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 Post subject: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 09 Jun 2016, 16:54 
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Climbing with your knees bent
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Partly prompted by the thread about EBD's moral influences, and partly by the news story this week about the young people and their teachers/leaders who had to be rescued by lifeboats and a helicopter because they'd been cut off by the tide at the foot of the cliffs near Dover.

Leaving aside any specific considerations relating to this particular group, and the fact that they apparently ignored warning signs, I've seen comments to the effect that they were urban types and therefore wouldn't necessarily know about tides, potential cliff falls, etc.

I grew up in a suburban area, but we went on seaside holidays and I knew about tides from very young age.

Not only that, but because of my reading, I knew all about the dangers of tides, cliffs, caves, mountains, fells and moors, abandoned mines, frozen lakes or rivers, floods, fog, snow, boats, sprained ankles (and how to treat them), snakebites, etc. etc. etc. by the time I reached my teens.

I know we joke a bit about the number of mountain adventures and dramatic rescues in the CS, but it strikes me that it's not a bad thing for young readers to learn to have a healthy respect for nature and the great outdoors.

And I also wonder whether it's something that's been lost with the move away from traditional children's fiction. How do people acquire this sort of knowledge if they don't read this type of book or belong to Scouts or similar? Are there really masses of young people and adults who don't know these things?

What other practical knowledge did people absorb from childhood reading?

(And while I'm about it, I'll raise a glass to the RNLI, and their mostly volunteer crews.)

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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 09 Jun 2016, 17:52 
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Admiring Tom's latest effort
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The problem is that what people learn from children's books isn't necessarily accurate.

In "Richenda", a river in spate is crossed. That's about as wrong as you can get. Every time there's flooding, people drown because they don't realise how strong water is and take these kinds of risks. It comes right in this case but isn't something anyone should try "in real life".


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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 09 Jun 2016, 18:01 
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Attending the Fifth Form Evening
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I take Victoria's point, but some children's books are well researched. A favourite of mine was 'Where the Golden Eagle Soars', by Capt W.E. Johns, of 'Biggles' fame. A novel, but also a thorough grounding in the wildlife of the Scottish Highlands, it dealt with unpredictable mountain weather, rivers in spate (avoid), sensible clothing and several other useful topics for staying safe and enjoying the outdoors. I learned a huge amount from it and I think it would still stand up well today.


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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 09 Jun 2016, 18:37 
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Rescuing a Junior from the lake
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I've learnt a lot of things which I'd have come across eventually but encountered for the first time in CS books, and was able to "impress" teachers with as a result :lol:, such as the Salic Law (CS), the Latin for "O Come All Ye Faithful" (Gemma) and Emily Dickinson's poems (Trebizon) ... and my modern history tutor never could understand why I was so interested in Austrian history.

Pretty much everything I know about ballet and horses (not that much, but some things!) comes from children's books. Much as I loved Noel Streatfeild and Lorna Hill, my brief foray into ballet lessons didn't really work, seeing as I was a big fat clumsy oaf :lol:, and ponies don't really feature in life on a Manchester housing estate :lol: . The same with boats. Most children in the UK, and most of the rest of the Western world, do now live in urban areas, and don't get to spend long holidays in the countryside or seaside because (quite apart from the cost) parents only get limited time off work, so there don't get much chance to learn about adventures in the mountains et al except in books.

I was going to say that I think most people do have respect for nature, but sadly there seem to be a lot of reports about accidents, some of them fatal, in open water or on mountains, and a surprising number of them happen in the winter when you would expect that people might think twice before going hiking up mountains. So maybe this sort of knowledge is being lost, as Jay said.

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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2016, 12:40 
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I'm not sure how much I actually learnt from children's books, but I'm sure that my mass of general knowledge and my fount of interesting, but often totally useless, trivia comes from my love of reading and books, which I developed from a very early age.

It comes in handy for quizzes such as Pointless too. I often find one of my answers is either a very low scorer or pointless.

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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2016, 17:34 
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Quote:
I was going to say that I think most people do have respect for nature, but sadly there seem to be a lot of reports about accidents, some of them fatal, in open water or on mountains, and a surprising number of them happen in the winter when you would expect that people might think twice before going hiking up mountains. So maybe this sort of knowledge is being lost, as Jay said.


I was taught from the age of 5 to respect mountains, but it wasn't until I moved to Snowdonia that I realized one of the things that goes wrong.

It is not unheard of for local people to say to visitors, "Oh, Snowdon is a nice walk. You can do it in a couple of hours." What the locals forget or don't think about, is that the visitors don't have the mountain knowledge that the locals have. Visitors don't know about footwear, the fact that the weather may well be different at the top of the mountain, carrying extra rations, emergency bags, etc. Thus visitors go up Snowdon unprepaired and run into trouble.

It is not all the locals fault, but it is often not all the visitors fault either.


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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2016, 18:04 
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Attending the Fifth Form Evening
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Sometimes it is the visitors, though! You can only learn so much from books, however useful they are. Many years ago, I went on an organised mountain walking trip to Snowdonia with some people from my university. I had walking boots but was otherwise woefully ill-equipped for Snowdonia in January, and the basic knowledge I'd gleaned from the Capt W.E. Johns book [see my previous post] was inadequate for this situation. Lovely sunshine, fabulous scenery, but colder than I had ever experienced. I had on jeans, a shirt and pullover and an anorak from the Famous Army Stores, which I thought would be fine. I even brought a scarf in case of extreme weather conditions! I had got up too late for breakfast, so contented myself with a cigarette and a coffee. My friend and I found it hard going climbing the first big slope so we took liberal swigs to "keep us warm" from the bottle of sherry which he had in his rucksack, the brandy we thought ideal for this being too expensive! Once we reached the high-level walk, I found it hard to stay upright and when the group sat down for lunch I was instantly asleep. The bottle of squash we had brought had frozen solid in the rucksack. Fortunately, some sandwiches just about kept me going until we got down again, at which point I had four cups of tea from the van at Llanberis. I educated myself thoroughly in mountaineering after that and spent all my spare money on decent equipment. I should have remembered Grizel climbing the Tiernjoch!


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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2016, 19:13 
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JayB wrote:
Partly prompted by the thread about EBD's moral influences, and partly by the news story this week about the young people and their teachers/leaders who had to be rescued by lifeboats and a helicopter because they'd been cut off by the tide at the foot of the cliffs near Dover.

Leaving aside any specific considerations relating to this particular group, and the fact that they apparently ignored warning signs, I've seen comments to the effect that they were urban types and therefore wouldn't necessarily know about tides, potential cliff falls, etc.


I'm not sure that's any excuse. The teachers should have researched the tide times. I too grew up in a suburban area, in Birmingham in fact, but, like you, used to go to the seaside for holidays. I also read many stories, either in books or comics, about people cut off by tides. They always seemed to be treated most unsympathetically by their rescuers and told it was their own fault.

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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2016, 16:44 
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Having got caught in a torrential downpour today (after being stupid enough to believe the Met Office website, which insisted that it would be dry in the area in question), I wish that children's books didn't tell you that there's always a conveniently unlocked hut to hand whenever the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse :banghead: :lol:.

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 Post subject: Re: What I learned from children's books
PostPosted: 22 Jun 2016, 17:30 
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:lol:

There was quite a nice story last year about a group of Scouts who became lost in the Highlands but behaved very sensibly and were found (having taken shelter) and rescued (although, it might have been the next day, so this must have been very hair-raising for the Scout leaders and parents).


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