We were egged last night

No knocks on the door, no refusal to treat.  Definitely no costumes.  In fact one of the attacks was at midnight, just as I was going to bed.  Welcome to Halloween in a small town in the middle of Australia.

Kids have been getting excited and planning for the past week, but not their costume or their party.  They’ve been discussing who they will vandalise, leaving eggs out in the sun (and it’s 40+ here).  One was spotted buying 5 dozen eggs yesterday.

Something has been lost in translation.

Forget pagan origins, what are they?  And forget the concept that you put some effort into a costume, have a bit of fun, maybe get some chocolate.  It’s even gone past bribery – they don’t even threaten give me some chocolate or I’ll egg you.  It’s just a night when you are allowed to run around and vandalise things.  Isn’t it?

Believe it or not, I’m not all that upset.  Partly that’s because their aim was pretty bad and they hit the wheelie bin, not the car or the house.  But I think it’s a good, or rather worrying, example of how kids in small town Australia are lost.

Where is their culture?  Where are their role models?  I know exactly where many of them get their cultural memes – WWE, World Wresting Entertainment on Austar.  I know because I’ve been teaching many of them and had this discussion.  And it’s not just that the shows are American or unrealistic, there is also a basic lack of understanding.  They don’t understant what the shows are trying to tell them so they latch onto a few things they do understand and construct a worldview based on them.

This is critical literacy.  This is making sense of and analysing a text.

Now think of the internet.  Think of the masses of information that wash over you with the click of a button.  And think how scary it is to see people let loose in there without the ability to tell what is credible and what isn’t.  What is a reliable source and what isn’t.  I’ve just had a swine flu example – someone who should have known better passing on propaganda without even clicking on the link to the source, which would have told them something wasn’t right.  And this is an intelligent, well-educated person.

So we have two problems.  First we have to understand that the world has changed.  We now live in the information age and it is far, far different to the world we grew up in, even those of us who are relatively young.  We have to realise and prepare our children for a whole new world and new set of skills, especially new literacies.

And we need to look to our own skills and make sure we haven’t been left behind.  Because if we don’t, we might not realise we are egging people.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Michele on November 2, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Glad they only egged the wheely bin. And understand what you are saying about critical literacies. I was introducing the concept to year twos before I left work to have my DS.
    I feel like scrooge when friends (I’m talking university educated, nearly 40 year olds) send round these cool photos that are supposed to be real and are almost certainly touched up a little/lot – I have frequently questioned whether they could really be a “true” image? Come to think of it – haven’t seen any of them in a while… may have offended, oops


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