Jump to content


What's with the ads?

Photo

Ella Frances Lynch thread #2


100 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#51 Tomik

Tomik

    Hive Mind Larvae

  • Members
  • 2 posts

Posted 08 December 2016 - 08:02 PM

Sorry for the silly question but can most of these linked vintage books be downloaded to Kindle for free? I am not tech-savvy...

I read all of the posts on both threads. Now I am waiting for the two EFL books to arrive. Thanks for all the insight! This is so fascinating.

#52 elizahelen

elizahelen

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts

Posted 08 December 2016 - 10:33 PM

A few thoughts after reading The Mother's book:

One difference betweenChild and Lynch's view stood out to me in the means of punishment, but not in the general idea of always mean what you say, and never let a child disobey without correction.

An area that confused me in Child: the books she recommended. I recognized only a few authors. And was she railing against THE mother goose, or did I misunderstand? I am interested to try and find a few of the books. What are these books about?

I wonder what Child would recommend the six and seven year old do in our time as far as practical, useful skills. It seems what knitting was no longer as popular as it once was, but she recommended it as useful especially as a guard against loneliness in old age. I feel encouraged that she emphasizes sewing and outdoor play as highly worthwhile.

I really enjoyed her insights on encouraging sibling love and virtues and marital love. Her observation of doing small things lines up with modern researchers like John Gottman.

I am feeling extra called and invigorated to redouble my efforts into being a kinder more prayerful person. Not to oversimplify or anything, but she makes so many of my own feelings which I couldn't articulate be very clear and bright. Being a virtuous example- striving to be a saint- yet still remaining grounded and focused on others-

OK that's mostly what I've got. I'm reading The Image by Daniel Borstin. It's "a provocative examination of American culture on the cusp of a new age of mass communication" in 1962. I'm looking forward to insights comparing 1830, 1960 and 2017.



Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
  • ElizaG likes this

#53 elizahelen

elizahelen

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts

Posted 08 December 2016 - 10:37 PM

Can you speak more about "the whole approach to family life" versus the modern paradigm, ElizaG? I don't know what you're saying but it sounds really interesting!

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

#54 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 11 December 2016 - 12:57 PM

Can you speak more about "the whole approach to family life" versus the modern paradigm, ElizaG? I don't know what you're saying but it sounds really interesting!

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

By "whole," I just meant the entirety of it, including the basic values and assumptions, and expectations for their lives and their children's lives.  Not necessarily taking it all on, but taking it all seriously, and being able to talk about it.

 

Most people I've met who express an interest in "the old ways" are inclined to focus on a few aspects -- such as children's books, cooking, or liturgy -- which they've learned about through the filter of peers or present-day writers.  Then they do their own cherry-picking to decide which parts to use.  It seems like more of a consumer model.  Sort of like the difference between a person trying to integrate into another country's culture, and one who just has a great appreciation for some of their food and aesthetics. 

 

From my perspective, what's most relevant is that the former group is more willing to talk about the negatives and serious challenges (as they really can't avoid them), while the latter group is likely to ignore these issues, or even deny they exist (as they can just skip to another part they find more compatible with their thinking).  

 

Come to think of it, this is pretty much a broader version of what I'd already found to be the case when talking about classical education.


  • Ordinary Shoes and elizahelen like this

#55 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 14 December 2016 - 04:06 PM

I still haven't had a chance to read through all the things that I've missed, so please forgive me if this has already been covered.  ElizaG, I was also re-reading that thread a few weeks back for inspiration.  Mostly, I was reading it for EsterMaria's posts but ultimately Hunter's posts on insisting on the basics being mastered was what I took away.  Over the past couple of months of once again working with Ladybug one-on-one, I've come to realize that I should not have stopped formal phonics instruction and I really regret having followed advice I've received on these boards years ago to not worry about spelling in the early years.  I've discovered that she has trouble with multi-syllable words where the non-accented syllable schwas and she can't spell even the most basic words: e.g. al for all, wuz for was, deer for dear.  So, as much as it pains me to have to spend so much time on English, we've gone back to working with Webster's Speller and analyzing all the words in her memory work using Spalding methods.  But, I'm still not sure if Spalding works any better than traditional workbooks, so I've also been studying the Hanna book on spelling instruction that ElizabethB recommended at some point (can't think of the name, unfortunately).  I discovered this when I was looking over a letter she had written, so now we've added letter writing to the curriculum as well because I've come to realize that is yet another thing that needs to be explicitly taught.  Thankfully, she loves writing letters and was doing so way before it occurred to me to "teach" it.

 

Here's the trouble I'm running into, however: how to balance it all?  I've been rereading EFL's books yet again and I find myself as overwhelmed as I had been last year (or was it two years ago now? don't remember) when I first decided to implement her methods.  From what I understand, here are EFL's recommendations for English: read/narrate an Aesop fable daily, 30 min of copywork daily, language lessons -- also sound like these are fairly regular/daily too.  In another section she recommends 15 minutes of handwriting every day and this is not at all connected to the other work that is being done.  Some arithmetic every day.  And then there is the sheer quantity of memory work that is supposed to be accomplished.  In addition to long poems in English, here are the Latin recommendations for the second year student from the Fortnightly Review:
 

 

In the second school year--let us pray for the elimination of exact grading--pupils should learn by heart a great deal of Biblical Latin, chosen for its moral strength and its resemblance to English: the Pater Noster (beginners of six or seven learn this in two or three weeks from listening to older children recite), the Beatitudes, Psalms, proverbs, many verses from the Gospels.  The first chapter of Genesis in Latin comes as readily too a child's lips as the English.

 

 

And yet, in ECatH she talks about not spreading oneself over several subjects every day and work on one thing until that one thing is accomplished.  But, looking at her list of works that an 8 year old should know + the Latin list, I just don't understand how that's supposed to be done!  Not to mention the added complication of bilingual homeschooling and I'm feeling: :willy_nilly: .

 

Part of it, I know, is that it takes us a lot longer to memorize that what EFL describes.  As I mentioned in my last post, she's transitioned to independent poetry memorization, but her rate averages out about a line a day.  But, even when we were memorizing together we rarely learned more than a couple of lines each day (and this isn't a couple of lines in English, a couple in Russian, a couple in Latin: it was two or three lines total daily).

 

Anyway, the 1.5 hour a day school day is not happening here at the moment, it's closer to two, even two and a half or three hours if you count our together time: Bible story, Saint of the Day, read alouds and singing during which time the girls are usually sewing or working on craft.

 

Those of you with 8 year olds, how does the school day actually work out?  How do subjects get correlated if at all and what does an English lesson actually consist of?  I need to streamline before the baby comes!


  • elizahelen likes this

#56 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 02 January 2017 - 06:32 PM

Sorry for taking so long to reply, ltlmrs.  I've been trying to observe the school habits of my children who are around that age, but Christmas has made everything a bit haphazard. 

 

My slowest worker (who's also patient and diligent, fortunately) does take about 30 minutes for even a fairly short passage of copywork, but I don't have to be present the whole time for that.

 

In general, though, I think we're interpreting EFL's advice somewhat differently.  I tend to read the descriptions of different types of lessons more as possibilities than as requirements.  For instance, I'd be inclined to study a fable as an occasional change from poetry, not at the same time.   And when she mentions 15 minutes for handwriting, I read that as a reassurance about how long a reluctant child can be required to sit and follow instructions closely, not necessarily as a norm that all school-aged children should do that every day. 

 

There was something I posted a while back, from a 100 year old teachers' journal, that helped me understand the sequence of language arts skills.  Will try to find it.  Up to that point, I wasn't confident about leaving the earlier types of exercises behind when we were moving on to the more advanced ones.   More practically, we can use the children's writing samples (including letter-writing) as a diagnostic for what types of skills they need to work on:  handwriting, spelling, mechanics, description, narrative, etc.  Which is obvious -- so obvious that I keep forgetting it.  ;)

 

We're not strictly using EFL methods, though, since I've slacked off a fair bit with the primary academics  :001_rolleyes:  , and my upper elementary children have each been doing at least one English workbook or textbook a year (with me crossing out any parts that seem unnecessary).   I just realized that my choices for each child have pretty much alternated between books that are more nuts & bolts (such as Seton and CtGE), and ones that are more literature-based (such as the old LLATL or Prose & Poetry).  

 

And when we do the EFL type of literature lessons -- whether it's just for a day, or for several weeks at a stretch -- I just tell them, "that will be your English for today."

 

So I guess I'm not really correlating much at all -- just throwing a bunch of things at them.  One at a time.   :laugh:

 

One last thing that's occurred to me:  the elementary years are just a great big long transitional stage.  It drives me sort of nuts because just when I figure something out, it either changes or becomes irrelevant.  But 7-8 year olds are especially unpredictable.  My 2nd grader just jumped five "grade levels" in reading ability in the last 6 months.   And most of this happened during one of my slack-off periods.  I think the kid got bored, and thus had the motivation to try harder at reading.  Whatever... I'll take it! 



#57 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:07 PM

ltlmrs, if there are specific time-consuming parts of your schedule you're wondering about, please feel free to ask.  Such as the memorization.  I don't remember exactly how you were doing that, but maybe a change of technique or timing could help. 



#58 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:51 PM

Over here, I'm looking for EFL-friendly ideas for keeping notebooks for "appreciation" of art, music, literature, etc.   Not a list of works to study -- just a way of keeping our notes on these subjects in order, and keeping a record of the works we've enjoyed and thought about.  It could be a plan for organizing a handwritten notebook, or some simple reproducible pages to fill in.   (A while back, I tried giving the children some cute reading logs, but most of them haven't been filling the pages in voluntarily, so I've decided that this is going to be more in the realm of "official schoolwork."   So we might as well use 3-ring binders. :001_rolleyes:)

 

If we end up using printed pages, I don't want them to include illustrations, or vague and subjective sections such as "My thoughts about this" or "How this makes me feel."    What I'm hoping for - just off the top of my head - are prompts or headings to encourage the children to record the following:

 

- media perspectives (how have I experienced this work: e.g. have I listened to an audio recording, watched a video of a performance, studied the score, listened to someone play it in person),

- erudition (what I learned about the artist, and people/places/events referred to in the work, including links to science, religion, history, geography)

- language notes (if applicable, e.g. for vocal music; would be pretty much the same as for literature studies)

- artistic techniques & theory (what have I learned about music theory, literary forms and devices, etc)

- reproduction (have I drawn a picture, retold part of the story, memorized some lines, or performed part of the piece myself)

 

I'm not sure if it would make sense to aim for a generic plan that can be used for any of the arts, or specialized ones for different forms. 

 

I hope this makes some sense, and even if it doesn't, that someone is interested in discussing it.   ;)  :D



#59 elizahelen

elizahelen

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts

Posted 03 January 2017 - 09:35 PM

I love the outline you just put together. I personally think it's brilliant. I could see it being really useful for a child later too. I like the media, erudition and reproduction parts best for grammar learning and the techniques for older students.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
  • ElizaG likes this

#60 elizahelen

elizahelen

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts

Posted 03 January 2017 - 09:42 PM

This thread has helped me so much, so I have a burning question to throw out there: how would EFL go about training (?) A two year old, especially training not to scream? I remember in the governess book there was a germ of an idea to pay attention only when there was no screaming. Also, what amount of time and training would she say per day on a toddler? Anyone want to walk me through how they trained a virtuous child from infancy up?!

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk

#61 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 03 January 2017 - 10:24 PM

Anyone want to walk me through how they trained a virtuous child from infancy up?!

Yes, does anyone?   :lol:

 

With my older ones, I was indecisive about discipline, and I'm sure it shows.  I was drawn to both Montessori and "traditional no-nonsense discipline," and it wasn't always easy to figure out how to combine them.   In hindsight, this was mainly because I misunderstood them both.  So I just went back and forth between what I thought they were saying to do.

 

But, to my shame, the child who was a toddler when I discovered EFL is actually my worst behaved.  :leaving:  Some of this is surely due to personality traits, but I was also too free-range at that stage, due to the stress of major life adjustments and the distraction of all the things we have going on here.   I hadn't considered the possibility that older children might be too indulgent toward their younger siblings (to prevent them from screaming...).   

 

My current toddler seems to be headed in a better direction -- though not entirely willingly! -- and I'm more confident about my ability to balance prevention, practice, redirection, and old-style consequences.  But it's obviously too early to say. 

 

So I don't know much about specifics, but it's certainly wise to keep them close to you, and set aside a certain amount of time each day for songs, little chores, and general "practice obeying Mommy." 


