Author: EM

Homeschool Kindergarten Activity Cards

My Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum: Our Routine

In my last two posts, I told you about the ideas that have influenced my kindergarten homeschool curriculum, as well as the subjects we’re studying, the activities that go with those, and the way I’ve organized our approach. In this post, I’ll describe our academic routine.

Every weekday, we make time for two school sessions: morning and afternoon.

  • The morning session is our focus session; we focus on the same subject for five mornings in a row.
  • The afternoon session is our wildcard: King Sturdy gets to pick which subject he wants to do (provided he hasn’t already done that one earlier in the week).

For example, last week, our focus subject was writing, so every morning all week, King Sturdy chose a writing card, and we did whatever activity was on the card. In the afternoons, he got to take his pick of whatever he hadn’t done already. Here’s how it went:

Monday

AM: writing
PM: world studies

Tuesday

AM: writing
PM: math

Wednesday

AM: writing
PM: reading

Thursday

AM: writing
PM: language games

Friday

AM: writing
PM: nature studies

Between the focus and the wildcards, we touched on all six subjects at least once over the course of the week.

Other points of note:

We use magnets on the chart to remind us which subjects we’ve done, or are doing. For the focus subject, we use a special magnet which stays on that box all week. Every time Monday rolls around, we advance it to the next box on the chart.
Whenever we finish a wildcard activity, we move its magnet from X to ✓, so we know we’ve done it already, and we can’t choose it again until next week. (At least not for a session. If King Sturdy wants to do extra, he always can.)
Whenever we do an activity card, we put it in a discard pile, so we don’t end up doing the same card over and over or having one that we never get around to doing.
When we’ve used up all the cards in a suit, we pull them all back out and put them in the draw pile again. This happens on different days for different suits; it doesn’t matter when it happens.

On this schedule, we’ll work through all the cards every six weeks or so, doing the whole deck about four times over the course of the school year. Each subject will get to be our focus for about a month altogether, and whatever’s not in focus will continue to shuffle through in review.

I’m guessing our school sessions average 15 minutes. Since we do two sessions a day, this means we’re spending around 2.5 hours a week on academics. If we averaged 30 minutes per session, we’d be doing five hours of focused instruction.

That count doesn’t include Aikido class (another two hours a week), reading before bedtime (who knows), watching cartoons in French (about an hour a day), or the many random things we learn and do along the way (converse in French, talk about science, history, mythology and so on as the topics come up, go to the library, etc).

Reflections

The curriculum I’ve shared in these posts makes doing school really easy for us. It gives us just enough structure that we don’t have to worry about structure. It’s simple enough that the five-year-old can use it himself, moving the magnets, choosing the cards, tracking where we are in the week and making choices about what he’d like to do next.

In that way, it gives him freedom to direct his learning himself. If we continue homeschooling for the long haul, he’ll gain more freedom the older he gets. This is one reason I call our approach unschooling: it’s a minimum of structure with a maximum emphasis on King Sturdy’s interests. He doesn’t always get to choose the bus, but he gets to drive it.

Two and a half hours a week isn’t a lot of time to spend on school; part of that is King Sturdy’s age, but another part is the approach itself. The thing about unschooling is that it’s low-effort: you don’t have to spend hours at the table working on lessons, because the lessons come to you all throughout the day, unplanned and unexpected. On the other hand, it’s high-curiosity: it demands that you notice opportunities, ask questions, seek answers and pay attention pretty much all the time.

Some versions of unschooling involve no structure at all. Clearly that’s not what this is. I feel that some amount of structure is a good thing. Everyone in my household is either self-employed or a small child; we have no external structures to shape our lives for us — school, work, daycare, anything — and structures don’t create themselves. We’ve learned over the years how important it is to take the initiative on that.

I also feel it’s important to spend time on things that may not be immediately interesting to a kid, which goes over easier if you’re following a routine. Whatever activity card we may draw for a given session, we always spend at least a few moments on it, whether we feel like doing that one or not. We always try to find what’s fun about it, to see it from different angles and to hone in on what interests us, whatever that may be. Interest is a personal, ephemeral thing, so it varies.

But we don’t force it. If King Sturdy isn’t into something, we do the minimum and move on. After all, kids develop at different rates: a lack of interest may mean he’s just not ready. On the flip side, if he’s excited about it, we keep going with no time limit.

There you have it — our kindergarten homeschool curriculum

If you’re doing kindergarten homeschool too, I hope this information is useful. If not, I hope it’s interesting. In either case I welcome your questions, stories and comments.

Kindergarten Homeschool Subjects

My Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum: What We Study

In my last post, I shared the styles of homeschooling that have influenced the kindergarten curriculum I’ve created this year for King Sturdy. In this post, I’m going to tell you which subjects we’re focusing on, and how we organize our learning process.

Subjects

Our plan includes six subjects. Of course, the three Rs (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic):

Reading

Writing

Math

Next, a jewel from common core:

Language games

As it turns out, spoken language exercises are important in common core, something that wouldn’t have occurred to me.

Finally, two others that are personally important to me:

World studies

When I was a kid, I struggled to develop any awareness of the larger world because I’d never been provided a coherent context to hang it on. I couldn’t retain a shred of what I learned in social studies or history, because I couldn’t connect it to anything familiar. Cultivating King Sturdy’s familiarity with various parts of the world — the stories, sounds, flora, fauna and so on of different regions — has been a priority for me since he was a toddler.

Nature studies

In our family, we value being able to make sense of the real world, too, not just the one that we humans have constructed for ourselves. For example, when an animal has crossed your path, do you notice the signs of its passing? When you look at the clouds, can you recognize not just what they are, but what they’re planning to do next?

Organization

To help my not-yet-literate kindergartener track with these subjects, I’ve created a picture chart where each subject is defined by a different color.

For each subject, there are eight activities we can choose from. To keep those straight, I’ve made a deck of cards with six suits (one for each subject) and eight cards per suit (one for each activity). My kindergartener can tell these apart because they’re color-coded: reading is purple on our chart; so are the reading cards. The blue suit is for writing. The green cards are for math.

Where did we get the activities themselves? I made them up, drawing from the influences I mentioned earlier. Some are straight out of common core for kindergarten, some reflect the classical process, and some are my own invention. For your reference, here they are.

Activities

Blue cards: writing

  1. Practice writing uppercase and lowercase letters. Letters may be chosen alphabetically or in a sequence to form words or sentences of your choice. Alternative: Play “Fishing for Letters” (a memory-matching card game).
  2. Write the long and short spellings of each vowel.
  3. Listen to a story. Afterward, tell the story out loud and draw a picture.
  4. Dictate an opinion essay (for example, “My Favorite Book”) and draw a picture.
  5. Dictate a narrative essay (including something that happened to you and your reaction) and draw a picture.
  6. Dictate an informative essay (including a topic and some information) and draw a picture.
  7. Look at a word. Turn it into a plural by adding “s” or “es.”
  8. Start with a one-syllable word. Replace one of its letters to make a new word. How many new words can you make?

Red cards: language games

  1. I start a sentence; you finish it. You start a sentence; I finish it. We take turns.
  2. I say a word; you count its syllables.
  3. I say a word; you make a rhyme. We take turns.
  4. I say a word; you say a synonym. Then we think of an antonym. We take turns.
  5. Think of a homophone. How many meanings can one word have?
  6. Think of three synonyms, then act them out to show how they’re different.
  7. Think of a one-syllable word and break it into two parts: the first sound and the rest of the word. Alternative: find the middle sound in words that don’t end in L, R or X.
  8. Play “Mr. Know It All” (a game where two or more people form a sentence together, but each person can add no more than one word at a time).

Green cards: math

  1. With beans: Start with a group of 1-9. How many more do you need to make 10? Alternative: Break a group of 1-9 into all its additive pairs (5=2+3, 4+1, 5+0). Alternative: Start with a group of 11-19. How many plus 10 do you need to make 20? (15 is 10+5=20). Alternative: Use beans to solve a word problem.
  2. With buttons: Sort into as many different groups as possible (by color, size, number of holes, etc). Groups should be no larger than 10. Every time you form a group, count its buttons.
  3. Outside: Make geometrical shapes out of found objects. Observe attributes of objects (width, weight, number of sides, etc).
  4. Cooking: Follow a recipe that calls for careful measuring. Talk about shapes, fractions and other math concepts while you work.
  5. With pictures: Shown a variety of differently-sized shapes, find all instances of a given shape. Alternative: Tell if a shape is two- or three-dimensional. Alternative: Use shapes to solve a word problem.
  6. Speaking: Count forward by ones and tens. Alternative: Choose a number (not one) and count forward from there. Alternative: Count backward from 5, then from 10, then from 15 and so on.
  7. With tiles: Use geometric tiles to form larger shapes. Compare length, width, size, number of corners, etc.
  8. Writing: Write numbers 0-20. Alternative: Look at two written numbers and compare (more, fewer, same?). Alternative: Count objects; write how many.

