly morphing into a one world government of corporatism.

    The solution is equally obvious. We need to educate the masses to the injustice of this Fascist rule. People must understand the only way to regain our dignity is through passive non compliance. Educate ourselves, feed ourselves, separate from the ties to the greedy banksters and corporate media machine.

    In Lak' esh, my brother, love is all there is...

  2. Thanks for posting this Beth. It's not just about budget savings. It's about the future.


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