  • elizahelen likes this

#62 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 04 January 2017 - 11:54 AM

Montessori noticed that small children who are getting upset can very often be distracted & calmed with nature, especially very small objects.  Just turn your own attention to a leaf on a potted plant, a bug, or whatever is handy; observe something fascinating; and make a calm but rapt comment about it.   Wait and see what the child does.  Seems to work quite well!  

 

Now that I think about it, this fits right in with RDI.  It involves joint attention and experience-sharing, and gets the child back on track with the "guided participation relationship" that's based on their trust and the adult's leadership and modeling. 

 

The governess book suggests that children can often be calmed with some sort of washing or grooming -- such as wiping the face gently with a warm washcloth -- which seems to serve a similar purpose. 

 

I've tried to emphasize the "RDI lifestyle" with my youngest, and think it's made a huge difference.  On both sides of the family, we have generations of very verbal and mathematical thinkers, who are strongly inclined to go for what seem like the most efficient method of doing things.  This results in the more or less conscious neglect of the little, repetitive interactions that serve to build social bonds.  Which, as it turns out, are really what this whole life & family thing is all about.   :001_smile:


  • elizahelen likes this

#63 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 21 January 2017 - 01:42 PM

Finally have a chance to catch up with y’all!  Bear with me, this is very long, but it’s been a while!

 

ElizaG, those posts from back in October (which unfortunately I just now read, only skimmed them a couple of months ago) about particular lessons is actually incredibly helpful.  I wish I had read them back then.  Also, the Bonnie Landry book on dictation proved very helpful.  I got it back in July, glanced at it briefly tossed it aside as nausea hit and only managed to really look closely at it around Thanksgiving.  Funny enough, Nan in Mass recommended dictation to me for English two years ago and after following Landry’s book for several weeks I feel like banging my head against the wall for not following Nan’s advice from the beginning.

 

If you have suggestions for study guides (for either classic literary works, or solid textbooks) that might work well with this approach, please share them. I'm looking for questions that are less about specific writing assignments, projects, or additional erudition, and more about verifying the student's understanding of the material in the text.

 

 

I don’t know if you’ve found something since posting that and this is more directed at helping the student as he goes through the work but I find the Macmillan Pocket Classics to be really useful.  Many of them are online, but I’ve been collecting them as I find them at used book stores and ebay.  The beginning is usually a general introduction to the text and the author’s life and at the end are copious notes dealing with historical references, difficult words/pronunciation, literary allusions to other works and some editions have further helps like prompts for composition.  I used Macmillan’s edition of Hiawatha as I prepared our lessons last year and using it now with Horatius.  The anthology Selected Poems actually has several poems that EFL recommends, but I find that the volumes dedicated to individual authors/works have far more detailed info, so Selected Poems is what I keep in my road-schooling bag but Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome is what I keep on hand when we’re at home.  These were designed as texts for high school and of course, things will probably change a million times before then, but I plan on letting the kids use them independently as they get older.  That said, they are not study guides in the traditional sense of the word: there aren’t comprehension questions and such things.  I’m guessing the assumption was that the books would be used more in a recitation format.

 

I find the edition of Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn especially well done, so that’s a good one to start of with to see if its something that might prove useful for your needs.  That said, the prose works are not as uniformly helpful.  Scott’s Quentin Durward has lots of helps for the reader, but I seriously doubt I’d ever want to use that work as part of a formal curriculum.  But, Irving’s Sketchbook which we probably would study given how easily it would match up with Model English is really lacking on notes.  But, then again, I haven’t actually read it so maybe there isn’t as much of a need for notes?

 

I think it would even work with some educational videos. (This is the voice of sick mommy talking! )

 

 

Not helpful when mommy is sick, but as I read that post it occurred to me that something similar could be done with Private Eye type activities.  Right now I’m doing observation lessons separate for each child.  It seems that even two or three years makes a huge difference in development when it comes to how the child observes (or maybe its just my kids – quite possible!) but my attempts at combining them have been futile so now observation lessons get done pretty much daily with Itsy, as opportunities come up with Little Man (sometimes multiple times a day since he hangs out with me a lot) and very haphazardly with Ladybug because once we went through EFL’s recs its been a little overwhelming for me to come up with my own lessons (I still need to do some of the measurement lessons and star observation, but I haven’t been able to find an opportune moment).  Except what I’m doing with Little Man, I find our current situation less than ideal and Ladybug has also been requesting more formal nature study as part of our school work.  I’ve been having trouble figuring out how to add that in without it becoming a huge chore for me.  She doesn’t seem quite ready to independently keeping a nature notebook, but I feel that with just some well thought out guidance she could be mostly independent in this area.  Anyway, the past month or so I’ve been brainstorming ways of expanding what we already to with EFL observation lessons to a more formal “nature study” all the while combining the kids together and it seemed like Private Eye sans loupe for the littles and with a pocket microscope (she got one for Christmas from her Godmother) + written composition for Ladybug would be a way to continue following EFL’s simple guidance with the two younger ones while giving Ladybug more fodder for something she could continue during her free time if she’s really interested.  Then as they all get older texts could be brought in either from encyclopedias or as you suggest, Faber and the like.  I’d really like to get some feedback on this esp if anyone has ever used The Private Eye or some similar observation program.

 

I'm wondering anyone has found out more about how religion and humanities subjects other than literature were taught at the secondary level, before "university methods" and the Harkness/GB model took over.

 

 

I’m sure you and others have already read it and far more carefully than me, but I found Gilbert Highet’s Art of Teaching helpful as I think ahead (a little more warily these days as I reflect on EFL’s admonition to plan only a day ahead!).  He has a couple of neat example lessons, the ones on music and geography are what immediately come to mind, but I think there are others and his description of recitation was very clear (that was the first time I’d come across the more traditional notion of recitation and was pleasantly surprised to find it was very similar to the methods my fifth grade teachers used).  Of course, I don’t know to what extent his views of teaching adolescents are shaped by university methods since that’s not as much on my radar as it is on yours (just haven’t had time to really research and look into this beyond a cursory look).

 

Thanks for the great summary of Fr. Donnelly’s concerns, LostCove!  This kind of lines up with what I’ve found browsing vintage Latin texts online. In contrast to today there were a lot more supplementary readers used from the very first year of study.  I can’t find any links at the moment, but a couple of the ones I saw spend quite a bit of time on training sight reading of phrases and then sentences unlike something like Ritchie’s Fabula Facile while goes straight into stories.

 

And ElizaG, that French book was an answer to a prayer!  I had been haphazardly using the Usborne First Thousand Words and making up my own sentences but this is so much simpler!  I don’t even think we’d need to do more than a phrase a day to make good progress when combined with singing.  I wish there was something like this that’s a bit more modern with an audio component so that there would also be the benefit of a native speaker.  (Reading vintage texts on language instruction some even go so far as to say that there should be no language instruction unless the instructor is a native speaker.  Yikes!  But, it does fit in with various novels that mention native speakers as instructors even in places like Jane Eyre’s charity school.)  Hopefully she won’t be teased when our French friends come back state side.

 

My elementary aged children are regularly doing a lot of chores with little or no help, but below age 10 or so, I'm still finding it necessary to be in the same room with them, to make sure they stay on task. And they nearly always need reminders to do the chore in the first place.

 

 

This has been my experience as well, even with my very responsible first born.  When an adult is unavailable to supervise, chores take forever.


  • ElizaG likes this

#64 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 21 January 2017 - 01:47 PM

We are muddling along right now. Emphasis on muddle

 

 

That’s definitely me too!  I comfort myself with thinking what a perfect mother I was before I had children.  And these days I vastly prefer advice in EFL’s books or the various books Auntie Leila has recommended because I’ve realized that parenting is a marathon and its less about technique for abstract situations as it is about having a good understanding of each particular kid because what works with one is guaranteed not to work with the other.

 

Hi elizahelen, welcome to the EFL threads!

 

I am feeling extra called and invigorated to redouble my efforts into being a kinder more prayerful person. Not to oversimplify or anything, but she makes so many of my own feelings which I couldn't articulate be very clear and bright. Being a virtuous example striving to be a saint yet still remaining grounded and focused on others.

 

 

Yes!

 

I was talking to a dear friend whose last (seventh) homeschooled child finally started college this past year.  She was telling me how different her path to virtue was now because she no longer had the children constantly watching her example as a motivating force.  My immediate response was “Oh geez, yet another thing I’ve been screwing up!”  How did it not occur to me that for the last eight years I’ve been observed under a microscope and providing the primary model for what adulthood looks like?

 

I’m slowly making my way through the governess book but nowhere near ready to talk intelligently about it.  But, I’ve enjoyed your all’s discussion of it so far.

 

In general, though, I think we're interpreting EFL's advice somewhat differently. I tend to read the descriptions of different types of lessons more as possibilities than as requirements. For instance, I'd be inclined to study a fable as an occasional change from poetry, not at the same time. And when she mentions 15 minutes for handwriting, I read that as a reassurance about how long a reluctant child can be required to sit and follow instructions closely, not necessarily as a norm that all schoolaged children should do that every day.

 

 

You’ve hit the nail on the head there: I’ve come to realize over the years that you and I both bring our own biases and backgrounds into the equation when we’re looking at the exact same thing.  I do think that I tend to see EFL as more prescriptive than someone like Ruth Beechick.  When I read RB’s books I see: “try this and see if it sticks, if not try that.”  I actually find EFL to be more rigid? That’s not the word I’m looking for but I can’t quite get a better one…  That’s not to say I’m right, this is a situation where I’m happy to be told that I’m way off base, lol.

 

The other issue I have is that I don’t switch gears very easily.  For example, I've discovered that I don’t function well with loop type schedules.  For a while I tried alternating days between Russian and English as a way to cut down on the overall time we spend on school each day, but I found that I was not doing a good job with either language.  It’s funny because I’ve always been a fairly spontaneous person (drove DH nuts when we were first married) but when it comes to school and housework I need a very clearly laid out plan that doesn’t require decision making.  In fact, in complete contrast to the way I was until a few years ago I find anything other than a “do the next thing” type of routine in my life to be completely paralyzing.  That may be a result of the instability we’ve experienced over the years due to various factors, the most recent being aging parents, and recognizing that the children needed structure even when I didn’t and then that translating to me becoming dependent on structure to be able to be at least a somewhat decent mother.  Long winded way of saying this is why I have been tempted to all-in-a-box type curriculum in the past and the only reason I’m no longer tempted is because I’ve come to realize that there isn’t a box that would be a good fit anyway.  But, school gets done better and more consistently when I am basically doing the same thing day in and day out and don’t have to plan a different type of lesson for each day.  I try to break things up on Saturdays if we end up doing school that day (hence my toying with incorporating The Private Eye) but otherwise I need something that can easily go on a checklist to be checked off and forgotten about until the next day!

 

I think I do have a few things figured out about school though and so far have cut down the school work for her to 1.5 hours (not counting reading aloud time and violin practice), but she is done with most of the day's chores, all of her academics and all required music practice by 11:30 and usually just continues playing her violin till it’s time to fix lunch.

 

I cut out our group work.  Before I got pregnant, during breakfast I would read a Bible story and from the Lives of the Saints.  Then, while the girls cleaned the kitchen and I’d do things like start supper or bread dough, Ladybug would narrate from what I read over breakfast and we would sing and recite poetry we were learning together, ending with very brief Latin and French lessons after my chores were wrapped up.  It worked great and didn’t add any extra “school” time.  This hasn’t been working out: I don’t have enough mental energy to multitask these days so this time was pushed to after the morning routine ended.  Well, it began to feel too much like the magic Circe “morning basket” and I’d get stressed out if chores weren’t done quickly enough to allow enough time for our group and individual work before lunch and sometimes the group work would mean I’d be too tired to read aloud.  Not to mention the fact that the girls stopped being interested in memorizing the same poems and Itsy can’t stand Latin or French (except when we sing or do something like Easy Lessons in Verse) and while I could get her to participate while she was wiping the table, it became a battle when French and Latin started feeling like “school” to her.

 

I’d still like to do some of the things we were doing since we’ve missed them over the past couple of weeks, so I’m moving the readings to our read aloud time, but I’ll probably have Ladybug narrate less often if at all.  (Would requiring her to narrate to me from what she read during Quiet Time be too much of an imposition of school on what is technically her leisure time?  Hmm…)   I am thinking of making a CD of hymns and songs that I’d like for them to learn and playing that in the car when we’re out.  Easy Lessons in Verse can be done just one-on-one with Itsy since she enjoys that and Ladybug doesn’t really need it and I can use the Petites Causeries to give a 1-min French lesson to Ladybug (she’s really motivated to learn French so that she can understand DH and I when we are trying to communicate something we don’t want the children to understand – I laughed at the anecdote in the Governess book about the mother and father speaking French to each other for the exact same reason.)  But, this is all still speculation and I won’t be able to try it till next week.

