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12                  The Loom of Language
among curio hunters, to promote unnecessary veneration for professors,
to provide material for light conversation at cocktail parties., or to
mitigate the inconvenience of insomnia First and foremost it is a
self-educator for the home student, a book which members of the
Adult Education Movement can use as a basis for sustained study, and a
book from which teachers alert to the need for a new orientation to meet
the needs of the ordinary citizen in a progiessive democratic society
can get helpful suggestions with a direct bearing on their daily task
An attempt of this kind needs no apology on account of its novelty
or break with traditional methods of school teaching Less than a
century ago, die introduction of modern languages into schools where
language teaching had been circumscribed by translation from classical
authors of antiquity, was greeted as a welcome innovation It seemed at
last as if the teaching of languages had been brought to life After two
generations of experiment, educationists are not convinced that the
results of school-teaching justify the time devoted to them in Bnghsh-
speaking countries It would not be an exaggeration to say that the
prevailing attitude among American educationists is one of alarm at
the poverty of return for effort put into die task Subsidized by the
Carnegie Corporation, the American Council of [Education has under-
taken a survey of methods and results m order to review the current
situation in American schools The published report is an honest
admission of dismal failure
Years ago, when Dr. Bodmer was my colleague on the staff of the
University of Cape Town, we discussed the twin project of Science for
the Citizen and The Loom of Language in a preliminary way* Shortly
before the war we drew up a detailed plan based on joint discussion,
chiefly in English country pubs during the course of a motor trip from
Aberdeen to London ma the Yorkshire moors and Suffolk, back again
by way of the Lake district There, as I expected, my job as editor
finished, at least till I read the page proofs In reality collaboration
has been closer, and the author has urged me to explain the extent
of it During the writing of the book Dr Bodmer lived in a small
croft which I used to rent on Deeside So I saw him during the
week-ends continuously, I read the first drafts of each chapter, and
was able to suggest how to get round difficulties of ordinary people
who are like myself poor linguists I shall always be grateful for what
was a highly educative experience and one which kept me intellectually
alive during a period of somewhat curtailed opportunities for my own