School Books

These are books which remain with me largely as a part of the systematic push for their reading during elementary school and high school. Not everyone has pleasant memories of these books, including myself, as they were rightfully regarded as unpaid busywork the education system so rudely pushed into one's own personal time. The fact that some of them were good enough to be enjoyable in their own right is completely beside the point.

For my part at least, I will freely admit to being an absolutely illiterate small child, who couldn't be a bookworm even if he wanted. Becoming an avid reader simply wasn't an option living alone in rural Canada, with extremely limited access to bookstores, and with a education system who refused to front the money for a school librarian. It wasn't until I got semi-reliable Internet access that my own practical use for the written word became feasible in the first place, yet even then I still looked upon these books with feigned suspicion. After all, they were only ever selected for their didactic and propagandistic utility, even in ways which their original authors would find quite ghastly. My own school board, being quite hyper-conservative and a product of Cold War attitudes, would often prompt the selection of communist-sympathizing books from the 01960's simply so the teachers could “correctly” dictate their contents in ways to minimize their anti-capitalist themes, in the hopes that most of the students would then make unconscious habit of doing so. It was only freak happenstance regarding a frivolous and unimportant detail in the teaching of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye that I fell-backwards into a position where I could grow even slightly wise to these machinations. ... though all that did was prompt me toward pointlessly violent disagreements with my Grade 12 English teacher, at the precise time she—and she alone—controlled my university enrollment.

It's unfortunate that before Internet usage became commonplace one needed to be taught how to even read novels through a process which thoroughly removed elements of curiosity or joy from the equation. Reversing and correcting for the effects of this process remains an unsolved problem.



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