Learning is fun!
If only buying books made us as clever as reading them. If only we could download the contents of books into our minds like software updates, and immediately know stuff about physics and tadpoles.
But then again, learning is fun! These are two non-fiction books I got for Christmas, bought for me by my daughter, who paid for them with the education allowance 16-18 year olds still get in Scotland (a payment made to them each week to encourage them to stay in school), so thanks, government, your allowance is educating me, too!
I have quite a few Roman and Greek books, and I like Mary Beard’s accessible writing style. The high school I went to had a class called ‘Classical Studies’ which was quite unusual at the time, and was split up into half of the time learning Latin, and the other half listening to myths. Also, as the teacher was emphatic that art was central to understanding ancient cultures, we did a lot of drawing, and all had to build a bigger end of term art project. My older brother made an awesome Minotaur out of Fimo, which almost thirty years later, still survives. I made a Roman fort out of ice lolly sticks. It barely survived the journey into school on the train, let alone anything else. We also had trips to local Roman villas, where we peered into excavated recesses at bits of mosaic, and bought pencils and rubbers in the visitor centre gift shop afterwards. It was truly great.
And the other book is because I am always learning a language. Since I left school I have always been dabbling, my car glove box is full of CDs of people from all over the globe telling me how to introduce myself and ask where the toilet it. For about the last ten years I have been working my way across the Nordic countries, greatly helped by all the great Scandinavian films and TV shows which make language learning fun. I’m not fluent in any of the languages I’ve learned, I just love words, and the wonderful website Duolingo is endless fun. And you never know, one day I might find myself in Moscow wanting to buy and apple, and ask for directions to the train station.