Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fear of the Writen Word?

I am a book fiend....a book devourer...I eat, breathe, and find great satisfaction and a general sense of internal well being when laying on my bed with my latest topic of interestest. Im eclectic when it comes to my reading material....I generally will browse and snap up anything that perks my interest...anything ranging from medical and history and biography...and even occasionally stray into which case, Stephen King and Dean Koontz are my favorite late night reads. I will basically read anything...there is always some sort of information to be gleaned, to pearl of wisdom, from every collection of words written.

My love of books and the written word has sadly not passed down to even one of my children. They have grown up watching me devour complete books in a day or two...spend my few last dinars of the month on a book when I really should be buying something deemed more important(like dinner). They have witnesed all of this and yet the written word holds little interest to them other than to get through some homework or read the latest cheat codes for the PS2 or what the hot pop star of the moment has doen recently to disgrace herself(or himself).

I consider this state of affairs a trajedy and a failure on my part to do my job as a mother and encourage education every step of their lives....but I must confess I was up against a rival thats had a few more years to get it right then please forgive me children for my failure and therefore your loss.

Who might this rival be, this killer of love for the written word....this suffocating monster of all thats beautiful when letters are placed next to each other to form words....and words are strung along to form sentences...and sentences are brought together to form stories, facts, images, fantasies, information in all its glory? I call it like I see it seems pretty much all govts of nearly all arab states arent that keen in getting the "oppressed masses" to open a book and read whats in it...books are bad...books are full of ideas and we all know what ideas can do...stir up the oppressed into realizing all is not fair and just in their society despite what the govt would have you believe....and that possible something must be done about it.

At any rate, there generally is no desire for reading among Arabs...not all of course, but a great many I have known are marginal readers at best. Most of them dont even own any books other than Quran and maybe a collection of hadith....which is usually high up on a shelf and if I bothered to check would most likely be rather dusty. Magazines are usually scattered around but they are of the fluff genre...not a National Geographic or Times anywhere to be found.

Years of experience and 5 kids in the public school system(sorry I cant afford the private schools that so many expatriates have access too) has taught me(and them....sigh) that information is meant to be memorized for a set period of time....then forgotten once its use has been served. Tests answers are memorized...test taken...then subject is forgotten....never to be brought up again. There is no encouragement to read in Bahrain govt schools...there are no book reports handed trips to the library once a week...checking out a book mandatory(like when I was growing up in the US) home work is all about copying answers from the book...nothing more than that. No inspired teacher galvanizing her students to seek answers for lifes teacher encouraging his students to learn about a world outside Bahrains borders....I know you will all say...thats not true of everyone...I agree...generalizations generally dont include the entire population....but 5 kids....times how many teachers over a period of 14 years tells me that its the norm rather than the exception to get a teacher that is barely more than a babysitter in their respective classes.

So Im up against a monumental adversary when it comes to encouraging my children to seek inspiration and excitement in the closed confines of hardback book when cool graphics and sound effects from the latest gaming system....or the latest Reality TV contestent is about to be knocked off(and usually not the one that deserves it). There is no contest...and Arabs are the losers. It pains me that my children are growing up in a society that considers libraries a place to store books....not a place that has books whose sole purpose is to be unread book is like a undriven sports unanswered love letter....a boat that has never left the dock....a great idea that never left the lips of the one who thought it...what a terrible waste. More on that later.

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