Margaret Johnson

To my great delight, Don Watson (‘Comment’, Dec/Jan) referred to Halldór Laxness’ novel Independent People. Having lived some 20 years among the modern-day crofters of Iceland, I understand that Laxness’ social commentary was highly critical of the ignorance and abject poverty that plagued his remote countrymen, many of whom were deeply offended by the novel and resentful of his depiction of their lives. However, since the 1930s the Icelanders have prided themselves on their high rates of literacy and, until the recent economic embarrassment, have enjoyed a relatively enlightened existence. Yet similar ‘outcome-based learning’ trends are influencing education in Iceland and we are no longer teachers but ‘learning facilitators’. Many students fail to see the need to read ‘old’ literature because they feel it is irrelevant to their lives.

Margaret Johnson

Goulburn, NSW