Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The list goes on

I am reading online The Observer’s feature by Stephanie Merritt, in which she lists her 10 best female comediennes. I glance through the list and decide if I had to pick it would be Victoria Wood for me any day. Comments underneath appear in chronological and my eyes are drawn to the one at the top because its author is clearly miffed ‘I am getting so bored of these idiotic lists…’ it begins, ‘Do women really need their own list? Do readers need any lists? Are you so bereft of ideas that all you can do now is churn out this moronic, dumbed down twaddle?’ The author finishes with a sentence which includes the f word and I am thinking the PC filtering process has allowed publication this time.

I consider how children love to list things, how they order things in their minds by making things fit in a scale of 1 to 10. Young teens use Top 10 formats online, to set out the names of 10 best friends to relegate or promote according to whether they are in favour or not. Yet confusion as to where to land the names often means they end up upsetting someone, because being placed anywhere below the Top 3 is a little insulting I suppose.

Listing favourites was a popular pastime with my two children when growing up. Whether it was writing things down or saying them aloud. With my daughter it was any excuse to make up a Top 10. She would have our names in down columns and then number 1 to 10 to the side. We’d constantly be surveyed.
What’s your top 10 films; top 10 songs; top 10 biscuits? We’d play the same game on long car journeys counting on our fingers this time: What’s your top 10 girl bands; your top 10 Disney characters; your top 10 cartoons?

With my son particularly it was very important that we should choose a favourite and have things descend in order of preference. Second to him punctuating everything I’d say to him with the question, why? And we really could have gone on forever with that one! He would, always, be asking me ‘mum, what’s your favourite something-or-other’. The best my son ever delivered was, ‘Mum, what’s your favourite type of Hippo?’ I obviously looked extremely bewildered as he quickly announced that his was the Pygmy.
And another theme he liked to explore was Top 10 Nintendo characters. ‘Mum, what’s your favourite Nintendo character?’
‘Mario’ I’d reply,
‘then who, Mum?’
‘Err, Luigi’
‘Jiggly Puff’
And so it went on. As for Sonic well he would never make my Top 10 in a million years. Stupid hedgehog!

The ‘Top 100 Best’ types of programmes are quite popular, but I think the programme makers are running out of ideas. Some adults still enjoy watching this kind of thing as it often takes them on a nostalgia trip. I am suddenly looking for an excuse to make a few lists myself. This is predominately a blog about Education and my subject, I’ve decided, is going to be on lessons learned or lessons forgotten and I’m allowing myself to have a little 'moronic' fun with it:

My Top 10 Lessons Learned – Never to be forgotten

1. The year of the battle of Hastings
2. The destinies of Henry VIII wives: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived
3. The names of Henry VIII wives: one Jane amongst two Anne’s and three Catherines/Katherines
4. How to teach the spelling of the word BECAUSE: Big Elephants Can Always Upset Small Elephants
5. The finger trick when doing the 9 times table
6. The Monsoon season is June/July
7. Particles are packed tight in a solid, have space between in a liquid and can float about in a gas
8. That Shakespeare’s plays were written to be performed
9. That boiled milk is spoiled milk
10. How to identify Woodland Trees: the Sycamore, the Horse Chestnut, the Ash, the Field Maple, to name a few

NB. I could not decide the order of popularity for the above list of favourite lessons learned; only thing for sure is that 1066 just had to be my number one.

My Top Ten Lessons I keep forgetting or have long forgotten

1. Pythagoras theorem
2. How to make a toga
3. How to identify Woodland Trees: I fall foul at the Dog Rose, the Hawthorn (surprisingly) and the Elms, to name a few
4. How to spell words like: manikin and mannequin
5. The periodic table
6. What a slide rule is used for
7. How to play the upper scale on my clarinet
8. 450 French Verbs
9. The verses to ‘The Jumblies’
10. How to fit a square peg in a round hole

My Top Two Negatives
1. The double negative
2. Two negatives make a positive

My Top Two Positives

1. Two positives repel
2. Remember one to the negative and the other to the positive

The author who commented on Merritt's feature may not really be bored by lists but perhaps is confused by them. After all it is a fairly harmless pastime and not necessarily an unimaginative form of journalism, as there is much in life to consider, to include, to compare, to analyse, to coagulate, to laugh at - and so the list goes on...

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