Dumbing down.

July 2022 Forums General discussion Dumbing down.

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 126 total)
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  • #214957
    DJP
    Participant

    At this point in time there’s more educated, and highly educated, people in the world than at any point in history. I don’t think there really is a problem of illiteracy.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by DJP.
    #214960
    DJP
    Participant

    “The 2,500-Year-Old History of Adults Blaming the Younger Generation” https://www.historyhustle.com/2500-years-of-people-complaining-about-the-younger-generation/

    #214961
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    “I don’t think there really is a problem of illetiracy.

    LOL X

    #214966
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    There are issues with the internet, no one can doubt that , but I don’t see dumbing down as one of them. It might not be that the classics of literature are read in the way that they once were, but most of the culture of previous generations that has been preserved in literature is the literature of the ruling class.

    Not many of you will have heard of Jack Common (his brow was apparently the model used for the bust of Marx in Highgate Cemetary and George Orwell described him as the writer he always wished he was) but I was put on to reading him by my mother, who read him when first published. I went in to Newcastle City Library in the early 80’s and no record of his work was any where to be seen (Newcastle, my home town, was his place of birth and the subject of his work). With the marvel of the internet his work is saved and available. A quote from one of many websites now deveoted to him goes as follows:

    “To say that the work of Jack Common has been ignored and forgotten by both the literary establishment and the city he once described has become routine within the few esoteric corners of academia and journalism which have brought attention to the man and his work over the last few years.

    While his name may grace the wall of Byker Metro station and designate a collection of papers at Newcastle University, he nevertheless occupies an obscure role in the history of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Geordie culture, one subordinate to the likes of Richard Grainger, John Dobson and Lord Armstrong who through the display of pervasive architectural grandeur remind us day by day of their existence. Without the surface magnificence of Grey Street or Central Station, Common’s works, ranging from the essays found in The Adelphi and The Freedom of the Streets to his two autobiographical novels Kiddar’s Luck (1951) and The Ampersand (1954), not only explore the banality, exuberance and joy of industrial Newcastle in the early 20th century, but delve into the politics of working class culture, the love-hate relationship the ambitious Geordie has with his roots and the difficulty of obtaining class mobility, themes greatly relevant in our age of consumption, individualism and aspiration.

    While many Geordies upon reading Common will ask why his name has remained a mystery until that moment of enlightenment – and of course why he has not been introduced in the curricula of English literature classes around Tyneside – his interest in both the local and universal should engage those outside the region, and as Keith Armstrong has argued rescue the man ‘from being a mere footnote in Orwell studies’. In his Preface to Seven Shifts, a book which assembles a group of seven working lads to ‘describe their jobs, their conditions, and some of the their reactions to the life they lead’, Common aptly illustrates his relationship to companion and rival George Orwell and the literary establishment: ‘My friends include members of the literary bourgeoisie and lads from the unprinted proletariat. Both parties talk well, and you’d probably enjoy a crack with them as much as I do. But here’s the pity. The bourgeois ones get published right and left – especially left; the others are mute as far as print goes, though exceedingly vocal in public-houses’. As the voice of the silent and oppressed majority, Common’s non-fiction and autobiographic works are of great value and worthy of much study and investigation

    Thanks to the internet some of OUR culture is being preserved looked at, accessed, considered and evaluated. Without IT much of this would be lost and working class experience would continue to be a footnote in history.

    For instance without the internet the true story of the second world war would remain untold!!

    #214974
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    Thanks for the reference BD.
    We had something to say about Jack common in the Standard of October 1991.
    https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1991/1990s/no-1046-october-1991/jack-common-and-working-class-writing/

    This is a Wikpedia entry about him.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Common

    #214975
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Thanks for the link Matt, I hadn’t read that article before, don’t know how or why (possibly drunk) missed it. Any idea who wrote it?

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Bijou Drains.
    #214980
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    I don’t know. Lew Higgins and Adam Buick did book reviews for this issue but that one is not signed.

    #214981
    ALB
    Keymaster

    The article on Jack Common was written by Brian Rubin(and was signed BR in the print version). He is no longer on the books but, as far as I know, is still a socialist somewhere in the wilds of Surrey (he was a member of the old Guildford branch). Maybe Robbo will know more about him.

