Saturday, May 10, 2003

The Joys of Teaching Kids (Part I)

One of the more profound things about being an educator is the feeling of joy you get from sharing with inquisitive young minds the knowledge and wisdom you possess. You know there's something magical in the way those kiddie eyes light up at their discovery of heretofore hidden knowledge-- Apocrypha, which until you open your educator's mouth, remains the purview of Parents.

In front of children, there is no need for the inane social contortions we put ourselves through when facing The Jaded Adult. We cannot hide our imperfections, as there are no masks that children cannot see through. The more we try, the more we are found out in the most embarrassing ways. Children are living detectors of cognitive dissonance.

Confronted with the undivided attention of such pure beings, one understands why some young fogeys fresh out of college decide to become old fogeys in learning institutions that beg to be dissolved out of sheer decrepitude.

When you're in the classroom, and the class is responsive, you can forget the passage of time. Every child surprises with answers, with questions, with his own quirky behavior. The class hour blossoms, ripens and groans, heavy with the variegated fruits of epiphany.

When you're teaching, you entertain the notion that you are actively taking part in the shaping of the world's great collective hope.

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Articles you�ll never find in Culture Crash (part1)

Review: Burger King Kids Club Saruman the White (dtd December, 2001)

Oh my god its Geeezaaaas� oops, sorry, my mistake. It�s Christopher Lee in all his evil glory as �Saruman the White! Young moviegoers remember Saruman as The Fellowship of The Rings� head of the Order of Wizards. Once an exalted member of the forces of light, his obsessive study of the Ring of Power led him down the slow, delicious path to corruption and debauchery. (Hmmm. I just realized that working in a government office also has that effect.)

Unfortunately, the child-safe plastic toy, which stands about half the height of a Motorola L-Series celphone (my L-Series phone), exudes nothing of the power or the menace of one of Middle-Earth�s more prominent villains. I stare into that plastic face and see only wisdom and kindness. The discrepancy doesn�t stop there, folks. Saruman traditionally wears a white robe, but the manufacturers apparently wanted to save on the white paint. If I didn�t know better, I�d swear that the CCCom office�s 1st resident mystical bad guy�s name was Saruman the Beige.

Still, Saruman decorates the space next to my Evil PC, and he does so with good reason. For P75, I get to take a pretty well crafted likeness of Christopher Lee home with a Burger King sandwich and drink. Those of us who want a piece of the Lord of the Rings pie but are too impoverished to purchase the larger, more detailed� and more frightfully expensive� movie character models can walk to the nearest Burger King and order a Kids Club meal. They will come home feeling that they actually got their money�s worth in a Lord of the Rings toy that also comes with a movie still depicting the featured character.

The toy�s packaging opens like a book, with indentations and placeholders for the toy and movie still. The cover sports the character�s name, and features pictures plus a brief bio in three languages. For the obsessive compulsive out there, you can look for the Burger King logo and safe child age notice (3 and above) and pore through the otherwise irrelevant fine print. The packaging is a fusion of function and aesthetics, allowing you to carry your toy around like a protective blanket or anting-anting, without fear of getting it soiled or damaged through the rigors of continuous travel. It also allows you to go about this business without unduly looking stupid.

Of course, you�ll have to wait until December for your chance to take home Saruman, Aragorn, Legolas (Ahahaaay! Orlando Bloooommm! Fafa!), Gimli, Arwen and Galadriel, along with a slew of heretofore-unseen Lord of the Rings characters. Explanation? The first Burger King promo that allowed me to take home Christopher �Saruman� Lee expired months ago. Expect Burger King to revive the promo so that it coincides with the release of the second and third installments of the Lord of the Rings, namely The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

Name: Saruman the White
Rating: Shoulda bought a Ringwraith with the Kids Club meal, but he�ll do. He makes a dignified paperweight.
Availability: Decembers of 2001, 2002 and 2003 at all Burger King Outlets. Part of their Kids Club meals.
Price: Barring further economic crises� P75

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Dex's Words of the Week

Apokatastasis - The belief, as perpetuated by Origen and St. Gregory of Nyssa, that all creatures, even the damned, will one day be restored by God to their pristine, heavenly state. Look it up and soak in the Latin.

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