Thursday, August 30, 2007
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Do I really love my husband as myself - do I treat him as well as I may treat another?
It is often hardest to be loving and good natured and cheerful and helpful to those closest to us.
Christian marriage is seen by St Paul as paralleling the relationship between Christ and the Church.
I like this quote, on meshing feminism with being a wife - Making a conscious effort to infuse our marriages with the best we have to offer is the opposite of being a robot. It's life-affirming and marriage-affirming.
From The Good Wife.
I have some things to work on, as usual!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
We had fun doing silly dances together on the dance floor ( Abba? The Sylvers - Don't Blame it on the Boogie?).
And I have reflected a little on my career as a mother.
In many respects, I suck at mothering. It doesn't come naturally, I make many, many mistakes. I do things other mothers would not.
Like yesterday. Anthony was texting his brothers on his mobile phone while doing a page of maths. I told him I'd have to put his phone on the breakfast bar for awhile, simply because he was constantly distracting someone with the phone and messages. Jonathon said - "See, the other homeschool mums ( my friends) are right~! He is too young to have a phone! :-)"
I replied that I didn't mind him texting while doing schoolwork, it was just distracting others.
And then Jonathon laughed - what mother says she doesn't mind kids texting instead of doing Maths??
What I have learned about mothering, however, can be summed up in a few words. My internet friend, Willa , reminded me of the importance of these three words.
Not, they are not "I love you", although saying that is important.
The key words for me, as a mother, have been "Staying in the moment."
Willa is very wise.
Staying in the moment.
And keep on working on relationship - relationship with parents, siblings, others, God.
I have found this to be most important, as my kids have grown older...I have three young adult sons, one eighteen year old and three younger sons. I thought I'd be a bad mother of young adults - I didn't know how, I knew the little ones best. Well, I am not a great mother, but I am learning!
Staying in the moment has helped - I am not parenting any generic young adults, just my own.
Seeing each one as an individual, praying, working on myself and with Gerry and with the kids, has been key.
Right now, I am at a spot where I think parenting and giving the kids a good childhood , passing on the Faith, are just as important as a good education.
They can catch up on the education later, if they need to (but, hey, I see them learning all the time, anyway!).
It is harder , however, to work through problems in parenting and relationship so I'm aiming for joy and trusting that the rest will follow.
It has, so far.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
This morning, we read about St Augustine ( today's Saint) and about tomorrow's remembrance of Herodius and how she connived to have John the Baptist beheaded.
The craft ? Creating a severed head.
A gruesome craft, but one that certainly fits this Feast. A gruesome craft that is right up my sons' alley!
In fact, it was a pleasant Monday, a great Monday!
Yesterday was the feast of St Monica, the Patron Saint of married women and of mothers. We started the day with 7.00 a.m. Mass - although we arrived late. Sigh. Gerry was at work so couldn't attend Mass with the rest of us.
Breakfast out and the kids went to the shops while I had medical tests at a nearby medical centre. We met up again for morning tea at the Coffee Club - red creaming soda, Coke Zero spiders, iced coffee, skim milk flat white...
The boys had bought a present for Father's Day ( next Sunday) and a cool card for Gerry. We laughed at the card - I'll post a pic on the weekend...And they spotted a priest from our parish walking past The Coffee Club.
Father joined us for coffee.
We split up - Alexander to go to the movies and the rest of us to finish shopping
( I bought the new Kathy Reichs novel and Jonathon bought a Ramones t-shirt. Thomas purchased a model plane, and Anthony a secondhand computer game).
Back home, we set to work. Me to do laundry, mop the floors, sort Kumon, workout. Jonathon at the computer, writing an assignment for university ( due this Friday!). Thomas and Aanthony built the model plane, flew it in our cul-de-sac, made modifications to the model, installed and played the new computer games, practiced piano.
We had a late lunch ( pretty usual for us!) and then Alexander returned, with his guest and Krispy Kreme donuts! Showers, clean up the kitchen, work at my Kumon Centre.
Some of the preschoolers at Kumon were so adorable!And one of our students had a birthday and gave lolly bags all round - even some for me and my family...
We were flat out at work, Gerry picking up Anthony at 5.30 and the rest of us stayed at work until 7.30 pm.
My doctor, who knew I was worried about the tests, rang through with the results that evening ~ he had asked for the tests to be given high priority. All clear! He was surprised himself - but pleasantly so. I was ecstatic ! The effects of prayer.
To celebrate, we had take away pizza for dinner, and chocolate ( D#%, there goes my diet!) - and a Vodka cruiser for me!
A perfect way to end the feast of St Monica.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
We talked about the Assumption; about the Transfiguration and read about and participated in Reader's Theatre related to the recent Feast day of Blessed Mary Makillop.
