22 November 2006

George Bernard Shaw on school

Obviously a great fan... </sarcasm>

. . . and there is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is in some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders (who of course would not be warders and governors if they could write readable books), and beaten or otherwise tormented if you cannot remember their utterly unmemorable contents. In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to the turnkeys discoursing without charm or interest on subjects that they don’t understand and don’t care about, and are therefore incapable of making you understand or care about. In a prison they may torture your body; but they do not torture your brains; and they protect you against violence and outrage from your fellow-prisoners. In a school you have none of these advantages. With the world’s bookshelves loaded with fascinating and inspired books, the very manna sent down from Heaven to feed your souls, you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a school book, written by a man who cannot write: A book from which no human can learn anything: a book which, though you may decipher it, you cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt will make you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life.

— “A Treatise on Parents and Children,” preface to Misalliance (1909), reprinted in Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, volume IV (1972), page 35.

Now compare this, point by point, with LCA:

  • Attendance is voluntary
  • The “books” are written by volunteers like yourself
  • You are not beaten or otherwise tormented unless you express chauvinistic sympathies in LinuxChix lectures
  • The presenters are vitally interested in what they have
  • The brain torture is just last night’s hangover
  • If your fellow attendees are violent or outraged, you probably gave them reason
  • You get the manna from various FOSS “heavens” worldwide
  • You’ll exit the lectures longing for new books

In short, GBS’d have a ball, I reckon.

(-: And so should you. See you there! :-)

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