Posts Tagged ‘Childhood whimsy’

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No more libraries???

May 19, 2011

I never thought it would happen, but apparently the days of the school library may be numbered.

On the surface, the idea seems absurd. Schools are places of learning. Having a huge collection of books in one place is an excellent way to facilitate learning. Therefore, leaving aside the issues of getting kids to enjoy reading (which I’ll get to in a second), it would seem a matter of practicality to equip schools with libraries.

Yes, technology is changing. We rely more on the Internet for research, and last I heard, Amazon was selling more e-books than actual print-and-paper books. However, that does not subtract from the importance of books as a research source. Do me a favour. The next time a set of encyclopediae is handy, look up a topic of your choosing. Then, boot up your computer, access the Internet, and search for the same topic. I’m willing to bet you’ll end up on Wikipedia.

I’m also willing to bet that it took much less time to simply open a book. Then, since I’m such a gamblin’ soul, I will make one final bet that the information in your print encyclopedia was reviewed and fact-checked, making it more reliable than the encyclopedia that “anyone can edit.”

And this is just looking at libraries from a purely academic point of view. These are school libraries on the chopping block. School libraries are instrumental in exposing kids to books and making the world of reading an accessible one. I cannot count the hours I spent in my elementary school library, devouring books that I found on my own as I perused the shelves, as well as those the librarian recommended to me. The Call of the Wild. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. From the Earth to the Moon. The Chronicles of Narnia. Sherlock Holmes. Ancient Myths and Legends. The War of the Worlds. Watership Down. Redwall. Silver Chief. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. The Hobbit.

Notice, if you will, the presence of a lot of “older” books: Verne, Wells, London. While my school library certainly had books for a younger audience, it also carried the classics. So, when you read everything of interest in the “little kid” section, you naturally moved on to some literature that, in hindsight, was extremely good preparation for the rest of my schooling, as well as my current writing.

I don’t know that it would have been possible in a public library. Don’t get me wrong, I love public libraries too, but… many of them are a lot bigger. The librarians don’t often know you as personally, and can’t always provide that individualized recommendation. They can’t say, “It’s about a magical land, with a wicked queen and a lion who saves the day. It may be a little scary, but I think you’ll like it.”

Too often, we hear news stories about how kids don’t read, kids don’t use their imagination, kids don’t have any attention span anymore because they’re too hooked in to TV and video games. Growing up, my home was well-stocked with books because my parents were huge readers. But not every child is so fortunate. Nor does every child have a public library that’s close and easily accessed (which is a tragedy too).

And yet, if you give kids the opportunity to explore books freely and comfortably, they will eventually find something that makes their imaginations soar. Then you have a reader for life.

Reading is like drinking seawater. The more you drink, the thirstier you become.

Keep them thirsting for more.

-Arvik

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Endeavour is Off

May 16, 2011

Apparently, I was sadly misled. Or I missed NASA’s updates. Either way, I’m saddened.

I thought Endeavour would fly the final shuttle mission. She gets the next-to-last instead. While I have no real issue with Atlantis seeing out the shuttle age, it would have been nice to witness Endeavour’s final lift-off. As the last mission is scheduled on or around my birthday (end of June- mark your calendars), it would have been even nicer.

But life is what it is. I’ve lamented about the end of the shuttle programme before. The mood now seems akin to the last few weeks of school. There’s a sense of inevitable winding-down, the imminent closing of a chapter. I am proud of the fleet, the astronauts, and the ground-based crews. I’m nervously excited for the future (excited because who knows where we’ll go, nervous because with budget cuts and red tapes, who knows where we’ll go…).

And yes, I’m a little sad that one of the world’s most beautiful machines will be grounded.

Endeavour is “my” ship for a simple reason: as a small child, I spent a few summers at Space Camp/Camp Spatial Canada. Although probably not as cool as the American versions of Space Camp (i.e. the ones close to actual space centres), we nevertheless got to live in a space museum, test astronaut simulators, and fly missions in a full-scale mock-up of Endeavour.

She dominated the training pit, taking up most of the space in the vast hall while the simulators clustered alongside the walls. Every time you walked through the hall, the hulking space craft drew your eye. And while I did have (*cough*still have*cough*) an overactive imagination, I do remember having a moment of disorientation after one “mission,” illogically wondering how she’d landed in the training room without crashing through the walls.

And to the crew now orbiting the Earth: best of luck, and come home safely.

The Cosmodome

In the museum

 

 

 

Simulator at lower right

Arvik