Saturday, July 12, 2008

painting in a cave

My family has fundamentalist tendencies, although they've gotten better in the years since I moved out. My parents are very active in their Assembly of God church; my dad is a deacon, my mum teaches Sunday School and they're usually at church more than once a week. They also used to be pretty right-wing, although they're not so much anymore. When I was sixteen, my parents regularly gave money to, and got junk mail from, crazy rightwing organizations like Concerned Women for America and whatever organization Pat Robertson runs, but these days, although they still get some of that stuff along with pleas for money from the local Republicans, they also get junk mail from Planned Parenthood, and I think most of their charity money goes to overseas missions work that focuses on relief stuff like building up communities heavily impacted by AIDS. And my dad told me the other day that he is definitely thinking about voting for Barack Obama because, although he doesn't feel Obama's position on abortion is moral, on almost every other issue he thinks Obama is better. So basically my parents are extraordinary evidence that fundamentalists can also be good people.

Anyway, the point of this is that I have a younger sister, J., who is in high school (she may have two or possibly three years left, I kind of forget), and she's homeschooled. Contrary to stereotype, although she is very bright, J. has little interest in academics and would rather be hanging out with her friends or practicing dance- she's taken ballet for maybe six years- than studying. My mother is a brilliant woman and a great teacher, but she isn't fond of battles of will, so she has suggested that next school year I ought to tutor J. in at least writing. The writing I produce isn't particularly impressive, but I remember high school English as being ridiculously easy, so even if my brain is a bit unreliable these days, its not a crazy idea. I do know good writing when I see it, and I have a decent grasp of things like grammar and spelling, so I'm thinking about taking her up on it.

Before I commit to what is essentially teaching a high school level English course, I feel like I ought to have some idea of what I would be doing, so I'm developing ideas about how to teach J. what she needs to know, which is primarily essay writing and probably some basics of writing a research paper. She really loves ballet- she's actually at a month-long ballet camp right now- and so I'm thinking I could do something with a list of blogs that write on dance. I don't really read dance blogs, but I know they're out there, and if Wheelchair Dancer is any indication, there is a lot of cultural analysis available in the field of dance. I think I could probably teach J. a basic five paragraph essay format and then get her to explore the way people actually write essays. A quick search around shows that there are also a host of controversial-ish dance topics to make her write persuasive essays on, like this for example.

Maybe I'll even make her start her own blog, and have her post her essays there. It would allow me to easily review her work from anywhere in the world, which may be useful if I end up someplace warm for the winter. I wouldn't be surprised if being involved with an online community of dancers, or whatever topic she likes, was a good motivator for writing, too.

Obligatory kitten picture!

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