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The Point of Marking Up a Book

The Point of Marking Up a Book

Here’s the average English Curriculum of a student, from kindergarten to high school, in order: learn to stop writing in books that aren’t yours, learn to read, learn to read without pauses, learn to talk about what you read, learn to read with pauses, learn to write in books that aren’t yours.  Huh.  Seems like we’ve come full circle by high school, doesn’t it?  Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if they had stopped teaching us in kindergarten, leaving us to scribble in our 12-page level 1 novels.  Certainly, I would have kept mColorful Sticky Notesyself occupied (do you realize just how many pictures you could draw in a book as dense as “A Tale of Two Cities”?).

Alas, this was not the case (but if you vote for me, I promise that I will chang-oh, sorry, slipped into campaign mode again.  That’s what happens if you’re addicted to C-span, I guess).  So, accordingly, in high school we are now being forced to ‘mark-up’ our books.  This is a fancy term for ‘now-we-can-finally-use-all-7-sticky-note-colors’, but that made students too excited (so they changed it).

Apparently, the idea is that for us to truly understand a text, to the point where we could easily recite it on our deathbeds (and by easily, I don’t mean propping yourself on your arm with a fair amount of strength and having open and focused eyes.  I mean last breath, eyes closed, as they cover you with a sheet.  From under the covers, the teachers want to be able to hear you clearly enunciate those iambic pentameter lines) we have to mark symbols and themes (I’ll pause here so you can re-read the part outside the parentheses and see that, yes, that was all one sentence).  The thinking is that, as students frantically rush to remove the 100+ sticky notes from all ten class novels the night before the school library closes for the summer (to avoid the outrageous fees climbing into the upper single digits) pages will be ripped.  Then, when the student tapes the page back together, they will be forced to focus on the text, lining up the top and bottom halves of the letters.  According to science, this should burn the words Guy with memorized textinto our memory.

Because this tearing and taping is where the true value comes from, the actual symbols and themes teachers ask students to follow can be chosen at random without negative side effects.  While there are many ways to do this, the usual teachers’ favorite is searching for a four or more syllable word and then translating that into French.

When dealing with marking a text, one cannot avoid using sticky notes (unless they own their novel, which means that they will have to have a peer rip the pages to get any value from it).  This is why marking a text has turned into what many people feel other holidays have: an excuse for companies to sell more products (like New Years.  You think that, in the Middle Ages, people celebrated it so extravagantly, with streamers and noise-makers? Of course not.  Since they didn’t have widely available calendars, or plumbing, for that matter, New Years was everybody’s birthday, and it went something like this: “Happy New Year, Grog.” “Yeah, sure, Ivan, another year passed of my 13-year life expectancy.  You think we can get them to lower the driving age?”).Dartboard

I mean, who makes up 98.6% of the sticky note market? Teens do (or maybe not.  I might have gotten my statistics mixed up with my average body temperature again).  Adults don’t need sticky notes to learn things, because they get junk mail to rip up.  Therefore, it is teens that need these sticky notes, and, accordingly, Post-it has placed all of its commercials on television programs teens are likely to watch.  But, sadly, being a company that makes glue and paper, the sticky-note companies have fallen behind present times.  They need to realize that teenagers don’t watch TV anymore; instead, they spend all of their time searching the aisles of Office Max and Office Depot for those cool blue and green sticky notes that another person at their table had.

There are so many varieties of sticky notes (and of teens) that the old, wise saying about how you could judge somebody based on the way they tie their ears in knot/bow (or maybe it was shoelaces) can be applied to books.  A color for each symbol: control freak. Using all three sides of a book (top, bottom, and side): disorganized.  Randomly and sloppily Different Book Examplesplacing sticky-notes in the wrong places: normal.

I’d love to talk more about this subject, but, if you’ll excuse me, I just found out my school library is closing tomorrow, I’m all out of tape, and I need to fully concentrate on applying just the right amount of tree-sap.

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  1. ihateeverything says:

    hahahahahaha in a high school history course when our teacher assigned us reading, we had to come in the next day and show him that we highlighted passages of the chapter. because that's the only sure-fire way to know a kid "read" the chapter and didn't just psychotically highlight random sections of paragraphs during lunch.

  2. Phil and Ted says:

    Haha, funny. That seems similar to the way I might clean my room (in a rush). It looks like I did the work (so there's no need to check under the bed).

    - Phil

  3. This could be this blogs best blog post around…

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