Two big stories this past weekend: the release of the last Harry Potter book and the U.S. debut of David Beckham with the L.A. Galaxy. The predictable storylines: speculation of whether David Beckham would be enough to attract new fans to professional soccer [football] in the United States. (Will he be like Wayne Gretzky? Can he bring in the young male sportsfans? I really doubt enough of his female and gay male fans will generate the needed ticket sales.) I don't think he will have that much influence--Americans seem to have a perhaps inexplicable aversion to soccer as a spectator sport. (Though I did read a comment on a blog criticizing the way it is filmed by Americans, and contrasting it with the superior, more viewer-friendly way of Latin Americans.)
[Los Angeles Galaxy; LA Galaxy Soccer Blog MLS - LA Galaxy]
As for Harry Potter, there has been some discussion of what impact the end of the series will have on the young and their interest in reading. Apparently, the book hasn't had much of an impact in keeping children interested in reading as they get older. But this is America, right? Who needs to read when we have electronic media to keep us diverted?
[Harry Potter and the reading phenomenon; Harry Potter and the Death of Reading - washingtonpost.com; JKRowling Official Site - Harry Potter and more; Harry Potter - Into the Deathly Hallows - Beyond Hogwarts; MuggleNet The ULTIMATE Harry Potter Site - Harry Potter and the ...; the movies: Harry Potter - The Official Site]
Reading for leisure seems to be something limited to the culture elites, and so perhaps it is futile to expect that it would catch on with the masses. What egalitarians and democrats make of this... Besides, being able to read (and functional literacy) is really just the bare minimum, despite the efforts of American educators to dumb down requirements for the intellectual life. What is really needed, both for the intellectual life and for active citizenship: critical thinking skills... and of course, high schools and colleges like to claim that they are able to impart these to their students, but for the most part they don't even know where to begin.
Not having read any of the books in the Harry Potter series, I won't say much about it. But I do think that if they represent in the minds of the many the summit of contemporary Western written culture we are in trouble.
As for solutions to the lack of interest in reading...
Instead of forcing children to read beyond their level, might it be possible to foster their interest by recommending age-appropriate books? And distinctions based on ability and talent need to be made, even if leftists and radical egalitarians would like to do away with them entirely. Some childrenmay thrive upon a classical curriculum, one that involves the memorization and recitation of poetry and so on. Others probably wouldn't.
There is another problem--public schools, because of the ascendancy of misandry, do not introduce to boys books that appeal to the male mind. Should it surprise us then that boys who would not normally touch a book to entertain themselves pick up a volume of Harry Potter? What we need are teachers who understand the differences between the sexes and can thereby foster the intellectual and moral development of the boys.
Laura Berquist: "Harp and Laurel Wreath" from Ignatius Press - Plays &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; Poetry; "Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum" from Ignatius Press ...; Alumni Profile: Laura Berquist, '75
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