Orange cards: world studies

This subject involves hanging a world map on the wall and letting the child draw on it or pin things to it throughout the year, gradually filling it with pictures.

  1. Choose a place on the map. Find out what the climate is like there and draw a picture of that on the map.
  2. Think of a plant. Find out where it came from and draw it on the map.
  3. Think of a fairy tale. Find out where it comes from and mark it on the map.
  4. Think of an animal. (It can be biological or mythical.) Find out where it came from and add it to the map.
  5. Choose a place on the map. What language do they speak there? Add it to the map.
  6. Choose a place on the map. Find a song or work of art that comes from there and add it to the map.
  7. Choose a place on the map. Find out about traditional clothing from that place and add it to the map.
  8. Think of a kind of food. Find out where it came from and add it to the map.

Purple cards: reading

  1. Listen to a story. Tell what’s happening in the pictures. How do they help tell the story?
  2. Think about two different stories. How are the characters’ experiences and themes similar? How are they different?
  3. Listen to a story. Talk about the words that shape its tone.
  4. Think of a question. Remember or research the answer.
  5. Read aloud for a long time.
  6. Listen to a story. Identify its genre, author, illustrator, title page, front and back covers, chapter headings, etc.
  7. Read a Bob book together, sounding out words. Alternative: I write a simple word; you sound it out.
  8. Listen to a story. Answer who, what, where, where, why, how. Identify the setting, characters and point of view. What didn’t you understand?

Yellow cards: nature studies

  1. Look at the sky. What clouds can you identify? What do you know about them? What will they do?
  2. Look at a book of stars or look at stars in the sky. Which constellations can you see at this time of year? Alternative: Start with a diagram of a constellation. Draw a picture on top of it.
  3. Take a field trip.
  4. Look for tracks and other animal signs. What do they mean?
  5. Listen to recordings of birdsong or animal calls and try to imitate them.
  6. Choose a book on tracking or identification. Find a picture you like and draw it.
  7. How many plants outside can you name? What do you know about them?
  8. Find as many different rocks, leaves or other objects as you can, set them side by side and compare them.

 
As for my other influence, unschooling (in which you follow the kid’s lead and facilitate their exploration) — that’s expressed in how we go about our routine. Which is what I’ll talk about next.

World Studies for Kindergarten

Four homeschooling styles that shape our curriculum

There are a lot of different ways to homeschool: different curricula of course, also different philosophies. Here’s the mishmash of approaches that I like, with a broad-brush description of how I think about each.

Unschooling

  • Noticing opportunities to learn, constantly, wherever they may arise, and taking advantage of them.
  • Noticing the kid’s interests and doing your best to help them explore those.
  • Surrounding the kid with resources and opportunities and letting them set their own direction.
  • Making it up as you go.

If you want to learn more about unschooling, take a look at this blog, created by someone who grew up unschooling and now writes about it.

Classical

  • Approaching each subject in three broad phases: grammar (the nuts and bolts), logic (the reasoning) and rhetoric (the ability to express skillfully what you’ve learned).
  • Spending the elementary years helping kids discover what, the middle years exploring why, and the high school years cultivating their ability to put their knowledge to use.
  • Every few years, revisiting what you’ve covered before, but with a different emphasis: reviewing and rediscovering.

Here’s a more detailed description of the classical approach, from the folks behind the book The Well-trained Mind. That book is how I found out about the approach in the first place. A worthy read.

Common core

I have a quite a few teachers in my circle of friends and family, and a lot of respect for what they do in their classrooms. The current benchmarks for kids in the public school system represent a ton of care and research. Not that common core is perfect, or perfectly applied. But there’s a lot of good to be mined from it. It’s also important to me to know how what we’re doing at home compares to what my kid’s peers are doing at school. In developing my curriculum this year, I went through the online standards and activities for kindergarten one by one, drawing inspiration from them and integrating them as I saw fit.

You can read the standards here. You’ll have to navigate a bit to read them all, because English and Math are located in separate sections, and each has several subsections, organized by grade level. If you want to see them all in one place, you can also open the standards for English and Math in the form of PDFs.

