Mudcat Café message #94246 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12161   Message #94246
Posted By: WyoWoman
11-Jul-99 - 10:49 PM
Thread Name: nursery rhymes-Did You Teach 'Em To Your Kids?
Subject: RE: Did You Teach 'Em To Your Kids?
One of my favorite memories is this:

When my son was in the first grade, his elementary school had a "talent night." Austin pondered and pondered what to do for his performance, then he had it! He came in with a copy of this wonderful little book I had got him, "Big Poems for Little People," and pointed out "Charge of the Light Brigade."

Perfect. So I, harking back to my Reader's Theatre training, got him a black folder he could hold while he read, and we worked and worked on his interpretive reading of this poem.

Talent night came and we went to his school. Half the kids were standing up lipsynching to Kiss songs, the other half were doing these nursery rhymes that would have been appropriate if they'd all been 3.

My son felt like an idiot -- here he was with just this silly poem and the other kids were all duded up in their Kiss gear. But he bravely went up on stage, stood with his legs firmly planted, wide apart like Rocky Balboa at the top of the steps, and he began to read.

A hush fell over the room and all the little twerps actually started to listen. He gave a rousing interpretation of the poem and at the end was that silence every performer just dies for. Then the crowd went wild.

He got some sort of little trophy for being the best, the teachers loved him (I swear to God, it was the first time some of THEM had ever heard a poem read aloud) and the kids actually thought he was pretty cool.

(And then, he became a punk rocker. But, hey, he had the background anyway. I had read to him and his sister, sung to them. When we took road trips to drive them to their father's every summer, we used to listen to Mozart, Vivaldi, etc., along with their choices of music, and play "Name that Tune." I don't think it matters so much what they get into in their adolescence and early 20s, unless it's dangerous or deadly. It's what they come back to later on, particularly when they have kids of their own. I mean, wasn't it that way with you, too?)

I do think one of the saddest things about education right now is that no one has to memorize poems. Not only do you get the discipline of making your mind remember something more than what channel MTV is on, but you also have these friends, these poems, to carry with you for a lifetime.