Category Archives: home schooling

Mystery about a Sister

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Be prepared to read about a woman’s story, one which may or may

not have been relevant and meaningful to the musical world. I feel

there is a true basis and possibility that she made a big difference in

how her famous brother became who he was. I have to admit, I was

on my  own personal “movie fest” over the weekend. Originally I was

thinking, I would just post some of my favorites and give short film

critiques.

 

Somehow, this evolved into something ‘bigger’ than I expected. It

was time-consuming and yet, I felt like a private investigator with

her mind open and ready for understanding and analyzing the facts.

I looked up, using different sources, to find out more about this

fascinating woman.

 

Now that I may, or may not, have your attention, I will tell you the

riveting movie that led to my research.

 

MOVIE REVIEW:

“Mozart’s Sister,” a French film which needs you to read the sub-titles.

 

In the movie,  which came out in 2011, Rene Feret is the director

and a young actress who is his daughter, Marie Feret, plays the

sister to her character’s famous younger brother. Historical details

that were  discerned through research shall follow this summary of

this fine movie.

 

First, here are three splendid comments from famous reviewers,

starting with one who’s deceased.  Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times,”

was always one of my favorite reviewers. He is such a trustworthy

man to recommend movies.

(Of course, many of you will recognize his name and the television

show which I used to enjoy- “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”)

 

Here is what Roger Ebert said of, “Mozart’s Sister:”

“Marie Feret is luminous.” (in this role.)

 

David Noh, “Film Journey” says:

“A triumph!”

 

Ronnie Scheib, “Variety” Magazine:

“A treat for classical music lovers and cinephiles alike.”

 

What was a turning point in this movie which motivated me to

investigate and research?

What happened to make me seek the truth?

 

When Leopold Mozart, father of Maria Anna (also referred to as

Marianne and affectionately known as, “Nannerl”) tells his only

daughter when she is interested in writing musical compositions,

“Harmony and counterpoint are not understood by women.”

 

Of course, this caused me to say indignantly to my television screen

which was innocently displaying the film,

“That’s outrageous!”

 

Big sister, “Nannerl,” is helpful to toddler brother, “Wolfie,” and

helps him practice his keyboard lessons on a harpsichord. This

baroque instrument is lovely sounding. The scales and other early

beginning lessons are closely supervised by their father.

 

At age 5 or 6, “Wolfie” is paraded in front of wealthy families and

is also given an audience with royalty. He is a cute boy and shows

great potential and musical aptitude. The film shows Wolfgang

using creative interpretation of the music and dramatic arm

flourishes. He was supposedly beginning to write his own musical

compositions at age 4 or 5.

 

In the beginning of the movie,  their coach’s wheel breaks after

going over a rut in the country road. It is late and the Mozart family

stays in a nearby nunnery. It is interesting to note that there are

two sisters living there. Their story emphasizes the difference in

the way male and female genders were treated in this period of time.

The two girls have been shuffled and taken away from the palace,

being raised by nuns.

 

At one point, there is a name mentioned of the two girls’ brother,

who is being raised to be a ‘Royal.’ The part that Maria Anna plays,

and is asked to carry out a charade, is to transport a letter to their

brother, if the Mozart family should be ever happen to appear at

Court. Anna Maria treasures this new friendship and promises to

keep the letter safe and take it to their estranged brother.

 

This movie would engage someone who has been enjoying the inner

workings of the staff and upper class levels or tiers of British society

on the PBS show, “Downton Abbey.” Although this is a whole other

period of time, there are still the ideas of class structure and family

expectations being expressed. Definitely, it is an eye-opener in both

the film about the late 1700’s and the television series of the 1900’s.

Traditions and historical details about clothing, customs and roles

women and men played also are featured in both of these storylines.

 

At the end of the film, there is not much said about Nannerl’s  being

anything but helpful to her brother.  There are no illusions that she

may have helped Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compose his greatest

works.

 

In the movie’s middle,  there is a nice romantic interlude, where

Maria Anna disguises herself as a boy, in a white-haired wig, to give

the hand written letter to the young Monarch from his sister. They

use the young man’s title in the film as ‘Louis XV.’ This story becomes

a very sweet part of the movie. I will not tell you about how it unfolds,

hoping you will someday pursue viewing this one. I will say it depicts

Nannerl’s character as having spunk, showing independence and also,

her romantic side.

 

Before the credits roll, there are a few sparse details given. The written

lettering after the movie ends mentions Maria Anna helped to write

some of her own sonatas as a young woman. It mentions she helped

Wolfgang transcribe his first writings, since he scribbled them. There

is a subtle undertone of the possibility that she was his ‘muse.’  As his

sister, she may have written (created) some of his early works.

