Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Memory and Writing [and some strong words about math]

Andrew Pudewa Writing Workshop

Andrew Pudewa blessed our socks off this past week. He was in town (in our little town!) for four days of writing workshops and parent seminars. Luke and Leif (and I) attended an introductory writing workshop and Levi attended an intermediate research writing workshop. I attended both evenings of parent seminars—4 Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing and Freedomship Education (you can find those talks in the IEW Resources). I had heard both talks years ago, but I needed, desperately needed, to hear them again. Andrew Pudewa is an entertaining and inspiring communicator. The boys were completely engaged at the workshops, even though they are not fond of writing.

Since we’re on the subject of writing and I’ve recently shared a couple posts about memorization, I thought it would be fun to revisit Levi’s little tirade about math from earlier this year (he had just turned 12). I shared this quote (and essay link) from Andrew Pudewa a couple weeks ago:

“One simple and immutable fact about the human brain is that you can’t get something out of it that isn’t there to start with. Supernatural inspiration notwithstanding, human beings in general—and children in particular—really can’t produce... thoughts or concepts that they haven’t first experienced and stored. In other words, we cannot think a thought we don’t have to begin with. Even the most unique, creative, and extraordinary ideas can only exist as a combination and permutation of previously learned bits of information.” ~Andrew Pudewa, 1 Myth, 2 Truths

Levi does not enjoy writing assignments of any sort because he does not process words and ideas well before he speaks or writes. The words come spontaneously and he processes after the fact. I have a feeling that the poetry and speech memorization we do as a family will have more impact on his future writing than anything else. The following was written spontaneously in his math workbook when he was supposed to be processing numbers instead of words, and I can see bits and pieces of his memory work (Shakespeare, John Donne, and more) sprinkled throughout. It is indeed a “permutation of previously learned bits of information.”

Musings of a Student

Math, be not proud. Thou art mean and base. Thou hath no royal luster in thy eyes. Give me those who art tired of thy blusters and brags. Send these to me. Math, thou shalt die. Thou shalt die a death so profound that none shall remember thee, or revive thee. Thy death shall be cause of rejoicin’. All the school masters shall be merry for math was a subject none would learn. The schoolboy would no longer creep like a snail, now he would run faster than a cheetah. A cheetah would wonder why he had been so challenged. One king will decree that addition symbols will be fed to his falcons. Ah, these simple musings do no good. I must be done, gentle listeners, for even papers have ears.


Cher Crawford said...

I am new to IEW this year and didn't know if I would like it...but I am loving it! My daughter and I are finally having fun writing! I have been enjoying Andrew Pudewa's online seminars too! I love his candor and sense of humor. He gets kids.
Your post made me smile! I love your son's poem...he certainly made it his own! He demonstrated he understood the sentiment of the poetry he was memorizing! I loved it!

Jenni said...

Your son's poem is hilarious! I certainly felt that way when I was young and had to do math homework.