Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Reading - Why I Think People Should Read More

I hope you're comfy and have a warm drink because this is going to be a long one.

Ever since a young age I have always had a love for reading. When I was small I used to demand to be read too from my mum and dad (who lovingly reread the same books over and over despite it driving them mad) and then when I was old enough to read for myself I very quickly grew a love for C.S Lewis and Enid Blyton. However, reading was not something that came easily to me. Despite my fondness for books, I was always behind in junior school with my reading and although I eventually caught up with the help of some great teachers and learning support staff, I can't claim that I was a natural reader always ahead of the rest. 
I also can't claim that my love for reading has been persistent, despite being a keen reader at a young age, by the time I was in secondary school it lost some of its appeal and was only really something I did on my holidays abroad. This was the case until I began University and started to study English Literature at a higher level. 

You may be thinking, why is this relevant? Well the point I'm making is that despite it being difficult for me and despite my lack of interest in the teenage years, reading has always been a big part of my life and not only that but it has helped me vastly in my experience of the world and helping me understand how life works. This is something that I believe every child should experience. 

With the war on Arts and Humanities that the UK government is currently engaged in, I feel that this is the prime opportunity to express how I feel about something that I believe will soon be a lost art if we aren't careful - reading. In the UK there is currently a massive push towards the STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. With the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan stating that "Teenagers should steer away from the arts and humanities and opt for science or maths subjects if they want to access the widest range of jobs" this type of political bullshit is in my opinion going to be the downfall of our society. Arts and humanities have throughout history been incredibly important and now because we see ourselves as 'more developed' we think that they are no longer important. But I would like to pose a question to these politicians - If no one studied the Arts and Humanities, if that area was completely ignored from the next generation and slowly they began to die out - no theatre performances because no one is training to become actors, no books - because no one is utilising their creativity enough to want to write a book, no television - no one is interested in becoming directors or producers, no designer clothes - why bother drawing when your told that STEM is the only plausible option? - How would they like their life? These are only a few examples of things that the Arts and Humanities sector cover but I would love to know how many of these pretentious arses go home and read a book, go to the theatre, watch a movie, watch some television, listen to the radio on the way to work, read newspapers, wear designer clothes? The issue is Arts and Humanities are so engrained in our culture that idiots like this take it for granted. But to take it for granted to the extent of actively promoting students to turn away from the study of Arts and Humanities to me is absurd. Now I may be biased here as an English Literature student in her third year of study. But this kind of thinking is going to be seriously detrimental to the future generations. 

Reading is so incredibly important to a persons emotional and psychological development, as George R.R. Martin (the author of A Game of Thrones) states "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one." Should we not be teaching this to our future generations? To appreciate literature, to read, to educate ourselves and not rely on teaching, to learn about the world, about other people, about other situations. To become empathetic to other human beings and become well rounded people? If we focus solely on the STEM subjects we will create people that have no imagination, no zest for life. Even one of the most famous scientists in the world Albert Einstein is quoted to have said "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales." Why are we ignoring the advice of so many great people in our society and following the advice of the idiots that believe they run the show? 

The sad thing is the change is already happening, people are already devaluing reading as a skill. Only a few years back when I was in college, I was assigned to help out with a Year 7 class (11-12 year olds) in the mornings and one of my jobs was to help the kids read. I worked with a boy who could barely read a sentence. At the age of 12 this boy could barely read but was expected to work alongside all the other children, do his homework and achieve those all important (as is drummed into us) 5 A*-C grades at GCSE. How? How is that boy meant to be able to do his work in a secondary school without the ability to read? It seems completely absurd to me that nothing was done about that any sooner and I'm glad to say that by the end of the year I had managed to get him reading at a reasonable proficiency but I only had one day a week for a year to do this. Imagine what could have been achieved if this had have been tackled on a daily basis? 

I do understand fully that yes there is a need for the STEM subjects. However, this should not be at the detriment of Arts and Humanities. Nicky Morgan also stated that their needs to be more women going into the STEM areas in further study and is aiming to push more girls into that sector. Quite frankly I think the focus on how girls must do more STEM subjects appalling. Has this woman not an ounce of feminism in her? Women have a tough enough time in society today without being told by some government official that her love of the arts is not valid or useful to society. Can you imagine the outcry if the same government officials where to say that more boys should be studying the arts and humanities? 

This turned into a bit of a rant about politics - which is unusual for me as I usually try and stay out of political debate. But I feel like it's an important matter and I wanted to address my opinion here on my blog. 

My closing statement for this post is: Do what you want to do in life. Not what the government wants you to do. Study whatever you love and make the most out of your life. You only have one and it's very short, don't waste it doing something that you feel pressured into doing but get no joy out of. 

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
- Albert Einstein 

If you've made it all the way to the end well done. What are your opinions on this topic? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @bambisblogs


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