    #214989
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    Thanks for the update. I have added BR to this version too.

    #215551
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    “Can’t hold a pen? How many people can cut and sharpen a quill, or mix their own ink, or, for that matter, fill a fountain pen? We simply don’t need to now. It doesn’t make us dumber, any more than not knowing where Katmandu is.”

    You are obviously happy for children, then, to be sat over a keyboard and not be encouraged in the manual dexterity and spontaneity of using pens, pencils and brushes. As adults they will find it much harder, without having used key nerves and muscles for dexterity. You see no place for drawing, sketching, painting and calligraphy, paper crafts, etc? You are to limit everything, from the earliest years, to screen dependency.

    #215552
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Welcome back TM

    #215553
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    You are obviously happy for children, then, to be sat over a keyboard and not be encouraged in the manual dexterity and spontaneity of using pens, pencils and brushes. As adults they will find it much harder, without having used key nerves and muscles for dexterity. You see no place for drawing, sketching, painting and calligraphy, paper crafts, etc? You are to limit everything, from the earliest years, to screen dependency.

    It does not follow on, from being happy for children to use keyboards as in 21st century communications, that they will be discouraged from exploring other ones.

    Indeed the reverse may be the case, arising out of ‘searches’ by inquisitive children, artistically inclined or who would have been, as in my own case historically inclined, children.

    A close personal friend of mine was taken aback by his 12 year old son’s choices of subjects for his senior year at school, of science and geography as there had been no indication of this except to his teachers.

    Children don’t always need ‘controled’.

    #215567
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    But the article states that some children are unable to hold pencils.
    I’m not anti-modern technology, just against it robbing those of us who want different things, and children not being given options. Thus, “googling” the subject “will printed books disappear?” “Will handwriting disappear?” will show many techno-fascists exulting YES!
    Rod, above, says we no longer need to know how to use pens. That is dismissive of pens and pencils, of handwriting and drawing, surely?

    Socialism, unlike capitalism, will be a society, I would hope, of leisure and enjoyment, and diversity. No longer will we be speeding everywhere with no time to live. It should witness a blossoming of the arts, of creativity like never before. Don’t you agree? The workers who are being robbed of the tangible and the real will be humans wanting it back, will they not? Those content with the virtual can have it; without us preferring the tangible having to do without. And since the means of production will be available to us all, if we have to make our own books and traditional art utensils, we will.

    The same goes for language. With more leisure, why shouldn’t it reach the heights again – but for all, not just an educated minority such as in the 19th century. The source of the blind rage and anger of much of today’s popular speech, the need to be speedy and rushed, etc. will be gone.
    Why should literature, art and music not once more reach the heights? Is it not the defunct nature of capitalism which dumbs us down, because what is best in human culture cannot grow any more under it, is suffocated by it.

    #215569
    rodshaw
    Participant

    Well, using a keyboard or keypad also requires manual (and mental) dexterity. When computers were new, learning to use one was quite a task for many, adults and children alike. Ditto using a mouse.

    Skills come and go and many are specific to a particular age. Not being able to cut a quill (or even hold a pen if you never need to) doesn’t make you dumber.

    I don’t know whether we’re a typical family but we help our grandkids with all sorts of activities, including painting and drawing, as do their parents and, I’m sure, many parents the world over. I teach them to play guitar and operate a model railway (not at the same time though). Come to think of it, I have some quills and parchment somewhere and may one day get round to showing them how to cut a quill and write Carolingian minuscules, and no doubt they will find it fascinating for an hour or so but then want to move on to something else.

    But they also play Roblox or whatever on their tablets, and go on and on about dinosaurs or Lego Friends or whatever the latest marketing fad is. Just like I used to go on about Dinky toys and Meccano.

    In a socialist society I’m sure there will be a blossoming of interest in all sorts of forgotten activities. Maybe even making ink from gall will get a revival and we’ll all dress up in Medieval clothing and write illuminated manuscripts. I could think of worse ways to spend the time, until you get cramp in your hand.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by rodshaw.
    #215572
    Anonymous
    Inactive

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