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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 09:18

@Priscilla wrote:
Did not intend to kill the thread - so what did gems  anyone get from cereal packet backs?
You did not kill the thread, Priscilla: I rather think I did.

I really can't remember learning anything from cereal packets until quite late in life. I now read the nutritional information avidly, and am still shocked when I consider the vast quantities of salt added by Kellogs to their All-Bran and to their Cornflakes. Amounts are often give in grams of sodium, which is a deceitful practice: you have to double that figure to get the actual salt content. Apparently Kellogs add differing amounts of salt to their products according to where their target consumers live. 5 grams daily is considered a healthy amount of salt for an adult - still a bit high if you are prone to raised blood pressure.  Are Kellogs using their salty cereals as a WMD in the Middle East?

Kellogg’s All Bran, for instance, contains 2.15g of salt per 100g in Canada, but only 0.65g of salt per 100g just over the border in the United States, less than a third of the Canadian level. All Bran for sale in the UK contains 1.13g of salt per 100g. Looking at the salt content for Kellogg’s Cornflakes, the survey found that the Middle East is served the highest salt product at 2.8g of salt per 100g. The lowest salt Kellogg’s Cornflakes surveyed were in Spain, with 1.75g salt per 100g, a gram less than the Middle East’s level of 2.8g salt per 100g. The UK gets Kellogg’s cornflakes with 1.8g of salt per 100g.

I still have my Golly Cricketer badge. I enjoyed collecting gollies from jam and marmelade pots - surely a quite hamless thing to do? Most kids loved the Robertson gollies. Were these little black figures that we were all so fond of really teaching us to be intolerant racist pigs? Were they indeed an imperialist plot to corrupt the nation's children - a subtle form of indoctrination, reinforced by our readings of Noddy in Toytown?

EDIT: Put "where" instead of "were" - the old brain really is going.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 12:17

So what did I et from  a cereal packet - one almighty problem, that's what..... to me not a mind like the better schooled here. So here goes. Three Bears porridge had a picture on the front of Goldilocks holding an identical packet  showing Goldilocks holding....... That took me into discovering a concept of infinity, I guess. I was five. Infinity became an obsession- especially space, and later Pi. I  found I could use this contemplation  to get into a trance like state and seemingly leave myself at will - even when with other people. I shall not expand that. THis I was able to thereafter very easily - until one nigh in my teens the return to self was traumatic even to recalling my name and my room was a strange  place. I never did it again. And only shared this with someone who went through the same experience.  Quaker Oats never did the same - but I was a registered Bourneville Cocoa Beanie!
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 12:20

For me it was Royal Baking Powder that led me into a trance:

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 12:37

Don't believe  it - you must have always  been very well grounded.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 12:38

These were in packets of Shreddies;

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 12:44

@Priscilla wrote:
Don't believe  it - you must have always  been very well grounded.
Au contraire - I was self-raising!
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 13:03

So was I but you must have added cream of tartar to reach giddier heights ( I was ever a confused child and used to wonder what how you creamed a mongol - and why.)
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 13:59

The Beezer from 1960



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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 16:07

@Priscilla wrote:
....there is something I ought add here. Our teacher was known to 'favour' little boys. My father had been in his scout troupe had told me... nothing more, just love of them. We all  knew and though he hugged the boys - who put up with it, there was no more - or complaint either.

How much "reality" children can cope with in their reading was an interesting question raised earlier in the thread.

I remember as a young girl - I must have been about thirteen or fourteen - feeling very uneasy about the Reverend Brocklehurst, a powerful and frightening character presented in the early chapters of Jane Eyre.


But why was this clergyman so particularly loathsome? I was certainly horrified by the descriptions of the misery and injustice Jane experienced at his hands, and, years later, when I came to teach the book, I found that teenagers without exception - even the supposedly "non-academic" ones (male and female), including those from so-called "working-class" or "underbelly-class" backgrounds, were as mesmerized as I had been as they read - or had read to them - the vivid accounts of starvation, neglect and cruelty - brutality indeed - suffered by the heroine and her fellow pupils at Lowood School, the school set up and "directed" by this man.

It took, however, a remark by a perceptive, indignant - and therefore very vocal -  "non-academic" girl to voice what I had perhaps found so disturbing (but incomprehensible) about Brocklehurst. We read of this man's "shaking" hand as he points to Julia Severn's mass of beautiful red hair "curled all over" and listened to this tirade:

" 'Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what, what is that girl with curled hair? Red hair, m'am, red hair curled all over...'

'Julia's hair curls naturally,' returned Miss Temple, very quietly.

'Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature; I wish these to be the children of Grace...I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl's hair must be cut off entirely...all those top-knots must be cut off...my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh, to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness and sobriety... each of these young persons has a string of hair twisted in plaits which vanity itself might have woven; these, I repeat, must be cut off...' "

This outburst had followed a description of how Brocklehurst regularly inspected the girls' underwear and stockings on the line "in the kitchen-garden", ostensibly checking them for careless patching and darning.

These textual clues were quickly picked up, and the devastating - and possibly accurate - judgement delivered: "He's a right pervert, isn't he?"

Bronte was a brave - and very angry - woman; she was not some ignorant Victorian miss who knew nothing of the world. Interestingly her portrait of Brocklehurst was based on the Rev. William Carus Wilson, an English clergyman who had been the Director of the school she and her sisters had attended. He very nearly sued Bronte "for defamation of character" when Jane Eyre was published in 1847. Wilson took legal advice, but then decided against further action.

PS It should be added Jane Eyre was not written for children.

PPS It should also be added that the clergyman's own wife and daughters later make an appearance; both of the daughters of the Rev. Brocklehurst have tresses which are "elaborately curled", and his wife is described as wearing "a false front of French curls." It's easy in our sexualized 21st century to read too much into things; then again, you can never can tell with the Brontes. Kids today know too much too soon; children of my generation - even those who grew up during the 60s - possibly knew too little.







