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post #241 of 345

 

It's amazing how many scientific concepts I have picked up from SF. I'm with you there. 

 

But I started with a rigorous formal grounding in the basic branches of science, did a subset of the Great Books (no normal person can do them all!) at the secondy and postsecondary levels, and that's the absolute min-bar for my kids, who are privileged to have access to prep school and two well-educated parents. (If my DH were in this thread, he would add a min-bar for formal mathematical study, and it would be waaaay above Algebra II where I quit.)

post #242 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

(That's "functional literacy," which is not an insult, BTW.)  


When it's compared to "actual literacy," I think it could be seen as one.  

 

 

 

 

post #243 of 345


Quote:

Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

 

This is one of the most classicist posts I have seen in a long time.

 

Grammar and proofreading, OP. Teach your children not to make unintentional puns when they are trying to lay the smake down. smile.gif

 

But the hilarity inspires a serious point - give your children a very broad and thorough classical education if you want them to be socially mobile and/or to enrich the modest social stratum which they may inhabit in adulthood. I am surrounded by homeschoolers (many of who are poor by any definition, it truly runs the gamut socioeconomically) who have observed that while functional literacy is holding steady in our society (I can read and understand a menu, a job application, and a traffic ticket), actual literacy (I can read and understand Shakespeare, the KJV, and my AP Biology textbook) is sharply declining in public schools. You know where actual literacy is NOT permitted to decline? Exeter, Choate, and the Boston Latin School. Most people can't pay for that kind of secondary education, but you can make good headway into it with some judicious afterschooling and academic summer programs, even if homeschooling is not for you.

 

Have your kids study Latin and ancient literature. Classicists, as opposed to classists, have been successfully mingling with rich folks for quite some time. And the mental training confers many other benefits unrelated to social mobility. 

 

I think this is a little bit like saying "Okay, you can balance your cheque book, and figure out how many days a tank of gas will last you, but you haven't learned calculus so you don't actually understand math." I think 'actual literacy' is being able to convey your meaning, and understand another person's meaning through text.

 

I enjoy reading Shakespeare, but it's a different kind of reading. The closest thing to it that I've seen in modern day writing is legal documents... you can't focus on every word and sentence, you have to read a few more lines before get the gist of what's being said or it's totally overwhelming. Educating oneself in certain topics might be advantageous if you're trying to fit into a certain crowd, but I wouldn't assume that literature was the thing to know. (I just had to spell check 'literature', oops! ha ha)

 

 

post #244 of 345
I hate Shakespeare. I find it dull & repetitive.

I have 2 college degrees, have read a ton throughout my life... in the realm of hundreds of books a year, until I had a kid & got too busy. But I mostly read medical or psych books, I have no patience for fiction, whether it's Shakespeare or JK Rowling, though I do enjoy poetry (not so much classical poets...)

I have to admit, I think of the people who like Shakespeare as uptight, stuffy, self-important types who believe academics and theoreticals are more important than reality. No offense to anyone who likes his works, that's just the stereotype I seem to have stuck in my mind lol.
post #245 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I hate Shakespeare. I find it dull & repetitive.
I have 2 college degrees, have read a ton throughout my life... in the realm of hundreds of books a year, until I had a kid & got too busy. But I mostly read medical or psych books, I have no patience for fiction, whether it's Shakespeare or JK Rowling, though I do enjoy poetry (not so much classical poets...)
I have to admit, I think of the people who like Shakespeare as uptight, stuffy, self-important types who believe academics and theoreticals are more important than reality. No offense to anyone who likes his works, that's just the stereotype I seem to have stuck in my mind lol.


You know what's funny....is I don't think Shakespeare intended the general public to read his work, but to see it performed.  I love a good Shakespeare play and all the trappings.  I'm a big fan of Julie Taymor and she did a great interpretation of Titus Andronicus (it was in the movie theatres for about a week - but such is the life or art films).  I like to see different actors and actresses interpret the characters.  I love the premise of Shakespeare's tales (morality, death, sex, intrigue).  There's just a language barrier there that turns a lot of people off and I think the problem is that we are introduced through reading, rather than seeing and hearing.  I have the complete works of Shakespeare sitting on my shelf and let me tell you, I use it only as reference.  They are plays.  It would be like us sitting around reading movie scripts today.  His work is meant to be viewed in the realm of stage/theatre.  

 

post #246 of 345

This discussion has a scene from one of my kid's favorite movies, Gnomeo and Juliet, running though my head.  

