Wednesday, 4 February 2009

my great grandfather, the charioteer

Good news on the competent Dad front -- I can still help Ed with his math homework. I don't say I am smarter than a tenth grader, but I am at least able to keep up. Last night was all about polynomials and solving for x -- more or less familiar territory. I revelled in my usefulness. It won't be long before Ed passes into the strange country of logarithms and cosecants -- places which, on my map, are left blank except for the Here be dragons warning.
Considering how well informed he is on so many fronts, Ed and his class are astonishingly -- I use the modifier judiciously -- ignorant of history. He recounted the results of a general knowledge quiz yesterday, and I didn't know whether to laugh or weep. (Actually, I did know -- I laughed. Hard.) The questions all had to do with the year 1900. Ed's teacher was trying to get a sense of what the kids knew about that time in history, and the answer is, well, nothing. According to them, the top three jobs in 1900 were: blacksmith, gladiator, and charioteer. I am not making it up. Gladiator? I said to Ed. Gladiator?
Yeah, we were off by like four hundred years or so, huh, he replied.
Or so, I said.
Well, I just figured it was all a long time ago. Like the crusades and stuff. Why are you laughing again, Dad?
Reminds you of those views of America from the New Yorker perspective, where the five boroughs take up half the map, then there is blankness between New Jersey and the Mississippi River, and then nothing much until the Hollywood sign.
Perspective is all. Ask a kindergartener how old someone is. Oh, she's real old, they'll say. Like eleven.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About 10, 15 years ago I was signing out music tapes at our library. There was a young girl watching as she waited behind this person. She looked up to her father and asked, "Dad, what are those?"

Ouch. Anyone got an 8-track.