 

The movie has places that explain traditional upbringing of “fine young

ladies.” The women are encouraged to wait on men, not to further their

education. Maria Anna tries to ‘rock the establishment.’ Her mother has

disappointment and her father shows anger for her independent streak.

She doesn’t wish to follow the social order of the period. I was rooting

for her, all the way!

 

RESEARCH:

If you enjoy history and reading about a famous person’s family,

you may enjoy this part of the post. . .

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 1756 until December,

1791. There is confusion about why he died at such an early age of 35.

 

He was the son of a musician and teacher of music, Leopold Mozart.

His mother was named Anna. He was born in Salzburg, which later

became part of, or known as,  Austria. Wolgang’s father and mother

had seven children, only two that lived beyond infancy. The oldest

living child was a daughter named Maria Anna, nicknamed, “Nannerl.”

There were four years between the two children, sister and brother.

 

When Wolfgang was 3 years old, his sister was learning her lessons,

which included language, music and reading. She was practicing

with her brother close by her side. Later, she would be by his side,

while he was the one leading the lessons. This relationship lasted

probably all of their childhood. “Wolfie” was her little shadow,

trying to do everything she did.

 

There is a notebook that Leopold made for Maria Anna, which is

known as “Nannerl’s Notenbuch” or also written as, “Notenbuch

fur Nannerl.” In English, this was “Nannerl’s Music Book.” This

amazing composition book demonstrated the first lessons that

Leopold gave to her, along with her brother. It consists of only

(originally) 48 pages, now only 36 pages remain.  This book has

her father’s exercises for her practicing beginner harpsichord

pieces. This also included anonymous minuets and some of her

father’s  original  works.  Two composers,  Carl P. E. Bach and

George C. Wagenseil, had their pieces transcribed as passages

in this musical exercise book.

 

In 1982, a man (just a coincidence) named Wolfgang Plath

studied the handwriting within the Notebook and attributed

the variety to consist of five different handwriting samples

or sources. There are evidences of the collaboration between

Leopold, the father, and his son, “Wolfie.”

 

Leopold took his family touring around countries and the cities

of Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Maria Anna Mozart was

born in 1751 and lived 78 years, until 1829. When she became a

young lady, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue

to publicly play the harpsichord, piano or sing. Up until she was

18, Maria was part of her musical touring family. A biographer

considered her to be a great singer and an,

“Excellent harpsichord player and fortepiano player.”

 

Sadly, there is no mention about Nannerl being a conduit, or

letter transporter, between the sisters raised in a nunnery and a

member of Louis XV’s “Court” or “Royalty.”  This was the main

part of the plot I enjoyed in the movie I reviewed earlier.

 

At age 18, Maria Anna went home to Salzburg with her mother,

to teach musical lessons and stay at home. The following reason

was mentioned in one source,

“This was due to her being of marriageable age.”

 

Wolfgang and his father both wrote letters to Maria Anna which

some have been saved. Wolfgang during the 1770’s, was touring

in Italy and mentioned Nannerl’s writing musical compositions

and Wolfgang goes so far as to ‘praise her musical works.’

 

There are no references in her multiple letters from her father

to any of her own musical compositions in his correspondence.

 

An interesting note (and slightly salacious fact) is mentioned

in some of the biographers’ notes about Maria Anna’s and

Wolfgang’s close, intimate relationship. When they were young,

they developed a “secret language” and they had an “imaginary

kingdom.” They pretended they were married and carried out

their positions while playing together, as “Queen” and “King.”

 

There are a few indications and there is evidence of Wolfgang’s

using sexual wordplay which he used in other letters to his

lovers or girlfriends. This can be found also in the words he

chose and were included in his writing to his sister. One

historian considers this to be a ‘strange relationship’ for a

sister and a brother.

 

As an aside, my two brothers and I would play ‘house’ but

we would not have myself be the “mother” and one of my

brothers be the “father.” We would instead play that one of

the brothers was the “father” and other brother and I were

his “children.” Like the old television show, “Family Affair,”

where the uncle has “Buffy” and twins “Cissy” and “Jody.”

(I used to love this show, with Sebastian Cabot playing the

butler/nanny and Brian Keith playing the bachelor uncle.

did you know it ran from 1966 until 1971?) Or I would play

the ‘mother’ role and the brothers were my ‘kids.’ We usually

had company or neighbors over.  Once in awhile, they would

‘marry’ one of my girlfriends, or once in awhile, I would ‘marry’

one of their guy friends. I mention this to confirm that I would

also think it strange that the siblings played ‘Queen and King’

together over a Kingdom.

