Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Heroes of children's lit: champions of right-brained learning

As I revisit children's literature with my daughter, I'm realizing that its most engaging heroes are poster children for all of today's right-brained trends in classroom education. From Huckleberry Finn to Pippi Longstocking, they shun school, mock traditional classroom authority figures, and brim with real-life wisdom and problem solving skills that they acquired experientially through hands-on, self-guided learning.

On the other hand, this learning takes place not in group activities in the classroom, but while sailing down the Mississippi or out on the high seas.

And Pippi doesn't know her "pluttification" tables, or write nearly as well as the award-winning author who narrates her life. Cf:

TMMY AND ANIKA ARE INVITED TO PIPPI'S TOMORO TO HER BERTHDAY PARTY. DRES: WARE WATEVER YOU LIK.
vs. the paragraph that immediately follows:
Tommy and Annika were so happy they began to skip and dance. They understood perfectly well what was printed on the card although the spelling was a little unusual. Pippi had had a great deal of trouble writing it. To be sure, she had not recognized the letter i in school the day she was there, but all the same she could write a little. When she was sailing on the ocean one of the sailors on her father's ship used to take her up on deck in the evening now and then and try to teach her to write. Unfortunately Pippi was not a very patient pupil. All of a sudden she would say, "No, Fridolf"--that was his name--"no, Fridolf, bother all this learning! I can't study any more now because I must climb the mast to see what kind of weather we're going to have tomorrow."
Of course, Huck Finn writes quite well, but I suspect he has a little help from someone who spent more time in school than he did.

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