Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/8 to 11/12

Me ~ Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Finished Shiloh Season & Started Percy Jackson ~ The Sea of Monsters
Morning Read Aloud ~ Finished The Silver Chair & Started The Last Battle

Learning & Living at Home ~
Lots of reading and math games this week. La finished one book and is halfway through another. This is amazing to me considering that she only started reading beyond “cat, mat, sat” a little over a year ago. When it clicks, it clicks!

The math games are really helping La get her facts down. One game we play involves adding and subtracting negative numbers. She uses a number line, but is really getting this concept down! It’s funny because I never intended to teach this. It makes me wonder what other things she is learning incidentally. You just can’t stop kids from learning! Why would you want to?

We are enjoying The Last Battle. So, far it is a pretty dark book for the Narnia Series. It is reminding me of thing going on on our society today.

I tried my hand at making fabric flowers. My sister in law directed me to some  great tutorials at Snazzie Drawers. This is my first attempt. If I can get good at it & faster, I am going to open a shop on

Out & About ~
Our Firefly Corps meeting was on Monday. It was our first meeting on Israel. We learned about kosher food, Hanukkah, and the Uzi submachine gun (which was invented by an Israeli man).  Lots of fun & matzo ball soup!

My Journey ~
This week we I had my book club meeting on Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.  It was a great discussion. It made me think about what a real education is and question all my assumptions. I hope to write about that soon. Now we are reading Pride & Prejudice for our December meeting. I have been looking forward to a novel! I am enjoying it so far.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review - Weapons of Mass Instruction

What It’s All About

I was very excited to read this book as I enjoyed the authors other book, Dumbing Us Down.  I was not disappointed. As with Dumbing Us Down, this book is more like a collection of essays. Each chapter can stand alone or be read together. Occasionally JTG (John Taylor Gatto) does reference previous chapters, but not to the extent that chapters cannot be read independently. As I read I discovered some central themes running through most chapters.
  • The belief (with evidence to back it up) that the public school system is purposely designed to retard human potential.
  • The idea of school extending childhood into teens, 20’s & beyond.
  • The idea of open source learning as the best option. In a nutshell this is the idea that education can come from a variety of unlimited sources.
  • The value of dialectic reasoning & how it has vanished from our schools.
  • Schooling & education are mutually exclusive

There are many others but these stand out in my memory.

What I Liked

This book got my questioning all my assumptions about education. Which is the essence of dialectic reasoning. I realized that I am still affected by my own school experience & it has an influence our home education. I am now thinking about what a true education is and realizing it has nothing to do with knowledge base and everything to do with knowing who you are and being able to use your brain! 

This book, unlike Dumbing Us Down, uses evidence and facts, that can easily be verified on the internet, to support his conclusions. Now I know about the documents and evidence that support his experience with the dumbing agenda of schools. I can reference these and speak intelligently on the topic.

The aspect of this book I enjoyed the most is stories of those who did not fit into school, devised their own plan and achieved success.  Many of these stories showcase very young people, as young as nine, doing what we would call adult things. They are making a contribution to their families & communities. This has got me thinking about how to incorporate this aspect into our lives.

What I Didn’t Like

I did feel some of the book was rather self-indulgent. One chapter is a letter to his granddaughter, but it reads like it is for the book, not written by a grandpa giving advise.  Also, as much as I enjoyed the stories of success without school, some of them where undeveloped or depicted immoral behavior. One example is the 16 year old girl who sailed around the world alone without any sailing experience. He tells the story in a paragraph and you are left wondering ~ How did this girl get food & supplies in the 2 years she was out there completely alone? Another example is the pornography website owner & stripper who dropped out of high school and wrote the script for the movie Juno that won her an academy award. It seemed as though he was condoning her involvement in the sex industry because it contributed to her success.

Lastly, I feel JTG can be a little too extreme. As if there is no hope for kids in school. I think that is a little extreme. While I do agree that schools have an outright agenda to stifle creativity and personal growth, I also believe that the human spirit is too strong in some to be quenched. After all, I was the kind of kid who did well in school and liked most of it, yet here I am a free thinking, always questioning, homeschooling libertarian. Explain that. I cannot.

The Bottom Line  -  My rating - ★★★★☆

This is a great read for everyone. There is enough information and examples to make the most committed standardized schooling believer think twice.  I think it is a must read for all parents. The problem with books like this is that it will not be read by books those who need to read it. As a homeschooler, you will find it encouraging and affirming. You may find yourself making a pledge to NEVER send your kids to school!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/1 to 11/5

Me ~ Weapons of Mass Instruction & Pride and Prejudice
La ~ Shiloh Season
Morning Read Aloud ~ The Silver Chair

Learning & Living at Home ~
Poetry & Projects
This week we spent a lot of time reading poetry.  La always says she doesn’t like poetry which I thought was due to her lack of exposure to it. I was right. I took several books out of the library on poetry. I checked out a large variety ~ silly kids poems, Robert Frost & Edgar Allan Poe to name a few. La really liked Edgar Allan Poe!  This interest is probably because of due Halloween. The Poe book had a small biography which gave us a chance to talk about his alcoholism & how that effected his poetry. It’s amazing how insightful a 9 year old can be! Now she wants me to read her The Pit & the Pendulum & The Cask of Amontillado! I think she needs to wait a few years for those!