 

A sad note about Maria Anna’s independence shown in the

movie, “Mozart’s Sister.” This is not to be found anywhere in

any biographies or any letters. She is shown to be subservient

to her father, allowing him to forbid her to marry a man named,

“Franz d’Ippold.”  They were both young, he was a Captain and

a private tutor. When he proposed, there is an implication she

would have liked to say, “Yes.”  There is a letter in the family’s

collection where her brother, Wolfgang, tried to persuade her to

stand up to her father. Ultimately, Maria Anna was ‘forced’ to

turn down Captain Franz d’Ippold’s proposal.

 

Years went by, Maria Anna was allowed to marry at age 32, when

asked by a man named Johann Baptist Franzvan Berchtold  “un

Sonnenburg.” They were  married in 1783.  Listen to the “fun” life

Maria Anna participated in:  She became the wife of a widower

with five children she helped to raise. She had three more of her

own children with Johann. When she had her first born son,

she named him Leopold. Her father insisted on taking the her

only son to raise him in Salzburg at his home. The biography

doesn’t mention her mother’s role in this drama. From 1785

until he died in 1787, Leopold Sr. wrote letters and in a journal

telling about his toilet training Jr. and teaching him how to talk.

 

There was no mention of the boy’s illness nor a reason why he

should not have been raised as a baby until age 2 by his own

mother.  There is some speculation for her father’s thinking he

would raise another musical prodigy. Since he felt he was the

reason Wolfgang A. Mozart turned out the way he did.

 

After all, Leopold Mozart, Sr. did write and publish a violin

music textbook.

 

SUMMARY:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was known for his classical

musical compositions, which included over 600 works.

They include symphonies, concertos, operas and choral

music.

 

Beethoven, while young, lived in the shadow of Mozart.

During his early years composing his own original music,

he was constantly compared to Mozart’s body of work.

 

Composer, Joseph Hayden said of Mozart’s legacy:

“Posterity will not see such a talent in another 100 years.”

 

Wolfgang A. Mozart married Constanze and had two sons.

He died at the early age of 35 years old.

His magnificent “Requiem” was never completed.

His music is still revered and considered the best in classical

music.

 

Maria Anna was never given any credit (that I could find out

about) for her influence on her brother’s music nor were any

of her musical compositions published. The book, “Nannerl’s

Notenbuch” is not considered to be anything but her lesson

book to practice and play music using the hand written

exercises.

 

I need to see the movie, “Amadeus,”  (again) to see if there

are any musical or notable references to his sister. If you

have a good memory or recently seen this, let me know in

the comments whether there is mention of Anna Maria

Mozart please.

 

I strongly recommend, “Mozart’s Sister” as a film to savor

and enjoy, while wishing the story line really happened.

 

Truthfully, being an older sister myself, how could “Nannerl”

NOT have had an influence upon her little brother, “Wolfie?”

 

Either way you look at this famous musician’s life,

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made a huge impact

on the musical world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August Warmth

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My visions of August include the perspiring faces of children running around

the yard. The shiny, excited faces of adults rooting for a team. I remember the

coolness of the evenings, where the windows would be pushed up, to capture

the cool and let out the heat.

 

Today, the United Nations celebrates its International Friendship day. It was

first initiated on July 30, 2011. I appreciate my friends of ‘far and wide,’ most

whom I have met here on wordpress.com. The idea of everyone being friends,

is one we start with our family and people in our neighborhood. We learn as

we grow older, especially ones who grew up in larger urban areas, that we

still must be ‘careful’ who we talk to. Children love to hug strangers, but we

need to discourage this action, since one never knows who is ‘dangerous.’

At least here, we writers, poets, artists, musicians, photographers, cooks

and everyday ‘folks’ can come together, trying to unite a fractured world.

 

Summer’s coming to a close. Sadness for those children who wish for the days

to linger longer with little to do. Books to read, places to go, activities and some

restful, lazy moments, too.

 

Hurrah for School! (I can hear my daughter-in-law shouting! With hers and my

son’s crew of four children, all going for the first time to school. The ‘baby’ goes to

preschool this Fall. My son married a wonderful and special woman, with her two

children from a previous marriage that made her a ‘packaged deal’ for him! They

had a ‘built in’ flower girl and ring bearer, married 7 years ago!)

 

Here is my monthly calendar, with some historical dates, some activities and

holidays included. I always try to make this a well-rounded ‘treat’ for you to

browse!

Please feel free, in the Comments, to add any sporting or musical events, holidays,

festivals, special cultural celebrations or religious dates for us to know about.

I truly treasure all of my international connections!

