Of Grants and Literature and the Brainwashing of our Kids -Amanda Green

*I displaced Amanda’s monthly guest post yesterday for the character blog tour, so I’m putting it up today.  I’ll add one thing to what she says below — well, a few — when my kids were in elementary, there was a city program where they were given incentives to read.  Read x pages get a burger.  Read x pages get a movie ticket.  I never let them participate in the program.  Why not (besides meanness?)  Because I didn’t want them to think of reading as a chore you had to be compensated for. This is the mentality I keep running into, even from thirty somethings “reading is a chore and you need to give me stuff so I’ll read.” For some this becomes “reading is a chore, so I’ll read only ‘improving’ materials. And thus we come to writers who think that writing is kind of school work and that it can be graded by how many “ideas that improve the world” it has (in their opinion) instead of a purely ludic activity. Me?  I believe whatever else writing might be, it must be fun first, or it already failed.  No one was paid or compensated for reading Dumas or Austen.  They were read because they were fun. Shakespeare was read because he was fun. Did they accomplish other things? Maybe. But fun comes first.*

Of Grants and Literature and the Brainwashing of our Kids -Amanda Green

 

Earlier this month, New Zealand author Eleanor Catton announced that she was establishing a grant that would allow authors to take three months leave to “read the work of their fellow authors.” My first thought was “Cool!” Then it read a bit further and realized that she was seeding the grant with only $3,000 and that there weren’t a lot of other details in the story. So I went in search of more information and the more I read, the more I shook my head.

For those not familiar with Catton, she has written two books. According to her Twitter feed, she made more than $140,000 last year and is happy to pay 40% to “give young kiwis in poverty a chance” and goes on to say what a great policy this is from the Green Party. She also notes that artists don’t create to help people or make money. According to her tweet, artists create to “discover the truth underneath the assumed and bring it to the surface.”

Hmm, starting to sound familiar yet?

But back to the grant. According to another piece, it would allow writers the “ability to read” and the only requirement would be that the recipients post a short non-fiction piece online describing what they are reading.

Now, I’ll admit the idea of being paid to read appeals to me but it isn’t necessary. Far from it, in fact. More than that, I don’t think I could take three months off from writing and not go stark raving mad. But it goes beyond that. No matter what my deadlines or how immersed I am in my writing, I am still reading. I may not read as much when I’m mid-book as I do when editing or planning a new project, but I’m still reading.

My concern with the possible rules for the grant – I say possible because I haven’t been able to find anything more than Catton wants to fund it and let authors take 3 months leave to read – is that they will limit what authors can read. That concern naturally, at least in my mind, reminded me of the frustration I had with the school system when my son was still in school, a system that came very close to destroying his joy of reading and has done just that in so many other children.

My son is now an adult, one who loves to read. But it very well could have gone the other way. The war to save him as a reader started in the third grade. That is when he had a teacher who decided to use reading as a punishment. She chose the most boring, most inappropriate books she could for a boy of my son’s age. There wasn’t a single book during that time that had any action. Not one that had someone my son could identify with. No fun stories and no happy endings (male version). Instead, we were being exposed to the first attempt to de-manify (it is, too, a word) our boys using books. In each of the books he was given to read, the boys were bullies, the men evil.

The only good thing that came from that year was that my son got to see up close and personal that his parents would go toe-to-toe with teachers and administrators we felt were not doing their jobs.

But the damage was started and the education system as a whole continued the attack. The responsibility for coming up with summer reading lists was turned over to people who weren’t in the trenches with the students on a daily basis. Instead of books our kids, and especially our boys, would want to read, these were books that were “socially relevant”. In other words, they continued the attack on boys and men and more, much more.

The list for the summer going into fifth grade included books about drug abuse, living in poverty, teen pregnancy – not through rape but through consensual sex but without dealing with the consequences after the birth, at least not the consequences for the girl because her family, poor as they were, rallied around her and they lived happily ever after. But the one with the penis was evil because he didn’t control himself even as the girl was a willing partner – mental illness and confused sexual identity.

Doesn’t that sound like a list of topics you wanted to read over your summer vacation when you were still in elementary school?

But I think it was worse the next year because the socially relevant and politically correct topics were better hidden, at least at first glance. I’ll never forget being on vacation with my son and mother that year. We were visiting my aunt and her family just outside of Cleveland and one afternoon my son and I were reading. I soon learned I’d made a big mistake by not reading all of the book he was currently reading. Yep, another summer reading list book. I’d skimmed the first few chapters and it had seemed harmless enough. A gothic novel with the mandatory ghost story.

And then he got to the end.

And then my temper went through the roof.

And it was a very good thing we were more than 1,000 miles from his school because I would have been in raising hell.

The last half of the book turned into the typical man-hating book. Men ruled by desire for sex at all costs and the woman’s consent – or lack thereof – doesn’t count. A woman who, in the beginning of the book was capable and had a brain, suddenly was helpless and a victim. Add to that a very brutal attempted rape scene, thwarted by – wait for it – the ghost and the book went flying against the wall.

Fortunately, before he finished reading the rape scene, my son asked me what something meant. I’m not ashamed to admit I did one of those cartoonish head whips with the eyeballs bounding out of my head before rushing back in. I grabbed the book from him and read the paragraph in question. Then I backed up and read the entire page, and the entire chapter. And then I told my son he didn’t have to finish the book and here was what happened.

Was it a sanitized version? Sort of. I told him about the attempted rape and I told him how the ghost intervened. But then we talked about how the bad guy wasn’t representative of all men and certainly not of him. We had our first in-depth discussion that afternoon about how authors and publishers sometimes have an agenda they try to push with their books.

That was when he finally voiced the question I knew he’d been thinking. Why was the school forcing kids to read stuff that was boring and insulting? I told him I didn’t know but that we would go ask just as soon as we returned home.

And we did. The first day we were back, we piled into the car and went to the school. Our first stop was the administration office to see if the big wigs could answer the question. I wasn’t surprised when they passed the buck and said to go talk to the teacher. When we tried to do that, I had a very strong sense of déjà vu. Once more we were back to the third grade with teachers trying to convince my son and other boys that they were second class citizens because they were – gasp – male.

When I made it clear that wasn’t going to fly, the young female teacher informed me that if I had had any objections to the reading list, I could have lodged them before school was out and we would have been given an alternate list. Since I hadn’t, it was all my fault.

Looking back on that day, I can smile now. Then, I saw red. Even my son saw the warning signs and he knew the teacher had gone too far. She had no idea what sort of monster she’d just unloosed by trying to put the blame on me. But she would soon learn.

Very coolly and calmly – that stage when anyone with an ounce of sense knows the berserker is lurking just beneath the surface – I asked her to show me where in the curriculum or school/district information there was anything to say we had a chance to review the summer reading list before it was handed out. She couldn’t. I was told it was something I should have known. Yes, I asked if I was supposed to just intuit it. She stared at me as if she had no idea what I was saying.

Then I asked her to present me with a copy of the alternative list. Of course, she couldn’t. She said I had to get it from the librarian. Hmm, the alternate list came from someone who wasn’t responsible for the original list. Why was that and how was I to know? Another blank stare and another attempt to pass the blame back to me.

When she tried to tell me I should have read all the books before my son did, I swear my son took a step back. He knew the explosion was about to come. He was wrong. By then, I was like a cat playing with a mouse. I had read almost all the books. But I also knew I was the exception to the rule because I’d done my homework and called some of the parents of the kids in my son’s class to see if they had read any of the books. No, they hadn’t but they had noticed how their kids weren’t doing the reading. Now they understood why.

When I asked the teacher if she really thought parents would read all the books before letting their kids do so, she said that wasn’t her concern. If we didn’t like the list, we could have asked for the alternate list. But she really didn’t see anything wrong with the books on the list. After all, the sooner our kids learned that the world consisted mainly of poor people living in squalid conditions and that it was our duty to make the world better for them, the better. She went on to say that the books, like the one I was objecting to, were there to show the boys that they needed to curb their animal side and take their cues from the women in their lives because, you know, women are so much calmer and exercise better judgment than men.

I think I laughed then. I know I asked if she’d paid one bit of attention to her female students and if she remembered junior high.

Looking back now, I realize I had just met a GHHer in training.

How does all this relate back to the grant to let writers read? One way is that I have a feeling that they are going to be encouraged to read “literature” and then pass on how wonderful it is. For another, those of us who don’t write “literature” are too busy writing what we enjoy and what sells to worry about taking three months off. We don’t take years to write a single book. More than that, we read even if we are writing. We don’t need someone to subsidize us so we have what is basically a three month vacation. We’re working stiffs who understand that three months off will impact our bottom line down the road.

In other words, going on the dole – even if it is a grant from another writer – isn’t the way to prove our worth as a writer or the way to recharge our batteries. It is a way to decrease our earnings over time. It smacks of the guaranteed month off workers get in some European countries, countries with the ensuing problems because of that.

Thanks very much, but I won’t be applying. As it stands now, even when writing, I read anywhere between 1,000 – 5,000 pages a month, sometimes more. Now, if someone wants to pay me to do that AND let me write at the same time, cool. Until then, I’ll keep being the hack I am and writing books folks want to read. Books where there are good and bad men AND women, books with more than a socially relevant message to them.

And, until the education system is overhauled, if you have kids in school, please check what they are reading and be prepared to offer counter-arguments to the SJW pabulum that is being spoon fed to our kids in an attempt to “socialize” them.

418 responses to “Of Grants and Literature and the Brainwashing of our Kids -Amanda Green

  1. Reblogged this on Cedar Writes and commented:
    Yes, this. Think hard about why you don’t want to take the time or trouble to read what your children are reading. Why don’t you like reading? Even if you only skim, look at their assigned reading, and do it with a critical eye.

    • One of the great things my mom did was read what I was reading for fun– I didn’t realize it at the time she was paying attention to what was forming my brain-mush, I was just delighted to have someone who’d read the same books.

      (Plus, I got her hooked on Drizzt.)

      • I read a lot of my Mom’s books. I read what she assigned me (homeschooled, and I never have forgiven her for Old Man and the Sea. Still hate Hemingway). I read… everything. I try to at least keep up with what mine are reading, but with four of them, and all voracious readers, best I can do is awareness of what’s in the books, and steer them toward good authors.

      • I did a lot of that with my son but that book seemed so normal and okay on the first few chapters that I let it go. Never again.

        For the most part, we did what you and your mom did. It is what my parents did with me when I was young. I think that is why I love to read and why, fortunately, the idiot teacher and even worse required reading lists didn’t completely kill my son’s love of reading.

        • We didn’t have summer reading lists, so it was a matter of what I saw and thought was good.

          You shouldn’t have to read through a children’s reading list in order to make sure it’s not hitting all the “I am a moron” buttons.

          • True! Teachers are supposed to be professionals. By definition, professionals don’t need constant adult supervision.

      • I’m not sure how old I was when I learned I could read novels on my own (around second grade, I think, I remember having read The Jungle Book on my own, before seeing the movie in third grade) but I remember when that started. My mom used to read to us (my dad and I) in the evenings, and we were reading The Swiss Family Robinson. I was pestering her to read to me during the day, because I wanted to know what happened next, she was busy and told me I could go read it myself. Finding out that I could I read the whole book that day, and was hooked on reading, from then on.

        I didn’t realize it at the time, but she no doubt directed my reading, and supervised it to a much great extent than I thought. Not that she read everything I read, but she generally knew what I was reading and what it was about. I know she directed me to her Louis L’amour collection at an age younger than many today would consider appropriate; for fear of it molding a young impressionable mind much like it did mine. And I distinctly recall the shock that she had when she discovered what was in those new Auel books she had bought me.

        • The revelation I remember is when my mother told me it was possible to read silently. It was so much easier that way!

    • Cedar, I still kick myself for not looking closely enough that one time. I was still seeing movies before my son did and playing video games before I let him. But this one looked fine on the surface, so I didn’t read the whole thing. I learned my lesson.

  2. School education these days is more direct brain washing than actual training in critical thinking. We ran into that when we were home schooling our children. Their friends would come over, and as usual, the friends would express their desire to ‘have it easy’. My kids didn’t think it so easy. Of course, they did school in their pj’s, and quite often the daily curriculum was switched to accommodate rising situations – but they didn’t have it easy. They were supposed to learn HOW to think, and weigh consequences.

    For some strange reason all my kids tend toward conservative thought. Even the most liberal, who lives in Washington state, is a rock-ribbed conservative in comparison to her friends and neighbors.

    And she’ll get screaming mad about some of the SJW/GHH actions in her neighborhood!