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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 20:35

Where I came from there was a decided difference between kids from "working class" families and those from families at least harbouring middle class aspirations (the social spread in our area didn't extend much higher than that) when it came to having a thorough appreciation of life's more sordid aspects and the ability to discuss them. The language was crude, way too crude for "nice children" such as I and my siblings were being encouraged to be at home, but it was certainly worth listening to. Their perception of the actual nature of the threat posed by perverts could be quite grotesquely inaccurate - sometimes more grotesque even than the actual crime, and that's saying something - but the message was clear as a bell, as were the means of identifying suspects. The same children were fonts of inaccurate knowledge regarding sex in general, but looking back at those days I realise that this was only later to be typified by crude humour. As young kids nearly all talk of such things was in terms of a vague but very real threat of aggression exercised by adults against each other (we hoped) but occasionally against us. Nothing funny about it at all. Survival stuff.

The adults in our world did little to dispel the worst excesses of our imaginations in that regard either, this was still an age of corporal punishment meted out often indiscriminately and sadistically primarily to inculcate fear in us. They were a dangerous breed apart and it was necessary therefore to gather as much intelligence as one could to find a way of co-existing without being hurt by them.

Complicated times.

At that age I didn't read Dickens but had at least learnt his stories through David Lane, Carol Reed and others' TV or cinema adaptations, so was familiar with his caricatures (Dickens didn't do characters as such). At that age it was the more hideously cruel of these that we took notice of too, especially when the cruelty was directed against children like "Pip" or "Oliver Twist". What adults took to be luridly drawn exaggerations of inhumane behaviour we simply accepted as "adults" behaving typically, just like others we already knew. However what we learnt from those stories was that there was no expectation for justice to prevail, or at least not in time to be of consequence. The best one could hope for was that things would get easier when one got older and came out from under their authority. Jane Eyre's first chapters taught the same lesson, and it was to prove to be a very sound one to learn. Other stories directed at children had them outsmarting the grown-ups or otherwise winning out despite the adults' evil, bumbling or indifferent input  (Enid take a bow) and could be enjoyable romps.

But we had already learnt that this was simply fiction. In real life one has often to take it on the chin and trust to time. Literature that agreed with that view was, to us, as reassuring and empowering as the Blyton version, and in our worst moments, probably even more so.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 20:46

I wonder if it is not the other way round for most children - handling reality with aplomb but being perplexed by fiction. Perhaps I was silently privy to too much adult conversation but I was pretty aware of the world about me. I knew why I slept in a cellar, what the thud of bombs meant, how the sky came to be llt by burning factories and what my father was about in Africa and then Italy. News reels were reality to be understood, the romantic films, make believe fiction to be enjoyed - and of course we knew where to sit in a cinema in case of a raid. Only reading Blyton in the morning and then seeing Picture Post of Buchanwald and simila,r that filled me with awful emotion became a realty too far. I never told my mother of this but somehow I believed that she also knew of it . She had trials enough without my adding my distress. What I deplore is the self pitying attitude that seems widespread with tears falling at any form of failure. And then there is retrospective blame game self pity about the trials of one's raising without understanding the circumstances .
So literature gave me a comfort zone to escape into and great pleasure and reality  gave a strength to face what ever might actually happen. Having survived many  hairy and dangerous situations since, that strength to handle fear has seen me through.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 22:05

@Priscilla wrote:


I wonder if it is not the other way round for most children - handling reality with aplomb but being perplexed by fiction.

Hardly aplomb, I wouldn't think. More with sometimes a little too much indifference to consequence or indeed to how much gleaned from fiction they are prepared to appropriate and populate their reality. But that of course does not mean they have failed to attain a grasp on reality, and I shudder when I hear it glibly remarked that they often cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy at all.

It is true that fiction can perplex them, and even terrify them sometimes, to an extent that "real life" has yet to do, but that can be explained by the limited exposure they have had to each. They might not as yet have had time to understand more than the most basic aspects of their physical and social environment, nor time to react more discerningly to fictions designed for effect and therefore with great effect on undeveloped minds, but by and large they are aware that there is a dividing line between the two which must be observed.

Even extremely young children have already grasped the concept of the story, many before their own communicative skills have developed to any great degree. But they know also that it's the relation of it that occurs in the real world while the contents are not real in themselves. The lovely sensation of being lulled by a good story into temporarily experiencing it as "real" is one developed in us at a very young age indeed. But so too is the realisation that as it is a story it has an ending, and when it ends the trick, enjoyable as it might have been, is revealed as such. That is reality, and they have a good grasp of it.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 12:40

I'll withdraw aplomb when I should have written acceptance. I value my early years above all else in the

 daily confrontation with reality. Living in a small town, privy to all the gossip, allowed to play with the children of toffs and tykes, my family's friendly tolerance of all people warts and all I guess I was just lucky. No one ever heard me read neither did anyone out of school read to me but there was always good food on the table, homemade clothes and small thoughtfulnesses such a s a beautifully dressed doll my mother had stayed up all night to dress that was presented  after a stage performance  she could not attend........ I spent my early nursery years in a private stage prep = not playing, that's for sure.
I like  your ref to  the point that stories have an ending.....I had not realised the import of that in helping some of the more confused to separate the two. It's never to late to learn.
And just what to small children glean from fiction? I am still perplexed by a remark made by my very able grandson at Pembroke castle when 3yrs old. 
After the pprrtal to the right of the inner bailey was a doorway into a long empty dismal room that was noted as a kitchen. He drew back after a glance, refusing to go in   because, 'There's too many people in nighties in there.. Everywhere else and in gloomier places he was fine but he said the same on the way out. Now, was that from  illustrations of ghosts? A dose too many of Scooby Doo or does he carry one of my odd genes? ny awareness that ever feel I never speak of - my daughter doesn't know of it.

I think illustrations and pictorial content makes a lasting mark - an interesting topic for  the art thread, perhaps
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 13:49

Children are also much more inclined to experiment by purposefully inserting fancy into reality in conversation, if only to see what they can learn from the reaction to their action. It is not generally an intentional deceit on their part, it is rather more akin to building with blocks through perpetual trial and error to find out what fits where, what can stand unaided and what brings the whole edifice down. They hear and read much that is in fact real but outside their ken, while they also hear and read much that is completely comprehensible to them but embedded in fictional narrative. It is not surprising therefore that they blend the two and present it for reaction to see how well they're doing in their construction task.

