What is not happening in London


You can imagine the world without a table of multiplication, poetry, beauty, romance, love. But would you like to live in this world?

Recently, I once again interviewed the applicants who entered the faculty of journalism. Then I  shared my  observations and applicants’ jokes on the social media. These posts always cause a reaction. Many responses showed that not everyone understood why I published all this.

And I published just two notes. The first one is that not all applicants could answer the question who wrote the "Gulag Archipelago". And the second  one is that  several people replied confidently that the action of Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet", of course, took place in London.

There were reproaches toward me among the various astonishments about "where this world is going".  Or "Why do you ask such questions?", "Is this in the school curriculum?", "You ask adults!" etc. Many even noticed that it was good that applicants did not know Solzhenitsyn. And anyway, all this, they say, does not make them automatically illiterate or, especially, fools. Of course, it does not.

But I will say more. A person may not even know the multiplication table, but he can be intellectually wealthy. The point is: Math is a special language, which you must be able speak as well as the languages of culture - symbols, signs, names of writers, names of books and songs, etc.. They are the very background knowledge that helps us understand each other.

Here is one more thing. Recently,  a journalist asked me exactly about this: "Why should students know this?"

Tat situation remined me one episode from one of my favorite films - "The Society of Dead Poets."  The teacher of Literature tells his students something about Shakespeare at the lesson and adds: "I see that you think that literature has nothing to do with business and medicine. You sit and think, why we need all this, because we need to do our main thing - our future career".

He does not begin to prove the opposite, but he suggests that they look at the problem differently: "People read and write poetry not for fun, we read and write poetry, because we belong to the human race, and humanity drives feelings.  Medicine, law, business, applied sciences  are noble occupations, they are necessary for the maintenance of life, but poetry, beauty, romance, love - that's what it's worth living for."

... Can I imagine a world, even a viable one, but where there is neither "Romeo and Juliet" nor the "Gulag Archipelago"?  I can certainly. I can even imagine the world without the multiplication table. I just do not want to live in this world.

And what about you?