The Hoover Chronicles: Breaking Dawn
I was looking for something new to start reading the other day and was about to reach for a book on my shelf when I remembered the U.S. Government’s new Common Core Standards Initiative, so I decided to grab an instruction manual anyway.
The Initiative, as you may not have heard of it since the media is busy chasing Justin Bieber and speculating on Obama’s cabinet appointments, is a new set of educational guidelines that say public schools should stop wasting their time teaching boring ol’ Huck Finn and Chuck Dickens because that stuff’s just liberal arts pussy stuff. The program is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which wants to cut 70 percent of the fiction reading in public education. After all, after smoking in the bathroom, the biggest problem teachers are facing in schools is the kids read too much lit. The spokesperson for this plan, David Coleman, says, and I quote, “I’m sorry, but the truth is as you grow up in the world,you realize people really don’t give [expletive] about what you feel or what you think.” So Coleman, as well apparently as Bill and Melinda Gates, is advocating the substitution of instructional manuals such as Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Invasive Plant Inventory by California’s Invasive Plant Council. No, I’m not being funny, look it up. These teach children how to process complex cognitive tasks, they say, whereas from Moby-Dick they only learn how to harpoon whales.
So with that in mind, instead of reaching for silly crap like Kafka, I grabbed an old Hoover vacuum cleaner manual out of the closet, poured some coffee, and settled down to a cozy afternoon read.
I have to admit, the cover just grabbed me. How can anyone resist this? My crappy pictures taken in poor light because it was a rainy day don’t convey the excitement I felt as I opened the instruction book to the Hoover Bagless Wind Tunnel Vacuum! Why haven’t we seen the movie yet, starring Kristen Stewart?
But the fun was just starting.
The page of safeguards made excellent reading to train young legal minds, I realized. Eighteen legal points just to operate a home vacuum cleaner! Students will quickly learn what a mindblowly-litigious society the United States is. (If you need further proof, just note the number of legal disclaimers, warnings and safeguards you get on your TV screen—in multiple languages—when you insert a simple DVD.) This is valuable educational material. I am surprised, upon reviewing it, that they don’t warn you not to use the vacuum in the bathtub, which they do warn me with my TV.
I know many of today’s young people like to read so-called “graphic novels,” known in less inflated times as comic books. Now that graphic novels are thought high art, and should, according to some, occupy a place alongside the Mona Lisa and Raphael’s Madonnas, students may find the pages of fascinating illustrations to be captivating and another reason to read these manuals. Look at these fascinating drawings of how to replace parts in your vacuum cleaner, for example, drawn with a draftsmanship Leonardo might envy:
Many educators bemoan the fact that the foreign language requirement is disappearing from our schools, and kids are graduating today knowing only English. Since most manuals are written in about a half dozen languages from English to Mandarin to Tamil, students will get excellent exposure to the many tongues and cultures of the world.
And just like many controversial works of literature, some manuals deal with explicit situations that may be controversial or offensive. Some manuals are so suggestive, with sections on suction, stimulation, and horsepower, that they may need to be censored:
Motor skills and following directions are tested with the quick assembly guide and the registration form that must be filled out at the book’s end.
I admit I started out skeptical, but I found after a couple hours’ reading with this booklet that the Hoover vacuum instructional manual has a lot to offer our young people in their journey to being more productive, technically-competent, info-filled, hard-working, untroubled producers for our great American economy…just like these folks.
Oh glorious day!