Your grandson's remark about ghosts, so ably expressed in a language which to him made more descriptive sense, is akin to the child who asks, when told that God is everywhere, if he is therefore hiding in the cupboard at night that one can barely make out in the dark (a very spooky scenario indeed). These are both the extraction of pieces of narrative and placing them in a very real - and indeed frighteningly real - context, and much more real than adults tend to construct when attempting the same technique.

You can see why some adults misinterpret this as the child failing to distinguish between fantasy and reality (or even worse as "proof" that children can see ghosts/Jesus etc). But the truth is that if the child had a better all-round knowledge, vocabulary, insight and analytical method they could use to approach that which they are trying to resolve when they do this, then they would simply be adults (and the lives of those around them so impoverished for that).

What's more - as a learning technique it's bloody brilliant. It not only can be used to distinguish trustworthy fact from dubious, but also ultimately trustworthy adults/educators from dubious. And it can be great fun!
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 14:05

@Priscilla wrote:

I think illustrations and pictorial content makes a lasting mark - an interesting topic for  the art thread, perhaps
This may have been mentioned before, Look and Learn did have good illustrations;

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 15:10

@nordmann wrote:
 But that of course does not mean they have failed to attain a grasp on reality, and I shudder when I hear it glibly remarked that they often cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy at all.

I may have misunderstood what you are saying, nordmann - I often do - but some children - about 4% of the population according to psychologists Wilson and Barber* - do blur the boundaries - cannot "differentiate between reality and fantasy at all". They are the ones to watch. Such youngsters can either (they are the minority of this minority, thank God)  grow into very dangerous adolescents or young adults, or they ( the majority of the minority) can retreat into a fantasy existence as a way of denying a difficult - sometimes even a terrible - reality of their own. The fantasy world, or paracosm, becomes more than a mere temporary escape (as it was for many of us): it constitutes the construction of an alternative reality as a necessary ego-defence or coping mechanism. This can last a lifetime. Some children of the paracosm decide they must make their fantasy a blood-soaked reality; they are the ones so often responsible for inflicting murderous mayhem on the world. Others keep fantasy as fantasy; and the gifted - or inspired ones -  offer it to the world, ironically, as great fiction. Here are some examples of the latter I got from Wiki:


Middle Earth, the highly-detailed fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, as expressed in his novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as a sizable body of writings published posthumously containing fictional histories, languages and other reference material. Tolkien had been inventing languages since his teen years, only later imagining the people who spoke them or their environment.

Gondal, Angria, and Gaaldine, the fantasy kingdoms created and written about in childhood by Emily, Anne, and Charlotte Brontë, and their brother Branwell, and maintained well into adulthood.

Hartley Coleridge, created and maintained the land of Ejuxria all his life.

Austin Tappan Wright's Islandia began as a childhood paracosm.

M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel.

Borovnia, the fantasy kingdom created by Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker in their mid-teens, as portrayed in the film Heavenly Creatures.

The modern fantasy author Steph Swainston's world of the Fourlands is another example of an early childhood paracosm.

Henry Darger began writing about the Realms of the Unreal in his late teens and continued to write and illustrate its epic adventures for decades.

Joanne Greenberg created a paracosm called Iria as a young girl, and described it to Frieda Fromm-Reichmann while hospitalized at Chestnut Lodge. Fromm-Reichmann wrote about it in an article for the American Journal of Psychiatry; Greenberg wrote about it as the Kingdom of Yr in her novel I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

As children, novelist C. S. Lewis and his brother Warren together created a paracosm called "Boxen" which was in turn a combination of their respective private paracosms "Animal-Land" and "India". Lewis later drew upon Animal-Land to create the fantasy land Narnia.

And then there is our Enid...



*Wilson, S. C. & Barber, T. X. (1983). The fantasy-prone personality: Implications for understanding imagery, hypnosis, and parapsychological phenomena. In, A. A. Sheikh (editor), Imagery: Current Theory, Research and Application (pp. 340-390). New York: Wiley.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 15:17

I think I remember Tenniel's illustrations of the Alice books more readily than the text itself. His pictures have become part of our English consciousness.





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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 15:51

Temp wrote:


... some children - about 4% of the population according to psychologists Wilson and Barber* - do blur the boundaries - cannot "differentiate between reality and fantasy at all". They are the ones to watch. Such youngsters can either (they are the minority of this minority, thank God)  grow into very dangerous adolescents or young adults, or they ( the majority of the minority) can retreat into a fantasy existence as a way of denying a difficult - sometimes even a terrible - reality of their own.

I agree and the statistic sounds about right, though I would be inclined to think that this problem as measured above represents something else entirely. The people I was criticising in fact are those who lump all children into that category, as if everyone begins with this form of blindness to the boundaries between what is real and what is imagined. It devalues children, just as it does those unfortunates afflicted with such potentially psychotic tendencies.

The invention of fantasy worlds, sometimes very complex ones indeed, is something yet different again. I have one of my own, and it is incredibly useful as a place for getting my thoughts in order, though that is a more recent use for it. In the past it has sustained me through rather tougher turmoils than simple indecision. These places and their populations can become very intricate, so much that with familiarity they almost impose their own internal logic and social structure, rules etc. However unless they impede on one's functionality in the real world I cannot see how they could ever be considered harmful, and we are indeed indebted to those who rather bravely opened theirs to the rest of us.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 22 Nov 2013, 19:51

@nordmann wrote:
However unless they impede on one's functionality in the real world I cannot see how they could ever be considered harmful, and we are indeed indebted to those who rather bravely opened theirs to the rest of us.
Absolutely.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 04:57

This has been a very thoughtful discussion, and I am a bit nervous about adding my little contribution. When I have thought of any experiences of children (or adults) they seem to be ones of imagination more than fantasy.  But how different is that - lots or not much?  I thought I didn't have a fantasy life as a child, and I don't think I did really, but I did play a sort of written game, where I had a page of families (forming a small community), and I gave them boy/girlfriends, engagements, marriages, and children of their own as soon as they turned 15.  Sometimes they were given two characteristics, chosen from pen-stabbing (and sometimes contradictory, which caused me dilemmas - did I allow a person to be both kind and nasty, or did I cheat and re-do the stabbing?), and then they became more definite personalities to me.  But I think that was just a fun game, not a fantasy.

