Sunday, 18 January 2015

Getting a Little Help From Mr. Tolkien

"Mum, may I use your computer to do some research on an aircraft?  I'm writing a mini essay and I need to know a specific detail about this aircraft,"  Tiger asked me a few days ago.

Wow, the boy wants to write an essay?!  Under such unbelievable circumstance, of course I let him use the computer for as long as he liked.  It turned out that he only needed five minutes.

I saw Tiger scribbling down some notes as he said to me, "Writing notes in the margins is a really good idea!"

We have not done as much formal writing as I would like to have so I was curious about where Tiger has learnt that idea from.

"I learnt it from Mr. Tolkien," was his reply.

"Which Mr. Tolkien?"  I pursued.

Tiger said very matter-of-factly, "J.R.R. Tolkien who wrote The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and all the rest of the books I've been reading."

Seeing that I still had a puzzled look on my face, Tiger pointed to a book on the bookshelf and explained, "I finished reading this book last week, and it explains Tolkien's writing process.  He wrote a lot of notes in margins."

I see.

Later that evening, Tiger showed me what he has written on the A4 page.  I am not at liberty to show that piece of writing here so I can only describe it: it is a short paragraph explaining the history of the Hawker Hunter, complete with hand-drawn illustrations showing the plane at various angles, both front view and side view.

I am not surprised at the illustrations since Tiger has been practising his drawing.

I am somewhat surprised at the coherence of his writing, as well as the motivation and tips that he has picked up from his reading of Tolkien's work.  For a boy who strongly prefers to direct his own learning, it is absolutely within expectation for Tiger to pick his own teacher.  I am very glad to see that his years of reading good books have helped to form his ability to identify excellence and beauty in writing.  I can't think of anyone who is more qualified for the job of a writing mentor than Mr. Tolkien is, can you?


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! It's a relief to see that our children are capable of learning on their own, isn't it? :-)

  2. Hwee, I love all your posts but this one is brilliant. It is one of those jewels of home schooling you will never forget. It looks like you have had an amazing second week back to school!

    1. Yes, this past week was much better than the first! :-) As you've said, it's one of those jewels that ought to be captured and remembered, especially when it's not an everyday occurrence!


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