 

AUGUST

 

~Birthstone: Peridot

~Flower: Gladiolus

 

1-  Colorado Day.

Let’s hear about what goes on there!

Anyone know someone out there in Colorado?

 

4-  Civic Holiday for Canada.

“National Bargain Hunting Week” starts today, too.  Incorporating ways to save and to

shop thriftily go hand in hand. (Right up my ‘alley!’)

 

5-  Quarter Moon.

Also, the book, “Top Secret,” found on many popular books’ lists, will be released today.

Written by W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth, a military and espionage thriller.

 

7-  Fifty years ago, today on 8/7/1964:

Encounters between two U.S. Destroyers and North Vietnamese patrol boats.

This leads and results in Congress passing the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” on

August 10, 1964. This paves the way for escalation of U.S. involvement in Viet Nam.

 

8-  A meaningful and ‘my kind of movie’ release:

“The Hundred Foot Journey,” has had a lot of ‘hype’ due to its star is beautiful Helen Mirren,

who plays an owner of a special ‘elite’ or ‘posh’ restaurant located in Southern France. Her

restaurant’s competition is one that is a family-owned Indian restaurant. It promises the

interaction, connection and understanding between the cook who is from India and the cook

who is from England.

Lasse Hallstrom directs this. His previous movies include, “The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat,”

and “The Shipping News.”

 

9-  “Jeff’s Jam” (Delaware, Ohio. It is a musical festival where one block of our downtown is

cordoned off, with one big stage for local musicians to perform. It was started by the death

of a local guitarist, named Jeff. Every year, someone gest honored to be added to a plaque,

given scholarships and money from donations. It is a great big party, right in front of my

apartment building!)

 

10- Full Sturgeon Moon,

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2014.

Also known as the Full Corn Moon, the Full Red Moon and more.

On this date, in Delaware, Ohio, my youngest daughter’s friend will sing with a young man

from my church, Andrew Shaw. They will gather at the Bicentennial Park Gazebo behind the

Fire house. There will be people with lawn chairs, blankets and some sit in the grass. There are

sidewalks and places where dogs may sit, too. Be there by 6:30 to get a great location due to the

limited spaces, concerts all summer on Sunday evenings start at 7:00 p.m.

 

14-  V.J. Day- Victory in Japan. “Fly your flag proudly and show honor to our Veterans!”

Also, the Columbus Clippers celebrate people over 50! AARP Day at the ball park!

 

15-  3/4 Moon.

The moon is waning, I believe.

 

17-  The last quarter Moon.

 

19-  National Aviation Day.

Also, Discovery Day,

Yukon territory, Canada. This is held on the third Monday in August.

 

20-  45th Anniversary Celebration of Woodstock.

The iconic symbol of the poster for Woodstock, has a hand with its fingers wrapped

around the guitar bridge, with a dove, symbol of Peace. It was called an “Aquarian

Exposition.’

It was originally a man named Max Yasgur’s farm land that allowed the tents and

concert stages to be constructed on, with people in masses to attend.

The poster announces that it was held in White Lake, N. Y.

It turned into one of the most notable concerts that went on for days.

The  Love, Peace and Musical Event of the Century.

This being its historical impact on our culture.

A fact that I did not know about this place is that on this property, a

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was built. It holds concerts and the

ones performing on its schedule for August include Keith Urban and

Kings of Leon.

 

22-  “Be an Angel” Day.

Time to do a ‘random act of kindness,’ a small act of service, or Pay Forward.

 

25- Summer Bank Holiday (UK)

Also, 8/25/1964 was the first United States Tennis match, known as the U.S.

Open.

This tennis championship  runs from August 25 until September 8th, held

in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N. Y.

 

26- Women’s Equality Day.

 

27- New Moon.

 

So, get your ice cold lemonade, beer, ice cream, popsicles, sweet tea

or icy concoctions here!

Memories of ‘soda fountains’ fill my mind where some examples of iced

drinks could be found there.

You may still find them: Frappes, Black Cows, Fruit Smoothies, Malts

and Milk Shakes.

Moisture condensing, dripping off glass bottles or cups. . .

Water is a natural way (and the ‘best’ way) to quench your thirst in one

of the hottest months (in our part of the world.)

This month of August, have a seed spitting contest with children around

you, while indulging in the sweet, pink watermelon fresh from a garden.

 

Try to keep calm and stay “Chilled” in August!

 

 

 

 

 

A World Set Apart

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First impressions, in my profession as an Early Intervention Specialist,

included the homes we visited, the families we met, the therapists’

teamwork, and how to integrate appropriate lessons for babies from

age 3 months up until they turned 3 years old.