Likewise when I saw my nieces many years ago playing with their Barbie dolls, which hadn't approved of till then, and saw the imagination and language skills this brought to a 3-and 4-year old, becoming father and mother and having dialogue suitable for this.  Soon after we arrived in England I mentioned the piece of material on the floor, near the train set, and talked to my grandson about it being felt, a material.  He said, "No it's not.  It's water."  It's the only example I can think of while we were there where he did make an imaginative leap, and perhaps his mother had suggested to him. 

One of my book club members surprised me very much by saying she at all times had an angel on her shoulder.  I had not and have not since noticed her showing any great religious bent, or discussing her beliefs at all.  (And I live where it is not something you need to feel shy about talking about.) I don't quite know how exactly the angel manifested itself. 

By the way, god knowing all about you might make you apprehensive, but it can be a comfort.  I'm sure it found it so, and I certainly know the thought of my mother looking down on me was. (She, out of actual earthly reality, used to vindicate me when everyone else was getting at me, which did seem to happen on occasions. I would hold her photo and cry and feel/know that if she were here this would not be happening to me. My mother was much more saintly and understanding in my imagination than I at least ever was in reality.)

I don't remember myself or any of my children having a fantasy friend (though as soon as I write that, I feel uncertain.  Did one of my kids?)
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 08:11

Regarding imaginary friends - my sister had four: Duggoo, Beezie, Banda and Effon. These beings (I was never sure whether they were humans, or animals or mythical beings, or whatevers) had complex individual characters and they apparently interacted between themselves as well as with my sister. She played highly involved games and had numerous imaginary adventures with them.

My sister is six years older than me, so I wonder if having imaginary friends is more prevalent amongst children with no siblings. Her four imaginary friends seem to have gone their own ways once I arrived and became old enough to start being involved in her games. In contrast I never had any imaginary friends but I did in my teens start to develop an imaginary world which, admittedly with a few fundamental reworkings alongside its steady continuous development, is still with me now. Nowadays though it is less of a place to escape to and more of a mental sandbox to explore ideas of how the (real) world works. I also wonder if there is a gender effect too. Are imaginary friends, with all their emphasis on social relationships and communication more prevalent amongst girls, while imaginary worlds, with the emphasis on spacial layout, and physical structure, more a boy thing ... girls being from Venus and boys from Mars, an' all that?

I think my sister's imaginary friends were around while she was still just a bit too young for their identities to have been much influenced, directly, by literature, but I'm sure my imaginary world, right from the very start was greatly influenced by my non-fiction reading (prehistoric animals, greeks and romans, volcanos, space, science, machines - that sort of thing) and a then bit later by reading fiction, particularly historical and science fiction .... although I would hesitate to pick out any particular books or authors.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 10:52

In Norwegian, Caro "imagination" is fantasy ("fantasi") - and that is that, no discernible difference between the concepts deemed worthy of a different word for each. When I first encountered this it seemed a tad dismissive of some great works of imagination and their creators, but after thinking about it a bit I realised it was equally a great promotion of the use of imagination in ways of which, in English, it is we who are actually dismissive.

MM, I think I realised early in this discussion that I had been dead wrong to use the term "children's literature" in the title since it conjured up a restrictive range of influence from the vast array of such influences that act on us as children and which, as children, we do not ourselves discriminate between. Even if we do restrict it to "books intended for children" we still have to take into account that the child's own development as a reader from scratch means automatically that much of this literature's content will arrive via some very varied ways. We begin, through necessity, to be at one with our ancestors in their dependency on the oral tradition and learn whatever critical faculties we will acquire initially through direct interaction with the narrator. This, I feel, is important later when we become readers and start exercising control over the literary input to which we choose to be exposed. But it is probably even more important in what happens with that literary content which arrives indirectly - in fact any input that arrives indirectly. Some, probably most, of us internalise the dialogue with the narrator (the ones who don't do this are the ones, for example, who are quickest to challenge through interruption a teacher at school). But as "readers", accustomed to learning from unilateral narration, it is left totally up to us how we continue or replace that dialogue within ourselves. For me this manifested itself in various ways which I am sure will be familiar to many others too - imaginary conversations with characters, inclusion of myself in the story, creation of offshoot adventures based on the input that triggered the moment, even writing further stories which one hoped emulated the intention and even the style of the author. The last mentioned is one that is deemed acceptable still in adulthood, but when the field was open then so too was the opportunity for the techniques to insert themselves directly into our day-to-day lives and to extents that could, as we grew older, be interpreted as embarrassing as we learnt also "how to conduct ourselves" socially. This applies to all input that triggers imagination, be it intentional or otherwise, static or kinetic, or simply derived from observation of anything at all that "took our fancy".

It is a tortuously complicated interaction with reality that ends up being completely unique for every individual. It produces "strange" introverted children who in their own minds inhabit a varied and exciting world they have populated themselves. It produces "dreamers" who pursue their desire to create from within at the expense of learning more "practical" input from without and are deemed failures academically. But it also produces great actors, great authors, great screenwriters, great directors, great ... well, you get the point.

There is nothing sadder than the little boy or girl who painstakingly constructed an entire universe so real that they could inhabit it for years and then grew up to "be" a chartered accountant. To me, this indicates a serious failure in the education system.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 11:15

Not always failings of the system of education but the parental drives and social pressures for security. Several young creative people I nurtured towards developing it were pushed by parents into careers to which they are unsuited. Good  educationalists recognise the strengths within - and give opportunity to develop it; in truth it is as enriching for the teachers as the children.  
 Targets need not be a ball and chain of a curriculum. Perhaps what is needed are more imaginative teachers but in my experience the highly creative minds in education of the young tend to pay scant regard for honing the basic tools. The blame game is a complex issue; it is not the educational system alone that is responsible for unfulfilled potential.


