To learn or not to learn

Isis Town and Country - - Opinion -

ON MY weekly gro­cery trip to town, a browse in the li­brary is my lit­tle in­dul­gence. It’s free, it’s just for me and it has the po­ten­tial to fill me with new ideas and in­form me about old ones. The news­pa­per The Aus­tralian re­cently pub­lished a col­lec­tor’s edi­tion of their magazine for their 50th an­niver­sary. It fea­tures ar­ti­cles about 50 Aus­tralians of in­flu­ence. The two au­thors who are high­lighted are Pa­trick White and Peter Carey. Both men have writ­ten sev­eral qual­ity books and whether you like them or not, these works have be­come part of our mod­ern his­tory. Brows­ing through the new and im­proved stylish book­shelves in the Childers Li­brary, I couldn’t find one book of ei­ther of these es­teemed au­thors. Look­ing at the bright and colour­ful book cov­ers it seems that the li­brary has be­come a place for un­com­pli­cated entertainment, not ed­u­ca­tion. It’s dis­ap­point­ing that a res­i­dent can­not sim­ply walk into the li­brary and flick through the pages that the world’s great­est minds have cre­ated. How can we ex­pect peo­ple to form in­tel­li­gent opin­ions, if all we of­fer them is shal­low short-lived plea­sure? How ironic that to­day’s teenagers think of ‘Big Brother’ as a TV show, to­tally miss­ing a pos­si­ble ref­er­ence to the dumb­ing down of the pro­le­tari­ats in Ge­orge Or­well’s novel ‘1984’. Sure, there are e-books now, but there is no such thing as brows­ing and find­ing some­thing fas­ci­nat­ing next to the ti­tle you came look­ing for. I tucked my list with six ti­tles of ‘must read’ clas­sics back in my pocket and left the li­brary empty handed. Next door in the Salvos store I wiped the dust of three yel­lowed pock­ets; I paid 50 cents each and went home with mixed feel­ings.



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