We joined some friends at the Dallas Museum of Science and Nature for a lion dance demonstration in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Sadie asked me to paint her face like a tiger in honor of 2010- the Year of the Tiger.
Of course, there were many other activities in which to participate before and after this really cool dance display. There was faux cow milking, mirror distortion, wall climbing, reptile and insect examining, block building, sound and magnet experimenting, puzzle constructing, lunchtime discussions with our friends, and so much more.
As I’m writing this, I consider whether I really need to translate all of the learning that went on this day (or any other, for that matter). I consider whether you will require a translation into educationese or edspeak for you to understand that in these- whether brief or extended- experiences, the children are rapidly absorbing and considering vast amounts of information and expanding their basis for understanding many facets of the world. I am guilty of this in the past as a means of trying to bridge the gap for those who are interested in unschooling and require a means of explanation to comprehend everyday learning.
I determine- in analyzing my discomfort with this- that, like Pat Farenga in his piece Schools Are from Mars, Homeschoolers Are from Earth, this would actually be a decay of clarity. Lumping the brilliance of each activity into phrases and categorizations to be filed into some ‘authority’s’ determination on whether appropriate learning is occurring actually dilutes the power of the awareness of everyday learning experiences. By doing this, we play into the hands of the overpowered and disempowering educational powers-that-be and feed the lack of understanding that powerful educational opportunities are all around us and learning experiences are happening all the time. To generalize the wonder of them categorically and in jargon meant only to convolute it to someone else’s elevated sense of importance is to reduce it, contain it, and hand it over. I won’t do this with my children by sending them to school and I won’t do it with the amazing life experiences that they are compiling every day. I ponder about a great many such topics in writing and spoken word on my other blog/podcast- Humans Being.
This is a small portion of the Lion Dance performance. The drumming and quick, agile, coordinated movements between the two dancers in costume had us riveted. Afterward, the kids had the opportunity to participate by drumming and performing their own lion dance in costume. We read the history of the lion dance on a giant poster brought in by the dance company- so interesting! Lots of knowledge and jumping off points for discussion can be found in the unlikeliest of places! Here is some information for you about Chinese cultural traditions.