Thursday, August 19, 2010

FIAR, second-last day of first week

I had only the vaguest of plans today, but we had fun.

We read the story first, then finished the oil paintings from yesterday, which was nice. We looked at all the high-contrast bits in the book (that took a while) and the children had the opportunity to consider how yesterday's crayons, the oil paint over two days, and today's regular poster paints were all different to use and gave different effects.

A lot of the bathroom ended up blue.

Also, we listened to the story being read in a genuine American-South accent (not to be confused with South American; I'm really not sure what the best way to describe it is from outside America; within north America I think people just say Southern), and read a bit about the south of the USA and the slightly further north bit where the reader was actually sitting at the time of recording.

This led, again, to explaining slavery to Linnea; it first arose because I was in the kitchen, bending down to take things out of the dishwasher, then standing up and turning around to put them away, then bending down again quickly. Naturally, I sang "Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton," and equally naturally Linnea asked for more information about the song, and of course I never know when to stop so she got a potted history of colonisation and slavery.

"People owned people? Like parents own children?"

That was kind of disturbing. We got it sorted out though.

Today's explanation of what "slavery" is almost made her cry. It made Emer go away pointedly and do something else. Then they both came back to look at the photos in the book of black Americans holding protest signs during Civil Rights Movement protests. I didn't explain segregation in any detail. White people didn't want black people to be allowed to do the things white people could.


That's a tough one. I'm not sure how I handled it.

From yesterday's DW/LJ entry, too:

[Wednesday], at lunchtime, between mouthfuls of sardines and sweetcorn in tomato sauce (don't ask me, I just work here), my fresh-faced and innocent (more or less) six-year-old gazed idly around the room and her eye was caught by a map on the wall, drawn by a friend of ours.

She said, "Hey Mum, why is a bit of Ireland part of England?"

I opened and closed my mouth a few times. Then I stalled - "Do you mean why is part of Ireland part of the United Kingdom?" - and finally I (stammering) said "Well, for a long time, the government of England was in charge of ALL of Ireland, but the Irish people didn't like that much. So before your Nana was born, when my Nana was a little girl, the Irish government and the English government agreed that Irish people would be in charge of most of Ireland, and the English government would be in charge of just that little bit."

Then I thought about the Omagh bombing, which I think about every year now, because it was exactly eight years before Emer's birth day. I got to choose Emer's birth date, as some of you may know, because that's the nature of a scheduled caesarian section. I decided, when choosing it, that there were no benign dates...

But still, sometimes I wish there were.

So I guess we've covered Politics, Geography, Art, Relationships, touched on a bit of World History, Science-and-nature-Weather (I knew the clouds poster we got in a stack of old Guardian pullouts would be useful one day), and Music. Oh, and Music crossed with Science because we had a long talk about why the thunder-maker made different sounds when you held it differently, and introduced the concept of sound-waves, though I'm not convinced they believed in them.

It feels kind of strange to work out what subjects these things cover. We usually just do interesting-to-us stuff and have interesting-to-us conversations. This more structured approach, even though I'm being very loose or possibly even slack with the structure, may well be changing how I think about it.

I might work out what we cover with a regular family mealtime one day, rather than with a pre-planned curriculum-extract. Just to compare. I have an idea they'll be pretty similar.


Rivka said...

It sounds like you guys are having a great time! I really hope you'll scan your pictures when you're done with them - I'd love to see them.

You don't really need to reckon up what "subjects" you've covered, do you? I'm going to have to prove to the state, twice a year, that we covered eight basic subjects on a regularish basis, which is why I keep subject-based records. I'd think you could just use the manuals as a source of stimulating activities, and not worry what you're supposedly "teaching."

Ailbhe said...

Legally, no, I don't - but I think it might reassure my mother-in-law, and it's kind of interesting. I am using the manuals as a source of interesting stuff to do, and a way of my not having to think it up myself, but as long as it doesn't change how I do things I may also occasionally reckon up subjects. If I find myself getting twitchy because I want to pressure them into doing something specific, I'll go on subject-reckoning cold-turkey until I recover.

I will see if I can operate the new printer/scanner/photocopier/floorpolisher/toaster thing.

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