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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 731



PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:28 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Get your coat? Certainly not! One of the key phrases in what you wrote was, for me at least 'on the commuter train to work at 17 years of age'. How many of the current generation of youngsters are working, other than a Saturday job, at 17? Childhood has been extended well into the twenties, however precocious kids are in some ways. I am not arguing that the extension of access to higher education is a bad thing, far from it, but infantilisation has been rather legitimised in the process. Perhaps some sort of law of unintended consequences is in force here.

I do agree that the standard of books for very young children has improved, certainly since my early childhood (I was born in 1947), but I am not sure that that improvement has been followed through in what is available to older children.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3351


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been providing books for a young man of 26 who comes from a difficult family where no books were read or given in his childhood. And he has spent long periods in hospital for bi-polar disorder. So he missed out on lots of children's classics which his school seems not to have provided. He was eager to catch up. I started him off with Phillipa Pearce's TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN which he adored.  Since then he's read TREASURE ISLAND, THE BFG, MATILDA, THE WITCHES, LITTLE WOMEN, THE DIARY NO A NOBODY (not a children's book but he laughed a lot). He's currently reading E Nesbit's FIVE CHILDREN AND IT.  My only failure was Alan Garner's THE WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN which he found hard work.  His response is gratifying and he talks about reading with great enthusiasm.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Green Jay wrote:
(Though trying to spell her name is quite a challenge to me!  Wink )


That's where the cut & paste facility comes in handy! (Says he with the unpronounceable name...)

I think there has most certainly been if not an infantilisation, at least a juvenilisation in our tastes. One can see this quite clearly in other areas as well: in the early to mid 70s, sophisticated adult dramas such as Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Godfather part 2, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, etc., were mainstream fare.

(By "adult", I mean grown-up dramas that makes demands of an audience assumed to be intelligent and perceptive: I don't mean pornography, which, sadly, the word "adult" used as an adjective has now come to mean. And that the word "adult" has come to mean pornography speaks volumes.)

Now, in contrast, when I look at the vast majority of films that come to my local multiplex, they are essentially big-budget kiddies' movies. And I am expected to see them and enjoy them. The rot started in the late 70s with the Star Wars films and the emergence of Spielberg: George Lucas & Stephen Spielberg were smart enough to have realised that there was a huge audience out there of adults with essentially juvenile tastes, and they tapped into it with a vengeance. Cinema hasn't recovered since: films exhibiting intelligence, films that make demands of its audience, are unlikely to make the local multiplex - they are sidelined away from the mainstream. Which, in turn, takes away the motivation for film-makers to make intelligent adult dramas. And that, in turn, reduces the demand for intelligent films, and lowers expectations. And so on.

So one shouldn't be surprised if we observe similar trends in the publishing industry. Like Green Jay, I too would have been mortified to have been seen reading a childhood book on the train: being a nosy commuter traveller who likes to see what others are reading, I think I can safely say that is certainly not the case now. The motivation, the "push", to tackle more complex, intellectually demanding material simply isn't there any more. If anything, it's quite the opposite.

Geraldine McCaughrean reports:

Quote:
Dundee academics found that the failure to promote reading in secondary schools is causing pupils to regress between ages 11 and 16.


(My emphasis.)

I haven't seen a detailed account of this study, but this is clearly more than merely my own jaundiced opinion. We all worry, quite rightly, of what sort of world we will leave to future generations, in terms of teh economy, and in terms of the environment. I worry also about what sort of cultural world we'll leave behind. I think anyone who values literary culture should be very deeply concerned.



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Green Jay wrote:
(Though trying to spell her name is quite a challenge to me!  Wink )


That's where the cut & paste facility comes in handy! (Says he with the unpronounceable name...)

I think there has most certainly been if not an infantilisation, at least a juvenilisation in our tastes. One can see this quite clearly in other areas as well: in the early to mid 70s, sophisticated adult dramas such as Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Godfather part 2, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, etc., were mainstream fare.

(By "adult", I mean grown-up dramas that makes demands of an audience assumed to be intelligent and perceptive: I don't mean pornography, which, sadly, the word "adult" used as an adjective has now come to mean. And that the word "adult" has come to mean merely pornography speaks volumes.)

Now, in contrast, when I look at the vast majority of films that come to my local multiplex, they are essentially big-budget kiddies' movies. And I am expected to see them and enjoy them. The rot started in the late 70s with the Star Wars films and the emergence of Spielberg: George Lucas & Stephen Spielberg were smart enough to have realised that there was a huge audience out there of adults with essentially juvenile tastes, and they tapped into it with a vengeance. Cinema hasn't recovered since: films exhibiting intelligence, films that make demands of its audience, are unlikely to make the local multiplex - they are sidelined away from the mainstream. Which, in turn, takes away the motivation for film-makers to make intelligent adult dramas. And that, in turn, reduces the demand for intelligent films, and lowers expectations. And so on.

So one shouldn't be surprised if we observe similar trends in the publishing industry. Like Green Jay, I too would have been mortified to have been seen reading a childhood book on the train: being a nosy commuter traveller who likes to see what others are reading, I think I can safely say that is certainly not the case now. The motivation, the "push", to tackle more complex, intellectually demanding material simply isn't there any more. If anything, it's quite the opposite.

Geraldine McCaughrean reports:

Quote:
Dundee academics found that the failure to promote reading in secondary schools is causing pupils to regress between ages 11 and 16.


(My emphasis.)

I haven't seen a detailed account of this study, but this is clearly more than merely my own jaundiced opinion. We all worry, quite rightly, of what sort of world we will leave to future generations, in terms of teh economy, and in terms of the environment. I worry also about what sort of cultural world we'll leave behind. I think anyone who values literary culture should be very deeply concerned.



_________________
See my blog: http://argumentativeoldgit.wordpress.com/

(Go on! - You'd like it!  - Honest!)
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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is an informative article by an Australian education lecturer on the way storytelling is being maginalised by a crowded and assessment-driven curriculum here. One sentence stood out for me. As a creative form, stories value the power of the imagination to enhance life.

As an aside, the headline in the newspaper was School children missing out on the magic of storytelling. The online version misses out the magic of when the point of the article is the wonder of literature to inspire young minds!


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the link, Castorboy. Interesting. Storytelling is different to the teacher reading aloud, but that is important too and I don't think primary school children get much of that these days, not for pure pleasure. I used to be a real favourite when I was at at school. Of course, you could switch off and daydream and not listen but I don't think many children did. One of the comments beneath the article implies NZ junior school children typically get 4 stories a day read to them - can this be true?! Though it sounds as if your crowded and test-driven curriculum is going the same way as ours. Nursery and pre-schools (children 4 and under) put a lot of emphasis on stories told and read aloud to a group and children love it, but I think this has got a bit lost at older age groups.  

As I type I've got the radio afternoon play on in the background. Listening to stories, whether told, read aloud at bedtime, on the radio or a DVD is a great way of getting the imagination going, yet with support - "the best pictures are on radio".  It also means that children of different levels of reading and writing can all be in the same group experience (which teachers are always struggling with, how to meet the varying needs in a class), as long as they can pay attention. Given the millenia of storytelling humans have experienced, our brains must be evolved to connect very deeply with oral tradition, yet it is not at all highly valued now. Like not using one of your limbs.


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1149



PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may seen unrelated but what I loved about history at school was the way that my teachers managed to bring the events alive and I enjoyed the narratives.  I remember a lesson on the Thirty Wars War and when the teacher said that Gustavus Adolphus (The Lion of the North) died in battle, several of the class went "Oooh" and were really saddened.



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