I read three posts this evening, following on from my post yesterday about steering my young, somewhat unschooled, children towards my interests. I wanted to share them both with you. One is again from Jane.
You HAVE to read the story about her son’s reaction to a trip to an art gallery. It is absolutely hysterical, really so funny, and SUCH a lesson to parents to, as she says, “…expose your kids to every wonderful thing the world has to offer, but with no expectations of how they will interpret it.”, “Have no expectations about what they will take from an experience. Because they will always surprise you and think outside the square in the gorgeous creative way that they do. And in the way that is perfect for them”. As Jane says, “trust, trust trust!” Thank goodness her son had Jane as his mother!
So, Jane and I are in total agreement, introduce what you want to the kids, if they are receptive to it BUT then accept whatever happens and I mean, whatever happens!
Then I also came across this post after reading Laura Grace Weldon’s (of ‘Free Range Learning’ fame) post (see link below). Rebecca Zook says, “… it reminds me of the trips I made to the National Gallery of Art when I was in fourth grade. My teacher tried to cram as much as possible into each trip—upon entering a new room, she’d instruct us to stand by our favorite painting before purposefully marching on into the next room. At the end of the trip, she would proudly exclaim, “We saw so much art!”
I’m sure her intention was to cultivate a love of the arts in her students, but even though I loved art before and after those trips, I don’t remember anything about the art I saw on those fourth grade trips.
I feel like a work of art can be like meeting a person. There’s so much to be revealed. But what is the point of speed-dating artworks? What do you really learn from speedwalking through galleries or speed-reading through epics?
I believe the point is not exposure, but connection. If we read something but don’t connect to it and don’t remember it, does it even matter?”
“I wish we were encouraged to digest things more, and had enough time with what we’re learning to get to know it and let it affect us.”
Even though I thought before I wrote yesterday’s post that I was open minded to whatever the kids got out of the cultural side of our European trip, reading these posts has served as a warning to really abide by that! And, I have to remember the WAY I introduce culture to them, I repeat what Rebecca says, “… the point is not exposure, but connection”, “I wish we were encouraged to digest things more, and had enough time with what we’re learning to get to know it and let it affect us.”
Laura’s post lists 6 ways to help kids enjoy cultural experiences. I especially like point 4, “Make it an ordinary part of life. As with anything, it’s what you pay attention to that you magnify. Conversations about music, philosophy, poetry or logic are just regular mealtime topics, brought up with the same casual interest as sports or the weather. Literary discussion with a four-year-old is easy. Simply talk about the picture book you’ve just read together. How could it have ended differently or gone on longer? Why do you think the main character acted that way or made that decision? Which character would you like to be in the story? Why?”
It’s true, “As with anything, it’s what you pay attention to that you magnify.” If Edward had a great fondness for football, I’d support and encourage that, even if it’s not ‘my thing’, in the full knowledge that “what you pay attention to you magnify” and that this might result in years of hot and sweaty (in this part of the world) football match support! However, since he doesn’t have much interest in football, I’m not going to spend time trying to cultivate one since it’s not something I enjoy either. Just because many others boys love football, it doesn’t mean he has to, or I have to try and steer him that way, in the expectation that he’s a boy therefore he must like football or some other organized sport (we’re still seeking a fencing instructor to fulfill that passion for him)!
I love it when Laura said, “My kids swam in the current of fine arts from the very beginning, as it flowed naturally with all the other influences in their lives”. That’s got to be my approach, and hopefully always has been/will be, but I’ll be much more mindful about it now. Mindful parenting is always the best way to parent but sometimes mindfulness can mean taking an active approach, taking that gallery or concert trip and then stillness, watchfulness and acceptance.
Does anyone else have any suggestions or anecdotes about introducing ‘culture’ to their kids, be it art, music or historic sites? I’d love to hear!
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