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Playwright and actor Tom Stoppard arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for a reception for those 'Serving Beyond Sixty' hosted by Britain Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh, Thursday, May 18, 2006. (SANG TAN/AP)
Playwright and actor Tom Stoppard arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for a reception for those 'Serving Beyond Sixty' hosted by Britain Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh, Thursday, May 18, 2006. (SANG TAN/AP)

Technology 'sweeping away' books, says playwright Add to ...

Books are at risk of being "swept away" by a world of new technology and moving images that are increasingly winning the competition for children's attention, says British playwright Tom Stoppard.

Stoppard, who has written for television, radio and film, also warned the study of humanities was being neglected in favour of science. "The printed word is no longer as in demand as when I was of the age of pupils or even at the age of the teachers teaching them," newspapers quoted Stoppard as saying.

Children live in a world of technology where the moving image takes precedence over the printed page, he said.

"I think that's to the detriment ... I just don't want the printed page to get swept away by that."

Speaking ahead of an address to an education charity established by the Prince of Wales to encourage teachers to look at what they should teach and how, Stoppard said teaching of humanities had been affected by a drive to prioritize science-based subjects.

"There was a period when I was 30 or 40 when science teaching was felt to have lagged and felt to be the area which would improve everybody's life, and I'm sure that that was the case and that was the right moment for that," he said.

"Since then we have been more and more worried about the humanities being neglected and at the level of higher education that is a cause of enormous concern."

The author of plays such as "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and "The Real Thing" said children had access to a better curriculum than ever before, covering young authors and playwrights, but he insisted that more awareness was needed to ensure the subject was appealing.

"I want to support the whole idea of the humanities and teaching the humanities as being something that even if it can't be quantitatively measured as other subjects, it's as fundamental to all education," he said.

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