Personal

I’ve been interested in the philosophy of education since long before I had kids. For years I’ve been reflecting on what an education should accomplish, where the shortcomings were in my own education, and what I wish I’d had the chance to do instead. Part of the fun of this process is being able to explore those ideas in practice now, not just in theory.

To see the kindergarten curriculum I came up with for King Sturdy, click here.

King Sturdy drawing King George

Kindergarten

Five-year-olds had a big first, last week. They started school. Parents were excited and weepy. Kids were excited and scared. Teachers were excited and reassuring. All the hubbub was sweet and exciting even from a distance, and a part of me wished I were part of it.

But only a part. This year King Sturdy begins kindergarten homeschool, which is exciting in its own way.

We’ve been homeschooling since he was two, because that’s when he started showing an interest in it. We knew we’d be keeping it up at least until he was six, because his birthday falls just after the school year begins, and as a result he wasn’t allowed to begin last year even though he was just days from turning five. I was grateful for the timing, actually; it allowed me another year to experiment with homeschooling, no pressure, no fork in the road. He’s kindergarten age but he can’t even go to school yet. No reason not to homeschool.

This year, now that he’s five-going-on-six, this is the first moment of real choice. I don’t have any plans past this year. We’re taking it step by step. But for this year at least, we’re staying home.

And now I’m going to tell you all about my kindergarten curriculum

In the next couple posts, I’m going to share which homeschooling approaches I draw from, the subjects we’re focusing on, how I’ve organized our study, the routine we follow and the specific activities we do. I want to put this information out there for anyone who finds themselves in a similar place, gathering ideas on how to organize their own course of study for kindergarten homeschool.

In my next post, I’ll start with influences: the big-picture approaches to homeschooling and education that have helped shape the curriculum I’ve created for this year.

Self-operating Napkin by Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg Machine

The other day in school, we talked to King Sturdy about potential and kinetic energy, then showed him an OK Go video to illustrate. Today, he had his heart set on building a Rube Goldberg Machine. After some debate, we decided that catapulting a stone was the work that the machine would aim to accomplish. Here’s how it went.

1. Announcement of the project; catapulting

2. Let’s take a closer look at that

3. Slo-mo. Trebuchet attacks the tracks; no catapulting

4. Slo-mo. Train dancing. Catapulting

5. Not so much

6. Slo-mo. Catapulting with leaping

7. Slo-mo. Catapulting with monster dance

Oldest-known image of a dragon

Myth, Science and Unicorn Mind

In the first chapter of Before Philosophy, Henri and Henriette Frankfort pointed out that the language of myth, which they called “speculative thought,” isn’t so common these days, because science.

In our own time speculative thought finds its scope more severely limited than it has been at any other period. For we possess in science another instrument for the interpretation of experience, one that has achieved marvels and retains its full fascination.

As a result:

We do not allow speculative thought, under any circumstances, to encroach upon the sacred precincts of science. It must not trespass on the realm of verifiable fact; and it must never pretend to a dignity higher than that of working hypotheses, even in the fields in which it is permitted some scope.

Science is cool and I like it a lot. But it’s also sort of monopolized the search for truth, and that’s a problem.

For the ancients, science was no obstacle, because they hadn’t invented it yet. So “speculation found unlimited possibilities for development; it was not restricted by a scientific (that is, a disciplined) search for truth,” the Frankforts said.

Well so what?

If after reading that, you’re thinking “speculation” sounds pretty useless and science is an obvious improvement, take a pause. Any paradigm looks dumb when viewed from the comfort of some other paradigm. After all, you’re judging it by rules it never set out to follow.

Let’s explore a different way to see it. Let’s look at how the author and Archdruid John Michael Greer described the lifecycle of human civilizations. (This is going to come full-circle in about two shakes.)

In Greer’s view, the story of a civilization plays out in three broad phases:

  1. Unicorn time reminds me of what the Frankforts are talking about: a world teeming with elusive, emotionally-charged images of truth, which don’t all fit together, yet compel you deeply: hints of something real but inexpressible.
  2. Phoenix time is defined by the effort to tie up all those loose ends and reconcile the contradictions into a rich, coherent tapestry, where concrete images and abstract ideas interpenetrate in “an exuberant cultural and intellectual flowering.”
  3. Dragon time is when truth is guarded and catalogued in a detailed but rigid system that leaves no room for fresh visions, if they contradict what it’s already confirmed. It’s a time when abstract concepts “dominate human consciousness and suppress magic — for a time.”

