Hissy Fit - August 2016
As a school girl, I always felt back-to-school time was like a second new year—a time to start fresh with all new supplies, clothes, hopes and excitement. The night before the first day, I would lay out my outfit, pack my satchel with everything in perfect order and set the alarm with time to spare. A week later it was back to reality, sleeping through the alarm, scrambling for a clean pair of jeans and grabbing my books and papers in hopes everything I needed was in there. Basically, the thrill was gone.
As an adult, I look back over my school years and wish I had appreciated and valued them more. Sometimes, it seems children get all the good stuff at a time in their lives when it’s just not important to them. I have a zeal for learning now that I didn’t have then. I want to read about history, where as I used to want to sleep through history. I want to read books and wouldn't even consider getting the Cliff notes (now known as Spark notes).
I failed an English course once because I wouldn’t read The Count of Monte Cristo; I wouldn’t even read the Cliff notes. Ironically, it’s on my reading list this year. I chose it because it sounds juicy; no one ever told me it was juicy. The description reads: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is a novel that follows the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantes, a dashing young sailor, falsely imprisoned for treason. The fascinating story details his imprisonment, escape, and carefully executed revenge. And, it has a 5-star rating on BN.com—it must be really good!
Perhaps if a teacher would have said something to the effect of, “Great news! We finally get to read The Count of Monte Cristo. OMG, you’re going to love it! It’s filled with adventure, a very hot main character named Edmond, but you can call him Ed or Eddie, all mixed with the deception of revenge,” I would have raced to the library and been the first to check it out.
I now find subjects like genetics fascinating and because of the Punnett Square, which I learned in Biology AP, I completely understand how my daughter got blue eyes from two brown-eyed parents. How cool is that? It all makes sense now that it’s relevant, something that was missing as a child.
I even have a new main squeeze that I think is the coolest dude. He was way before his time, which means he was a trendsetter, marched to the beat of his own drum, was a writer, but also a killer business mogul. He amassed a fortune in real estate and lived in the second largest home in his town. He rocked one gold earring and basically, made sure the arts were front and center in his community. Shockingly, he married a gal eight years his senior—a cougar— who he knocked up before the wedding—bad boy! He was only 18, but in his defense, the life expectancy during his time was only 30-40 years old, so technically he was middle aged. He lived to 52, so he must have been doing something right.
Who am I referring to? Will. I. Am, of course…Shakespeare! Here’s how to make Willy interesting to high schoolers. Tell them things like: Shakespeare’s father held a lot of different jobs, and at one point got paid to drink beer; Almost 400 years after Shakespeare’s death, there are 157 million pages referring to him on Google. There are 132 million for God, 25.9 million for Disney, 7.7 million for Taylor Swift, and 16.3 million Harry Potter. I’d say Old Will has some fans!
Then show the kids how influential Shakespeare was in the creation of terms we hear everyday. Emphasize that this guy’s vocabulary and wordsmith abilities were so sick they have stayed on trend for almost 450 years! Here’s a list of 10 out of the hundreds we use daily:
“Break the ice” — (The Taming of the Shrew)
“Eaten me out of house and home” — (Henry IV Part II)
“Forever and a day” — (As You Like It)
“For goodness’ sake” — (Henry VIII)
“Good riddance” — (Troilus and Cressida)
“Kill with kindness” — (The Taming of the Shrew)
“Knock knock! Who’s there?” — (Macbeth)
“Laughing stock” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
“Love is blind” — (The Merchant of Venice)
“Wild-goose chase” — (Romeo and Juliet)
Do you see how exciting something thought to be boring can be? Like anything in life, it’s the delivery. Adults should have learned along time ago to sell. Who’s going to eat kale when all you do is tell kids it’s good for them? Saying “eat your kale; it’s good for you,” in a nasally, monotone voice, will leave you with nothing but a mess of leftover kale. What you do is go to a restaurant like Delisheeyo on Hilton Head Island and let them show you how they rock kale and make it yummy. Then, suddenly, kale is a dish fit for the gods (yes, it’s a line from Julius Ceaser) and kids love it!
Learning is a privilege. Most kids and many parents forget that. Often, we put learning on the back burner to coddle whiners and deal with behavioral issues that inhibit learning. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents would get their children excited about learning and going to school? If they would lay down the law on how they expect them to behave and how important it is to respect teachers? The result would be tremendous. Students would be energized and the entire complexion of the education system would be brightened. In one fell swoop (MacBeth), the tides would turn, and education would soar…so would America and generations to come.
Often, we put learning on the back burner to coddle whiners and deal with behavioral issues that inhibit learning. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents would get their children excited about learning and going to school?