I was hired to perform the role of ‘facilitator’ or teacher. I enjoyed

every minute of those two years, from Fall, 1999 up until Fall, 2002.

I was busily transferring and evolving from my four years of being

an Activities Director into an EI Specialist. I was taking under-

graduate courses at Columbus State University, learning what were

the principle educational practices, strategies and current techniques.

Although a parent of three ‘typically developing’ children, helped

to prepare me, I had never been a teacher of this particular age level.

When I met Hunter, it was August, 1999. I was still in the “Orientation

mode” of my new job. His mother was going through a divorce, attractive,

living in a beautiful home where her daughter, April, was all things

‘girly,’ including ballet, My Little Ponies and her Princess-themed

decorations in her bedroom. April was like a ‘ray of sunshine’ for both

her mother and brother. She immediately made a positive impression on

us, by showering a lot of love and hugs on her baby brother. Hunter

would not smile or watch her, but he seemed to kick more while she was

in his presence. (Not developing ‘eye contact’ is a primary sign of

Autism.)

Rhonda’s son was quite the opposite from April, in his developmental

stages. Rhonda described his not wanting to breast feed, some failure

to thrive reactions to not wanting to suck on a bottle, either. She

told us she had felt overwhelmed, until she tried her 10th type of

bottle nipple and binky (or pacifier.) The baby had cried constantly,

reminding her of a friend’s baby who had colic.

Hunter, when we met him at age 3 months, was not outgoing, not responding

to many stimuli, it seemed. His overall, ‘outward’ appearance was of a

beautiful baby boy. Hunter was eating, sleeping and crying sometimes, but

being her second child, April instinctively had ‘known’ something was

‘wrong.’

Hunter’s physician had recently handed her a Morrow County flyer about

the building known as Whetstone River Family and Children Center and

its services within. It outlined a series of questions, that if your

child were not doing these age appropriate actions or stages of baby

development, there may be concerns. A nurse would come to the family’s

home and carry out the next step of the process of identifying needs

for treatment. The pediatrician recommended Rhonda call the nurse’s

phone number on the flyer. She set up a home visit where the nurse could

check out the baby’s weight regularly and help with some of her feeding

concerns. She also highly recommended calling the Early Intervention

phone number that was also included in the pamphlet.

In my new ‘place of work’ our building ‘housed’ offices for Social

Workers, Therapists, Big Brother/Big Sister Program, four classrooms

of integrated learning with typically developing children as ‘peers’

and children with varied special needs or delays. There was also, a

daycare center and two Head Start classrooms.

At the time, (Summer, ’99) the special needs adults were also located

within the building with a great group of one to one aides. Their ‘leader’

was Rita and her ‘assistant leader,’ Barb. They were busy receiving orders

for caning chairs, folding hats for Steak and Shake restaurants and other

special business orders for hand woven wine baskets from up on Lake Erie.

Walk-ins would ask for woven baskets of all sizes, once they viewed the

lovely examples. This whole ‘workshop’ ended up being moved to a

different location.

During the school year, Rita and Barb continued to teach the young

adults, education lessons in subject matters along with “Life Skills”

lessons in a classroom in our building. The site of Whetstone Industries

was a much better place, since the business had grown in leaps and bounds.

I studied and learned about two different programs that were being used,

in schools and learning centers to help bring out children with Autism

and ones who are considered “on the Spectrum.” I was able to understand

the positive and negative aspects and results of an ABA program versus

a Floortime Program. ABA is based on simple tasks, giving a reward and

then moving to another task. The A represents the first action and the

B is the reward, while another application of the A will be given. It is

actually a lot like B.F. Skinner’s behavioral analysis programs. (Not

that children are like ‘salivating dogs!’) Consistency, as in all actions

and lessons involving children, is very important in this ABA program.

Floortime was another program that seemed to reap benefits with children

with Autism. This was more of a freeplay, with some guided decisions made

by the one to one aides, playing with some ‘agenda’ or plans made for the

child.

Both ABA and Floortime were involved in Whetstone’s approach to learning

within a ‘center based’ grouping, involving only the children who were

tested and identified with Autism. These same children would also, spend

time within our classroom. Often, we would start our Early Intervention

class with freeplay, anyway, so that went along with Floortime, while

as long as the children seemed to be participating or at least, not

screaming, they would stay in our group setting. We would have story

time, circle time, crafts and fine motor activities and center time.

After two years of being an EI Specialist, I chose to apply to be one

of the Preschool Special Ed teachers at Whetstone. I felt very lucky

to be chosen, since I was in 2002, 47 years old. I would have to be

interviewed and selected for the Master’s degree class at OSU, while

I did have a coworker find she could just apply to Ashland University.

I was hoping to go to Marion’s branch of OSU, while some courses would

take me to ‘main campus.’ The thought of driving farther north, since

I already was making a 45 minute drive daily to Mt. Gilead, did not

thrill me, to go to Ashland… it would have added another 45 minute

drive away from home.

If you are a parent or teacher,you may know other ways that are

currently practiced. The new studies, through research that scientists

and doctors conduct includes something called, “Affinity Therapy.”

There is a Dr. Palfrey, who has been studying and recording research

on this new practice.

To summarize progress in the two years I worked with Hunter:

We had found that Hunter was one who responded to his home visits

and group sessions well. He was helped by our suggestions to his

mother, Rhonda, who started to take him to public places, before

the crowds would gather, enrolled him in a Food Study program at

OSU, where they try to break food habits that have been established

by the family. Rhonda really missed him, since she could only watch

outside the glass windowed/mirrors, but Hunter was, at age 3 years old,

being given ABA style lessons in incorporating more of a variety

of foods. The children we met in our EI classroom, and later, in

my Preschool classroom, with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, would

tend to not eat foods with any kind of texture or colors. Bland

and soft were their foods of choice. The OSU program was ‘free’

since Rhonda applied for a scholarship, and Hunter ‘passed’ his

overnights for 5 days, being ‘let go’ before the whole week had

been used. Rhonda was shocked to see how quickly he adapted to

the regimen of trying foods, admitting that when Hunter ‘shrieked,’

she would ‘cave in’ to his wishes. She had worried about his

starving ‘to death’ for the 7 days. She was able to hug him and

give him a bedtime story, but all the rest of the time, she was

an observer on the other side of the mirror! He was able to join

a preschool classroom, full time after one year of a split schedule

where Hunter went to a classroom of children with Autism, in the

morning and in the afternoon an integrated special needs one. He

went on to kindergarten, with his IEP including a one to one aide,

and later, in third grade the one to one aide was discontinued.

While watching CBS Sunday Morning Show, (5/4/14), I was happy to

learn more about new ways children and adults were responding with

therapies, interventions and techniques concerning Autism. The people

who are on the Spectrum, were also being discussed. I had heard, from

a person who writes about her son, on a blog, that he was using a

facilitated computer program. She had shared that he was able to

express himself, by typing his thoughts on the computer. She says

he is a ‘typical’ hungry, self-centered teenager!

The Sunday interview was with a couple, Ron and Cornelia Suskind, who

had discovered their son’s life had been influenced and ‘directed’ by

his watching Disney classic animated children’s movies.

The book to read on this is called, “Life, Animated.” It is interesting

to know their son, Owen’s story. Ron told the interviewer (and at home

audience) that his son was a perfectly normal baby, from birth until

age 3 years old. He became withdrawn and silent, all of a sudden, without

any known reason. No doctor or specialist can explain, but he was in

his own little ‘world.’

Ron and Cornelia found that he was soothed and comforted by watching

Disney animated children’s films. They were used to his silence and

did many things to enhance his life. Owen had nutritionists, therapists,

and strong emotional support. The physical and occupational therapy

lessons included giving him a sense of balance, sensory perception

and overall health. Speech therapy was not able to draw results with

his oral participation.

One day, Owen blurted out a complete thought while watching a movie.

His father, Ron, grabbed a puppet of Iago, using an ‘actor’s’ or

character’s voice, so as not to scare him and to keep him engaged

in talking. They had their first conversation ever!

Owen has helped his parents to understand that he learned how to

sound out words and read, by reading the credits at the end of the

films they showed him repeatedly. He mentions the ‘grips’ who are

the background people who help get the sound recorded.

Other lessons he learned were on how you should feel, live and act.

The characters that Owen related to the most were not the leading

‘heroes’ but their sidekicks.

Owen can imitate the sounds, accents and tones of voice of different

characters he would view in the films. His favorite one is that of

Merlin, when he is transformed into a fish, in “The Sword in the

Stone.” This film, Owen says, gives you the message to:

“Try new things in the world.”

Both Simba, (“Lion King”) as an adult and the Beast in “Beauty and

the Beast” taught Owen to:

“Be brave and overcome obstacles.”

Explaining the character, Aladdin, Owen expressed these thoughts:

“Aladdin wants to show he is more than a nobody. (Implying, as

a person with autism, who was silent for a long time, he felt

like a ‘nobody.’) Aladdin was a ‘diamond in the rough.’

Owen attends college and has a girlfriend now. He has opened

a “Disney Club” where the young adults watch Disney movies

and discuss their feelings, lessons learned and the ‘moral of

the stories.’ His parents observed Owen, recently, being the leader

of this college extracurricular activity, with tears in their eyes.