 

What has been implemented for the past two weeks and working out well is as follows:

 

Nothing has really changed as far as Little Man.  I teach him much in the way EFL recommends giving very brief observation lessons and teaching him nursery rhymes as opportunities present themselves during the day.  He usually accompanies me on my morning walk so that’s fairly easy.  Oh and now we have a dog and a cat so even more opportunities for observation lessons!  The biggest change from either of the first two is that I am not making any effort to teach him anything to do with the written word unless he specifically asks me about a particular letter which happens maybe once or twice a week.  He’s taken to pulling out the white board and writing his “letters” on it in imitation of Itsy.  In the past, I would have used that as a teaching moment to show correct formation, now when he brings me the board to show off I smile, nod my head and keep working.

 

After morning chores I read aloud.  This is purely just reading, if I tried to make it more than that: discussion, learning content subjects, etc, it wouldn’t get done.  I do answer questions if they come up but for the most part they are content to just listen and sew or weave – Little Man usually plays nearby after I’ve read “his” book(s).  This lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on how much stamina I have.  Not sure how that will change once I add Bible stories and Lives of the Saints to our line up.  Maybe I will alternate what I read so that I read something more targeted towards Itsy one day and Ladybug the next.  I don’t think I want to read for longer than what we’re already doing.

 

Then I work one-on-one with Itsy for about 15 minutes.  All our work is in Russian, so y’all won’t find that interesting, but I will say that I managed to cut out the primer and figured out how to teach her reading using the poem that we’re memorizing.  I’ve also been doing an observation lesson with her that’s usually somehow connected to the poem and we spend about 2-3 minutes practicing a cursive stroke either on a dry erase board or paper depending on how the mood strikes her.  All this is thanks to EFL: it is radically different from how I was educating Ladybug at age 5, and I’m fairly confident that I can consistently continue this even with a newborn because it is so darn simple: I just have to make sure to do it!  Occasionally (like once every two or three weeks) she will pull out the magnetic letters during quiet time but that’s about the extent of her interest in school type work.  One thing I need to get back to doing though that got dropped during the first trimester and never started up again for lack of discipline on my part is praying with her before bed.  I really need to overcome that and face up to the fact that this is now long term neglect.

 

Ladybug does her arithmetic while I work with Itsy.  She’s back to doing EFL’s lessons exclusively.  Actually, she’s not doing even that: she’s just memorizing her addition facts.  In the fall she was working through the MM money workbook and using flashcards that I had picked up at goodwill.  Well, come to find out she had almost zero retention of addition facts despite using those flashcards daily.  That was rather mind boggling to me because I knew EFL recommended flashcards until I realized it was probably because the answers were printed on the back and it was boring so she wasn’t really paying attention just flipping them back and forth over and over.  So over Christmas I made up cards exactly as EFL suggests and she’s been working through those with her abacus for the entire 15 or so minutes.  I can already tell that her retention rate is way higher than before.  I’m going to have her continue this till the end of January and then go back to EFL’s lessons + 5 minutes of flashcard work daily (at which point she’ll hopefully continue using the flashcards for subtraction).

 

Itsy goes off to play, usually with Little Man.  Ladybug and I spend about 15 minutes on Religion and Latin.  This consists of a catechism question, a Bible verse and then the Latin textbook.  The way I’ve reconciled EFL’s recs for Latin memory work and my own wish to do more of an interlinear approach and to be less overwhelmed with how much there is to learn is to have her memorize several verses in English and then go back and memorize the same ones in Latin.  So, she knows Genesis 1:1-5 in English, we’re learning it in Latin.  After this is learned I’m not sure if we’ll continue to memorize all of Genesis 1 or jump to something else.  We never did end up memorizing Luke2 in Latin and only got through part of it in English before Christmas so maybe we’ll go back to that.  Or since about half of her cousins are MP users I’ll have her learn the MP recommended verses as a way of providing a unified family culture.  I’m very happy with finally figuring out a way to add Bible memory to our curriculum on a regular basis.  We’re in the Bible belt with 99% of the extended family being Protestant and I’ve felt guilty about the fact that Ladybug and I knew so little of the Bible by heart.  I just need to figure out if I want to follow EFL’s advice of “chapters” or the more modern verse approach.

 

Then we have our “language hour.”  We spend anywhere from 20-30 minutes on each language.  I went back and forth on the spelling issue over Christmas trying to figure out how to handle it.  Some background: When I first started teaching her to read in English I would dictate sentences to her from the phonics lesson (I was using How to Tutor at the time because it had cost me all of $.50).  As I became more and more frustrated with HTT I discovered Spalding and we started that.  Around this time I had to go back to work and got her CHC’s spelling book for DH to supervise on the days that I worked, on those days he walked her through the Howell Primer while I continued Spalding on my days off.  Well, her reading really took off with the Howell Primer, she went through that and the CHC readers fairly quickly and I kind of felt Spalding was redundant so I dropped that and let her finish up the CHC spelling book.  Then I came back home and we didn’t do any spelling for a while: we continued some phonics with Webster’s but for the most part I was fairly happy with her progress in reading, I figured her spelling would catch up and I was dealing with some health issues anyway from burn out.  That’s when I decided to embrace EFL.  We worked through  a good chunk of EFL’s lists but never moved on to spelling from Hiawatha.  Then for a while we did the Aesop’s lessons I described on the old thread where she’d write out a fable with phonogram tiles, we’d talk about the spelling and she would use that for her copywork.  Then, of course, crisis mode hit and she started using R&S independently with me just giving her a weekly test (on which she did fine at the time!).  She still can’t spell.  If she could at least spell basic words I’d not fret about it, but she can’t spell things like “thank you” or even “nine.” Looking over the things that she has written during her free time (which isn’t a lot) at least every other word is misspelled in some cases to the point where the words themselves are not recognizable.  She doesn’t even realize that things are misspelled: when I ask her to read what she’s written she reads the word that she meant to write even if sounding it out it sounds entirely different.  I have to make her stop and sound out the word one letter at a time before she realizes that she’s misspelled it.  Looking back over the copywork she did while I was bed ridden, I find that it is full of mistakes (and this is from copying something she was interested in and was below her reading level!).  As I thought through all this over Christmas I concluded that I have to cut out the independent work.  It is far better for me to supervise her for thirty minutes daily than to teach for 15 (going over the poem, giving her a spelling test, etc.) and have her work independently for 45 (spelling, handwriting, copywork) every other day.  This was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad I learned it fairly quickly (not really, I should have immediately caught on to what was going on as soon as we resumed lessons together mid-fall).

 

Here’s what we’ve been doing since December: she’s relearning the phonograms with flashcards.  Then I read a line or two from Horatius (during Advent it was Luke 2) and we talk about meaning/content/etc per EFL’s guidance on Miles Standish.  Then I dictate the line(s) and she writes with phonogram tiles.  We talk about the spelling of each word and I give her the rule but don’t stress it.  Next day, I use one or two of the multisyllable words to talk about multisyllable phonics using Webster’s as needed for extra practice.  She rereads the line(s) that she wrote with phonograms and she writes them from memory into her notebook.  So far we’ve managed to get through the first stanza.  It is really painful for me to go so slowly and it really does take at least 20 minutes each day, usually the whole 30.  But, I think she needs the visual cues that the phonogram tiles provide and she needs the practice with phonics.  Even in these two weeks her reading aloud has improved greatly (the level she scores at on a grade-level reading test is totally removed from the books she’s actually reading – she loves to read and it was quite a shock to me to realize that she pronounces many words incorrectly).

 

I love the fact that she’s finally learning a poem in the way EFL recommends (being able to write it correctly from memory as well as recite it), but I don’t know if this will impact her ability to spell long term.  The first couple of days I tried adding a couple of words from the Ayers list for her to spell but the English lesson would end up taking up too much time.  Plus, I’m not sure how well learning lists of words works in long term spelling either.  What I’m thinking of doing is simply memorizing Horatius (with the necessary discussion/explanation along the way) and then doing a dictation from Dictation Day by Day.  It would be a more graded approach with more review built in.

 

I don’t know what to do!  I hate to switch things up after only trying something for two weeks, but I also want to make sure we have a solid routine in place for when the baby comes.  I’ll probably need to take up 3-6 weeks off from school with her and she’ll just have to go back to copywork for that time, but I want to be able to just jump right back in to where we were before without trying to figure things out all over again.  And, if I have enough mental energy and we were going over Horatius entirely orally then we could potentially start that up even before we add in other school work so she wouldn’t necessarily be working entirely independently during the postpartum period.

 

 

If you got through all that, God bless you!


  • elizahelen likes this

#65 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 21 January 2017 - 01:50 PM

Over here, I'm looking for EFLfriendly ideas for keeping notebooks for "appreciation" of art, music, literature, etc. Not a list of works to study just a way of keeping our notes on these subjects in order, and keeping a record of the works we've enjoyed and thought about. It could be a plan for organizing a handwritten notebook, or some simple reproducible pages to fill in. (A while back, I tried giving the children some cute reading logs, but most of them haven't been filling the pages in voluntarily, so I've decided that this is going to be more in the realm of "official schoolwork." So we might as well use 3ring binders. )

 

 

I’d love to discuss this, but I’m not going to be of any use, sorry!

 

There are days when I feel like the mother who aspires to be an unschooler, decides to take the plunge, realizes her kids aren’t interested in doing projects and the like and drops it all declaring that unschooling either doesn’t work or isn’t for her family.  Never mind that the kids are spending hours reading or watching educational stuff on YouTube based on their interests, because it doesn’t fit in with her vision of what unschooling is it must not work.  I kind of have the same difficulty when it comes to EFL’s methods.  I was so inspired by her talking about the 8 year old girl whose notebook has various poems that the girl loved and copied (and presumably learned voluntarily) all beautifully decorated, of course.  To that end I presented my girls with pretty notebooks and pointed out the magazines and other oddments that they were free to cut out and paste and had visions of them carefully pouring over them day after day during our quiet time, taking pride in their neatness and learning to differentiate between the truly beautiful and the cheap and gaudy.  Itsy spent almost two hours on that first day pasting pictures of animals she had cut out from the zoo magazine and looking up their names in a picture word book and painstakingly copying them underneath each picture.  Ladybug was thrilled with the beautiful notebook, immediately found a picture from a reenactment and copied the first two stanzas of Fr. Ryan’s Sword of Robert Lee beneath (and this was when she was still writing very very slowly!).  I went on with my day in homeschooling bliss and even considered starting a blog.  But, the enthusiasm ended that very day.  Itsy never touched the notebook again.  Ladybug has pulled it out once or twice over the past year to paste in odds and ends and to make a title page for the notebook but both girls prefer to spend quiet time reading (or in Itsy’s case listening to audiobooks) and crafting.  I felt the same way when Ladybug decided on Horatius over the Lady of Shallot.  I had waited and waited to finally share this poem that I had loved and learned in my own youth (I even wrote my IB English term paper on Tennyson!) and she preferred to do what her boy cousins were doing.

 

I don’t want to make notebooking part of school work, I worked very hard this Christmas to streamline things to the point where they would have their afternoons completely free.  Yet I feel like Ladybug esp is missing out on so many benefits by not keeping a notebook of some kind (I suggested a gardening notebook, showed how mine was set up, nope.  Showed her the Diary of a Victorian Lady and Claire Walker Leslie’s books, not interested…).  But, I think I just might swipe your outline when she’s older and ready for a slightly longer school day with more independent work.

 

Oh and as far as the bound vs. binder notebook, EFL actually mentions using a binder (or at least that’s what it sounds like: a loose-leaf notebook with a stiff black cover)

 

 

I don't know much about specifics, but it's certainly wise to keep them close to you, and set aside a certain amount of time each day for songs, little chores, and general "practice obeying Mommy."

 

 

Again, only got three here and they are all still very young, but this just about sums up what I’ve come to conclude in my brief experience.  I would also add it lots of prevention depending on the needs of the particular child.  With Itsy, I have to give lots of warning during transition times, esp. if we’re transitioning to something unpleasant like cleaning up toys.  With Little Man I have to make sure that he gets plenty of outdoor time and a good rest in the afternoon (he’s dropped his nap but I make him lie down with me anyway: I need the nap!).

 

 The governess book suggests that children can often be calmed with some sort of washing or grooming such as wiping the face gently with a warm washcloth which seems to serve a similar purpose.

