Thursday, 24 February 2011

16th February - On Libraries

Last week on the school board meeting conversation jumped off the agenda a bit and discussed topic became rather unworthy of the elevated nature of the board: bitching about some families and parents. A fellow member had a passing comment about parents who not only don’t pay the fees (they are called ‘offerings’ – because we are not a private school!), not only don’t participate in the school but there are some homes where you feel the parents work against the philosophy of the school. In this last part she looked at me meaningfully.

Yesterday we were in the library with the children. With Ernest we go regularly, at least once a week and I remember with Liliom we used to go often as well, back in Oulu, till I started uni when it became a rare outing. In her own gentle ways she has been trying to let me know that this isn’t right. So recently I have begun a constructive response and decided that at least every other week we will make it there with her.

Since there is a ski break and we don’t ski in the dry and snowless southern plains of hungary we hang out all day and do things like going down to the market together, playing with clay, painting the kids cardboard playhouse. And yesterday we have been to the library.

Should I let Lili, she would take home all the books. Should I let me I would do the same but fortunately there is a very strict limit of six books per library card, we have three in the family. Eighteen books is still enough.

Lili carrying a handful of books to the desk to check out, with Ernest marching right behind her with another couple of books he has chosen is a wonderful sight. Lili then sitting in the armchair at home surrounded by and disappearing behind books practically piled on top of her is another wonderful sight. Jen relived of her concerns for Ernö not bothering with books now they sitting on the sofa reading books to each other is another sight putting tears in one’s eyes.

We love books. I love books. I always have, as far as I can remember. I cannot remember my parents actively encouraging me but I am certain it was there. I love doing the same for my children, I love helping them to build a habit of using libraries and an appreciation for them. Books are incredibly important and certainly a far more productive way of receiving stories than television.

In steiner schools to begin with, books are pretty much shunned. First graders should know nothing of letters and spelling and reading and writing and all that and in some ways, generally be illiterate in the world of books. Hence Jen’s recent blogpost about their ‘learning’ the letter ‘D’. In In Lili’s school this doctrine seems to be taken seriously. I tell my colleagues at the school board and fellow parents about our lives. Liliom tells about our adventures during circle times in the mornings and an outing to the library for her is an exciting adventure, and a return packed with interesting stories, facts and science.

There is a conflict of interest with the very school we chose and pay for yet so long as I hear seven years old kids chatting on the school playground about the recent Madonna and other music videos I know that I have the moral high ground. Anyone finds it a problem?

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