Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Greek Myths in the classroom, Pt 1

Greek mythology is taught in public primary and secondary schools across the country. Although, personally, I quite enjoyed teaching my peers what I had memorized out of D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths (our 6th grade text book for the subject), and loved the excuse to dress up and act out the role of Artemis, I have to admit that the purpose of the topic’s inclusion in our curriculum as determined by the powers that be has long escaped me.

Yale’s helpful publication on teaching Greek and Roman mythology lists the objectives as primarily and secondarily about standard school junk like vocabulary and reading skills, but the third objective involves the idea that, “In our rapidly changing world, the realization of some kind of continuity in the human race is very comforting and perhaps essential.”

Really? Is that why ancient Greek myths are so appealing?

More importantly, is reproducing the concept of an unbroken eternal symbolism that we can all comfortably and uniformly recognize really something we want to be teaching our youth? Isn’t it way more interesting that, like, these stories DON’T mean the same things to us now that they meant 2,000 years ago and yet we still think they’re cool? Isn’t it awesome how, even though only something like .4% of United Statesians self-identify as Greek, we still perceive ourselves as collectively descended from Greek greatness? And by awesome I mean, totally bizarre and fascinating.

I like to keep my entries short so I’ll stop here for now. But tell me, what do YOU think about the State perpetuating this mythical ancestry? Or do you think something completely different altogether?

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