If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag



So Much Over a Few Generations

DELFT - Alongside my Teach Yourself Dutch, I am re-reading Simon Heffer's Strictly English. From it, I learned that education of all not in the better-off classes did not begin until 1870 in the U.K. By 1900, they had been at it for a generation. Suddenly, many more people could read and write, if poorly as Mr. Heffer insinuates.

Two generations after 1900, it is 1950 and most English had telephones, television, radios and mobility. Life changed greatly for someone born in 1870 who lived to 1950. The rest of the 20th century was a blur of change; those born in 1950 saw computers, smart phone, wifi and so much more. And texting: a friend on holiday in Tibet exchanged SMS's with me as he toured a temple.


"I walk past this school almost everyday, and when the children are let out, parents come on bicycles similar to the Gazelle in the photo. De Oostpoort (the east gate) is a Jena school, and they teach the four basics: conversation, play, work and celebration."

However, I am the sort of person who never knows what to say on a phone call. Face to face is my preferred way, where I can see expressions and know if I am communicating. It is old fashioned but keeps talking between people on a human level.

I had never heard of the Jena method so looked up their site and pressed Google's superb 'translate to English' option. The basic called 'conversation' is interesting in that children sit together in 'year groups'. Jena means junior, middle and senior (according to Google translate). Doing this, children take different social roles. I went to Catholic schools when I was a child; they did not worry over much about my conversation skills. One note I had to bring home to my parents stated: Gary never shuts up.

However, those born to these marvels take them for granted. Those born before technology all but saturated the planet likely long for the anonymity and privacy of their youth. Be assured however that no one is willing to give up their phone regardless.

Whether a person uses a personal computer or strictly phone, that person is connected. He or she can be alerted to 'fast-breaking' events, watch live video of anything that catches someone's fancy and listen to a number of media who explain it all.

If time is indeed money, then today's generation is ready for action: they have the tools and the energy to ride several waves at once. It is really too bad that time itself is not malleable: if it is midnight in Holland, it is dinner time in America.

Thus if I want to actually speak with my brother in Houston, I have to stay up late. If I wanted to chat with Graham, who lives in Melbourne, then I need to set an alarm. That I could talk to either one is technology and the internet's gift.

In response to my column last week, a friend sent me a link to a site she thought was good for learning Dutch. I probably will not look at it. My partner could explain that easily: Gary likes books. True. I like the feel of a book, in hand or pocket.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen