Friday, November 16, 2007

Cultural Literacy

Years ago I got a book called Cultural Literacy by E.D.Hirsch. It contains all those little things you should have learned in school, but might not have, or that you learned and have now forgotten. The idea behind the book is that there are so many references in everyday life to events, people, places, artwork, and literature of world history that anyone not familiar with them ends up being culturally illiterate.

I remember at the time I read it thinking, "This is all well and good, but where's the entertainment category?" People reference popular entertainment of the past all the time without even thinking about it, but if you've never seen that movie or heard that song, it goes right over your head. I was reminded of this recently when my kids listened to a radio play which was a sort of parody of The Wizard of Oz. They had no idea. They had never seen it.

So yesterday, we sat down and watched The Wizard of Oz. They enjoyed it tremendously and we had fun seeing it together. Right after that, since we're heading to Disney in a couple of weeks, we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. And guess what the kids say right after they get shrunk? "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto." Funny, huh?

What's your favorite expression that comes from a movie or television show of the past?


  1. Awwww we watched the Wizard of Oz last weekend on cable! Its a must see every year.

    There are tons of movie quotes in this head of mine but many of my favorites comes from Steel Magnolias. "Nobody cries alone in my presence" "We are doing our Jane Fonda" "If you can't say anything nice about someone come sit by me" and many many more.

  2. Cheeky - I love Steel Magnolias! My favorite line is "You're too twisted for color tv!"

  3. It shows that 'The Wizard of Oz has stood the test of time.

    There are so many movie quotes I know, I wouldn't know where to start.

    "Mrs Robinson, you'ere trying to seduce me."

    "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

    "It can't be more than 114!"

  4. I'll have to try that book - do they have a New England addition so I can catch up to the locals? :)

    "To the moon, Alice, to the moon" from The Honeymooners. My kids hate it when I give that as an answer to, "Where are we going, Mom?"

  5. Funny!!! Your kids are a hoot.

    I read that Cultural Literacy series too. I think the author's point is that most of us know way too much about "popular" culture (movies), and not enough about fine art, etc. Yay, I'm glad your kids aren't overly exposed to the media. :~D

    That line "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto" is one of my husband's all-time favorites!!!