My Opinion

THE WRITTEN WORD

I am a Reader. I used to be an avid reader but as one gets older lots of things tend to slow down. I still read almost every night when I go to bed. Sometimes I get so into what I’m reading the next thing I know it’s 2 or 3 in the morning and I’m wondering why I can’t stay awake. I personally am convinced that the written word is the greatest invention in the History of our species. Of course there are a great many out there who consider the idiot box the greatest invention. That is because they are just too damn lazy to use their own brain to gain knowledge. It is far easier for them to sit and watch a bunch of “talking heads” spout a scripted message.

Earlier this week I read where Canadian grade 4 students were among the top percentage when it came to reading skills for that age group. I thought that says something about how far education in this country has fallen. It is big news that these kids can read. I should bloody hope a nine year old can read. What does it say of a society where high school and college students and even young people in the work force can’t read, write, or spell properly. There is a verse out there from an old song School Days,  “read’n, ritin’and rithmatic taught to the beat of a hickory stick” it worked.  I am not advocating we return to those days which believe it or not were still being used when I was in grade school back in the 40’s and 50’s . I can still remember getting wacked across the knuckles with either a ruler or the pointer. It hurt but I learned. Somewhere along the line the education system lost its’ way and listened to the so called experts and psychologist who said forcing these children would erode their self esteem you must let them be free thinkers and learn at their own speed and heaven forbid that you fail them. . O.K. so now we have a population of semi-literates running around. Someone who is very dear to me failed grade eight but much to my astonishment was passed on into high school. When I asked the principal of the school what was going on I was told we don’t hold students back they can make it up in grade 9. I couldn’t believe it I had never heard anything so ridiculous in my life.  In 1956 I failed grade eight because I was lazy and had to repeat. This is the way it should be. I learned my lesson because when I did get into high school I got top marks in English Literature and Composition and of course the greatest of all subjects History. I believe in those days the passing grade was 65% which I well surpassed in the above subjects but which I barely made in Math. Looking back I suspect that my Math teacher fudged the results of my exams because for some inexplicable reason even to this day I have trouble wrapping my mind around the subject. I think it has something to do with not having a very logical mind. In grade 10 my Homeroom was the Library and every time I entered I swear I had died and went to heaven (which I still kind of believed existed in those days).  Books, hundreds of books, brain food, knowledge, dreams. I think I read every History Book in the place.

When it comes to reading I have two favourite areas, Sci-Fi and History, lots of History. I have read others like Dickens, Shakespeare, Homer, Hemmingway, and Steinbeck but always back to History. Good Sci-Fi is my escape, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Drake, Heinlein, and Turtledove to name but a few. I once started to read Hubbard but found it to be trash so I gave it away. I do not throw books out nor destroy them. If I hold anything sacred it is the written word.  Without the ability to put our thoughts on stone, clay, paper, or a computer, we would still be hunter gatherers wandering the plains and hills of our planet relying on crude cave paintings to depict the world around us. Then when one reads what passes for the written word on Twitter or a text message maybe we are returning to those days when we huddled in fear of the night in a cold damp cave. I pity the archeologists of the far future who comes across a cell phone and reactivates the text messages. They will have to spend years trying to decipher what passes for  written language. 

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