‘Progress My Arm!’ Chunters Private English Tutor
Recently, this private English tutor had occasion to visit the university where he gained his teaching certificate 25 years ago.
I had three hours to while away treading over old ground, prodding ancient ghosts and remembering the miserable goat that had been in charge of me during my teaching training course.
The course was not all bad but the attitude and opinions of my superior as someone who made the statement ‘There is no such thing as working class any more,’ plus having to submit to straight jacket-like, strangle hold-like rules and restrictions in schools did not sit easily with me. I was someone who was running their own touring theatre company and had lived and worked abroad. This made me several years older than my course peers, most of whom had gone straight through the education system. I was the proverbial square peg in that round hole. :-(
Upon arrival at the hallowed grounds of that Ivory Tower recently, the first shock was that the entrance to the grounds had been moved. The new entrance was where green fields used to be, with the road to the car park winding in between new space age-like science buildings. Not a good start to my visit! Some would call in ‘Progress’, I would call it putting buildings on green land. . .
My next surprise was that I had to pay to park my car! In my day, parking was free. I guess that’s ‘progress’ for you. My first port of call, after having being ripped-off by the car parking machine, was the campus book shop. I used to love a browse around the uni book shop; no book shop in town offered such a selection of literary texts.
Ah! The disappointment!
Half of the bookshop had been turned into a well known coffee shop. Yes, the latte and blueberry muffin were to kill for but what about the books?
‘Yes,’ I hear you demand, ‘What about the books?’
Well, there were some.
Pushing aside the disappointment that the coffee shop didn’t provide free WiFi, I sat and perused my surroundings. I saw that the Science Fiction and Fantasy books had two sections of allocated shelving, as did Classics, where as Literary Criticism had one section.
Deftly quartering my blueberry muffin, I wondered why a seat of learning with an English department would give equal shelving space to Science Fiction and Fantasy as to that of Austen, Dickens, Eliot, etc. Why would this educational institution allocate twice as much space to Science Fiction and Fantasy than to Literary Criticism?
What do students study on English degree courses today?
From private English tutor to grumpy, out-of-date old man in a few short years!