Translate

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Al Who?"


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.

12 comments:

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Ummm...how is it great to be surrounded by ignorance?

Gary Fouse said...

Lance,

And who was the vice president of Colombia in the 1990s?

Who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of Mexico 2 elections ago?

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Humberto De la Calle from '94 to '96, or did you mean Carlos Lemos Simmonds who served from '96 to '98?

As for Mexico, are you referring to Francisco Labastida and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas?

Never ask trivia questions over the internet - it makes your oponent look a lot smarter than he actually is!

In all seriousness though, I thought about the nature of your class right after I hit the "publish your comment" button.

Touche.

Gary Fouse said...

Well, of course you cheated, Lance. My students did not have the time or the luxury of looking it up on the Internet (that Al Gore invented).

Ingrid said...

Gary, do your students come from another planet? I can't imagine any young person not having heard of "An Inconvenient Truth". It doesn't say much about their interest in the planet and I certainly would worry about their ignorance. As far as Gore saying he invented the internet, it is just not true. He was instrumental in making it available for everybody at the time.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Watch what you say. He invented it, and he can take it away.

Gary Fouse said...

Lance,

Or he can tax it, and that is a realistic possibility.

Gary Fouse said...

Ingrid,

Why should we Americans assume the whole world knows about our gasbag former VP?

Of course, the Internet charge was a little blown out of proportion, but he has a way of taking credit for grand things. He said he was the model for the movie, Romeo and Juliet. He said he uncovered the Love Canal, toxic waste dump or whatever it was. Like so many politicians, we uses his words to exaggerate his accomplishments.

He also loves to preach to the rest of us how we should live while he flies around the world in private jets.

I also think he is somewhat unbalanced.

Aside from all that, he's a pretty good egg.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Gary, both of those other stories that you mentioned are urban legends as well. (And I realize that you probably didn't mean Romeo & Juliet).

Gary Fouse said...

Lance,

Yee gads!! Old Al would have to be pretty old to be the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet, wouldn't he?

I guess I had better retract that. I, of course, meant Love Story, with Ryan O'Neill.

PS: The comment about being a gasbag stands, however.

Ingrid said...

I am sure glad you guys got that Romeo and Julia story straightened out. I thought I had missed something there.
Gary, everyone in Germany knows him and the inconvenient truth. So there.

Gary Fouse said...

Ingrid,

Which is Germany's misfortune. He would make the beer go flat.