I remember seeing Kelly Gallagher do some PD once that really stuck with me. Especially when he demonstrated how prior knowledge and range of vocabulary affects comprehension.
Kelly used the term “Uncle Charlie” in a passage of reading to exemplify a point he was making. Being that I am kind of a baseball guy, I knew that the author of the passage was referring to the pitcher throwing a curveball in the piece.
However, many in the audience were befuddled because they didn’t come to the passage with much prior baseball in their back pockets.
Thus, Kelly’s great point. He posits that extensive reading and exposure to a wide latitude of articles, pieces, ideas and so on broadens people in a great many ways – and without that extensive scope of reading, there is a ceiling over our heads… the less one broadly reads, the lower the ceiling. (BTW, I am paraphrasing… probably badly but that’s why Kelly is inimitable and I tackle more fiction than non.)
That leads me to a very funny email I just received. (It’s below.) Of course, I think it’s really funny because I come to the piece with the background knowledge needed to see the humor… so some of these are really LOL hysterical to me.
However, if you know nothing of history, international culture, or war in the 20th century this might sail right over your head… just as Kelly’s Uncle Charlie reference did to many in the audience that day.
(Side note: Of course, I get sideswiped all the time by references to things which I simply “do not get”. As culture becomes more fragmented, a legit question arises about, “What should we all know?” The coming Common Core Standards are somewhat of a response to this idea. But really, what percentage of your kids would laugh if they read the following… and of the ones that did not laugh, is limited knowledge about pretty important events in the not so distant past the culprit? Or is it that I just have a warped sense of humor and the line about the Germans is only funny is you have a screw loose?)
Terror Levels Alerts Across the Globe
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats, and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved”. Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross”. The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940.
The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the B@stards”. They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 400 years.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender”.
Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.
The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs”. They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose”.
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Americans meanwhile, and as usual, are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies “just in case”.
Canada doesn’t have any alert levels.
New Zealand has raised its security levels – from “baaa” to “BAAAA”. Due to continuing defense cutbacks, New Zealand has only one more level of escalation, which is “I hope Australia will come and rescue us”.
Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, mate”. Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is cancelled”. So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.