 

 

I had heard this before but it never worked with my kids.  It is very helpful after they are already calm as a way to give them a “clean slate” with which to start over in a new direction (and it feels better to have a clean face after one’s been crying or screaming).


  • ElizaG and elizahelen like this

#66 extendedforecast

extendedforecast

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2149 posts

Posted 23 January 2017 - 04:40 PM

I started reading the first thread. My homeschooled children are 6 and 8. Is it too late to start? And by start I mean implement. It seems as if she was talking about 3-5 year olds.

Edited by extendedforecast, 23 January 2017 - 04:41 PM.


#67 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 26 January 2017 - 11:20 AM

Starting early is supposed to be best, and her published books and articles are mostly aimed at mothers who are wondering what to do with their little ones.  At the time, though, she did accept older children into her schools, and worked with parents who started homeschooling at different ages.   Those parents would have had the chance to correspond with her directly, and get advice that was tailored to them.   Since we don't have this option, we have to be willing to dig around for the relevant bits, and engage in some trial and error.

 

So it depends on what you're interested in.   In my experience, her books aren't going to provide a straightforward and complete how-to guide if you're starting at those ages.   (I'm not even sure they serve that purpose for the youngest ones, TBH, unless your family lives an unusually old-fashioned lifestyle.)  But it's never too late to start considering and applying her overall ideas about education and family culture.   They've made an immeasurable difference to us.  :001_smile:


Edited by ElizaG, 26 January 2017 - 11:26 AM.


#68 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 01 February 2017 - 11:14 AM

Starting early is supposed to be best, and her published books and articles are mostly aimed at mothers who are wondering what to do with their little ones.  At the time, though, she did accept older children into her schools, and worked with parents who started homeschooling at different ages.   Those parents would have had the chance to correspond with her directly, and get advice that was tailored to them.   Since we don't have this option, we have to be willing to dig around for the relevant bits, and engage in some trial and error.

 

So it depends on what you're interested in.   In my experience, her books aren't going to provide a straightforward and complete how-to guide if you're starting at those ages.   (I'm not even sure they serve that purpose for the youngest ones, TBH, unless your family lives an unusually old-fashioned lifestyle.)  But it's never too late to start considering and applying her overall ideas about education and family culture.   They've made an immeasurable difference to us.  :001_smile:

 

:iagree:

 

My eldest is 8 and at the moment there are only three of them and I only actively started implementing EFL’s methods during the 2015-16 school year, so take all this for what its worth (all quotes are from Bookless Lessons).

 

The “is it too late” issue depends on why one thinks it’s too late.  For me, I often struggle with giving up because “it’s too late” due to the fact that I am pretty far from being a good EFL mother.  I easily fit the picture of the over-schooled, undereducated, undisciplined and frankly just plain old lazy modern.  For another mother starting with older kids the issues might be different.  She might be incredibly hard working and diligent, but maybe had not been successful at passing that down to her kids (I know women like this in real life).  Or, maybe character issues are under control but academics are lagging behind for whatever reason (I know families like this in real life too and per EFL that’s actually not a bad place to be in).  Whatever the case, I don’t think it’s really ever too late, but what gets addressed first and how well one can implement a full EFL system (if that’s even possible, lol) would be limited.

 

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I jumped on board the (still very small!) EFL bandwagon was looking at her work as dealing primarily with how to deal with academic subjects.  I felt far more secure in the character department than reality warranted and I was mainly looking towards implementing her ideas for mathematics and language lessons.  The stumbling blocks I’ve encountered have been more due to that mindset than to the ages of the children.  So, in thinking about the “is it too late” issue, I have found it helpful to constantly go back and remind myself of EFL’s overall view of what an education is:

 

“It is generally admitted that the right education of children is the most important business in the world…  All good parents…are agreed that they would like their children trained to be upright, faithful, prompt, precise, orderly, obedient, self-controlled; ready to acknowledge their mistakes, to respect the rights and property of their neighbor, to adapt themselves to actual conditions, to work without waste of time and effort.  They would set a high valuation on reverence and humility.  They would like to see labor and duty become the habit of life, setting so easily on the wearer that there is no newness or harshness in physical exertion, mental effort, or moral obligation.”

 

So far, as EFL herself points out, there is no school work involved.  And indeed, I am blessed to know people who exhibit those very qualities who can barely read or even if they can read fluently, don’t ever reach for a book.  Observing and learning from them, I’d give up all of my formal education (what EFL would call book-learning) to be an individual who exhibits the above qualities.  And per EFL, those traits are far more important to a child than what method you might use in schooling:

 

“Now, if we add to the foregoing qualifications the instruction that opens the various gates of the mind, sharpens the desire for knowledge, and leads to the love of good books, it would scarcely be necessary to instruct the young learner even in the elements of reading or spelling or writing or arithmetic, so well equipped is he to complete his education for himself and by his own efforts.  Such a boy or girl is educated in the fullest, finest sense of the word…”

 

My take away from EFL is that my primary role as the mother and teacher of my children is to train myself and my children to be virtuous.  And thankfully, as a Christian, I have real hope that as far as developing virtue goes, it’s only too late when we’re dead.  Furthermore, these are traits that can be acquired and developed no matter what one’s life circumstances are and whatever time period one is born into.  And because we are such a diverse group in different parts of the world with such varied backgrounds how I train myself and my children, what I do or do not allow, etc. might be very different from how another mother might go about doing so.  So for a mother encountering EFL’s works for the very first time, worrying that her kids are too old, I’d recommend focusing on her advice on discipline, play, work and religious education/morals.  There’s no need to radically redesign what the home school looks like right away and hop to using EFL’s methods over whatever other curriculum/philosophy one’s been attached to up till now.  In my limited experience, small changes that have big impact are best.  The things that have the biggest impact are matters of character and it is never too late to correct these, though it is harder as the kids get older.  And it’s comforting to know that despite her insistence that 3-7 is the golden age for child training, EFL presents us with several examples of late bloomers.  Also, you might find out that before adding things in, as far as academics go, it might be better to start by cutting things out.

 

For this, I highly recommend reading and reading EFL’s own words as much as possible.  These discussions are really useful for getting help with the application part for one’s particular circumstances and feel free to ask advice for implementing/knitty gritty type things, but there is no replacement for encountering EFL’s ideas through her own words.  Speaking of which, I’ll end with the following from one of her letters to a mother: it took a long time for this to sink in for me so I want to make sure that folks worrying about it being too late to “implement EFL” see this (emphasis mine):

 

“Use your own ingenuity to the full.  Just as far as possible I want a child trained according to the parents’ ideas.  This calls for originality on their part.  It is better that you do these things in your way than in my way.  I fuss about poor teaching in the schools.  School men come to my school, watch the work, then say: “But our teachers cannot teach in the way you do.”  My retort is: “I never asked that they should teach as I do.  I only ask that they be given only those things to do that can and should be done; next that they be held responsible for results but permitted to arrive in their own way at the desired end.”


  • ElizaG likes this

#69 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 06 February 2017 - 04:50 PM

Once again, I'm kind of stuck over here.  Looking back, I think I've made good progress in clarifying our goals, helping the children to develop everyday skills, and improving my own attitudes.  But overall, we just barely seem to have it together, even on better days.  We're just getting over a long stretch of illness that's made this very clear.  I'm pretty sure that what's holding us back now is my neglect of two of EFL's standards:  regularity of schedule and "simplicity of surroundings."   I thought these might gradually improve themselves as I sorted out my priorities, but apparently not. 

 

DH seems to interfere the most with our schedule, but I could solve this by taking full responsibility for bedtime (waah), and serving meals at a set time whether he's ready or not.   The clutter is more of a solid problem, literally.  We've been getting rid of things, but evidently not fast enough to make a difference.   Will have to get much more drastic about it. 

 

On the up side, all of this illness and bad weather has given me time to read some more early 20th century housekeeping advice, including two interesting home economics novellas by Kathleen Norris: The Treasure and Uneducating MaryThe Treasure is one of her early works, and is available online.  It centers on a servant who's been professionally trained in housekeeping, in a fictional institute that was evidently based on the Boston school of Ellen Swallow Richards (called "Eliza Slocumb Holley" in the book).   

 

I don't think any of Norris's characters had to homeschool a bunch of children, but at least I don't have to host bridge luncheons or worry about having my hats remade in the current fashion, like her middle-class heroines.  Nor do I have to restore a decrepit 400 acre fruit ranch or wash diapers by hand, like her poor ones.  So my problems begin to seem much more surmountable.  :laugh:


  • extendedforecast and SweetandSimple like this

#70 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 10 February 2017 - 03:20 PM

I've also been thinking -- or trying to think -- about tact.   It certainly isn't one of my strong areas, as is obvious from some of my old posts (sorry, y'all :o), but according to the authors of these vintage books, it's just about the most important skill for the parent, teacher, or homemaker.   Mothers and governesses, in particular, are constantly being advised of the need to "summon up every ounce of tact" to navigate everything from toddler discipline problems, to children's discouragement about schoolwork, to difficulties with other adults.

 

So... whatever happened to tact?  I can't remember seeing it mentioned in advice for today's parents and teachers.  It seems to have disappeared from view along with the older methods.   In fact, it's now so obscure that it seems to only be written about in phenomenological treatises:laugh:

 

I haven't read any of that author's books yet (just ordered a cheap copy of one), but from the descriptions, I get the impression that he assumes that parents are naturally tactful in teaching their children.  Sad to say, this doesn't seem to be the case for me, or for quite a few other parents I've met.  It's not exactly that I lack the ability; I can do this surprisingly well, when I remember it.  But it's incredibly draining of "psychic energy," as EFL would say.

 

Maybe this is normal, though?  And we should expect to have to scale back our efforts in other areas, to direct more of our energy into this most important channel? 

 

I feel as if this might be the #1 area in which my education didn't prepare me for my vocation.   And might actually be making this harder.

 

Just the usual round of somewhat burned-out Friday thoughts!  :laugh:  :leaving:


Edited by ElizaG, 10 February 2017 - 03:23 PM.


#71 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 10 February 2017 - 08:53 PM

I feel as if this might be the #1 area in which my education didn't prepare me for my vocation.   And might actually be making this harder.

 

Just the usual round of somewhat burned-out Friday thoughts!  :laugh:  :leaving:

I'll join you on the burned-out Friday musings.  You mean bluntness isn't a virtue?!?!?!  Seriously, though, until recently I not only lacked tact I thought my lack of it was a positive quality.  I still lack tact, but I've learned via some painful experiences that tact (and discretion and patience) is essential in human relationships.  Not sure how to correct it at this point, it is a truly multi-generational, cultural issue in my case.  But, it's an issue that I have to solve because tact is definitely a necessity with at least one of my children and would most likely benefit all of them.  Thankfully, DH tends to be tactful (sometimes infuriatingly so!) and I hope that when that particular child is a teen he will help balance out my faults.  But, it would be foolish to depend on that.

 

I’ve also been reflecting over the last several months on your posts about home school sabotage and have wanted to post but our circumstances are so different I don’t think anything I say would be helpful, except maybe to show some solidarity.

 

My situation is kind of opposite to yours: DH’s job provides a very necessary structure.  When he’s working, I get up early and we have meals mostly on time and after a full day getting in bed at a reasonable hour comes naturally and he's just as motivated to get the kids to sleep on time as I am.  So, when things are going well, they really do seem to go very well and I’m fairly content with things (which can be a problem in itself because then I get restless and want to add in more – ruining a good thing – I think this would fall under self-sabotage).  Summers are hard on us though because DH is home all day and he does not have any sort of schedule or routine for his own activities (he works a lot but in his own way - sometimes into the early hours of the morning) and I suffer from the lack of external constraints.  Though I will add that all of us are happier to have him home than not, despite the difficulties.

 

Around here, there are two major reasons for why we really haven’t made as much progress as I think it is reasonable to expect: life interruptions and burn-out.  In the first case, although I’m fairly happy with how we now function in “crisis” mode as compared to before I don’t seem to be capable of bouncing back efficiently: it takes way too long to reestablish normality.

 

Edited to remove TMI.

 

The other hindrance I’ve experienced is burn-out.  In order to function effectively I pretty much have to limit “me-time” drastically.  It’s not that I don’t get physical rest: I make sure to nap and get enough sleep overall (when there isn’t a crisis), but discussing various issues with older country folk and observing the Amish and Mennonites there is definitely an element of the “Protestant Work Ethic” that contributes to the success of truly effective large families.  The proper attitude for the mother seems to be that her time is never really her own and even the way in which she spends her “free time” seems to be oriented towards the family.  For example, in the evenings when chores are done and the younger children are put to bed the mother of a large farm family is probably spending time playing games with her husband and older children (or if they are more modern watching TV), or sewing a quilt (again, while watching TV if they have one) or preparing home school lessons until it is time for bed.  The attitude is that idle hands lead to the devil’s work.

