I’ve had the intention of reading The Cleft by Doris Lessing for over a year , but it so happened that I started reading it a few days after I sadly learned she had passed away.
It’s a story about the origins of humanity told by a Roman historian ,supposedly taken from old forgotten records.
Lessing claimed that she was inspired by a scientific article which said that female humans came first before males.Some would consider this as an inversion of the biblical creation narrative, but anyway it’s a good story to read , although scientific evidence for it is doubtful or lacking.The story tells that first women were lonely creatures living by the sea who used to give birth to baby girls by some sort of parthenogenesis , until one girl gave birth to a baby boy.The women were perplexed and got rid of that first baby boy , but then more boys were born and with time they formed a tribal group of their own . Some of the women went to meet them and got to know them despite the ban from the older females , so afterwards babies were born as a result of sex and a normal pregnancy.With time (perhaps a long time) the females and males ( who are called respectively ‘clefts’ and ‘squirts’, imagine why) learned to know each other better and lived together , and started exploring their surroundings.
Since I’m writing about Doris lessing I’ll take this occasion to say something related to her and to the education post I wrote earlier.
According to her biography , Doris Lessing left school at 14 years of age , and was self-educated from then on.This is an example of a famous and important writer who had to be an autodidact for a (large) period of her life and who won many important literary prizes , including the Nobel prize for Literature , without having a formal higher education or a university degree.
It’s not the (existing) educational system that makes the great writer (or great man or woman). More often than not great thinkers or intellectuals are the ones who create , manage or reform educational systems , either by getting personally involved or by influencing that creation or transformation through their actions , teachings and writings.
Doris Lessing may have received an honorary degree at an older age , but this happened after she had to be self-educated and had to struggle and publish many books and novels in order to be recognized as a significant writer.
I’m going to mention suppositional events that could have been or could have happened , but in any case I want to note that if (for example) Lessing had had the possibility as a young girl to receive a convenient accelerated education and to go to college or to the university at the age of ten or eleven , she would have left formal education at the same age of 14 but with a degree in literature instead of no degree at all.This could be applied to many bright and able youngsters who get stuck in the educational system because of their fast intellectual development or have to leave it early for different reasons , and I think that is one of the advantages of an adequate accelerated education.
This also reminds me of something that happened to me about a year ago . My main fields of interest tend towards science and math , and I have sometimes taught private science lessons, but have also taught private English language lessons to students of various ages who needed it .Once I saw an ad about a school who needed an English teacher , so I called them to ask about the job requirements . I wasn’t sure I wanted it or had the time for it but just wanted to ask . The woman started asking me if I had a degree in literature , I tried to tell her I had a good experience in teaching private lessons and a very good knowledge of English , but she wouldn’t let me speak and insisted that I had to have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, and then we had to end the conversation . While I appreciate people who have college degrees and BAs , and I don’t presume to know everything , and there are always new things to be learned or discovered , I think my personal studies and readings allowed me to know English as much as someone having a BA degree , or even a little more ( you can take a look at a list of English literary books I have read in here).
I ‘m not comparing myself to a writer such as Doris Lessing , but I couldn’t help thinking that if Lessing or a writer of her importance (and her educational background) had had the idea to call that school like I have done , and had told them only that he or she had a very good teaching experience and very good knowledge of the English language but no degree , they would have rejected her or would have probably hung up.
Degrees and academic credentials are useful and important but sometimes it depends within which educational system or framework they are given , and too much insistence on diplomas alone without taking other variables and factors ( experience , the age factor in education being relevant ones among others) into account may turn out to be counterproductive and inadequate.