Sunday, July 15, 2012
It has now reached the time for my son to start calligraphy. It's just that age.
How did we get here?
He's been studying ancient civilizations for 2 1/2 years now, starting with Ancient Egypt and Old Testament peoples and branching out (and back and forth) from there.
He has also moved into the love of Medieval times: feudalism, knights, castles, magicians, dragons, valor, chivalry.
That was in history.
We incorporate art into all of our subjects, but he also does a program called "Christian Heritage Art" which has 6 lessons per "level" that are historically-based - recently he created his own coat of arms (and a few weeks later "updated" it to ensure it was an accurate portrayal of his life).
In language, we have recently reviewed the Great Lesson on the Story of Communication in Signs - he'd already been creating Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek and Chinese alphabets, among others.
Also in the area of language, his beautiful handwriting has become a bit... sloppy-ish. Yes, we Montessorians keep the children on lined paper longer than typically thought necessary because it helps to train the hand, but he was doing great with both types of paper...
but that is a sign.
It is all coming together (hint, hint: cosmic education - nothing is studied in isolation).
As part of his other studies, I finally pulled out the Book of Kells (we have two) for its historical value and for inspiration - and I purchased a book called "The Illuminated Alphabet: An Inspirational Introduction to Creating Decorative Calligraphy".
I also already have a calligraphy how-to set that I'm not altogether pleased with, but it does come with ink, pens with various nibs and markers.
I'll be honest - there is NO how-to calligraphy or how-to illumination book that is "perfect" - you'll have to find one or a small number that work for YOUR purposes. For my purposes I am in the process of creating calligraphy command cards similar to the Montessori geography command cards, biology command cards, etc. to take children through the process step-by-step - and then they have these other guides to expand or just provide some ideas for where their work can go.
And the child is inspired.
He is creating his own mini-version of the Book of Kells - and has been a boy on pristine behavior-run so that he can EARN the right to begin the early steps of calligraphy.
What BOY do you know wants to EARN the RIGHT to do calligraphy?
This is a Montessori child, through and through!
He has been studying the history of illumination (and has been allowed to "doodle" (embellish) his paper-works since he was 4), recognizes the similarities of European calligraphy with Chinese and other far-eastern cultures' writing styles, appreciates the historical "lack" of paper and how precious anything written was (not like today where you can buy a grocery bag of books at the library for $2), therefore appreciates calligraphy and illumination as the beautiful art-forms they are --- and he wants to participate in this long history.
Note on the sloppy hand-writing - it is generally sign, that if the other preparations have been made, the elementary child is ready to learn calligraphy as an historical "grown-up" form of writing. He is now participating with his ancestors. Not to mention that the first stages of calligraphy (shaded writing) require slow, careful control - so it brings more attention back to the hand and regular hand-writing should improve as well.