Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Are We Really Teaching Our Kids

Book 39: Pop Goes The Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes

Most of us have sung them or chanted them. Little nursery rhymes our parents taught us to show how clever we are. Maybe to teach us a lesson of some sort.  But how many of us have ever really thought about what these nursery rhymes mean?  Some carried hidden messages, others were somewhat sinister, and many are downright bawdy.

Thanks to my friend Amy, I discovered this book.  A relatively quick read, Albert Jack takes several popular nursery rhymes and songs and traces their origins.  Of course, with many of them, there's more than one possible source, and it is interesting to read all the scenarios.

Take for instance "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary."  At first glance this is a tale of a pretty garden.  In reality, it is most likely the story of Queen Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, with the silver bells and cockleshells being thumbscrews and other  torture devices designed to squeeze certain, um, sensitive areas.  The pretty maids in a row? Guillotines.  Think about that next time you think it will be cute to teach that little ditty to a child.

What about Rub a Dub Dub?  Description of a peep show- first with three women, but then with three men.  Yep.

And our Star Spangled Banner?  Got its start as a British drinking tune. 

This is a book that is easy to read in pieces.  It is enlightening, providing insight into something that has been a part of our culture for centuries or longer.

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