Truth Is Weirder Than Children’s Fiction

One of my favorite college classes examined children’s literature through the lens of cultural attitudes towards childhood. For example, the Brothers Grimm wrote all those dark, scary tales of witches & evil forests because in their day (early 19th century), childhood was just a smaller version of an awful adulthood. Poorer kids had to work on farms or in factories, even wealthier kids succumbed to disease, and stories had to prepare them for the general dangers of the world. In the Victorian era (later 19th century), children were viewed as pure and angelic, so their books were supposed to help enhance their innocence. And by the 20th century, childhood really evolved into a separate phase of life, where books could enhance kids’ imagination or teach them valuable lessons. (And reading all these stories was a welcome change from typical academic fare — I loved sitting in the library, where my classmates were absorbed in Advanced Principles Of Molecular Biology or The Sociolinguistics of Anthropology, and they’d look over to see me enjoying The Little Engine That Could.  But I digress…) Read More Truth Is Weirder Than Children’s Fiction

Teaching Teachers How to Teach

I remember the first time a teacher was wrong. I was in third grade and attending Sunday school classes at a local church. I was the only student in the class with a non-Catholic parent. (What what, Jewish dad!) This particular Sunday, our teacher was out sick and was replaced by the kindly older gentleman who ran the program. In discussing Jesus and how the cool thing about going to confession is that if you get hit by a bus right afterward (and haven’t masturbated yet), you go straight to heaven, this nice old man said that “the rabbis killed Jesus because they were jealous.” Read More Teaching Teachers How to Teach