Morning tea was shared. A lot of yummy food! Probably too much for we calorie conscious mothers ( yes, diet and exercise was part of the adult discussion!). And I made pikelets , an Aussie food in honour of the Aussie saint.
Some kids worked on the life cycle of a monarch buttefly ( metamorphosis - a scientifc example of transfiguration??). Alexander did a little research on the roots and meaning of the word Transfiguration.
Definition. Root Latin; Trans, meaning across, & figura, meaning shape, form, or picture.
Noun. 1. A striking change in appearance, character, or circumstance, a
2. A change made so as to exalt or glorify.
St. John Damascene Homily on the Transfiguration,
It was not of tents that the Master consituted thee [Peter ] the orderer, but of the Universal Church. Thy disciples, THY SHEEP, which the Good Shepherd entrusted to thee as head, have fulfilled thy desire [to make tents on the Mount of Transfiguration]. They have raised one tent to Christ, one to Moses and Elias, and NOW WE celebrate our feasts HERE.
Other children began work on a notebook of Our Lady - making a cover, working on a page/entry for the Assumption, their choice. We hope to add to this notebook throughout the year, as the Feast days of Our Lady are celebrated during the liturgical year.
I think it is a good thing for all ages to come together and celebrate the Feast days, our life in the Church.
And very good for we homeschooling mothers to share our journey.
St Vinnie's, as the charitable organization is called, ~ colloquially that is.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The practicalities of unschooling . The nuts and bolts. What we do each day. How we do it - apart from just living and learning, that is.
Well, some of this is our routines, our pegs - our outside activities, our regular chores and meals and interests; regular, ongoing interests like piano/guitar/music/Latin/reading/movies...
Other things we need reminders for ~ things like getting to the library ( but, never, somehow, getting our books back on time. We help the libraries build new additions, in each state in which we have lived, simply via our fines!).
Perhaps we want to do more nature study or pick up a video from the video store. Or I want to strew certain items or books or introduce a new book or activity...
Once a month we re-do the bulletin board and plan a centrepiece for the liturgical year or plan for feast days that month.
How do we remember to do these things?
I use post it notes and my old, faithful diary and to do list.
Nothing special. Post it sticky notes can be moved from day to day or stuck on a wall, a fridge, on the breakfast bar, on a book on a child!
When my older three sons were little, I used to call this the "post it note form of homeschooling".
We keep the Post-it's factory in production ~ but it is so handy to have a note, a reminder, a to do list, that can be stuck on something , on a diary page, wherever, and moved ahead or around as it suits our schedule. And our life.
In this vein, I have given the kids their own diaries, in which to write goals and ideas and things they want to do, scratch down budget notes, and so on. Some kids use these more than others and that is okay. They all use Post-its - wonder where they picked up that habit?
And I have seen this Lifestyle of Learning Journal. A free printable!
They have to think of their children as friends, indeed very close friends,...They have to trust them as people, resect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children's wonder, curiousity, and excitement about the world....
Children don't need, don't want, and couldn't stand six hours of teaching a day, even if parents wanted to do that much. To help them find out about the world doesn't take that much adult iput. Most of what they need, parents have been giving them since birth....They need, much of the time, to share your life...in short, to go some of the places you go, see and do some of the things that interest you, get to know some of your friends,..." John Holt, Teach Your Own.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Lesson planning? Unschooling?
You are right. The two don't seem to mix. And to be frank and totally honest, I will start this post with an admission ~ I don't do lesson planning.
Even when I was teaching in schools, my lesson plans were minimal. Barebones.
Even when I teach at Homechool Group Learning my lesson plans are minmal. Barebones.
I like to be open to the teaching moment, as John Holt would say. To serendiptiy.
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.
We do, however, have learning and living routines. And our routines and learning lifestyle start with ideas.
I like to gather ideas for our learning adventures. I look at the usual school documents, at kids' interests, and at the liturgical year. At life.
Here is where the book "A Continual Feast" is a big help...
As are the sampling of other books shown above.
And websites such as ~
Waldorf Family Network
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This quote, and this encyclical, has been used as an argument against unschooling. ( What is unschooling? A form of homeschooling...See some thoughts below.).
What is interesting is that Suzie Andres, in her book on Catholic unschooling, uses this and similar quotes from the encyclical, to promote her understanding of why unschooling can be a choice for Catholic homeschoolers.
