Thursday, July 19, 2012

On pushing

There are times when we, and our children, need a little nudge. A push. A " I know you can do this" or a " Give it a try."

 There are times when it's better to wait for that nudge to come from within. If you police my weight loss efforts I am likely to get mad or to sabotage. If I wait for that click, it works. I want to. I make myself.

 I have seen the same click with reading and with times tables. No matter how a teacher may push, a child seems to get these when inner click goes, well, click!

 There are also fallow times. Times when we need to ostensibly do nothing or when we need to saturate ourselves in an it a book or every Godfather movie in a row a video game, for example.

 What do we homeschoolers do then? Go with it. Go with the passion, the craze, the visible doing nothing. Because it is really impossible to do nothing and learn nothing.

Sometimes if we push we miss out on a learning experience, one that can't be replaced, one that is owned by the child. Or ourselves. One that is requiring reflection.

 So do we push our children and ourselves? Sometimes. And sometimes we hold back and just be. And sometimes we wait for that inner click.

 Tiger Mother and Unschooling Mama.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What programme?

What programme do you use for ..(insert your topic or subject or curriculum area here)?

 We don't.

 And do you know why?

 It seems so easy to pick a book or a curriculum that allegedly solve the "troubles" of how to teach x.

 But it's not.

 There is no easy way, no perfect book.

 Nothing can replace the attention of a parent or adult, responding to a child and his interests, sharing the world and their life and interests, using books and movies and activities and experiences and most of all discussion to teach.

 No curriculum can replace these kind of learning opportunities.

 So use the curriculum if we wish, but use it as an adjunct to real life and real learning, to everything else we do, directed or undirected and natural.

 In my experience, what programme works is the programme of family and life and resources around us.

With lots and lots of time.

 And lots and lots of talking.

Monday, June 11, 2012

If I could tell a new homeschool mum one thing...

If I could tell a new homeschool mum one thing, it would be... to give it ( whatever it is) Time.

Time. The biggest secret in homeschooling/unschooling.

Time for a child to mature, so that the boy who hates writing at age six
("why do I have to do this") is just given time to mature, no pressure to write, just sharing books together until one day he finds his voice and writes and blogs.

Time for the shared experiences to be shared, to shape the child, to allow him to explore, think, play, be a that he chooses, as a teen, to study ancient languages at a university winter school and needs no nagging about homework. He has had time to find out what he likes and how he learns.

Time to spend with family and friends, exploring persona (today it's Batman, tomorrow it is a Roman soldier), learning how to interact with others, to control temper, to think of others, to learn about self.

Time to read and read together without school schedules and have-tos.

Time for that stubborn toddler to grow into a self disciplined, determined young man. Time for that  very sensitive child to grow into a young man who thinks deeply and spiritually.

Time to cook, to do crafts, to play games, to climb trees, to visit and re-visit museums and libraries, to learn.

And time for mum to realise that things that seem major and  crisis making and overwhelming now will pass.

Time has been my homeschooling secret. Regardless of circumstances and living situations, I have learned to give myself and my kids time.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Strewsday Tuesday..or any other day

It was Strewsday Tuesday this week.

 And I'm late again.

 Which got me thinking. What did I strew Tuesday, or any other day for that matter? What one thing has been my major strewing each day this week?

 Sunday was White Chocolate Mousse for the Ascension. We talked about adapting our chocolate mousse recipe for a white mousse. And it was successful.

 Monday I took Anthony and his friend to their Old Testament Greek class. And talked about homework.

 Tuesday I met the sons at the book launch of Patrick Madrid's new book, A Year With the Bible, looking at books and DVDs and discussing philosophy.

 Wednesday was drama class and an extra friend over, making two friends for a sleepover.

 Thursday was the library and then time to hang out at the shops. Friday? Greek homework, Mass in the Extraordinary Form, piano lessons, youth group.

 Saturday a flight to Melbourne and a day looking at op shops, retro clothing shops, an afternoon at the book store.

 Sunday... Mass for Pentecost, MIB3 and a long, late lunch.

 Tomorrow? Monday? The Mesopotamia Exhibition at the Melbourne Museum.

 And none of this counts all the little every day, incidental strewing, the conversations, the books... Strewing equals learning equals memories equals life.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Living Books

Educator Charlotte Mason talked about living books - books that are written by a single author, with passion, books that make the topic come alive for the reader.

By living books, however, I mean living, everyday, in and out, as we breathe and talk and be, really living books. The books are so much a part of your life, they are who you are, they are who we are as people and as a family.

As we re-read Where the Wild Things Are, and I share the story with a new generation at work, everyone gnashing their terrible teeth and roaring their terrible roars, on the death of Maurice Sendak, then we share not only text but memory. Not only memory but rhythm and prose and poetry. Style. Which we take into our conversation, our writing, our reading, even,  of more advanced texts.

