Thursday, October 15, 2009
Skellig: A book with an unschooled kid.
One of the favourite things I've always loved about being a parent is reading to my kids. Sadly as they grow older there are fewer opportunities to do so-and the kids prefer to go off and read their own books by then. Still, I am lucky to have the attention of my youngest kid yet and I just finished reading a most wonderful book called Skellig by David Almond.
How surprising it was and exciting to discover a girl (Mina) living the unschooled life; who moves in the world and learns following her natural curiosity so thoroughly and whose experience, contrasted against the schooled life really brings forth the 'rightness' of what authentic learning is about.
It is now school that is portrayed as un-natural, a curiosity to wonder about (rather than self-directed learning). When Michael (the protagonist) is working on his school work (after missing school due to the distress he is in because of his very sick baby sister), Mina looks at the worksheets; It is thought that Man is d-----------------from the apes. This is the Theory of E--------------This theory was developed by Charles D--------------. There was sentence after sentence like that. Mina read the sentences out loud. She said, "Blank blank blank," in a singsong voice when she came to the dashes. She stopped after the first three sentences and just looked at me.
"Is this really the kind of thing you do all day?" she said.
When she flicks through the book that Michael and his class are reading she asks about the red sticker.
"It's for confident readers," I said. "It's to do with reading age."
And what if other readers want to read it?"
"And where would William Blake fit in?" said Mina. "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright/In the forests of the night." Is that for the best reader of the worst readers? Does that need a good reading age?"..."and if it were for the worst readers would the best readers not bother with it because it would be too stupid for them?"she said.
If you're looking to get inspired about life, beauty, the extraordinariness of things get ye a copy of this book!