 

(hear Michael Caine and Maggie Smith while reading) 

 

Lord Redbrick:  I don't like what you're incinerating. 
Lady Bluebury: The proper word is "insinuating", illiterate. 
Lord Redbrick: I am not illiterate! My parents were married! 
post #247 of 345
CatsCradle, I think you are totally right! Good point!
post #248 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

It's amazing how many scientific concepts I have picked up from SF. I'm with you there. 

 

But I started with a rigorous formal grounding in the basic branches of science, did a subset of the Great Books (no normal person can do them all!) at the secondy and postsecondary levels, and that's the absolute min-bar for my kids, who are privileged to have access to prep school and two well-educated parents. (If my DH were in this thread, he would add a min-bar for formal mathematical study, and it would be waaaay above Algebra II where I quit.)



To each their own. I will point out that I know multiple people (some friends, some classmates) who were turned off of reading completely by the reading lists in high school. If I hadn't already been an avid reader before starting school, I suspect I may have been the same way. If people get something out of those books, that's great. But, if what they get is "reading is effing boring, and I don't want to do it", I don't think there's any great benefit to be had.

 

I'll have to look up the "Great Books", as I'm not sure which ones fall under this heading. But, I have no min-bar for my kids when it comes to books. I just want them to enjoy reading. If that means that, at 18, they're like ds1, who only reads sporadically, but discusses what he reads on multiple levels, I'm okay with that. I just want them to read.

 

Okay...I just looked up the Great Books Syllabus. All the Shakespeare would bore me out of my mind. I've read a few books in there, and started on a few more, which were too boring to hold my interest (notably War and Peace). But, I can't see how it's necessary to read them to understand allusions to many of them. I've never read The Odyssey, or The Divine Comedy, or the Old Testament (or New Testament, for that matter) or any Shakespeare beyond the two plays (MacBeth and The Taming of the Shrew) that were crammed down my throat in school. But, I also don't live under a rock. I'd have to live either there, or in a closet, to not be able to pick up on a lot of these things. Does anybody who ever reads anything not know at least the basics about 1984 or Romeo and Juliet? 

 

I'll freely admit there are books in there that I haven't read, but I also have to say that if reading more Shakespeare (and I think CatsCradle made a good point about him) or Orwell is the price I'd have to pay for being "acutally literate", I'll happily remain in a state of mere functional literacy. Getting through that list would leave me never wanting to pick up a book again. Orwell...really? I had to read Animal Farm in high school, and I can't imagine forcing myself through two of his books. (I am glad to see that the execrable Lord of the Flies isn't on there, though. That one almost put me off books, for fear I'd pick up something that bad again.)


Edited by Storm Bride - 2/24/12 at 6:02pm
post #249 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post


I'll freely admit there are books in there that I haven't read, but I also have to say that if reading more Shakespeare (and I think CatsCradle made a good point about him) or Orwell is the price I'd have to pay for being "acutally literate", I'll happily remain in a state of mere functional literacy. Getting through that list would leave me never wanting to pick up a book again. Orwell...really? I had to read Animal Farm in high school, and I can't imagine forcing myself through two of his books. (I am glad to see that the execrable Lord of the Flies isn't on there, though. That one almost put me off books, for fear I'd pick up something that bad again.)


I think part of the "forcing it down our throats" in education is that someone, somewhere, has determined that it is culturally relevant.  I can understand that to an extent, but at the same time, I think the forcing of cultural stuff has been a very recent thing (give or take a 1000 years or so).  Somewhere along the way, someone or some body of individuals determined that certain works were/are worthy of our attention.  I don't know, I think it is our attachment to history.  I see the same thing in the way that people scrapbook now...there is some human compulsion to hang onto history...to make it special...to highly edit for personal comfort.  

 

Not that anyone noticed, but my member name "CatsCradle" is the title of a Kurt Vonnegut Jr. book, my favorite book in all of human history.  He's a 20th century writer and is crass and prone to gallow humour, but he best defines how I feel about life.  I love that guy.  I would have asked him to marry me if he had been my contemporary.  I care a lot about modern fiction because it speaks to me and in my language and circumstance.  My DH is a Phillip K. Dick fan but I haven't read any of his books...just love the adapted films.  I think, Storm Bride, you are right in that the themes of the so-called important books are in our collective brains, and I don't think it is important to actually tediously read this stuff to understand the morality and drama behind those stories.  Perhaps it is helpful to acknowledge them and know their place, but why torture yourself?  I think we tend to adequately educate ourselves through our own interests and things that excite us.  

