Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Yesterday, while teaching my English class for foreign students at the University of California at Irvine, I experienced a moment that made my day.
We were reading and discussing a chapter on "Urban Legends". After reading the passage and discussing some urban legends and traditional legends in their own countries, I tried to give an example of an American urban legend. The first one that came to mind was the one about Al Gore claiming to have invented the Internet.
Now, I studiously avoid bringing my political opinions into the classroom, lest I become like the far-left professors I always decry. I don't view my job as being to try and teach my students what they should believe about various issues.
So, as I described the legend about Gore and the Internet, I tried to do it in an impartial way and not denigrate Mr Gore or to make the case that he really believes he invented the Internet.
The "problem" was-no one in the class had any idea who Al Gore was. Nobody. I mentioned that he had been Bill Clinton's Vice-President. Nothing. I mentioned that he had run for president against George Bush in the 2000 election. I mentioned the movie he made, "An Inconvenient Truth". Nothing. Zip, zero, nada.
"Teacher, who is Al Gore?"
So much for my explaining an example of an urban legend. Once I recovered my balance, however, I realized it was a great day.