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Thoughts From The Corner

May 27, 2012

"home tuition in english"


The stock in trade of ‘Experienced Tutors’ is giving home lessons or one to one lessons if you prefer. The very nature of private home tuition in English or private lessons in Sociology, is an intimate meeting of two people – although distance learning is now possible with the use of modern communication technology. This post takes it a step further as we consider not only the removal of one party but also the removal of  the cornerstone of our education – books. For this post, retired Professor, Prof. Serendip, mulls over, not only the disappearance of books from our libraries but also some of his encounters with that wonderful educational tool – a tool, it would seem, heading down the same path as the Dodo – pictured below.

"home lessons"

Prof. Serendip is a retired professor whose educational specialities include archaeology, the classics and classical translation. A life-long love affair with the humble book and its present precarious state, has seen him pen this post.

"one to one lessons"

A Miscellany

Excerpts From:

Books that have been unnecessarily culled from librearies

Books that have been serendipitously encountered

Books that need to be saved for browsers

This compilation was begun to save from oblivion items from books that were ruthlessly culled by some major libraries. It was a naive enterprise and anyway it was bound to be too personal in the choices made.

Some will recall what we had to do when we wanted to be accepted as readers in the Bodleian Library.

study skills lessons

Main entrance to the Bodleian Library, with the coat-of-arms of several Oxford colleges

We would read an oath that we would not bring kindling into the library! Perhaps today we might have to swear not to bring Kindle into the library.

Will digitization mark the end of books with pages?

In recent months it has noted that that several ‘distinguished literary figures’ have been obliged by lack of space to dispose of sizeable quantities of their books.

Just as Hobbits grappled with accumulations of things which we call ‘mathoms’ [Mathom was the hobbit term for anything which they had no use for but were unwilling to throw away – ed.] by fostering deposits of such, so might we envisage clubs and similar centres that can house orphaned books.

For this post I will look at one such orphaned book – let us call it: ‘An Anthology of Scripts’.

Wilfred Blunt, Sweet Roman Hand/five hundred years of Italic Cursive Script (James Barrie, London 1952)

This book of a hundred pages is not a manual of keystrokes guiding you into the writing of a fine italic hand. Rather, it is a chronological anthology of examples. You will find in it not only dated examples of facsimiles of ordinary as well as famous folk. There are set out Nelson’s right-hand script as well as his writing with his left hand. Contrasts are many: Sir Francis Walsingham’s illegible “English Free Hand” of 1585 scores badly in readability against the scripts of Cromwell, Charles I and II, Dr Johnson, Thackery, Hardy and others.

It is alleged that some people don’t write any more on paper. So many text electronically and use an inconsiderate scrawl when forced to write. This slim book is just the size for the bedside bookshelf of a guest bedroom. For those of us who still like to write a letter the illustrations in Blunt’s selection will spur us to write considerately without ugly compressions or unnecessary squiggles.

"gcse sociology"

Prof. Serendip will return, in the near future, with more gems that appear destined for the skip!

It has been claimed the England gave the world its first free public library. A wonderful claim indeed. Printed matter for the  masses, at a charge everyone could afford. One to one lessons took place in the homes of the less well-off, as parents were read to by children who were being given a free school education – those library books must been an invaluable aid.

Stoke On Trent City Council (Staffordshire, England) has just axed a ‘mobile library’ in its latest round of cuts. A large vehicle that came to your area and allowed you to borrow books and return them to the vehicle when it came around again the following week. Used mainly by the elderly they proved a popular meeting place for the less mobile and a place to obtain valuable reading matter. Books that provided informal home lessons for the needy. Rumour has it the Coventry County Council now is the proud owner of the vehicle. Shame on you Stoke On Trent City Council.

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