Monday 3 July 2023

Not all learning is book learning, but, today, book learning is the only type of learning available to most people, most of the time.

A member of the audience wrote in stating that he appreciates my discussion of autism (and stereotypically autistic behavior) in relation to language education, but he also reports that his own experience with reading and studying non-fiction (history, politics, etc.) is similarly debilitating inasmuch as it locks him into repetitive and obsessive patterns of behavior (it was not clear to me if the person writing in has been diagnosed with autism or not, but he seems to be struggling against stereotypically autistic behaviors, for whatever reason, in whatever his circumstances).  For him, this mode of learning ("the life of the mind") was not so different from playing a video game.  Here is my reply.


I think it's a difficult question that arises in the modern world —again and again— whereas it didn't arise in the ancient world.

Nobody spends time around a campfire, singing or seeing epic poetry performed aloud anymore: "literature" and "history" were (for many centuries) socially immersive experiences —as opposed to being isolating, repetitive labor.

AFAIK, there is still a scholarly consensus that the most ancient Greek epic poetry endured for centuries (or at least one century?) without being written down: it was performed verbally, etc.

I am not saying that illiteracy is good; I am just saying that not all learning is book learning; but, today, book learning is the only type of learning available to most people, most of the time.

Cf. my dispute about learning Cree-and-Ojibwe, in which I point out that these languages would not necessarily need to be taught with classroom (chalkboard and textbook) methods, BUT it would be a lot of work for the institution to actually provide a non-classroom (social and sociable) learning experience:

^ I admit, BTW, that contains a link to an earlier blog-article, that you might have to click through to, also, to get the point here.