Is the internet really the greatest repository of human knowledge ever? Or is it just a load of pornographic and poorly-spelt UGC? Jeremy Wilson is going to find out, by teaching himself Turkish using only the internet.
Perhaps the greatest wonder of the modern age is not the sudden availability of mankind’s collective knowledge at our collective fingertips, but that, despite this availability, ignorance and stupidity abound, proving the old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. To put it another way, you can offer humanity the keys to infinite knowledge, but you can’t stop him from reading Mashable.
Despite the cynicism, I remain a believer. A sprinkling of time, a lot of hope and we might just find ourselves entering a new enlightenment. Ignorance will wither, reason will flourish and victims of our education system will be set free from the shackles of teaching union-mandated mediocrity.
For me, this is personal. Like many of my peers I was a pawn in a decades-long league table pissing contest, in which genuine learning was thrown out the window in favour of a race to the bottom in devalued qualifications. We were fodder for an army of PGCE graduates proficient in little besides herding a flock over the pass line.
The failure I resent most was in foreign languages. People don’t believe me when I tell them I can’t speak a word of Welsh after 11 years of compulsory education, but it’s true. In hindsight, the whole thing seems like a malignant endeavour to convince me I am incapable of learning another language. Either way, having to learn English and that ossifying and pointless language left little room for foreign tongues that might actually come in handy.
Anyway, the time has come to stop whinging and step up to the plate. I’m going to learn a foreign language only using freely available online material. Turkish, to be precise – a language sufficiently exotic that it bamboozles Google Translate, yet not so terrifying that it ventures outside the Latin alphabet. (Well, not since 1928, anyway.)
I’m placing my faith in the internet to provide all I need, and I figure the fear of failure after this rather public declaration of intent should be sufficient in warding off procrastination. I’ll be reporting back here on my progress throughout the journey.
All that remains, in true Michael Gove style, is to decide on a suitably rigorous way of putting my soon-to-be-acquired Turkish prowess to the test at the end of the year. It should probably go beyond ordering a Kebab – suggestions on a postcard please.