Tag Archives: Walking

Even more classes summer 2009

Reading, Thinking, and  Writing Skills

Writing Intensive: Letting ideas flow onto paper

The big questions: Why can we speak so freely but freeze before a blank page?  How can we warm up to writing freely and comfortably, pouring your heart and mind onto the page?

The content: Will be of our own creation!

The skills and activities: Walking to activate the mind and imagination, writing exercises to reconnect heart, mind, and hand.  Maybe even some drawing to heighten our observational sensitivities.

Laughing at Life

The big questions: What makes writing funny?  How can everyday occurences become hilarious stories?  What in a person lets them create a laugh riot out of what thousands of others simply endured?

The content: Mark Twain’s Roughing It (Enriched Classic Series)

The skills and activities: Deep reading, finding what makes us laugh, writing our own humorous takes on the situations and characters we meet each day.

Great People

Gandhi

Gandhi

The big questions: How did Gandhi become, well, Gandhi?  What was his personal and spiritual path to such amazing moral and political leadership?  How might we convert this knowledge into wisdom for living our own lives?  Why would an intelligent, sane man shoot one of the greatest men who’ve ever lived?

The content: Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth, Godse’s Deposition/Confession Essay.

The skills and activities:  Deep reading, walking, discussion, exercises in voluntary simplicity, journaling.

Thomas Jefferson

The big questions: What in Thomas Jefferson’s life formed him into such an extraordinarily influential thinker, writer, and inventor? Would it be possible for Jefferson to reach the same heights in today’s world?  What would make this extraordinary outcome more likely in today’s world?  Less likely?  What can we do about this in our own lives?

The content: Selected letters and writings from the heart and mind of Thomas Jefferson.

The skills and activities: Walking, deep reading,  letter writing, journaling, drawing our own inventions or homes.

Emerson and Thoreau

The big questions: How shall we live? What can a couple of Transcendentalists from the early 1800’s tell us about our lives today?  What are Transcendentalists and what are they transcending?  What should we work on today?  How should we relate to others today?  How can we possibly relate to others who lived long ago?

The content: Selections from Emerson’s essays “Self-Reliance” and “History” and Thoreau’s “Walden”

The skills and activities: Deep reading, clear thinking, lively discussion, walking, voluntary simplicity exercises.

Moving Modern Tales

The Book Thief

The big questions: How can reading literature help us even when Death is all around us?  What if our personal values conflict with those popular around us?  Are we humans beautifully good or brutally bad?

The content: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak  A moving tale of a young girl’s life inside Nazi Germany during WWII.  We will dive deeply into this page-turner of a book written for young people but moving for any reader with a beating heart.  An amazing fictive feat!

The skills and activities: Walking, deep reading, lively discussion, inner picturing and drawing to heighten imagination and reading enjoyment.

Adventure

A Time of Gifts: From London to Constantinople on Foot

The big questions: How can a young person step out into the world in a positive, life-affirming way? What happens inside us when we travel?  How do we savor every drop of joyful learning and living from our travel experiences?

The content: Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts: From London to Constantinople on Foot – Walking through the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria in 1933 with the most extraordinary young man on this amazing adventure.

The skills and activities:  Deep reading, walking, journey/pilgrimage planning,  drawing, lively discussion, map reading, orienteering.

Ill Met by Moonlight

The big questions: What makes a mission impossible possible?  Is there anything in this world that can connect even sworn enemies in the depth of war?

The content: Ill Met by Moonlight by W. Stanley Moss – British operatives have kidnapped a German general. Can these gentlemen soldiers smuggle him off the island before they are captured by thousands of Nazi soldiers?  A true, completely engrossing story.  Not glorifying of killing or brutality in any way, therefore in adventure.

The skills and activities: Walking, capture the flag, deep reading, lively discussion, map reading and orienteering.

Military History

First Person Shooter: Literature from the Front Lines (WWI and II)

The big questions:  When the firefight ends, some soldiers settle into their muddy dugouts and pull out pen and paper.  What did they write?  How do these veteran writers portray warfare?  How is their portrayal different from the portrayals in today’s popular movies and games?  How do we turn this knowledge into actionable wisdom?

The content: Selected poems and novel passages from Brooke, Sassoon, Graves, Ledig.

The skills and activities: Deep reading, walking, clear thinking, capture the flag, journaling,  and some drawing.

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Jefferson on Walking

“In order to assure a certain progress in this reading, consider what hours you have free from the school and the exercises of the school. Give about two of them, every day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks. Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. The Europeans value themselves on having subdued the horse to the uses of man; but I doubt whether we have not lost more than we have gained, by the use of this animal. No one has occasioned so much, the degeneracy of the human body. An Indian goes on foot nearly as far in a day, for a long journey, as an enfeebled white does on his horse; and he will tire the best horses. There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue. I would advise you to take your exercise in the afternoon: not because it is the best time for exercise, for certainly it is not; but because it is the best time to spare from your studies;”

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785

Of course, we don’t need a gun to walk.  The physical exercise is the key.

He’d be horrified by our current situation; obesity, carbon emissions, and oil prices and politics all plaguing us when the ability of “walking far without fatigue” was his ideal.  How far we’ve come from horses!

Because most of us do not study so intensely these days that we need a mental break, I like to will combine the walking, the reading breaks, and the discussions.

Peripatetic School

Literally, the walking around school led by Aristotle.

Imagine Aristotle leading discussions with his students as they wandered the grounds of the Lyceum in Athens.

Imagine Thomas Jefferson walking in the woods around Monticello late each afternoon after a long day of studying. He suggested his nephew, Peter Carr, take such walks.

Now, imagine your own child, mind filled with beautiful, challenging words and images, discussing them while walking through the woods near Battle Point park. We stop, read another passage, begin our discussion and continue talking as we walk over the bridge and up the hill. Hearts pumping, oxygenated blood flowing, minds racing to cement fresh connections.

What Aristotle and Jefferson knew from experience, modern science has proven.

Young people have bodies that need movement and brains in bodies in motion learn better.

See this interesting site on 12 Brain Rules, #1 is exercise.

So, my question is… why don’t more teachers teach moving children?

per•i•pa•tet•ic

(per”u•pu•tet’ik), adj.
1. walking or traveling about; itinerant.
2. (cap.) of or pertaining to Aristotle, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.
3. (cap.) of or pertaining to the Aristotelian school of philosophy. —n.
1. a person who walks or travels about.
2. (cap.) a member of the Aristotelian school.