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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 11:17

To me the education system encompasses much more than simply the school system, but I get your point. In any part of the process there are good educators - it is a pity they are so few.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 11:49

The film Dead Poets Society examines this very issue. It has been dismissed as "sentimental crap", rather a harsh judgement in my opinion. DPS undoubtedly is sentimental (as is the similar Mona Lisa Smile), but is perhaps not complete crap. There's an interesting exchange between Keating (the teacher most of the boys think is great) and one of his more cynical and/or realistic colleagues:

McAllister: You take a big risk by encouraging them to be artists, John. When they realize they're not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts, they'll hate you for it.

Keating: We're not talking artists, George, we're talking freethinkers.

McAllister: Freethinkers at seventeen?

Keating: Funny — I never pegged you as a cynic.

McAllister: Not a cynic, a realist. "Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams, and I'll show you a happy man.

"Keating: "But only in their dreams can man be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be."

McAllister: Tennyson?

Keating: No, Keating.



McAllister had a point. But then again Thoreau was right when he observed that most men lead lives of quiet desperation and "go to the grave with the song still in them."

Managing to sing one's song - and earn a living at the same time - is perhaps the trick. Not easy for most of us.

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 12:03

In that story the teacher is trying to "rescue" his charges and reawaken techniques and attitudes that come normally to smaller children. However the story is also an examination of how that can produce catastrophic failure, even when it is done with the best of intentions and some intelligence. The charges are in some cases "too far gone" in the educational system to be retrieved. It is aiming for poignancy and achieves it in that respect.

In Ireland that poignancy was rather dented for us when the obviously clairvoyant piper at the boy's funeral (circa 1960) launched into a soulful rendition of a Pete St James ballad (circa 1980). But that's by the bye.

There is a another side to all this of course - society cannot function if all who participate are creative first and imitative second. The old "thinkers" and "doers" dichotomy plays an important role in how we judge the success or failure of any system producing productive members. But again, this is thinking of "education" only as the school system and such a system has a mandate normally dictated by prevailing social values and expectations.

However in the broader sense of all that by which we are educated then a single mandate does not apply, and distinguishing between these various mandates and agendas is also something that even very young children become quite adept at achieving. This, to me, is also an ability informed by what we learn from literature.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 13:54

@Priscilla wrote:
Not always failings of the system of education but the parental drives and social pressures for security. Several young creative people I nurtured towards developing it were pushed by parents into careers to which they are unsuited. 

I don't know if you have ever seen Dead Poets Society, Priscilla, but here is a scene which addresses the issues you raise above. Neil, one of Keating's students, is a talented actor: it is a career he passionately wishes to pursue. His father thinks otherwise.

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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 19:35

Sorrry, couldn't resist these ...

















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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 19:45

Or these ...













All illustrations lifted shamelessly and in great awe from Bob Staake's website:
http://www.bobstaake.com/
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 23 Nov 2013, 20:15

Temps, the situation has been all too  real for me. I fought long and hard for several very talented children long after they had moved on. One found a niche as a TV producer - but  in a comfort zone that years of ' being safe' had engendered. Another ran  from home and I have no idea what happened to him. I had entered his art work and his writing in international competitions only to have both returned that it was impossible that they were unaided work. Taat sullied my reputation too but my protest went unanswered. The boy had a capacity for bitterness and I feared for him. At least he did not become a draughtsman as his  father intended. And so on. Whether for right or wrong, I encouraged children from a very early age to reach for stars..... in  one area I made sure they knew how to get into a university because their parents had no such vision for them. And its not just the gifted children who can be nurtured into being enchanted by the world and its possibilities. I did not believe in huggy confiding closeness with children who came from appalling circumstances  - my role as I saw it was to open windows to delight that they could escape  to be it special knowledge, a story, whatever. What bothers me is wha sort of people go into primary education these days.

I interviewed so much dross and even of those I took on. some had narrow sighted agendas. AS for literature, my grandson is so bored by a succession of word controlled readers of trendy but mediocre fales that he sees no point now in reading for pleasure whatever I present to him - apart from passing him the football pages from the Times. Dear God -the  time to take an overdose looms larger.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 24 Nov 2013, 02:14

Some kids just prefer to keep their imaginative hobbies separate from their work, though.  My youngest son, whose work is actually more artistically-based than his leisure activities, decided to be (and is) an architect.  He was very good at maths and physics and spent quite a bit of his spare time playing with statistics.  We suggested it might be better to continue with physics which he was much better at than technical drawing, but he just said that was something he wanted kept for his fun time.  (His other absorbing hobby was, and still is, Lego, so I suppose he did continue with that play.)

Bob Staake's website's 1950s-style book covers are fantastic (in more than one sense), thanks, Nordmann.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sun 24 Nov 2013, 10:04

@Caro wrote:
Some kids just prefer to keep their imaginative hobbies separate from their work, though.
Quite. The separation of fantasy and reality-based pursuits can be proof of the child's increasing ability to separate the agendas behind the input sources and the recognition that two agendas can be mutually exclusive but of equal relevance and worth. When Temp and Priscilla bemoan the stress upon "practical" application at the expense of imaginative and artistic potential they make a sound point. But equally sound would be if the opposite were to apply and the child left "unschooled" in realising their practical potential. The child who balances both through separating both is in fact the one who holds the advantage in the sense of being (or at least feeling) both useful and fulfilled in later life, probably even more advantaged than the child who accommodates both through successfully incorporating one into the other. What is certainly true is that the child who fails to distinguish at all, unless he or she is very fortunate, is bound for trouble later when society's expectations are placed on their shoulders.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 25 Nov 2013, 09:25

I was basically an honest child but I can remember telling some childhood friends when I was about five that aunts and uncles lived in a certain house in our road which was untrue - my relatives were all some miles further north but my friends had aunties and uncles (and of course their grandparents) dotted all over the our hometown.  It was because of a desperate wishing that I DID have local relatives to be like the others.  As I grew older I didn't mind being an individual but when I was younger I wanted to conform.  