Andres writes ~ page 39 "A closer reading of the Pope's words will...show us that unschooling is not forbidden for Catholics. Note that the objectionable methods of education attribute to the child ' an exclusive primacy of initiative..'. We can respond that because the child is always the primary agent in his learning, it is fitting that he is often the initiator of his learning as well. This is precisely what unschooling allows. Unschooling, however, does not require that the child be the only or exclusive initiator. Moreover, the Pope is especially concerned with preventing parents and educators from witholding religious instruction on the false belief that the child must initiate every area of his formation and education. In our defense of unschooling we have emphasized the need for parents to refrain from over-teaching, and the importance of their actively respecting the child's ability to learn without too much interference. But this is not equivalent to saying that unschooling parents cannot initiate areas of study. Consequently, unschooling as we have defined it is not one of the modern systems of education the Pope here condemns.
Furthermore, reading on in this encyclical, we find in the next paragraph a description which more accurately applies to unschooling, and which the Pope then approves. Pope Pius XI states:'If any of these terms are used, less properly, to denote the necessity of a gradually more active co-operation on the part of the pupil in his own education, if the intention is to banish from education despotism and violence, which, by the way, just punishment is not, this would be correct but in no way new. It would only mean what has been taught and reduced to practice by the Church in traditional Christian education, in imitation of the method employed by God Himself towards His creatures, of whom he demands active co-operation according to the nature of each;
..Here we find that the Church not only allows for unschooling, but even places it in line with her tradition." page 40
Andres' take on this makes sense to me. :-) A Catholic can choose to unschool, without fear of compromising their Faith. Just as a family can live and share the Faith, so can a family share each individual's educational life; their thoughts, their interests, their activities.
How do we define unschoolng?
Didn't the encyclical Christian Education of Youth by Pope Pius XI speak against unschooling?
I want to save some thoughts here on the blog, for future reference. If this bores you, feel free to skip these posts! lol!
What is unschooling? I think, perhaps, that unschooling can be an idea held in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. An idea that differs among people.
I say we are unschooly. That we learn from interests and from life, family centred learning, not necessarily using school methods or following a school curriculum.
And I like these unschooling definitions ~
Patrick Farenga, who succeeded John Holt as the Publisher of GWS magazine, : "When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world as their parents can comfortably bear." ( Teach Your Own, page 238).
Mary Griffith, author of The Homeschooling Handbook, writes about unschooling and John Holt: " Children learn best, he argued, not by being taught, but by being a part of the world, free to explore what most interests them, by having their questions answered as they ask them, and by being treated with respect.." ( page 56 -57).
In Homeschooling With Gentleness, Suzie Andres writes: "Unschooling is a form of education in which the child is trusted to be the primary agent in learning what he needs to know to lead him to happiness ( page 12)...'form of education' refers in particular to academic education, not to moral education....those who are trusting the child are his parents.They are trusting him to be the primary agent in his learning, but this does not amount to neglect on their part. The parents assume the role of secondary agents, meaning they do not forsake their duties in their child's education, but rather they recognize and honour his natural ability to learn...( page 12)....While other approaches tend to focus on the teaching done by the parent, unschooling concentrates on the learning done by the student..." ( page 13).
Finally, a simple definition/phrase, from Parenting a Free Child by Rue Kream: "Our unschooling is our parenting is our life together."
So, are we relaxed homeschoolers or are we unschoolers? To be frank, I doubt that the terminology matters. We are what we are. Learnin and living together in Faith and with growth.
On Sunday, Fr mentioned that one's Faith should grow; it should not be simply the Faith we had at age twelve. There should be growth. It should be living.
The same with our learning, our homeschooling. It is not held static by a label but is organic, education that changes as the children and family changes. We learn and add to our Faith, to our knowledge, to who and what we are.
That said, I wouldn't personally call myself a relaxed homeschooler, mostly because we don't have daily sit down basics to do and we don't necessarily have a framework within which we follow interests.
We may do these things but we also may throw them all out and live life and learn that way together.
It may be that I see unschooling ( giving kids choice, learning from life) as a philosophy but how it works out in my life differs from season to season.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
We'll have cake and presents tomorrow night, after CAFE, and Anny is having a ten pin bowling party for his friends on Saturday afternoon.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANTHONY!
Tomorrow is also the Feast of
Blessed Mary Mackillop - First Australian Saint; Co-founded Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart 1866.
Died:8th August 1909 Beatified: 19th January 1995
We are meeting with a couple of other homeschooling families next week, to celebrate and talk about Mary Mackillop, the Transfiguration and the Assumption.
