Monday, January 30, 2012

Anatomy with and without kids

This morning, carrying a sleeping 4-year-old in a pitch dark room, I adroitly and narrowly avoided slicing open my toe on the sharp edges of a bed in an accidental, little two-step around the corner of it, without falling on my face. That was a whole lot of bones and muscles working together with a truckload of nerves telling them all exactly what to do, instantaneously. I was impressed with just what a body could do. I would be lying if I said that over the years of giving birth to five sweet babies I did not experience that wonder each time that this perfectly formed human had been formed within me. The toes, the eyes, the lungs, brain and heart of each of them worked, for real!

I did not take anatomy in high school. I took anything but anatomy; theatre, French, orchestra, choir, creative writing. Then I got the heck out of the building as soon as I could to go scoop ice cream at the mall and make enough money for airfare to France (or anywhere else far from the dreary lands of home. I also considered South Africa, Germany, Japan and Australia, but was given my first pick.) Short-sighted? Perhaps, but things worked out, as they have a way of doing.

I am now happily sitting on my dilapidated family sofa in Iowa avidly studying anatomy. I came to this point in a round-about way, having avoided the topic for many years. I am finally interested enough and motivated enough to tackle this subject outside of school. The topic has a three-fold value: it is fascinating to me, I will know enough to answer my children's questions on the topic when we study it, and it will be of use in my job both now and later.

The Waldorf education chart suggests that anatomy be taught in 8th grade. I consulted with my daughter and bought her a copy of Gray's Anatomy Coloring Book.

She colored in the brain...and that was it. I picked up my own copy of the book because I thought the language was approachable. Like grabbing a book in the kid's section of the library on electricity or painting or Thomas Jefferson when you are curious, but not "The Hemingses of Monticello" or how to paint your own Mona Lisa curious. It also fed my creative/Waldorfy desire to use my colored pencils in a useful way.

We explored other sources of anatomy curriculum, books and online, but the motivation was lacking for Lily to take it and run with it. I felt the nagging "should haves" that hit homeschooling mothers every once in awhile. Like once a week or so. However, enough was going on that I let this go for the time being.

Now that I am enjoying the topic, I see that there might be a couple of sparks to light the flame from our family's life experiences. Our last two babies were born at home. The children managed to be there, even though I had sort of hoped they would sleep through the whole thing. There are a lot of questions that the study of anatomy can address, from the formation of a baby in utero to the expansion of the female pelvis to allow a baby to pass through (who would have thought that this whole baby would be able to fit in that tummy? or get out when he/she was finished?)

Then we had a broken bone this year as well; one complicated elbow mishap. Understanding just what was wrong and how it grew back together was a source of endless fascination.

Skeletons are my last card to play. Everyone loves a skeleton, down to little Puck. In fact, I think I could keep the rest of the littles quite contented playing with or drawing skeletons while I teach the older ones, or hit the books myself.  Here is the book I am using for now, anyone have a good resource for a "scholastic" skeleton without causing a big hole in the budget?


1 comment:

  1. I printed out a skeleton and hung it on the wall in our school room. I'll see if I can remember where I found it. If I do, I will print it out and you guys can tape it together and label it. Heaps of fun.


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