(Un)School of Rock

Did I mention that Fisher wants to be a rock star when he grows up?

Actually, his current plan of attack is to be a rock star and get lots of money so he can buy the parts to build his own spaceship and be a star pilot. You gotta have a goal, right?

Anyway… he idolizes Jack White, Meg White, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Brett and Rennie Sparks (The Handsome Family), and a host of other fine musicians. He wants an electric guitar for Christmas (but mean ol’ Mama, on advice from our music-teacher friend, says he has to take piano for a year first). He writes songs, complete with "sheet music" (albeit absent the score). He sings them and tries to teach them to Rhys. He comes up with his own bizarre little dances (you should’ve seen his version of the hula the other day).

So I bought him the DVD of School of Rock as a surprise. And we watched it as a family last night.

Oh my heavens. Light bulbs (actually, more like lightning bolts) all over the place. This movie is about… UNSCHOOLING. Giving the kids permission to learn what they want to learn while studying what they want to study. Starting off with a loosely defined topic and following wherever it leads. The kids in Dewey Finn’s class learn history, math, creative writing, management/finance skills, computer programming, fashion design (hee hee)… and, of course, music… just by coming up with a project that needs to be done and doing it.

I’ve always thought the most important things I could teach the kids were: (1) Everything is interesting. Freakin’ everything. Cosmology. Calculus. The history of concrete (seriously, Jim and I watched a really fascinating show on this the other night). And, (2) Everything is related to everything else. Somehow. Watching an episode or two of Connections will drive this point home nicely. And here, before our eyes, we had a living, moving, singing, dancing demonstration of these ideas. In convenient DVD format. With cool special features (including interviews with the dorky-like-my-kids young actors).

With two hungry little minds like my boys’, there is no telling what kinds of things we’re going to be exploring together in the next several years. Right now, we’re learning about evolution, spiders and snakes, and the power of descriptive language (we’re up to chapter 14 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and last night Fisher said he didn’t think he could sleep because he could "just feel that sword that Peter stabbed the wolf with going right up into my belly.").  Jim and I are in for the ride of our lives. We’ll just need to do some serious kicking back, a la  Jack Black, and learn to relax, enjoy, and do some serious learning ourselves.

So far, 24 hours later, watching this movie together has led to the following things:

  • Jim pulling out Led Zeppelin IV and commencing the boys’ serious education in music history.
  • Fisher writing another song, in green Magic Marker.
  • Fisher asking me why the kids in the movie didn’t have to play piano with just one finger at a time (a house rule instituted for the sake of Mama’s sanity).
  • A whole lot of really adorable air guitaring.
  • My investigating music classes in Portland.
  • These pictures of the boys copying Jack Black’s bellyfloppish stage dive:


And fascinatingly enough, these hijinx led to Rhys’ figuring out how to turn an attempted handstand into a perfectly respectable front flip.

Last but not least:

  • I’ve had the thrice-damned "Immigrant Song" stuck in my head alllllllll daaaaaaaaay.

Tomorrow: We had a Christmas party! It was fun! I have pictures!

About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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3 Responses to (Un)School of Rock

  1. Herm says:

    Rock on, little misters! I love the upside-down headless shot of the Fish.
    By the way, I told Krissy I wouldn’t tell you but Nate named his new fish “Fisher.” His older fish is named “Colorful.” Goldy, sadly, died from overfeeding…

  2. summer says:

    Can I please be a kid of yours? Seriously, had my parents been half as cool as you guys are, I would have never felt guilty as I told them I was switching my major from journalism to theatre performance. 😉

  3. papa herman says:

    just the pics alone reminded me of being in jr. high and listening to Ted Nugent Double Live Gonzo. 🙂

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