Quite often, I am asked what I think the best or most valuable books or movies are, and which ones people looking to grow intellectually should read or watch.
So, below, I have compiled a series of lists of what I consider to be the best books, works of art, music, and films.
These lists are not my attempt to spark some kind of an online university to make money. The writer Nassim Taleb says the best way to have an ‘antifragile’ education is to have a personal library and engage in street fights.
This is my attempt at providing a kind of map for how to put together a decent library, even if it is mental, whilst we all fight our battles on the street and thus learn both how to think and to work and live. I will add to these lists when necessary. No recommended list can ever be set in stone…
The latest student riots have put education in the spotlight. The students are re-deploying an old argument of the intellectual and political establishment – education can save our society (particularly the sciences) therefore it should be free for all.
The irony is that the violence of the riots and the lack of any meaningful dialogue around the conflict only shows the need for a new kind of education that goes beyond just preparing people for the workplace.
We need an education that helps us see and understand the big issues that have always either inspired or plagued human beings.
It is an intriguing coincidence that when one watches the news these days, the images coming from the US are almost exactly the same as those coming from South Africa.
What’s more, both have a hashtag at the heart of the burning, looting, and rioting – namely #BlackLivesMatter for the US, and #FeesMustFall for South Africa.
Is it a coincidence?
I don’t think so.
I think the movements stem from the same social force, brought to life by similar social conditions.
We put in place a progressive philosophy of education – or, Outcomes Based Education (OBE) – and meaningful curriculum was subsumed in a storm of paperwork, group-work, child-based learning, all of which left the average working class kid completely bewildered.
As usual, the richer middle class did alright because they grew up in homes with books et cetera.
So why did this happen? The government basically wanted to make a political statement – a bold repudiation of apartheid era, teacher-centred, chalk and talk, authoritarian-style education (an understandable position).
But they went too far. They ended up throwing out the basics of teaching a solid curriculum. They realise this now – if one is to read between the lines of the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). But CAPS does not go far enough.
Over the next week or so I am focusing on education. As a teacher and political writer, I have some ideas on how to fix our country’s shameful blight, and I am going to share three pieces on this issue over the next few days.
A few years ago, in the wake of hearing some shocking exam results from government schools in the Western Cape, I wrote a piece for the Cape Argus arguing that the Department of Education should be shut down, and the education budget handed over to school governing bodies as subsidies and to parents in the form of fee vouchers.