Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Time In-Between

What did we do in-between Christmas and New Year?  We went to... (surprise, surprise!) the IWM London!  Only because it's the kind of place we would go when we don't know what to do with ourselves.

The IWM was reopened last summer to coincide with the First World War Centenary but for whatever reason we have not been there until now.  I must admit that we were not too impressed with the immeidate exhibits at the first instance, only because we have been to places choked full of military exhibits.  However, we went back two more times (that's right, we clocked three visits to the IWM London in the space of two weeks) and were increasingly impressed with the layout as well as the content of the museum, especially the newly opened First World War galleries, which has a long queue outside everytime we were there.

There is so much to see that we will definitely have to go back for more!  While we were there, we visited the Horrible Histories: Spies temporary exhibition before it closed.

My overall impression of this particular exhibition is that it was very entertaining.  The curator obviously tried to present a realistic view of the life of spies in WWII, with all its glory (e.g. the secret weapons) and gore (that spies had to kill innocent people in the process of completing their missions) while not losing the draw for young children.

There have been some controversies around the related series of books lately with regards to them being a cause of children's trivialised view of English history.  While I have let Tiger read all of the Horrible Histories books, we did it with the understanding that:
  1. they would not be his main or only source of history learning;
  2. they are just entertainment; and
  3. he would only read them in the summer, and he completed the whole series three summers ago; and
  4. to be able to appreciate the humour behind the serious topics, one needs to have a solid knowledge of the actual historical accounts.
I probably would not rely on this series as the sole source of history for Tiger, in the same way that I would not dream of teaching history based on the Blackadder series even though I think the people behind the series are exceptionally clever to be able to pull the comedy off.

Besides running to the south of London three times, we spent the last two weeks of 2014 not doing anything that is remotely academic.  It was  a time for all of us to take a complete rest and to do whatever we fancied.  During that period, Tiger spent a lot of time drawing mostly military vehicles, especially fighter jets and dogfight scenes.  He has been sketching from aircraft photos from his library of books and stills from dogfight documentaries.

In his usual autodidatic way, Tiger has been very focused on teaching himself to draw the subjects that interest him.  In my plan for this year, I have hoped to focus on developing our drawing skills but Tiger has told me decidedly that he is not interested to draw still life, the subject that is often covered in beginners' drawing courses, so I have not pushed the matter too hard, except to provide him with the necessary drawing materials and reference books when he asked for them.

Learning in this way, he has since filled out two A2 sketch books (30 pages each) with his numerous drawings and his very recent drawings show much improvement from those in the first pages of his first sketch book.

His latest interest lies in drawing people and faces so I got hold of this little book in which the illustrator's style is very similar to Tiger's early attempts at drawing people.  He has been doing some of the exercises in the book each night before bed with much enthusiasm.

I noted a few things while observing how Tiger goes about teaching himself to draw:
  • that he does not require anybody's permission to start learning;
  • that he does not feel he needs to wait for anybody to come along to teach him;
  • that he knows when he needs more instructions - "I think I can do with a book that shows me how to draw different tanks from start to finish."
  • that he knows what kind of help he needs - "Mum, can you get me a book on how to draw different people and faces?"

This child clearly shows signs of knowing how to learn.

This post is linked up to:
  1. Hip Homeschool Hop - 1/6/15
  2. My Week in Review #18
  3. Virtual Refrigerator
  4. Collage Friday: Learning About the Civil War
  5. Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with all the Painting


  1. We went to the IWM just after it reopened and it was so full. We didn't brave the IWW gallery queues but enjoyed the Spy exhibition too. My children love Horrible Histories but then one of mine loves anything at all historical. I agree that it can't be a whole history diet but is great for wetting interest.

    1. The IWM was very busy when we went, but I hope to go there a few more times on weekdays in term time, so perhaps there will be fewer people then. :-)

  2. Hwee,

    My girls enjoy drawing and like using how-to-draw books. We have quite a few of them, including a different people one (by Sachiko Umoto) to the one Tiger has. The drawings are very appealing!

    We've also got a lot of Horrible History books, and although I think they have their merits, the girls have't shown much interest in them. Probably Tiger is more interested in science than my girls!

    I enjoyed your photos!

    1. Tiger likes the book by Sachiko Umoto and he has asked me to get him another one by her so I'm looking into them now. Her illustrations are child-like and is a great starting point for Tiger since he draws people in a very similar way.

      I think the Horrible Histories books are very entertaining but I won't worry at all if a child is not interested in them while being keen to study history through other means. The series were written in response to the very dry way history has been taught in schools here which turned children away from history altogether. The series is a good attempt to make history appealing to children again, but I doubt it is intended as the starting or ending point for a serious study in history, in the same way that the Disney version of "Winnie the Pooh" is not intended as a sole basis to study A.A. Milne's wonderful literature. :-)

    2. Hwee,

      Now why did I mention science when you were talking about history? Probably because the Horrible History series reminded me of the Horrible Science ones! Sometimes my mind goes all over the place and I don't address the topic of the moment. Anyway, thank you for not making me feel like an idiot, by ignoring my mistake!

      And I do agree with you about some things being a starting point. I love AA Milne!

    3. Don't worry about it, Sue! Such mistakes are easily made, especially online. I've made quite a few of them myself. :-)

  3. And that's exactly what a homeschool Mom wants to hear, your child knows how to learn.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Ticia. :-)

  4. You and Tiger are a great team. I love his people drawings. I've just ordered the book - thanks!

    If the IWM was crowded you may not have had a chance to sample the cakes, in which case yes you must return in term-time (never mind the exhibits ;-) )!

    1. I hope you and the children will enjoy drawing from Sachiko Umoto's book. We find her illustrations to be endearing and not intimidating at the first glance (since she uses simple line drawings).

      I did try the orange cake at the IWM, and have noted that there were about six different cakes so we will definitely be back there! After going on and on about mince pies in the previous posts, I think I'd better stop talking about food for a while. :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...