Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Unity in Diversity"

Well now, let's see. . . tonight in class we discussed Madame C.J. Walker, societies that require your father's best friend to father your first child, cultures that encourage little boys to beat up on their parents, men who offer their wives to overnight guests, tribes that stress equivalency and have no idea what "competition" means, the original meaning of the swastika, why FDR was usually photographed sitting down and why he would probably not be elected nowadays, the reason some cultures discourage sexual relations between a man and his breastfeeding wife for at least two years postpartum, how the Enola Gay got its name, possible reasons why Hiroshima's population stuck around even after reading the warnings that were dropped all over the city via airplane a few days before the bomb was dropped, and how all these things had something in common and were relevant to us personally.

This is a far cry from "Some Kid's Dog Ran Off And He's Sad About It," "World War Two In Three Paragraphs," "Two Dozen Stories About Typical American Neighborhoods Featuring Life In Some Culture You've Never Heard Of Instead Of Your Own," "Famous American Authors Except For Twain, Faulkner, Ferber, Wilder, Frost, Sandburg, Hemingway, Irving, Poe, Cooper, Emerson, Bronte, Dickinson, Miller, Alcott, Stowe, Keller, Bradstreet, Penn, Edwards, Franklin, Paine, Bryant, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Beecher, Whittier, Holmes, Dana, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Lowell, Wallace, Hart, Lanier, Bierce, James, Garland, Wharton, Henry, Herrick, Robinson, Tarkington, Crane, Dreiser, Dunbar, Cather, Lowell, Stein, Service, London, Anderson, Sinclair, Stevens, Keller, Teasdale, Wylie, Lardner, Untermeyer, Kilmer, Benet, Jeffers, Moore, Richter, Millay, Coffin, Buck, Thurber, Cummings, West, Smith, Warren, Stuart, Michener, Bishop, Williams, White, McCullers, Brooks, Asimov, Dickey, Lee, Updike, Elliott, Fitzgerald, or anyone who looks like them," and "A Complete History of the United States from the Revolutionary War to the Present, the Present Being 1976 and With That Never-Explained Gap Between The Civil War and Vietnam."

So there I am, Diet Coke in hand, discussing things that were a far cry from the bland dumbed-down culturally nonexistent textbooks being disdained and vandalized and lost right and left by bland, dumbed-down kids who figured, and rightly so, that if the penalty for chewing gum was the same as the penalty for standing up and really raising hell then why not go for the big time, discussing, sincerely and actually discussing interesting things, with students whose Big Macs, fries, candy bars, cokes, and, yes, gum, were not in the least distracting and, in fact, made them perk up and pay even better attention, and man that food smelled good but I had no money and couldn't buy any but most people are smart enough to understand that that's how it is sometimes and no, I was NOT tempted to nor forced by my cultural norms to reach over and steal someone else's food because it was so not fair that they had some and I didn't. . . .

What was I talking about? Oh yes.

We had a hella good time tonight, and when it was nine and the campus tried to close down, we were still there talking.

Not one of my students tonight had ever heard of Madame C.J. Walker. I was appalled. She lived less than a hundred miles from the campus and she was big-time, I'm tellin' ya.

I love our textbook. It is absolutely CRAMMED with fascinating things. And it's so well edited that the students think so, too.

Thank you, ABLongman Publishing.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:56 PM | |


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