Tag Archives: education

1627. Plummeting education

Dear Editor

I usually don’t write to the newspaper to vent my frustration, but enough is enough. I think that personal opinions are just that – opinions that should be kept to oneself. But I can’t hold back in this matter any longer. I see our education system plunging into a dark and bottomless abyss. Here are a few questions I would like to ask today’s young people. The paucity of correct replies should serve to emphasize the lack of cultural historicity being taught in today’s classroom.

1. What exactly was in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket? Was it buns or muffins or perhaps bagels? Was it scones? Or maybe it was little bottles of honey and various jams that she was taking to grandma. I am prepared to bet my bottom dollar that today’s generation will be lost for words when it comes to this aspect of our cultural heritage. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, given the lack of morality prevalent in today’s society, if some people suggest that Little Red Riding Hood had non-perishable goods in her basket. Pickled onions for example. Or even some sort of health food. That is what the world has come to. If students were taught properly what was really in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket then the world would be a better place.

2. Was the Big Bad Wolf that confronted Little Red Riding Hood the same wolf that hounded the Three Little Pigs? Teachers want us to believe that toxic males permeate society and are far more common than they really are. They think the world is full of nasty wolves like the Big Bad Wolf. And anyway, was the woodsman who in the end chopped off the head of the wolf as nice as some make out? What was the woodsman doing hovering around Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s house in the first place? The woodsman with the axe, not the Wolf, was oversexed and violent.

3. Why was Little Red Riding Hood wearing a hood? Was she ashamed of who she was? What uneducated person these days knows that the reason Little Red Riding Hood wore a hood was perhaps because she was Little Bo Peep in disguise. Or perhaps Goldilocks? Or Cinderella? Or Sleeping Beauty? Need I go on and on? Who is to say that Little Red Riding Hood wasn’t a toxic male such as Little Jack Horner trying to lure the Big Bad Wolf into sticking his thumb into a pie?

4. When Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater put his wife inside a pumpkin he wasn’t being nasty. Those were different times. There’s no need to rewrite history. One can only hope that the pumpkin had a kitchen sink.

Whatever happened to our fine education system when students were taught real answers to real questions? I bet you anything that few people these days know that getting a pail of water was the last thing on Jack and Jill’s mind when they went up the hill. Our world has indeed plummeted into savagery and barbarousness.

Yours faithfully
Old King Cole

1403. A decent education

My son came home from school and said they were going to study Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I said what the hell do you want to study that crap for?

I told him it’s one of a string of plays that Shakespeare set in Italy, bits of them at least. Shakespeare probably never went there. Besides Romeo and Juliet, there’s The Merchant of Venice. Then there’s All’s Well that Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Winter’s Tale.

Shakespeare seemed to have a thing about Italy. And yet as far as I know there’s not a single mention of spaghetti bolognaise or for that matter any sort of pasta. Not even a tomato. Nor pizza. Romeo and Juliet are young and so are all their friends. You’d think they’d be eating pizza all over the place. But no! I mean, where’s the bloody piatto del brigante, or the rafanata, or ciaudedda, or the baccalà alla lucana? Minestrone? Did Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus tempt Julius Caesar with tiramisu or calzoncelli before stabbing him? Not on your nelly.

It shows you that Shakespeare knew sweet little about Italy and Italians. In fact, I find the lack of reference to Italian cuisine quite racist. That’s why I said they shouldn’t be teaching this crap in schools. It’s divorced from reality.

So I’ve taken my son out of school and he’s getting a decent home education without all this xenophobic brouhaha shoved down his throat. I said to him if he learns proper stuff he’ll get that job at Pizza Hut I told him to aim for.

Poem 83: When I was young and free as a bird

When I was young and free
as a bird, as the wind,
I knew every frog,
every eel, every darting fish in the stream.
I knew every wasp nest. I knew every
empty and abandoned butterfly cocoon.
I thought thoughts like a wild duck and could
walk straight to their hidden nests.
I knew the secrets of pied stilts on river beds
where they laid eggs disguised as stones.
I knew where to find peripatus resting in rotting logs.
I knew when to go get the bull to put to the cow, and
mark in the book when the calf was due.
I could milk all the cows, the whole herd of 120, all by myself;
and drive a tractor; and make hay while the sun shone.

And then I went to high school and they made me
take trigonometry. I couldn’t understand a thing. I liked
Euclidean Geometry but they dropped that from the syllabus.
They taught Shakespeare and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught Bertolt Brecht and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught T.S. Eliot and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught physics and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught chemistry and I didn’t understand a word.
They made me read Darwin and Mendel and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught Latin and I never knew what an ablative absolute was.
They made me play sports and I could never comprehend the rules.
And in between I’d go home and milk the cows.

And then I went to university and they made me
study Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Boulez and Messiaen. I couldn’t understand a thing. I liked
playing Scarlatti on the piano but they dropped that from the syllabus.
They taught John Dryden and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught Samuel Beckett and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught Teilhard de Chardin and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught how to calculate the properties of a distant star and I didn’t understand a word.
They taught Plato and Bertrand Russell and I didn’t understand a word.
They made me read Clarissa and Joseph Andrews and I didn’t understand a word.
The only thing I understood about Einstein was that he played the violin.
They made me study deoxyribonucleic acid and it tied me up in knots.
And in between I’d go home and milk the cows.

The other day someone said
have you noticed there are fewer birds about these days?
I looked and counted 24 species out my window.
I hadn’t looked for over fifty years.
I should never have stopped milking cows.
Funny how some things don’t work out.