The other day, as we watched the kids eat spaghetti with their fingers, it occurred to me that they might need a course in manners. So my first thought? Hey, I should totally give them a little two part manners class and invite their friends. And it can culminate in a sit down meal with cloth napkins and more than one fork. Also, possibly, spaghetti twirling.
My second thought? That’s exactly what happened to me as a kid. I don’t think I was the one eating spaghetti with her fingers, but someone was, metaphorically at least, and it was decided that we all needed a short unit study on manners, culminating in a fancy meal, though at the town’s more exclusive restaurant.
The difference was that “we all” were the other kids in the multi-aged one room schoolhouse within a school that I attended for my elementary school years. And the decision makers were the resource teachers who ran the bizarre program. It was a slightly classically influenced place (where we did Wordly Wise and Great Books), a slightly hippie place (with a loft where we could talk out our feelings and a weekly “gripe session” where we were allowed to let out our complaints). It was a slightly structured place (where we were always expected to work and move forward, especially in math, and the teachers would round us up and lay down the law if we stepped out of line) and a slightly unstructured place (where you never knew exactly what you had to work on from day to day, you could come up with your own unit studies, and you could even opt out if you were having a rotten day because you’d just had to move out of your house).
It was, in a word, a bit like how I run my own homeschool. And when I thought, they should have a manners class, ooh, how it hit me.
I have no idea how good or bad that is. We teach as we were taught, right? Or as we wish we were taught. What a struggle it is to teach as our kids need to be taught! But, on the other hand, the kids seem to be doing well and I do still kind of think they need that manners class.