 

post #250 of 345

I really think the most important things you can teach kids about moving fluently between social classes:

 

-read anything you can get your hands on, spend some time in bookstores, it's good to have intellectual curiousity and a broad cultural literacy

-never feel ashamed of where you come from--every life is unique and interesting.  Be proud of who you are and where you come from

-openness, a sense of humor, and curiosity go a long way.  If you don't know something, just ask.  No one will hold it against you, especially if you're friendly about it

post #251 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post


I think part of the "forcing it down our throats" in education is that someone, somewhere, has determined that it is culturally relevant.  I can understand that to an extent, but at the same time, I think the forcing of cultural stuff has been a very recent thing (give or take a 1000 years or so).  Somewhere along the way, someone or some body of individuals determined that certain works were/are worthy of our attention.  I don't know, I think it is our attachment to history.  I see the same thing in the way that people scrapbook now...there is some human compulsion to hang onto history...to make it special...to highly edit for personal comfort.  

 

I think that's exactly. it. These books have been deemed to be culturally relevant, so we have to read them. But, honestly, for many of those books, I'd have had much more fun reading brief summaries, including information about the impact each book had, in a historical/cultural/literary sense, than I had actually having to read them. I think the same probably goes for a lot of other people, too. I remember asking my mom (during one of my many violent anti-school rants, admittedly) if the educational system wanted kids to hate reading. She told me she didn't think that was the case, but had wondered herself at times. It might have been fun to read a brief summary of Lord of the Flies, and then have a class discussion about the point of the book, and what the author wanted to say, and things like that. (I do have to admit to having been highly social phobic and insanely self-conscious as a teen - heck, I am now, and I'm nowhere near as bad as I was - so I probably wouldn't have actually said anything...but it would have been interesting.)

 

Not that anyone noticed, but my member name "CatsCradle" is the title of a Kurt Vonnegut Jr. book, my favorite book in all of human history.  He's a 20th century writer and is crass and prone to gallow humour, but he best defines how I feel about life.  I love that guy.  I would have asked him to marry me if he had been my contemporary.  I care a lot about modern fiction because it speaks to me and in my language and circumstance.  My DH is a Phillip K. Dick fan but I haven't read any of his books...just love the adapted films.

 

I can't believe I never picked up on that. I never really got into Vonnegut, because I didn't like his writing style that much, but I did read Cat's Cradle, and one other one, which I can't even remember (I know it wasn't Slaughterhouse-Five). I kept thinking I should go back and read some more when I got older (read the couple I did when I was about 17), but never got around to it. I've read some Phillip K. Dick, but only short stories. I liked them fairly well, but he was never a favourite. I liked his ideas, and some of where took them, but (again) wasn't crazy about his writing style.

 

 I think, Storm Bride, you are right in that the themes of the so-called important books are in our collective brains, and I don't think it is important to actually tediously read this stuff to understand the morality and drama behind those stories.  Perhaps it is helpful to acknowledge them and know their place, but why torture yourself?  I think we tend to adequately educate ourselves through our own interests and things that excite us.  

 

That's my take, for the most part. It's one of the reasons I'm homeschooling (I'm not a real unschooler, but something along those lines). I want my kids to follow their interests. It's even things like geography. When I was in school, we studied whatever countries were in the textbooks. But, if a child has a strong interest in, say, South Africa, why not study that, instead of Kenya, yk? I want my kids to learn about the whole world, but I don't see any reason to focus in on parts that don't interest them. We can start with the stuff that does interest them, and see where it goes (eg. they're both at least somewhat intrigued by Brazil, as a result of visits to the "Amazon Gallery" at our local aquarium).

 

I certainly have no objection to my chlidren reading the "great works", but I'm not going to make them, yk? That "Great Books" list also has a "good books" list for younger people. I read quite a few of them - loved some (eg. all things Edgar Rice Burroughs - he was my favourite author when I was 10 or 11), liked others (eg. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer), and hated others (Little Women was a snoozefest). I'm reading the Little House books to dd1 now. I'm enjoying them, and so is dd1. If she weren't, we'd move on to something else.