As we climb trees today and look for Sam Gribbley trees, honouring the late Jean Craighead George and her imagination inspiring book The Other Side of the Mountain, we experience the weave and the woof of our lives as family, of reading together in childhood, of spontaneously exploring our world when connecting with the story. We remember the important element of story, in our lives and in our work.

As we look for the novel The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey today, and discuss its relevance to a talk last night by Professor Finnis on Shakespeare, Religion and Identity, we recall investigative method, connections, that feeling  how-one-thing-leads-to-another, our knowledge of English history and Shakespeare. For, after all, it is connections that make learning. We connect, we think, we remember.

This is what is needed in education. Living books. A life intertwined with books and stories and texts and images and experiences.

One is never the same after having read, shared, experienced, followed up, a good book.

After a week of national Naplan tasting, a focus with parents at work and in the news on results and on tests, I look at our circle of readers. Young men who read, who live books, who are interested in learning, who do not fit the oft cited stereotype that boys do not like reading.

I realise that a life of books, of day to day happenings related to books, of living and breathing and cooking and climbing trees with books, has made their education. Not tests and bits of paper. But books shared and lived.

This is the legacy of life without school. Living books, living education, living memories.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Oh, by the way,,,

I have a new blog. On food and fitness. 100. As in one hundred days of weight loss.

Christian funerals, heaven and hell.

A great homily today, on heaven and hell, and on Christian funerals and praying for souls.

And so I am reminded of one of my old blog posts. Of which I will re-post part... Because we all need reminders.

" Since I moved to Sydney I have been to more funerals than ever. Funerals for people I have met through church; relatives of friends; fellow parishioners.

 I Corinthians 15:51-58 "Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall rise again incorruptible. And we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption: and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable: always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Some of these have been solemn funerals, beautiful if one can call a Requiem Mass beautiful. Sad but reverent and prayerful, remembering the dead, remembering to pray for the dead. With the priest using this opportunity to catechise the faithful on the Church's teaching on repentance, purgatory, heaven.

 After a recent funeral, a funeral that I attended with my youngest two still homeschooling sons, a funeral at which one son served, well, while eating a late lunch at a coffee shop, we talked about funerals. About praying for the dead. And we made up little verbal lists of things we don't want at our funerals. No power points, no eulogies, no modern music, no platitudes, no slide show...just the requiem mass, please.

 My kids laughed and I laughed. But we all got the point.

 The thing to remember is that, at funerals, we are not celebrating life and loves, we are praying for a soul; our relationship with our dead Christian loved ones isn't dissolved by death; we pray for our dead in case they are in Purgatory for a while, and we ask them to pray for us.

 If anyone wants to eulogize the dead, the Vigil or, especially, the after-burial gathering are the times to do it; eulogies really are not allowed at a traditional Requiem Mass.

 This seems to anger some people but eulogies in a church often lead to serious problems. Really. I mean... the word, "eulogy," means "high praise" -- but what if the deceased wasn't so holy and wonderful and especially wasn't repentant? Should we speak the truth of the dead by speaking ill ( not a good idea, I guess, at such an emotional time) , or should we lie, in a church, for the sake of politeness and decorum? I am not a puritan when it comes to lying in general and outside a church service..a little white lie is sometimes, almost, a god-send. But lying in church? Glossing over sins? And encouraging a theologically incorrect thought.. with typical words that imply that the person is most definitely, without a doubt in Heaven, right now, even though we know that may not be the case..not that we judge the state of another's soul ... Eulogizers are often theologically incorrect , saying things that are simply not consistent with Catholic doctrine or that can lead the congregation to believe that Purgatory and Hell do not exist.

 And, to be honest, eulogies are often quite personal , personal and weird, with the deceased having requested in life that pop music be played , and similar things, things that are best left for the intimacy of a wake or post-burial gathering. Not to be present in the liturgy, for the public worship and an act of the Church.

 Ultimately, of course, how can we give "high praise" to an unglorified human being when, in a church, we are in the presence of the glory of the Blessed Sacrament?

 A traditional Catholic funeral consists of three main parts: the Vigil ,the Requiem Mass, and the Burial ...and then, perhaps, informal after-burial gatherings. The kids and I have decided that we would prefer sticking to this traditional formula, for our funerals. Sounds morbid but actually it was a good discussion, over steak burgers and chicken and avocado sandwiches.

 Better to talk about these things now, of heaven and earth and hell, than to tuck the topics away until later..a later that may be too late.

 Better to talk about liturgy and Church teaching than to hope that such things are picked up by osmosis."