Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chronicles, Chronology, Conversation

In spite of the philosophical sounding title this is not philosophical, just a collection of a few unschooling-type things that have been happening around here. But I almost want to save the title for a post where I might actually tie those things together : ). I’ll leave it there to remind me, for now.

I forgot to mention in my other post about the 40’s interest that Clare and Sean have also been listening to old radio shows — Jack Benny, the Shadow, Suspense, things like that. Kevin has quite a few of them on tape.

The 40’s, which were my parents’ teen years and somewhat recent to my memory, are much more distant to my children. We’ve talked about how strangely the cinema and television media have telescoped time. My memories of Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope are of middle aged to OLD men, and my kids’ memories of them, because of the old shows they have watched, are of people in their prime. Yet when they watched Breaking Away (from the late 70’s) Clare commented how very young Dennis Quaid looked. She has seen him in more recent movies. While me, my first memories of Quaid were of a young man — he is only a few years older than us. Well, all of us think of Harrison Ford as Indy or Han Solo, anyway; there, we are on the same page : ).

The boys are playing Lord of the Rings, now. Paddy is gone with Kevin and it’s truly amazing how much quieter the house is.

A few other learning odds and ends:

The other day we were talking about Shoeless Joe Jackson and “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” Somehow, Sean wanted to know when the episode took place, so Clare dug up the Chronicle of the 20Th Century. This book has been one of the most faithful standbys in our library. It was one of the first books we ever bought, when the oldest kids were just babies. Brendan learned to count in it (it is over 1000 pages long and he was fascinated by the page numbers). The kids refer to it often or browse through it during the football game commercials.

The other thing I wanted to mention was the Brain Quest quizzes. We used to have several of them but I gave them away because they weren’t being used much. But one escaped the purge and Kieron, who wasn’t even born when we bought it, likes to look at it. One evening when I was lying down he came up and started reading me the questions and then telling me his guesses and how he came to the answer. I was surprised at some of the things he knew or could logically figure out from discarding the less likely answers. I am wondering if he would like some of the Critical Thinking Co materials. I certainly wouldn’t want to assign them but they might be fun for him to have around for long winter evenings next year.

Lastly (for now), it has been interesting to go on these daily nature walks with whoever wants to come — the core group usually is Liam, Kieron, Paddy and Aidan, who span 17 years in their ages. Putting me in there makes for a 40 year span. But all of us find ourselves examining the same things with the same interest. Today Kieron lifted a big rock to show Liam the little ants underneath. I think he regretted his impulsive interference, because to put the rock back down he had to put it on top of the swarming ants and some of the eggs were left outside the rock. The ants rushed into action; many of them rushing around looking for an enemy to attack, and others picking up the eggs (almost as big as they were) and disappearing under the rock with them. Aidan was extremely interested, which is nice because a year or so ago he was pretty much oblivious to things that small that did not impinge directly on his attention. After this, on the walk, every time we came to an ant mound he would stoop and look at the little inhabitants solicitously, and say, “Poor things!”

Article on Nature Study as it benefits children with special needs: here (from this Eclectic Online collection).

Oh, yes! and this evening Sean started talking about Redwall and how he gets angry at the way some of the “good guys” act — stories where they seem to seek revenge (he doesn’t recomend Lord Brockhurst) and where the story seems to go against the laws of nature — as in, 14 hares beating thousands of vermin. Brendan joined in and we got into a wide ranging discussion about vengeance, and the value of defeat, and chivalry vs simple blunt human justice (”do unto others as they have done unto you or your kin or friends”)

We get a lot of mileage out of these conversations.