a waiting room movie – the gift of imagination

monarch on my fingers

We went into a waiting room and sat down. After a while of playing with the toys, my five year old announced that she’s watching a movie and plops herself onto a chair opposite the receptionists desk. She stared intently at the receptionist while pretending to eat imaginary theatre snacks. “This isn’t a kids movie,” she announced after a minute or two. Then she noticed a shadow as someone moves in front of a door in the inner office. “Wait,” she says, “I saw a shadow.” She then proceeded to tell me, slowly, the story, as it took place in Continue reading

into the unknown: preparing myself to send my children to school

I sighed in the grocery store the other day. The store clerk, seeing I was watching my children, made a comment expressing sympathy about how it was only the beginning of summer holidays. I smiled, paid, and thanked him. He doesn’t need to know how much he misunderstood. To me this isn’t the beginning of a summer of having the kids around all the time. My kids have been around me almost constantly since they were born and this particular summer I am in mourning for the fact that my time homeschooling is coming to an end. This isn’t the Continue reading

my experience and plans teaching with Minecraft

a dwarven kingdom in minecraft

My kids and I are eagerly working on our minecraft server these days. We build scenes and then add non-player-characters (NPCs) the scripts of which we write using a plugin called Betonquest. The boys built a fairy kingdom full of mushroom houses. With their help, I wrote up conversations for the fairies based on Shakespeare’s fairies in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. We added a nine men’s morris board built of a grass path, like the “the quaint mazes in the wanton green” that the Shakespeare’s Titania had said was “for lack of tread are undistinguishable.” For each snippet of Shakespeare Continue reading

being wrong, accepting criticism and imperfection

beebalm-and-monarch

“No, friendship is NOT about ‘supporting your friends even when you know they’re wrong.” That’s not friendship. That’s being an enabler. That’s being an accomplice. Friendship is loving someone enough to tell them to stop being an idiot before they ruin their lives.” I saw a text-in-a-box thing on facebook today with that text. I read it, re-read it, and thought about a time when I acted as an enabler, supporting someone as she got back together with an abuser, and how I wish I had handled it differently. I had been so scared she’d stop talking to me that Continue reading

to blog or not to blog

black-eyed-susan

I went almost a year without blogging. In many ways, it was an experiment in privacy. I had become self-conscious about the idea that my own thoughts might be worth sharing, and hesitant about putting them out. I wasn’t completely private. I can’t stop writing, so I took to writing more on facebook in long friends-only posts. There I encountered the problem that facebook is more a place people go to express themselves than a place where people are willing to put time and energy into reading slowly enough to comprehend what someone else is saying. I had a number Continue reading

politics in Gulliver’s Travels

I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels again right now and wanted to share this excerpt from when Gulliver is explaining about British government to the king of the giants: He then desired to know, what Arts were practiced in electing those whom I called Commoners. Whether, a Stranger with a strong Purse might not influence the vulgar Voters to chuse him before their own Landlord, or the most considerable Gentlemen in the Neighborhood. How it came to pass, that People were so violently bent upon getting into this assembly, which I allowed to be a great Trouble and Expense, often to the Continue reading

reading 18th century history, reflecting on today

I’ve been reading about various wars in North America during the 1700s. Several things stand out to me. One is the idea that the governments were not able to control their people. Native elders were not able to prevent individual or small groups of native warriors from going off and killing colonists, and the colonists were unable to prevent individuals from going off and killing natives. The acts of individuals were then used to justify the acts of more individuals and of governments. The second thing is that the elites were manipulating everyone into war. Before the American Revolution, the Continue reading

using an incomplete knowledge of Shakespeare for meaningful discussion

I have written before about reading Shakespeare with kids so they gain some familiarity with the stories and another time I wrote about reading it with kids as part of discussion on language and exploring complex ideas. Today I write about yet another reason to read Shakespeare with children. Today my argument is that Shakespeare gives us a chance to look at the incompleteness of our own knowledge and what scholarship means. We get to do that, all while enjoying the works of a master who filled his works with such amazing jokes and clever ideas. A few years ago Continue reading

Minecraft Math Non-Player Characters

NPCs add a new dimension to my minecraft math class

This year I have been experimenting with a new tool for my minecraft math class. The tool is called Beton Quest and it is a plugin for my server. Paired with a second plugin called Citizens it allows me to create NPCs (Non Player Characters) that my students can interact with. The Non Player Characters look like normal minecraft characters – like players, villagers, animals or monsters – but when a person clicks on a NPC a little text conversation begins. The player gets to see a number of multiple choice responses which he or she can click on or Continue reading

making peace

As a child one of my favourite records was one produced by the Mennonite Central Committee. It was called “I can make peace” and it had a mix of stories and songs. One of the stories was about a family getting up to go to school and how one person’s grumpiness was passed on to the next person until even a friend’s family was affected, but then the reverse happens where someone’s joyfulness is passed on person to person. One story was about an elephant family. The stories and songs start off focused on families and move out to talking Continue reading