A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Posts tagged "learning"
…the tall stacks of 5,000 books that towered in the main room last school year are gone. Teachers brought a few into classrooms, but most were donated to schools in Africa. Now the room is filled with tables and chairs where students gather with their school laptops.
You know, they had a name for this kind of room when I was in high school: it was called study hall, and we held it in the cafeteria.
There’s a lot to be sad about in this article, like the student who admits, “I never really used the actual library before. I’m a senior in high school and never used a book.”
But even more terrifying to me: “This generation of kids … learning is a social experience for them.”
My learning in the library was very social, if you count socializing with dead people.
I’m a supreme extrovert, and yet I despised group work and never felt like I learned anything from my classmates, other than, you know, that I wanted to move the fuck away from home and get away from all of them. (Maybe I’m just a dick — I do believe that all art requires a certain amount of misanthropy…)
God, when I think of the hours I’ve spent in libraries, just following the scent of paper trails and wandering around, bumping into books… is my kid not going to experience this?
And as for social learning: the best formal education I got was 6 months of the tutorial system at Cambridge University, in which I read all week at the massive library or in my Raskolnikovian closet of a room, wrote a paper, emailed it to my tutor, walked over to his house and talked about it for an hour, then went off to pick up the books he gave me to read the next week. The only group work I did was play keyboards in a band and go get pissed at the pub. It was glorious.
The writer Elizabeth McCracken sent me this charming video of Alasdair Gray talking about his writing and art (“The writing helped the painting and the painting helped the writing.”). I particularly loved his response to the ever-worn-out question, “Can writing be taught?”
Of course! I couldn’t write before I was was taught! That’s why they give it to you in primary schools. Writing and speaking are things that have to be learned first. Some people at a certain stage think that they don’t have to learn any more. If you’re very interested in words then you try to keep on learning more. And the best way, of course, is by reading other writers. Good ones! Or even bad ones are better than none to begin with.
Filed under: writing