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.