The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Back to School (1)

August 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

As a prelude to the Ullage Group’s next event, “Through the Blackboard,” and because we are entering the Back to School season, I’m presenting some education-themed ullage for your consideration. For me, the phrase “Back to School” always heralded the few short weeks when a kind of premature nostalgia for a summer gone too soon did battle with a growing excitement and eagerness for the new – new people, new experiences, new knowledge – just around the corner. In the blistering-hot Central Valley of California, the prospect of cooler fall weather (even though it never failed to arrive until the end of October) added to the pleasures of anticipation.

(School days long behind me, I still feel this way; I think it must result from 12 years of institutional conditioning, with an extra seven thrown in for good measure. This of course is the result of a 10-month school year. I’d be interested to know if people who had year-round schooling experience something similar.)

The promise of “new knowledge” can sometimes become a threat, of course. Ask any teacher: these days, curriculum and pedagogy are often rivers you can never step in twice. In the long view, the basics of what we are taught probably hasn’t changed much in the last couple of centuries, in theory anyway: the difference between right and wrong, the 3R’s, and Good Citizenship. But the specifics of what we learn, where we learn it, and how we learn it are always up for review. In public schools, after what turned out to be merely a hiatus, Creationism has returned to the stage as Intelligent Design; New Math and Phonics continue to vie with Back to Basics; and Multiculturalism and Language Immersion remain topics of controversy, to say nothing of Sex Education. Experiential Learning and Information Technology would seem to be the new kids on the block but group play has always provided the means to explore the imagination, build confidence, increase physical skills, and learn about cooperation, sharing, and who to steer clear of in the schoolyard. And, there have always been new gadgets and techniques for access to and retention of information: the slate, the primer, the slide-rule, the crib-note, and – let us not forget – the text book. (Most of these, however, didn’t promise eventual access to an unlimited source of porn.)

On that note, here is a prophylactic to more benign temptations in an early form, probably intended for home or Sunday school use. Click on the link below if you’d like to read the text.

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(Posted by Lisa Hirschfield)

Tags: Belief Systems · Dead Media · Literature · Memories

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