Friday, September 11, 2009

More By Which To Be Disturbed

Once again this little piece of disturbia comes to us courtesy of EM.  Nothing to do with art this time.  Though, honestly people.  I don't think you all are appreciating the piercing insight of my interpretation!  You call me Freudian?  Me?  When clearly it is her who is struggling under the weight of Freud's leering, subliminal misogyny!  Pfft.  It's not like I'm the one who drew the giant squiggly sperm, and the sad brown uterus now, is it?  This is not Rorschach!  I assure you my psychology has nothing to do with it!

Anywho

Norway--in case you weren't aware--is gearing up for its national elections in just a few day's time.  I will not bore you with the particulars.  Most of you don't live here, don't care, and thus, don't particularly pertain.  And those of you who do...well, I'm sure you've already formed your own learned opinions.  Far more learned than mine, in fact, since, as a non-citizen, I'm ineligiable to vote, and therefore, incapable of processing enough of the political narrative to interpret and describe it here.  Also--I'm lazy, and the whole multi-party coalition/parlimentary thing baffles me a little. 

There.  I've said it.  For the most part, I just don't get it.  Plus, it turns out that the one party with whom I am most ideologically opposed (as all decent, rationally minded liberals should be) is the one party that speaks any sense at all when it comes to a plan for correcting the sorry state of education in this country.  It seems that FrP (the fuckers) know what it takes to actually educate a child, as opposed to merely socializing one.  Once I figured that out, frankly, I didn't have the stomach to investigate further.

Wait.  Why did I even start down this road?

Oh yeah, EM.

This afternoon we were at the kitchen table talking about this and that--dinner wishes, homework left to be done, plans for the weekend, that sort of thing. 

"So," said I, "We'll have time to finish up this spelling chapter next Monday since you'll be off school, and we'll have extra time for English that day."

"What?" says she, "What do you mean off school?"

"The schools are closed for the election.  You know that."

"Whaaaaa, what?"

"The election, EM.  Norway's nation elections."

"Does that mean Kong Harald won't be king anymore?"

Surely she jests.  And yet, she seems serious enough.  "No!  I mean...obviously...just....No!"

"Mmm.  What does it mean then?"

"You know what an election is.  Don't you?"  I'm not asking, so much as pleading.

"It's when you get new presidents and stuff."

"Right.  Or in Norway's case prime ministers.  Do you know who Norway's prime minister is?"

"Ummmm.  Kong.....no.  Ummmmm......no."

Wondering if she's been paying any attention to anybody for the past year especially, I ask tentatively, "Do you know who America's president is?"

"Barack Obama!"

"And what does congress do?"

"Make laws!"  Phew, that's my job done.

"So have you ever heard of a parliment?  Or the Storting?"

"No."

Anyone else disturbed by this?  I mean, here she is in the 4th grade.  The whole country is in the throes of a nationwide, political debate leading up to national elections next Monday, and she knows NOTHING about how her government works.  NOTHING.  It would seem her teachers have used ZERO class time to use this opportunity to discuss civic awareness.  ZERO.

Do I expect too much?  I swear I knew the basic structure of my government by the time I was in the 4th grade.  Executive, legislative, judiciary.  President, senator, congresscritter.  Surely I knew that much by then.  Didn't I?  At the very least I could tell you the name of the president.  I mentioned "Jens Stoltenberg" to her, and she looked at me like I was spinning sticky webs of misdirection and subterfuge....again.....

Democracy.  Republic.  Periodic popular elections.  Sounds like a pretty decent afternoon lesson to me, but apparently not.  Much too much like real learning.  Although, I can't help but think, that if Americans find the President speaking directly to their children so damn scary, they'd really be better off following the Norwegian model.  Presiwhat?

5 comments:

American in Norway said...

Holy Crap is school closed on Monday?
No surprise that the kids don't understand politics here... I don't get it. I am still amazed that the election is in 2 days yet it is never on the front page of the national papers... how weird is that?

Alpha Grandpa said...

Brandi's teacher told her in first grade that you always voted for the winner so she should vote for Nixon, that was her introduction to politics. Your dad thinks you grt government in 6th grade.

JEDA said...

Tressa--Bergen schools have scheduled a planleggingsdag Monday. I have no idea if the rest of the country is following suit.

And I sort of respect that the Norwegian election cycle isn't a 24/7 media circus. As far as I can tell, they don't 'campaign' the same way American politicians campaign. They just step up the dialog. They go on those talk shows every night and debate each other....like EVERY night! No elaborate rules, no sound bites, no stump speeches. They just talk to each other. I find that so impressive....boring as hell....but impressive.

Grandma 'Nita posing as Alpha Grandpa--6th grade? Really? I honestly don't remember at which point they would have formalized civics instruction in school...but I do remember very well discussing the Carter/Reagan election with Grandpa Taylor. For whatever reason, I was with him on election night. And I remember sitting on his lap telling me why he was sad that he feared he'd voted for the guy who wasn't going to win. Granted--that wasn't in school, but I was still aware enough of the election process to have and remember that conversation. I also remember watching Reagan's inagural speech in the classroom...along with the hostages coming home (would that have been at the same time? is that why we watched it?)

My memories are foggy. But my point is...politics was much more a part of my young life than it is in my kids' lives. And it's not like you guys--my parents--were all THAT crazy political. Some of it must have been coming from the schools. I think it's a shame they don't use the current election cycle as an excuse to start talking at least about the basics--democracy, and why popular elections are so important, why we're so lucky and privileged to live in a place where such things are taken for granted.

Anonymous said...

My kids school - completely normal, every day Norwegian school just to the NE of Oslo - they've been doing election stuff in class just like you would hope them to do. Must be some inter-school variation. May be some schools are told not to in case the teacher plugs the candidate they would like to win....

St. Paul Sister said...

Crack out the Schoolhouse Rock DVD's. That'll do her right.