In the Corners and Cobwebs of Every Civilization…Were the Poets and Artists

Thanks to my son’s take home Scholastic News magazine, I learned that November is National American Heritage Month. For Language and Literature night tonight, I pulled a free printable from TeacherVision to learn about Picture Language used to communicate between tribes. Both the boys tried their hands at telling a story with just the main points, without the filler words, and with only simple drawings.

We talked about living back in the day when there were no stores, and everything had to come from the earth and environment. It was fun to see my boys using their imaginations to go back in time and see all the work involved in ordinary daily activities. We have a trip to the Library planned for this week, I think I’ll find some legends and stories to liven up this lesson.

On the TeacherVision website, I also saw a lesson for making our own totem pole, which sounds like a very cool activity. We’ll have to see if we can tackle something so large.

It is important to me to learn about other cultures and always impress a sense of honor to what we are learning. Even if we see things differently, or we view similar things from opposite angles, I want to get inside the culture enough to understand something of beauty.

I don’t personally know very much about American Indian culture, any more than I learned in school. There is so much to learn. I guess that’s why we are given opportunities each year to learn and grow along with our kids, taking the simple parts when they are young, and advancing into some of the more complex and difficult parts we know are there, as they are old enough, and we are strong enough to attempt them.

There is heartache inherent in the study of any culture, I suppose, if we dig deep enough. There are rivers of tears beneath all of the stories of nations being built, colliding with other wants and needs and ways of life. There are going to be ugly parts I just don’t want to acknowledge, but it is important to be as truthful as we know how to be. And in the truth, there are also the mother’s and nana’s, the father’s and grandpapa’s striving for something better.

There is the development of language from just explaining where to hunt and where to gather, to the transition of how looking at a full moon makes us think of love. Somewhere in the corners and cobwebs of every civilization, looking up at the stars, were always the poets and the artists who found a way to share the beauty of their existence, even if their existence was dark and bleak. It makes my heart swell with pride in my kinfolk from every race and creed on earth.

And this is the part I look forward to sharing with my children, that even at our earliest beginnings, we desired communication. All along the way from early civilizations through to depraved and wild civilizations, there have always been artists, lovers and poets. There have also always been warriors and daredevils. Somehow it is part of our cosmic journey to learn balance, to watch in horror as bad guys seem to win, and tell ourselves over and over again to keep a careful watch and do our best to protect the downtrodden.

It is such a gift to have History and the development of Language a few simple clicks away on this great Teacher called the internet, which too can become a monster. In everything, moderation. To everything there is a season.

As much as I feel ill-prepared to teach my children, because I still have so much to learn, I delight in the prospect of learning along with them. I am right beside them cheering at the brave, and crying at the sad, wondering along with the inquisitive, and reveling in the mysteries with the artists and poets and lovers of beauty.

photo from here

7 thoughts on “In the Corners and Cobwebs of Every Civilization…Were the Poets and Artists

  1. there is such mindfulness in your parenting, liesl. i especially love the focus that could bring about a language & literature night in anyone’s home. and, for what it’s worth, i think that recognition of the heartache inherent to studying another’s culture brings depth and compassion to any conversation you might try to have around it. we’re richer for recognizing that sadness, you know?

    1. You just blessed my heart so much! Thank you for reminding me that mindfulness is what I’m going for here. You made me cry. Thank you.

  2. I love it when I learn with children. It shows them that we never stop learning and that we should continue to seek knowledge. I remember Scholastic from when I was young. Enjoy the adventure with your family.

    1. Thank you, Winnie! I don’t think you ever really learn how much you don’t know until you become a mother. Right? I used to think I knew stuff. Now, it seems I’m always scrambling to fill all our heads with something useful or lovely.

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