Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter!

I think I've written before about Cora's love for Potter's books, especially for any of them that involve a naughty rabbit or an animal in search of its mommy. She loves her Peter Rabbit dinner plate and bowl. She loves it when Benjamin Bunny's daddy takes his switch to the naughty boys - I find this particular fascination a little questionable.

While I don't think I was ever quite as big a Peter Rabbit fan as Cora, I did become a Potter fan in college, when I started researching her other drawings and learned more about her life. One thing that she has in common with many of my other heroes - like Marie Curie and Barbara McClintock (I know, what is a poet doing with so many scientist heroes?) - is an unconventional education in her early life. In Potter's case she never went to school. The Writer's Almanac had a great quote from her today: "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality."

Maybe it is a little ironic that, as a teacher, this is something that I think about. I think there can be something about grade school that can "rub off" some of a child's originality - though there can also be teachers and classmates and activities that shine up that originality. But I think that is harder to come by. If I were ever going to consider homeschooling, this would be my reason. I don't think it is something I would do - I think there's value in a kid spending time with kids and developing that common experience base - but I can see maybe doing a year at some point, or searching out the kind of school that I think will value and recognize Cora's originality.

And, I also have to wonder how long it took Potter to see her lack of standard education in this light. I think she was someone who was sensitive to not being allowed to do something (her brother was sent to school; she wasn't allowed to give her paper to the Royal Botanical Society because of her gender, etc.). I imagine that there were times when it rankled that she was never sent to school, when it wasn't always a stroke of luck.


Forever In School said...

I am Maryam from Forever In School. I am the one who is supposed to interview you. I couldn't find any contact information on your blog. My email is themaryam at gmail dot com.
Please contact me, so that I can send you the questions for the interview.

Jena said...

Hi! I came across your blog as I was trying to validate the Potter quote you mention. I plan on putting it up on my education quote blog tomorrow. After reading your post, I think you'd like it. It's

I'm a homeschooler who also has a child in public school. My oldest just graduated after 11 years of homeschool and is heading off to the University of Chicago in about a month! I love to ponder education philosophy (I have a BS in el ed). My regular blog is Come on over and say hi!