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Fine Arts Friday: Steeped in story

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This afternoon, we’re all laying around reading and listening to our folk song playlist until it’s time to go to my daughter’s softball tournament. It’s a nice bit of downtime sandwiched between to periods of frantic activity, and I’m appreciating the mellow atmosphere.

The girls are listening to Rilla of Ingleside and Bulldozer is re-reading Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood. Yesterday, I started reading it to all the kids, and we ended up staying up past the boys bedtime to finish it. Perhaps not the best bedtime reading, but it ends on a cheery note. (No, really, it does. The ending has nothing to do with World War I, but it is happy.)

Our playlist:


Although a lot of things aren’t going according to plan over the past few months, one thing I do like is that we’ve been reading and listening to a lot of stories. In addition to books, we’re listening to podcasts like Radiolab and Freakonomics that use stories to explore different topics.  And even folk songs are more than just music, they are stories and histories.
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Not surprisingly, the kids are telling more stories than ever. They are writing and filming and pretending all sorts of wonderful tales. For MTG’s birthday, the made him a Lego Mini-figure family and then filmed a stop motion film about a family camping trip to Africa. (Africa, because Satchmo really wanted rhinos in the story.) They also included a Hoth Ice Monster, which was a bit confusing.

Valuing story is pretty counter-cultural, especially in the current educational atmosphere with the emphasis on quantifying and measuring every aspect of learning. How do you measure storytelling? Fortunately, it’s not a big issue for us as homeschoolers, but we have run into challenges with my boys’ speech therapist. She certainly wishes their communications were less imaginative and more utilitarian and socially acceptable. Bulldozer, in particular, can become fixated on topic or a story, and want to talk about that topic exclusively. He needs to learn the finer points of social interactions including mindless small talk. (My characterization, not hers.) I’m trying to find the balance between treasuring and protecting their imaginations and helping them learn the basic (and often dull and rote) skills necessary to appease the quantifiers and society in general.  If I err, I hope I err on the side of story.

There are lots of tasks and skills that are necessary to make life possible or easier, but stories make life rich.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this tale:

cat hamster

*I realize that this has very little to do with Fine Arts. My blog, my rules. I’ve also banned gravity. It was bringing me down, man.

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