I love books. No, I literally LOVE books! (I'm not trying to be punny here) And since the joy of literacy has been with me all my life, I find myself aghast at the ignorance of it's profound effect on our lives. Just the other day I was speaking with a English teacher who has a finger puppet of Shakespeare she keeps on her chalkboard. As all minds tend to wander, particularly near the fading days of the school year, they asked her who it was. In her lovely faux British accent she introduced him as William Shakespeare who was from England. Her students got a good laugh and then stated, "But that's not where Shakespeare is from!" From one of her 'brighter' students she was asked who the author of Othello was. She was too dumbfound to even attempt to reply. As a former teacher I can envision the quivering rage about to break loose after a year of 'teaching' this subject only to have a single moment called into question if the job description wasn't really babysitting!
Another friend has been a Librarian at a the Deer Valley school district for 17 years and now finds herself desperately scrabbling for another job. Apparently cutbacks for the unnecessary parts of education included not only art and music teachers, but librarians. "After all, they only check out books", a parent was heard to say. Apparently this individual doesn't understand that it is a librarian who teaches children about the literary resources available, supports teachers in their curriculum, helps with research and recommends books to hungry minds. My poor grade school librarian maintained a running 'buffet' for me the 2 times a week I went in to see her. Thanks to her, I have a voracious appetite that has opened doors to other worlds for me. I asked this friend who they planned on hiring in her stead. "A clerk." was her terse reply. Maybe that's all parents really want nowadays. She, on the other hand, hopes to find a job teaching English that will make her 'less dispensable'.
I guess this leaves me wondering how much more is dispensable in education this day and age. Most of all it makes me wonder how much more of a responsibility I have in raising my children not only to enjoy the captivating story lines of pop culture authors but to also savor the literary figures that call our attention to deeper levels found in humanity. If great authors such as Shakespeare, Austin, etc are dead in us, how can we expect them to live in our children? My personal prayer ... may they all live long and proper!