Sunday, April 12, 2009

scoil chois claí

That's one Gaelic name for the Irish Hedge Schools of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Raised on Song and Story by Alice Gunther is a keeper post, and I was thinking about blogging it, but my daughter Clare saved me the trouble. Her post said it better than I would have. By coincidence, Liam was just telling me about a conversation he recently had with another member of an American Celtic family, and her memories were much the same as Liam's and Clare's. Different family, different experiences, but something of the same heritage.

Reading Little House in the Big Woods, I was struck anew by how much Laura Ingalls was raised on "song and story" and how rich her life was in lore in spite of the fact that they had only two books in their cabin -- the Bible and a big green book on Natural History.

Songs and stories and lore provide something irreplaceable in a family -- a unique, individual reception of the best things of the past.

I was just reading with Kieron the section in George Washington and His World where it talks about Poland and its revolutionary heroes of the 18th century. When I was reading about Pope John Paul II's youthful days in Poland, a country overrun first by Germans and then by the Soviet Union, it struck me how clear the young Karol Wojtyla and some of his young compatriots were in recognizing that culture -- song, story and in their case drama -- is a remedy for and resistance against the absolutist encroachments of modern governments.

But more proximately, "song and story" build memories and family solidarity. And they impart a rich texture to daily life. And children are naturally receptive to that form of learning from their earliest days... even the youngest members of the family partake. As Alice says, these things become part of who they are.

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