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January 12, 2005
Natalie gets educational

Natalie Solent seems to be in an educational mood just now. First there was this:

I hereby submit my new general theory on the learning of foreign languages. This article in Le Monde about the oil for food scandal was of particular interest because it was of interest.

I took O-Level French at sixteen. Since then, linguistic stagnation, slightly ameliorated by tourism. But since I've been on the internet and can read French stuff which is about things I want to read about I have started learning French again.

I have these little insights from time to time. The great thing about blogging is that you can exhibit them and win either way. If the so-called insight was and always had been obvious to the entire world apart from me it doesn't seem to matter. Readers simply do not linger there. But if the reaction is "Natalie, you have put into words that very thought most needed by a suffering humanity; here, take all my worldly goods as a partial recompense," that is OK, too.

I kept that last paragraph in not because it is especially educational, but simply because I like it. Bloggers are as good as their best postings, but not as banal as their worst. Discuss. Although I suppose the insight that if you write down an insight, you are more likely to reflect upon it intelligently, and if it is true and valuable to remember it, is educational.

And then for her next Natalie did a longer posting about the question of those little life skills, i.e. the kind of essential stuff that you may get taught at school, but may not. Like: cooking, sewing, keeping a diary and thereby keeping appointments. And I would add: typing and driving.

The first of these two Natalie postings actually says a lot about the second. You learn the life skills you are interested in learning. And I entirely agree with her that the Welfare State hugely interrupts that process, by dis-incentivising the learning of anything. Or, to put it another way, necessity is the mother of education.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:50 AM
Category: BloggingPoliticsThis and that

Couldn't agree more. I spent five years studying French at school. I got to the same standard in Spanish in three months listening to tapes, reading newspapers and working in Barcelona. And, of course, before I started I wasn't keen because my French experience had put me off.

Comment by: Patrick Crozier on January 15, 2005 12:53 AM
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