Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In addition to the birthday breakfast, we've been learning a lot about Dr. King and his life and tragic death. Bean has been copying some of his famous quotes and in doing so has unintentionally (on his part) memorized some too. Funny story, after he wrote one, I asked him what he just wrote and his first response was, "I don't know; I can't remember all that." Then he recited verbatim, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." He was surprised by that. What a Sneaky Mommy I am! :) More importantly, we talk about what these quotes mean on an ongoing basis, throughout the day and over the past couple weeks. I really like the practice of reflecting on great thinkers thoughts.

As recommended by Charlotte Mason, for any subject, we rely heavily on living books. By far our favorite about MLK was this beautiful, poetic and short book.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

It is a perfect introduction book for all my kids because it begins with Martin as a child forming his ideas about equality from his parents and the Bible. It has the author's words in black text and Dr. King's words in other colors. This made it fun to take turns reading with Bean (this was his idea). It emphasized for him the "Big Words" that were Dr. King's non-violent weapons in the fight for equality.

From it we were able to talk about the fairness of segregation laws, the courage needed to stand up for one's beliefs especially if they are against the current law, and the sadness of Dr. King being murdered. It's deep stuff, but we just touched on it. Here is Bean reading his favorite quote in the book, and the second one is another that he memorized from copywork.

Bean and I also worked together on this vocabulary sheet that highlighted a lot of the words we read about but don't hear very often, like "nonviolence," "boycott," "speech." Through conversation, I related the words to his everyday experiences and now we try to use the words more often to talk about the civil rights movement and other topics as well.

Bo and Tey also watched the "I Have a Dream" speech at home and Bean and I went to a public viewing of it followed by a discussion. At this point it is hard to assess what Bean took away from that experience. He asked a few questions during the viewing, but after was not actively listening to the discussion. Still, I participated in it and he was exposed to that, so it at least conveys the importance of reflecting on Dr. King's words and how to engage in dialogue about it while respecting the opinions of others.

I'm excited about Saturday because at a local performing arts center there will be a celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When we went two years ago it was an absolute blast, though I don't think my kids remember it now. This will likely wrap up my "lesson" so to speak on MLK, but the values we learned over the last view weeks will be carried on and we will continue to emphasize the virtues of Dr. King that are worth emulating for character development.

Funny things my kids have said in relation to MLK:

Tey: [After someone says "Martin Luther King."] "Martin Luther King, JUNIOR, maybe."

Bean: [Narrating to me a historical fiction story about Martin Luther King as a child and quoting what his mother said.] "Some white folks (which he pronounced "fox" until he asked me what it meant) believe that they are better than we black people."
(Yep, he actually said "we" in reference to being black, but then corrected himself.

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