Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Teaching by the Tangents

Some of you know that Leslie is a very right-brained thinker . . and I am very not. And that sometimes causes issues with us in homeschool. I seem to notice it most in reading and history. We finish reading something, and I ask some broad question to get her reaction on the material, and she inevitably goes off on some tangent. Much to my left-brained frustration.

Now, I'm not an idiot, and I'm "well-trained" as a teacher, so I do know that I should run with these sudden swings in topic. With Leslie, that's where a lot of the learning happens. But I can't say it's easy for me. I have in my mind topic A, with subpoints 1, 2, and 3 that she needs to understand . . . and here she flies off to B, C, and D-7. "What about A?" I scream in my head. "A is important! And so is 1, and 2 . . " I forget that we often get back to A-1, 2 and 3 when I've planned a discussion of topic J.

But this morning I ran with the tangents. We were reading a couple of Wordsworth poems . . . and got to talking about poetry in general . . how God made us to respond to the sounds and rhythms of beautiful language similarly to how we respond to music . . . and then because I had the computer on my lap, I found a clip of the "I Have a Dream" speech (OK, sometimes the internet's a very cool thing). We listened to the last 5 minutes or so, the part that always makes me teary. I have a dream today . . Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia . . . thank God almighty, we are free at last!

We talked about the sing-songy language of the black preacher . . . how that might have had its roots in their African heritage . . . how part of Obama's effectiveness as a speaker may be because he has a good balance of that musical delivery from his African heritage and the efficient rhetoric from his European heritage (more right-brain and left-brain stuff, perhaps?). We talked about black churches and how vocal the congregations are (Uh huh. I know dat's right. Preach it, brother -- tell it out!) . . . and about how even white congregations and denominations vary in that regard . . . and about charismatic churches . . and about speaking in tongues . . . and about her former art teacher who talked about seeing visions of angels . . and about how mom and dad feel about all that stuff . . .

And we never got back to Wordsworth. Poor William. He'll be back on the table another day. Maybe she'll send us back there during an astronomy lesson next week. "Is that like that poem we read last week -- about how the world is too much with us . . ?"

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