 

And when things run well around here that’s how I function as well: I tend to spend the evening puttering to make sure that the next day starts well, if I read it tends to be “how-to” reading to help me be a better mother, teacher or housekeeper.  I might spend my down time working on drawing up plans (meals, school, garden/animals) or learning something that I’d like to teach the kids (usually for observation lessons).  In a best case scenario I might knit or read a novel, lol.  We’ll take day trips or go to the zoo and museums and such things on weekends.

 

But, the thing is, although most of these things should fall under the category of "restful" and I enjoy all these things well enough I really miss reading and writing and get burnt out if my life constantly revolves around the practical or even just “activities.”  I can’t spend thirty minutes here and there on reading something truly difficult (the way Terri Maxwell suggests with her 30 minutes of sewing every day).  So, every once in a while I just quit everything and study.  The result is, of course, that the house falls apart, I tend to react to the children rather than act and the various critters around here decide that I’m running a free chicken buffet.  After a couple (or more) of weeks of this, I sigh, put away my “ambitions” and get back to my duties (overwhelmed by the piles of laundry and clutter).  Not even really rejuvenated but simply depressed that I neither accomplished anything nor been effective as a wife and mother during that time.  This hasn’t happened for a while because of life interruptions over the past year, but I do feel burnt out over not having leisure time.

 

I don’t really see a solution to any of this.  I’m not super woman.  Even when I am reasonably healthy I tend to move very slowly as far as cooking and housework go (even quick 30 minute meals tend to take at least an hour for some reason).  And the fact is, it takes a lot of work to provide the sort of structure/atmosphere where children flourish even when there isn’t a crisis and looking at the schedule I just can’t carve out Sertillanges’s magical hour and a half.  We have 1200 sq ft and less stuff than most people to begin with but I’m still constantly decluttering and rearranging.  The children do a lot of chores but there still seems to be a never ending amount of work for me to do because even the most mundane tasks seem to take forever at the speed I'm moving.  That’s not to say that I see it as drudgery (most of the time, lol) or that I’d fundamentally change anything about the life we’ve chosen, but these are challenges I haven’t figured out how to overcome yet.  On the other hand, it does make me incredibly motivated to continue to stick with EFL’s guidance because I do not want my girls to struggle as much as I have in adjusting to being wives and mothers.  And I definitely want all my children: “to see labor and duty become the habit of life, setting so easily on the wearer that there is no newness or harshness in physical exertion, mental effort, or moral obligation.”  Because at the end of the day whether in or out of crisis labor and duty are not my habits and I still find physical exertion harsh and new and unpleasant (esp in the summer time when the garden needs weeded, lol) and whatever the outside circumstances it’s really those things that are the ultimate stumbling blocks for me.

 

Oh boy, this turned out to be way longer than I meant and it’s not at all helpful.  I guess I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.  I’ll probably regret posting it and go back and delete it later so please don’t quote.


Edited by ltlmrs, 10 February 2017 - 09:21 PM.

  • ElizaG, SweetandSimple and elizahelen like this

#72 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 10 February 2017 - 10:19 PM

I've been thinking about what kind of EFL update to offer lately, and a burnt-out Friday one sounds about right. We're still trying to dig out from the chaos of the first trimester - I wasn't quite as physically ill this time around as I have been before, but I did not do so well on the emotional/mental/spiritual front. In retrospect, I probably should have done something about it, although I'm not sure what. Talked to my midwife and/or priest at least, I guess. Oh well.
 
Anyway, suffice it to say, lately I've been doing more thinking about things than doing things. Thinking about where we're at, what is "working" and what areas continue to be a struggle - or outright fail. In some ways, I think I've made a lot of progress in clarifying what we are after in this whole home education endeavor - really, what we are after in our family life altogether. But there are some pretty big pieces that I know are important, essential, but are still basically a black box. 

So lots of ruminating, going back over old territory, trying to figure out what I'm missing/not seeing. I even went back and reread my foundational motherhood text that I first read while expecting my now-eight-year old - (don't laugh) The Continuum Concept.
 
I'm not sure if I can articulate the issue that I'm particularly grappling with and I may delete this, but here's an attempt:
 
I completely agree with what ltlmrs has said about the preeminent importance of character-forming in EFL's understanding. I think what I'm trying to do is square that with what she also says and I have found to be absolutely true in our experience about how children learn. I think when I started this EFL thing, I thought the character-forming was something that required the mother to be very active, very vigilant, very...a bunch of stuff I am not naturally. But despite the fact that I'm not very like those extremely energetic moms with the planners and the habit-training and the washi tape and all that, my kids seem to be thriving intellectually. Maybe not in the most conventional ways, but they are so eager to learn, truly they soak up so much and are pretty observant and make all kinds of connections that surprise me and just constantly demonstrate that they have so much interesting stuff going on in their little heads. And it's so fun!
 
On the other hand, despite me trying so hard to be a more energetic character-trainer, my effects in that area seem to be, if anything, negative. So, I'm just trying to figure this out: how is it that my more laid-back, hands-off attitude to academics seems to be leading to a lot of "self-activity" and even the pursuit of a kind of excellence, but my attempt to really focus my efforts and energy on that "most important business in the world" is ineffective at best, counterproductive at worst?
 
Somewhere EFL compares the mother's job to an orchardist, basically. That we may need to prune here and there from time to time, but we don't cause the tree to grow, nor are we needed to direct its growth. Somehow I (sort of) get this for academic matters - I'm not concerned when it takes the children a long time to learn something or they lose interest for a period in some "important" studies. I'm pretty patient, but also reasonably alert for actual "teachable moments," ready to help when they are ready to be helped. I still over-help sometimes, but I'm getting much better at realizing when I'm pushing a little too quickly and backing off. I'm reasonably good at giving gentle correction when needed. Maybe this is all part of the "tact" you are talking about, ElizaG? In which case, this all should apparently apply equally to matters of character, but I just...can't quite see what that looks like.
 
Another sort of piece to my bewilderment about all this is trying to figure out whether/which part of my difficulties are actual issues of character flaws and which are just that I have a pretty different temperament than many successful and/or self-promoting homeschooling mothers (but I am ltlmrs's twin based on her last post, haha). And how much am I reading some of those models into EFL when she actually, as in that bit ltlmrs pulled out above directed to teachers, allows for considerable variation in the service of specific goals. Or even a third option, which is that we just live in a time that is just much less supportive of what we're trying to do - one thing that rereading Continuum Concept did impress on me is how much more room for error, in a way, there was for mothers in traditional cultures. The responsibilities of child-rearing were actually shared and not everything depended on one poorly-prepared woman. Seems kind of like a smart system, although also the Yequana indians weren't producing a lot of humanist scholars, so there's that. I dunno, maybe I'm just too hard on myself (and by extension, even though I'm not meaning to be, on everyone around me) and need to chill out. Maybe we actually are doing the best we can in the circumstances and when it seems like our efforts are falling short, we need to take that as an opportunity to practice humility and trust in God's goodness.
 
Anyhoo, I also am trying to lever myself out of this funk by reading Kathleen Norris novels, although somehow I picked a couple that deal mostly with divorced women or women wanting divorces, which isn't quite as relevant to my immediate issues as the ones you've been reading, ElizaG.  :laugh:  I've also been reading the first few years of John Holt's Growing without Schooling, which are now available very cheaply on kindle (I did get my new kindle for Christmas), and sometimes it's pretty groovy, but I think he actually shares a lot with EFL in terms of how they both understand children really learn, not to mention their skepticism of public schools (and I wonder if what vintage authors referred to as "tact" is part of what modern folk like Holt mean when they talk about "respecting" children - I don't think they're exactly the same, but there might be something worth looking at there). Anyway, I've been enjoying it. ElizaG, would you share your favorite one or two titles of the vintage mothering/governessing books you've read lately?
 
Well, to try to end with some kind of productive contribution, I did happen to stumble across the answer to the question of how EFL might proceed with Latin: duh, Hiawatha.

  • ElizaG and elizahelen like this

#73 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 11 February 2017 - 12:08 AM

Very sorry to hear about your current situation, ltlmrs.  

 

I appreciate hearing your thoughts about the everyday challenges, especially the lack of opportunity for focused solitary work.   I often think about how to prepare my daughters for this sort of life, but haven't come up with a lot of ideas, beyond encouraging religious vocations (totally serious here; this was a traditional path for more bookish women).  

 

The author of the books on the "phenomenology of pedagogical tact" is Dutch (living in Canada), as it turns out.  He got into writing about education when he realized how deep the differences were between the North American and European approaches.   So maybe Tress can give us some pointers! 



#74 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 11 February 2017 - 02:07 PM

LostCove, I'll admit to reading some less-relevant Kathleen Norris novels as well.   I even got halfway through The Runaway before realizing that I'd already read it.  Shows how much attention I was paying last time!   

 

Then I came across Corra Harris (1869-1935), a southern novelist.  Making Her His Wife has some solid advice about marriage, though not about motherhood, as the characters don't have any children yet. 

 

And I'm currently enjoying Female Excellence; or, Hints to Daughters, by Esther Copley (1786-1851).  It's aimed at older girls and young women who are still at home, but there's a lot of wisdom in it that's applicable to all ages.  I might buy a hard copy for my daughters' sake.  It would fit very well with that Belgian self-education pamphlet.  

 

I find it interesting, and heartening, that there's so much common ground between women writers who lived many decades and thousands of miles apart, and also between Catholics and Protestants.  

 

It seems to me that what's missing in newer Catholic advice is the sense of patience and endurance in long-term difficult situations (including those of our own making).   When things aren't going well, we're supposed to be able to fix them reasonably quickly, through some combination of prayer and secular expertise.  At least, that's the impression I keep getting, both from books and IRL conversations.   But it often doesn't work that way. 

 

These older books take it for granted that we'll have problems that aren't always readily solved, and might not be solved at all on this earth.  We just have to accept that our vocation often includes doing without the indispensible, and coping with the impossible, as Norris put it. 

 

So, yes, I think you're on the right track.   It seems to me that we're called to make a reasonable effort, and then leave the rest in God's hands.   And "offer it up," hour by hour.   This includes offering up our failures and discouragement, when they happen.  It's not glamorous, but it seems to be the only thing that works. 

 

I think there's also a lot to the idea that we're constrained by the habits of our extended family and society.  This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing; it just is.  But it's another subject that seems taboo in my circles.  We're supposed to talk (and even think?) as if all of our family and household decisions -- not just our initial vocation -- are freely chosen, based on what we've decided is best for our own children.  This is odd, when you think about it, because Catholics often say that individualism is Protestant.   But from reading these books, I get the impression that old-time US Protestants were much more community-minded than present-day US Catholics.  

 

Yesterday, I came across several references to the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, all in different contexts.  His thinking seems to fit with some of this.  But I'm guessing that he'll turn out to be one of those authors whose work requires more than a few minutes here and there.  ;)


  • SweetandSimple and elizahelen like this

#75 Mrs. A

Mrs. A

    Hive Mind Level 4 Worker: Builder Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1173 posts

Posted 11 February 2017 - 02:33 PM

Thank you all for keeping this thread going. I only pop in to the boards sporadically these days and rarely have time to do more than skim threads, but I do always look forward to reading this one. :)

ElizaG, you mentioned notebooks - have you come up with anything that is working on that front? I would love to keep more notebooks here too, but mostly we don't really. I did start using a simple comp notebook for all of the dc's language arts needs. So narrations, copy work, spelling, Latin, and whatever else we do is all contained in one book. I tried using a bullet journal type index in the front, but we didn't really keep up with that. It is really nice to not have lots of loose paper everywhere though, and I enjoy looking back at what we've done over the year.

Interesting observations about individualism. I'm inclined to agree there. I think it has more to do with the culture rather than Catholic/Protestant at this point, though I would say that Protestant individualism has been a primary force in shaping the current culture.

Anyhow, my time is up, hopefully I'll be able to check in again sooner rather than later. :)
  • elizahelen likes this

#76 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 11 February 2017 - 03:06 PM

Our notebooks are still sort of random.   Each child has composition books for school subjects, as well as one to use as a scrapbook (which they love). 

 

My older ones take a lot of notes about their hobbies, but left to their own devices, they'd just write them on random scraps of paper.  Child #1 has mostly gone along with my request to use notebooks.  Child #2 has started using the computer for most free-time writing.   Will probably have to have a few lessons in file organization!

