Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Mexico

We recently traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico for three days so I could attend the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS).  One of the basic things I love about our homeschool life is that Tim and N. are not prevented by work or school obligations from traveling with me so they can take advantage of the learning stimulus that travel inevitably provides; we are grateful for these opportunities (I wrote about our ASECS trip to Richmond, VA last year).   

None of us had ever been to New Mexico before.  Anticipating our trip, Tim and N. studied bits and pieces about New Mexico: adobe architecture, the state capital, the Rail Runner train that runs from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, petroglyphs, etc.  In Albuquerque, they hiked among the petroglyphs, spent a full day at the zoo and aquarium, and explored the city by car and on foot.  We ate lots of delicious food (an education in itself!); N. is moderately adventurous about restaurant food, especially since he can almost always find meat, which we eat very rarely at home, on the menu.  We took a day trip on the Rail Runner to Santa Fe where N.'s passion for old buildings was slaked by our visit to three churches: the Basilica of St. Francis (cf.  Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop), the Loretto Chapel (complete with so-called "Miraculous Staircase"), and the San Miguel Mission Church (built in 1610!).  N. really liked the Zia Sun that adorns the New Mexican flag (as you can see in his picture above; his version of the flag also includes the Rail Runner train).  He was also totally entranced by the New Mexican music played by local artists on the public radio station KANW and he would have been happy to listen to it in the rental car for hours.  In the days since we returned home, N. and Tim have followed up on some of the topics the trip generated that they wanted to learn more about: the Zia people, sting rays, aviation, the Sandia Mountains.

When we travel as a homeschool family we experience what Melissa Wiley calls "tidal homeschooling" because travel shakes up our normal rhythms and routines.  Travel provides new stimuli and new objects of inquiry and at the same time coming home makes the simple routines, the low-tide times, that much more dear.  I enjoyed seeing N.'s anticipation of the trip build just as much as my heart was warmed by his happiness to be home again when it was all over.


Emily said...

Such a great drawing! Your trip sounds like so much fun (minus the luggage/computer fiasco).

Lucinda said...

just finally reading this post. (sorry i'm a slacker blog reader!) your trip soundS like great fun. i love reading your thoughts and reflections on the value of your family situation. i had never thought about that before, but you're right that it is a unique benefit of the homeschooling/stay at home dad dynamic: they get to travel everywhere with you and learn so much in the process. who knows where you'll travel next and what will capture norris' interest!