James is continuing to study Ancient Egypt and in the process learn how to write about it. This week they focused on Pharoahs and the various Deity the Egyptians worshipped. James was asked to answer this question in an essay: “If you were Pharoah, what would be the biggest concern for your people? How would you lead them?”
Here is the essay from our “Boy King”
MY ANCESTORS GAVE ME THE RIGHT TO RULE THESE PEOPLE. UNFORTUNATELY THEY ARE STARVING AND OVERWORKED. FROM THIS DAY FORWARD ALL THE PEOPLE WILL EAT IN MY HOME AND ENJOY THE FEAST. THEY WILL ATTEND SCHOOL. THE SCHOOL WILL TEACH EACH CHILD. EACH FAMILY WILL CONTRIBUTE HALF OF THEIR YEILD FROM THEIR TRADE TO MY HOME. THE REST THEY MAY USE AS THEY NEED TO. I SHALL REVISE THIS IF NECESSARY.
THE PHAROAH JAMES
As I looked back on the notes from this week I realized this conversation between Elizabeth and James took place before he wrote his persuasive essay so I thought I would post it. Most of us have wondered these things.
DOES THE WORLD UNDERSTAND PEOPLE WITH LOVE OR DO THEY HAVE NO FEELINGS OF COMPASSION?
“That’s a tough question. Why do you ask?”
I AM CONFUSED ABUT PEOPLE. USUALLY THEY ARE KIND OR FRIENDLY BUT SOMETIMES THEY ARE UNKIND.
“Are your referring to something specific?”
NO, I MEAN GENERALLY.
“I think it varies. Some people are kind and some are not. Sometimes even a kind person may seem unfriendly. You never know what someone is experiencing. People are flawed. “
LISTENING TO YOU AND SHANNON, I REALIZED THAT A PERSON MAY NOT BE UNDERSTANDING OF MY DIFFERENCES (Shannon and I had been discussing the fact that some people are resistant to or have difficulty understanding how non verbal kids can communicate so beautifully using the letter board when they are not able to talk). I UNDERSTAND MULTIPLICATION AND PHYSICS BUT NOT PEOPLE. IT MAKES ME UPSET.
I smiled and said, “Join the club! People are complex and inconsistent. Not understanding people does not mean that you are not smart. You are changing what people thought they knew about autism and people who are nonverbal”
I KNOW THAT I AM CHALLENGING WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ME AND PEOPLE LIKE ME BUT I HAVE FEELINGS TOO.
“Ok, you have defined an issue. Now tell me your position.”
I BELIEVE OTHERS SHOULD BE MORE TOLERANT OF OTHERS LIKE ME. THEY SHOULD BE MORE PATIENT AND UNDERSTANDING. I NEED TO BE A LEADER FOR THEM TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO TREAT PEOPLE LIKE ME.
Yesterday James continued to learn the basics of the persuasive essay and he had to choose an issue and convince his readers to believe his position on it. His issue: PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND NON-VERBAL PEOPLE LIKE ME. His position: PEOPLE SHOULD BE MORE PATIENT AND UNDERSTANDING. Here is his essay:
NOT ALL PEOPLE CAN TALK, BUT WE DESERVE SOME RESPECT. HOW DOES SILENCE EQUATE TO DUMB? HAVEN’T SILENT PEOPLE IN THE PAST LIVED TO PROVE THIS FALSE? THAT INCLUDES HELEN KELLER. PEOPLE WHO ARE DEAF OR BLIND WERE THOUGHT TO BE RETARDED. HOWEVER, WE NOW KNOW THAT THEY ARE JUST AS CAPABLE AS THEIR PEERS. THEY NEEDED A DIFFERENT FORM OF COMMUNICATION. THIS IS THE SAME AS NON-VERBAL AUTISM. WE NEED INDIVIDUAL WAYS TO COMMUNICATE AND GET PAST OUR STIMS. THIS INCLUDES PATIENCE, SUPPORT AND TEACHERS. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO CLIMB OUT OF AUTISM.
I found it convincing!