 

I often look at vintage used notebooks on eBay (and have even bought a couple).  Most of them are incomplete in some way, and jump around a bit.   Same goes for my own old school notebooks.  I wonder if this is just the reality of how people tend to think and write, when they're not using pre-printed workbooks.   Even with the illustrated poetry binder that EFL describes, IIRC, the child switched rather abruptly from one thing to another.  


  • Mrs. A and elizahelen like this

#77 Tomik

Tomik

    Hive Mind Larvae

  • Members
  • 2 posts

Posted 12 February 2017 - 11:19 PM

Thank you for mentioning tact. It's what I needed to read today. I am just so blunt. I also agree that tact might be what John Holt meant by respecting children. Possibly it is also what C. Mason meant by saying that children are born persons.

#78 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 17 February 2017 - 01:39 PM

 

I completely agree with what ltlmrs has said about the preeminent importance of character-forming in EFL's understanding. I think what I'm trying to do is square that with what she also says and I have found to be absolutely true in our experience about how children learn. I think when I started this EFL thing, I thought the character-forming was something that required the mother to be very active, very vigilant, very...a bunch of stuff I am not naturally. But despite the fact that I'm not very like those extremely energetic moms with the planners and the habit-training and the washi tape and all that, my kids seem to be thriving intellectually. Maybe not in the most conventional ways, but they are so eager to learn, truly they soak up so much and are pretty observant and make all kinds of connections that surprise me and just constantly demonstrate that they have so much interesting stuff going on in their little heads. And it's so fun!
 
On the other hand, despite me trying so hard to be a more energetic character-trainer, my effects in that area seem to be, if anything, negative. So, I'm just trying to figure this out: how is it that my more laid-back, hands-off attitude to academics seems to be leading to a lot of "self-activity" and even the pursuit of a kind of excellence, but my attempt to really focus my efforts and energy on that "most important business in the world" is ineffective at best, counterproductive at worst?
 
Somewhere EFL compares the mother's job to an orchardist, basically. That we may need to prune here and there from time to time, but we don't cause the tree to grow, nor are we needed to direct its growth. Somehow I (sort of) get this for academic matters - I'm not concerned when it takes the children a long time to learn something or they lose interest for a period in some "important" studies. I'm pretty patient, but also reasonably alert for actual "teachable moments," ready to help when they are ready to be helped. I still over-help sometimes, but I'm getting much better at realizing when I'm pushing a little too quickly and backing off. I'm reasonably good at giving gentle correction when needed. Maybe this is all part of the "tact" you are talking about, ElizaG? In which case, this all should apparently apply equally to matters of character, but I just...can't quite see what that looks like.

Yes, tact definitely includes knowing when to hold back.  It's basically "how to apply theoretical rules in real-life social situations."    This requires a knowledge of the rules and goals, an understanding of the other person, and at least a small toolkit of methods.   All of this can be done unconsciously, and often is.  Some old-time (mid-19th century) articles say that women and men have very different forms of tact:  the women's is all done by social intuition, and the men's has to be thought through intellectually, as in classical rhetoric.  Hmm. 

 

This is reminding me of Montessori's discovery that untrained country girls were the best at learning her method -- which is hugely based on tact, it seems to me.   Even the better M schools in our area seem to have some horribly tactless teachers, along with the good ones. 

 

As for the general questions of forming character -- I've been thinking about this since you posted it.   We don't do "habit-training" as a specific thing (except a bit for toddlers); TBH, I don't really know what that would look like.  

 

One thing I do know is that it's not picked up entirely by example.  For instance, I grew up in an orderly home, and went to very orderly public schools.   Every day, I was surrounded by order.  This did not make me orderly.  :laugh:  Somehow, in both school and home, there didn't seem to be much of a transition stage between having everything carefully planned and supervised for us, and doing it ourselves.   And it wasn't so much a lack of specific skill training, as a lack of encouragement toward the right overall orientation.  Maybe I was just exceptionally immature and dense (this is probably true), and I also know that by middle school I'd already developed some inner resistance to a system that was overly conventional and spiritually deadening.    It was basically the descendent of Victorian Protestant culture, but with all the joy and peace of Christ stripped out.  

 

So... what to do.  I could try to recreate that orderly environment of my upbringing, and re-infuse it with Christian faith -- taking, say, the governess type books or Susanna Wesley as a model -- but given that this type of system no longer exists in our circles, and I wasn't particularly good at it anyway, IDK If this would be at all helpful.  Maybe its time has come and gone.

 

This is not really helping to answer your questions, I'm sure, but just wanted to update you on the current state of stuck-ness of my thinking.  :laugh:


Edited by ElizaG, 17 February 2017 - 01:39 PM.

  • elizahelen likes this

#79 Ordinary Shoes

Ordinary Shoes

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 831 posts

Posted 18 February 2017 - 12:01 PM

I think you're right that example is not enough. I too grow up in an orderly environment but did not learn how to create an orderly home. I feel like my mother did not value those skills and was even a little embarrassed by them so made no effort to teach her daughters how to do it.

 

For example, my mother always makes her bed but I never make my bed and I feel like this signifies something important. A failing on my part. So my mother was taught to make the bed every day but she did not teach her own daughters that it was important to make our beds every day. I don't remember being taught that it was important to have a neat, orderly house but I was taught that you wanted to have a neat house in case someone knocks at the door. Orderliness was not important but the appearance of orderliness was important.

 

IIRC Auntie Leila wrote about the importance of a neat master bedroom but our master bedroom is the most neglected room in our house because no one but us sees it.


  • ElizaG and elizahelen like this

#80 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 18 February 2017 - 01:15 PM

I appreciate hearing your thoughts about the everyday challenges, especially the lack of opportunity for focused solitary work.   I often think about how to prepare my daughters for this sort of life, but haven't come up with a lot of ideas, beyond encouraging religious vocations (totally serious here; this was a traditional path for more bookish women). 

 

Yeah, surely I'm not the only one on this thread who occasionally wonders if I'm actually supposed to be in a convent somewhere?  :laugh: I'm finally reading that Vittorino da Feltre book, and this was the path he encouraged for the Gonzaga daughter he educated - dad was against it, but he died before marrying her off, and she and her mother entered religious life.

 

Yes, tact definitely includes knowing when to hold back.  It's basically "how to apply theoretical rules in real-life social situations."    This requires a knowledge of the rules and goals, an understanding of the other person, and at least a small toolkit of methods.   All of this can be done unconsciously, and often is.  Some old-time (mid-19th century) articles say that women and men have very different forms of tact:  the women's is all done by social intuition, and the men's has to be thought through intellectually, as in classical rhetoric.  Hmm. 

 

This is reminding me of Montessori's discovery that untrained country girls were the best at learning her method -- which is hugely based on tact, it seems to me.   Even the better M schools in our area seem to have some horribly tactless teachers, along with the good ones. 

 

As for the general questions of forming character -- I've been thinking about this since you posted it.   We don't do "habit-training" as a specific thing (except a bit for toddlers); TBH, I don't really know what that would look like.  

 

One thing I do know is that it's not picked up entirely by example.  For instance, I grew up in an orderly home, and went to very orderly public schools.   Every day, I was surrounded by order.  This did not make me orderly.  :laugh:  Somehow, in both school and home, there didn't seem to be much of a transition stage between having everything carefully planned and supervised for us, and doing it ourselves.   And it wasn't so much a lack of specific skill training, as a lack of encouragement toward the right overall orientation.  Maybe I was just exceptionally immature and dense (this is probably true), and I also know that by middle school I'd already developed some inner resistance to a system that was overly conventional and spiritually deadening.    It was basically the descendent of Victorian Protestant culture, but with all the joy and peace of Christ stripped out.  

 

So... what to do.  I could try to recreate that orderly environment of my upbringing, and re-infuse it with Christian faith -- taking, say, the governess type books or Susanna Wesley as a model -- but given that this type of system no longer exists in our circles, and I wasn't particularly good at it anyway, IDK If this would be at all helpful.  Maybe its time has come and gone.

 

This is not really helping to answer your questions, I'm sure, but just wanted to update you on the current state of stuck-ness of my thinking.  :laugh:

 

So, I mentioned the tact thing to DH (my exact words were something enlightening like, "So, tact? What is that all about?") and he immediately responded, because he just read a bunch of Pieper and currently categorizes everything by its relation to the cardinal virtues, "Sure, tact. Like prudence plus manners." Oh, sure, honey, now I get it. :laugh: And, coincidentally enough, I read this little bit by John Holt that goes with what you said above:

 

 

When we say someone has good intuition, or has a way with people, or is very tactful, what we are saying is that he has a very good mental model of the way people feel and behave.

 

I think I'm pretty weak on all fronts of this - my mental model, my sense of the rules and goals, and my toolkit of methods. Hmm, that may be a pretty helpful framework for working on this, though.

 

And yeah, I don't really understand what "habit-training" looks like either. I think for mothers who advocate it, what is actually working may be their "social intuition" plus their diligence in pursuing certain behavioral goals for their children? All I know is that whenever I've tried to imitate what they seem to say about their methods (which I've decided probably isn't all that descriptive of everything that is actually going on), I just feel like I'm constantly correcting my children, maybe at first with gentleness and good humor, but quickly declining into irritable nagging and eventually, if I don't just give up, harshness. So, not successful.

 

On the question of what is needed besides a good example, something I've been thinking about lately is which traits and habits of my parents I picked up and which I didn't and what accounts for the difference. Here's a mundane example: I didn't pick up the vast majority of my mom's housekeeping habits - with the exception of menu planning, which I've done faithfully since getting married. Why that? She gave me more explicit instruction in housecleaning, and I can't remember her ever involving me in menu planning or even suggesting it was a useful practice, so why is that the thing that stuck? Or why did I inherit my parents' frugality but not their hospitality?

 

Some of it has got to be a matter of temperament - I'm naturally more inclined to certain habits. But there's a lot of other things going on there. In some areas, there was, as you say, no real period of gradual transfer of responsibility for certain tasks. In other areas, I never really had any scaffolding at all and just kind of sank or swam from the beginning. I'd want to think about this some more, but I also feel like the areas in which my character is somewhat better developed are areas about which my parents did not communicate a lot of anxiety.

 

I'm curious about your musing that maybe "this type of system's" time has come and gone - would you say more about that? I'm not sure if this is relevant to how you are thinking about that, but as I continue to reflect on my struggles with order, I just keep coming back to "simplicity in surroundings," and the question of whether I'm trying to maintain order in unrealistic surroundings just because they are the kind of surroundings I'm accustomed to. Maybe I need to think even more deeply about what I'm trying to order, if that makes sense.


  • ElizaG, Mrs. A and elizahelen like this

#81 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 18 February 2017 - 01:24 PM

Oh, two other things I meant to mention.

 

A random note on notebooks: I've started letting my 8yo use my kindle to read Fr. Pavur's Latin ebooks, and he has been making great use of the notes function. DH and I have started reading his notes every few evenings, because they are so lively and hilarious! I wish I could figure out how to translate his enthusiasm into pen-and-paper notebooking, but I think part of that is just that we haven't yet achieved automaticity in penmanship. He does occasionally register his complaint that it's not fair that DH and I get to take notes in our books, but he isn't allowed to write in books, so if I were better about taking my notes in a separate book, he might do more of that also.

 

And, via Growing without Schooling, here's a EFL-ish thing that Anne Sullivan wrote that particularly reminded me of the discussion of observation lessons and sense-training in Educating the Child at Home:

I am beginning to to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is an idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of colored paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots... Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences.

 

 


  • ElizaG and Mrs. A like this

#82 ltlmrs

ltlmrs

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 841 posts

Posted 18 February 2017 - 01:42 PM

Wow, all this discussion is so helpful and needed over here right now!  I really appreciate y’alls thoughts on discipline issues, that is definitely something that I’ve mused on over the past couple of years as my parenting style has evolved.

 

LostCove, your observations on your kids’ academic progress mirrors what I’ve seen in my own kids.  I get frustrated sometimes because I wish there was more external “proof” for what I see but that has more to do with my own insecurities than anything else.  On the other hand, it can be easy to have external “proof” that children are well trained based on behavior in public and there could be all sorts of underlying issues going on and the reality might be very far removed from appearances.  And you’re right, it seems that child-rearing is a whole different beast when done in isolation than in community.

 

I also do not “habit train” in the sense of having set times/scenarios for obedience training.  To be honest, I was always uncomfortable with the notion because it didn't seem very "organic," lol.  The times I feel most successful as a mother are when I am willing to drop things and address issues as they arise.  That’s not always realistic though and it's also very easy to ignore an issue for too long and then I just nag and scold and finally lose my tempter and that's never pretty.

