Sunday, February 19, 2012

Silver Lining

There's always a silver lining in every situation no matter how cheesy that phrase may have become. Yesterday, my basement started flooding and as I was bailing out water I was electrocuted, going into slight shock. Yes, this sounds like a day ruined, yet later while moving stuff around I managed to find a book that I absolutely loved when I was younger. Called Tomfoolery: Trickery and Foolery with Words, by Alvin Schwartz, it represents my sense of humor and childhood fun all within one small collection.

Containing the first poem I ever memorized, it holds a special place in my heart:
"One bright day/ in the middle of the night/ two dead men/ got up to fight.
Back to back/ they faced each other,/ drew their swords,/ and shot each other.
A deaf policeman/ heard the noise.
He came and shot/ those two dead boys.
If you don't believe/ this lie is true,/ go ask the blind man-/ he saw it, too."

There's not much more you can ask for when you're young that can entertain you. It beat "See Dick run" 1,000/1,000 times is all I have to say. To me, it seems that if I had more opportunities to express myself through means such as those represented in Tomfoolery, it would have made me a much more avid reader than I turned out to be. I'm in no way saying that what we use today is incomparable, but I know that everything outside of school always interested me more than what was going on inside of it because school and reading became associated with a "have to do" rather than a "want to do" mentality, which carried over into further studies and mandatory readings for SSR or DEAR sessions.

Dr. Seuss books were another set of items that absolutely caught my wholehearted attention every time I happened upon them. I know I used my library card privileges to rent those out multiple times through my early grade school years. The materials we read in class were never quite as entertaining to me as the ones that I found on my own, so as a result my sense of literacy was developed from my own interest and not that of the school/state's agenda. Classical works are interesting in their own right, but it's important for us to note that they are not all that matters anymore. Granted, we don't want them to be reading garbage and we want them to have a sense of what we have developed from as a culture. However, as we rise out of our memories of grade school and become the teachers of whatever area we may inherit, we need to keep in mind that there are indeed classics being crafted in our very time, and is what the mainstream of society will be using as reference points when we continue forward. New isn't always a bad thing, and neither is fringe/different like Tomfoolery and Dr. Seuss.


  1. Jake,

    First off...sorry about the electrocution. That sounds terrible! I could relate to your post because in August our basement flooded and I found, but unfortunatley had to throw out, many memories, too.

    I think you should really consider what you like about Tom Foolery and think about a way you can incorporate that into a final project in this class. Remember, the final project has to use some sort of a digital too, but it is up to you to determine how. Even if you wanted to use something like Power Point (which some say is archaic, though it has usefulness) you can have students crafting poems using imagery. You can say that this is a starting point for a lesson that will later dive more deeply into poetry.

    I think something I want us all to consider is that play can be used as a form of engagement as well as an entry into something of deeper meaning, like classics.

  2. I can agree with you. Through much of my childhood, I was a slow reader and couldn't tolerate much outside of school. I retained a lot from lesson lectures and activities but hardly ever did homework or readings, because I was to busy climbing trees or fishing in the pond or gathering crawdads. Dr. Seuss's The Lorax was my first favorite book and I found it in our school library. It was the first time I saw that my interests could be in a story, in a book. And the older I became, all the more brilliant The Lorax became, and I still read it every once in awhile (and fear the movie is gonna ruin it!).