    • CombatMissionary

      My kids thought the same. They wanted it easy, too, until one day I explained to them:
      “You know, when I became a missionary, you’d be surprised how many 19-year-old young men I met that didn’t know how to wash their clothes or do the dishes.” My children started giggling. The oldest three are all younger than 12, and they can all run a washer and dryer and dishwasher already. They found it preposterous that anyone DIDN’T know how to do that stuff. “You laugh, but it’s true. My job as your father is, among other things, to teach you to be independent, self-sufficient adults. I met guys whose mothers were well-intentioned but short-sighted. Their mothers did their laundry until the day they got out of the home, and these young men had no idea how to do ANYTHING-cook, clean, do laundry, fix a flat tire on a bicycle. I’m not so shortsighted. You kids are learning how to do ALL of these things NOW, so by the time you’re on your own, or if, heaven forbid, something were to happen to me, you’d be able to help mom, and you’d all get by on your OK. I’m hard on you because I LOVE YOU.” They quit complaining about chores. You know, for the afternoon. They’re still kids, after all. 😉

      • Ok, I admit to having my mom do my laundry until I graduated high school, mainly because the washer and dryer were HERS, and nobody touched them if they knew what was good for them. I had never used a dishwasher at that time either, because there wasn’t one in the house. I did know how to use all sorts of other appliances and power tools, and such items generally come with instructions on the inside of the door, or if not, the knobs are fairly plainly marked and make operation pretty self-explanatory to anyone with a passing knowledge of their intended purpose, and other appliances.

    • And it is getting worse, Doug. Now kids are taught that everyone is “special”. Score isn’t kept on the playground and there are even districts that don’t allow homework or, if they do, don’t grade it. Some are even going to a no grade grading system where it is basically pass or fail. Oh, they fancy it up some to keep the parents from completely blowing their tops, but that’s what it boils down to. Then the parents wonder why little Jonny or Susie can’t survive freshman courses in college without major tutoring and transfer to remedial classes.

      • Public education is broken, and only continuing to spiral down. When I went into my sons’ high school, one of the most famous in the US, to complain about the lame reading list, and the total absence of anything that would interest boys, or girls with active imaginations, teachers generally agreed with me, but said that the lists were created high in the administrative food chain and couldn’t be changed. My kids, who were and are devoted readers of SF/F and diverse mainstream writers, simply lost interest in English literature.

  3. Wayne Blackburn

    Sarah, I’m going to start by disagreeing with your addendum.

    Your children enjoyed reading. You enjoyed reading, I enjoyed reading, most people here enjoyed reading. As children. That type of person doesn’t need incentives to read. MY children, even though I read to them at night, tried to get them interesting books to read, and more, never really liked reading. They were perfectly content to listen to me read all manner of stories, but never cared to read on their own. Oh, later on they did, somewhat, but they still aren’t “readers”, even though they both read quite a bit now in order to research things they are interested in, but they really don’t read for pleasure.

    I think, had I done something like the program you described, they would have been more likely to do so.

    • Wayne, you make a pretty good point. We have to start differentiating between the pupil and the student in that the pupil is someone who must be made to learn something whereas the student is someone who chooses to do so.

      A kid who loves to read is basically a student when it comes to that and should be approached accordingly. OTHO, that kid may need to be considered a pupil when it comes to physical fitness — something not to discount — and needs the carrot and the stick for that.

      Conversely a kid who loves sports may need an incentive program to acquire the basic skills in reading etc. to function adequately in society, but obviously not in physical fitness.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Now, it occurred to me that, if the incentives were tied to particular reading, which happened to be distasteful to the student, that it would indeed backfire, and pretty much all they would learn is how to suck it up and do grunge work for pay* rather than learning to enjoy reading.

        * Which is a valuable lesson in itself, but does not fit the claimed intention of the program.

    • No. Part of this is treating boys like girls. Your kids probably would have enjoyed comics. My younger son has “boy brain” all the way and he was 14 when he got completely off comics. This is not unusual. Most boys only become “readers” between sixteen and nineteen. All the programs do is tell everyone “reading is a chore.”

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I couldn’t even get them interested in comics.

        • Um… I wonder what the school did. They tried to make both my kids whole word readers after they went reading fine. Whole word makes it impossible to read for fun, because it’s hard to get the sentences to make sense.

          • If I may ask, what a ‘whole word reader’?

            • Well, my kids went in having learned to read on their own, but when they stopped on a word, I said, “sound the letters out.” The school discouraged this. Instead, it’s all about “guessing.” “Don’t sound it out, just guess” and “Don’t you remember the story about pencils that had the word in it?”
              This treats words as ideograms. Because words aren’t DESIGNED to be ideograms, they make poor ones, and each word has to be guessed at, and if you guess one wrong, you have a skewed meaning to the sentence, then the next makes no sense, so… it makes reading anything more than “See Spot Run” very difficult.
              BTW the schools TOLD me they no longer used whole word reading because it was “disproved” instead they used “whole language techniques that included phonics.” Except whole language meant “guess the word from the meaning” and phonics was only used IF ALL ELSE FAILED because it’s considered “non optimal.”
              This is btw based on studies where kids that read very fast read one word at a glance. Yeah, I do that too, but you know, we do that because we’re proficient. You can’t take the results and force them backwards as though it were cargo cult.

              • Yep, cookbook teaching. Much as in cooking, start with uniform ingredients, follow the recipe, and you’ll get an acceptable result.
                See the flaw in that logic?
                It requires uniform ingredients, cookie cutter children all alike all of equal intelligence and experience. So, start with an impossible assumption, and it will all work out just fine. And if it doesn’t just blame the kids or their parents. Pretty much sums up our current k-12 situation in a nutshell.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Well, you know that it only takes one false assumption to prove that 1=2, right? So even math can be corrupted that way.

                • Even more fun is an abomination forced on my stepdaughter called best guess spelling. As near as I can parse the teachobabel, the idea is to get close enough for spellcheck to pick it up.
                  In a language like English with many homophones and homonyms, the hilarity ensued immediately.

              • Thanks for the explanation. It is an odd concept of how to teach reading unless you’ve got a kid who just isn’t getting phonics but IS getting a lot more contextually (this was me, my brain naturally processes whole words and sentences and I had to reverse engeneer a lot of why they work). I didn’t realize they had an official term for that.

                • eh. you want odd? Younger kid learned to read by WRITING. He’d come to me and ask me how to write the “x” sound, etc. then how to write this and that.
                  Next you know, he was reading.

                  • For some people reverse engineering is the only way to go. Human brains are odd. What the atendant human does with them is usually odder.

                    • CombatMissionary

                      IDIC. It’s why socialized education fails many, if not most of our children.

                    • On the other hand, having come from a community where a good percent of the parental units were not capable of educating their children past a certain point (mostly due to limitations in their own understanding and education levels) or were actively hindering their kids from gaining said education.

                      The first group at least were determined that their kids would have better opportunities for education than they had. The later were of the ‘I don’t have no fancy education and my kid don’t need to be no smarter’n me!’ school of thought. One of my class mates went to college to piss his father off, because his father was so absolutely certain he was too stupid to succeed he said he’d pay for it just to prove the point. I never found out if he made it through to graduation. I hope he did. But he made it in, on a swimming scholarship that his father couldn’t ‘pull’ (which pissed his father off because real men play football, never mind that he was GOOD at swimming.)

                      My home state’s education is a mixed bag of weird kinds of crazy that’s become a battle ground of ‘the Federal Government can’t tell us what to do even though we don’t have a clue and are trying to scuttle the one program that actually does great things.’ I am at a loss for a feasible alternative, and have seen very little good come out of homeschooling except in very limited cases. It may be a function of aforementioned crazy, but I can’t tell.

                    • There’s excellent online academies and courses. I made extensive use to avoid going nuts when #2 was homeschooled. And now there are more.

                    • There are, but they have their limitations even as brick and mortar schools have their limitations. I’m more familiar with Connections Academy than Khan. Among them that they work best for the self-motivated student and still have many of the same issues with teachers, some of them exacerbated by distance. I’m all for options, but neither homeschooling nor online schooling seem to have the capacity, at least right now, to actually replace a brick and mortar school.

                • Context isn’t “best guessing.” Best guessing is basically Bob trying to read Japanese when he knows about ten katakana, five hiragana, and three kanji. I mean, it’s better than nothing, but it’s not how you learn to read Japanese. It stands in the way of learning, really.

              • Have you ever noticed the degree to which almost all LibProg policies are cargo cultish?

                High School graduates tend to make more money, so issue High School diplomas to every-effing-body!

                Home ownership corresponds to attributes of prudence, long-term planning and self-control, so give homes to all the dysfunctional in order to make them functional.

                LibProg economics …

                • A recent column at The Federalist addressed the complaints about the Tyranny of Home-Cooked meals by noting that the one thing LibProgs really seem to dislike is having to make an effort (insert anti-Hipster joke of your preference) and that Home-Cooked meals (like High School diplomas, home ownership and purt near ev’thing else worth having in this world) require effort.

            • Sarah explained it, but I THINK I know part of where it comes from– Princess is, pardon motherly pride, rather smart. So she tries to just recognize what a word is and jump off from there– if I hadn’t been working at her since she was three, if I got her at six or so, she’d probably be able to do dozens of words that way. Same way that we don’t look at “CAT” and sound it out, she appears to be recognizing the word– but she’s actually guessing, sometimes with context help.

              I call it being lazy and tell her to work it out, but if I was looking for a fancy new teaching method and a batch of kids who were really good at reading (being smart in the first place and trained to boot) were dumped in my lap, and I then “proved” it worked by teaching kids to pictogram out Cat, Rat and Sat……

              • Very easily could be… I actually don’t remember learning to read. I simply don’t remember a time when I could NOT read. I’d have to ask my mother to confirm methodology from the mists of young childhood. I do know that phonics and I have never gotten along in any language, though I recognize the underlying patterns. Throw in a couple kids like that and start frying curriculum maker’s brains.

                • I was the same way. My mother was blindsided by the kindergarten teacher’s criticism of her teaching me to read, since she hadn’t. Best guess is I picked it up from my older sister.

                  • we established that Robert was reading probably at 2 and a half (as in, there were books that got packed four moves ago that he remembered reading) I know he was reading at just past three. Clue zero how, except we didn’t have a tv and he got bored.

                    • My son was reading at about that age (well before 4). As far as I can tell, it’s because we read to him, and answered the question “What’s that say?” when he pointed to a sign or some other writing about a million times a day.

                    • That and he played a rudimentary learning game on my computer when I was taking a break from writing (read picking up the strewn-about toys.)
                      You know,t he other day when you said your kids were teens, I realized #2 son is still a teen (for another two months.) I didn’t remember it, because he entered college at 16, so we think of him as “a young man in college.”

                    • My six-year-old is reading fluently (as in we’re correcting his pronunciation of “Permian” and he threw down the phrase “inverse operations”—correctly—the other night.) My four-year-old isn’t reading yet; she has her numbers and letters down, and probably more words than she thinks she does, but she isn’t reading. Mind you, it’s pretty much family tradition, going back three generations, for us to be reading by the age of three, so I have to keep reminding myself that she’s not behind…

                    • Five year old younger son was reading. He might have been reading before, don’t know. BUT he was reading at five because…. he suddenly took an interest in the plaques in the natural history museum, and read them all HIMSELF. The visit took six hours.

                    • At about that age Daughtorial Unit was discovered in bathroom reading the Woolite bottle’s contents. This constitutes an argument against those who declaim “content is all, reading for pleasure is false.”

                    • The really weird thing is that Robert must have been writing too — look, I’d just given birth, then I had pneumonia. That year is a blur — because when my in laws came over to meet two month old Marsh, they brought picture books to Robert and Robert was discovered in his bed with my red editing pen in hand marking grammatical mistakes. MIL was outraged he wrote in books and called me in, so he explained the marks he’d made. The one I remember, full of toddler indignation, was: “No, the sun shined is wrong. It’s the sun SHONE. The sun shined is transitive. What was it shining? Its shoes?”

                    • I forget the children’s author — Road Dahl? Maurice Sendak? — I heard in an interview explaining why he dislikes doing book signings. He recognized that the kids had not yet absorbed the concept of a book having an author, so they found it terribly traumatic to be taken to a store to meet some stranger WHO WOULD PROCEED TO WRITE IN THEIR FAVORITE BOOK!!!!

                    • Yes, he was a pedantic little kid…

                    • SheSellsSeashells

                      I taught myself to read due to sheer boredom, right before my third birthday. Rummaging under the bed, found the phonics albums (vinyl; I AM THAT OLD) that Mom had been saving for when I entered kindergarten, and started to play them. She was somewhat boggled to find me sounding my way through back-cover blurbs some time later…

          • I hate whole word method and the person who came up with it should be beaten with a wet noodle. Administrators who have their teachers use it are worse.

            • Amusingly, Chrome has an extension for this.

              It loads this site:
              http://sightwords.dropthetranny.com/dolch/

              And… Princess used it to practice phonics. It works pretty well for her to sound out words, say them until it makes sense, and then for words that doesn’t work for, I explain how it is really said.

              We’re making a list of whatever they call letter pairs that say something different than how they’d be sounded out– started simple, like “sh” and “oo,” and now are in “ing” and “ir.” (I know there’s a word for those, I just have no idea what it is. Then again, I am public school educated, so I have to sing School House Rock to figure out if it’s a noun, verb or adjective, and don’t ask me about adverbs, missy….)

              Argh, I both love and hate these posts about education– love, because it helps me find stuff I can use with the Minions, and hate because I spend up mostly talking about me or the kids. The kids are awesome, but nobody here knows them, and I’m not an interesting subject. Aargh!

              • Lolly, lolly, lolly, Get your adverbs here.

                • Well, it is a word, that modifies a verb– sometimes a verb, and sometimes it modifies another adverb– so you see that it’s very very necessary….

                  (and then I spend the next hour with “VERB!– that’s what happ’nin'” in my head)

                  • One of the charms of German is the ability to find out who did something to whom but not finding out what was done until the sentence end a half page later.

