Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pandora's Box

This week in the study of Heat, we have been learning the myth of Prometheus. All in all, the retelling in D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Mythshas been the best (and this is the Gold Standard for Greek Myths in Waldorf Education).

However, I also looked at other resources including The Orchard Book of Greek Mythsand Pandora's Box.

I agree with the general reviews for The Orchard Book of Greek Mythswhich say that it is a bit babyish. I especially find the dialogue to be obnoxious. The cartoon illustrations don't bother me as much. If you are doing Greek myths with a Waldorf 6th grader, this will definitely strike the wrong note. If you have a younger child (say first grade) and you're homeschooling with a different method and your goal is to introduce Greek Mythology, this collection of stories will probably be most suitable. I don't feel the time I spend reading it was wasted; I like to read different versions of the stories so that my telling of it becomes (hopefully) richer and more lively. Some authors have turns of phrase that stick with you and the more the story becomes real to you, the better you will be able to see it in front of you as you tell it. I find when I am storytelling that it works best if I can SEE the story taking place in real time about five feet in front of me and then I just describe what is happening as it unfolds. Maybe that doesn't happen for anyone else, but it does for me.

Anyway, on to the other book, which I also picked up from the library without really looking at it in depth. Normally Lisl Weil is an author I very much like, but I agree with the reviewer of Pandora's Boxwho said that the pictures were lifeless and flat and the retelling uninspired and missing a few key pieces of the plot. Ouch! But it got me thinking...

In the neighboring Art class, the students are studying the color wheel. This week they reviewed primary, secondary, and tertiary colors and then used chalk pastels to blend and create colors in an abstract work of art. Since the story of Prometheus contains elements of the story of Epimetheus and Pandora, it would be nice to tell that story and consider how the Mood of different colors could play into the illustration. Pandora's box being opened, the dark cloud of horrors swelling out of it, and then tiny bejeweled golden Hope. It lends itself to a rich exploration of Color and Mood. Perhaps Lisl Weil didn't get the illustrations just right, but that doesn't mean her work can't inspire an Art project where students create their own illustrations for the moment of the opening of Pandora's box. Come to think of it, I think that would be rather exciting for an adult to do.

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