 

One of the things that I’ve been kind of exploring over the last several months is letting children alone, not ignoring, but simply not trying to coerce good behavior.  Speaking to old timers and people raised in functional communities abroad, what I’ve been struck by is the extent to which children were allowed freedom to make their own decisions.  Modern parenting is very big on letting children have “choices” as soon as possible, picking out which clothes to wear, what foods to eat, etc.  But, that did not seem to be a concern until quite recently (in fact, reading EFL it’s the opposite: a child’s tastes need to be trained and not given free range).  And yet, children were allowed to make real choices early on and face the consequences.  Trumbull in his Hints on Child Training gives an example (and I have heard many anecdotes of similar scenarios IRL that dealt with far more serious issues like skipping school) of a child who refuses to shut the door and the father punishing the child for being disobedient, but he adds “Be it understood, the father has no right to say, ‘I will whip you until you shut that door’; for that would be to deprive the boy of a choice, to deprive the boy of his willpower in the direction of his action: and that no parent is ever justified in doing. … The father as a father is not entitled to have his will stand in the place of his child’s will.”  It seems to me that is very different from most modern advice which suggests either via corporal punishment or gentle methods to make the child perform the action that is being required or to simply ignore contentious issues entirely (e.g. if a child refuses to clean his room, simply close the door -- which may be appropriate under particular circumstances but is not entirely helpful if said child is sharing a room with siblings).  He goes on to say in a different chapter: “Of course, there must be explicit commanding and explicit prohibiting in the process of child training; but there must also be a large measure of wise letting alone.  When to prohibit and when to command, in this process, are questions that demand wisdom, thought, and character.”  This concept of leaving alone is not something I have seen in modern works (maybe I'm reading the wrong books!).  That’s why I’m rereading this book now.  I remember there being many parts of it that I disagreed with when I read it eight years ago but now I see things very differently.  If I recall correctly although he never uses the word “tact” there are numerous examples of how to handle various situations tactfully and while respecting the child’s personality.  But, then again maybe I still won't like it, lol, I remember being suspicious of it from the beginning because it was so highly recommended in CM circles.

 

Personally, I think the “letting alone” depends on the age of the child and I think EFL indicates something similar.  She has numerous examples of “outlasting” a child until he obeys in Bookless Lessons, but that’s targeted at kids 3-7.  And again, I realize that three kids is not a huge sample and I’m not going to be at all surprised if I think radically differently once again ten years from now! but I have definitely observed that as the girls get older I have had to simply let go of the idea that it is my job to make them obey.  At this point discipline for the two older ones has meant setting boundaries and giving them opportunities to go outside those limits and accept the consequences of their choices.  I still feel that 90% of the time I’m interfering too much because I lack discernment and wisdom, but even the change in mindset has been radical for me and I do believe it has been healthier for them from what I've seen so far.

 

I can’t comment on the example issue because I never had an example of orderliness growing up.  There were six of us kids with extended family living in one household at various points in time and what I remember most was the constant chaos.  From that perspective example seems to be very effective because life tends to be chaotic except when I am directing all my energies at keeping it somewhat orderly.  Of course, that means that I then lack energy for other important things.  But, having real life examples now that I'm grown has been very helpful to me.  I find that I can read about something but it never clicks until I actually see someone model a behavior: whether dealing with a child or performing some household task.

 

I have, however, tried to focus on Leila Lawler’s advice on not looking for affirmation in the thick of things.  This is really hard for me: I want to make sure I’m on the right track!  And I’m probably not, but I take comfort from the fact that at this point I have seen enough families to know that children are resilient and plenty of less than perfect parents raising less than perfect children have by God’s grace raised admirable adults.  But, it is so very hard to be doing this in isolation!  But, that is the reality of extended families being separated, sleeper communities and commuter parishes.

 

Speaking of reality:

 

 

It seems to me that what's missing in newer Catholic advice is the sense of patience and endurance in long-term difficult situations (including those of our own making).   When things aren't going well, we're supposed to be able to fix them reasonably quickly, through some combination of prayer and secular expertise.  At least, that's the impression I keep getting, both from books and IRL conversations.   But it often doesn't work that way. 

 

These older books take it for granted that we'll have problems that aren't always readily solved, and might not be solved at all on this earth.  We just have to accept that our vocation often includes doing without the indispensible, and coping with the impossible, as Norris put it. 

 

 

 

 

This is so well put!  There is a constant struggle, if not outright rebellion against simply accepting reality.  And I’m certainly prone to this: there’s always this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that by sheer force of will and/or with enough prayer I can solve anything, but I have to remind myself that this is simply false.  We live in a fallen world, my family and I are fallen creatures and God’s glory is manifested when out of these unlikely circumstances something good actually happens.  With all the stuff going on with my dad and feeling rather low about my ineffectively run household I’ve been rereading Elizabeth Madox Roberts’s novel Time of Man.  It’s not a great “how-to” book in the sense that Kathleen Norris’s novels are, but it is a very comforting book spiritually.  It is the story of a tenant farmer’s daughter as she grows up to womanhood and motherhood.  Life is, of course, incredibly hard and over time she always has something she is yearning for, wishes that never come true:

 

“What does come true in the end—after the betrayal by her first love, after the struggle against the impulse to violence and suicide, after love and childbearing, after unremitting work and the sight of reward tantalizingly just out of reach, after betrayal by her husband and reconciliation over the body of a dead child, after the whipping of her husband, by night riders, as a suspected barn-burner—is the discovery of the strength to deal with life. … So we can see why The Time of Man fell out of fashion: the novel presents Ellen Chesser, not in active protest against the deprivation and alienation of the life of the sharecropper, but in the process of coming to terms, in a personal sense, with the tragic aspect of life.”

 

That’s from the introduction by Robert Penn Warren.  Unsurprisingly this is also not a book that has found a revival in the neo-localist, neo-agrarian renaissance in part because unlike in the novels of someone like Wendell Berry it’s not didactic or nostalgic about the way things were in early 20th century rural Kentucky. 

 

Oh and LostCove, as far as Latin goes.  It’s so funny that you brought up Hiawatha, how do you plan to use it?  I came across the Latin a while back and then found a copy in Russian (translated by a poet well respected in his own right) and had thought about having the kids learn it in Latin and Russian but on reflection I decided to stick to memorizing things in each language that make sense for that language.  So, prayers get memorized in all three languages because the language of prayer depends on who is leading it, I’m actually thinking of learning some of the basic prayers in Spanish too because we occasionally go the Spanish mass since that is the only Sunday evening mass in our area.  I’ve decided to stick to Bible memory in English and Latin with poetry memorized in the original language.  That said, I’ve read aloud Hiawatha’s Childhood to them in Russian and that was rather fun.  They also seem to enjoy listening to Mother Goose rhymes in Latin and Pushkin’s poetry in English.  But, this is never part of “lessons” and just something to occasionally bring out when time and energy allows.  I love being able to coordinate things though so I wish I could use the three versions simultaneously in some way.

 

 

 

So, I mentioned the tact thing to DH (my exact words were something enlightening like, "So, tact? What is that all about?") and he immediately responded, because he just read a bunch of Pieper and currently categorizes everything by its relation to the cardinal virtues, "Sure, tact. Like prudence plus manners." Oh, sure, honey, now I get it.  :laugh:

 

LOL!  DH tried explaining it to me via Aristotle's golden mean with tact being between bluntness and a refusal to speak even when speech might be necessary probably leaning towards refusing to speak.  Hmm, maybe he was trying to tactfully tell me something.


Edited by ltlmrs, 18 February 2017 - 01:42 PM.

  • ElizaG, Mrs. A, SweetandSimple and 1 other like this

#83 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 18 February 2017 - 10:13 PM

ltlmrs, thank you - you really articulated a lot of what I've been groping towards. EFL says somewhere, I will try to find the exact bit later, that you should only ever punish a young child for disobedience, and I really have thought about that a lot and not felt like I understood it but now might finally be getting somewhere.

 

That Trumbull example is so interesting to me, because the thing I always think of when I think about "habit-training" is also about door-shutting. Ages and ages ago, somewhere I read this thing from Charlotte Mason herself about training a child to shut the door when he goes out (although I missed her reference to tact back then, ha). And it just seems...exhausting, especially when you think about how many character traits we're supposed to be helping our children develop and how many children some of us have. And while I can imagine how a very energetic, diligent mother could inculcate all kinds of habitual actions in her children, I could never quite wrap my mind around how those kinds of habits would add up to actual virtues. And the literary examples of mothers I admire don't seem to do that much micro-managing - part of what makes their interventions effective, it seems, is that they are not terribly frequent. And, finally, in what I've read about traditional cultures, this kind of explicit training is just unheard of; children have much more freedom, but also seem to comply with expectations with much less drama.

 

But, I've continued to be bewildered about what else to do, since, as you say, ltlmrs, pretty much all of the child-rearing advice I've read, "traditional" and not, takes as its explicit aim or as the means to the end of "godly character" or whatever, getting the child to perform the actions demanded by the parent. And I can't exactly recreate a traditional culture to raise my family in. So I think I've just kind of assumed that if I were more energetic and diligent and were actually doing this kind of thing, I would be able to see how it all works out. All the very abstract reading I've done about the virtues and the ontological structure of man probably didn't really help. :001_rolleyes:

 

"Outright rebellion against simply accepting reality" - ha, YES. Wow, I've wasted so much time this way.

 

I don't know if I'll really do anything with the Latin Hiawatha besides make it available. It would be fun to read aloud the sections we have memorized in English at some point, but right now we're not getting a lot read aloud because the toddler has decided he is opposed to the whole concept.

 

Ahhh, thanks so much for this conversation, friends. I'm feeling more motivated than I have in months.


  • ElizaG and Mrs. A like this

#84 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 24 February 2017 - 03:37 PM

LostCove, I haven't forgotten about this part:

 

So... what to do.  I could try to recreate that orderly environment of my upbringing, and re-infuse it with Christian faith -- taking, say, the governess type books or Susanna Wesley as a model -- but given that this type of system no longer exists in our circles, and I wasn't particularly good at it anyway, IDK If this would be at all helpful.  Maybe its time has come and gone.

 

It's just that the longer I think about it, the less I feel able to clarify it. 

 

For instance, Montessori is orderly, but in a different way.   Not that I'm particularly good at that, either, but I've always been more drawn to it, and I feel as if at least some parts of it might be objectively better than the "managing the children" approach.  

 

While I was considering this, it occurred to me that what I've said above could also be considered in terms of media ecology.  This gets back to some of our very earliest EFL discussions.   How many of the child-rearing norms of the last few centuries have been artifacts of print culture?  

 

Barbara Rogoff's work is very interesting, but it seems that most of the cultures she's looked at are not highly literate.  From a Christian perspective, and also just for practical reasons, I wonder if it might be helpful to look back before the advent of print culture, but not all the way back to primary orality.   This was the time that brought us the New Testament, and classical education. 

 

What does an orderly family life look like in a "manuscript culture?" 


  • elizahelen likes this

#85 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 24 February 2017 - 03:43 PM

Oh, and I have it on very good authority -- from the head of a women's religious community -- that "doubting one's vocation" is absolutely Not To Be Done.  I wish there were some way to show you her expression of horror when I raised the subject.   Even if said thoughts don't actually originate with the adversary, indulging in them will certainly lead you in a bad direction.

 

We are just to pray, and plunge ahead, even if (for now, anyway) we feel as if we're making quite a mess of said vocation.   ;)



#86 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 25 February 2017 - 10:59 AM

It occurred to me that tact is closely linked with imagination.  We observe what's happening (or not happening), try to understand the other person, then imagine a possible next step and outcome.  In recent advice books, the closest equivalents I've found to imagination and tact are "creativity" and "empathy," which are sort of similar, but somehow they seem more idealistic and less do-able. 

 

This also reminds me -- when I was single, I was struck by the way my female acquaintances had two different points of view about men:  "they're like children; you have to manipulate them," vs. "you should never manipulate them; that would be undignified and wrong."   Maybe some of the former group were really as Machiavellian as they came across, and some of the latter group were really as straightforward, but I'm going to guess that in practice, most of them were using tact -- just thinking about it differently from one another (or not thinking about it at all).   Of course, some would call tact a form of manipulation, but then, some would say the same about any concern with manners. 