                    • I used to translate scientific experiments from German. I could spend the ENTIRE afternoon (this was pre internet searches, and some words required five dictionaries to find the right meaning) translating a list of ingredients (or body parts. These were often biological experiments) before figuring out if they were mixed, burned or thrown out the window.

                    • I can’t read it in the original Czech Jewish German, but I can make out how the first sentence of “The Metamorphosis” goes. Long long verbless sentence about the hero waking up that ends with “into a gigantic insect TRANSFORMED.” Cool.

                  • Just remember that adverbs are delusional adjectives. Oh and as another public school graduate, I’m not sure that I was ever taught what adverbs were, and know they didn’t teach us anything as useful as Schoolhouse Rock.

                • The kids get to watch the DVD of SHR as a weekday treat when mommy is too fried.

                  • You might look for DVDs of the Fifties era Bell Science series (produced by Frank Capra) both for what they teach (still valid in many instances and generally interesting as lesson in how science is never settled) and for what they show: large computers in clean rooms that have less computing power than a not particularly smart phone.

                    http://www.amazon.com/Our-Mr-Sun-Thread-Life/dp/B00K5JKQF0/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-1&keywords=capra+science

                    Other titles available include:
                    Hemo the Magnificent / Unchained Goddess
                    The Alphabet Conspiracy / Science Shorts
                    Gateways to the Mind / Thread of Life

                    • “The Alphabet Conspiracy”? Totally putting it on the wish list!

                      They also adore Mathamagic Land (Donald Duck does math) and the “Walt Disney Animated Collection”– AKA, “Hey, remember all those classic old Disney Merry Melody or Wind in the Willows shows?”

                    • A page for M “The monsters are moping” “The monsters meet mirror men” “the mirror men make monsters merry”

                    • Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book is recommended for advanced young readers only, and requires some parental supervision … but will have the child bored of the genre howling with laughter.

                      I should also mention the Audible versions of the How To Tame Your Dragon books, read by David Tenant, have much to recommend them.

                    • Oddly, I just passed over these at the Library today. At least, I assume that there’s not multiple “How To Train Your Dragon” audio books… I’ll put them back on the list, even if they are probably a bit long for the kids’ attention span right now.

                    • I think they run about 3.5 hours each (at least the first one did) but are sufficiently broken up to permit the listener to “read” it over several days. That also gives a chance for discussions on such basic topics as what do you think will happen, how do you think Hiccough will address that problem and all the usual elements of teaching the child to read actively.

                      As you will quickly grasp from character names, these are written for a boyish sense of humour.

                      Of course, if they like the books they will in later life have the amusing experience of recognizing the Tenth Doctor as “the guy who read the How To Train Your Dragon” books.

                    • They’ll probably recognize the names from the movie.

                      They didn’t care about vikings so much as– DRAGONS, moma! DRAGONS!!!!! Izza kitty lizzard dragon!

      • I remember my evolution in reading the newspaper started with the comics on the back page, then eventually to the sports section and finally to just about everything.

        Of course, ask a kid today what a newspaper is . . .

      • “Most boys only become “readers” between sixteen and nineteen. ”

        You have identified yet another way in which I depart from the norm. I learned to love reading before I went to school. Since then, NOTHING can stop me from reading. I have learned to hate individual authors. (Can any boy or man love Judy Blume?) But that can’t stop me from reading.

        When I was young I participated in a couple of reading encouragement programs with prizes, but I found the record keeping quite tedious. After you finish a book, you want to start the next one, not write down the title, author, # of pages, theme, what you liked about the book, etc. It was almost as bad as writing a book report.

        • Older son was like that too. I should have said “fiction readers.” Younger son could read by five, like a normal human being, but the only fiction he read were comics, and only because I found him disney comics which combined complex plot lines (these are old) with pictures. He did however ready instructions for machinery, etc.

          • You better watch out about those instruction books. One of my earliest memories about a book is a book about aircraft operations for WW2. Now, this has made me weird, because since the ace of seven or so, I’ve know how set up an intercept, attack out of the sun, line up a bombing run for greatest damage, arm a P38 and other useful stuff. That book disappeared, loved to destruction in one childhood purge or another and I would really like to find another copy.

            • I’m going to assume that “… since the ace of seven or so…” is intentional.
              Given the context, it’s more amusing that way.

            • Model Rocket kit instructions led to Estes and Centuri Technical Reports, which lead to the Encyclopedia Americana which led to Willey Ley and G. Harry Stine books, which led to Heinlein, Clark, and Asimov……….

          • CombatMissionary

            Feed boys with stories about Soldiers, explorers, superheroes, dinosaurs, battles, etc. Basically, if it involves explosions, guns, or cute girls, they’ll be interested (although the cute girls may take a while for them to care about at first 😀 ). They’re no different from men.

            • Hey, girls too! Not the glittery kind, mind you, but most of the rest of us. We love us a good story 😉

              Actually, you’ve hit it on the head. Those stories will help draw boys to reading. They are stories the boys can identify with. They want to be the hero, the sports star, whatever. Just give them a rollicking good plot and they are happy. Unfortunately, the SJWs don’t see it that way.

              • Better illiteracy than liking the wrong books. Besides, that makes it easier for the girls to beat them academically.

        • From 10 to 18 my visits to the local public library were weekly. At 12 I got bumped from the kids section to full access. The librarian still vetted my choices, but I do not recall her ever denying me a book. With a few she suggested we talk about them after I was done.
          But then again, that was only one of many indications that I was a card carrying odd.
          Always felt more comfortable around adults. Kids and I never seemed to have all that much in common.

      • “Most boys only become “readers” between sixteen and nineteen”

        Older brother was an avid reader around 12, iirc. He’s as much responsible for me becoming a reader as any of my teachers. He’d grab a book (ERB and RAH usually) and go sit in a tree (to escape me) reading. I wanted to know what was so fascinating and started reading the same books. Heh. Of course, he had the same 5th grade teacher I did – just two years sooner. Maybe it was Mr. Anderson who got Russ started. 🙂

      • William O. B'Livion

        …Most boys only become “readers” between sixteen and nineteen

        If this is true–and my life experience tells me differently–then it’s the fault of the parents and the school system (which would follow along with what you’ve posted).

        My brother and I were adopted at/near birth and were raised by a father who tried really really hard to raise us identically and show no favoritism, however much we looked alike as children (slight builds, blonde hair fair skin) we were as different as could be *except* that we both scored on the right hand side of the bell curve (he in the first SD to the right, me in the second) and that both of us read for fun.

        Of course our father being the sort of guy who would offer to fight an entire fraternity one at a time or all at once of over a wolf whistle, and who’s personal library basically went from hard core porn to Aristotle and Plato (and yes he’d read the) provided us with the sorts of books that young boys *like* to read. From this distance the only ones I can remember specifically that were parent purchased were the Hardy Boys, but there were also the monthly or more often trips (by car, on the weekend) to the Library (Andre Norton, RAH etc. etc.) to the library.

        As I got older I started reading his books–which is when he basically purged the porn stuff :), but there were the the Mickey Spillane and Donald Hamilton to go through and well as others.

        Damn I miss him. No, not Hamilton, my father.

        Now, the other thing is that my mom was also a reader. Not as fast as my father, and not as diverse (mostly best sellers and self help books), but there was almost aways a hard back around with a bookmark in it.

        She’s in her mid 70s now, and has the B&N E-Reader.

        You want kids to read, let them read what they want.

        • Sounds like you had a wonderful and wise dad. I love hearing stories where fathers — and mothers — have taken that sort of care with their kids and have done all they could to help their children become readers. You and your brother truly were lucky.

          • William O. B'Livion

            Sounds like you had a wonderful and wise dad.

            Dunno how wonderful or wise, but he did his best and cared, and given the whole adoption thing it could have been a lot worse.

            Of course Obama’s re-election would have killed him anyway.

      • I have agree with you, Sarah. My son is like your youngest. Boy brain and math brain — well, engineer brain — to boot. He did the manga thing for a long time after the incident with the teacher. That’s how we got him to “read” again. But once he started, the manga became a side diversion as he read the same stuff I was reading. Another thing he got hooked on was audio books. I’m still thankful for that because they helped open up genres to him he might not have read until much later.

  4. It’s been tested in the lab. Adding extrinsic rewards to a situation devalues the intrinsic rewards. Give children stickers for making drawings, and they will not draw so much once the stickers are withdrawn as a control group that never got them.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I’m going to have to ask for a link to that one, because it flies in the face of the principles of operant conditioning. My guess is that the process was in error, not the concept.

      • It could also be a misunderstanding of operant conditioning. After all, humans are more complicated than pigeons, even as children.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Thanks for the link. I submit that the experiment was not conducted for a long enough period of time.

          Now, before I go to read tteclod’s link below, I’ll admit that I may have used the incorrect term, as college was nearly 30 years ago now, and I have not had occasion to worry about terminology since then, but the effect I was referring to was the one that has been documented as creating a pleasurable response to an action by rewarding that action, until the reward is no longer necessary.

          And, as John D. above mentions, children are more complex than pigeons, but this means that it takes longer for patterns to form, unless they are actively being sought out, so I would have conducted the experiment for no less than 6 months.

      • Wayne,

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797546/

        Operant conditioning is “active behavior that operates upon the environment to generate consequences,” according to Skinner, the man that conceived the idea. Reading is not an active behavior operating on the environment. Reading in a passive behavior whereby a person obtains information communicated by another person. It is the receipt of communication, and therefore fundamentally passive. For this reason, among others I won’t bother explaining, Skinnerian conditioning I cannot effectively instill reading habits.

        In the case of your children, you have already proven the underlying theory I have explained above. You said, “…they still aren’t “readers”, even though they both read quite a bit now in order to research things they are interested in, but they really don’t read for pleasure.” I submit to you and Ms. Hoyt that none of us “read for pleasure.” All of us read to receive communication from others. The pleasure is derived from receipt of communication, and, particularly, the content of that communication. For instance, I am fond of the comic strip “Day by Day.” I read that comic to receive pleasant communications. I read the classified ads to find merchandise for sale. The act of reading, itself, is not pleasurable – it is neutral, like opening a can of food. The content of the text – or the can – determines the value of reading.

        That, I think, is what Ms. Hoyt is trying to explain with her anecdote about her son’s reading assignment: no pleasure can be found in such feminist propaganda because the content of the communication is foul. If boys are conditioned by such assignments, it is to eschew communication with women, from whom many such assignments proceed. That’s a bigger problem than the choice of a literate person to read pleasant communication for relaxation in preference to other options.

        • Not my kid’s. Amanda Green’s kid. It’s a guest post.
          And you’re wrong. I DO read for fun. It’s a different experience than listening to a story for fun, say. Or watching a movie.

          • Noted.

            I’ll send you my next set of construction specifications to read “for pleasure.”

            Content is everything.

            • Um… if I couldn’t find a new interesting book when I was a kid I was quite capable of reading something like that—yes, for the pleasure of reading something.

              • When I was about nine or ten, I went through every darned book on my parent’s shelves, and read the interesting ones straight through. The boring ones, I dropped after a chapter or two … which was fortunate or unfortunate. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – the first chapters were pretty boring, so I dropped it before discovering the … educational parts. I did read all of Drieser’s Sister Carrie, and TOTALLY missed the point of it. I had some kind of notion because of the name that maybe this was about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little sister. One of Dad’s anthropology textbooks was FASCINATING, because of all the pictures of skeletons and fossils and spear points and cavemen … IIRC, this was a textbook which was so old that it listed the Piltdown Man as genuine.

                • Heh. That is so funny to me about mistaking Carrie for Drieser’s Sister Carrie. Why? Drieser claimed to be the lover of Rose Wilder Lane, Laura’s daughter! (I can’t recommend enough “The Ghost in Little House”.)

            • By the time I was in fourth grade (~10) I was an avid reader. Mostly of sets of encyclopediae (?) and very large dictionaries. Anything to do with biology/zoology/science in the school’s classroom libraries. History, particularly anything to do with WW2 or pre-revolutionary war America.

              A bit later, I found Red Planet in the public library…and would spend Sundays there from the doors opening until they booted us out in the afternoon, where Dad picked us up and took us off to Foster’s Freeze before going home.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Hmm… I would posit that he would say that neither listening nor watching things are fun, in and of themselves, also, and that the content is everything.

            Frankly, at that level, I don’t know whether I “read for fun” or not. I certainly get no enjoyment out of reading the insane blatherings of the extreme SJWs, or GHHs, but I can’t tell if there is an underlying enjoyment there that is being overwhelmed by the content.

            However, tteclod, that is not normally what is meant when someone says they read for fun.

            • Thank you, Wayne. You said basically what I wanted to. What he is doing is playing a game of semantics — but not letting us in on what his definitions are. Not criticizing him for it but noting that it is hard to respond without knowing what the playing field happens to be.

              I, like Sarah and many others here, read for fun. I also read to learn. Those are two different types of reading. Whether that meets tteclod’s definition or not, I don’t know and, to be honest, don’t really care. I like reading for fun and enjoyment and am content to leave it at that.

          • I think it’s a matter of immersion. I can watch a movie or listen to an audiobook. But in reading your own imagination fills in so much that you experience it almost as deeply as if you were the POV character.

