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A School Daze Refresher

Investment banks are failing in an election year, Darth Vader is teaching geometry, and soon we'll all be wearing trash: time to go back to school.

Lessons start again this month across schools in the Western world, whilst Lehman Brother's and AIG got schooled in the pitfalls of unregulated capitalism. Election year guarantees we will learn a lot about the people wanting to to run the country for a few years. Who knew that people hunted wolves from helicopters a few months ago? And we should consider ourselves blessed that the internet informed us that Obama is not muslin (sic.). We learn, we forget, and as This American Life taught us recently, with all this new-found knowledge, or lack of, we have become Modern Jackasses: knowing just a bit too little, sharing it, pretending it's really big.

The gimmickry of combining Star Wars and Pythagoreanism would never work in the school, but the internet has no limits on the possible lessons you can learn and there are millions begging for these sorts of diversions. Even if it is Darth Vader standing in front of a webcam declaring, "The hypotenuse is the long side of the triangle . . . I prefer to think of it as the Dark Side."


Our Dark Lord strives for something cute and offbeat; it's noteworthy due to the juxtaposition but if I were to test you now, would you remember it? It's perhaps best then, when dishing out advice, to make light of a complicated situation, not to trick us into learning something we forget long ago. Coudal provides a few useful tips of surviving the economic depression in the series, "Now that the banks have collapsed and the world has falling into chaos." Trash bag fashion for a time when you can't afford to throw anything away.


The TED talks continue to make me feel optimistic that the smart people have my back. It's not all new-tech revelling from an altogether distant astral plane; some are those deep memorable lessons, stories of humanity and individuals. "How to Read Africa" is delivered by "the gangster rapper at the Bar-Mitzvah", Chris Abani. He discusses narrative and creating sense of self through the agents of imagination, or more simply, you can't tell the story of a whole continent.


That is the sort of nuance you'll struggle to find on the internet, but we are all aware of its flaws--why it may not be so smart to try to learn about any subject, let alone Africa, from Professor Wikipedia . . . "In 1908 he was award the Nobel Prize for . . . moustache."



Since it's the end of a long week, let's remember a time when you did little else but wonder, when Sesame Street taught the sort of simple and colourful messages that all the above would do well to take notes from. Let's all sit quietly and enjoy the classic, "How Crayons Are Made." You'll wish all textbooks came with such warming, strangely hip, and charming music.

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TMN Editor Mike Deri Smith is no gourmet, he just has an abnormally large stomach. He lives in London. More by Mike Deri Smith

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