For Adults

Turned out nice

turned out nice

Turned out Nice by Marek Kohn

Apparently, in the early but lengthy stages, we will benefit from the warmer climate. Almost the whole of the rest of the world, however, will suffer destruction of habitat and the means of livelihood. The point is that we will not be immune from the affects of this. Far from it.

To start with, there will be the pressure of millions crowding in on us. Think of Africa. Think of the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. As the author says: " climate change will pose questions for (us)...who (we) are and what (our) relations with the rest of the world should be."

We'll have our own troubles, too, of course. We will pay a terrible price for our relative good fortune... parks will be arid...private automobile use will be unheard of...water will be rationed... flora and fauna will vanish...pests will flourish...(country walks) will be nearly impossible...terrible fires in our uplands will be commonplace.

Doom? Not necessarily. We can still (but only just) do something about it. Anyone for joining the Transition Movement?

Len Goodman

A methodology book for teaching of Global Citizenship



A methodology book for teaching of Global Citizenship.

Prepared by Open Spaces for Dialogue and Enquiry

Education is not simply learning the three R's although, of course, reading writing and arithmetic are important basic requirements for a satisfactory life. However, there is vastly more to it than that. We want to help in the total development of real human beings. There are so many different aspects of life, each requiring special skills, insights and sensitivity. To live life to the full in our existing highly unequal and, indeed, divided social set-up we need to be able to think rationally and independently and for this we need to talk to others, learn their point of view, disagree with them where necessary, but without rancour and come to terms with the vast variety of peoples and cultures.

These three books are designed to help teachers in this all important task. The first, Open Spaces for Dialogue and Enquiry lays down certain methodological guidelines. The second, Stories for Thinking, provides a number of simple stories, largely based on ancient myths and legends. Each story is followed by suggestions for following them up. The third book, Through Other Eyes, asks learners to undertake the admittedly difficult task of getting into the minds and outlook of people throughout the world, with their different lives, opportunities, standards of living, language etc, in a word, their different cultures, in the fullest sense of that word.

Some relevant aims are indicated. "Learning to live together in a globally interdependent, diverse and unequal society" is one. We are also asked to reflect on differing attitudes to what we, in the West, call 'development'. Do the recipients of our "aid", for example, see this in the same way as those of us belonging to the donating countries?

Then there are the questions of equality. Does everyone want it, especially with regard to the gender question? Are there perhaps disadvantages to "equal treatment"? Don't be surprised at any of the outrageous ideas put forward for consideration. Be prepared to examine your own ideas critically. What a wonderful world it would be if all of the rising generation could have their minds and feelings stimulated in this way.

The purpose of these books is to help teachers achieve that noble aim.

Minds at War



MINDS AT WAR By David Roberts
#(The Poetry and Experience of the First World War)

This book lays bare the obscenities of war and the propaganda tricks employed to encourage people to sacrifice themselves willingly in the cause of "defence of the country". Mr. Gove, the flag-waving Education Secretary, should read it. He might then think twice about glorifying war. Here are some verses which mirror the feelings before the actual experience and the very different ones after tasting the reality. "Keep the home fires burning/Though your hearts are yearning/There's a silver lining/Through the dark clouds shining/We'll turn those dark clouds inside out/When the boys come home." Millions of "boys" never came home. Their bodies lay rotting on the battlefields.
"If I should die, think only this of me,/That there's some corner of a foreign field/That is forever England." Rupert Brooke. :
"I knew a simple soldier boy/Who grinned at life in empty joy/Slept soundly through the lonesome dark/And whistled early with the lark./In winter trenches , cowed and glum,/Through rats and crumps and lack of rum,/He put a bullet through his brain./No-one ever spoke of him again./You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye,/Who cheer as soldier lads go by/Creep home and pray you'll never know /The hell were youth and laughter go. Siegfried Sassoon.
The author goes through the whole story. There's the international situation at the time, the influence of the various monarchs and the role of political leaders, the gradual change from Germany as the friend, to Germany as as the enemy, the propaganda carried out by famous writers and poets persuading the people to think "patriotically" of which the following is an excellent example, with important echoes for the present day. "We should not..(turn to) the press for anything but the most distorted reflection of the mind of the country. ... suggesting the false and suppressing the true is carried to perfection by the newspapers .... The papers pretend to interpret the spirit of the people (but) set forth the beliefs, desires and prejudices of ...the governing classes." The New Age (weekly). The author shows how, as the result of actual experience of war, both at home and in the trenches, feelings began to change, from blind patriotism to fierce hatred of the slaughter and misery it brought millions. Early supporters of the war (e.g. Sasson and Owen) wrote fierce denunciations of it later. Strikes broke out, and there were desertions at the front. This happened in Germany, too, where a militant pacifist movement mirrored the somewhat smaller one in England. In Germany and Russia, it led to revolutions
There were many attempts to stop the war in the first place and, recently, a senior historian said that the war was entirely unnecessary. An international women's peace organisation held a meeting in Geneva, just before war broke out and issued a statement which tried to persuade all, especially women, to oppose war. A senior historian has recently declared that the war was unnecessary. At an early stage, the Kaiser put forward reasonable (it seems to me) peace proposals rejected by the Allies. And, of course, there was the famous football match, on the first Christmas, between teams who had just been trying to kill each other from opposite trenches.
The foregoing is only a glimpse of the wealth of information contained in the book. I finish with an apt quote from the poet, Arthur West."... how could (the upper classes) give so much time and labour to the killing of others, though to the plain appeals of poverty ... they are so absolutely heedless.
If you read this book and don't finish up hating war and determined to prevent another one, then your heart must be made of stone.

Reviewed by Len Goldman,Feb.2014.

From Beirut to Jerusalem

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(A woman surgeon with the Palestinians)

The author is a surgeon, a humanitarian and a devout Christian, who volunteered to treat the wounded in Beirut "and almost by chance found myself working in Sabra in a Palestinian refugee camp." She believed (and still believes?) that "the gathering of Jews from all over the world into the state of Israel was the fulfilment of scriptural prophecies." She did not accept what she suspected might be just propaganda from a PLO member she met. She only wanted to use her professional skills to help those in need of them.

Despite the terrible wounds of her patients and lack of medical facilities and medicaments, she still saw her mission as a minstering angel and shunned any seemingly political implications. The situation was dire. The Palestinians who had been "uprooted" from their land and homes had fled to the Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. But they were not "absorbed" in those countries, as the new occupiers of their homelamd had hoped. They saw themselves not as refugees but as temporary exiles, determined to return to their homes - and the sooner the better. It is instructive to note (as the author did) that there were some Jewish families amongst them who left with them in protest and had remained with them in the camps. And what camps – cramped, unhygienic, lacking all the normal facilities of civilised life. In addition, bombed and constantly under threat. The author did her best to alleviate what she could and gradually developed a love for the Palestinians which enabled her to overcome her fears in the hazardous conditions she, too, had to suffer.

She came to realise that Palestinian "terrorist" acts were a comparatively feeble response to the oppression and dispossession they had suffered. And the "uprising" was an attempt to undo the wrongs they felt had been done to them. It was the Israeli response to this uprising that brought about the conditions requiring her medical and surgical skills.

To get the full details of her experiences and the complex situation, you will have to read this quite fascinating book yourself.

Reviewed by Len Goldman, July.2014

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