Wednesday, May 30, 2012

High School definition of a socialist: "someone who, like, likes to talk, right?"...and other terrifying things

School's out here in Tucson; last Wednesday was my last day with students in the classroom. But before I 'sign off academically' for the summer, I need to relate one more classroom anecdote, with a student quotable.

Earlier this month, France had its presidential election; incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was voted out and socialist François Hollande was voted in--France's first socialist president since François Mitterand left office back in the mid-1990's. Endeavoring to widen my students' horizons, I tried to incorporate a bit of French politics into their language classes a few weeks ago... Curious, one of the questions I thought I'd ask, after the students learned who François Hollande was, was: "So, when you hear 'socialist,' what does that mean to you?" 

(Surely, with all of the political ads in this country right now, and bumper stickers proclaiming Obama's socialism, the kids had heard the word, right? Surely, somewhere in middle school and/or high school, they've studied this...right?)

In two different classes, more than one student came up with this definition of 'socialist:' "someone who likes to talk, right?" Ahem. Well, maybe...but SOCIALISM is NOT the same thing as SOCIALIZING!!!!! ARGH!!!

There is a certain logic, I suppose. But also ignorance--and some of these kids are only one or two years away from being of voting age!

So, if socialists like to socialize, I guess capitalists like to use BIG LETTERS only and communists just want to live together...and anarchists just want to build a giant boat


Speaking of things French...did you know that the sixth-largest French-speaking city in the world is LONDON? Yes, London, ENGLAND, site of this summer's upcoming Olympics. Between three- and four-HUNDRED THOUSAND émigrés français call that city on the Thames home. Bon voyage and mind the gap...


On to French children's books. 
A good friend came across this article in today's Guardian.
"Terrifying French Children's Books"

(Where is Mommy?)

(It's no big deal.)

And there are some more photos of these children's books' covers here

Instead of the cute 'little piggies going to market,' 
les enfants should confront this existential truth:
   "Toes don't have names."

But if you think those livres en français are scary, you must check out this German offering from the 19th century: Struwwelpeter. (More info here.)
You better stop sucking your thumb, little boy!
(Wow. 19th century children's fare. Wholesome.
Mommy, read me another story before bedtime, just one more, please!)

Vocabulary lesson for today:
French: cauchemar
Spanish: pesadilla
German: Albtraum
Korean: Ahng-mohng


  1. I love Struwwelpeter! Dwight Schrute in The Office reads the story pictured to kids who came to take your daughter to work day. :)

  2. Hey there--just realized I forgot to fully credit you for having sent me the links re: scary French children's stories---so, a belated 'merci'. To you , A---- in FL! ;-)

  3. (and, you're not gonna read Struwwelpeter stories to your little hijo, are you?)