Yesterday morning Mr. December stepped back from teaching in order to focus on his corporate job, giving me the entire day to teach whatever I wanted to. I assigned some writing and then went to work with K on her viola. One thing led to the next, as you read yesterday, until all four kids and I were rehearsing a quintet of “Long Long Ago.”
After an hour of rehearsal, I declared it time to go outside. We had a layer of fresh snow and bright sunshine—a rare treat in February—so we spent almost an hour at the toboggan hill, descending into the inevitable snowball fight before coming home.
After lunch I herded the kids to the computer to watch videos about the Japanese artist Hokusai, and then downstairs to the Makery to try our hand at printmaking. We tried our best, but the results were not great. Still, the kids thought it was fun. Then suddenly it was 3:15 and my clock-watching students ran off to play Roblox with their friends.
I got going with our bread unit this morning. Every child now has a B.O.B. (Book of Bread) where they’ll record recipes, observations, and improvements for next time. We talked a bit about the science behind the perfect baguette, and the criteria of flavour, crumb, crust, and appearance. Then the kids learned all about bakers’ percentages… and had to calculate the percentages for our first recipe, which they did without complaint.
So often I feel like I spend a day teaching the kids and have almost nothing to show for it; tonight I had the great pleasure of seeing tangible results in two subjects. First, of course, was the bread. We evaluated and taste-tested (and polished off) our three baguettes. The kids took notes in their B.O.B.s, noting that the slashes weren’t deep enough, the crumb was random and light enough to see the light shining through our baguette (but it could still be better,) the crust needed to be crustier, and the flavour was excellent. We talked a bit about what we need to change for next time… but any fresh bread tastes amazing, no matter how amateurish.
Tonight I asked the kids if they wanted to perform a concert for Mr. December. The buy-in was unanimous. We spent almost an hour rehearsing in the library, and I saw some beautiful things happening, like K reassuring R and pulling her out for a private rehearsal when R wanted to quit.
N and I performed a viola and piano duet of Schumann’s The Happy Farmer. K and I performed a viola duet based on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Then came the finale: a quintet of T.H. Bayly’s Long Long Ago, arranged for two violas, piano, guitar and Toot. Mr. December gave us a standing ovation (I don’t think our performance justified it, but the kids seemed to like it.) He also took pictures:
And now, after two days of activity, my body is sore and begging me for sleep. I regret nothing, though. We did no history, grammar, or literature, and minimal writing; somehow, there was plenty of learning anyway.