We do what we love. I say that so often that it has probably become my de facto motto. So when someone asks me which subject I enjoy teaching most in our home school, I can say “All of them”, for this reason- I somehow manage to link every subject to literature.
“Really?” you may ask. “How do you link math to literature?”
“By investigating the lives of world-changing mathematicians,” I’d answer.
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was fascinated by geometry and economics? You can read about his love for math in Benjamin Franklin’s Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey by Paul C. Pasles.
John Nash’s battles with sanity and genius were first chronicled in A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar, which was then adapted (with many dramatic departures) into a screenplay of the same name.
Girls who struggle with math might enjoy the story of Julia Bowman Robinson, the first woman to become the President of the American Mathematical Society, lovingly told by her sister Constance Reid in Julia: A Life in Mathematics.
One of my personal favorites is Richard Feynman, whose The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman provide a window into the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that has served as the impetus for many of the technological marvels we enjoy today.
“Then what about science? Other than writing reports, how do you connect science and literature?”
Many science fiction authors imagined technology that we now have today.
“…the very first page of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” published in 1895, included an explanation from the unnamed time traveler about how objects require existence in time as well as space. To modern ears, his description sounds a lot like Einstein’s vision of space and time.”
It is a bit more intuitive to perceive how one might link history and geography to literature, with fascinating stories of others times and places captured in both fiction and nonfiction. On our current required reading list is Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale and Triumph and Tragedy (The Second World War) by Winston Churchill.
There are even books about language and grammar that go beyond the mechanics to the people that have shaped how we speak and write. The Man Who Made Lists by Joshua Kendall is a fascinating look at the life of Peter Mark Roget, who compiled and classified words as a coping mechanism to deal with the madness of his family life.
Simon Winchester writes the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary in a fast-paced, exciting narrative that guarantees your kids will never look at the dictionary the same way again.
I suppose when asked the question “Which subject do you enjoy teaching most?” I should just offer the simplest answer, “Literature”. But that really doesn’t cover it for me. I don’t see different ‘subjects’ as being disconnected. What we tend to separate and classify, in actuality blends and overlaps constantly, so why fight it?
Books, in my opinion, offer one of the best ways for kids to see how science and history and art and language are woven together to create this fascinating tapestry of life. Every once in awhile, you need to put away the textbooks and dive into the wealth of information contained in letters, memoirs, and biographies that will open your student’s minds to the intricate, wild, and compelling realities behind what sometimes is presented as dry facts.