The CBS program, did record this and it is really wonderful to see

how confident Owen is in front of a classroom of his peers. The group

sometimes watch movies together, along with sing the Disney songs.

They feel welcome and part of their own group.

There is, by the way, a great documentary called, “Autism is a World,”

about a college student who liked to play with spoons and water, while

she was a child. This routine ‘reward’ was used to get her through her

studies and education. The real person, now an adult, is Sue Rubin.

This fascinating film includes footage of Sue inside a college classroom.

It was Oscar nominated, back in the early 2000’s.

Another interesting character, a real woman who created intricate ways

for cattle and livestock to travel through different patterns before they

got slaughtered is, Temple Grandin. She studied the way cows moved, from

childhood on. She is a person who would possibly be considered to have

Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high level of intelligence but still a

person with Autism. If you see the movie, “Temple Grandin,”it is a very

moving story, leaving you with a profound respect for people who have

the courage to work with children who have this and those who have it, too.

There is a wonderful tribute to Temple’s mother. If you did not catch the

Oscars when Temple stood up to proudly show the world she was autistic, you

missed a great moment in time! Claire Danes gave an outstanding performance

as Temple and Julia Ormond did an awesome job as her mother.

Temple is also an author of several books and an engineer, besides being a

professor. Her incredible story should be encouraging to people who are

afraid their relative may not be able to succeed. Temple Grandin did,

despite her challenges as a person living with Autism.

she

was an educated scientist and professor of animal husbandry at Colorado

State University. Her mother’s perseverance and determination gave her

the keys to learning, using flash cards.

My teacher assistant, Maggie and I had prepared a wonderful place

for children and babies to come and be ‘tested’ by the therapy team

consisting of a Physical Therapist (and her PTA), an Occupational

Therapist, (and an OTA), a Speech Therapist and a Child Psychologist.

Once we did initial family and child assessments on Hunter, we had

recommended his coming with his parent or parents, to WRFCC.

The first names of the ones who I came to know and love were Phillip,

Savannah, Elijah, Leslie, among many…

It was only the beginning…

The Value of an Education

Standard

Do you remember when you would rush out of school in June, fairly

bouncing with joy and enthusiam, feeling “free” to spend your summer

in bliss and have loads of fun? Then, by August (or September), you

would be getting “bored” and miss your friends? You would get excited

to choose some school supplies, get a few new clothes (or yard sale

purchases,) and return once more to school!

Melvin and I talked about home schooling due to a family he knows who

has chosen this form of education on Thursday at first break. We have

some doubts about the authenticity of his friends’ (who are parents)

concerns about public schools. I have had some sincere, recent worries

about my coworker, Keith’s daughter, Ashley and her poor Fall report

card from her internet studies. (All D’s and a couple of F’s, too.)

Both Melvin and I  tend to wonder about how anyone would want to stay

at home to learn, while there are so many exciting learning opportunities

within the schools, with friends there, too. Even though I was a teacher

and am trained to know about the state content standards, have supervised

home-schooled children’s Fourth Grade, Eighth Grade and GED testings

and proficiencies:

I would not have wanted the total responsibility of writing and conducting

their home sch0oling program for my own children or my present

grandchildren now.

I tried to make my children’s early years encompass as many variations of

learning experiences on a “shoestring budget” and definitely stayed home,

helping them and my babysitting crew of five extra kids in those nine years.

But I would not recommend a full home schooling project based solely on one

person carrying out the role of “teacher.” ‘It takes a village’ to help raise the

students passing through the halls at school. One person, without a network

or team approach, *I believe* will not be able to handle the complete

responsibility and diversity that a public or private school offers in their

curriculum.

I have made a new friend who is in her late thirties/early forties, Theresa,

who recently started working at Advance Auto D.C. #23. She has become

close fairly quickly due to a dilemma or problem with her teenaged son.

He has developed an “attitude” towards school and a “bad habit” of walking

through the high school and out of it on a fairly regular basis.

Since Theresa started, she ends up telling me often, lamenting actually,

about Thomas. We find it to be a daily topic as we enter or leave work.

Also, sometimes when she comes in from the brisk weather, having

had a cigarette with other coworkers, she will stop at my friendly table

of coworkers.

Somehow, one of those people outside, let her in on the fact that I once

was a middle school teacher. She also knows from me, now, that my

mother was a high school teacher.

Theresa often asks, plaintively,

“Would you please talk to my son about the value of an education?”

I hesitate, often deflecting the question, putting it to the group for

a consensus, or asking if anyone has a new suggestion to motivate

Theresa’s son?

