Who looks down on whom?
In my second post on Albert Schweitzer, The Quest I told of a discussion that arose from a painting of mine, a discussion concerning the physical appearance of Jesus, and how it could be argued that in the Biblical story of Zaccheus climbing a sycamore tree to see Jesus over the heads of the crowd, the phrase for he was a small man could be taken to refer to Christ as easily as to Zaccheus - the traditional interpretation.
Commenting on this, Hope at The Road Less Traveled, said: It's funny, I never thought of Jesus being the "short" one instead of Zaccheus. Guess it was that song I learned as a kid, "Zaccheus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see..."
Which is pretty much the general reaction when the idea is first floated.
I also had a couple of emails on the subject, including this from a very good friend of mine:
In the course of your latest blog I was prompted (& amazed to be able) to recall a ditty which I remember my mother singing to me over-&-over when I was young. ( I still remember, word for word, a number of such verses reproduced from her own childhood learning) . . .
Now Zaccheus was a very little man,
And a very little man was he.
He climbed into a sycamore tree
For the Saviour he wanted to see.
And when the Lord passed by that way
He looked into that tree,
And said “Now, Zaccheus, you come down
For I’m coming to your house for my tea!”
On googling 'climbed into a sycamore tree' I came across the verse with virtually the identical words on the 'stickykids' website. It was preceded by a longer variation of the story with a sample sound track - not the same as the one my mother used! Not of any great interest to you perhaps, but fascinating to me as it must be 60 or so years since I ever even thought of Zacchias!
Keep up the good work. Bill
Back to School
I was somewhat amused to read and hear on the TV that the people who decide these things (in this instance led by Sir Jim Rose, adviser to the government, and a man with much good work behind, one who has always had my admiration) have decided that our school curriculum is twenty years old and no longer up to the job of preparing our young people for life and work. The trouble lies in the subject boundaries, so they plan to completely modernise (even revolutionise) this twenty year old curriculum - with an idea that we were all familiar with in the 60s and 70s, a way of teaching that was highly popular when I began teaching even further back than that and which I used a great deal until (20 years ago, would you believe?) I was told by my inspector that it would have to go as it was no longer up to the job of preparing our young people for life.
Projects, are to be the great new-old thing in education. Children should follow a project which requires them to research across several traditional subject areas. They will work and learn instead, in the following areas: English, Communication and Languages : Mathematical Understanding : Scientific and Technological Understanding : Understanding Physical Health and Wellbeing : Understanding Arts and Design
Learning by project worked very well, once - well enough to show that it can work. That was when what you learnt was more important than how you were taught because that was in the days when what you learnt was more than a matter of box ticking. It is true that in its heyday it was not always well used. Sometimes the checks to ensure that the necessary ground was covered were not rigorous enough; sometimes the projects were not intrinsically related to the subjects they were supposed to be covering; sometimes the method was pushed to extremes. However, with its demise, and by the time I retired, I was beginning to think that teachers were becoming more and more like tour guides. They had their itinerary, known as a curriculum, and they behaved as tour guides traditionally are supposed to behave: they show you Buckimgham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral and Piccadilly Circus, take you on the London Eye and round The National Gallery - and that's it, x number of boxes ticked, London done, let's go and look at Wales! The concept of experiencing a subject area was fast disappearing. It has gone much further down that road in the years since.
The argument centres around the point of contention that it has always centred around: the usefulness or not of inert learning (learning that has no immediate relevance for the child, but will become relevant later). But whenever I hear that discussion being rerun it reminds me of Henry Reed's great WWII poem Naming of Parts from his Lessons of War sequence. Here are the first two verses:
To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighbouring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.
This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.
Doesn't that put the case rather succinctly?
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