Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Knowledge and understanding

click photo to enlarge
I've spent most of my adult life work-
ing in educa-
tion, so I have a comm-
ittment to learn-
ing, and a passionate belief in its power to enrich our lives. However, I sometimes wonder whether it's the case that the more we know the less we understand!

Take, for example, crime. There is general agreement based on authoritative data that, in the UK, most types of crime have been falling in recent years. However, the public perception is that crime is increasing, and fear of crime is greater than formerly. Why is this? It seems to me that it's a failure of understanding, and that the mass media and politicians are responsible for this. The newspapers, keen to sell copy, give great prominence to sensational, crime-related stories, and build their own, allegedly public service, but actally self-serving "campaigns" around individual human tragedies. Television news works to a similar agenda. Politicians, anxious not to be characterised as "soft on crime", and consequently electorally vulnerable, introduce knee-jerk legislation and tougher sentences, and each political party tries to trump the others by showing how they'll deal more severely with criminals. Is it any wonder that the long-suffering public misses the fact that there is less crime than there used to be, not more?

The photograph above shows an "anti-climb spinner" on a school. It is designed to stop vandalism and theft from this public building, and is evidence of another failure of understanding. Those who damage and steal from the state's schools fail to appreciate that the monetary cost of their criminality is met by the general population including themselves, and those who suffer are the children of people they know! It was the "positive-negative", abstract pattern of this composition that appealed to my phototgraphic sensibilities, and I liked the way the line of the roof separated the actual spinner from its shadow, as well as the blue/grey/cream colour bands.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen