Jan 22, 2012

Charlie Brown? Snoopy? Who the hell are they?

Mr4 read this book one too many times. zzzzz

The other day I had to read aloud a passage to one of my students. It was one of those drill-and-kill test-preparation lessons. This student is a 15 year-old boy who is over-aged for his grade. The passage I read to him was about Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon. 

After he finished, and I collected the testing material, I struck up a conversation by commenting how Linus was my favorite. I then asked this student who was his favorite character in Peanuts.

The boy just looked at me.

“Do you like Charlie Brown, or maybe you’re a Snoopy fan?” I persisted.
The boy said he doesn’t know who is Charlie Brown or Snoopy.
I thought he was kidding, or maybe mistaken.
“You know Snoopy is that cute white beagle with the black spot and big floppy ears” I reminded him. I started to feel desperate.

Blank look.

After this sad conversation, I kept thinking about this boy. He was born and raised here in the US. He doesn’t know Charlie Brown or Snoopy.  What happened?

Now you know I’m not saying everyone has to know Charlie Brown, or any particular comic strip for that matter. What I'm saying is I find it disturbing that this boy seems to lack general background knowledge.

Maybe the test-writers need to select passages about topics that are more contemporary. I don’t know.

But what I DO know is parents need to wake up and smell the coffee. Parents, YOU are your child’s first teacher!  You MUST make time to read to your children and to talk with them.
Can’t afford to buy books and things? No problem! A library card is free, and so are all the resources at your public library.  

Don’t have time? Then MAKE TIME for crying out loud! 
Do you honestly think I have time to read with my Mr6? I work all day, and then come home to cook and clean and work with my Mr6. I often fall asleep while supervising his homework and/or his reading. That’s how tired I am after work.

There is absolutely no substitute for parental involvement. Parents (grand parent, legal guardian, whoever) must interact with their children in order to build a rich wealth of background knowledge. This “background knowledge” will act like a magnet for all the academic knowledge his/her teacher will impart later in the classroom. It’s true. I know. I’ve seen this work, and it’s amazing. 


Perpetua said...

Great post, Nerima, and I agree with every word! Sadly Peanuts seems to have fallen totally out of fashion, but we still have a shelf-full of Charlie Brown books bought for our children 30 or more years ago. Now we're introducing them to the grandsons. :-)

lifeonthecutoff said...

What a great post, Nerima. I couldn't agree with you more. It isn't just Charlie Brown, but, a whole host of other characters and stories and ideals and ideas!

I like to tell the story of how I first learned to love books. It was on my maternal grandmother's lap. She would hold the book and read to me, telling me some pretty amazing stories. My mom eventually pointed out to me, as a teenager, long past sitting on my grandmother's lap but remember the idea of it, that my grandmother couldn't read or write! It didn't matter. She made the time to make me believe we were reading books.

nerima roberts said...

Dear Perpetua, Your Grandsons are fortunate to be surrounded by people who love books.

Dear Life, what an amazing story about your grandmother. Even though she didn't read or write, she valued story-telling and she made sure you learned stories in a warm and cozy manner...in her lap. I love it.

Brian Miller said...

amen...true that on parents being the childs first teacher...i find that when i go into many of the homes i work in that parents dont know how to engage or play with their kids...

nerima roberts said...

Oh Brian, I just can't stand to see that vicious cycle of inept parents raising inept children who grow up to be future inept parents.