Random Crunchy Cultural Homeschool Interlude

Posted on June 12, 2013 by


One of the best things about home schooling, if not the very best thing, is the ease and opportunity for a child to develop the habit of recognizing relationships. Children are naturally adept at pattern – their early life is entirely made up of A + B = C. You cry you get comforted. You suckle you get fed. You pee you get changed. You giggle you get kissed. Only anomaly of nature or nurture disturbs this perfect system, even when done with the imperfection we’re limited to. It is the earliest best bed of learning, and what will be the foundation of education for the rest of a persons life. Understanding the interconnectedness of the matters of our environment – operating as a fully sapient being in the awareness of Christ – is how we live beyond mere survival. The gift of our humanity, endowed by God, is so under-appreciated, so bereft of full use it’s sad to consider, really.

Fortunately, we have music to bring us cheer.

School at home is supposed to offer something besides academic education, allegedly, so art, in various forms, is high on the list of activities for many of us. The soundtrack we impose on all this is a great way to embed a sort of subliminal message, and enhances the scheme: it’s mathematical, it’s poetic, it’s entertaining. Relationship.

We’re not hardcore classical/liturgical music only at our house. These certainly get their due, as it’s impossible to study much history of either the world or The Church without including it, and it’s no doubt good for mind and soul. We make a point, though, of including North American folk and popular music of the last century, because it’s good music, too. And one point of studying the old is to understand the new. And we like it.

We’ve done:

Johnny Cash
Gordon Lightfoot*
Jerry Jeff Walker
Kris Kristofferson
Woody Guthrie
Bob Dylan
Odetta
Simon and Garfunkel

among many others, some not as well known but every bit as profound either as composers or storytellers or both. Our focus is about a week for each, and we make each into a mini-history lesson because Relationships. And in this exercise you learn a thing or two about music and a lot of things about the world.

For instance, did you know that two of the best all time songs, EVAH….

this one:

and this one:

….were written by this guy:

Shel Silverstein! I KNOW!!!

It shouldn’t be at all surprising that good writers write all kinds of good things, but it’s interesting and adds a layer of personal connection to the material.

The Giving Tree guy is the Marie Laveau guy. Awesome.

What else did he write?
What are those about?
Who were his influences?
Whom does he influence?
Why is this culturally significant, if it is at all?
How do you put a poem to music?….
etc.

Degrees of relationship.

*Your seven year old kid will play The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald until your eyes bleed, consider yourself warned. You might as well listen now and start building up your tolerance. You’re welcome.

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