Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lighting a Fire

Since I have always believed in what William Butler Yeats said that “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire” I have strived to find creative ways to go on lighting that fire in my children. Unless we find, develop and nurture our passions, we can easily get stuck filling our quota of chapters in a text, lessons per week and well, that leads to monotony here. Yes, school work is not always fun and there are requirements and some knowledge that simply must be memorized in rote-like fashion, but when it all becomes that way even this mama gets feeling a little too listless.

Some times I cure this easily by tossing our book lists aside and allowing the girls to pick their own books according to interest. Other times, they choose a creative art project or substitute a science experiment or topic that they prefer to learn about rather than my scheduled one. Once a year, I even agree to swapping roles for the day and they take turns being a guide and I become the student. That makes for some interesting memories! At the end of the year, it all seems to get completed regardless.

I had no idea the extent to which we lit a fire in our daughters by visiting one of Robert Frost’s homes in Vermont. I’m not sure I could name my favorite poet, but he is certainly amongst them and so we traveled way out of our way to walk his memorial trail, see this house as well as drive into town and visit his grave.

Upon returning home and starting our school for the year, my daughters continued to choose Frost’s poetry for their studies and memorization time. I was thrilled, but since then have been creatively sneaking in other poetry and it has been difficult, that is how enamored they have become since our visit. So, I rejoiced last month my youngest daughter gladly memorized Stevenson’s “Singing” and the older one loved learning Tennyson’s “The Eagle”. I thought I was on to some thing....

When December hit faster than I’d prepared for, they were already working independently on “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” before I even sat down for tea time. I just listened a while and realized they were a good way into memorizing it in full and it seemed to be due to the chatter going on previously about our visit and how one entire room of Frost’s Vermont home was devoted to this famous poem, which was in fact written there. I have to admit it was wonderful to be there and to take the memories home with me, so I let them have their say and it is a fitting choice for this time of year.


Heather said...

One of my favourite poets, too!

I think the way your girls take control of their own learning is wonderful. Keep doing what you're doing! :)

Jan Lyn said...

Heather---OK major confession here! In the photo of us by the grave, I actually have a flower in my hand that I am placing there. I wanted to leave one so desperately, but had none. As we passed the church I must confess that I plucked the flower from the churches huge planter displayed..."whose flowers these are I think I know..."

Prayed for forgiveness as usual!