My feelings are that if you would like to have your child love school

and education, start very young. Be enthusiastic about new things

in nature, in your neighborhood, in your community and spread

the learning to all kinds of museums, parks, historical sights and

the summer library programs. I liked our Delaware County District

Library’s toddler reading program. I liked all the contests and other

programs that were available to take my children and babysitting

clients to during the summer so they would not fall behind. Now,

the programs are so much more encompassing in their subject

matters!

At public libraries,  there are lots of entertaining, along with learning,

programs. On this past Thurs. November 14, they had great attendance

at their ages 6-8 year old Legos program for boys. I saw a few Dads in

there, helping out. They had a lively male folk singer earlier in the

month for all ages, singing and getting the parents to participate with

the program, too. I had totally forgotten about the song, “Jimmy

Cracked Corn (and I don’t care!)”

I feel if you missed the early years of getting your child hooked on

learning, due to a busy work schedule, then try to add any extra

activities, with adult participation, as soon as possible! Becoming

acquainted with the school, finding out how to help out at home,

baking on weekends, making cut-outs for bulletin boards, reading

to your child’s classn (use a personal day) or just being there by the

side of the computers in the computer lab will show you are concerned

and interested. By showing a respect for the teachers and schools, you

will be reinforcing your children’s learning.

Most of all, acting interested in every piece of paper that comes home

will be a good start. That backpack is a great source of information!

Lastly, I place a value on education by showing my family different

ways to contribute to society. There is no “right” way to go down the

path of learning. There are all kinds of avenues, they don’t have to be

straight paths from high school to college. Trade schools, joint vocational

schools, classes online, coursework that your boss or others suggest,

business school and computer work through JVS’ can serve their

purpose to further your career or your child’s future, too.

As far as home schooling, this takes a lot of joint effort with others

who have chosen this educational avenue.

Those who read my first post on this subject will understand, I was very

concerned about young 10 year old Ashley, being bascially unsupervised

during the day in her online training, the school being ‘relieved’ I felt by

not having to deal with the ones who had been bullying her. I was not only

concerned about her education, but her social life. Her activities needed to

be ‘stepped up’ a notch. This did not happen, I am sorry to say, she fell

behind in her 4 H project and workbook. Keith responded by not allowing

her to go to the fair.

Once I saw that poor report card, I would have marched her right back

into the school at that point, with an already planned “intervention” with

not only the grade level teacher, social worker but including the principal!

I refrained from too much expression of my spiraling depression over the

whole subject. I am sorry but this single father got pages of my (and your)

suggestions written out and I especially told him he would have to “network”

with other home-schooling parents! (On weekends and this means a lot of

extra effort but well worth the repayment in the end.)

There are a lot of valuable resources out there in this area and I gave

my best effort. I have my own six grandchildren and diverse activities

to stay involved in. My very worn out oldest daughter weekly takes my

now 9 year old grandson to Boy Scouts, is the Pack’s co-leader and

the chairwoman of the Popcorn Sales, which provides their Camp

Lazarus funding for day camp next summer. It is not easy, been there,

done that three times, as a single parent with one father who was down

in Cincinnati, then over in Dayton. All three kids belonged to sports,

along with the five kids I babysat for almost nine years. No pity party

for me, no sympathy anymore, sorry, for Keith and his one and only

child!

I don’t place a value on the education, my mother would agree, and would

have a different way to put this: I will ask her sometime soon!

What you put into effort with your children or teens, will repay you greatly.

I place a value on the PERSON! I believe in my children and their judgment.

I support their choices. You need to do this, follow through and give your

best to them.

What my Mom added, in her recent phone call, that being a high school

teacher was challenging in the seventies, especially. She taught 30 years

so has a lot of history in those years to share. I liked her words,

“The value of an education is knowledge (no one can take that away unless

you let them!) The other key rewards are success, learning, pride and self-

confidence. You may find it in a trade,  going to college, serving your country,

being a great parent, family member or a caretaker… All these are priceless

results of an education.”

I remember my Dad saying that,

“School is your job. You have a ‘boss,’ your teacher. That is your work as a

child. What you put into it, you will get vastly returned. Don’t use any

excuse to get out of something that you are interested in. Invest extra

time to learn all you can about what you love most. I did not get any free

passes out of my life, you will not be given any from your mother or me.”

I would not want or wish for anyone to “rest on their Laurels.” I would

expect personal growth and integrity. I would expect love and compassion.

I would definitely expect good or outstanding parenting! Because this is

another way to show who you love the most! Their future depends on how

you handle their childhood and teen years…

I will pass these words of wisdom on to Theresa and hope for the best.