Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Dialogue with Myself

There have been some fantastic entries about Schooled by Gordan Korman (shout out to Mrs. Fusaro and others) and I was anxious to read this “buzz book.” I wasn’t disappointed! Often as I read a good book, I wonder if other people reading the same pages are “hearing” what I’m hearing, thinking what I’m thinking, interpreting a character’s behavior in the same way that I just interpreted the behavior. I would guess not. The dialogue that we create with ourselves as we read is as individual as we are. In this writing I will include some of my personal dialogue.

Initially, Schooled was just a funny, fast-paced novel told through the eyes of its many interesting characters. Who wouldn’t enjoy meeting a teenager who has been raised in a hippie commune, knowing no one but his sixty-year-old grandmother? Seeing our world through his eyes provided for a lot of smiles and quiet laughter as I read those beginning chapters. The miscommunication that stems from a literal interpretation of our figurative language was quite entertaining. This book was fun.

And then the messages behind the story surfaced. It was most definitely a great lesson on bullying and bad behavior, but Gordan Korman also got me thinking about other aspects of our society. My internal dialogue began to speak. For example, I am thinking of Sophie’s father. Although he wasn’t a main character in the book, his existence had its purpose. He surely loved his daughter, yet he was lacking. His irresponsible, selfish behavior was a constant heartache and disappointment for his daughter. This got me thinking: We often say that adults are our role-models, but we just may be more successful in finding role-models within our youth population. Adults can disappoint just as easily as children, and because we expect more from them, perhaps the disappointment is more pronounced. I wish the media could do a better job of highlighted the youth who are such great role models.

Additionally, particular excerpts within the book also spurred an internal dialogue. (Cap Anderson, p 89) “I was amazed that people seemed less interested in Mr. Rodrigo’s recovery than the details of how he got to the emergency room.” This got me thinking: Isn’t that the sad truth? Too many times we are drawn to the sensation behind the story. Are we giving enough thought to the real people who are involved? Are we sensitive to their pain?

And I loved Cap’s reflections when his crush Sophie was trying to come to terms with her father’s failings: “Life certainly gets more complicated when you know more than one person. I could only imagine what it would be like when I knew eleven hundred.” (p 102) This got me thinking: As much as we may want to shelter our loved ones from the pain that sometimes accompanies life, true happiness comes from our willingness to be vulnerable. Although people can disappoint, they are also the source of our real pleasures. You know the old saying, “No man is an island…” (John Donne, 1624) Cap was beginning to grow.

All in all, this book had everything it needed to be a great story. The characters totally entertained as they evolved and grew. Because it was told through the point of view of each character, it was both enlightening and fast-paced. And finally, it caused the reader to relate, reflect, and smile. Thank you, Gordan Korman, and thank you, Capricorn Anderson!


  1. Kate,

    I have to say that I enjoy your writing so much; you take us through a journey of your thoughts as you read and interpret the novels in your own unique way.

    Also, I wanted to add a bit to your thoughts on role models and the supposed age requirement. Throughout my adult life, I've been fortunate to see the amazing capabilities of empowered children. When we allow students to find and follow their passion, then surround them with support and resources, what they can create is astounding. It's not only the work they do that dazzles me, but also their ability to lead and be role models for both their peers and the adults in their lives.

    For a quick example of what I mean, take a look at this student:

    Thanks again for your thoughts and ideas!

  2. Thanks, Patrick. I will take a look at that student from the the Ted talks! When I was writing about young role models I was actually thinking about a friend of my daughter's. Her name is Maggie Doyne. Google her. You will be amazed at what she's done and she's just a regular girl from our little hometown. Youth - amazing!