            • Yes. Also, while I love the MHI audios, the Grimnoir ones I HATE the voices the man makes.

              • Oh, wow. I LOVED the voices he did for Grimnoir.

                • Don’t ask. This might have something to do with someone I met in early childhood, but to me the characters sound mentally slow… Eh.

                  • Ah. Might be the accents. And the dialect. Okies weren’t renowned for their book larnin’, and neither were large Southern white men, nor in the book were Gravity Spikers, so while I heard Jake Sullivan’s voice as slow, I immediately got what Larry was going for and really enjoyed it. In fact, isn’t it a trope that Southerners are less educated than all those Yankees?

                  • That sort of thing is always a risk for any audio interpretation. Beloved Spouse & the Daughtorial Unit like anime and I occasionally have to raise an eyebrow at some of the accents/dialects employed, only to have it explained that that particular character comes from a region which is the Japanese equivalent of Alabama.

                    OTOH, listening to an audio reading of one of Kathy Reichs’ “Temperance Brennan” books became very difficult because the reader adopted a Mississippi accent for a character raised in Charlotte.

                    • The scary thing is how similar the archetypes are– if you assume they’re very Irish southerners, anyways. About the only difference is that all of them are assumed to be super powered alcoholics who can juggle entire groups, especially if female.

                      You should’ve seen the little Japanese lady who did our “welcome to Japan” class when Corpsman Brown drawled out “oh-high-yo go-ziiiiiiie-mus.” The silent-but-implied “Y’all” was awesome.

              • Yay! And here I thought I was the only one! Sally Faye should *not* sound like a female Forrest Gump!

                  • But part of the point is that she is far smarter than she sounds (and looks) so it is the people who judge by superficialities and not substance who are in error.

                    As a person who can switch between Southern Casual and High Falutin at pretty much the drop of a hat, I always chortle when I see Doc Taylor’s redneck act.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Note the “once the stickers are withdrawn”.

        Also different people find different things *inherently* rewarding. Both of my children read because they find reading worthwhile. Both of them enjoy drawing, with the older one being *quite* good at it. So for them any reward for those things is BONUS.

        But of you’re someone who just doesn’t enjoy something you’ll do it for the reward, but once the reward is no longer presented you’ll stop.

        The problem with these programs is the people pushing them like reading, and assume EVERYONE will like reading if they just give them the right/enough/a book(s).

        That is simply not the case.

        When my brother hit his late teen years his reading for fun dropped off quite a bit because he was a moderately gifted athlete, and if he’d been allowed to play the sport he was good at (longish story) he probably could have paid for his college. Plus sports got you more attention from Gurls than having read a few books.

        So it’s really the Gurls fault that boys don’t read more.

        #yesallwomen

    • I think being paid to read, for me, would have been like being paid to poop: I was going to do it anyway and would have been miserable if unable to do so, thus payment was not so much incentive as free loot.

      Now I think on it, I could probably go longer without pooping than without reading.

  5. Paid to read . . . Bwahahahaha! I was a paid slush reader for years. I think it broke something in my brain. However, this grant idea . . . gee, do you suppose they’ll have a list of approved books? I mean, they can’t possibly want writers to read just anything, they might enjoy it.

    I dunno. All I can do is keep writing, and try to be a bit more aware of what’s coming out in my writing. I’ve just reread one of my old, almost finished stories. Ouch! I’m not religious, and have been accused of being anti-Christian church. If I ever publish this one, it’ll cement the reputation. Which isn’t true. But I do need to watch that I don’t get sloppy in my writing and use a church as a convenient and easy bad guy.

    This may be the reason there’s so much anti-male writing out there. Easy and convenient bad guys. It only take a few truly poisonous feminazi writers to turn a bias into a hard-to-avoid morass of male bashing.

    So most of us need to be aware, and deliberately avoid the stereotyped bad guys of white, male, big companies, and religious organizations. We need to stop being lazy and not allow our villains’ motives to be “they belong to this group.”

    • And please, dear god in heaven above, do not, not, NOT use the “homeless vet suffering PTSD” as your Maguffin. Leave the poor priests alone, too: statistically a child is far more in danger of molestation at the public school house than at the Church.

      OTOH, if any of you want to write the Dolores Umbridge’s of the world, the SJW’s seeking to impose their own idea of a just and respectful nightmare society …

      I know of some extremely comfortable folk in dire need of affliction …

  6. My kids go to public school, and we’re actually happy with it. However, we do our best to make sure they learn critical thinking at home. It helps that some of their favorite entertainment is about trying things out (MythBusters, for example). Also, with four we get a lot of arguments and we can point them to what is a good argument vs. a bad one.

    • Using stuff like Mythbusters works if you know they often make horrendous mistakes (I think every single show I have watched contains a “What the hell are they thinking” moment and quite a few have a “Those Effing Morons!” moment) and can pick those out, then know where to look for the correct stories, and results elsewhere.
      I find I cannot watch the show.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I enjoy watching it, but with the understanding that if they “bust” something, it’s not necessarily so, because of their poor planning and experiment design (though, from reading some articles about real science experiments, I wonder if they aren’t as good as some of the scientists out there), and that once in a while, they will validate something that actually worked in spite of their test, rather than because of it.

        • You might be spot on on the “As good as some of the scientists” bit. Seeing so much of discovery was accidental while looking for something else (teflon), or was due to sloppy work (penicillin).

        • Poor planning, poor experimental design, and an unwillingness to actually do a little math before designing their experiment. Cases in point:

          “Shoot a gun into the air and the bullet will come down hard enough to kill someone”
          (Busted, in theory)
          But anyone that looks at the actual data, even experts they had talking on the show, sat that it happens. In their experiment, they had both the pistol and the rifle aimed, very carefully, straight up. I somehow doubt that the celebratory gunfire that regularly hits people is fired exactly opposite the pull of gravity. Simple math (done by a guy with a physics degree on one of the gun forums I participate in) says that, on average, a pistol shot that is eleven degrees off, and a rifle shot that is seventeen degrees off, will descend hard enough to kill.

          “Ninjas can catch arrows in flight”
          (Busted, in theory)
          Considering i have seen this demonstrated *with my own eyes* I know this one is BS. The ‘trick’ that flawed their experiment: they used a modern compound bow, when the bows that are used in such demonstrations and would have been common in feudal japan are flat short bows (not yumi, which are much larger and more powerful). But they skip that, drive down to Cabela’s (or whatever) and get an off-the-self model compound bow.

          • To be fair, they DID point out that if fired at an angle, the bullets would retain their spin and come down with lethal velocity, though I don’t know if they specified the angle.

            As for the ninja catching the arrow – I’ve seen a guy on TV catch an arrow shot from a modern bow, but he didn’t really do it ninja style. He very carefully set up and had the arrow fired carefully in front of him, so he could snatch it.

            • Then why conduct the test with it straight up in the air?

              • Wayne Blackburn

                I don’t remember their reasoning for that, I’m afraid. I also thought it was silly at the time. Also, I mentioned that I couldn’t remember if they stated the angle needed, but thinking back some more, I think they implied a greater angle than the ones you quoted.

              • Because otherwise they would have no way of finding the bullet when it came down.

          • “Shoot a gun into the air and the bullet will come down hard enough to kill someone” (Busted, in theory)

            It’s probably best to avoid definition debates (what does “into the air” mean exactly?) when giving this warning to potential yahoos.

            As you note, a pistol shot 11 degrees off vertical can be fatal (and I’d argue that 11 degrees off vertical is “Into the air” anyway).

            The hard and fast rule should be don’t shoot unless you know your target.

            • my point is unless you fire it into a relatively narrow arc, it *will* come down fast enough to kill someone.

      • The choice isn’t between bad science and good science, but between bad science and no science. Good science would have to deal with so many repeated experiments and caveats that it wouldn’t be entertaining.

        My oldest isn’t twelve, and they have the short attention spans of kids raised with modern technology. If it isn’t entertaining they’ll go do something else. There’s plenty of time for them to learn how to do experiments properly as they get older.

        • ah, but there is both in the show. So good science portions should be pointed out but especially pointing out the bad science is needed (like not using Pine trees to launch a corpse when it was hardwoods that were used)

          • They are OK at putting in some token science, though– like the ideas of control groups.

            The toothbrush episode still cracks me up. 😀

            • Oh, I giggle like a schoolgirl at the “Disappearing Cement Truck” show

              • Patrick Chester

                That the “Disintegrating” Cement Truck show?

                (Pack enough explosives, and it will vanish, yes.) ;-D

                • that was one heck of a lot of fertilizer they packed into that thing, and it DID knock the cement off the inside of the mixer…as well as knocking the mixer off the inside of the paint, and the paint was knocked off the planet and ….

                  • Patrick Chester

                    Didn’t they first us a stick of dynamite or so to shake loose the cement and then for the heck of it stuffed it full of explosive materials and blew it to many tiny pieces? It’s been awhile since I’ve watched that sort of show.

                    Actually, I think I’ve seen more of the Irregular Webcomic version of MythBusters than the actual tv show lately…

                    • the first truck they got stopped turning the mixer and while the investigated, the thing filled to about half way.
                      The goal was to prove or disprove cleaning it from the scale build up from a nearly empty truck that had gotten a coating from not being cleaned before the stuff set.
                      So they put the half full one aside, and bought a second truck, got it coated and then used black powder to try to match a partial to full stick of TNT. That there is one of my issues. Black powder does go Boom, but it is a different boom than TNT.
                      Anyhow, they then took the half full truck, loaded a bunch of bags of Ammonium Nitrate, added a black powder primer explosive, and backed way, way, way away.
                      The IWC for today was the rerun of the first Mythbusters comic in that storyline

      • Regarding Mythbusters and their mistakes (and lack of rigor) I give you what XKCD and Zombie Richard Feynman had to say:

        http://xkcd.com/397/

    • My folks did the same thing and it turned out pretty well– all three of us are good thinkers when we remember to use it.

      Problem being that now I approach pretty much any neatly wrapped story that’s supposed to be true by poking at it, looking for threads sticking out, patches, redyed spots, maybe even some whip-stitches where they had to trim things up to make it so neat and simple. If they go to great lengths to hide those, I get suspicious; if they actively point them out and explain them… I’ll probably get dragged down into a long conversation about how they got it to fit so nicely and overcame the temptation to make it sound better than it did… but I’ll appreciate their honesty!

  7. I wonder if that twit of a teacher could even begin see how this would backfire regarding her alleged goals. Boys that age have to be taught that they are supposed to protect girls. They have to be told that they are supposed to be heroes. Else you end up with guys like Ray Rice (who is a product of that type of teacher/television programmer/ one suspects.)

    • Bill, to a dedicated GHH what you suggest is terribly wrong thinking. Girls do not need boys to protect them. In fact girls do not need boys period. Their very extreme fringe have stated publicly that the world would be much better off if 90% of the men were killed off and the rest kept caged in stud farms.
      I am not making this up, just ask around.
      So, no, the twit in question would be incapable of ever seeing the damage her policies would result in.
      Totally with you on the whole Ray Rice thing by the way.

      • Bill, to a dedicated GHH what you suggest is terribly wrong thinking.

        Of course it is. Which is why GHHs and their kept from setting public policy much less influencing young minds.

      • No, that’s just the extreme fringe. The very extreme fringe wants men to kill all other men and then themselves so women finally enjoy an Earth untainted by maleness. Yup — the “women talks with plants” character — though since one of her commenters thinks it a basic and qualifying feminist belief that you think males are mutant females, I suspect they have some delusion they could manage without them.

        • CombatMissionary

          To them, I say only, “Fine, YOU get down there and rip the tree roots out of the sewer line. Let me know if you need any help. I’ll be in on the couch watching Oprah. Oh, and don’t lose any of my f*ing tools. ” 😉

          • Why are you letting them use your tools?

            • CombatMissionary

              I figure, even if I have to replace the tools, if it’ll shut ’em up, it’s worth it. 😀

          • Male violence and exploitation!

          • The thing is, there ARE women who could do just that … but none of them are this particularly stupid kind of feminist.

            Actually, I don’t know that. I suppose it’s POSSIBLE that some are. I’ve just never met any.

            • I do most of the home repairs.

              Ranch kid > computer jockey, at least for things like “wiring” and “toilet won’t flush” and “identifying circuit load” and “multi-tasking dinner.*”

              It’s mostly a mindset thing; he’d be able to figure it out if 1) he wasn’t tired and 2) he knew which model to apply to a situation. He could get #2 in about… ten times the time it takes for me to do it and tell him. (His dad was deployed a lot when he was a kid, and his mom is crafty, not mechanically minded.)

              * This one might be a brain wiring thing; he’s technically a better cook than I am, but he can’t do anything else and we don’t have three hours a day to dedicate to food prep for one meal. I think it’s a brain thing because he has a heck of a time monitoring the kids and identifying “too quiet,” too– or doing laundry, or…well, anything that’s mostly down-time where you need to go do something else in an entirely different area. If we took up one of those “cooking dinner once a month” recipe programs, he’d probably do great– all that stuff going on at the same time, in the same spot, in the same thought process area.

        • Mary, sorry, but while the extreme fringe wants an end to men, too many of the non-extreme want men relegated into second class roles in society, almost like slaves. They view men as too wild and undisciplined. They point out that women have been at the mercy of men for as long as there’s been history and now it is time for women to rule. Delusional, you bet. But there are those who feel that way — look at SFWA.

