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December 19 2012 4 19 /12 /December /2012 20:22

In a relatively short teaching career in the United Kingdom a certain bewildered question has been thrown at me by several students. It is a question that demonstrates a severe inadequacy in the questioner’s education and one which leads me to despair. The gravity of the situation is exacerbated when the question is asked by intelligent pupils who come from homes where education is apparently valued. It is chilling hear a high school child, in a top high school from an educated background asking, ‘Who is Dr Seuss?’

 

In a country where reams of consultants, experts, commissions of inquiry, parliamentary working groups are constantly examining ways of improving the education system how is it possible that a universal treasure like Dr Seuss has been utterly side-lined? When in the distant future society looks back to assess, if anything valuable produced by the western world in the twentieth century, the works of the late Theodore Giesel are likely to be among the few items worthy of consideration.

 

There may be those who deplore anything American as being alien to English culture and language. Yet there can be no parallel to Dr Seuss when it comes to portraying real issues to readers. His psychological, philosophical and political insights are beyond comparison. In his rhymes and with his wit and fantastical pictures he expresses more succinctly and more accessibly the human condition than any other twentieth century writer, thinker, poet or philosopher. As a teacher, using one of his parables is always a guarantee of getting the class to grasp the idea portrayed. It is not about some elephantine creature, or other peculiar Seussian creation. It is entirely about them.

 

At a time where the government is thinking of requiring that children learn a second language. The proposal is limited to seven languages, two of which are Latin and ancient Greek. Children could learn far more from some of the quasi-language of Dr Seuss. His work is energetic. It speaks in a very set meter. The psychology has more range than any modern school. It touches both contemporary and eternal questions. Children, and other people, will understand his words and meanings more than they will with most other writers.

 

Do not deprive our children and ourselves of the words of this wise man. Promote his works for their wisdom, insight and depth. Please!

In a relatively short teaching career in the United Kingdom a certain bewildered question has been thrown at me by several students. It is a question that demonstrates a severe inadequacy in the questioner’s education and one which leads me to despair. The gravity of the situation is exacerbated when the question is asked by intelligent pupils who come from homes where education is apparently valued. It is chilling hear a high school child, in a top high school from an educated background asking, ‘Who is Dr Seuss?’

 

In a country where reams of consultants, experts, commissions of inquiry, parliamentary working groups are constantly examining ways of improving the education system how is it possible that a universal treasure like Dr Seuss has been utterly side-lined? When in the distant future society looks back to assess, if anything valuable produced by the western world in the twentieth century, the works of the late Theodore Giesel are likely to be among the few items worthy of consideration.

 

There may be those who deplore anything American as being alien to English culture and language. Yet there can be no parallel to Dr Seuss when it comes to portraying real issues to readers. His psychological, philosophical and political insights are beyond comparison. In his rhymes and with his wit and fantastical pictures he expresses more succinctly and more accessibly the human condition than any other twentieth century writer, thinker, poet or philosopher. As a teacher, using one of his parables is always a guarantee of getting the class to grasp the idea portrayed. It is not about some elephantine creature, or other peculiar Seussian creation. It is entirely about them.

 

At a time where the government is thinking of requiring that children learn a second language. The proposal is limited to seven languages, two of which are Latin and ancient Greek. Children could learn far more from some of the quasi-language of Dr Seuss. His work is energetic. It speaks in a very set meter. The psychology has more range than any modern school. It touches both contemporary and eternal questions.

 

Do not deprive our children and ourselves of the words of this wise man. Promote his works for their wisdom, insight and depth. Please!

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