We also did a few projects. I had bought some flannel to make La some jammy pants. When we went to start the project, I discovered I didn’t buy enough! So we made a pillow case instead.

Isn't this the cutest flannel!

La also made & designed a cat toy. The cats loved that!

We learned about Nov. 5th being Guy Fawkes Day in Britain.  We talked about whether the men in the Gun Powder Plot were traitors or freedom fighters.  It’s a good topic for discussion! I highly recommend the movie V for Vendetta for adults & youth on the topic of tyranny & freedom. (Warning - it’s very comic book style violent, but great themes.)

Out & About ~
This past weekend was Halloween! La was a Zombie. We had 3 little girls ages 4,6 & 8 spend the weekend with us! It was a lot of fun & a great learning experience for my only child! :-)

Firefly Corps met on Monday. It was our second meeting on India. The girls presented on Indian food, Henna & traditional dress.  This club is something we look forward to with great anticipation!

My Journey ~
I have been reading Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.  It is really challenging my assumptions about education! He relates all these biographies of people who were out in the world contributing to their families & community at very young ages. It has made me think about whether or not we are living in a homeschool bubble & how to get out of the bubble!  I am considering adding a lot more community service type activities to our lives. I am not sure the final form of this yet. My book club meeting for this book is Tuesday. I can’t wait to discuss it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Freedom Vs. Complusion in Education

I have been evaluating how I REALLY feel about freedom & the use of compulsion in education & life in general. A few weeks ago I read “The Leadership Education Continuum” by Diann Jeppson & Jodie Palmer (in the appendix of Leadership Education:The Phases of Learning by Oliver & Rachel DeMille) and and listened to the free workshop you can download at Leadership Education Family Builder.

This really got the thinking! This continuum is a cyclical diagram that shows how the stages, 7 keys & 5 environments of Leadership Education all work together.  I cannot reproduce it here, but it is on page 301 of Leadership Education. The diagram shows the Freedom Agreement running across the center. I interpret this placing as a hinge of sort. It is the unifying practice that holds everything together. The mortar of a brick building, the eggs in a cake. So I ask myself. Just how am I living this principle? Have I fully accepted it?

Well, let’s define it first. It is basically the idea that personal freedom to pursue one’s own education works. It produces an individual who knows freedom.

WARNING! Soapbox Rabbit Trail Below
 (I do not mean having a head knowledge of the definition of freedom. I mean knowing it deep down in your bones so that it becomes a part of who you are and it sickens you when you see freedom being violated for yourself and others. These types of people are far and few between these days! It’s obvious they are a minority in elected officials if they are there at all. We allow our freedom to be hampered everyday.  For example, you cannot build on your own property without permits and paying the permit fees. You cannot start a new business without some sort of licensing, fee and government oversight.  This is not freedom. I read recently that 1 in 5 jobs in the USA is involved with monitoring the behavior of other people in some way. That is just wrong! )

 It also produces a person who loves learning because all they have learned has been intrinsically motivated, not coerced. Compulsory education makes an assumption here. The assumption is that freedom does not work with education. Reading, math and the like must be learned using coercion, a closed environment from which there is no escape, rewards for compliance & punishments for non-compliance (aka independent thought). The Freedom Agreement assumes that freedom in education does work and with superior results!

 Now when I read this I thought I agreed totally! I am a TJEder! We’ve been home educating this way for almost 4 years now, and even before I found TJEd, I was very relaxed in our methods. But then I hit a bump in the road.

I wrote here about how La had said she wanted to work on her math facts in order to be able to do Life of Fred. I thought, “Great! This is working! I can stop worrying about whether or not she will ever learn her math facts and move on in math!”

 ~ Here comes the road bump ~

This lasted less than one day when she burst into tears saying she doesn’t want to do this anymore! So no more work on math facts!  I confess I was shocked and disappointed.  I tried to figure out what went wrong.  After some soul searching and prayer this is what I discovered.

  1. I was emotionally invested in her accomplishing this which made it my goal, not hers. 
  2. When we went to practice the math facts, I used a method that I thought would produce the quickest results. I failed to take into account her learning style and temperament.

This was inspiration with string attached. You see, it became all about me. All about relieving my silent fear that, she will never learn _________, if I don’t require it. I had crossed the line of freedom in her own education. I was pushing and using compulsion techniques. This is when Inspire not Require becomes manipulation and I need watch this in myself.

So, I still need to work on accepting the Freedom Agreement. I need to daily remind myself that it is my job to expose, inspire and help our home to be a learning environment. It is her job to learn, grow, and move through the phases at her own pace.

So why do this? It’s much easier to buy a curriculum, make sure your child is “on track” with everyone else, or yield the freedom to an “authority” of an online school.  I struggle through this because I want something better for my daughter. I want her to know freedom in her bones, to function within freedom, to have a deep love of learning that will last a life time, and be practiced in the skills of a scholar.

I need to trust freedom, trust my daughter & trust the guidance of my Lord God.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 
2 Corinthians 3:17
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...