Thursday, February 21, 2008

Leeches, Amoebas & Algae (Oh My!)

furuike ya...kawazu tobikomu...mizu no oto

stagnant pond...
a frog-leap into
water's sound

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
Translation version by DW Bender

Our (awesome) youngest grandson, who is in Middle School, has a new science homework project. He must blog what he's learned each day in science class. Currently the class is studying the inhabitants of a nearby pond: algae, amoebas, leeches and dragonfly larvae. His teacher even made a video of the field trip.

Mike was born with the gift of natural wit. Since he learned to talk, which was, developmentally, a bit late due to temporary hearing losses from constant ear infections, he's come up with hilarious, unexpected and perfectly timed quips. While his hearing was impaired, doubtless he was listening intensely in order to make sense of the world and his favorite cartoon shows. He's also extraordinarily smart; recent national testing put him in the top 2%, of his school peers.

the spring rain...
chalk equations washed
from concrete

haiku by DW Bender, 2002
Nightingale, June 2002 (revised 2008)

His mother, our daughter, is also funny, rather sarcastically so; a future "Maxine" in the making. Almighty Heidi assisted ScienceBoy in premiering his newborn blog. The first version of the homework-site was a creative hoot. And that's not just grand-maternal baby-book pride speaking. Both grandson and his mother are truly funny, unlike me, who loves to be inanely silly, but being more introspective, am not exactly a comic wit (and not even a brag-book holding grandma.)

His teacher wasn't amused, however, probably due to frustration with the genius's failing grades. This, due to his persistent and inherent 12-year long insidious streak of utter lazy-boned-ness. Science is his favorite class, led by his favorite teacher nonetheless. So, wisely deferring to his teacher, our duly chastened student changed the name of his blog from "I Hate Homework" to the more sensible, "Mike's Science Homework", toning down the bloggery humor to a more pablum-esque juvi-scholar mode. Still, I truly wish his teacher would have been more open to ScienceBoy's sharp sense of the comic, especially relating to the homework project. It would give that creative facet of the child further chance to blossom, enhancing his understanding of, and love for science.

spring loneliness
the inch of fathomless space
between two stars

haiku by DW Bender
"bottle rockets", Issue 7
& Simply Haiku 1-5, November 2003

Which brings up a point of concern. It grieves me when teachers don't realize, understand or encourage the complementary inter-connectedness of creative gifts to applied learning...and to the enjoyment of learning. Many throw discouragement toward those who might attempt to mingle the two, even if instinctively, as in the case of young students. Although most don't realize this concept, such talents are given not only for enjoyment. In fact, the entertainment factor, while equally valid and important in it's own right, probably developed as a secondary benefit. In the case of the gifted, the derived pleasure might simply be a motivational impetus. After all, we do many things, even things we wouldn't otherwise do, only because we find them pleasurable. I believe the precious creative gifts are, primarily, superior and inimitable learning tools bequeathed by the Creator, who, by sensible deduction, would surely desire us to use them for the good. What brilliant mental leaps can be made by children or adults when the love of music is applied to math, drawing to grammar, poetry to psychology, humor to biology, culinary arts to sociology or any number of combinations. So much potential. So many aborted and unborn bright synaptic fireworks. What unmitigated dulling down of the species! O ye wet rags! What are we thinking? How are we thinking? Are we thinking at all? (Deep, deep, deep grandmotherly sigh. Groaning.)

Brighten up. Take those Omega 3's. Better yet, let's remember how to intuit. Have some chocolate with the fish oil! Yes, Einstein, it isn't rocket science (or perhaps, actually, it is), yet it is as you have spoken: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Fortunately, Mike's teacher is a person who cares very much about his students, and who is wonderfully talented and creative, himself. He makes learning fun. Even ScienceBoy's mother confesses she'd love to have been a student in his classes. So, there is hope that he'll indulge the wit when the wit gets serious with his grades. And I trust our grandson's love for his class and respect for his teacher will stimulate his left brain clear out of his mismatched right-brained lazy-socks.

shuncho ni...nagaruru mo ari...ya no gotoku

a sprig of algae...on spring tides....
.........shoots by...swift as an arrow

haiku by Sugita Hisajo [1890-1946]
translation version by DW Bender


Meaning lies in meaning's absence. The mist / Is always almost just about to lift. / Nothing is truer. Dear, not even this / Candle can explain its searing twist / Of flame mounted on cool amethyst.—Excerpt from 'Sugar Dada', by J. Allyn Rosser


Pearl said...

Thanks for all you readings on women and haiku love that you left at one deep breath. It's fascinating reading. have you read the play of this book in Basho's pond?

Debi Bender said...

Thank you, pearl. No, I've not read it, but will check into it. I've been on sabbatical from the haiku world for a couple years due to editorial and computer burnout. - Debi

qualcosa di bello said...

your grandson's blog is off to a terrific start & he does have a great sense of the sidebar quiz, even if my answer is the losing one! i look forward to his progress unfolding with the humor!

my husband & i are very blessed to be able to homeschool our children...2 have gone off to college & my boys are still slugging away in 8th & 10th grade. what you describe is one of the frustrating reasons that lead us to this life choice.

Debi Bender said...

Hi, Debbie. Here it is in the latter part of April, and I've not yet answered and acknowledged the comments on my neglected blog. Thank you for your note -- I hope this grandson will apply himself in his schoolwork and progress with his humor at the same time. You are blessed, indeed, to be able to homeschool your children!