When I "temped" as a minute taker, the Child Protection Social Workers were careful to check that children interviewed knew the difference between truth and lies, likely with something akin to "Mary's wearing a red dress" was untrue if her dress was of another colour and "John's wearing a blue shirt" was true. 

The son of some former neighbours of mine (now at University) was, when he was younger, looking forward to seeing a unicorn at the zoo, so Mum and Dad had to explain that because something was in a book it wasn't  necessarily true. He was a tad disappointed.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Wed 25 Dec 2013, 14:06

Dear Santa ..... Please send us some sensible programmes on TV for Christmas next year ..... mind you, Santa, thanks for getting Channel 5 to cancel "Once Upon a Time". 

To be more serious, yesterday there was a showing of a version of the "schmaltzfest" that is "Pollyanna" - where they had English accents - Amanda Burton was in it as the aunt; still I guess talented actresses need to work and can't always be picky. My mind wandered and although I actually heard "Anne of Green Gables" on the radio rather than read it, I liked Anne much more than Pollyanna as Anne sometimes put her foot in it unintentionally (one time she and her friend drank what they thought was her guardian's raspberry cordial and it was in fact redcurrant wine and although it was an honest mistake her friend's Mum was not amused).  I saw a TV programme once where the lady who writes the "Tracey Beaker" books said she liked "Minnie the Minx" as a child.  Now that TV Tracey at least is grown up, Electra in "The Dumping Ground" seems to have become the "kick-ass" heroine.

Do kids get confused?  After all they are urged to be good, yet it seems to be in the human condition to root for Dennis the Menace, Beryl the Peril and "Horrid Henry" rather than "Perfect Peter"......
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 27 Dec 2013, 09:03

LiR wrote:
Do kids get confused?

Well, do you remember being confused in that respect as a child? I think people generally underestimate (or forget) the child's ability to compartmentalise such influences and advice, whatever their source. As a child I was quite happy to accommodate as many such conflicting messages as devouring the local library provided (a consumption rendered even more conspicuous having exhausted the children's department by about ten years of age when I and several others were given dispensation by the librarians to make extensive inroads in the grown-ups' department with no regard to censoring our choices).

If there was confusion it was upon receiving and understanding an explicit "message" but being ill-equipped to understand its author's motives. Knowing and understanding the author, in particular with regard to books that provided something "new" by way of vicarious experience, played a part in assessing the value of their work as a whole, and fly-leaf mini-biographies were devoured with as much curiosity as the rest of the books' contents. However this was often a woefully inadequate avenue into exploring such motives and I recall heated conversations with others regarding the identity of certain authors beyond their names which often superseded discussion about their books' content.

But generally, such challenges aside, we absorbed with remarkably eclectic impartiality the often conflicting messages and views that these authors delivered and in no way allowed these discrepancies to influence whether or not we regarded their books as good, bad or indifferent. About the only criteria that were used to make that judgement centered on those qualities that induced us to turn the page and carry on to the end, and these were as various as they were amoralistically applied. I am not sure that I could still approach reading and literature in general with such wonderfully unashamed dilettantism - in fact I suspect I never can again even if I tried and I regard that as (yet another) lost and much lamented personal quality that disappeared around the time of my childish innocence. If reading conflicting messages from literature should ever confuse me it is more likely to occur now, not when I was a child.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Fri 27 Dec 2013, 13:40

Of the many things I regret losing from my childhood self is the ability to experience unutterable joy of diving into a new book and the almost physical pleasure, usually felt part way down the first page, that swept though me when I thought, 'I'm going to love this'. In fact, falling in love is the closest sensation with which I can compare it. Can you still surrender  yourself totally to the story? I know I can't and I rue it deeply.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Sat 28 Dec 2013, 12:12

Your observation about childhood enjoyment of a new book is apt ferval.  Now as to confusion, referred to in Nordmann's reply to my post, I was not so much confused by things I read but I do remember the messages not to talk to strangers [which of course is sound advice] and to be polite to grown-ups did puzzle me.  I believe I may have asked my mother about it but it's a long time ago and I can't recall her answer.  It must have been satisfactory.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 31 Mar 2014, 12:11

A recent interesting twist in the "right for children to read?" question regarding modern notions of political correctness;

Little House On The Prairie (the book series, not so much the TV series) was very much a semi-autobiographical work by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her childhood in the American mid-west in the 1800s. It is currently being proscribed throughout US libraries and the general educational system because of her "treatment" (in a literary sense) of the Osage Nation peoples.

Her storyline where it includes the Osage is based almost completely on real-life events when her father relocated the family to Kansas having acquired official assurances that the territory then called "Indian Territory" was to be opened to white settlement. In this case officialdom had duped both the Osage - whose legal reservation it was that the Ingalls settled on - and the settlers themselves, many of whom faced penury and starvation if forced to move again. To Charles Ingalls' credit he did not dispute the Osage's rights or his requirement to move again and attempted to organise his fellow settlers legally to press a claim for compensation. This met with limited success but the Ingalls still moved, this time back to Wisconsin, the point in Laura's story from which the TV series based its narrative timeline. In this story there is no doubt in the young Laura's mind who the villains of the piece and who the victims were. The Ingalls, being forced through poverty from homestead to homestead, were little better off than the "Indians" whose land they had almost illegally occupied.