 

post #252 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

I don't snuggle up in front of a roaring fire with Hamlet, either. orngtongue.gif But yes, I can understand most of the vocabulary and allusions, because I had a rigorous liberal arts education. "Upper class street cred?" Yup. The OP is looking for that, after all. But it's not just that - so many great authors and historians and politicians learned to read on the KJV and took their rhetorical cues from that Great Books syllabus, and I understand their work more deeply because I can follow their allusions. 

 

There's the "upper class" OP is talking about, which is from a socio economic perspective, and then there's academic "street cred" which is what I think you are actually getting at here.  Oh, and if you want to get all these types of allusions you are referring to, turn no further than The Simpsons.  Is that what the "upper crust" are watching these days?  Probably not, but an academic will pick up on the numerous illusions you are referring to.  For example, what street does Mr. Burns live on?  On the corner of Croesus and Mammon streets. read.gif  Why do I know that?  I'm a giant nerd.  If this came up with any of my friends who actually grew up "upper class", far, far beyond the level OP is talking about, they'd just confirm my nerdy-ness.  Trust me, these things don't put you in with the "cool kids" from an upper class perspective.  What does?  Being social (having social intelligence), having financial literacy.    

 

 

Educated people who've completed their secondary schooling need to possess sufficient scientific literacy to read books like that and understand them. That one's less of a yuppie party trick, and more of requirement for full citizenship in the modern world, where you pretty much need that level of scientific literacy to figure out what groceries to buy. Now, figuring out what groceries to buy and then hooking your friends up with new sources - THAT'S a yuppie party trick, and also a nice thing MDCers and IRL friends to do for each other with no pretensions to yuppiness. Context is all. 

 

Really??  I think groceries require more common sense than "scientific knowledge" of any kind.  And from someone who has 2 post secondary degrees, I actually find this kind of insulting.  I *have* to read biology?  (Eye roll).  And math?? (Double eye roll).  Math skills and financial literacy aren't even related.


Sorry, your post just really rubs me the wrong way!

 

OP is talking about fitting in, not getting ahead.  And then a lot of what you are talking about is just great from an academic perspective, but not practical from a "getting ahead" perspective either.

 

post #253 of 345

Oops - I've gone way OT. I keep thinking this is the thread about going to college. redface.gif

post #254 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by nstewart View Post

 

I don't snuggle up in front of a roaring fire with Hamlet, either. orngtongue.gif But yes, I can understand most of the vocabulary and allusions, because I had a rigorous liberal arts education. "Upper class street cred?" Yup. The OP is looking for that, after all. But it's not just that - so many great authors and historians and politicians learned to read on the KJV and took their rhetorical cues from that Great Books syllabus, and I understand their work more deeply because I can follow their allusions. 

 

There's the "upper class" OP is talking about, which is from a socio economic perspective, and then there's academic "street cred" which is what I think you are actually getting at here.  Oh, and if you want to get all these types of allusions you are referring to, turn no further than The Simpsons.  Is that what the "upper crust" are watching these days?  Probably not, but an academic will pick up on the numerous illusions you are referring to.  For example, what street does Mr. Burns live on?  On the corner of Croesus and Mammon streets. read.gif  Why do I know that?  I'm a giant nerd.  If this came up with any of my friends who actually grew up "upper class", far, far beyond the level OP is talking about, they'd just confirm my nerdy-ness.  Trust me, these things don't put you in with the "cool kids" from an upper class perspective.  What does?  Being social (having social intelligence), having financial literacy.    

 

 

This is an interesting post. I was the "poor" kid at my high school, and I was also the one who would get the jokes like "Croesus and Mammon streets". Knowing those things just made me more of a misfit than anything else. I don't think the kids at my old school were the "upper crust', but they certainly fit into the class in the OP. I'd have done better socially if I'd known more about sports. Literary references just didn't cut it.

post #255 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

 

This is an interesting post. I was the "poor" kid at my high school, and I was also the one who would get the jokes like "Croesus and Mammon streets". Knowing those things just made me more of a misfit than anything else. I don't think the kids at my old school were the "upper crust', but they certainly fit into the class in the OP. I'd have done better socially if I'd known more about sports. Literary references just didn't cut it.



I was not the poor kid at my school, but growing up in a very small town being "the rich kid" is not the same as growing up with money.  It doesn't take much money in a small town, KWIM?  I was always the nerd, but also lucky enough to play sports although I didn't fit in with the jocks.  FF to Uni, when I made friends who actually DID have money and it becomes apparent how the other half lives, so to speak, and what helps you fit in with them.  In my experience they accepted my nerdy-ness because I was pretty social as well.  None of them read Shakespeare, or Atwood, or Findley or Tolstoy, or etc. etc. etc. or cared much about the groceries they bought.  They did care about Christmas at Whistler and what seats they could get at the olympics.

post #256 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by nstewart View Post



I was not the poor kid at my school, but growing up in a very small town being "the rich kid" is not the same as growing up with money.  It doesn't take much money in a small town, KWIM?  I was always the nerd, but also lucky enough to play sports although I didn't fit in with the jocks.  FF to Uni, when I made friends who actually DID have money and it becomes apparent how the other half lives, so to speak, and what helps you fit in with them.  In my experience they accepted my nerdy-ness because I was pretty social as well.  None of them read Shakespeare, or Atwood, or Findley or Tolstoy, or etc. etc. etc. or cared much about the groceries they bought.  They did care about Christmas at Whistler and what seats they could get at the olympics.


Sports and sociability are definitely helpful. I don't play sports - I don't enjoy them, and I'm really, really bad at them (very uncoordinated, and I also lack depth perception). I'm also not a social type. I'm okay with people I know well, but strangers make me twitch....and I prefer very small groups, even with friends.

 

Christmas at Whistler? Are you local to the area, or is it a bigger tourist destination than I realize?

post #257 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

Christmas at Whistler? Are you local to the area, or is it a bigger tourist destination than I realize?

It's a bigger tourist attraction than you realized. I have some family in the super filthy rich category and they used to go skiing there. Maybe not at Christmas, but it was a frequent trip. They also used to go to another fancy pants rich ski resort in Colorado. The name escapes me at the moment.
post #258 of 345

I disagree that Shakespeare and the like are part of what one needs to know to fit in with with 100K to 250K crowd.  (It's possible that things are different in social circles with lots more money than that).

 

I like Shakespeare; I've seen about 20 of his play performed, many in London. It has never helped me navigate social waters. A lot of people who are upper middle class make their money in fields like IT and engineering. Nerds do better financially than English majors. Some of things being listed on this thread are things that are more true of the *spouses* of people earning those kinds of salaries, but not typically true of the people earning those salaries. Lots of people who like to discuss Shakespeare end up doing things like working at Starbucks.

 

Academic concerns are not social concerns. Being a fun person to hang out with at a Super Bowl party, being able to tell a funny story over a drinks, etc are more important *socially*  than being intellectual.

 

When our kids are grown, they will be socializing with each other and with people slightly older and younger than themselves. They'll talk about movies, video games, vacations, etc. Sure, books will make it in there, but something like "Hunger Games" may be more important for conversation than "Othello." 

 

Isn't the best reason to read a book because you enjoy it? Isn't that something we want to instill in our kids? (what ever sort of salaries they eventually end up with.)

post #259 of 345
Quote:

Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

 

Not that anyone noticed, but my member name "CatsCradle" is the title of a Kurt Vonnegut Jr. book, my favorite book in all of human history. 


Hey, I noticed, and I always wondered if that's what it was. Btw, I remember his interview on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, back in 2005, he was great, I was lucky to catch that show.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nstewart View Post

 

OP is talking about fitting in, not getting ahead.  And then a lot of what you are talking about is just great from an academic perspective, but not practical from a "getting ahead" perspective either.

 

Yeah, "schmooze and act thrilled when they share the insider gossip" would help much better with fitting in than instructions such as "read as many books as you can, spend times in bookstores, have never ending intellectual curiosity". Trust me, I know. Reading Sophocles' plays for fun never helped me to fit in. If anything, it makes it even more annoying to be stuck at a party and listening to tipsy people go on about nothing. 


Edited by DoubleDouble - 2/25/12 at 5:40am
post #260 of 345

 

OK, I accept the consensus here that knowing about sports and the latest gossip are more useful for fitting in to the upper-class than having an upper-class education and a high level of cultural literacy (which is obviously what I should have said, rather than "actual literacy." Sorry about that.) I do OK at parties and such, but that's social intelligence - I know how to identify the people who will appreciate what I have to offer, and I know how to find neutral topics when I'm with somebody whose enthusiasms don't intersect with mine. 

 

In that case, I guess having my kids fit in with their social class is not nearly as important to me as I thought it was. I thought I cared a lot about it, because social rejection sucks and I don't want them to feel that pain. But if I look at my parenting choices, it doesn't look like I'm priming them to win a yuppie popularity contest. Oh well. Apparently nobody primed me to win one either. wink1.gif

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