Our current artist focus is Rembrant. For six weeks we will study a different piece by the same artist. The idea of focusing on one artist for a period of time is in the hopes that we develop a friendship with the person and his/her work. I have grand images of my children strolling art museums with their children and immediately recognizing the style of an artist we've studied even had they never observed that particular piece.
It's very tempting to rapid-fire everything beautiful at our children. There is so much we don't want them to miss and we're reminded so often that our time with them is short. Having one on the cusp of manhood, I agree. Our time together is fleeting, indeed. But I have stumblingly learned that walking slowly grows a much more meaningful connection in their hearts, be it with an artist, an author, or even mathematics. I am frequently forced to reexamine my motives as I find myself slipping back into bad habits again. Do I want them to simply know facts or do I want them to build relationships? Always, always, my heart draws me back to relationship.
The last few years an educational philosophy revolution has been happening in my soul as I've moved from a memory work heavy model towards Charlotte Mason. I find my heart ever more fully embracing the idea that education is not a static, specific block of time in one's life, but rather, an intricate and essential part of our whole lives. I look at the horizon of their lives spreading before them and know that beautiful things are to to be found from our place here until they reach they end of their pilgrimage. So, we intentionally move slowly with whatever material we happen to be studying at the moment. Today included Rembrandt.
Standardized tests, though wildly contested of late, have become the professionally accepted means of pinpointing one's intellectual potential.
One of my children does exceedingly well with standardized testing.
The other two remind me that human beings are not standardizable. (Yes, I created a new word. I like to take literary liberties like that.) Furthermore, I deeply believe they shouldn't be!
Back to our picture study, though. Below, compliments of public domain, is the piece we enjoyed this morning.
I use Google slides to create our presentation which we observe, together, on our livingroom television. The first slide is always only the work. No details are given, other than knowing the artist. Our observation time is really free of form and would probably make Miss. Mason cringe as the children all discuss their thoughts and observations immediately. Each week I ask the children if they have any ideas what the artist might be saying with this work.
This morning, Trevor, my least standard child, thoughtfully articulated his heart, "It's the story of the storm and Jesus sleeping in the boat!"
This was the first time, to my knowledge, that he's ever glimpsed this work of art.
We have not recently read the story of Jesus calming the storm in our Biblical studies.
Yet, within his own heart and mind, he instantly gleaned Rembrandt's intention with no pre-teaching or formal walk-through needed.
Standardized testing would tell me that his moderate intellectual disability should make this impossible. He needs us to break it down into pre-digested morsels for him. He's not capable of understanding anything beyond a certain depth. Let's not set our expectations too high, shall we.
Or, shall we?
"We attempt to define a person, the most common-place person we know, but he will not submit to bounds; some unexpected beauty of nature breaks out; we find he is not what we thought, and we begin to expect every person exceeds our power of measurement." - from The Story of Charlotte Mason