Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hands-on learning

I signed the kids up for a medieval arts residency, five 3-hour sessions during the month of October. My motivation was twofold (mixed motives abound in parenting!): it sounded cool, and I desperately needed the block of time to work on my book.

Last week when we walked into the first class there were about twenty replicas of medieval instruments, ranging from harp to hurdy-gurdy to shaum. The kids sang rounds in Old English and Italian, learned about parchment, and sewed their own journals using bodkins.

Today was the second class, and Snuggler and Little Guy came out bubbling about all the things they learned during the lengthy slide show on medieval art. They are preparing to put on a play based on the story of Chanticleer in Canterbury Tales, too.

Very happy kids. Just as happy as they are when they come out of their geography/geology class after using the stream table to carve out peninsulas and gorges. They had half the subway car smiling yesterday as they competed to pronounce isthmus correctly on the way home.

My kids like hands-on learning. Most kids do. I was feeling a bit guilty that I haven't done a better job of seeking out more classes like these, until I remembered that they're incredibly hard to find. A lot of classes sound good on paper but lack depth or organization -- and they usually cost a fortune. I used to be good at doing this kind of stuff myself, at home. There was a time when we did Chinese calligraphy and pretended to stock a covered wagon and made Noh masks. I don't have the luxury of either time or energy to do that now, so I'm very glad that for this term, at least, my kids are getting rich hands-on experiences elsewhere.

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