    • There’s a root thing– people have to recognize they can do damage to others, even if they don’t mean to.

      If you look around, you’ll see the denial of this all over– good heavens, sometimes it seems like half the folks on the road have no idea that you can die in a car.

      Women deny that verbal/emotional abuse can possibly harm a guy, Rice has probably been getting away with hitting people who get him angry his entire life, insert your examples here. 😦

      • Most definitely. Let’s face it, no one is better at the subtle — and not to subtle — verbal jab than a woman. Look at what goes on in junior high for proof. No way do I want us in a matriarchy. That’s scary.

        • Have you two been on Brad’s Facebook page?

          Because we’ve been having that same argument and apparently Brad and I are Ray Rice apologists because we think woman can say crappy things to a man, despite both of explicitly saying nothing a woman says justifies what he did to his fiance.

          • And the term “female” is virulent.

            • Yep.

              I almost asked if she would have preferred “wench” instead.

              People like those bring out the smart ass in me like nothing else. Kind of like how a woman called gun rights activists violent misogynists. I told her to get her butt back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.

              No, I don’t really do that. I just get aggravated by people like that who are going to label me anyways. I might as well earn it.

              • “Kind of like how a woman called gun rights activists violent misogynists.”

                The most vocal gun rights activist on my FB feed is female, and teaches a basic gun safety & technique class for women specifically (different balance points, don’tcha know.)

                • I’ve got a friend on my feed who owns a gun store, so I’m definitely not saying all women are like that by any stretch.

                  It was just one particular woman. Mad Mike enjoyed poking in that hornet’s nest. 🙂

                • Well, then she must be a gender traitor. 😛

                  • “She’s Not A Woman, She’s A [Insert anti-right wing pejorative of your choice, in this case: Gun-Nut]”

                    And now something completely different:
                    Personal Animus Drove Democrats’ Lawfare Against Scott Walker
                    Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, has subjected Governor Scott Walker and nearly every conservative group in Wisconsin to a four-year campaign of harassment in the form of a “John Doe” investigation that has now been branded as illegal and enjoined by a federal judge. That case is on appeal; in the meantime, explosive new information has surfaced about Chisholm’s motivation to harass Walker and Wisconsin Republicans:

                    [A] longtime Chisholm subordinate reveals for the first time in this article that the district attorney may have had personal motivations for his investigation. Chisholm told him and others that Chisholm’s wife, Colleen, a teacher’s union shop steward at St. Francis high school, a public school near Milwaukee, had been repeatedly moved to tears by Walker’s anti-union policies in 2011, according to the former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office. Chisholm said in the presence of the former prosecutor that his wife “frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding and the effect it would have on the people involved … She took it personally.”

                    Citing fear of retaliation, the former prosecutor declined to be identified and has not previously talked to reporters.

                    Chisholm added, according to that prosecutor, that “he felt that it was his personal duty to stop Walker from treating people like this.”

                • Women seem to be the most likely to be vocal on both sides.

                  I caught this from a friend, and am passing it on: please, please emphasize the equalizing power of a gun if you are a woman.

                  I’m a small woman. No amount of kung fu is going to make it so that I win against even a normal guy, let alone an 18 year old thug who got dropped from the football team for dropping out. Before we figure in my kids. In my head it’s different– I feel like an ogre– but my head-space isn’t the thing that determines if I go to the hospital, or the morgue.

                  It makes the “guns are evil” folks either shut up, or start making claims– most common is to try to claim my kids are at risk. Nice thing about those claims is they’re easy to debunk. And the great thing about debunking it, instead of arguing? You’re attacking whoever interpreted the statistics, not the person who is scared of guns.

              • Store this in your mental MP3 file and play as necessary:

                Keep it handy for clearing GHH crowds.

          • You two violated the fundamental rule of modern female/male relations.

            Rule #1: The man is always wrong except when he agrees with the woman.

            Rule #2: When the man is right, see Rule #1

            These rules are necessarily generalized because fewer and fewer women are having husbands to correct and must therefore correct men at random.

            • Yeah, well…I’m not known for complying with the rules. 😀

            • My LORD that was bizarre and stupid. AND my ex editor got into it to. Wonnerful!

            • This was the editor who thought I had made Dyce, in the refinishing mysteries “unsympathetic” because she refused to be a detective like her parents wanted her to. And yes, I would like you to tell CACS that, just to watch her face when she hears it.

              • 😉 Yes, well, parental expectations…

                For some reason this brought to mind: The Spouse and I had an acquaintance who often complained that he was a good husband who kept encouraging his wife to be more independent. He was utterly surprised that she left him.

                (He never did mention his unfortunate tendency to punctuate certain conversations with his fists…something we later found out at the expense of a neighbor who he had dated.)

          • One consideration: why does your interrogator assume she didn’t hit Rice? I haven’t seen (nor do I plan to look at) the elevator video, but what if she punched him in the ‘nads and then berated him for letting her do that.

            Nyah, NO woman ever does anything like that.

            Finally, it hasn’t been that very long since the elevator video of some guy (Pop Star? Jock? Whatever — consider the level of my interest indicated by the clarity of recollection) getting beat on by his girlfriend’s sister. Not much in the way of outrage & condemnation over that, was there?

            • According to what I have been hearing on the radio, she spit on him and slapped him before they got in the elevator, then continued to berate him after.

              • And here is where my brain locks up. She spat on and hit him and he’s the bad guy because he treated her as an equal? I mean any man that offered the same insult would get a rightly deserved beating. So, is she to be protected by her sex or is she to be treated as an equal? Frankly, I’m baffled, I can see no way out. All possible answers are wrong.

                • Now you’re starting to understand, my young padawan.

                  • No, I really am not. It’s these conundrums, as well as other similar and their attendant legal issues that have driven my current hermetic existence.

                • Her hitting and spitting on him is irrelevant, which you would know if you were not beneficiary of male privilege. If he has to take a few knocks in return for millennia of male oppression well, he should just be thankful it isn’t more. you knuckledragging testosterone-poisoned brutes think it funny that cave men knocked women unconscious and dragged them by the hair, so now you can just shut up and take it like a man.

                  This isn’t about “justice” it is about “social justice” and payback is the bitch’s, even if in this case she is losing everything she and her mate have worked for since their teens and she will probably now have to go out on the street and peddle her body to support the family now that her husband has been denied the right to a job working for thuh man, racists!

                  • It’s situations like this that forcibly remind me how spoiled I was. I had a beautiful wife who was both woman and partner. She was wife and mother, intelligent, resourceful and flexible. She was proper to the public and sensual with me. Above all she was patient with me, especially during these brain locks. I think y’all would have liked her.

                    Sorry I get started on her and it flows. Even at almost 2 years since her passing (21 mos. 5 days).

              • The (rather grainy) video I’ve seen show what looks like *him* spitting on her, then her slapping him, then both walking to the elevator. After that it becomes difficult to discern the various actions because he’s partially blocking the camera’s view of her.

                The beginning of the sequence starts after she walks into the camera’s view from behind a pillar, so we don’t know what led up to him, possibly, spitting on her. He might’ve just been saying “boo” as far as the camera shows.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Ah. haven’t seen the video, just heard what the people discussing it on the radio were saying.

                • Being as how the victim ended up marrying Rice afterwards, the NFL could have made a case for the initial mild suspension in that cutting off Rice’s income again hurts the victim.

                  Of course, they wouldn’t make such a case because the NFL is run by politically correct wusses who really aren’t that bright.

                  Just the same, since even the weakest NFL player can knock the crap out of 99 percent of us regardless of our sex, strict punishments are appropriate in acts of violence against civilians even if the parties kiss and make up afterwards.

                  • One problem with that. Why is it the NFL’s job to punish anybody? I thought it was their job to produce football games. If he happened to hit her at a game I could see it as their right and business to punish him. But my understanding (all at least third hand, and it doesn’t interest me enough to look up good second hand sources right this moment) was that this was not at an NFL event. And was long since over with, and the victim had obviously forgiven him, by the time they decided to punish him. I’m not even sure that the victim ever considered themselves a victim. Did his wife ever complain to any authority about this? Or did she figure, as has been pointed out above, she spit and hit him, so he was justified in hitting her back?

                    Okay that is two problems, 1) I don’t agree it is the NFL’s job to hand out punishments for actions not taken at NFL events 2) It definitely isn’t their job to decide actions ,not at NFL events, in which the ‘victim’ doesn’t consider themselves a victim deserve punishment.

                    • One problem with that. Why is it the NFL’s job to punish anybody?

                      Having an organization fail to take strong action against employees who abuse customers is a really bad business model.

            • Apparently, the fact that I said a woman can “make” a man so furious he wants to hit something is what makes me an apologist. So, one word in my entire post completely negates everything I ever said.

              As for the other video, wasn’t that Beyonce’s sister attacking Jay-Z or something? All SHE got labeled was a little nuts.

            • He should have not let her. Apparently by being all manly at her, since he can’t lay a finger on her.

        • I am sure, by this time, someone may have mentioned that along with endeavoring to teaching the bestial young male to be a gentleman we must teach the savage young female how to be a lady. Girls are quite as capable of being cunningly vicious as boys are able to be brutal.

          There is something sad about the naive thinkers who separate the two thinking only one needs to be trained, or who think that everyone, when taught, will become civilized. Even when society had its roles most tightly defined people choose to ignore its strictures.

      • Yes, when young and untrained they often do this with no realization that what they do truly damages others. Sadly, some people decide that they don’t care if others get hurt at their expense, and a few actually decide they like inflicting pain.

        Re: car. They may even know, in theory that one can die in a car, but it isn’t entirely real in their mind until it becomes tragically real. I saw this when in High School.

    • Bill, I doubt it. This is the same teacher who, a couple of months into the year decided it was her duty to teach responsibility to the boys in her third grade class. Yes, I hear all of you laughing at that. The two are almost mutually exclusive terms. Her idea was that she would write the homework assignments on the board as the kids were working on an in-class assignment, not call their attention to what she was doing and then erase it no more than five minutes later. If the kids didn’t manage to get the assignment written down, so sad and too bad.

      When my ex and I went up to meet with the principal and the teacher about it — we were tired of dealing with just her — we discovered that her actions were against district policy. The teacher didn’t care and it was only after we put pressure on the administration that she reluctantly agreed to almost follow policy and make sure the “three students whose parents objected to her methods” wrote down their assignments each day. Her way to “punish” us was to insist that a parent initial the assignment sheet each night to show that we’d actually checked it. Let’s just say she wasn’t back at the school the next year.

      • THIS was POLICY in my kids’ elementary school AND middle school. And what it achieved was to have the boys grades be much lower than the girls. They didn’t remind the kids that assignments should be turned in. In the throes of puberty younger son NEVER remembered to turn them in. He’d have them done, he just didn’t remember (because the assignments would never be for the next day but for say two weeks in the future. Or day x.) The school justified this was “teaching them to hold a job.”
        It’s actually discriminatory. Apparently girls’ sense of “two weeks from now” kicks in a full four years before boys. So, again, a great way to make sure girls do better than boys. (And yep, you totally need to train the boys on projects for work at 12. Don’t you?)

        • Get the doctor to certify that the boy isn’t up to and demand a reasonable accommodation.

          • You brought the boy home to homeschool and he’s now in college, but again, we’re parents who care. I wonder how many boys they’ve destroyed, from parents who didn’t understand what was happening.

        • Yeah, we fought that too. Then there was the teacher who kept saying my son hadn’t turned in work when I knew well and good that he had BECAUSE IT WAS IN HIS BACKPACK AND HAD BEEN GRADED. Turns out the teacher was switching — deliberately or not — my son’s grades with those of one of the girls in the class. Of course, this was the other teacher from hell we had to deal with, the one who was using 5th year Spanish lessons from a book the district wasn’t authorized to use, in a first year Spanish class.

        • “THIS was POLICY in my kids’ elementary school AND middle school.”

          I’ve mentioned here about the teacher my son had last year that I helped get fired. One of the things she did was this kind of thing. She would write the assignments low on the board, out of the line of sight for many of the kids, and it was never for the next day. He had an assignment due every two weeks. No reminders, no nothing.

          Which is why a kid making A’s in every other class barely passed hers.

          Why no, I’m not sorry for my part in her current unemployment. Why do you ask? 😉

      • Amanda, thanks for the column. Parents need the power to fire teachers (just like they do doctors, plumbers, supermarkets etc.)

        Basically, the idea behind school vouchers is to empower parents to get rid of unsatisfactory teachers.

        I”m glad I don’t have kids. I don’t think I could handle the garbage that’s going on.

      • The Elementary and MiddleSchools where I grew up were in neighborhoods heavily salted with instructors for several local colleges. Throughout my childhood these schools hosted, briefly – several teachers who imagined they could intimidate parents because they were Teaching Professionals.

        None of them lasted more than a school year. Several skipped town during their first semester.

  8. Sweet slithering mother of sh*tcakes and syrup, that teacher was messed up.

    And yet, all too typical.

    I remember (shudder) High School. My pseudo-intellectual 11th grade English teacher made us analyze a poem.

    I chose John Gillespie Magee’s “High Flight”, because, at the time, I **WAS** a student pilot. The poem is all about the joy of flight.

