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Don’t Schools Use Books Anymore?

September 30, 2012
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Thoughts From The Corner

For this post Professor Serendip offers the anecdote that this and other books which he has offered to local (Stoke On Trent, England) schools and colleges for their libraries were not accepted because the institutions did not even bother to reply to his letters!

As a private English tutor I am often asked by parents to ‘help improve my son’s/daughter’s English’. Books are the foundations for all studies. I am not sure what schools have in their libraries today but they can do a lot worse than accept Professor Serendip’s kind offer of the books he is willing to donate to them. Perhaps they will contain material to spark a child’s imagination. It has to better than sitting in front of a television exercising their thumbs on games consoles, doesn’t it?

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Excerpts from

Books that have been unnecessarily culled by libraries

Books that have been serendipitously encountered

Books that need to be saved for browsers


Richard Hamilton et al., The Last Storytellers/Tales from the Heart of Morocco

(Taurus, London & N. York, 2011)

This collection, with its comprehensive introduction by Barnaby Rogerson, gives names and details of the tellers of these stories. The plots and themes share some of those in the Arabian Nights. The tale of the Red Lantern runs to three and a half pages of smooth narrative. Here one might summarize it as follows:

A sweetmeat seller of Marrakech found he could no longer afford to buy honey for making his wares. He crossed the Atlas mountains to a land where he received from the local Pasha the traditional three days’ hospitality given to travelers. All he could offer in return to the Pasha was his his tin lantern with windows of red glass. In a land with no glass the Pasha was fascinated by the gift and rewarded the man with camel-loads of wealth. Returning home he was pressed by his brother to tell how he had got so much. The brother then decided to sell up everything and cross the Atlas to offer his wealth to the Pasha. But on the way he was robbed completely. After receiving the customary three-day hospitality from the Pasha he offered in return his old watch. The Pasha was overwhelmed by this gift of the timepiece, especially with its glass face. He ordered that the thing he valued most in the world be brought in to be given to the brother. On a cushion was brought in a tin lantern with windows of red glass. . .

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I don’t know what my local schools and colleges treasure the most but it certainly isn’t the donation of free books!

For a one to one English tutor this indeed makes unpleasant reading.

From → Books

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