Here’s Greer again:

Take a few minutes to think about these three mythological images, and to relate them to the historical periods to which I’ve assigned them; among other things, you might just begin to grasp some sense of the power of emotionally charged mental representations as a tool of thinking.

Which is exactly the Frankforts’ point.

Dragons are a drag for the other magical beasts

We live in Dragon time. I should probably say upfront that there’s nothing wrong with dragons.

In fact, if you’re creative, you probably experience all three phases whenever you’re making a new piece of work. The expansive phase, when inspiration flows freely and new ideas spring up, impalpable and fleeting. The working phase, when you’re bending those ideas toward one another, trying to make sense out of the living brew. The polishing phase, when you’re cementing what you’ve created into a finished piece and doing your best not to kill the original spark in so doing.

Where art is concerned, each phase is useful and necessary. I expect the same goes for civilizations. For worldviews though, I prefer the Unicorn. Maybe a Unicorn that’s moving toward a Phoenix. Or a Phoenix that’s in love with a Unicorn.

In any case, when the Dragon voice of modern empiricism laughs at speculative thought, looks down on ancient and tribal worldviews, and claims exclusive access to truth and knowledge, I find it constraining, dulling. When the Frankforts describe the primitive worldview of the ancient Egyptians, I feel I’ve come home.

I see value in speculative thought. Not in place of science, but alongside it, concurrently and without conflict.

As I said at the outset, science is cool. It’s invaluable. I love how clean and incontrovertibly-elucidating it has the potential to be. But when its fundamentalist disciples — those who treat it like the only thing of value, hammering it into the shape of some weird religion — use science to dismiss and ridicule the speculative thought of primitive mind, I find that just a bit outrageous.

There is extraordinary value to be found in these other paradigms. Bottom line, Dragons are not the only magical beast in the forest.

Feet

Let Them Get Bonked

This is the last installment of an eight-part series.


Confession: I let my toddler pull a kitchen chair down on top of himself. I could’ve jumped up and righted the chair before it fell, but I didn’t. Moments later, when he was crying and I was hugging him, I questioned that decision, to let him get bonked. Still I think it was the right thing to do.

Important distinction: when I say you should let your kid get bonked, I’m not saying let them get injured or killed or hospitalized. As protectors, it’s our job (to the best of our ability) to keep our kids out of that kind of trouble.

The bonk, though — even a serious bonk — is something to embrace. Getting bonked can hurt. A lot. It can leave a bruise. It can bleed. And most of the time, it’s really hard to sit there and watch it happen.

There are two reasons that I think it’s best to let children make those mistakes. First, when a kid has the chance to get some genuine scrapes, they end up becoming very capable. That’s good both for them and you: for them, they’re less likely to get hurt day-to-day because they know what they’re doing; for you, you’re more free (you don’t have to watch them so closely) and you have more peace of mind (you can trust them to stay safe).

The other reason is that there are many serious dangers in this world, and we become less and less able to shield our kids from those as they grow to adulthood. Kids need practice taking risks and navigating danger if they’re going to be able to do it safely on their own later, and I would rather have them make their mistakes here, early, because the stakes are low at first. The stakes only get bigger with each birthday.

Bonks are painful. But they’re not life-threatening, and the lessons they teach last longer than the scrape. Bonks teach a kid their limits; they give kids a chance to decide what they are and aren’t willing to risk. They build good judgement, physical coordination and the confidence that comes from those things.

When my littles turn into teenagers, I’m going to want them to have those skills down. How else, but by trusting them, will we be able to sleep at night?

Feet

Kindness + Reality Teaches

This is the seventh installment of an eight-part series.


Before you decide that “kindness teaches best” is some kind of frufru, no-accountability form of permissive parenting, hold on a second. It’s only one half of the equation. The other side is reality.

Here’s how this works. When a kid does something that leads to an unpleasant reality, you can trust the consequence to speak for itself. You don’t have to lecture them about it; reality is enough. Reality teaches.

Add kindness to that — by which I mean empathy and genuine openness to the discomfort they’re facing — and you not only bring home a lesson; you show them that you’re in their corner, that they can trust you.

Note, this approach does not work as long as you’re trying to remove every pebble from your child’s road. But if you’re not protecting them from the consequences of their actions, if you’re letting them face things, you will find that reality is the best teacher in the world. Especially if you bear in mind that it’s really important to be kind. Not sarcastic or preachy. Reality is more eloquent than any lecture you could come up with, and it’s harder to tune out.

