Posted by: fireweaver | November 6, 2009

the state of public education, or, wow i’m whitebread

i had 2 moments of utter confusion at work today.  like most of us, i operate under the assumption that at some point in our education we’ve all got the same memo outlining what qualifies as “famous”.  clearly, my version of the memo must be on white-bread-centric, good-quality-public-education letterhead.  as i was reminded today, there are definitely other versions of the memo in circulation.

a while back, i got a free copy of a novel about genghis khan’s boyhood.  i finished it up this past week, and since a)i don’t have any plans to re-read this one and b)my library needs to be culled savagely anyway, i decided to set it free in the world.  i took it in to a (brilliant & educated) friend at work to give to her kiddos – she says one of her sons particularly enjoys ancient rome and history and whatnot, so i figured he’d like this too.  after giving her the quick synopsis, she said she didn’t know who genghis khan was.  i thought that one was pretty standard, but eh, maybe it’s due to all my own childhood ancient history delving.

later this morning, one of my techs stopped by my office for some paperwork, and then asked about the calendar i have up.  it’s a freebie from jax, mostly spoofs of famous paintings that have mice added into them somehow.  “what’s up with the crazy chick?” he asked me, about the fearful stare of a farmer’s wife at the pair of mice now perched on her dour husband’s shoulder.  “that picture is in no way familiar to you?” i asked him, befuddled again by what i’d taken for granted as common knowledge.  i took the calendar down and flipped through it with him as he further didn’t recognize magritte’s bowler hats & clouds, munch’s scream, or coolidge’s poker-playing dogs.  he wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the originals we looked up together on the internet (‘american gothic’ being boring, and ‘the scream’ being scribbly), but well, they’re, you know, famous.

or so i’d assumed.



  1. Huh. Not even “Dogs playing poker?” I wonder if he’d be able to recognize a velvet Elvis…

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