Thursday, April 11, 2013

Letting go

It takes a huge amount of mental honesty to admit that you have succumbed and that the idealism has slipped away; understanding that "failure that begins with indifference". This article on disengagement from prison education is a lovely piece, though the author, Alan Smith, was incredibly lucky to be able to give up the way he did.

His final class, slowly winding down, gave him a series of "golden, other-worldly mornings". They were reading Chaucer. They loved it. As Smith puts it:
When we don't know about history and art and society we are adrift. Most of you reading this will never have had that experience, but many of the men I taught were ignorant of just about everything, and as grown men felt this keenly. Education was a relief, a route to self-respect.
And this is why it may be another time to give up:
For the most part, classes in the arts, social sciences and languages have been closed. There won't be much of my liberal nonsense in the future. The government has decided training for work is the way to go and for the most part education, beyond basic numeracy and literacy, has been abandoned. I can't see it myself.
I can't see it either. And I don't like the idea that a liberal education should become the expensive preserve of a pampered elite in a way it has never been before.

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