So, as hard as it is to refrain from jumping in, it’s best if you don’t interfere with the natural consequences of your kids’ actions. And it’s best if you can be there for them when they’re suffering, to say that you’ve been there, and you know they’ll pull through — because you believe in them. Because you know that they’re capable of learning things for themselves. Because that’s what it takes to help a person do better next time.

(To be continued next week.)

Feet

Pain Does Not Teach

This is the sixth installment of an eight-part series.


We’ve got this notion that people — kids, especially — need to suffer a little bit when they do something wrong, so that next time, they’ll think, “Last time I suffered. I don’t think I’ll do that again.”

There’s a problem, though. When you inflict emotional or physical pain on someone, they don’t think, “Next time I’ll behave differently.” Instead, the takeaway is, “That person hurt me!”

Pain shuts people down, and feeling bad is disempowering. It doesn’t make you want to try to do better. In order for a person to make a change, they have to believe it’s possible and worth it. Pain doesn’t deliver either message. Sure, a person can find it within themselves to change in the face of pain, but it’s harder than it has to be.

The easiest way for a person to learn something new is for them to be open and emotionally engaged. Pain flies in the face of that by closing off the doors emotionally and making a person want to hide or fight back. It also undermines the trust that you share with your kid.

So leave pain out of the parenting toolbox. It doesn’t teach. There are better, easier ways to enforce your boundaries, which don’t make you feel you’ve betrayed your child’s trust in that unpleasant moment.

(To be continued next week.)

Janie Dutcher greets wolves

Science Can Be Personal

In an earlier post, I started compiling the passages I like best from the first chapter of Before Philosophy, because there’s something in there that strikes a chord and I want to tease out what it is.

I left off with the notion of “Thou.”

To summarize, when you interact with the world in an I/Thou relationship, you’re participating in a reciprocal connection with a living world whose phenomena are all essentially personal. Which basically how I see things. In this post, I’d like to square that with the worth and usefulness of science.

There’s a conflict here, or at least there seems to be

Because “‘Thou’ is a live presence,” when you’re interacting with the world as such, each phenomenon that you experience is unique — not just another instance of an overarching physical law. Not interchangeable, but individual. While science says, “We have observed this set of humans to behave in this way under these conditions,” the I/Thou way of seeing says, “My Aunt Lida isn’t a statistic.” Here are the Frankforts:

“‘Thou’ has the unprecedented, unparalleled, and unpredictable character of an individual, a presence known only insofar as it reveals itself. ‘Thou’, moreover, is not merely contemplated or understood but is experienced emotionally in a dynamic reciprocal relationship.”

You could say that’s the opposite of science. For example: classing objects into groups and controlling them for variables, that’s an important and useful process. Repeating a study to see if you can replicate its results, that’s a crucial way to test a conclusion. But when you’re interacting with the world as Thou, it’s impossible to treat things interchangeably like that, to construct abstract theories to explain the behavior of an individual whose nature is essentially unrepeatable.

Then again, the problem may be less important than it seems

Your Aunt Lida isn’t a statistic. Still, you can conduct a study on her demographic and learn some things about why her life looks the way it does. You’re not denying her personhood or her individuality. You’re merely respecting the fact that she shares certain things in common with others, that those things are knowable. That there are larger patterns involved.

The Frankforts said that “modern man” views the world primarily as It. They also said that “he” holds science to be sacrosanct. But I’m going to push back against the idea that you’re obligated to treat the world as It in order to do science — that you have to objectify your objects. I think you can respect the life of the world, of existence at large, acknowledge its personhood and treat it as Thou, while also doing science.

Didn’t Jim and Jamie Dutcher do that while studying the Sawtooth wolf pack? Didn’t Jane Goodall, in her 55-year study of wild chimpanzees? Scientists who work and live alongside animals tend to be very level-headed about the personhood of those animals and the respect it takes to get anywhere with them. And no one would suggest that a patient turns into an It when they get on the operating table. Surgeons who treat them as such are generally considered terrible people.

The same goes for any phenomenon one might study, not just humans and animals. I think you can use the tools of science to learn about the world while maintaining a reciprocal relationship with it and respecting all of its phenomena as living, individual and personal.

I think that when you do, you’re more likely to hold onto your humility, less inclined to presume you know everything, to think you somehow possess the objects that you study.

That’s a vibe I think the pop culture of science these days could really benefit from.