Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coordinated Mythology

The Fall of Icarus
The brilliant Joseph Campbell taught Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence College for nearly 40 years.

I have created my own kiddie version of this which plays out more like coordinated mythology. Whereas Joe discovered the underlying themes in religion and mythology across cultures and time, I am discovering ways to support my students learning experience with the Greek myths across the curriculum.

While I could never come close to Joe's genius, I do share his passion.

It helps to surround yourself with folks willing to share your vision.  I have that.

I coordinated my study of Perseus and Medusa with Donna, our artist in residence, who planned an art project (currently underway) built around making gruesome Medusa masks.  Donna borrowed some of our favorite books on the subject to help plan these little bits of fright and I can't wait to see how they turn out.

I am also working with Sara, our librarian, to plan which stories she will tell and which ones I get to unleash.  I am currently deep into The Odyssey with my first grade students.  Everyday they arrive in class and ask me if I am going to tell them another part of the story.  So far we have discussed - and acted out - the story of Odysseus, King Menelaus, Paris, Helen, Penelope, Telemachus, The Trojan War, Circe, Calypso, the Cyclops Polyphemus, Scylla and Charybdis and Tiresias and the Underworld. They don't yet know how the story ends and I am milking every last drop from this enthralling tale.

Sara shared the story of Persephone, Demeter and Hades two weeks ago.

Today she told them about Icarus and Daedalus.  I love when she sits in her rocking chair and mesmerises the children with these stories. Sara's stories are always interactive (for example, bringing in pomegranate seeds for the students to taste as they listened to the story of Persephone) and she encourages them to visualize.

After telling a story she invites the children to draw some part of the it that jumped out at them and caught their imagination. Today she brought in feathers and wax to attach to their artwork.  The kids loved it!

Next up...Theseus and the Minotaur!


christopher said...

Your dedication and passion is a great gift.

Steve Reed said...

Excellent ideas for helping mythology come alive! I loved reading and studying mythology when I was in school. I wish I remembered more of the stories, especially since they are so often referred to today in literature and popular culture.

Barbara said...

You are absolutely the best teacher ever! This is the way education should be done. If fun is part of it, they will remember these lessons forever. Sounds like a great team approach!


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