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Ask a random current student if he or she has read something by William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, or Mark Twain, and the answer will almost certainly be a yes— whether that “yes” is voiced with fondness, indifference, or bitterness. Ask that student’s parents or grandparents the same question, and despite generational gaps, the answer likely will not change.
A young boy sits in the corner of a schoolroom, a coat on his lap. He looks under it intently. He looks periodically toward the door and sighs contently when he sees it remains shut. His quiet is soon interrupted when a teacher loudly opens the door and, seeing him sit there, comes over and taps him on the shoulder. “Young man,” he says, “What are you doing in here?” “Nothing, sir,” he says, his voice trailing off. “Is that right?”
When I lived in Seattle, I once attended a reading of the Megillas Esther, the ancient story of the triumph of the Jewish people over the wicked Haman who intended to wipe them out from the face of the earth, that really was special because of the way that the reader went through the story. When he would read the lines of dialogue as spoken by people in the story, he would read them in their voices — Queen Esther in one way, the vicious Haman in his own nasty voice. I appreciated it quite a bit because I would often do the same thing when reading it to myself — and when reading most other fiction, for that matter. Even some nonfiction — I tend to hear the voice of David Sedaris when I am reading his autobiographical pieces.
It is hard for me to remember a time when the following wasn’t drilled into my head — that there are different styles of learning and that depending on the style of learning, whether it was through reading or hearing or a combination of reading and hearing, different people needed to approach learning in their own way. That was my mantra when I was in school and even in the office I would tell people that I was a visual learner over an audio learner and therefore requested that they back up what they told me with the same information in writing.
The naming of products can be a funny and tricky thing. There is the often repeated and yet false story about how the Chevrolet Nova failed to sell well in Latin America because the name means that the car does not go in Spanish. Even the naming of web sites, thanks to the lack of spaces in the url, can turn an innocuous store like Pen Island into the less than innocuous Penisland. A place to find out Who Represents actors suddenly seems like it could really be about Whore Presents when you don’t parse the name of the site correctly.