But there lies the rub. To Laura, as indeed to every other white settler then and for many years to come, the Osage were "Indians". And it is this term that has caused the recent rabid ostracisation of Laura's books from the ranks of "acceptable" literature for children. Yet any child reading her work, and knowing that it was written by a contemporary eye witness to events that culminated in the Osage being forcibly restricted to their present reservation in Oklahoma, could not but gain two valuable insights into that sensitive part of US history - that all white settlers did not necessarily view the native Americans as mere savages wirhout legal status or rights, and that distrust of officialdom was as endemic amongst poor settlers as displaced natives. It is important history to learn for any young American today, and doubly so in that even today it challenges young minds to see beyond the stereotypical view of "the past". Not to mention that it iterates justified grievances on the part of the displaced - white and native - of the period.

Yet because she used the word "Indian" this valuable historical document and its role in informing a young mind's perspective will be denied to future generations.

Is this actually sane?
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 31 Mar 2014, 12:22

And I presume one can still watch "cowboy and indian" films starring the likes of John Wayne, in which the "offensive" word isn't dubbed over. Or has this entire genre also been suppressed for PC reasons?

A lot of classic children's literature demonstrates out of date ideas and concepts, but even these works still have considerable value not the least being that they illustrate how things have indeed changed. But to re-write or suppress what is basically a contemporary historic account seems particularly perverse and miss-guided.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 31 Mar 2014, 12:54

Could they not print the works with an explanatory note setting the term in its historic background? I know in a lot of older stories, not necessarily those aimed at children, there is a twist at the end which seems strange nowadays.  For instance, in "Westward Ho", Ayacanora, the Native American princess, turns out to be an English girl who was kidnapped in infancy (and therefore socially acceptable as a partner for the English hero I guess).  In "Aucassin and Nicolette" which I cited on another thread, Nicolette, who Aucassin's father (a count) does not consider of a high enough social class to marry his son, turns out to be the daughter of the King of Carthage, so she's a posho really.  I don't think "Westward Ho" or "Aucassin and Nicolette" have been banned by anyone though.  I don't think the idea of somebody marrying a person from another culture or social class would not be seen as shocking in literature now (even though it does not happen all that often in real life).
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 31 Mar 2014, 13:12

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
  For instance, in "Westward Ho", Ayacanora, the Native American princess, turns out to be an English girl who was kidnapped in infancy (and therefore socially acceptable as a partner for the English hero I guess).  

The same thing happens in the film Dances with Wolves.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 31 Mar 2014, 13:17

Of course they could print a foreward explaining the context LiR, and indeed I am sure many publishers have done so with respect to "Little House", if only to emphasise that Ingalls Wilder's book should not be confused with the saccharine sweet TV adaptation through which many learnt of it originally. However the terror these days of being accused of racism if one as publisher produces a book containing "Indian" or "nigger" - regardless of context - is absolute.

It raises the whole question of embarrassing history - and let's face it, when it comes to every society's past it does not take much historical scraping to turn up an example. Yet how can one learn history or pretend to teach it if one cannot even contemplate the substance of the embarrassment? In the Ingalls Wilder book's case the issue is even sadder, given that little Laura as depicted by her older self could not help but see the injustice being perpetrated against these "Indians". To her it was not a pejorative term, it was a term of identity for someone in the same pickle as her father being screwed by the profiteers and their official cronies.

In the same vein, here is a genuine question being asked by a distraught Grade 9 student on the homework help page of a US educational website (forgive the grammar - this too is indicative of US education):

"When reading To Kill A Mockingbird aloud, is it wrong to read the word "nigger", even though we are not prejudice?"

The student receives some very eloquent replies, all from teachers, who mostly emphasise that this should be regarded as "a teachable moment", meaning a moment in which the context and the history of the term can be explored. The last reply however, also from a teacher, refutes their stance. The lack of literacy in their reply as well as the lack of ability to discuss the topic outside of their own very narrow personal perceptions probably questions their choice of career. However in today's society it is their voice, however ineloquent or unreasonable, which will always shout loudest and get its way:

I could never read that word aloud.  My experience with the word was of hurt and dehumanization of peers and people around me growing up and in family and friend circles.  Yes, of course I realize it is a historically "accepted" word but that doesn't mean it wasn't wrong ... I think the students can see the word with their eyes and for someone to say a teacher's "avoidance" of certain words highlights the teacher's lack of moral authority is absolutely sad and elitist to me....

No one can understand the experience and pain behind such words if one has not been inside the person's skin...therefore, I agree that it depends on the situation and those involved.

Some of the above notes are condescending and so far out of touch with the authenticity of the pain and degregation behind this oppressive time...and the years that followed it...teaching unpleasant characters and books is part of learning and growing and the way to understand new points of new, but to be bold enough to say one has no problem saying a word aloud that caused/causes such deep pain to many (not all) is insensitive, elitist and just plain ignorant."
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Mon 31 Mar 2014, 14:18

Some years ago I was working in the same office as an Afro-Caribbean lady and I explained that as a youngish child I had said "Eeny meeny myni mo" etc which includes the "n" word in my Mum's hearing.  My Mum said it was not an acceptable word [not nastily] but explained it was used in a demeaning way for black people (when I was five I had not heard the word before and did not know what it meant).  Mind you I don't know that the version she had "catch a baby by the toe" was much better.  Especially as my brother was very young then and a baby - I might have put the rhyme to proof (I didn't).  My colleague said that sometimes Afro-Caribbean kids said the rhyme among themselves but would object if white kids said it.  Mind you that's getting on for 30 years ago; probably changed now.  Back in the day I recall "special needs" children were called "educationally sub-normal" and that is a change I agree with.  Nordmann, the example you cite is food for thought; in all honesty I don't know which side I would come down on.  Maybe if I have the chance to ask somebody Afro-Caribbean I will enquire what they think of the matter .....
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 08:51

http://peteraep.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/political-correctness-or-newspeak-lord.html


The edition of Lord of the Flies that we read at AUA is published in New York, and the Perigee editors have changed a word. On page 180, Golding originally has Piggy describe Jack's group as "a pack of painted niggers", not "Indians" (Golding & Epstein, 1954). British editions, such as the Faber and Faber edition, continue to use the original niggers (Golding, 1997, p. 200).

Do you think that the American publisher was right to change the word niggers to Indians?


