Monday, August 20, 2012

A little learning is a good thing

Can we triangulate Elizabeth George Speare's take on education from her writing? It may just be possible.

As Exhibit A, we have Nat, the winning male in The Witch of Blackbird Pond's love triangle:
"It's these Puritans," Kit sighed. "I'll never understand them. Why do they want life to be so solemn? I believe they actually enjoy it that way."

Nat stretched flat on his back on the thatch. "If you ask me, it's all that schooling. It takes the fun out of life, being cooped up like that day after day. And the Latin they cram down your throat! Do you realize, Kit, that there are twenty-five different kinds of nouns alone in the Accidence? I couldn't stomach it.Link
"Mind you," he went on, "it's not that I don't favor an education. A boy has to learn his numbers, but the only proper use for them is to find your latitude with a cross-staff. Books, now, that's different. There's nothing like a book to keep you company on a long voyage."
Exhibit B stars Pierre, the loser in one of the two love triangles in Calico Captive:
Pierre bristled. "What do you take me for, a monk who spends his life with his head in a book? I told you, when I was ten years old my grandfather took me out of school to go into the trade. I can read well enough to tally up my year's accounts, never fear."
What she's telling us, I suppose, is go to school but not too much, and don't you dare start dissing reading.

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