Friday, March 27, 2009

Make the connection

I may have mentioned, a time or two, that our history studies these days have dwelled upon the American Revolutionary War period. 

And one of the bestest things about homeschooling is that you, the parent, get a fabulous opportunity to provide yourself with either the education you missed or the revisiting and deeper delving you've always wanted. 

That being said, Tim and I right now are very much enjoying our set of DVDs of John Adams. The acting and storytelling in the series are superbly nuanced, giving a sense of the great crises and complications facing our country during its birth. 

At the same time, the children and I are listening to a Jim Weiss CD called Thomas Jefferson's America. It basically covers the same time period and plotlines, but from Jefferson's point of view rather than Adams'. Again, great stuff, and what thrills me the most is finding those points of connection. You know, those moments when you're listening and you go, aha! Just saw that on the miniseries! Or, just read Abigail's point of view a few months ago while reading Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation

What I've realized about myself as a learner, once I step back and look at why I enjoy this process so much, is that the books and other media I love the most are the ones that are particularly clever at setting up dots for the audience to connect -- and then letting us connect some of them first, getting those aha! moments, letting us feel particularly clever ourselves. Well, clever or surprised. 

I'm reading Les Mis√©rables right now, which is an excellent example of how plotlines and characters converge. So, so-and-so is really that character mentioned ten chapters ago? And he first met the main character in Montfermeil, but now they're meeting up in Paris, seemingly by accident, fifteen years later? Oooh! Delicious. The historical novels of Bodie Thoene do this kind of things delightfully as well. 

It's also, I think, why I enjoy LOST so much. Sure, the twists and turns of the ever-thickening plot are brain-tickling (and cause me to send frantic text messages to my brother, who's several episodes ahead of us -- so-and-so has been kidnapped! so-and-so's trapped in a big pit with so-and-so! -- so he can reassure me without spoiling), but it's the character connections, once again, and the chance we get to figure out some of them for ourselves, that make it all so fun, fun, fun ...


Tracee said...

I LOVE Lost. What season are you guys on? I'm caught up with the newest season and just about dying for the new episode Wednesday night. I also very much enjoy connecting the dots with books and especially love relearning, from now, the stuff I missed or never got in school. It's a huge part of what makes homeschooling so appealing to me. I could learn it on my own, but it's fun watching the kids respond and connect the dots too!

Jenny said...

I love that John Adams series!! Will and I are halfway through it, and the rest is in our Netflix queue. Very well-done series all around.

I'm going to look into the Jim Weiss CD as well for my kiddos.

Vanessa said...

We started a little bit with the John Adam's series, and I really like it. It all seems new to me. . .I have forgotten all about our nation's history as I was taught more about the ALAMO, naturally, being from Texas--are you shocked?!

Now about Lost. . .the writers amaze me. I can't wait until you catch up!!! There are too many connections.