    But no, I didn’t understand it, said Mrs. S. It was about war.

    Bovine Excrement, but then English teachers and profs often seem to be full of the proverbial brown substance. . .

    • How can you interpret a poem incorrectly? If I say “this makes me think of/feel X” that is what it makes me think/feel. I suspect she’d be me of those insisting the author’s intent has no bearing on its meaning, as well.

    • questionableprovenance

      Technical edit. It’s Taurine Excrement. Albeit in this case, produced by a cow. Even had it been a male, it would still have been a cow.

    • How can this:

      be about war?

      Jeez. It’s about the joy and freedom of flying.

      ( It was my privilege to fly 00556 and do all those things while you taxpayers paid for it. Thank you one and all. )

      ( Although on the gripping hand, Magee died flying in Great Britain when he went there to volunteer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gillespie_Magee,_Jr. )

      • I remember this well. Shows ended at 10, then the local news, then this, then that freaky test pattern.
        Two channels back in those days, CBS and NBC. Then this upstart ABC came along and it seemed like the choices were endless.

      • How can the poem be about war?

        Easy enough…

        If you believe that males become happy and excited predominantly by violence, and the whole point of civilizing males is teaching them to restrain their inherent violence, then how can a poem that talks about joy in such an unrestrained fashion as ‘High Flight’ be about anything *other* than war?

    • My aunt keeps a small photo of her late husband on an end table in her living room, and it was so striking that I asked her about it. Uncle Al got into the US Army Air Corps at the very end of World War II. The war ended just after he got through training and he never saw combat. The photo shows him in flight gear, old-fashioned flying helmet, goggles on his forehead. It was taken, my aunt told me, right after he soloed for the first time. The expression on Uncle Al’s face is beyond exhilaration, somewhere close to rapture, a smile that could light up a dark room. Looking at that picture, I suddenly understood what “High Flight” was about, at least as much as I can short of actually experiencing the poem’s joy of flight myself. Uncle Al had *been there*, and you could *see* it. If I ever edited something that included “High Flight” or anything else dealing with the joy of flight, I’d borrow that picture and run it alongside, and everyone would understand.
      Sometimes one photograph is worth a dozen English teachers.

    • Of course it was about war. What else could it be about if it had airplanes in it and — gasp — a boy liked it? Idiot teacher.

    • If I understand the arguments of the Deconstructionists aright, the poem was about whatever the h-e-double-toothpicks the reader understood it to be about. Just because that teacher was a sicko obsessed with war, death, destruction and decay does not mean the poet was, much less an 11th-grade boy.

      N.B. — I realize others have raised the Deconstructionisty argument but when I crafted this comment the first such recognition was hours off, so I feel no need to not go ahead and post.

  9. CombatMissionary

    Ugh. I’m going through this right now. A Spanish 4200 assignment taken from a story about a spinster in (my guess is ) the 1800’s. She quietly pines away for love, then ends up miserable because the man she likes marries her sister. More ‘socially relevant ‘ crap. It’s worse than Bill Cosby’s dad telling Bill his life story when Bill asked for a dollar (“uphill. Both ways. For a dollar, THERE WAS NO HAPPINESS.”). I’m thinking about printing off Larry’s blog about English classes ruining reading for kids and slip it in her stack of homework. Of course, it would merely get scoffed at and be the butt of condescension.
    I swear, has ANY Spanish-speaking country ever had a nice day or a happy person? “Time for class! Strip to your skivvies! Get in the pool of misery! Now WALLOW! WALLOW! WALLOW!”

    • all modeled after Cervantes. But he could add in some classical comedy to his wallowing. It has just gotten distilled out over time.

      • That’s the problem of modeling yourself (generic) after someone who you don’t yet have the skill to emulate. You usually miss the part that made what they did work.

        • If I remember correctly, this is called Mannerism; the imitation of a manner without understanding the motive, which produces hollow art.

          Example; Robert Plant wails because he has noticed that many great blues and jazz singers sound like the instruments they do call-and-response with. He does call-and-rsponse with Jimmy Page’s electric guitar, so he tries to sing like an electric guitar. Result; pretty good call-and-response segments echoing the blues the Led Zeppelin players admired.

          People influenced by Zeppelin and/or Plant hear him wail and copy it without knowing the reason. Result; they sound like they have their genitalia caught in a mangle.

    • There’s plenty of great Spanish stuff, (Spanish Prof here so I’m biased). It’s much happier than German lit. The trouble is that pretty much everything written in the 1800’s sucked Realism and Naturalism are horrible, although the romantic stuff from (Romanticism not romance) the 1830’s can be a lot of fun. The best stuff is Golden age (Cervantes, Tirso, Lope etc) and Early 20th century. The 20th century stuff is dark, but good. The Golden age stuff just rocks.

      • CombatMissionary

        When I was about 16 I read a good English translation of Don Quixote. Now THERE was a man who could write! I remember trying not to laugh out loud in the middle of the library when Sancho said, “I swear by my wife’s little black mustache!”

        I work with a couple of Spanish professors, and I talked about this with them as well. In the end I think that the problem with la Generacion del 98 (my understanding is they were a bunch of communists and wrote the same kind of drivel about how miserable life is; correct me if I’m wrong, I’d hate to misbrand good authors and lump them in with idiots) is the same as in American history with some of the stuff Puritans would force their kids to read, or that very strict Catholics would teach to their kids: hopelessness and despair is as useful a tool to control the masses for Marxists as it is for certain religious groups (not knocking Catholicism now, but some Catholics in some countries in some times; any religion has a few bad apples).

        This is where authors like Jane Austen differ from your boilerplate rich-guilt Marxist authors who wallow in human suffering: yes, Austen recognized problems in the system, but also recognized the benefits a system had, and recognized how that system allowed individuals to learn and grow, and saw how a simple tweak to the system could benefit many without throwing out the entire government/throwing the baby out with the bath water. I was actually VERY pleasantly surprised when I read Pink and White Tyranny by Harriet Beecher Stowe in this way.

        Thanks, I appreciate the recommendations. I’ll have to look up some of your recommendations so I can avoid getting turned off by the “woe-unto-mankind” literature I’m being forced into right now.

        • Your point on Austen’s distinction from more didactic writers hits one of the keys — the others see the system as the problem and seek to replace it with a more perfect system. Austen recognizes that all human systems are inherently flawed, and that their evaluation should rely on the benefits as well as on the costs.

    • I swear, has ANY Spanish-speaking country ever had a nice day or a happy person? “Time for class! Strip to your skivvies! Get in the pool of misery! Now WALLOW! WALLOW! WALLOW!”

      Don’t know.

      Worse, all the spanish stuff literary types go gaga over are by (often card carrying) communists and socialists.

      Take Pablo Neruda. Please.

      Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His non-fiction kidnapping book is fairly level headed, but the rest that I read reeked of depression and condescension, even if it was poetic depression. I gave up after two or three novels

      • CombatMissionary

        If you’re going to be depressed, at least have the courtesy to be a bad-ass Russian. Even for bad-ass Russians, it’s only one of their THREE moods. 😀

      • You read THAT MANY? Yes, he’s a communist. Friend of Castro.

        • In all fairness I read his non-fiction on the narco kidnappings (Rumors of a Kidnapping?) first. It was actually a decent story and stuck to facts/etc. Then “Chronicles of a Death Foretold” where the class issues and villager condescension were pretty obvious, and due to insistence by relatives from Colombia that he was “awesome, poetic, etc.” slogged through Melancholy Wars.

          Never touched anything else.

  10. “Looking back now, I realize I had just met a GHHer in training.”
    Nope, have to disagree. What you encountered was a hard core “True Believer.” From your description she wasn’t just tending towards some radical beliefs, she was using (I would say abusing) her power as an authority figure to twist her students minds into her one true belief system. Were it in her power to do so I am positive she would have either kept the male students locked in cages or had them dressed in pretty frocks, playing with dolls, and lined up for gender correction surgery. At some level knew she couldn’t get away with that, much as she would have liked to, so limited herself to inflicting as much punishment as was in her power on the boys for their terrible crime of being male.
    Saddest thing is, someone like this will continue to inflict their poisonous principles on poor innocent students for their entire careers which can span 30 or 40 years. They really need to be driven from the teaching profession and find jobs where they have zero ability to warp and damage other people.
    I’d say food service, but they are the sort who would spin in a man’s order because he looked at her funny.

    • CombatMissionary

      You mean she’d spit in his order for daring to have a penis. 😀

      • Exactamundo! A certain number of these precious flowers are firmly convinced that they live in constant fear of rape for the good and sufficient reason that there are males of the species sharing the same continent with them. Of course they tend to have a similar attitude towards firearms.

  11. Wayne Blackburn

    Now, the article said that these are Authors, right? Wouldn’t Authors be expected to read, in order to learn about the subjects they want to write about? So why does anyone need to pay them to do so?

    • none of the authors I know would be considered unread. They might complain they don’t have enough reading time, but then you see them reading a ton more than most other people to begin with, but they wish to read even more.

    • Frankly, I’ve learned a lot of ‘hidden history’ in working on my novels. And thank heaven for Amazon and their letting people sell used books – I’ve picked up a fair number that have been long out of print, or used for a small fraction of the Kindle pricing…

      But ‘pay’ me to read? I’m getting paid just by reading!

    • Wayne, you’d think so but I know too many — usually newbies — who are proud to say they don’t read or they don’t read in the genre they write in. It is mind boggling.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I’m having trouble even describing what that statement is doing to me. My arms are quivering, my head is shaking, and my eyes rolled so hard and fast that it sounded like they left burnout marks when they hit the floor.

        • I kid you not. I have seen comments from writers who say they won’t read in the genre they write in because they don’t want their unique ideas polluted by what others have written. Then there are those who are terrified of writing something and then being accused of plagiarism because their book has a spaceship in it and so did this book they read. How in the world are they going to prove they didn’t copy the idea from that particular author?

          • Well, I am one of those writers who doesn’t read any fiction set in the time and place of whatever current project I am working on. Non-fiction and memoirs and contemporary documents, heck, yeah – that’s where I get my best ideas from. I pick up ideas and characters and situations like a ground-squirrel on crack – and I just want to be absolutely certain that whatever makes into my own book was not from some other scribbler of fiction. When the project is done, then I will check it out.

            • That’s a totally different matter, Celia. I don’t read much, if any, fiction in the genre of my current wip. I do it so I can keep my “voice” from morphing into that of whatever I might be reading. But before and after I happen to be working on a particular project, you bet I’m reading in that genre.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Well, that sounds (to me) more like you don’t want to repeat their errors of fact. [Wink]

              • Well, that too – but when I’m doing the research for a plot and all, I will stumble over the oddest things and incidents and think -‘Oh, I have to put THAT in The Book!’ It’s a random and unpredictable impulse, and I’d just rather that it be sourced to an actual historic person or incident, and not someone else’s take on it.

            • Yes. You might want to avoid it while you’re writing it. I do too. Reading a novel set in China while writing Shakespeare suddenly I had the nightsoil collectors using wooden clappers instead of bells.
              BUT what Amanda means is “I’ve never read anything in this genre I’m writing.”

          • I’ve been in arguments with people like this, so I can confirm.

          • I have a very good friend who has talked a lot about being a writer, though he’s never actually written anything so far as I know. He used to brag that he didn’t read and that publishers liked that since it meant everything was unique.

            I guess it never dawned on him, or any of these other people, that you need to read in order to make sure some element of yours hasn’t already been done to death.

          • “they don’t want their unique ideas polluted by what others have written.”

            This is how we get supposedly Literary Giants writing what the Critics are pleased to call Magical Realism; as if Ray Bradbury wasn’t doing that, rather better, in the 1950’s.

            *spit*

            It is also how we get so many bad pastiches of Raymond Chandler; they get him third hand through the imitators, and so come out with copies of copies of copies, which are just as blurry and unreadable as if they were court generation xeroxes.

      • Earth 2. TV Sci-Fi created by morons with just that same mindset.

        It was an abomination, but they were SO proud of it.

        • If you start with the assumption that all SF is crap written for barely literate nerds you cannot help but realise there is no point to reading anything previously written in the genre. The readers should get down on their knees and thank you for bestowing such brilliance on them.

          When the book tanks it is obviously because the fan base is too ignorant to grasp the enormity of you.

  12. De-manify certainly conveys the concept, and so is a word, but a better one may have been emasculate.

  13. I read stuff like this, and get really discouraged.

    And then I remember that there are fun characters out there, and fun reading and shows, and I feel a little better.

    After all, if Major Alex Louis Armstrong (Full Metal Alchemist) is a thing, the world can’t be all bad.

  14. It’s funny that Amanda wrote this, when I wrote this yesterday:

    http://tlknighton.com/?p=136

    It’s about how schools kill the love of reading. To make matters worse on a personal level, my son told me that his school required him to check out books from the school library, rather than the public library or anywhere else. I asked him to have the teacher call me, so that didn’t make it into the post.

    Luckily for me, his teacher has a brain and said he can get his books from anywhere he wants. Now, to get him to pick up some Heinlein, Bradbury, and so on. 🙂

    • CombatMissionary

      Here’s your Good Dad Award!
      You sneaky, underhanded, INVOLVED PARENT, you!

