Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Launch - Margate Train

IP and the Train

Typical treacherous Hobart weather. Up with the rosy dawn clear and cloudless. The radar map showing a thin weak cold front moving across the state, west to east. The funny little book shop Freight Train Books on the Margate Train ran it's first event, a reading by three authors from Interactive Publications. David Rieter, Lyn Reeves & Anne Morgan.

David chats with local art lover

Each of the authors has recently published a book. David began the reading from his novel "Primary Instinct", a slice of life, fly on the wall series of satirical nuggets diarising and lampooning the educational system. With the problems of literacy in Australia and Tasmania in particular this is a timely nudging us into the serious debate which we desperately need. Not the periodic moral panic which masquerades as debate we usually have in this country. Rather a serious adult conversation on how this country (indeed all the Anglosphere) can reverse our current slide into irrational stupor. A debate as to how we can use education as an opportunity not just to create narrowly focused experts, but one in which children can be inoculated with the spirits of curiosity and imagination. Skills that will allow them to still be expanding their knowledge of themselves and the world well into their old age. The end of labour, to paraphrase Aristotle is to gain leisure and goal of education is to teach us how to best use our leisure.

And then from the third in his junior fiction series Project Earth-Mend. As if on cue wild wind and squalls raced down the mountains, horizontal across the wide brown-eyed cow paddock. And the site was lashed with a short sharp rain shower.

Ann Morgan reads from The Sky Dreamer

Glasses of wine on offer and local cheese and a score or so of children. Next Anne Morgan read "The Sky Dreamer", her moving children's story about the young boy Liam and his struggles after losing his big sister. Lovingly illustrated by Céline Eimann, and honestly written by Anne this little book should be in every school library and in as many houses with children as possible. Learning needs to be more than simply building a workforce as we move into a more technical economy. Education needs to be about how to deal with life and loss and sorrow. More than just school, more than the family. The social production of the individual. This aspect of education as something more than the three R's is behind Aristotle's statement that neglect of education does harm to the constitution.

Simple things sometimes move me, the simple sight of the young children listening to the author reading from her work, while the younger ones played game games as little ones will. I thought about all the tales and stories and life lessons spoken taught down the generations unrolling deep into the past in and around this small community. This tiny bay of meeting sea and land. Intermittent afternoon around and the mountains, darkened with mist with the rain clouds, hurl gloomy clouds and glaring winds. And I went a couple of days later, with the children, to the museum. And we stood silent, sad, scared in the exhibiting convict days gallery, and saw the displays of chains and whips and uniforms and all that went with the transportation times. I thought about the generations, about all the tales told in languages now lost. Then Anne reads her story and the children look and listen.

Lyn Reeves captivates the little ones.

Lyn Reeves tailored her reading from her recent work "designs on the body" for the large number of children around. And offered up her well moulded poems with rhythms like the squally afternoon, where the fast moving clouds race and the shadow retreats across the wide eyed cow paddock, flooding the wet grass with the energy and light of the sun, dancing and sparkling off countless raindrops on countless blades of swaying in the wind grass. Lyn read of dogs with funny names and of wing drying cormorants and of bathing her infant son. From "Primal Sense"

Vertebrae ripple
beneath my hands like birdsong.

For the hungry artists.

Books for children, and books about teachers and books by teachers and the opportunity to speak and talk, and for the children to be given the chance to grow and learn and listen. Both physical and mental there is very little more important than the education of children, so much so I can easily agree with Aristotle when he writes "Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well." Hopefully the parents will also be strong teachers for their children, this would of course be the best situation. And of course a time for chatting and for discussing the works presented. A glass of red and some art and cheese and fruit all on a squally typically treacherous Tasmanian Sunday.

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