Found by Google alert this morning, this despairing question related to a Rosemary Sutcliff Arthurian novel which itself made me despair about modern education. “I’m researching for my critical literary reasearch paper over (sic) The Light Beyond the Forest by Rosemary Sutcliff. I’ve used search engines such as Google and I can’t seem to find anything useful. The reviews I do find require payment to view the whole article. I’m sure there is information out there or I wouldn’t have been assigned this book. (My italics). I just need some help finding it.”
This is what education-as-schooling has reduced students to – the idea that someone may have set them an assignment related to a Rosemary Sutcliff book, not because it is a fine tale and an exciting well-crafted story, or a thought-provoking book, or a way into Arthurian legend, but because ‘there is information out there’ otherwise it would not be an assignment. Whatever happened to the idea of reading as something one might be encouraged to do as an end in itself? And an assignment being about personal response not aggregating and regurgitating ‘information’. This student has internalised learning as information gathering, and reading as a chore you are assigned.
Rosemary, who could not read until she was 9, and left school at 14, might have ever so gently chided the student, or at least his teacher, but probably would have just swallowed hard and written back something personal and insightful.