The Use of Roads…

February 22, 2014

It seems to me that these observations about Typography by Robert Bringhurst could equally be applied to learning, and school, in general: the necessary balance between freedom an structure: rules and freedom:

“When all right-thinking human beings are struggling to remember that other men and women are free to be different, and free to become more different still, how can one honestly write a rulebook? What reason and authority exist for those commandments, suggestions and instructions? Surely typographers, like others, ought to be at liberty to follow or to blaze the trails they choose.

Typography thrives as a shared concern – and there are no paths at all w here there are no shared desires and directions. A typographer determined to forge new routes must move, like other solitary travellers, through uninhabited country and against the grain of the land, crossing common thoroughfares in the silence before dawn. The subject of this book is not typographic solitude, but the old, well-travelled roads at the core of the tradition: paths that each of us is free to follow or not, and to enter and leave when we choose – if only we know the paths are there and have a sense of where they lead. That freedom is denied us if the tradition is concealed or left for dead. Originality is everywhere, but much originality is blocked if the way back to earlier discoveries is cut or overgrown.

If you use this book as a guide, by all means leave the road when you wish. That is precisely the use of a road: to reach individually chosen points of departure. By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist.”

The Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst

Thus the delicate balance between structured guidance and autonomy; not mindless copying and passive acceptance, but the creative application of fundamental principles with intelligent reference to what has already been achieved through the history of man. Rules should not be there to control, but to help develop the intellectual the tools to achieve freedom.