From Two Toddlers
I have spent much of my life in school learning or in school teaching. Additionally, I have had three children and an adult granddaughter who I have spent time teaching. After all those years, I learned something from my grandson, Jack, when he was three. I was down in Indy babysitting for him one day. He was playing with some of his toys, and I was teaching online on my laptop. Jack toddled into the dining room where I was working and asked what I was doing.
I told him that I was teaching art history. He looked at the screen and saw a painting and asked what that was. I told him, and he toddled off only to return ten minutes later and saw another painting. Again, he wanted to know what that was on the computer. Finally, I learned that young children want to learn. Learning wasn't based upon adults telling children what they need to know, as much as listening to them and finding out they want to understand. Jack and all other toddlers throughout the world are beginning their journey down the yellow brick road of their lives. They have questions even though I missed that yearning to know with my three children and my granddaughter, due to thinking that I was the one responsible educating them. Jack taught me to listen.
This was one of Jack's first semesters of his art history class.
As much as I love teaching the arts, I never imagined teaching Jack about paintings until he was in high school. Three years after Jack's first questions, Jack knows dozens of paintings and the names of the painters.
Owen, Jack's brother, is three and has started to learn just like Jack. This is a picture of one of their classes last year.
Jack knows that my favorite painting is William Turner's The Fighting Téméraire. In one of my classes, I asked Jack and Owen to find the elephant in Turner's Hannibal Crossing the Alps.
Jack found the elephant and showed it to Owen, who was two at the time. Then I told them about how difficult it would have been to get elephants over the Alps. Owen didn't seem particularly interested in my art and history lesson. However, he got up, went over to Jack's Hot Wheels. He picked up a white Hot Wheel that given Jack several weeks ago. Then sat down and started showing me what Hannibal should have used instead of elephants.
Jack was up at my home in Crown Point two years ago. I live on a small man-made lake, which doesn't have a beach. However, instead of sand, it has about four feet of small rocks. Jack and I were sitting along the rock beach throwing rocks into the lake. It was fun until Jack asked, "What's this Papa?" He had a rock with fossilized small seashells embedded in the rock. Thus began Jack and Owen's fossil collection.
Owen is arranging their fossils.
This is Jack and Owen's textbook.
Their textbook contains dozens of paintings and pictures of over a dozen large fossils along with what the fossils look like today as they evolved over many millions of years.
1. Ammonite from Madagascar ca. 395 myo, which is like the chambered nautilus.
Jack knows that I had to memorize poetry and prose in high school. I can say to him, "Tiger, tiger burning bright...." He will say, "...in the forest of the night." They both have heard me quote lines from The Chambered Nautilus.
Jack wanted to draw a chambered nautilus.
2. Ortheceras from Sahara Desert ca. 350 myo, which is related to the chamber nautilus.
3. Fossils of seashells from the lake in Papa's backyard. These fossilized seashells were discovered by Jack when he was 4.
4. Polished dinosaur coprolite from Utah ca. 140 myo.
5. Sea urchin (sand dollar) from Madagascar ca. 160 myo.
6. Fish from Wyoming ca. 50 myo.
7. Shark tooth from Morocco ca. 60 myo.
8. Trilobite from Morocco ca. 395 myo.
9. Walrus tooth from Alaska ca. 3-8,000 year ago.
10. Horse's tooth found in Florida ca. 2 myo.
11. Horn coral from Utah ca. 325 myo.
12. Jack took this picture as I am looking for a missing fossil, which hasn't been found.
13. Dinosaur tooth from Spinosaurus maroccanus, which means in Moroccan spine lizard ca. 95 myo.
14. Another Ammonite from Madagascar ca. 395 myo, which is like the chambered nautilus.
15. This is a fossilized clam from Madagascar ca. 180 myo.
One day, I was writing an essay about the Rosetta Mission. Jack and Owen wanted to know about what the Rosetta Mission was. So we have gone from paintings, to fossils, and now to space exploration. They have heard about the Rosetta Mission rendezvousing with the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. They also know that name, Rosetta, came from the name of a town in Egypt where Pierre-François Bouchard found this ancient basalt stele in 1799.
Jack and Owen took turns being the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, orbiting the Sun.
Jack is the comet....
Owen is now the comet....
It is interesting that one of the pieces of prose that I memorized in high school was from Silas Marner. George Eliot, which is the pseudonym that Mary Ann Evans, published her novella, Silas Marner, in 1861. Exactly a century later, I stood in front of Mrs. Davis to recite this passage from Silas Marner. I thought that I understood Eliot's message over five decades ago. However, I get her message today via Jack and Owen.
Thanks Jack and Owen; I needed that.
Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "The Hand May Be a Little Child's" page to read more about this topic.