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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Defending Pluto (again)

Pluto and its moon Charon
There is in fact an organisation dedicated to saving Pluto's planetary status. I am thinking of ordering Finbar a t-shirt off their website.
I mean to get round to summing up the holidays and their impact (yikes) w/r/t Finbar.  However, I must first record here an update (see previous postings on Pluto) on planet  Pluto's (make that "dwarf planet") stark defense by a certain future astronaut named Finbar.  I am convinced that Finbar is convinced that he can truly save Pluto and restore it's planetary status, for he talks about it with regularity.  I have visions of him sitting out in the middle of the desert when he is 35yrs old with the world's largest telescope, steadfastly plotting every speck of Pluto that might restore its status. I see him going to Washington D.C. to lobby on its behalf - no doubt his current skills at NOT taking "no" for an answer will serve him well.  I am pleased and amused that he feels so strongly and passionately about something, as very few things truly motivate him to act. 

This morning at 6:55am Finbar came in my bed to inform me, rather to ask me to guess, what he dreamed last night.   One eye open, I mumbled a guess and not being able to contain himself with the good news, he proudly and loudly announced that he had rescued Pluto in his dream.  He had gone out to the "tiny blue planet" and brought it back to Earth because it fits inside of earth. He then made some reference to the two planets being cozy and then he informed me that Earth and Pluto were the only planets with one moon, so it was OK to bring it to Earth (I am still searching for exact rationale in that explanation).   As I listened to him relate his feelings about the whole experience, which were so real and rewarding to him, I realised that he truly views this planet as a friend, an ally, to be protected and cared for. 

Later in the morning as he was relating his dream to his brother Declan, he was inspired again. First he came to me with a pencil gray rendition of "Ploodo", as he wrote it,  and it's moon, and asked me to guess what it was. When I guessed correctly by "sounding out" the name, he marched over to the art easel that crazy Aunt Zanny sent him for Christmas (more on that later), rolled down some paper and drew "Pluto in the Night". The scene included a very small sun ("teeny tiny because it is so far away") and a bunch of other twinkling stars drawn using a pretty blue pastel crayon. All the while going on about dwarf planets, moons, etc. I marvelled at this perfect storm of learning and expression. It is what teachers and textbooks on teaching refer to - you can excite a child to learn (and in this case teach others) if you combine a subject about which they are passionate with an outlet to express themselves and their knowledge. 

Clearly if you have been following this blog you would know that all things outerspace and of the universe, particularly the defenseless underdog dwarf planet Pluto, are of great importance to Finbar.  If you just take this instance, he did several things which, taught as separate skills, are hard to extract from him:

- creative yet accurate drawing
- phonetic spelling
- teaching others about science
- taking a stance and arguing a case (for Pluto's inclusion as a planet)
- empathy and caring (for Pluto)

For his recent birthday, Finbar received 2 sets of model space figurines, you know, the little plastic figurines that come in a long plastic tube. There were various versions of astronaut suits, rockets, space stations, satellites, capsules, etc.  When he got those I thought, well nice, but he has little imagination and so hardly ever takes inanimate objects like that and creates a story to play with them a la Fisher Price Little People.

Spaceship One has already made one successful test flight a few months ago
Well, add to the list today another check on the learning chart - imaginative play, yes, using those space figurines. The whole Pluto thing inspired him and as I type he still is flying from planet to planet around the house in his spacecraft. And when today he saw in his Big Book of Spacecraft (which, being inspired he pulled out to read) the photo of the man (Burt Rutan) who invented the replacement rocket ship for the space shuttle (Finbar is deeply affected and concerned about the retirement of the Space Shuttle program), he plainly stated that it wasn't fair that THAT man got to invent the new rocket because he, Finbar, had intended on doing so. Then he paused and said, "oh yeah, I forgot, I have to go to school and learn and blah blah blah first in order to do that.".  To which I pointed out that this man had become a test pilot and learned to design aircraft.  Finbar said that he could do that later on in life. I like instilling goals like this in my son at every opportunity I get.

To those with ordinary children who play imaginatively all the time (like my second son) and by age 6 are quite self entertaining (unlike Finbar), playing with pirate ships, legos, and figurines, this little story may seem banal.  But for the parent of a child who has trouble self entertaining with toys in a creative, imaginative and productive way, this is progress.  I really must try and must make sure that his teachers try, to reach and educate Finbar in ways that are meaningful to him.  What a challenge, but what a fascinating challenge it will be.

1 comment:

Sonia said...

I love that he "rescued Pluto" in his dreams! So sweet.