The quiz this week required students to correctly identify ten map elements: The Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges River, Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Pakistan, China, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They did pretty well! Good job studying that at home. :)
After the quiz, we talked about the names Mumbai/Bombay and Kolkata/Calcutta. India became independent from England in 1947, but kept the Anglicized versions of their city names until 1996, when they changed them to more authentic transliterations. We discussed how we used to be colonies of England too, and how many of our place names are based on places in England or English monarchs, etc. Particularly here in Norfolk/Suffolk/Portsmouth/Hampton/Etc this is pretty relevant. I resisted the urge to teach the children the song "Istanbul was Constantinople." However, if you wanted to listen to it at home, here's the link. Yeah, it's a video from MTV's 120 Minutes. Remember that show? :)
Story: For this week, we read the story "Kaa's Hunting." We had a great discussion about how Kipling describes an animal world ruled by strict laws and long-established customs, contrasted with the "banderlog" -- the monkey people who have no laws and live by chaos. Baloo and Bagheera have nothing but contempt for the monkeys, and most of this contempt is based on their unstructured culture. We talked about what this means in the context of the British occupation of India. Often an invading civilization sees themselves as having better laws, organization, government. The British saw Indian life as inferior and messy, so they were "helping" the Indian people by taking over their country and making them follow the British way of doing things. Of course you can read this in different ways, depending on where you draw the lines of the analogy. I didn't really take it farther than just pointing out this theme in the story, and discussing the fact that Kipling was showing a culture that seemed lawless and chaotic (the jungle) as in fact very organized and lawful.
The children were *really* excellent listeners today. We had a great discussion and they had lots of interesting ideas and a lot of patience for delving into these abstractions. Kudos to the kids -- if you have a boy in my academic class (like I do) you should give that boy a pat on the back, because the attention span and respectfulness was really great. Not that it's normally bad, but today it was really good.
Henna: Today we learned about the henna plant, how henna dye is made, and how artists decorate people's hands and feet with intricate designs and motifs. We took a look at some pattern and design books and then each designed our own henna tattoos by tracing our hands onto paper and then decorating them. I face-painted this "practice" henna tattoo with washable face paint. The one they get next week will not be as big or complicated as the one they got this week.
Song and Dance: We sang our usual songs and danced our usual dances. The enrichment class kids are really coming along on their memorization. The academic class kids should be working on all of "If" and "Mandalay" and the enrichment class kids should work on the first two stanzas of each. "The Beaches of Lukannon" does not need to be memorized. It's not a famous poem or anything, just fun to sing and it comes from the story "The White Seal."
Assignment: The fast facts are about henna. The story for next week is "Tiger! Tiger!" We are going to be doing real actual henna in class next week. Please let me know if it is okay to henna your child. We will be doing a small tattoo on the back of one hand. It is a semi-permanent tattoo -- it will flake off with the stained skin cells, so how long it lasts depends on how much and how vigorously you wash your hands. So, if you have an event coming up for which they need untattooed hands, you can tell us to put it somewhere less noticeable. The henna paste will dry on the skin, and needs to stay on for as long as possible. It will feel like a dry scab and the kids will just brush it off when they don't want to wait any more.
I need your permission to use henna stain on your child -- if I don't hear from you that it's okay, we will do them with face paint again. I have two special guests coming to help me henna: Sarah's big sister Ashleigh and Miranda's mom Ms Deva. Should be fun!
Note: The children and I were disappointed that the Bhangra dancers did not make it to class to do their demo. I had an email when I got home from the troup leader's girlfriend saying he had gotten in a car accident that morning on the way to class, and was in the hospital. Please keep them in your thoughts and I will keep you updated as to how he is doing!