Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Tories and School Libraries

The following news story keeps cropping up so I feel I should blog about it. After plans to close a large number of local libraries; Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has proclaimed that children should be reading "at least 50 books a year." Another typical Tory gaffe. In my personal experience school libraries have come very short on the pecking order when it comes to school finances. Perhaps things have changed in the nine years since I left high school.

Being an inquisitive creature, and for the sake of nostalgia, I decided to Google my old high school. Good old Google found this blog. My Web 2.0 spidey-sense went into overdrive when I saw this. The blog is not hosted on the official school's webpage which creates the perception that it's a separate space for students to interact in. Although the librarian has a great deal of control over the content, there's still room for students to project their own personalities. The library now runs a manga drawing club and a creative writing group at lunchtimes. Some of their work is posted on the blog or provides links to the external Flickr page.

I think this is wonderful. When I was there, it felt like that administration favoured the sciences over the arts. Students who enjoyed drama, music and art were seen as a bit "wacky" and to be indulged. Best to invest more time in the sciences and ignore students who wanted more options beyond bloody test tubes. In the years after I left something seemed to change. The school had a successful music group that seemed to be winning a lot of prizes. More drama teachers were recruited after demand increased for classes. Suddenly the more arty subjects became more prominent. Science is Latin for the pursuit of knowledge. Shame that none of the senior management staff realised this for a long time.

Enough about the failings of the school almost a decade ago. Times are hard and education needs to play an even bigger role in people's lives. Instead, with the current head-in-the-clouds government, it looks like it's going to revert back to a luxury of the middle classes. Apparently the upper class no longer exist according to the Independent. That is why a person's experience at school is so important. Looking back, I have quite a few subjects and teachers I have to thank for the person I am now. English, Drama, History and Information Systems helped me expand my knowledge and look beyond the confines of the classroom. It's only now I realise that.

The library blog gives me hope. Hope that it helps instil a love of learning, reading, books, ideas, research, thinking, processing. Otherwise we let our brains become wasted away by the mundane routine of everyday life.

I should sign off by thanking Michael Gove. His ridiculous statement set me off on a path of discovery and a reflection of my own education. Still think he's an utter twat though.

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