Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gah! Fruit of My Loins

Dropping Stormboy at his job yesterday:
"Hey Mum, we've gotta read this book, for English."
He's emptying out his school bag into the back seat of my car so he can fill it with his work uniform, spare clothes and other weekend supplies. Dense piles of foolscap torn from from their ringlocks and blue binders spill onto the rest of the flotsam that washes up in my car.
He drops the book under the windscreen.
I saw the cover. Oh, cool. "What do you think? Have you got to the bit where the sharks eat his fish?"
"The bit where he actually catches the fish?"
"Well, why not? Keep on reading. It's a good yarn."
"It's boring as shit," he tells me. "There's no storyline. It's just about this old bloke who goes fishing."


  1. Who said what? I'm trying to work out if you are convincing Storm Boy it's as boring as shit, or the other way round! Actually, I've never reckoned on Hemingway either, but I'm not a man's man.

  2. Okay Mr Editor, I've fixed it (I think). Let me know.

    I thought that conversation was interesting because of the visual/instant stimulus that kids get in a digital age. Him saying there was no storyline in The Old Man and the Sea really got me. It's like Moby Dick. What the hell is it about? Well, it's about a whale. And God. That is all.

    1. Sorry Sarah - that was a genuine question, not a crit! I know what you mean - action films - don't you hate them? Dreams where not much happens - they are the deepest.

  3. No apologies needed Tom ... it made me clean up my act quick, so thanks. If only a crit like that could work in other aspects of my life :~)

    I was trying to explain to Stormboy at the time that the 'storyline' is an underlying thang. It may look like TOMandTS is just about an old man who goes fishing but the real story is lurking beneath. Action films and this 'instant' culture can over ride those deepest dreams that you speak of, so true.

    1. Yes, this 'instant culture' thing is also getting out of hand in a negative way - that's what my latest post is all about. Genies and Bottles come to mind.

  4. You should try teaching these kids! I have to convince them that it's worth spending hours developing fine motor skills to do a drawing they can trace in PhotoShop. And that an original idea comes from your own imagination and is not something you just rip off the net.
    Instant gratification and a culture of entitlement: why bother, lack of motivation and even integrity. They really don't know what is valuable and who they are. I am sure Storm Boy at least has plenty of resources in that area on which he will fall back when he is more mature. In his defence the message is abstract and philosophical.

    One of my mates and work colleagues who makes his living from training kids that aspire to become part of the 3D gaming industry said to me the other day: this is a real social issue and it needs addressing. It won't get addressed. Unfortunately for these kids (and the reason I bother at all) is that they will have few resources to fall back on when life gets less comfortable - and I believe it will in their lifetime. With a bit of luck I will be long gone! Because I really don't want to be old in a culture that completely disrestects age and wisdom.

  5. He used to read a lot, before he discovered facebook ... At his age I was reading a lot of steinbeck and hemingway, as well as anything I could find with some sex in it, but there was no competition other than television. There doesn't seem to be much incentive to spend the time on a book like the old man and the sea when everything else is absorbed in bytes and pixels. We had the time to let the story unfold.
    But I also think the 'kids of today' narrative is nothing new. Plato had a good rant about them too.

  6. I'm not one to bag the kids of today. Hell, when I was a kid (in the 50s and 60s) I didn't read at all. I hated Biggles and I hated Libraries. I read comics! Even though they were deemed evil mind-sucking works of the devil. The weekly trudge to the local library was agonising and then the idea that you had to pick a book from 1000s on shelf after shelf - well I didn't know where to start. I only began reading in yr 11 when we were required (like Storm Boy)to read Wuthering Heights and the Merchant of Venice. I loved them, partly because we spent a whole year reading and analysing the two works and because we had a grat teacher. I've worked with the 16 to 26 year group over the past 10 years (outside the classroom) and I find them great - imaginative, enthusiastic, with an impatient desire to change the world or at least be in the world. Reminds me of a younger us.

  7. Asterix ... Unfortunately our library only had them in French! I agree on the good teacher, Mr Hat. I had one of them.
    The kids are learning some great stuff in multi media, which is probably more relevent to them. I hope he finishes the heminway though and appreciates its value. I'll have to talk to him about it some more, rather than simply sighing in exasperation!

  8. That's good to hear Little Hat. I've found if they are doing stuff that is relevant to them they are fine. I reckon I do OK with these kids and I have some great students, but in the classroom situation they have often long ago disengaged from education and 'teachers'. I have to turn that around before I can get anywhere with them and for the first few weeks it's really hard work. By the end we are great mates (except the rare ones I have really pissed off, who by then have already gone elsewhere as befitting my evil plan :)