The edition used in English schools now has Piggy refer to Jack's mob as "savages". When I read this text I always explained that the writer's original choice of word had been changed and invited discussion: the debate that followed always proved to be lively. Proved useful too for introducing the concept of signs/signification/the creation of meaning. What is the thought behind the sign? The offensive word is now used all the time as a form of addresss - ironically, I believe - by black youngsters (in "The Wire", for instance, every other word is "nigger"). They have claimed the word as their own.


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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 09:07

From the point of view of children learning from literature then such a retrospective edit can in fact be quite useful - as long of course as the child is aware of the change and encouraged to address it. Knowing that Noddy, Huckleberry Finn, Piggy etc have undergone a metamorphosis since their original conception is valuable knowledge for a child to acquire. And the result of processing that knowledge can be quite surprising.

On a teachers' website discussing this subject one contributor remarked on a pupil's reaction to being told that Mark Twain's books had now been issued with "nigger" excised and replaced in every instance by "slave". One black child in the class said he was still uneasy with the replacement word and the teacher asked him to elaborate, thinking that he would object to the notion that "slave" should be synonymous with "black" - a very logical and valid objection.

His reply however was quite different. If someone in the future objects to "slave", he asked, then what will the editors choose next - "servant" maybe? And if that is deemed objectionable will it become "assistant" perhaps? And then what, "secretary"? Best, he said, to just accept that Mark Twain's characters used the word "nigger" and move on.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 11:21

Always the problem with euphemisms, isn't it?  All those words to avoid calling kids dumb never actually fool other kids, and now you need to be quite careful about saying anyone is special, because to my kids' generation it means intellectually backwards.  Or some polite phrase which I can't quite recall.

I remember reading Dr Doolittle to one of my boys and he loved it.  I wanted to recommend it to a friend for her son, but they were caring people sensitive to others and I was a bit uncertain since Lofting uses 'nigger' quite a bit.  But the Dr Doolittle books are in general full of the sort of values you would like your children to learn.  I don't recall what I did myself with the word - did I just say it, or did I change to something, and if so what? 

I read once some site discussing the word 'nigger' and someone even argued carefully that having the politican resign because he used the word 'niggardly' was right, because you must ensure that you are sensitive to black people's feelings and refrain from anything that might remind people of attitudes to them in the past.  (Or something similar.)  Back to changing words constantly, now I am wondering if my use of 'black people' is quite right nowadays.  Constantly trying to pretend that no one notices there are differences in people is confusing to say the least.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 12:28

@Caro wrote:

I read once some site discussing the word 'nigger' and someone even argued carefully that having the politican resign because he used the word 'niggardly' was right, because you must ensure that you are sensitive to black people's feelings and refrain from anything that might remind people of attitudes to them in the past.  (Or something similar.)  .

But niggardly derives from the Norse 'nigla' meaning to be petty-minded or to fuss about small matters, and has absolutely no connection to nigger which derives from the Spanish/Portugese 'negro' meaning black colour.

Whatever next, banning the word plastic because it sounds like spastic?

By the way, just as an observation, it seems France has resisted the euphemism treadmill ... words like un negre, (a black person), un arabe (un arab person), un hanicapé (a handicapped person), un aveurglé (a blind person), are still widely used in the media and even official documents, and are not in themselves generally seen as pejorative, merely descriptive. Though what that actually says about French society I do not know.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 13:20

@Caro wrote:
Always the problem with euphemisms, isn't it?  All those words to avoid calling kids dumb never actually fool other kids, and now you need to be quite careful about saying anyone is special, because to my kids' generation it means intellectually backwards.  Or some polite phrase which I can't quite recall.


I once worked at a school where considerable thought was given to the naming of a special unit for the - er -  difficult and/or "academically-challenged" youngsters. It was eventually - after hours of agonised discussion - decided that "The Mulberry Unit", complete with a charming logo not unlike the one used for the handbag company, would be appropriate. The kids were soon using "Mulberry" as a term of abuse and contempt, as in: "Shut up, you great Mulberry."


@Caro wrote:

Back to changing words constantly, now I am wondering if my use of 'black people' is quite right nowadays.  Constantly trying to pretend that no one notices there are differences in people is confusing to say the least.


I seem to remember that in Season One of The Wire (mentioned above), one of  Jimmy McNulty's little boys tells his dad off for referring to "that black man over there."

"You're supposed to say African-American, dad," McNulty Jr. tells his bemused parent sternly.





Last edited by Temperance on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 14:36; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 14:16

Deleted - posted twice.

Oh, obviously not posted twice after all.

And now lost. Nevermind it wasn't anything earth-shattering.
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 15:20

@Temperance wrote:

I seem to remember that in Season One of The Wire (mentioned above), one of  Jimmy McNulty's little boys tells his dad off for referring to "that black man over there."

"You're supposed to say African-American, dad," McNulty Jr. tells his bemused parent sternly.
Risky. What if he were Afro-Caribbean - or African or .....
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PostSubject: Re: The things we learnt from children's literature ...   Tue 01 Apr 2014, 22:41

I was thinking similarly, Gil, though my first reaction was that they might not think of themselves as African.  No one refers to me as Scottish-New Zealand.  (Though yesterday, a woman came into our information centre and said she would pay for herself and her husband to go into the museum.  He hadn't come into the centre at the time and she was describing him a bit and I said, "Is he Japanese too? Though maybe you're not Japanese." By which I meant she might be Korean, but she said, "No, I'm not.  I come from Hawaii," and I said, "Oh, so American then." This still didn't help with what racial characteristics her husband might have (he was white) for me to identify him.  And it took me a second when he tried to pay to realise that this was the man who was already paid for - I hadn't noticed his identifying shorts that she had told me he was wearing.)

As regards 'niggardly' the person I remember reading was aware the two words weren't connected by meaning or etymology, but was showing hyper-sensitivity, and on checking this morning I see numerous people seemed to be supportive of this stance at the time (still? I don't know).  Though I saw a comment saying it would be like being unable to say Day-glo in case it reminded people of dago. There does seem to be a huge sensitivity to race in America.
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