Monday, May 11, 2009

"No More Bring Bring!"

On the midterm exam I gave to my Honors College freshmen this semester, I offered the option of drawing a cartoon related to the course materials for a few bonus points. One of my students, Phil Morin, drew a cartoon of Fred Rogers, as a sort of elegy, because the exam was happening on the anniversary of Mr. Rogers's death.

It was a nice cartoon, but completely unrelated to the course materials—Phil had misread the instructions. I teased him about it a little bit, and when the final exam got closer, he asked whether there would be a cartoon bonus section this time.

I did include a cartoon option for bonus points, and at first I was dismayed when I saw Phil's final-exam cartoon:

That's Mr. Rogers again, in the Land of Make-Believe. (You can click the image to enlarge it, as usual.) But it turns out that Phil was able to make Mr. Rogers relevant to the course materials this time.

You see, he's scolding the Trolley, saying, "Abandon your private language to develop a public one—no more bring bring!!"

(One of the authors we read this semester was Richard Rodriguez, who advocates against bilingual-education programs on the grounds that they alienate immigrant children from the public language of the country. I don't entirely agree with Rodriguez, and I taught his essay as a text the students could argue against, but that's not relevant to the cartoon.)

Anyway, I was so tickled by the idea that the Trolley had been speaking a private language ("Bring bring!") all this time that I asked Phil if I could post the cartoon here. And I figure if one of my first-year students has learned to draw cartoons that elaborately synthesize disparate ideas, then I must be doing something right.


John said...

With varying types of bilingual-education, it's hard to know exactly what Mr. Rodriguez is against.

The most common type of bilingual-education (refereed to as dual-language) in current use has class taught one day in spanish and one day in english, alternating, with Fridays split evenly. This works to not only ease the ESL (English as a Second Language) Student into English while maintaining the ability to accurately communicate and assess them but also acts to introduce the english speaking students to Spanish (because learning to count to ten via Sesame Street doesn't cut it anymore) which they will need to know -- at least somewhat.

8yearoldsdude said...

is this a trolley in the british sense (aka a shopping cart)? Bring Bring mirrors bling bling, and hence is this comic a critique of consumerism? and if so, since when, in the post-veblan era, has consumerism been a private language. I love it (almost as much as the licked bears.

Isaac said...

Alas, it's not a trolley in the British sense. It's a trolley in the San Franciscan sense.

But I do have Rice-a-Roni as a consolation prize for our departing guests.