365 Days of Earrings

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Peripatetic Outing

This morning I chose to wear my Calvin and Hobbes Shinky-Dink earrings. I made them back on a snow day last winter, thinking I'd wear them on July 5th, Bill Watterson's birthday. But I forgot. So I wore them today to go for a hike at Sky Meadows State Park with my friend and colleague Janie.

One day last year, Janie told me how tickled she was that her son could define peripatetic. Especially because of the source of his knowledge.

"Doesn't that have something to do with moving from place to place?" I asked.

And she quoted her son's definition, having to do with a school of itinerant Greek philosophers. "He learned it from Calvin and Hobbes," she smiled.

Learning is like that. Our minds latch onto what is meaningful to each of us. Will wanted to understand Calvin and Hobbes. Today Janie told me that Will's college application essay is about all that he learned from Calvin.

What can you learn from a cartoon? Clearly, he gained an expansive vocabulary. And probably a lot about interpersonal relationships, philosophy, perspective...

And the value of imaginative play. Hobbes is a stuffed toy. He only comes to life when he and Calvin are alone. Through play, Calvin works through the issues that plague his life.

I worry that children no longer spend as much time in imaginative play. They spend time in front of screens; in scheduled lessons, practices, and games; and striving to master academic skills years before my generation felt such pressure.

Janie's daughter is teaching three-year-olds in a program designed to accelerate them to success. They are expected to master letter sounds, something my cohort did not do until 1st grade. Through play, these children will learn to communicate, to listen, to cooperate. Through art projects, they will learn to express themselves and gain motor skills. Through dance and singing, they will learn self-control and group dynamics.

We had a great hike celebrating the end of summer. We shared ideas and imagined what might be. A peripatetic outing.

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