I've started reading The Hobbit to my 6 year old daughter. She wasn't too engaged for the first few pages, but once Gandalf and the dwarves arrived she didn't want me to stop – despite still feeling rather wan after yesterday's gastro, poor thing. I'm really pleased she's liking it. 8)
I still have strong – and very fond – memories of listening to a 4-LP recording of The Hobbit read by Nicol Williamson. I really loved those records, and I found myself imitating his character voicings a bit while reading to my Miss.
… Until my voice started giving out from trying to be boomy and Scottish-sounding. xP
I like this lateral thinking.
My six year old daughter brought home some homework yesterday. She rocked through two days’ worth yesterday afternoon, and another this morning – but that’s not what really pleases me.
One of the pages she did yesterday included an exercise wherein she was to circle the odd one out of a number of pictures: a bunch of things that hop, and a dog. Her first impulse however, was to choose the frog, as all the others have fur. When my wife asked her if there was another possibility, she identified the hopping, and circled the dog. I’m pleased with that, but that wasn’t even the main thing for me.
There was an exercise in the one she did this morning that required her to circle the pictures of things beginning with A, and colour in those of things beginning with M. There was a chimp. She chose to colour it in.
We had a talk in which I tried to explain at some level that it is indeed a monkey, but is also an ape (I couldn’t go all the way into cladistic classification with her, both because she’s six, and because I don’t really understand it thoroughly enough myself xP ) so either would, technically, be correct. Then I was talking about it with my wife, and mentioned that at school they probably tell them to differentiate between monkeys and apes based on the presence or absence of a tail (neglecting Old World Monkeys of course) … whereupon Miss 6 announced she had now drawn a tail on it to make it a monkey – thus removing any ape/monkey ambiguity.
I reckon that was a great solution. 8)
My children (3 and 5) just had their end-of-year concert for all us parents to go ooh aah about. And indeed it was very cute. Songs about different animals, Santa wearing shorts and so forth.
Then a song was introduced as one that they’ve been singing with the children because the words “teach the story of Christmas in a really nice way”. As you can no doubt imagine, that raised my hackles no small amount. When they got into the song, with lyrics like: “unto us this holy night, a little baby’s born” I threw up in my mouth a little. A reasonably large part of me wanted to scoop up both my kids and get the hells out of there with them – but you know: making a scene and stuff … kids were enjoying themselves … “be nice” and such ….
I did take no small amusement from the apparent theology fail in the repeated line: “mother Mary, father Joseph” which gave me a mildly amused smirk … until I thought more about it this morning. What that song is, actually, is careful indoctrination. In exactly the same way as $cientology waits until you’ve been prepared carefully over some years (and many thousands of dollars) before hitting you with the batshit stuff about Xemu and other-dimensional Thetans and so on, this song I think is presenting the plausible/non-fantastical/somewhat acceptable aspects of the Jesus story (wrapped rather reverentially) so as to avoid the unpleasant questions that unprepared kids would raise, such as “how come Jesus has two dads?”, “who has primary custody?”, “does god get access visits?”, “who has Jesus at Christmas?” (wait, what?), “are childrens’ services involved?” and so on.
Once they’re used to the notion of a “holy night” and a special baby and such, the implausible magical fantastical stuff can get brought in around this base.
Nasty and calculating – not on the part of the daycare staff, who are just good caring people who it seems are somewhat unthinkingly devout: on the part of the writer/s and distributor of that song, and no doubt others like it.
Or am I reading too much into it? I admit it’s possible, but judging by the current and historical actions of the Churches and other Christian organisations, I would say they think very carefully about how best to hook kids in – and so I think it probable that this song was written deliberately with that goal in mind.
The power of song.