A Catch 22 (and other books you were forced to read)

October 29, 2007 at 2:59 am (random thoughts)

George Bernard Shaw said “Youth is wasted on the Young”.  I think this is probably true, and I’m sure I’ll agree with that statement even more when I’m not so young.  What I also think is true is that most of the enjoyment and appreciation of a free education are also wasted on the young.  I was reading something today wherein there was a reference to “Kurtz”.  I was proud of myself for knowing, quite out of context, that the writer was referring to “Heart of Darkness”, and exactly what that reference to Kurtz was supposed to mean.  The ironic thing is that when I read “Heart of Darkness” as a senior in high school, I absolutely hated it.  I could barely get through it and could hardly scratch the surface of the deeper meanings behind this profound story.  I understand why this is part of high school curriculum.  However, what is disturbing is that an above average student in an honors English class could read this and have absolutely no appreciation for it.  Please tell me I wasn’t the only one!

I have always been “a reader”.  I love books and always have at least 2 going at a given time.  Yet, throughout highschool, I slogged my way through classics like “The Great Gatsby”, “Pride and Prejudice, “The Old Man and the Sea” and hoards of others, thoroughly disliking them simply because they were assigned reading and therefore, not to be enjoyed.  I understand that these books need to be covered in school, but it is truly a shame that kids learn to feel that reading these fantastic books is a chore.

At this point in my life, I would love to go back and take courses in English and Literature, because I think I would get so much more out of them.  And not just English, but also History, Foreign Languages, Civics, Geography (notice I’m NOT saying Physics or Calculus).  Now that I’m a bit more mature, I voluntarily check books out from the library to self-educate myself on various topics on everything from Politics to Chinese History, wishing that I could take a (free) course in that subject.  Just imagine how much more you’d get out of high school if you went back now!  Obviously omitting the acne, cliques and general awkwardness that goes along with being a teenager.

But as with youth being wasted on the young, one could only learn to appreciate education when one has already been educated. The classic Catch-22.


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