Last Friday for part of our Un-school Friday we walked to the library and actually spent a very enjoyable time there, for a change. It is nice to know that Em has finally outgrown the screaming fits she would have every time we walked in the door. While there my eye caught on a Dr. Seuss book I had not seen before, so of course I had to pick it up and bring it home.
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! was written after his death based upon sketches and notes he had made. Another book similar to Oh the Places You Will Go, a favorite of mine, in that it was written for children and adults. I must get this book to put on my shelf along with some of his others that really speak to me.
Here is a school that all the children love because they do things differently and the teachers can make their own rules. Teachers teach things like listening and yelling, how to tell cactuses from cows, and why hippos cannot fly - and other things that the kids don't know. The only person who isn't happy is the principal because he doesn't know if they are learning the right things. One day he has to announce to the school that they have to take a test:
"All schools for miles and miles around
Must take a special test
To see who's learning such and such -
To see which school's the best.
If our small school does not do well,
Then it will be torn down,
And you will have to go to school
In dreary Flobbertown."
"Not Flobbertown!" we shouted,
And we shuddered at the name,
For everyone in Flobbertown
Does everything the same.
The favorite teacher in the school tries to calm everyone down with:
"You've learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more -
I'm certain you'll succeed.
We've taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more -
We've taught you how to think."
Of course they pass with the highest score and everyone is happy.
With my own opinions about schools lately and testing, this was one of those picture books that my children just couldn't figure out why I was giggling so hard. Kind of like watching Happy Feet with the kids this weekend. DH and I kept catching all the adult references and phrases said under breath and laughing - MB and K would look at us funny and tell us very seriously that those weren't the funny parts.
So, I'm considering changing our school name, at least in my head because that is the only place it matters - from Explorations Academy to Diffendoofer Academy.
This evening I got online and researched googled the story so I could include a link. I thought it was also funny that there were so many links to elementary classroom activities for this book. Like schools are really allowed to be 'creative' and they actually want the children to learn how to THINK for themselves. The kids might actually discover that they could learn something without being force-fed small tidbits of information.
If you haven't had a chance to read this book, get it. There is a special feature in the book showing how the book came to be, along with photos of Seuss' own sketches and rhymes he had been working on. It isn't very often one gets to see an artist's draft work.