We have also begun a Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe. St. Maximilian was born Raymond Kolbe in Poland, January 8, 1894. In 1910, he entered the Conventual Franciscan Order.To better "win the world for the Immaculata," the friars utilized modern printing and administrative techniques. Maximilian started a shortwave radio station and planned to build a motion picture studio--he was an "apostle of the mass media." In 1941, the Nazis imprisoned Father Maximilian in the Auschwitz death camp. There he offered his life for another prisoner and was condemned to slow death in a starvation bunker. On August 14, 1941, his captors ended his life with a fatal injection. Pope John Paul II canonized Maximilian as a "martyr of charity" in 1982.
Thanks to Maria, for reminding me of this Novena.
What else? Oh, yes, we are on a Diehard kick right now. We watched Diehard 1 ( the original with the now infamous Bruce Willis quote!), on Sunday. Plan to see the new Diehard film his week - Diehard 4, it opens here on Thursday night. I am a big Bruce Willis fan!
And we have been to the movie website, for trailers, info, games, reviews, discussion...I'm sure there are some organic, natural , learning conections here!
Learning connections.....I have been pondering the atmosphere and environment of our learning home and lifestyle. Inspired by the
goals and unschooling thread at the 4 real Learning message board.
I have been strewing, to pique interest. This evening, before Mass and our dinner out, and after newspaper delivery, I strewed some artwork on the refrigerator. A collage on blue card. Different artist impressions of the Assumption of Our Lady ( August 15).
You can catch a glimpse of the artwork here.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I talk instead of learning word games.
Yesterday, Gerry, Thomas, Anthony and I had a game of Taboo .
Taboo is a word guessing game. The object of the game is for a player to have their partner guess the word on their card without using the word itself or five additional words listed on the card.
Really works one's thinking and speaking skills and can be a vehicle for many language and vocabulary discussions.
Hey, it is also fun!
Children and adults alike learn a lot from games. Games, board games, card games, oral games ( I Spy), video games play a big role in our homeschooling.
Plato wrote, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation."
Family games give parents the opportunity to spend time with their children, as well as to sharpen their wit and knowledge.
Homeschoolers and teachers have known for years that games are a great way to learn.
And learn they will. Parents are often amazed when they stop to think about all of the possible skills enhanced by game playing. Nearly all games will broaden cognitive skills by applying problem solving methods, critical thinking skills, and strategic thought."
And there is value not just in board games but in video games, too - in playing the games, in doing something hard, in discussing the games, as Papert describes.
Interested in making your own games? I thought I might strew these articles this week ~
Make Your Own Board Game
How to Make Your Own Board Games
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
The series tells of the adventures of four children, their exploits, their adventures, many of which are set in the Lakes District of England.
I loved the picture of an " idyllic, yet often realistic, depiction of childhood and the interplay between youthful imagination and reality".
Last night, after a CAFE meeting at our parish ( Catholic Adult Formation), dh and I were chatting to some of the friars. I mentioned our often late dinners and late nights and Fr. said something to the effect of " Perhaps it didn't matter as much since the boys did not have to be up early and rush aound to get to school".
It is true. Our schedules , as homeschoolers, and particularly as unschoolers, have a certain freedom. We definitely have routines and pegs, activities piggybacked onto other activities until good learning habits are formed; and we have many outside activities. Yet my children's days have never been dictated by a school schedule.
However,my children have had the kind of childhood of which I dreamed and read about when little. A Swallows and Amazons childhood, with time to read, imagine, play, explore. Whilst still learning some good habits and self discipline, for the most part, along the way.
Like today. Yes, we were up early after a late night of CAFE and of Harry Potter reading - up early, not for school but for Mass, attending our Francisan parish, praying and participating in the Portiuncula Indulgence.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Like the Harry Potter book, the ending raises more questions than it answers.
I have done a little internet search on the author, Kathryn Hulme. Read
here and here.
"The Nun's Story" is based on the story of Hulme's friend, Marie-Louise Habets, a nurse and former nun.
Choosing between life in the convent and life in the outside world.
Made me think of the Pope's thoughts, in the post below.....
So, what am I going to read now?
I will return to "Jesus of Nazareth" by Pope Benedict XVI - I had read two chapters before being engulfed by "The Nun's Story" and by Harry Potter.
I also want to read another book for children, the first of Phillip Pulman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy.I have avoided these books, since having read about Pulman's anti Christian, anti Narnia philosphy a few years ago, in a journal for children's librarians. The first book, however, has been made into a movie ~ The Golden Compass, to be released this Christmas.
So, now I would like to enter into the controversial foray and read the book for myself ~ is it okay for the kids to read? Can it be a good tool for dialogue? Like the Truckers series by Terry Pratchett.
Wanting to "read it for myself" reminds me of the Index, the old list of books that were not recommended for Catholics to read. We don't have an Index any more, but there is more information about the Index Librorum Prohibitorum here
But what books would be on the Index if it did still exist today?