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The New Textbooks

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Original Portuguese at Burros

Today it has come to my attention (And by that I mean I read in a newspaper) that, following the general whining about cycles in schools, some parents in São Gonçalo decided to whine about the new textbooks of their children too, since they have nothing better to whine about (Like, I dunno, that most children in public schools can barely read).

The problem with them (the textbooks) is one exercise about brazilian folklore, in which the students are made to repeat a famous joke, that is so malicious, pernicious and probably not-educative that I would like to abstain from writing it here, but I can't: "We were walking along a path. There were three, four with me. (...) we found three asses, four with me".

Imagine the revolt of the parents, having their children deeply hurt by this infamous group of words. Or, if you're too lazy to imagine it for yourself, allow me to. They probably screamed, banged walls and hopped in front of the humble school principals, this, only if they didn't go directly to the secretary of education, to the governor, to the president!

Yes, I admit that I am exaggerating. But think on the consequences that those parents' revolt may have. First, those pernicious books will be banned from all schools, and any mention to another infamous joke, forcibly encrusted into our national culture will be completely prohibitted.

And later, other books that, maliciously, force the kids to self-insult will be censured, prohibited, burned! I can imagine the parents talking: "look sunny,me dunno 'xactly what yer talking 'bout, but me and ma read this headline and didn't even bother to read the rest of the article. 'pecially 'cause it took us twenty minutes to read the headlines, 'magine reading all these itty bitty letters! So we reckon we shoulda burn this bookie here."

And he'll show a copy of the "Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas. No, I am not exaggerating this time. "What you mean by no?" you must be asking yourself, or, more properly, asking myself, but I'm not there with you, now am I? Well, I'll answer anyway, since I believe it is not polite to leave you without an answer, I being there or not.

The fact is that, in this other pernicious example of our national culture, the reader, in case he's reading loudly, is manipulated into saying that he is a "Author that is defunct". The nerve! How can the probably not-educative author of this book say such a thing?

I can already imagine the parents protesting vehemently against the book: "The student may not be called defunct. The school should stimulate the child, not dissimulate learning," specialists would say. Or even "He already had problems learning how to write, if he is called defunct, he'll be convinced that can't learn." the housewives would say, desperate with their children's education.

Come on, don't call me ridiculous. All of us, in our culture, thirsty for self-help books, know that if you repeat something in a loud voice enough times, you'll end up believing it. "What you mean by no?" now I ask you. Just repeat "I don't wish to keep reading this." three times. This way I don't even need to conclude this story.

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