Since when was it considered cool to admit that ignorance is bliss? This thought occurred to me while watching BBC1's excellent afternoon quiz show Pointless when the subject of literature cropped up.
The question was straightforward. One contestant came straight out and declared, 'I don't read' before adding the ridiculous qualifier 'Why bother when most of them get made into films?' Host Alexander Armstrong and his sideman Russell Osman did their best to contain their surprise at this admission -- after all, who in their right mind enters a quiz without even the most basic knowledge of fiction? -- but what was really shocking was that this contestant's remarks were cheered by a chap on another team, Andy, who also admitted that he knew nothing about books. This latter Andy is a geography teacher.
The following day Armstrong began the show by enquiring just how Andy managed to qualify to teach without so much as even 'brushing against someone in the library' to be greeted with a cheery, 'I never read any of the books on my course, just studied the notes. And I got an A'.
Dear God, is it any wonder that Britain is screwed when you have schoolteachers admitting on TV that they couldn't be arsed reading? The dumbing down of culture is one thing when you have a generation reared on fake 'reality' shows and talent contests, which encourage people to believe that if they want something badly enough then they can have it -- no matter how unqualified or untalented they are but for people charged with the education of children to admit that reading -- one of life's great pleasures -- is a chore is mind-boggling.
It's one thing for people like Victoria Beckham to admit that she's never finished a book (presumably not even her own) but when you have teachers encouraging adolescnets to study Reader's Digest versions of Shakespeare rather than the full text then we're in trouble.
Ignorance is not to be boasted about.
Reading is big.
Reading is clever. Not to mention educational and entertaining.