This week James and his teacher researched what life in Ancient Egypt might have been like. One of his writing assignments was to write a story about a boy or girl living in that time. James was particularly interested in the disparity between rich and poor and his essay reflects it! He chose to write in first person which makes the story interesting and poignant. He did laugh a lot while he wrote it so while the ending seems sad and reflective of his life I think he really enjoyed expressing himself in this format. Here it is:
IN ANCIENT EGYPT I LIVED A MISERABLE LIFE. MY NAME IS TOM AND MY FAMILY WAS POOR. I HAD TWO SISTERS THAT WERE MARRIED OFF YOUNG AND I AM STILL SINGLE AT HOME. EACH DAY I ROT AWAY ON THE FARM WHILE THE RICH BOYS STUDY AT SCHOOL. THEY HAVE A FEAST WHILE I EAT BREAD AND WEAR FANCY CLOTHES WHILE I WEAR A SKIRT. I AM SMART YET KEPT FROM LEARNING AT SCHOOL. SO I SNUCK IN TO TEACH MYSELF YET I COULD NOT SAY ANYTHING I KNEW. I SPENT MY LIFE WANTING THE RESPECT I DESERVED INSTEAD OF SHOWING THE WORLD WHAT I REALLY WAS. I WONDER WHAT MY LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN IF I HAD CHOSEN HELPING MYSELF INSTEAD OF SELF PITY. NOW THE PAST IS TOO STRONG TO HAVE A DIRECT CHANGE.
With the start of a new year James has a new unit in his homeschool program. He asked Elizabeth (his Speech Pathologist) and director of his studies if he could learn about the “history of the world”. She said she would get right on it! Needless to say that is an ambitious idea so she decided to start with ancient civilizations and for January it will be ancient Egypt. Within the unit she has set goals for language arts and science. Language Arts this month is focused on developing creative writing skills, including learning how to write a persuasive essay, a comparative essay and an informative essay. Science is about Astronomy since the ancient Egyptians were the first to study the stars.
We are on day two of the unit and here are James’ completed writing assignments. The first assignment was to write an Astronomy based myth.
A GIANT ONCE LIVED IN THE MILKY WAY GALAXY. HIS NAME WAS ENERGY. HE MADE THE GODS ANGRY BY ARGUING WITH THEM. HE WAS BLOWN UP AND SCATTERED. THE PLANETS ENERGY COMES FROM HIM.
The second assignment was to write a persuasive essay answering the question, “What form of government works best, monarchy or democracy, and why? (Here is James’ essay, it took about one hour to spell out on his letter board).
A DEMOCRACY IS THE BEST TYPE OF GOVERNMENT. IT CAN EITHER BE DIRECT OR REPRESENTATIVE. THE U.S. HAS A REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY WHICH MEANS CITIZENS VOTE FOR THIER REPRESENTATIVES WHO THEN VOTE ON ISSUES AND LAWS. THIS IS BETTER THAN A MONARCHY, WHICH HAS ONE RULER, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE HAVE INFLUENCE THROUGH VOTING. SECONDLY, A DEMOCRACY HAS DIFFERENT SYSTEMS TO ALLOW FOR CHECKS AND BALANCES. THIRDLY, IT HAS SET TERMS AND LIMITED RE-ELECTIONS SO POWER IS NOT ABUSED, WHICH IS A PROBLEM IN MONARCHIES. OVERALL EACH MONARCHY SHOULD BE REPLACED WITH A DEMOCRACY.
James added after he completed this essay (his first): I AM PROUD OF MYSELF!
I intentionally didn’t post anything over the Christmas break because our family was a bit overwhelmed with what James said via the letter board and it took a while to process. We had a lot to think about and it was news to us that James often felt “lonely and without a role” during the holiday family gatherings and celebrations. I think we are all adjusting to the fact that this person who is our son and brother could not tell us what he was really thinking until now. There is a lot in James and can you imagine how many feelings you would have stored up if you were unable to speak for 12 years?
He wrote each person in our family, as well as his three main teachers, a Christmas letter. Each letter was very special because he tells us how important we all are to him for various reasons. There wasn’t a dry eye at our table on the morning we read them. But there were some hard things in the letters. It is easy to make up what you think someone is feeling if you never hear their thoughts expressed. And it is easy to assume that they know things you think are implicit to your relationship but may not be to them. So we are learning and growing with James and also remembering that he is a teenager so maybe some of the angst is plain old adolescence!