Jack is guest blogging today and tomorrow because Wendy is holed up in our cabin under strict instructions from her agent Pamela to produce another best-seller by Monday.
As regular readers will be aware we run lots of events here in the bookstore – writers’ group, yarn spinners, movie night, gourmet night among others. Last night was our monthly discussion group, known as ‘Let’s Talk’ – the brain-child of our good friend and Pastor Tony. He wanted to hold regular non-confrontational discussions of whatever topics folk wanted to suggest and on ‘neutral territory’.
This has become a highlight event and a runaway success and the topics have ranged from the nature of evil to nose-picking in public (this was suggested, with a completely straight face, by our erstwhile shop-sitter Andrew).
Last night our subject was ‘Education’, suggested by Wendy and, in her absence, led off by me. We addressed a range of issues, including ‘what do we mean by education?’, ‘who are the clients that educators are responsible to?’, and ‘what is the role of the state in education?’
So – what were the most significant conclusions we came to?
1) Learning doesn’t just happen during formal classes and continues your whole life.
2) Teachers should be of the highest caliber and paid accordingly (interestingly, the highest rated education system in the world is in Finland where all teachers must be educated to Masters level, are well paid and teach small classes. Despite this the cost per student is a third less than the US system.)
3) The state does have an interest, since it uses tax money to pay for the system, however this often results in simplistic and frequent testing that usually disrupts learning. (Again – in Finland students are only tested once between ages 7 and 16).
Along the way, as usual, we wandered off down fascinating byways and our Moderator Tony had to use his lasso to get us back on the main road.
So – what does ‘Let’s Talk’ signify for me? Actually many things: the place of our bookstore in the community, the proof that learning is a lifelong activity, the ability of a disparate group of folk to discuss often contentious subjects without coming to blows and how, even in a small rural community, weighty subjects can be discussed knowledgeably.
Much thanks to Wes for pulling up the Finnish information on his tablet as the discussion progressed.