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I am repulsed, personally, by the series of Whatever for Dummies books. If
the topic I most wanted to know about in the world was only available in that
format, I wouldn't buy the book. I know I haven't put a dent in their
profits. <g> It's personal. I think people having been called and having
thought of themselves as "dumb" is deeply sad and pervasive in our culture, from
schools, from parents, from other kids, neighbors, relatives, strangers.
Having it in dark black on yellow bookcovers in nice bookstores makes it worse.
"Come buy this, you DUMMY!"

I might be the only one who feels that way.

Undoubtedly there are millions of people who have bought a book or two from
that series who are confident and whole and never even in their moments of
half-sleepfulness think they're dummies in any way.

So because of all that personal emotional swirl, I believe there are probably
some people who respond viscerally to the titles of "What your Third Grader
Needs to Know" and its setmates. I don't have an adverse reaction, because
I've never had "a third grader" and I'm clear, waking and sleeping, that there's
more in the world than anyone can ever know, and my kids are getting all they
need and more.

I've also lived and shared the idea that not finishing something is PERFECT,
that dropping projects or setting them on shelves or back burners or in
trashbins is way okay. So the idea of "a checklist" doesn't act as an anchor on my
soul either. I really like magazine articles like "fifty ways to find more
storage in your kitchen" or "the ten most important movies of all time" or
whatever. I just like them for fun, not as tests or measures. And a list of
what kindergarteners need to know is just another one of those for me.

If I had to choose betwee the Hirsch books and our South Park videos and CDs,
I'd keep South Park. But I don't have to choose, so I'm keeping both. I
don't "have to" read, watch, care about, learn or finish any of them.



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