    • Best thing my “special ed” teacher did for me was write out Official Orders that I was allowed to check out books from anywhere in the library. (basically, removed me from the “demonstrate you can read this before you can go to the next level” program that had classified me as unable to read)

      This, of course, resulted in an “amazing” leap from illiterate to third grade level reading, and the next year to sixth. (Second grade teacher had classic Hardy Boys in the back of the room; that one had taught my aunt thirty some years before, so he’d run into enough similar folks that he didn’t even blink.)

      Really makes a body wonder how many people that “can’t read” are really just, ahem, strong headed– the limit I hit was interest, not ability.

    • Tom, I swear I didn’t read your blog. I was head down, butt in chair writing 😉

      As for the school requiring all books to come from the school library, yep, that happens down here too. It is the district’s attempt to “protect” our little darlings from all the bad influences they might find at the public library. I mean, they might pick up a book by — gasp — Ringo or Weber or Drake or Hoyt. Or any other number of authors who aren’t on the “approved reading list”. You are lucky that he has a teacher who knows better and would rather encourage him to read than punish him for doing something good for him.

      • I didn’t figure you did. I wrote mine yesterday morning…about the time that Sarah would have run yours had she not doing the character thing.

        Honestly, that would have been creepy. Someone might have thought we had our own version of Journo-list. 🙂

        As for the school library, I’m just glad it was a misunderstanding. Last year, my son took the CRCT testing and scored very high all around. However, I was curious what his reading level worked out as. Thankfully, in this world of the internet, I found he was reading at an 11th grade to 12th grade reading level.

        Honestly, if he HAD been restricted to his school library, it would have been…interesting, to say the least. 🙂

    • The thing about Steinbeck is that he can be fun. He wrote a lot of things that aren’t Deadly Serious. THE SHORT REIGN OF PIPPIN IV springs to mind. His war reporting (collected as ONCE THERE WAS A WAR) is worth reading, and has some unexpected laughs, such as how he ‘evaded’ a censorship rule about not saying the men gambled by describing how they were mad for Parcheesi, but had greatly abbreviated the game, which they played on a blanket.

      But Grapes of Wrath is only really gripping if you are interested in that particular moment in time. It is a fantastic example of what Tom Wolfe has called the ‘novel of reporting’, but you have to care about what he’s report in on.

      • Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday were lovely and funny books – They’d be a lot more fun reading than Of Mice and Men or East of Eden, which was a pretty grim slog.

      • and not know the truth he was distorting?

        • All reporting distorts. It’s unavoidable. Steinbeck told the story of the Oakies he met as well as he could. Did he have a point of view? Sure. Show me a writer who doesn’t. Did he now all the facts? No. Nobody at the time knew, for instance, that archeological study would later strongly suggest that the “Dust Bowl” was a recurring phenomenon that had happened before long before the white man ever set foot in North America. Is his point of view worth examining, if not for the “truth” about the Oakies, then for he truth about the PERCEPTION of the Oakies that dominated at the time and since? Yes.

          But I am the son of two History teachers. I am used to thinking in terms of Historiography. I suspect that modern Liberal Public School Teachers would LOATHE me.

      • At this point, if given the choice between a gruesome death and reading Steinbeck…

        …well, I don’t know for a fact that I’d pick a gruesome death, but it’ll be close either way.

  15. Reblogged this on A Life Un-Lived and commented:
    A worthy essay.

  16. All this makes me wonder what The School System is going to try and slam down my daughter’s throat when the time comes. “No, dear, Daddy ISN’T a mass-raping, mass-killing, homophobic racists. Why do you ask?”

  17. Add to that a very brutal attempted rape scene, thwarted by – wait for it – the ghost

    Was the ghost of the formerly male persuasion by any change? Would that, then, make the intended takeaway that “the only good man is a…”

    • Oh boy… bet pointing that out would set some people off…

      😛

      On another note, I’m suddenly reminded of a book that I read for a community college sci-fi/fantasy lit class. The protagonist was female, as were a good-sized chunk of the supporting cast. There were exactly three prominent males in the book… and the only decent one was an android. That’s not to say that the other two were violent examples of male chauvinism. Quite the contrary. But they also weren’t exactly people that you’d have a great deal of respect for. The fact that the “real” males weren’t exactly great specimens of manhood did not go unnoticed among the rather annoyed male members of the class.

    • Of course not, David. It was the poor female victim of the attempted rapist who either was killed during her own rape or who later took her own life — I don’t remember which. So she became the avenging angel, protecting one of the sisterhood against the evil that is man.

  18. Sigh … this is why I made my newest book a YA, and deliberately angled it as an adventure in the old west for boys … especially tweeners, lest they have every bit of joy in adventure beaten out of them by idiots like Amanda’s son’s teacher.

    Back in the day, when I was in junior high school, there were two sets of reading lists; one for boys, one for girls. I thoroughly despised the girl’s booklist. They were all books about popularity, mean girls, getting boyfriends, et bloody cetera – all of which bored me into a stupor. I much preferred the boys’ book list, which were all about adventure, exploration, daring, danger – the good stuff. Looks as if the kids’ books situation has not only changed 180 degrees, but has turned into a kind of pretzel.

    And you kids – get off my lawn!

    • Interestingly, when I worked at a school (generic temp help computer fixer takes you to a LOT Of interesting places where you can’t help but eaves drop on things.) they said the 3rd-5th-ish grade boys checked out Nancy Drew books over even the Hardy Boys books when they weren’t allowed at the comic books. Took me a while to figure out why. The Hardy Boys books always seemed more about the background story and the Nancy Drew ones were more about the mystery. I also wonder, now, if it helped that the boys for that one were always viewed as the cavalry for when the girls needed backup. That particular set of librarians were happy to funnel ANY book at the kids that would get them to read.

    • CombatMissionary

      My boys will be reading plenty of Louis L’Amour and Allan Quartermain. [EVIL GRIN]

      • Well, then … how about my own next book (discrete and self-deprecating cough) which is all about the exciting adventures of a young Texas ranger and his Delaware Indian blood-brother, set in the 1840s, Lone Star Sons is simply loaded with mystery, adventure, true to life characters of the time and not a smidgen of Political Correctitude … and for which I am just this week taking advance orders?
        http://www.celiahayes.com/lone-star-sons
        Any resemblance to the original and heavily copyright-protected Lone Ranger … I started from that concept and carefully filed off all the identifying marks.

        • Does everyone die? Seriously, you give George R.R. Martin a run for his money!:-)

          • Nah … most everyone lives. But they do tend to come across dead bodies often enough, to the point where the hero does wonder if he’s in the last act of Hamlet, and maybe he should have some grave-diggers following him around.

        • I have a great outlined-but-unwritten story that goes into great detail about why said ranger carries silver bullets.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Obviously, there were Werewolves and other critters that could only be killed by silver bullets. [Grin]

            Seriously, there was a horror comic set in the Old West with a young person having to fight Werewolves.

            The young person was saved by this masked man and his Indian companion who killed the Werewolves with silver bullets. [Smile]

            Mind you, I look forward to reading your take on the idea.

            • Eh, werewolves and silver was a Hollywood myth. Along with werewolves and the moon.

              Demonic creatures, OTOH, or people who sold their souls to the devil for invulnerability.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Hey! Going back to the original folklore isn’t Fair!! [Evil Grin]

                But yes, the Vampires & Werewolves of the folklore are much different than how they’re shown in books, movies and TV shows.

          • Wendigo? Do Apache have wendigo?

          • Alas, the silver bullet thing was one of those identifiable markings that I had to carefully file off. But at the suggestion of one of the alpha readers I put in a very elegant twist regarding bullets in the first adventure.

            There’s half a sample chapter on my website, along with a paypal button for pre-orders – but the book itself is released on October 15th.

      • Excellent books for them. Throw in some Kipling while you’re at it.

        • I’d add the Sharpe’s Rifles series by Bernard Cornwell to that list also.
          Lots of blood and gore and about as sneaky as L’Amour at slipping in historical facts.

          • Hear hear for Richard Bloody Sharpe!
            Not only historical fact but social convention. He is a nice segue to the Flashman Papers.

    • “They were all books about popularity, mean girls, getting boyfriends, et bloody cetera”

      Kinda like Girl’s cartoons.

  19. It sounds like not only was lucky to have been born before this stuff happened, but also that I was very fortunate. My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Anderson, went out of his way to encourage his students to read. He took about an hour every day to read a chapter from a novel. Since this was right after lunch, it gave us a chance to settle down. He also had a small class library where we could borrow a book for as long as we needed. Not this ‘relevant’ stuff but things like “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “Bambi” and “Escape to Witch Mountain”. (Witch Mountain was arguably my first exposure to SF. I don’t think I read Star Beast till that summer. It’s been a few decades so my memory isn’t quite clear.) I’m sure there were ‘relevant’ books there, but no one told us we had to read them.

    By the end of that year I was reading two grade levels ahead of the curve, a trend that would be maintained up into HS. It wasn’t until after college, and getting into the “real world”, that my reading slowed to a mere two, or three, books a year.

    (Now I wish I could persuade my step-niece that while “Diary of a Wimp Kid” is good, there is so much more out there to explore. –sigh- Alas, I have been unsuccessful to far.)

  20. When it comes to some of the teaching crowd… it’s a bad idea to get me started.

    I’ve posted too often about several teachers who effectively said, despite their moral preening and smug superiority – that they’re LESS competent to make morel and emotional judgements or operate devices than the average high schooler.

    I’ve dealt with solipsists.

    I’ve dealt with the union supporters who can’t understand why I have contempt for the eye rolling when home schooling or private schools are mentioned. “But they don’t have to have certificates or meet standards” – ignoring that in most cases, the non-credentialed and homeschoolers well exceed the standards – and by far more than the ones who went to school for four years so they could learn what most people with knowledge on a subject can learn in a few months.

    And don’t get me started on Howard Zinn

  21. Tom’s link led me to this: http://bookwhisperer.com/2014/09/07/language-arts-and-crafts/

    Relevant Paragraph:

    Our younger daughter, Sarah, is a high school sophomore this year. Sarah is a reader. Well, Sarah was a reader. Her dad and I hope she will be a reader in the future. She doesn’t read much any more. Burdened with pointless assignments for English class, Sarah doesn’t have time to read or write at home. Her English teacher doesn’t give Sarah and her classmates time to read or write at school, either.

    Gods – the stupid assignments. No more reading something and writing a paper, but instead putting together dioramas and posters, etc.

    A chemistry class I walked into the other night had posters on the wall, made by students, of basic safety rules.

    Yes, I want the kids to learn the safety rules – but the time spent doing ONE poster could have been handled by the same class instruction (had to cover all of them anyway, right?) and rewriting them. It’s not like they won’t review relevant precautions before a given lab.

    And the kids would likely have learned them better. Maybe even gotten quizzed.

    • somehow I didn’t check notifications. Darn

    • The older I get, the more I realize that I was lucky my Parents sent me to the (private) school they did. Every English and History class had a semi-explicit subtext of trying to teach us to write a tightly reasoned paper to explicit form. I.E.; if the teacher says “one page” and you write three, you fail (you could get away with two, if you wrote well). We were also expected to read about 35 pages, per class, per night, and were explicitly instructed in speed reading to help us do so (I learned that that was how I already read). Most English and History classes would require at least one paper written IN CLASS per week, in addition to other work. Most such papers were announced in advance, and if you have the stones to bring in a paper already written (extra credit for typed) you got compliments (unless the paper sucked).

      I dropped out of college. For a lot of reasons, of which perhaps the most important was that the college I went to was determined to reiterate what I had just spent four years doing, and they weren’t as good at it. But I can read for content, read quickly, and argue on paper. I can think for myself (another thing my school favored), and can self-teach. I am ahead of a lot of BA’s who just went with the flow.

      And miles ahead of most Ed degrees.

  22. William O. B'Livion

    …when my kids were in elementary, there was a city program where they were given incentives to read. Read x pages get a burger. Read x pages get a movie ticket.

    Barnes and Noble had a summer reading program where the reward for reading some number of books was another book.

    Daughter was going to read anyway, so might as well…

    • Yes. Books for reading makes sense.

      That’s how I got my first copy of The Hobbit.

    • Our local library gives entries to a lotto for two free books a week for their summer reading program.

      It’s perfect, if we assume they’ve got a good selection of free books– the kids who will absolutely devour dozens of books get dozens of entries, and get some books for home. The less likely they are to have books at home, the more likely they are to be checking out higher numbers of books.

      • Our summer reading program does that as well as offering other prizes. The more books you read, the more entries you get and the more little prizes that you receive.

        • Yes, books for reading is PERFECT. I forgot to enter the kids in the summer reading program this year, but in my defense, we were so busy that I could barely schedule everything as it was. (One unexpected thing was Grandma Summer Camp. At the end of the family vacation to visit her, she kept the kids for another ten days while my husband and I went home. It was weird and productive…)

  23. Funny thing, I was almost held back in 1st grade because I could barely read. They went ahead and promoted me because one of the teachers realized that the problem I had wasn’t reading but reading out loud, I was so shy that I couldn’t read out loud in front of more than one person. My second grade teacher was a genius, she gave rewards for reading books and giving her a report. The reward either a small piece of candy or a chance to spend some time in the ‘activity center’ my AD/HD afflicted 8 year old self basically lived in the activity center for the first half of the school year. When I ran out of books to read in the classroom they let me go up stairs to the ‘big kids’ library and by the time they moved me to the 2nd/3rd grade combination class I was reading at a high school level.

