I Quit Writing

A completely random quote from Clive James. This one is about Fidel Castro’s speeches:

Offshore admirers of Castro’s putative intellectual vitality are fond of explaining how the people of Cuba—happy, salsa-dancing folk whose simple minds can be read from long range—find his oratorical powers endlessly entertaining, but the emphasis should be on the endlessly, not the entertaining. A sceptic might note that Castro’s supposedly spellbinding effect presupposes the absence of other forms of verbal entertainment, and indeed the absence of a substantial part of the Cuban population.

Not only is this completely true but it’s so well-written that I want to give up writing altogether.

4 thoughts on “I Quit Writing”

  1. Regarding teaching kids to read, is the following truly a big problem and, if yes, what can schoold do about it? I heard some ultra-privileged profs signal that nothing should be done, but such people are the smallest minority. If nothing is done, one cannot shift the blame on them.

    ARTICLE 1 – PC is the bugbear of this author, and I disagree it’s the reason for letting kids fail.

    I will venture an idea which is not just taboo, but taboo to an extreme: many black children cannot succeed in school because they do not speak English correctly at home and the schools have, as a definite policy, done nothing to correct that because it would be labeled as “racist.” If your language dispenses with grammatical form — such as the difference between the expression of past, present, and future — you’re liable to suffer cognitive disadvantages which result in doing poorly at school. You may even be incapable of showing up on time for anything.

    The number one job in elementary school should be teaching children first to speak English, because without it, they’ll struggle to learn anything else. But we’re not interested. It might hurt someone’s feelings to learn that his or her speech is deficient. It might anger a parent to hear that. So, we choose to let the children fail. It’s a choice we make by consensus. Here’s some news for you: multiculturalism is itself a form of racism that ghettoizes language. Do you want that to continue? Are you really interested in change? Change that. Start there.



    There was a moment early in her career when she realized that children who come to school speaking African American English might have a harder time learning how to read.

    She was reading “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman with a 4-year-old girl. The book is about a baby bird who is looking for his mother. He approaches different animals and objects and asks, “Are you my mother?”

    When Washington was done reading the book, she asked the girl to retell the story.

    “Is you my mama?” the girl exclaimed. “I ain’t none a yo’ mama!”

    When she went back to her office, Washington thought about how much work that girl had to do. She listened, recoded the story into her own language, and then retold it. “That takes a lot of working memory,” Washington said. “It takes a pretty good vocabulary.”

    That little girl had to do a lot of work because there was a difference between the language she knew and the language of the book.

    “The kid who comes to school whose language system mirrors the book doesn’t have that work to do,” she said. “He can go straight for decoding and not have to do all of those other steps in between.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.