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Posts tagged United Kingdom

UK language learning hits rock bottom
April 21, 2014 | 12:25 pm

With the UK just a few miles away from la belle patrie in places, you'd think that second language acquisition would be a matter of course. A whole second literature, with the heritage of Proust and Baudelaire and a host of other luminaries, let alone the great wine and cuisine, right there on your doorstep, just waiting for you. Should be a no-brainer, right? Well, according to one highly disgruntled language teacher in England writing on Cafe Babel, it's more a matter of no brains. As much among those setting the curricula and overseeing language learning as among the students. And...

Testosterone makes you stupid – if you’re English
April 21, 2014 | 10:25 am

I never thought of stupidity as particularly macho. But then, maybe I've lived outside the UK for too long. Because apparently a lot of British men fit that mold. And I'm rather ashamed to link my own gender to this, but the statistics seem to speak for themselves. Or should I have softened it a bit? Saying, well, if you're male and British there is a greater tendency towards not taking a serious interest in books, rather than making such an emphatic statement? And let British society off the hook? And sidestep that disgraceful conclusion? Because here we have some hard...

Latest UK moral panic warns: Stop infants taking the tablets
April 17, 2014 | 2:25 pm

panic.jpegiPads and tablets now appear set to join ebooks, the Internet, television, bicycles, and other agents of moral decay as hate figures in the latest press-stoked moral panic in the UK. As reported in the UK Daily Telegraph, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has issued research claiming that tablet addiction has left a generation of manually challenged British children. The Daily Telegraph cites an ATL conference speaker who warns of "increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like." The ATL will also apparently...

UK Shadow Culture Minister plays Robin Hood against Lincolnshire library cuts
April 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

Helen Goodman, UK Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, has joined Minnie Driver and others in the campaign in Lincolnshire against closure of two thirds of the county's libraries. As reported in the Lincolnshire Echo, she condemned the plans of Conservative-led Lincolnshire County Council as "disgraceful." Dressed in Lincoln green, or something like, Helen Goodman reportedly declared that "Local libraries are central to our societies, offering a safe place for all ... They are investments in our future through the communities they nurture and skills they foster." A full video of her appearance is available here. Helen Goodman came at the...

Telephone box libraries in UK unite two obsolete services – or not
April 16, 2014 | 10:25 am

telephone boxWhatever your feelings about the future prospects of print book libraries, there is no doubt that they are anything but the cutting edge of library services. And the same can be said of public telephone call boxes. So it is a tad heartening to see several instances in the UK of people repurposing the iconic red telephone box, now just about as dated as the original Dr Who Tardis, as miniature local libraries and book exchanges. The latest is in Lewisham in London, making it the smallest library in the capital, but others have been sighted in Essex and Derbyshire, and...

Shakespeare debate moves UK identity politics up a notch
April 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

shakespeare.jpgAnyone not just arrived from Mars is probably aware that Scotland is due to vote later this year in a referendum on whether to stay within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or resume its existence as an independent country. The UK's Conservative Party, meanwhile, under pressure from the UK Independence Party, has proposed a referendum on whether the UK will remain within the European Union, which might lead to "Brexit" - though depending on the Scottish referendum outcome, that could end up as "Engxit." Naturally, the issue of national - or trans-national - identity, and what...

R.I.P. Richard Hoggart: A force for literacy, and culture
April 11, 2014 | 3:11 pm

Hoggart LiteracyOne of the UK's most articulate and forceful thinkers, and actors, in the cause of popular education and cultural uplift has just died. Richard Hoggart, born in Leeds in 1918 the son of a housepainter who died in his first year, came from the most authentic English working class background imaginable, and immortalized it in his classic The Uses of Literacy (1956), the most passionate love letter to the English common people since George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier.  An immediate bestseller, it's recognized as, in the words of its Penguin introduction, "one of the few truly essential books...

Sajid Javid appointment two cheers for UK culture?
April 11, 2014 | 10:25 am

Sajid_SittingThe exit of Maria Miller, former UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, over inflated expenses claims, and her replacement by Sajiv Javid, who becomes the first "the first Asian male Conservative cabinet minister," as the BBC put it, could be seen as a positive signal for an embattled sector in British life. But both Miller and Javid's post is immediately junior to that of the widely reviled Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, who has presided over systematic yet deniable neglect of the UK public libraries, apparently on ideological grounds. Despite Javid's highly politically correct credentials on ethnic...

Jimmy Carter endorses grant to Dylan Thomas Centre
April 10, 2014 | 4:37 pm

DSC_3730aIn the centenary year of his birth on October 27th, 1914, great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is to be recognized with a grant of almost £1 million ($1.68 million) from the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund to further develop the Dylan Thomas Centre in his home city of Swansea, according to advance reports from The Guardian. The move has been praised by ex-U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who has cultivated a long-standing enthusiasm for the poet. "I have continuously advocated the importance of commemorating his life and work," said Carter, as quoted by The Guardian. "It is great to see that this funding...

CILIP confirms libraries endorsement of new UK intellectual property rules
April 2, 2014 | 10:30 am

copyrightThe Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) has just added its overall endorsement to the new changes to UK copyright law, confirming the overall positive reception of the new rules from library professionals. In a CILIP-hosted briefing on the issue, Annie Mauger, CILIP Chief Executive, said: "The Libraries & Archives Copyright Alliance, supported by CILIP, have worked tirelessly for over twenty years advocating for much-needed reform ... The reforms are extremely good news for the library and information profession and all the people that use our services. We will continue to work closely with the Intellectual Property Office...

UK police advertise illegal websites
April 1, 2014 | 1:55 pm

Flag of Edward EnglandWell alright, that's not exactly what's going on. But it could have that effect. For the UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), siloed in the City of London Police, has announced with some fanfare the launch of its "Infringing Website List (IWL) ... [which] sets out to disrupt the advertising revenues on illegal websites globally." The principle of this initiative is to introduce "an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified by the creative industries and evidenced and verified by the City of London Police unit, so that advertisers, agencies and...

Tim Waterstone says it’s all over, you can go home now
April 1, 2014 | 10:25 am

Read PetiteYes, the ebook revolution is officially over. Sez who? Sez Tim Waterstone, that's who. Who he? A major bookstore chain founder. So it must be twoo... As reported in the UK Telegraph newspaper under the shout line "e-book revolution will soon go into decline," the Waterstone's founder said, during a panel on the future of publishing at the Oxford Literary Festival, that he'd encountered "more garbage about the strength of the e-book revolution than anything else I’ve known," but that in fact "the e-books have developed a share of the market, of course they have, but every indication – certainly from America...