    • You were lucky that the first teacher recognized the problem and the second teacher built on your love of reading. I wish we had more teachers who were allowed to do that sort of thing. Now they are too busy having to check all the boxes and make sure everyone is being treated the same, to the detriment of all.

  24. There’s always plenty of time in class to read. You just totally ignore the timewasting excuse for an English teacher.

    Er… of course, I can’t really recommend that as an adult, but….

    • This method is not recommended for science classes. (found that out the hard way. not that it stopped me)

      • Depends on the class. I had a great science teacher that would lay out what he was going to teach us, and then switch to a different style– lecture, book, paperwork.

        Paperwork was handed out at the start.

        I’d do the paperwork while listening to him– in case I ran into something that I hadn’t already learned– and then I was free to do whatever I felt like.

        He’d occasionally test this by asking questions of whoever was not paying attention, but he played fair– it would go:
        NAME!
        *pause to get eye contact*
        *ask relevant question that might require a little putting together*

        Good teacher. Didn’t screw with folks who weren’t doing something.

      • um.. science and history moved slow enough that I usually read two paperbacks and wrote 2k words in the WIP per day. My classmates all were onto the WIP, btw (truly wretched science fiction, but they liked it.) When I brought out the notebook I wrote it in, the entire class started giggling (it was a sign I’d got bored.) Once a Portuguese teacher read them the riot act for making fun of me for taking notes…

      • Depends on whether the science teacher ever says anything worthwhile. I only had two that ever did, and one of them could care less what you were doing (as long as you weren’t disrupting others), or even if you showed up for class or not. He taught much like it was a college class, graded entirely on your work without taking attendance into account. I had him as both a sophomore and a senior, and the senior class was an ‘advanced’* class that was almost entirely lab work. He handed out assignments, you went back in the lab and did them, he was always available to ask questions of, but otherwise he left you to your work, you turned in your work when you were done and he told you when he was giving out the next assignment (many assignments were allotted a week or so to finish).

  25. Word press, for some unknown reason, left me out of auto send today…

  26. I don’t have kids but I usually buy my nieces and nephews books for their birthdays and at Christmas. I’m trying to make help them all love reading enough to offset the effects of public school. The 11 year old boy has already read Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings. This summer he was reading A Princess of Mars. It warms my heart, it does.

    • I’ve done similar things, though I have to look a bit further out as the old classic YA standbys have already been made available. I bought The Chronicles of Prydain for one young relative. I got another one a copy of Brandon Sanderson’s ‘The Rithmatist’. There’s a ton of stuff out there. It’s just a matter of making it available.

      • All kinds of good stuff out there – Yes, agree with the Chronicles of Prydain. Also Rosemary Sutcliff’s YA novels about the Romans in Britain, and the aftermath. The Borrowers is another good series. Edward Eager had a wonderful series about adventurous kids in a magical world – I’m going to order them for my niece and nephew this Christmas. Sally Watson is another writer whose books I ate up when I was a kid; there was a series with a common family tree set in England, Scotland and Colonial America, and another set in Israel.

        • There are still classics of American youth literature available, e.g., Johnny Tremain, Ben & Me (as well as Mr. Revere & I), Rascal and numerous others.

          Andrew Klavan has written some very good YA thrillers for the HS aged which might well be suited to younger readers.

        • Also, going slightly more modern, Patricia Wrede’s Talking to Dragons series, or Dianna Wynne Jones, or Susan Cooper.

    • The excision of Capt. John Carter of Barsoom from the public is not really surprising. John Carter (the hero) was a cavalry captain hold his commission in the Army of Northern Virginia. Can’t have unrepentant confederates as heroes you know.

      • I suspect it has more to do with the smoking hot naked repeated damsel in distress than it does to do with the Confederacy…

        • I do not. Burroughs made his heroes totally unacceptable to GHHs and SJWs, Carter’s views of blacks, well elucidated in his description of the First Born, is easily taken offense to. The fact that this also eliminates a book where the hero (male) is expected to rescue and protect women, while at the same time showing them respect; is just a side benefit.

  27. Growing up I don’t believe I ever read (except, perhaps, by accident) a single damn thing that was on a School Summer Reading list. Nor do I believe I ever, in all those summers, failed to read, on average, at least a book a day.

    Reading lists are bollocks — kids need free reading just as they need free play. The regimentation imposed by our academics is a violation of human individuality. The GHHs who think <Imagine a fine song seem dedicated to stifling imagination.

    Of course, imagination leads to ideas, ideas lead to innovations, innovations lead to change and we don’t need none o’ that here.

    • Thing is, Summer Reading Lists are really meant for one of two situations. The first is that the teacher specifically wants to review one of the books when the summer is over. I had a high school teacher who sent out letters to all of his incoming students giving them a heads up on this (of course, the books in question were “The House of the Spirits”, and either “Native Son” or “Black Boy” – I can’t remember which of the two; so they weren’t exactly books that I would have read for my own enjoyment).

      The other situation that a reading list is designed for is when the kids in question wouldn’t otherwise be reading. This sort of list is supposed to get kids excited about reading when they’d otherwise be letting their eyes glaze over in front of the TV. Of course, the last thing you want on this kind of list is books that are described as “getting kids used to the cruel realities of the real world!”

      • Now as I think on it, the Daughtorial Unit had a class (I vaguely recall it as being fourth grade rising to fifth) that had a summer don’t read list. The teacher wanted to do Redwall in the Fall but was concerned the kids in that group would devour the series if they discovered it before Summer fully began.

        Needless concern, I think. Most of those kids would have stared declaring the books repetitive after the tenth or twelfth book.

    • I read most of the Summer Reading I was assigned, but then it was pretty good reading;

      GONE WITH THE WIND
      THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
      TOM SAWYER (which, technically, I was re-reading)
      several Shakespeare plays…

      Don’t really remember the rest.

  28. I didn’t have a summer reading list until high school. It was a private school, and they actually would give us the theme ahead of time and ask for suggestions. Somehow or other, I got Ender’s Game on the list one year* (I don’t remember the theme, but it barely skated through on it. Understanding the Other, perhaps?) I was also responsible for most of the science fiction choices available in the school library, as the librarian knew nothing of F&SF and would ask for my opinion. Though she somehow managed to stumble onto C.S. Friedman before I did…

    We were supposed to read three choices from the list. Of course, I read all of them, which made for some interesting cross-genre essays when the school year started…

    *”Everybody, put down ‘Ender’s Game.'”

    • I’m seeing Ender’s Game pop up repeatedly on those “name the top ten books that you’ve read!” challenges that my friends keep passing around on Facebook.

    • My school must have been out of sync, I don’t believe I ever heard of such a thing as a summer reading list until it came up in discussions here. If I had I certainly wouldn’t have read anything on it, out of principle. The summers were my time off of school, I certainly wasn’t doing schoolwork then.

  29. Speaking as someone a few years removed from the educations system, I got lucky, apparently–I managed to avoid most of the “Men are teh evuls!” nonsense. (Southern public schools for the win!)
    Anyway, as to summer reading: always a chore, and it was a coin flip whether or not the book would be okay. Best summer reading was senior year, when the book was “Starship Troopers.”
    Of course, there were complaints, with one mother going to Amazon and giving the book a negative review, complaining that her teenage daughter couldn’t identify with the main character and couldn’t the school have read Twilight instead…

    • If your teenage daughter identifies with the protagonist in TWILIGHT, put her analyst on danger money, baby. Now.

      • Twilight: A teenage girls struggle to decide between Necrophilia and Bestiality.

        • Twilight: A teenage girls struggle to decide between Necrophilia and Bestiality

          LOL

          • *snicker* My daughter calls it “Tw*tlight”. Her once-best-friend from high school alas, turned out to be a passionate fan. Daughter casually asked friend ‘what this Twilight book was about’ … three hours later, friend had gotten up to the second book…
            They are no longer friends, but I am sure this had NOTHING to do with it.

            • The joke I’ve heard is that Kristin Stewart’s performance is proof that she’s the world’s first successful artificial intelligence.

            • They are no longer friends, but I am sure this had NOTHING to do with it.

              That’s sad.

              But then I’m thinking of the poor guy the friend ends up marrying.

              Three hours on Twilight. Wow.

              • Alas, friend has been married for years, to a nice but slightly shady guy. Daughter and Friend broke up over business differences, actually. They started a Teeny Artistic Business together, since Friend is artistic and so is Daughter – Friends’ Father was going to fund it, and was all for the partnership since my daughter is levelheaded and organized. But Friend took exception to the wording of a post that I made in support of the Teeny Artistic Business, Daughter got totally POed over that … and went all independent and formed her own Teeny Artistic Business. She doesn’t care for High Drama, having had more than her regular issue of same as a Marine. Friend apparently lives on High Drama and foments it for the heck of it. Life is too short to spend it enabling Friend’s constant demand for high drama.
                Long story – too much information? Yeah, probably so.

                • Friends should never go into business with friends.

                  It sounds like the Twilight fan was looking for a nice but slightly shady guy and I wish them luck.

                  Sometimes you gotta get things off your chest 🙂

                  • Alas, it might have worked … but for Friend’s desire for constant drama … and bad impulse-control. My daughter was not willing to put up with that,

                  • CombatMissionary

                    My wife MADE me read all three books, and we’ve seen the first two movies [SHUDDER]. Luckily, in all other respects, she’s a gem, and we’re still married. And you’ll be happy to know, after extensive discussions about Bella’s daddy issues; Edward’s self-loathing and stalkers and control issues; Jacob’s complementary fixation on Bella; Bella using Jacob and stringing him along and her inability to pick one guy and stick with him, and finally the overriding sexual fixation that pervades the entire book; my wife’s enthusiasm has cooled considerably.
                    Plus, she puts up with our yard looking like a used car lot, so I can’t complain TOO loudly.

  30. Whenever you hear “educators” complaining that the parents “are not involved” remember they do their worst to make that the case.

    • When “educators” complain that parents are not involved, just close your eyes and imagine the shrieks of outrage they would be emitting if those same parents DID ‘involve’ themselves.

  31. I can’t remember ANY of the books I was MADE to read in school worth a damn. (“Ethan Frome”? 5th grade? Seriously?) But I remember EVERY SINGLE THING I was ever yelled at for reading.

    • We read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in high school (English II). Aside fro that the only things I specifically remember are “Great Expectations” and “Silas Marner”

      (The horror. The horror.)

    • Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Nights Dream, 1984 and the Old Testament (the same teacher for all of those, in one year. To this day I have no idea if he was a Christian or not, but as he explained to the class, he had convinced the school district to allow him to teach the Old Testament by explaining he was not teaching religion, and religion was not discussed in class, but that it was impossible to understand a lot of literature and almost all classical literature without having a working knowledge of the Old Testament that was constantly being referenced and referred to in those works. He was GOOD) I remember the gist of a few other books, but those are the only books of assigned reading I enjoyed between fourth grade (when we were assigned Frosty, a book about a raccoon that I enjoyed then, but not having read since I remember primarily as being similar to Rascal, which I had read around the same time) and graduation.

      • He was absolutely correct. Under this realization, at 14, I read the Bible cover to cover three times. The side effect is that I re-upped into religion after leaving it at 12. The looked for effect was a deeper understanding of Shakespeare, Austen, etc.

        • He was absolutely correct. Under this realization, at 14, I read the Bible cover to cover three times.

          Dittos that. Reading the Bible on my own for the first time was a serious “Wow” experience. I was like “this was not what they told me this book was”.

          I compare it to the intelligence enhancer on Forbidden Planet. I swear it caused my IQ to jump 20 points. At least it caused me to organize my thinking and see through BS regardless of how fashionable the BS was.

          • This is part of why I have maintained for some years that study of American Literature is now impossible.

            There are two great ur-novels at the root of American Lit: Huck Finn and Moby Dick (don’t make me have to explain why.)

            The first cannot be studied because of the N-Word (so much for words not being capable of inflicting pain.)

            The latter is impossible to properly understand if you do not know the Bible and thus the meaning of the book’s very opening line, “Call me Ishmael.”

            • Huck Finn and Moby Dick are probably the greatest in American lit.

              Of course, (no offense to the Steinbeck haters) try to even explain East of Eden without referring to the Bible.

            • I enjoyed the Reader’s Digest condensed version of Moby Dick, but when I tried reading the un-abridged version I stalled out at the multi-page explanation of why whales were actually fish.

              • Yes, I was stopped by that part also. Up to that point, I was considering the book, shall we say, restful. 😉

                Maybe I should see if I can find the Reader’s Digest version.

  32. sigh… of course they don’t want people to read for comfort. then they might choose Unapproved Books and those people might learn Unapproved Ideas. That Cannot Be Tolerated. Yes They Think In Capitalized Sentences. (h/t John Ringo)

  33. accordingtohoyt | September 9, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
    A page for M “The monsters are moping” “The monsters meet mirror men” “the mirror men make monsters merry”

    Is in the mail as we speak.

    Less than five bucks for a used hardback in “good” condition. The example quoted here is the kind of thing I think my Princess will eat like candy.

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