Thursday, 29 December 2016

More on the love of scholarship

Perhaps this should be a New Year's resolution for certain parents.

I once heard a woman on a train drilling her child over and over again with arithmetical challenges. What is a half of this number and what is half of that number? What is 11 times 10? This was nothing but a test of memorising. This is not entirely useless but it offers no insight into how numbers - let along mathematics - works and there was no attempt to teach her child a love of learning. I appreciate her desire to help her child do well but better surely to inculcate a love of learning and then there will be no end to what the child will be able to do.

In a roundabout way, I was fortunate that, when I was young, we had a glass-fronted bookcase at home. This had been inherited from my great grandmother; my immediate family had no love of books. The bookcase was more ornamental than functional. The glass front consisted of a removable panel locked in place and rarely removed. This made these books something of a mystery. I could see their spines but nothing else. They looked old and very grown-up; very mysterious. Study can be - and is certainly for me - about uncovering mysteries: finding out things I do not know; seeing things in new clearer ways.