Class Notes January 24, 2013

 Here is a look at some of the things we’ve worked on of late at the Finnstitute:
   We followed the the remarkable capacity of Buddha to withstand Mara’s manifold demons and Raksashas, and his evil cunning. The image of thousands of viscous and sundry weapons turning into flowers as they struck the rainbow that protected Buddha sitting serenely under his tree seemed to resonate with the students; even more so than the arduous, manifold methods he tried until he was able to meditate, so profoundly and completely, focused on the souls’ path to freedom from suffering, and, eventually, enlightenment.
   In Geometry we studied some of the shapes of plane geometry, circle, line. triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, hendecagon, dodecagon, and where have all the flowers gone. We compared supplementary, complementary and congruent angles; acute, right, obtuse, straight, reflex and full rotation angles; and, by crossing two parallel lines with a transversal, alternate interior, alternate exterior, consecutive interior, vertical and corresponding angles.
   We began a study of the myths of Egypt and what will be a comprehensive study of the culture and ancient civilization that still holds such facination for children. We’ve been rehearsing a play about Isis, Osiris, and the evil brother Set, which has been able to transport the children livingly into the middle of the stories that they’ve been hearing in class.  The devotion to the body in the Egyptian rites, the mummification under the watchful gaze of Anubis, to mimic the body of Osiris not decaying after death, Isis long search for her king’s body, are things that would never happen in Hindu or Buddhist myth or culture, where the body is just ephemeral and transitory in a stream of incarnations and bodies inhabited and cremated. What a different world view happening in ancient Egyptian times, a devotion to the body which engendered such skill and science of preservation, that we can, as modern students, go and see these actual mummified bodies, thousands of years old, in museums. We’ve just started our study of hieroglyphics, and the Rosetta Stone and the relatively recent deciphering of the code that made up the Egyptian writing. The class is excited to try and write messages using their aphabet.
   What a wonderful time we’ve been having with the old South African folk song, from the singing of Marais and Miranda, ” Zulu Warrior” which we sing and act out, faster and faster. The children have learned it remarkably well already on recorder, violin, piano and percussion, and we had a rousing, wonderfully fun ensemble session playing it to our heart’s content one chilly Tuesday afternoon.
   We began our study of simple machines: wedge, wheel, inclined plane, screw and lever. I brought in dozens of tools of all sort, which the kids were able to try using in their functional manner (mostly); all sorts of first class, second class and third class levers,  many of whch they were familiar with, but didn’t recognize as simpe machines and clever combinations of simple machines.  We will continue this study in a very hands-on manner, which the children love, with bigger levers, wheels, pullies, in all their fabulous cofigurations, and inclined planes. (We noticed that the Egyptians used enormous, monumental inclined planes, and dowels (wheels) to build the great pyramids.
   We’ve been very much enjoying the adventures and travails of Pip in Dickens’ “Great Expectations “. So much drama, humor and human observation have kept the children’s interest keen. With all due courtesy to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, I just felt the need to surround the children with great literature, in the quiet reading times.
   These are just a few of the areas we’ve been exploring together.
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