Bookish Monkey

A Pertinent Question

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Posed by Luc Sante, in an interesting post about an educational pocket library series published by the early 20th century American Socialist weekly Appeal to Reason:

What happened to continuing self-education? These books were read by teamsters and machinists and stevedores and farmhands and miners. They read them not because they thought the books could help them get a better job but because they were curious. They were hungry–they wanted to consume the world. This isn’t to say that every hod-carrier in Michigan in 1910 was reading them, but enough were to make the series continually expand. And none of it was fluff, or merely mercenary, or simple-minded propaganda. How many people–with considerably longer formal educations and a larger fund of leisure time–read anything like that sort of thing today, for fun? How many people assume without thinking about it that reading is and has always been a pursuit strictly for the privileged? Would it be too much to consider a connection between the rightward shift in politics and the decline of self-motivated learning?

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