Thursday, August 4, 2011

Journal Entry #2 – Journey continues

I’ve been doing lots of reading the last few weeks, keeping an eye to next year’s ‘big idea’ at Nellie McClung Elementary School which is focused on journey.

I’ve been working on a mind map to keep track of some of my ideas connecting journey and the Alberta curriculum. At this point, I’ve envisioned a spiral with the ‘individual’ at the centre spiraling outward from community to country to world. Peeling off from each of these are factors related to an individual’s journey or a community’s journey or perhaps the world’s journey. Factors include history, personal experiences, quality of life, industry, arts, geography, geology, culture and traditions, globalization, environmental conditions and many more.

In looking for resources, I’m making connections with almost everything I read, because ‘journey’ is transformative, most likely resulting in some kind of change (or not). That makes for an interesting question about what happens when we (an individual, community, etc.) do not change or adapt?. Children’s literature is filled with stories about characters growing from their experiences and deepening their understanding of their place within their families, communities or even the world.

A book that fits with this is my favorite summer read so far. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt is about a sarcastic kid, Doug, newly arrived in a small town and feeling totally displaced. His family life is anything but ‘nice’ with an abusive father with questionable friends, a downtrodden but steady mother and two brothers who seem to be following in their father’s footsteps. Doug slowly begins to find his feet when he starts making friends with some of the people in the community, which is not an easy thing to do when they often assume the worse about his nature. Doug also connects with a librarian who introduces him to the world of art, teaching him the techniques needed to draw birds like John Audubon. Doug’s journey then encompasses growing into his own person: tapping into his artistic nature, making friends on his own terms, stepping away from his father’s reprehensible behaviour, and even pushing his eldest brother, recently returned maimed and bitter from the Vietnam war, into ‘doing’ something with his life. It’s all here – personal growth, connection to community, family values and private and public personas.

I will be recommending Okay for Now to the teachers of Nellie McClung.

Finding resources about an individual’s internal journey will not be difficult. Finding resources that record the ‘journey’ of a community or country will likely be more about historical ‘development’, how a country has progressed (or not) over time or what has contributed to a community’s development. I’ll delve a little deeper into this aspect soon.

Again, I’m keen to hear any suggestions that would fit with the theme journey.


shelf-employed said...

Last year's Newbery winner, Moon over Manifest is perfect for your theme and it's a great book!

Deborah Amadei said...

This title is right up my alley!
I love Canadiana and it will be perfect for my weekly curriculum tie-in. Once I read it, I will check the the core curriculum standards for the applicable states.

Ondrej from Star Wars Books said...

A great book about personal development, especially since I myself had to overcome some nasty cards I was dealt.

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