Let them devour the written word in any form they can find it…

AC Grayling gave a wonderful talk (not a lecture, as he pointed out, because he wasn’t reading from anything) at the RSA about reading: what is unique about reading, how intensive and attentive reading can be an emancipatory process, and how reading promotes tolerance and empathy by allowing us to explore world beyond ‘our finite self’.

The talk is available to download from the RSA website so I won’t reiterate it at length here. I just wanted to remark upon the striking similarity between Professor Grayling’s exhortation to the education system to turn out young people who are ready and anxious to read whatever and whenever they can, and the leading point in the RSA’s education charter which states “it is the primary role of education to instill a love of learning in young people and give them the ability and desire to carry on learning throughout life”.

We’ll be asking Professor Grayling if he wants to join the growing movement of people signing up to the charter – in the meantime any thoughts would be more than welcome about how to give more young people the kind of spine tingling love of reading that he spoke of last week.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Let them devour the written word in any form they can find it…

  1. Missed the talk, but it sounds like it was great. One tangent that comes off of that phrase “any form” is that increasingly with electronic media, we don’t all read in the same way. We’ve learned the lesson that not all boys like fiction, and there are now many more different types of books in school libraries, but it would be interesting to see how much children are getting excited by words that aren’t in books at all… and what the consequences of that might be.

  2. Fred McArdle

    I note that in this article the word “instill” [a love of learning] is used, whereas the Charter uses the word “awaken”. I think the latter is much more appropriate since most of us believe [I think] that the love of learning is innate and that traditional schooling [not “education”] tends to shut down that love of learning [natural curiosity about everything!]. To “instill” it sounds as if it was never there in the first place.

    • louisethomasrsa

      Thanks for making the distinction Fred – I entirely agree! The disparity is a product of the difference between 3 months spent drafting a Charter with a group of experts, and 10 minutes writing a blog post with, well, me. “Awaken” is far better and, as you say, speaks to the idea that education at its best works with, not against, the learner’s existing capacities to develop their full potential.

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