Mystery in History

‘Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?’

‘I never saw one, or heard of one,’ said Alice.

‘Come on, then,’ said the Queen, `and he shall tell you his history,’

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter IX

We return to story-sharing in Wonderland when Alice is introduced to the melancholy Mock Turtle by a truth-exposing Gryphon.  

Alice quickly learns that the half green sea-turtle/half cow laments once being a real turtle (as author Lewis Carroll once again focuses on an animal that was and still is today at risk of extinction because of the greed of humans) before he segues into nostalgia over his childhood education.  

`We had the best of educations–in fact, we went to school every day–‘

~ the Mock Turtle, from Alice in Wonderland, Chapter IX

Pride, prejudice and puzzlement (or is it mockery?) in education are incorporated throughout Alice in Wonderland and the American educational system.  The Mock Turtle at once brags about having the highest education while contradicting himself that he couldn’t afford the “extras” that he had belittled Alice for not learning.  Alice herself had been very prideful of, and also very confused by, her own education as it never seemed to apply to what she faced in Wonderland. 

As a mathematician, the author may have brilliantly infused mathematical principles into Alice’s adventure (thwarting the trippy drug-induced adventure theories) while also expressing his resistance to the “new” mathematics that was emerging at the time the story was written.  

When it comes to education are you a traditionalist or do you prefer a more free-thinking approach?   Do you believe your own education was sensible or nonsensical?  Can you apply what you learned as a child to life as an adult?  

Mock Turtle angrily: ‘really you are very dull!’ (towards Alice)

‘…you are a simpleton.’ ~ the Gryphon (also towards Alice)

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it…

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter IX

Both teachers and parents grapple with the educational system today, especially with the pandemic having brought school into their homes through virtual classrooms.   And as books are banned, history lessons skim over and distort truths and derogatory words are removed from classic stories to try to erase the shameful parts of our country’s past, have you become more curious?  What truths have traditional curriculums omitted?  Our childhood educations have a direct impact on how we perceive what is happening today.  Do you feel misinformed and/or under-educated?  

‘I couldn’t afford to learn it.’ said the Mock Turtle with a sigh

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter IX

Do you believe all children have the right to quality education?  Children in more affluent neighborhoods generally receive higher quality education.  However, in a system that encourages division, parents in suburban neighborhoods voice resentment that their high taxes go towards lower class neighborhoods while budgets are cut in sports and the arts for their own children.  How do we create a system that provides quality education and activities for ALL children without creating division?  What if we spoke up and didn’t need to regret the “Words I Never Said”*      

Both the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon reflect on the memory of their teachers with full respect.  Do you remember a teacher or mentor who encouraged your imagination and curiosity?  The Wonderland creatures are enthusiastic about subjects like mystery – ancient and modern (instead of history) or seaography (instead of geography), drawling, stretching and fainting in coils (instead of drawing, sketching and painting in oils).  Do you wish you had classes that taught “laughing and grieving” too?  What other lessons do you believe children (and adults!) would benefit from outside the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic? 

Victoria Hall and Jesse Crall talk about the difference between curiosity and skepticism and why we need both in the latest episode (and one of my favorites) of Ask Jesse

Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts

If you think that hurts, then wait, here comes the uppercut

The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up

Keep you at the bottom but tease you with the upper crust

You get it, then they move it, so you never keeping up enough 

*Lupe Fiasco ft Skylar Gray “Words I Never Said”

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Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.

Published by Kerri

Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others . She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.

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