Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Libraries supporting literacy

Henning Mankell, plenary speaker, IFLA 2010, World Library and Information Congress, Gothenburg, Sweden.
I was alerted to this by the CILIP announcement of the untimely death of Bob McKee. What a shock as I had only been speaking to him on 20th July at the House of Commons launch of the school libraries survey. He had supported SLG so well in all our efforts and he seemed to be looking forward to his retirement.
So I then went to investigate the conference and listened to two presentations, this one and the Hans Rosling one (which was very annoying as you could not see the ppt he was pointing at, but much of the content seemed similar to other of his talks available on TED)
This Mankell talk was about literacy and the role of libraries. I would suggest you listen

Laugh at least once a day or life would be too miserable
To be able to read and write the question of being literate
What I want more than anything else in my life is an identity card, to get an identity card I need to be literate
Illiteracy is a plague that haunts the world.
The internet is the only thing we can thank the army for
People who read are armed forces words and pens are among the most dangerous things there are

His talk reminded me of a poem, in the past we did a lesson using this poem as a writing frame to discuss identity. Some of the poems the students produced were amazing and gave us such an insight into their lives, far more than if we had just asked them to write about what was  important to them. When I read the poem I realise what Mankell means about words being dangerous things but they are precious too and we need to take care how we use them.

Poem by Miroslav Holub A boy's head

In it there is a space-ship

and a project

for doing away with piano lessons

And there is

Noah's ark,

which shall be first.

And there is

an entirely new bird

an entirely new hare

an entirely new [bumble-bee.

There is a river

that flows upwards

There is a multiplication table

There is anti-matter

And it just cannot be trimmed.

I believe

that only what cannot be trimmed

is a head

There is much promise

in the circumstance

that so many people have heads.

Miroslav Holub

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