Sweet & Sour

If teachers taught the TV way

Robert Thomas Allen April 12 1958
Sweet & Sour

If teachers taught the TV way

Robert Thomas Allen April 12 1958

If teachers taught the TV way

Sweet & Sour

Robert Thomas Allen

I notice that the art of cartooning has been taken over by those deadly-serious people who believe nobody with a TV set can understand a thing unless it’s presented with little figures shaped like salt shakers and told in comicbook dialogue, with lots of irritability, rudeness and crusty characters, and

avoidance of any words that wouldn’t be used in a game of marbles. This is known as presenting a subp ject in popular, easily understood || form and it’s gaining ground rapidly. P 1 see no reason why it shouldn’t in p time be used in our schools and uniP versities. For instance, a professor of

physics could set up a quarrel with his assistant, and liven the whole thing up with easily understood dialogue.

| “What’s a matter—you got boulders in your head, or sumpin’?” he could || snap. “Every dope knows that Old I? Man Force is a real meanie an’ if that ip jerk Mass One and his pal Mass Two || get together, why he jes’ puffs himself up till he’s as strong as both of 'em || multiplied together.”

“How about that guy Inverse Square that lives in the distance between ’em?” the assistant says irritably.

“Now don’t you start tryin’ to get these nice people mixed up,” the professor grumbles. “Every dough head || knows that he cuts ’em down to his size. But I'm cornin’ to that later.”

II There’s no reason why, if this treat-

ment makes everything clearer to TV || viewers, it wouldn’t make it clearer to students in the classroom. Any || topic could be cleared up this way. Newton's First Law could be presented by a funny, cranky little man in a little car shouting, “Go ahead, push me! Push me! I’ll keep right on rollin’ till some wise guy stops me!” The Pythagorean theorem could be presented as little men sliding down the slope of a right-angle triangle and yelling, “Look, no hands! Any guy

thinks a square built on this ain’t just as big as squares on the other two sides PUT TOGETHER is a slob!”

In algebra, Old Mister Equation could say, “Any you birds try dividin’ both sides o’ me by the same lil’ ol’ number is gonna find I have the same lil’ ol’ root I had when yuh started.”

All great literature could be presented in comic-book language. Keats’ A Thing of Beauty could start, “When sumpin’s particularly purty.” Shakespeare’s sonnet, “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” could start, “When I’m as low as a busted rocket and plain plumb sick of it all.”

This technique could be varied by the use of occasional cowboy stories. I he Bible could be told in episodes, like Gunsmoke Over Old Bethlehem. Plato’s Apologia could be told a lot better as a western, with The Law represented by the Sheriff of Cochise, and Socrates as a saddle bum. Instead of The Law saying, “Tell us, Socrates, what are you about?” he would drawl, “Aimin’ on leavin’, mister?” Crito, who tries to get Tex Socrates to do something against cowboy principles, could be a dude who likes opera and talks with a cultured accent, and The Good coidd be a young sheep raiser just out from Kansas, who says, “We want the Town of Mankind, Arizona, to be a fit place to raise our children.”

There’s just no end to the possibilities. All the arts and sciences could be brought right down to a level where everybody could understand them without having to work or study or think, and it would be according to basic scientific methods. After all, science is an attempt to reduce the complexity of life to simple principles, and if we can reduce everything to the principles of a cowboy or a cartoon, the trick will be done.