let kids watch beauty and the beast

Learning is the Adventure

Homeschooling can be rough at times. Sometimes, I have to look for the successes to remember that they are there. That’s why I’ve decided to take the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge. 26 Things I love about homeschooling. Starting with A. For the adventure.

Learning is the adventure

Our strong suits have always been history and literature. I’m not saying that my kids will beat your kids in a head to head history bowl, or anything. I’m not that kind of teacher. Those aren’t my goals for homeschooling. It’s our strong suit because somehow, somewhere, my kids have caught “the spark.

When we go to the library, they are drawn to the history books.

At home, that’s where I get the least resistance. Unless it is a really nice day. Then they might ask for me to take our reading outdoors. And to skip the timeline. Actually, they’ll ask me to skip the timeline any day, but the actual learning they enjoy.

But literature and history are like these little windows into another world. Both represent our struggles with what it means to be human. Both tell us a little about who we are and how we got here. Both can warn us of the folly of a course of action or inspire us to be a little more than we are.

It is here that my children have learned that learning can be an adventure. Every time they open a book, there is a new place to discover, new people to meet, new ideas to unpack.

And it’s not because I have this awesome curriculum I picked up somewhere. I think’s it’s because I don’t have a “curriculum” at all. At least not a curriculum centered on a textbook. We have a library card and an allowance for purchasing really good books.

We delve deeply into the topics we choose to study. Right now it’s Jamestown. We’ve been learning about the Jamestown settlement since we went there back in September. We are exploring facets of the settlement I never learned and my children are enjoying watching the story unfold.

In this one area, at least, I have succeeded at favoring vertical learning over horizontal learning. Of exploring one thing deeply rather than many things shallowly.

On the superficies, horizontally, we’ve been everywhere and done everything, we know all about it. Yet the more we know, superficially, the less we penetrate, vertically. It’s all very well skimming across the surface of the ocean, and saying you know all about the sea. There still remain the terrifying underdeeps, of which we have utterly no experience.

~D.H. Lawrence, The Spell of New Mexico

We are penetrating the surface, trying to learn something of the deeps. Because that is where the adventure lies.

This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what I’ve written so far!

A is for Adventure
B is for Boredom
C is for Christ
D is for Daydreaming
E is for Every day
F is for Failure

let kids watch beauty and the beast

Reflections on the Berlin Wall in pictures and cartoons

Now that Monica Crowley is to serve on the National Security Council in President Elect Trump’s administration, an old tweet has been making the rounds again.

 

walls-work

She says people missed the point. I’m not sure what her point was. I don’t know if it was an odd bit of sarcasm or a complete misunderstanding of the historical significance of the wall she was standing next to.

The wall that worked.

But that isn’t really what this post is about. I stood near where Crowley was standing. My thoughts were very different.

east-side-gallery

Two years after that wall came down, I stood in its shadow. For me, as a child of the Cold War, it was not a smiley selfie moment. It was one of quiet reflection. I felt much as I did standing at Bergen Belsen, the concentration camp where Anne Frank died. There, standing in the shadow of this historic monument, I saw what governments were willing to do to control their people.

The Kiss
“My God help us survive this deadly love” From a famous photograph of Brezhnev and Honecker’s “socialist fraternal kiss” that many thought was a little too “passionate.”

This wall that stood between East and West, between totalitarianism and liberty divided a nation, a continent and a world. East and West. That’s all I had ever known, and one night, the people tore it down. Because once the people realized the guards weren’t going to shoot and the dogs weren’t going to attack, the bit of concrete that stood between them and freedom didn’t prove to be much of a barrier at all.

chained-dove

But I was also there two years after it came down. Two years was long enough for the euphoria to wear off. People weren’t toasting their victory with champagne and passing out money and care packets to people spilling over the wall and through the gates anymore. Once every person who made it across was hailed a hero. Now, they were all a nuisance. Germany was coming to grips with what it meant to graft this second world nation onto their own economic powerhouse. Germany has always prided itself on its social market economy, but now their resources were being drained by these . . . leeches. Unemployment was skyrocketing. The public koffers were draining. And what had the East Germans ever done but take?

"Where the state ends, life begins."
“Where the state ends, life begins.” Graffiti across from the monument.

There was a joke going around we had all heard. “It’s time to build another wall . . . but 10 meters higher.

Reunification cartoon
“Hurry! Before West Germany builds a wall!”

And another wall was being built. But this one wasn’t made of concrete and barbed wire. It was in the hearts and minds of Germans, looking down on their neighbors, not trusting their economic superiority to these outsiders, not entirely accepting of these intruders as Germans.

German reunification
“State of the nation.” The Ziggy-like figure is “the German Michel,” the symbol of Germany, much like our own Uncle Sam.

Now they were Ossies.

And I only ever heard that word used as a perjorative.

Even my civics teacher who had devoted an entire semester to “Die Wende” (The Turning Point — refers to the events in East Germany leading up to the collapse) made very clear that “reunification” was a misnomer. Germany was being unified, not reunified, because it had never existed prior to this moment. East and West were not being reunited. They were being spliced together.

the-german-michel
Note how there are two German Michels? And one intends on moving in with the other. The hugging will only last so long . . .

And somewhere in there is what the wall means to me today. The monolith of my childhood. An art gallery in Berlin. A moment in time where two people became one. A reminder that our political dreams often look very different when we achieve them. A symbol of oppression. A symbol of triumph.

A reminder that walls can be torn down. Even between East and West, Red and Blue.

Because at the end of it all, East and West did become one. One Germany. One people.

(Note: The photographs are my own. The political cartoons are from “Die Wende in der DDR” which was published by the German government and hence –to my understanding–free to use with attribution.)