Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Literacy ROCKS!

by Robison Wells

Tonight I’m speaking to a big mob of teenagers. Normally, I’d probably speak about something youth oriented, like Halo 3 or My Chemical Romance or about how we all need to fight The Man because he’s trying to make us conform. But tonight I have to speak about something completely different: Personal Development Through Literacy.

Like, gag me with a spoon! (Do the kids still say that?)

Let me tell you something right now. If I, as a thrice-published novelist and an all-around stand-up guy, was told there was a lecture on Personal Development Through Literacy, I would run the other way, screaming like a little girl. The good news, of course, is that this is a church activity, so those kids HAVE to be there, and they’re probably going to be relatively polite. But they’re not going to want to be there, that’s for dang sure.

Literacy is a boring topic. An important one, sure, but a boring one. It’s like macroeconomics or omega-3 fatty acids. Those things are definitely necessary, but who wants to talk about them? Not me, that’s who. Likewise, Personal Development sounds absolutely awful.

Imagine this: you’re a teenager, probably named Brianna. (If you’re male, you can be named Spencer.) (Actually, to make this easier, let’s just say your name is Jordan, because then you can be either one.) Okay. So, Jordan, you’re sitting in your Young Men/Young Women activity, telling your friends about how you were out wrenching on the zuki, when, like, OH MAN!, Aiden came walking by and he/she was TOTALLY hot!

Anyway, in the middle of this conversation, your stern YM/YW leader (who looks something like Dolores Umbridge) enters the room and tells you that it's time to hear about Personal Development. What would you instantly think? You'd think "They think I'm broken, and want to fix me."

(Now, of course, since you are a teenager you ARE broken. But do you want to be told that you are?)

"So," says Dolores, "you're broken and crappy and the way to fix you is: literacy!" Is there possibly a more detestable idea in the entire world? Literacy does not sound like fun. Literacy means that you're being forced to read somber dramas about kids who die. You know what screams LITERACY? Bridge to Frickin' Terabithia. Summer of the Swans. Books where people come to terms with things. Jacob Have I Loved, for crying out loud.

So I have no idea how I'm going to teach this stuff. Heck, I'm not even a teenager and the idea of it bores me to tears.

I think the first course of action is to change the title of my topic. Personal Development basically means Making Yourself Better, but let’s make that phrase a little more dynamic. “Making better” could be switched to “Amplify”, because kids like their amps and their rock n’ roll, but we also need some good adverbs and adjectives in there, too. Well, I’ve never met an explosion I didn’t like, so let’s translate “Personal Development” into “Explosively Amplify Your Awesomeness”.

Now we need a substitute for “literacy”. The thesaurus gives me Articulateness, Cultivation, Knowledge, Proficiency, Scholarship… all of which sound lame-o-rama. So, we’ll consult a list of awesome words, and find: paronomasia, micawber, cheval-de-frise, oikology, and eleemosynary. True, none of these words literally mean literacy, but they do require a dictionary to understand. Consequently, the topic of my lecture this evening will be “Explosively Amplify Your Awesomeness Via Paranomasia”.

Now that sounds like a class I’d like to attend—or my name isn’t Jordan.


At 9/18/2007 4:41 PM, Anonymous meanaunt said...

The ONLY way I would want to go to a Personal Development through Literacy class would be if you were teaching it, Rob.

At 9/18/2007 4:53 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

I'm sure you'll keep the kids awake at the very least, Jordan.

At 9/18/2007 5:15 PM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

Rob, you are not taking this seriously enough. I think you need to use this text as the cornerstone of your lecture.

I think you should combine your 'sticking it to the man' talk, with the one you were assigned. Teach them how to be personally developed with The Communist Manifesto, Anarchists Cookbook, and The Monkey Wrench Gang.

If nothing else, you won't be roped into something like that again in the near future.

At 9/18/2007 6:40 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Speaking of Jordan, was anyone else saddened to hear about this author (Robert Jordan) who died this past weekend?

And then did you cry out in frustration at not ever knowing how it all ends?

"Rand kills everyone and then himself. THE END."

That's the problem with big epic works... you have to survive to the end of them.

What? Not on topic? Come on, be a little more eleemosynary, man! Don't harsh my mellow!

At 9/18/2007 8:27 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Rob, I think the new "in phrase" is (or should be) "choke on skittles and die." Much cooler than being gagged with a spoon. Maybe they asked you because you'll be in school forever and they think you can probably relate to those kids better because of it.

At 9/19/2007 12:28 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Rock on, dude! Or some other cool saying that means, I liked your blog. I'm not cool, and therefore, have deep issues trying to sound like I am.

At 9/19/2007 11:03 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

Rob darling, your name isn't jordan. And Jon I wept like an infant when I heard Robert Jordan died. I'm still twitching when i think of it. Sigh . . .

At 9/20/2007 10:29 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

Oh my! Robert Jordan died??? This is so frustratingly...frustrating that I'll have to go lock myself in my soundproof room and swear for a few hours! (Don't want the kids or the neighbors to hear.)

At 9/25/2007 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - the first thing I thought of was - I already know how to read. Why are they saving me with something I already know? Of course when I was a teenager I already knew everything. It was very sad when I turned 20 and didn't know everthing anymore.


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