Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Humor or To Educate..? That Is The Question.

I watch The Daily Show, CNN and Fox News.  It's all a form of news to me.  And, in a way, all a form of theater. I would humbly argue that one is not better than the other.  The news industry has become a multi-media experience, giving all of us the ability to see, hear, smell and feel the news as it unfolds before us, causing us to engage with the story on a more personal level. It's a whole new way to get the news - one that reminds us of our commonality - the human experience.

When we think of education, can we agree that laughter can and should go hand-in-hand with the traditional teaching methods?  Why must anyone view education as more important than enjoyment?  Is it because many of us have to do jobs that we don't like in order to earn our weekend fun? Is this our life view?  There is work and then there is fun. Period.

I, for one, sit here in my office working and (God bless my wife) I don't get much of a weekend. But, we still manage to enjoy our days and weeks together.  How?  Love, work and even learning are all affected by your state of mind.  If we find ways to make the drudgery of life enjoyable, by having a positive outlook, then we can get through even the most mundane or difficult of tasks more easily.  Not only can we get through them, we can enjoy them, and we can even remember them fondly afterwards.

We all had that one teacher in school we remember as being our favorite: the 'great' teacher. Maybe, he or she did something to make us laugh while we learned. Maybe, they spoke with such conviction that it made an indelible impression upon us. Maybe, what we liked most about them was that they simply seemed to care about our needs and desires as individuals.  They just let us be kids for a moment or two, even if it was college and we were twenty-one.

I took a children's book writing course after I graduated college.  In that class, the teacher showed us various children's books.  They ranged from the very silly to the very serious...but no argument was made to convince us that one style or approach was more effective than another.  Winnie the Pooh remains a classic of children's literature without having a serious word in it.

For example, I would go so far as to say that Mark Twain would never compare his work to Shakespeare. In his mind, his work simply represented his humorously ironic outlook on life.  His most beloved and serious work goes largely ignored by the public; it was a book about Joan of Arc.  We love to be entertained, not necessarily lectured to.  Now, if we can find a way to educate in an entertaining way, we may have discovered the perfect pairing.  Like peanut butter and jelly, or banana peels and pratfalls.  Some things just work better when they are put together.

I personally choose to make books that endorse a comical outlook on life.  I want to make kids laugh, because I know the world will inevitably throw them some tears. I believe that there is a educational value in knowing you can curl up with a good book and find solace from the world and its many complications and evils.  I want to create a place where children can just be themselves, and be silly. I hope parents will come along with me in teaching the value of laughter to their children.  As I prepare to release Goosed Up Rhymes, I hope it will create great memories for you all, no matter your age.

Thanks for your time.


1 comment:

  1. Well put, Joe!

    "Can we agree that laughter can and should go hand-in-hand with the traditional teaching methods?" Absolutely!

    Our society, intentionally or not, has already embraced the combination of entertainment & news by continuing to watch it. All too often I hear people complain about the content and/or treatment of news on the American airwaves. To hear someone put it as intelligently as you have is refreshing. Life is complicated but often comes down to one's perspective.

    We forget that life is very much in our own hands. We may not be able to control everything that happens around us, but we always have a choice of how we react to it. Education is one of the most valuable gifts any person can give to another. If we are open to listen, we can learn. What better way to teach & learn than in a way that is enjoyable & fun. Fun makes our experiences more memorable. After all, what's the point of learning something if you don't remember it.

    One of the most simple yet long-lasting lessons I ever learned from a teacher was from our HS art teacher, Mr. Joe Diessroth. The times I spent under his tutelage were some of the most fun & memorable of my life. I can't remember if he said it to a group of us or to me individually, but he said something to the effect that "Too many people walk through life with their heads looking down at the ground or straight ahead. Look up more often. You'll be amazed at how different the world looks."

    Change your perspective & a whole new light is shed on the world around you. There is work & there is fun, but they don't have to mutually exclusive.

    I look forward to seeing your work. I don't have kids yet, but I'll share it with all of my friends/family who do.

    Bona Fortuna,