Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Greenwood Tree

Yesterday Sean and Clare and I watched a movie called Under the Greenwood Tree which is an adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel. It was quite funny in several places, and beautiful landscape and nice clothes — but it was hard to tell what the story was really about, past the romance part that seemed sort of predictable. What we know about Thomas Hardy’s rather tragic sensibilities don’t come out in it at all, so now I’m curious to read the book and see if he conceived it differently or if it was just a different type of book from others like Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The best part was the Dewy family and their string instruments and their relationships with each other. We were planning to make crispy oatmeal cookies which is a tradition when we are watching these 19th century novel productions but we didn’t get around to it.

We wondered where the “greenwood tree” came into it because in the movie, it just shows up as a kind of icon but doesn’t play a significant part in the story. But apparently there is a poem by Shakespeare called Under the Greenwood Tree and no doubt this was the starting inspiration for the story. Wikipedia says the novel was Hardy’s first important one — you can see he is dealing with the relationships of the shifting class systems as he did in later works but maybe he hadn’t gotten his themes thoroughly worked through yet.

Also, yesterday Aidan figured out how to spell a few real words on his phonics board. He could do “egg” and “eel” and “aid” by himself. He was so proud! Clare and I spent a long time playing with him.

This morning — I slept in a bit after staying up late last night but it really worked for me today (doesn’t always). The first sound I heard was Aidan’s laughter. He was already awake and out of the room talking to Kieron. They have a ritual of playing and joking together for a while before the day officially starts.

The second thing I was aware of was pale bright morning sun streaming in through our window right into my eyes. I finished the Rosary I had started saying just before I went to sleep last night (I have been falling asleep during the Rosary a lot recently — will be nice when Liam comes home since he usually accompanies me in the evening rosary).

Then Paddy woke up and was all cuddly and wanted me to read stories. This is difficult to me. I have a hard time focusing my eyes in the early morning. But I am trying to be more mindful — so I read for a while from his Bible story book; he chose mostly parables which seem to make him thoughtful these days. He can narrate a bit from these now.

Then we went downstairs and made pancakes and sausages. I have started a habit of enlisting Kieron in meal preparations, especially the foods he likes and is motivated about. He is learning his way around and getting confidence in following recipes. My kids always seem to have this hesitation in getting started on a new skill so it seems to be helpful to ease them into it. (I read in Frank Smith’s Book of Learning and Forgetting about Vygotsky’s Zones of Proximal Development — represented below — the idea is that development is divided into things we can do by ourselves, things that we can do with help and scaffolding, and things we can’t even approach at the time — so the idea with enabling learning is to focus on the help and guidance and scaffolding part– this is a helpful concept for me with my introverted VSLs who tend to need a fair amount of initial vicarious learning — from observation, and then slowly increasing participation)

Sean did his Tuesday checklist. Clare and Sean and I discussed the movie for a long time. Sean had an easy time with the simple Henle translations which we did orally. I really like Fr Henle’s teaching method, while we’re talking about scaffolding and guiding learning. It looks like Sean is almost done reading Story of the Church. For free reading he is on Ben Hur right now — Clare has been recommending books to him.

Clare is reading Three Musketeers (finished Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights) and Kieron has been reading Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators series (old copies from his dad’s childhood).

The weather is beautiful; when I finish writing this I’m taking the little ones outside. The boys are wrestling on the bed and Paddy is a bit emotional so I think we need to change gears. This afternoon the little ones have T -ball practice.