People seem to enjoy these homeschool posts. And those who don’t I presume are elsewhere, so…
But this particular moment was just sort of interesting and indicative of the weirdness of this home education effort.
For the 8-year old’s copywork the other morning, I grasped at some straws and told him to write down something he had memorized, effortlessly and without direction, a few days ago. It’s a poem, and I wanted him to write it down to see if he could capture the sense of rhythm and get the line breaks right.
Oh, and what is this great work, you’re wondering?
They seek him here, they seek him there!
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere!
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That demned elusive Pimpernel!
Yes, some homeschool kids are reciting Homer and, I dunno, Tennyson, and we’re doing…this.
But it seemed apt. We’d watched the movie the other night, and he was absolutely taken with the poem, as well as some of the other exchanges (Who, sir? You, sir! Me, sir? You, sir!), so I thought we’d use that as the jumping point.
He wrote it out, made some mistakes, we talked about capitalization and punctuation, and then returned to the difference between poetry and prose. (btw, this is a kid, who is almost done with Harry Potter, book 7, and is planning to tackle The Lord of the Rings next) We went back to How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare - the first two passages we learned were poetry, but the current selection – I have had a most rare vision…. is prose. We talked about the differences.
I then grabbed an anthology of American poetry from the shelf and he leafed through it, stopping for a few minutes in Wallace Stevens. He read this aloud and collapsed into giggles at Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! (I just found this recording, and will play it for them tomorrow).
(Update: He asked me what in the world it was about. I really had no idea, and guessed it was about a chicken. Well, no, it’s apparently about contemporary poets taking on the (fat) Canon and canonical poets. Huh. )
I then flipped over to Emily, and pointed to “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass,” which he immediately began to read aloud (he enjoys reading aloud, and like his father, is already a master of sorts of accents and mimicry). He finished, and I said, “Okay, what’s it about? Who’s this “narrow fellow?”
He looked blankly at me, studied the poem for a few seconds, and shook his head. ”An escaped prisoner?” he said… Well, no. So we read it together and I pointed out clues, and he finally got it…A snake! And we talked about it some more – aboutthe imagery, about what “zero to the bone” means and so on.
(Update: Two days later, we saw this at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens:
Meanwhile, the 12 year old was working on a bit of writing. Last week, for one of his journal entries, I’d had him write on an incident that occurred in one of his homeschool/in a museum classes. He started with a bare bones version one day, and the next day, after talking about brainstorming techniques (partly using this resource), I had him brainstorm on some details he could add to make the piece more interesting. He was working on that today, and I think, he’s starting to get it, and see what power he has to tell a good story. I won’t go into details, but the punchline of the story (and the incident) is, “Miss, you just can’t compete with a robot.”
And then we went after creek water, which will be put under the microscope. Tomorrow, because we don’t have well slides and in the microscope book, it had this nifty idea of how to make them – you put circles of clear nail polish in layers on the slide, building up a little wall. So we had to do that. Not too bad. Then yesterday was Huntsville Day, which I’ll probably save for 7 Quick Takes Friday.
I freely admit that four out of five mornings, I awake, not with dread, but with a sigh, wishing, yes, that I didn’t have to hit the ground running and thinking at the same time. But that’s all in the anticipation. Moments like this really do make it all worthwhile and make the alternative of awaiting, with dread, what textbook authors and curriculum “reformers” have decided it’s essential for my children to know seems….untenable and even ridiculous.
As I say, ad nauseum, everything’s a tradeoff. Right now, I’d rather be trading off the dissatisfaction of constantly thinking, “If they were home we could be…….” for the dissatisfaction and mild anxiety of , “What are we going to do today?”
Because, somehow, we always end up doing something and everyone learns. And by that, I mean - everyone.
Because “Bantam in Pine-Woods” is not, in fact, about a chicken.