There’s a dire necessity to include tall tales in homeschool high school literature. Here’s why:
Homeschool High School Literature and the Dire Necessity of Tall Tales
I had a rude shock recently when I was teaching a homeschool high school group class how to write tall tales: NOT one of these well-educated teens knew what a tall tale was. NOT ONE.
Oh, my goodness! We’ve been so busy making certain that our homeschoolers were well versed in classic literature that we’ve forgotten the American icons who defined American culture for generations.
Passing on American tall tales to the next generation isn’t stealing time from learning about great books. Rather it is a dire necessity to teach tall tales in homeschool high school literature!
Here are 3 reasons why:
Without shared heroes that are unique to a culture, current and future generations lose their American cultural roots.
Our teens know Harry Potter and various Superheroes. Not that that’s bad, but they don’t know how to lasso a tornado like Pecos Bill- or how to be a gentleman when it’s called for. They don’t know how to be brave and tough when necessary like Calamity Jane. Or how to be strong and protective like Paul Bunyan with his Blue Ox Babe and his fellow lumberjacks. Or how to work diligently for the sake of honor like John Henry. We learn some things through story and the hyperbole of tall tales makes the learning fun.
Without shared experiences of knowing the same stories, we lose important imagery and metaphors that explain American ingenuity…and maybe we loose a little of that ingenuity.
Think about it. Our forebears amused themselves in the evening spinning yarns together. Stories like Pecos Bill creating a hurricane out at Bear Lake that the sling the Bear Lake monster way off yonder to Loch Ness taught kids like me, back in the day, to use imagination to solve problems. Stories like Johnny Appleseed taught us to have a dream and sow goodness into the world around us.
Without the experiencing of spinning their own tall tales, our homeschool high schoolers are being cheated of the opportunity to brainstorm imaginatively.
Good ol’ American yarn spinning (telling tall tales) builds quick-thinking skills in a fun way. I believe these are tools that help build visionary thinkers, courageous leaders, and ingenious inventors.
I suspect that learning tall tales has been neglected because we parents feel like it they are not serious literature. I agree that our homeschool high schoolers should read serious literature (such as 7Sisters American Literature Full-Year Course) BUT if they only read the high-brow stuff without ever reading the stories that are the fabric of our historic American identity, I believe we are short changing them.
I wonder if perhaps neglecting American tall talls is part of our current culture of feeling embarrassed to be patriotic or proud of our heritage. While we should be loving and inclusive of all cultures, American culture is a culture that I believe has value and should be taught to our teens. Tall tales are simple metaphorical ways to do this.
Besides, they’re fun. And that is good.
Let your homeschool high schoolers have a rollicking good time with tall tale writing. We’ve worked hard to preserve the traditions and fun of tall-tale-telling in our Tall Tale Writing Guide. It is self-directed and sensational! Download a copy for your teens today.