 

G. Stanley Hall, pioneer American psychologist, believed that girls should be taught with an emphasis on the formation of tact and taste.  This was to be done implicitly, in all school subjects, even the sciences.   This is obviously not a popular view today, and he had many opponents even in the early 20th century, but I think he was correct in recognizing that there was something of great value that was being lost in the modern school system.

 

At the same time, of course, classical education was disappearing rapidly -- and that system served, in part, to develop young men's taste and tact, albeit in a much more formal and standardized way than Hall recommended for girls.  So both genders were losing out.

 

Simultaneous with this, there was the rise of social psychology.  Now we have all sorts of media that are more and more finely-tuned to manipulate people.  In such a world, why would we need parents and educators using their tact to its full extent, anyway?   It would just interfere with the system.  :rolleyes:  

 

On a more practical note, here's something by Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (Theory of Teaching, 1841, pp. 67-8) that I found helpful. 

 

     ----------------------

 

Perhaps I should have spoken before of the necessity of children's feeling perfect confidence both in the love and justice of those who are around them; this is the germ of a higher faith, and is absolutely essential to educate them even for this world.

 

Were I to enumerate all which is required in a teacher, I might as well draw a perfect character at once; for teaching engages to all the virtues. But I am too conscious of my own inadequacy, to attempt it. The teacher should be one of those persons in whom the good and true appear agreeable. It is treason against virtue, to be good without being agreeable; that is, to think obedience to principle, in the great affairs of life, an excuse for neglecting the more delicate traits and minor charities; and when the faults of character are deficiencies, and therefore less appreciable, the evil influence on children, who cannot discriminate, is incalculable. A teacher must also possess tact; a quick eye for the right moment to impart knowledge, to praise and to chide. She should have the habit of observing physical circumstances. Physical laws are paramount with children; hunger, thirst, sleep, are on them irresistible claims: it is only when we have more to set against them, that we can ward them off for a time.

 

Not enough regard is paid to the physical peculiarities of children. A state of rapid growth and change must be a state of extreme irritability, and occasional feebleness; and this must never for a moment be disregarded, or the mind and character will suffer.  Nothing contributes more to success with children than a nice perception of their state. Those are happy whom Nature has thus favored; others must seek it by becoming acquainted with mental and physical laws, by disinterestedness, and by endeavoring to enter into the feelings of others. We may imagine how much there is in choosing the right moment, if we observe a person who always chooses the wrong one, and represent to ourselves the influence on the child. The child is eager-to examine certain tools, or to watch a glazier, and the mother calls it away to listen to a story. The child is unwilling to leave the window; she urges it, and perhaps renders it undecided between the two, which is a lasting injury; or she prevents its becoming practically acquainted with what interested it, and allows its curiosity to die away without the natural result of increased knowledge. I believe half the indecision and unreasonableness in the world is caused by such injudicious treatment; and therefore I dread to check or unsettle anything. If the balance in matters of choice and expediency, inclines ever so little one way, I throw my weight into that scale, and bring forward all the arguments on that side. Little children need this confirmation and support. I state both sides fairly at first; but after a decision, I allow no regrets or looking back. They cannot unite all advantages, and they must put those which are unattainable out of their thoughts entirely.

 

A teacher who has this tact, will find many opportunities, even with children two or three years old, to direct the intellectual activity; and I must confine myself to this at present. There is more voluntary and conscious action upon the intellect than upon the feelings. The feelings are only to be kept alive in their first freshness. Perhaps we can never be more loving than children are, though our love may embrace a wider field, or be more concentrated; but we can actually think and know more.

 

-------------------------

 


  • Mrs. A and whitehawk like this

#87 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 25 February 2017 - 01:13 PM

From p. 87 of The Advanced Montessori Method:

 

"During the first days when a new school is opened, we may consider a certain initial disorder as characteristic, especially if the teacher is making her first experiment, and consequently is handicapped by her over-sanguine expectations. The immediate response of the child to the material does not take place; the teacher is perhaps discomfited by the fact that the children do not throw themselves, as she had hoped, upon the objects, choosing them according to their individual taste. If, indeed, the pupils are very poor children, this phenomenon does nearly always happen at once; but if they are well-to-do children, already sated by the variety of their possessions, and by the most costly toys, they are very rarely attracted at first by the stimuli presented to them. This naturally leads to disorder when the mistress makes a kind of chain of that 'liberty' she is to respect, and a dogma of the correlation existing between the stimulus and the childish soul. Experienced teachers, on the other hand, understand better that liberty begins when the life that must be developed in the child is initiated, and they possess a tact which greatly facilitates orientation in the initial period."

 

So tact is essential for normalization.  And I've only been sporadically tactful, depending on my energy and concentration.  No wonder my successes in this area have seemed so random.  :o  

 



#88 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 25 February 2017 - 03:09 PM

In lieu of achieving "simplicity of surroundings" in the entire house, I think I'm going to try making our largest room into a combined Montessori area & older children's study hall, which will be completely off limits to unsupervised children aged < 10 or so.    Everything not directly related to core schoolwork and current content studies will have to find a home in another part of the house, or be given away.

 

This will require moving the toys to a more publicly visible area, but I've been thinking about doing that anyway, because it would be easier to keep an eye on the little ones while I'm working around the house.   And the primary graders really don't need a lot of indoor playtime.   In bad weather, we could still move the tables in the preschool/study room and play active games there.   (Which we can't even do now, in fact, as there's too much toy clutter.)

 

The biggest challenge for me is how to supervise the children when they're outdoors, while still getting something else done.  I've looked at blogs with tips on organization for large families, and many of them seem to solve this by keeping the little ones indoors all day.  :huh:


  • SweetandSimple likes this

#89 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 25 February 2017 - 03:19 PM

More from The Advanced Montessori Method: Spontaneous Activity in Education (p. 96).   LostCove, this relates to a discussion we were having a while back about normalization in older children.  Somehow it went right past me the first time around.

 

--------------

 

I will choose from various individual studies made by two mistresses of a Children’s House at Rome for wellto-do children, those of two children of very different characters. One of these children came to the school too late, when he was too old, and had already developed in another environment. The other is a little creature of the normal age for entrance to the Children’s Houses. The older child (a boy of five) had already been to a Froebelian Kindergarten, where he was considered very troublesome because of his restlessness. “For the first few days he was a torment to us, because he wanted to work, but could not settle to any occupation. He said of everything: ‘ This is a game,’ and ran about the class— room, 'or annoyed his companions. At last he began to take an interest in drawing.” Although normallydrawing comes after the sensory exercises, he'was left at liberty to do what he wished; the teachers rightly thought that it would be useless to insist that the child should apply himself to a different task. Indeed, this child, having passed the age when the primary materials answer to the psychical needs of childhood, was for the first time attracted by an exercise of a higher order, that of drawing. “Whereas at first the child had passed from one occupation to another, and had even taken up the letters of the alphabet, but had never settled to work with any one of the objects, now suddenly discipline was estab— lished. We do not know exactly at what moment the change took place, but discipline was maintained and perfected, and reached a higher level in proportion to the growing interest of the child in every kind of occupation. Interest having been primarily aroused by drawing, the child spontaneously went on to the rods used in the teaching of length, then to placing the plane geometric insets, and so gradually worked through all the earlier sensory stimuli which the teacher had passed over.” Thus we see that the older child chooses the objects in inverse order, proceeding almost methodically from the most'difficult to the elementary.

 

------------------

 

So... do you think this might also apply to EFL's system?  So that the older ones might start with various activities that engage them, and then work their way backwards to neatness, careful observation, memorization, and then (oh, please) good diction and eye contact?

 

Hmm, maybe I am also being normalized, which would explain why I seem to be grasping the "first things" last.   :leaving:

 



#90 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 26 February 2017 - 02:30 PM

Yeah, I know what you mean about Rogoff - and Jean Liedloff is even more problematic on this front. Right now I'm periodically reading the Cultural Nature of Human Development, and I will say she has an interesting take on what "culture" is and how people actually form and are formed by it and also does a lot of compare and contrast between different kinds of cultures on a continuum from modern hunter-gatherer types to WEIRD societies. None of them would really qualify as a manuscript culture, but there are some interesting variations as relates to literacy and schooling.

 

Did you read In the Vineyard of the Text back when we were talking about Ivan Illich? A professor recommended it to me back in grad school, actually, but I had a baby and dropped out instead of reading it.  :laugh: I think it would have gone way over my head at the time anyway, but I did just order it, with Orality and Literacy finally, too. So we'll see. I went browsing around some of that prof's work this weekend as its (quite) tangentially related to all this, but I did find an interesting argument about commonplace books, which I thought I'd post given our interest in the hows and whys of notebooking:

 

 Commonplacing was the standard reading practice of Renaissance scholars. It involved poring over texts for memorable snippets, which could then be lifted from their argumentative context and made available in notebooks for deployment in future arguments. Commonplaces thus need not be consistent one with another, and any chain of reasoning in which they initially participated rarely survived the commonplacing process. There were limits to this liberty, of course, and English writers tended to call the improper manipulation of commonplaces-improper as judged by the standards of learned conversation-"wresting." But even when properly pursued, commonplace methods tended to be poor tools for systematic criticism. They were good for identifying piecemeal omissions but less good for confronting arguments, which they tended to reduce to fragments. They often gave rise chiefly to new forms of old truths. 

So that in conjunction with the question of oral, manuscript, and print cultures, got me thinking about the differences between things like commonplacing and writing commentaries and taking margin notes in how we interact with texts. Commonplaces go back to ancient times, of course, but the commentary seems like the more typical "notebook" of medieval culture, with commonplace books emerging more in the Renaissance and early modern period as a way of managing information overload. Johns focuses on commonplacing's "inefficacy as a tool for critically examining received views," which...well, maybe, but what really struck me was how a method that involves lifting bits of things from their context for the reader's own purposes doesn't suggest a very receptive relationship between the reader and the text. We've talked about this a bit before - maybe on the Great Books thread? - whether we come to texts to really be formed by them and if, even if we say that's what we we're doing, whether our methods really support that or suggest a more analytical, critical stance.

 

Ok, that's enough on theoretical matters. More later after I help my daughter who just came in with five eggs from the chicken coop in the sleeves of her dress.  :confused1:


Edited by LostCove, 26 February 2017 - 02:31 PM.

  • ElizaG likes this

#91 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 27 February 2017 - 11:28 AM

I didn't get very far with In the Vineyard of the Text; it arrived just when I'd started getting burned out on Illich.   I'll have to dig it out. 

 

G. Stanley Hall also makes some interesting points about other cultures, including ancient and medieval Europe, although now I can't remember what they are.  :001_rolleyes:   I've mainly been reading Youth (an abridgement of Adolescence).   He clearly wants to fit everything into his preferred framework of evolution and recapitulation theory, but his observations seem sound, and he seems to have a pretty solid understanding of "pre-WEIRD" Western culture. 

 

There's a lot of complexity to his thinking about men and women.  For instance, while he agreed with the standard traditional belief that adolescent boys should have male teachers, he also suggested that women might be the ones who would take the lead in "de-universitizing" American high schools and colleges, and shaping a new humanistic collegiate curriculum for modern times -- which the men would then take and use as they saw fit.   His reasoning, as I understand it, was more or less as follows:

 

1) women always been the motivating force behind the development of men's secondary sex characteristics,

 

2) they have a special sympathy and understanding for adolescent boys, which is a hold-over from their own adolescent observations;

 

3) since women take more to humanistic studies by nature, they have retained more access to this way of thinking, even in the face of modern schooling -- the implication being that the understanding on the men's side has been more completely wiped out (and keep in mind, this was circa 1905). 

 

Interesting.   It has me feeling a bit better about having to take on so much of the responsibility for my older boys' education.   I had been going on the idea that DH ought to be heavily involved, at least 50/50, in coming up with the vision, and then I could take on the task of carrying it out.   According to the above, though, it might be fine for me to keep making high level curriculum decisions, and have him supervise the day-to-day checklist type stuff as much as he's able to.  Which might possibly even happen.  As opposed to my original idea, which -- I was forced to conclude-- wasn't going to make any sort of timely progress, unless perhaps DH got recruited into some Christian patriarchy group with its own ready-made curriculum plan (please noooooooo  :laugh: ).

 

Youth begins with a section on pre-adolescence that starts at age 8, BTW, so it might be of some immediate interest to those of you who don't yet have great hulking darlings.  :laugh:



#92 Ordinary Shoes

Ordinary Shoes

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 831 posts

Posted 04 March 2017 - 12:20 AM

I have a practical question about helping my daughter to do her assignments faster. Our daughter is in 1st grade in parochial school. Her teacher says that she is usually one of the last children to complete her work in class. Her work is accurate and neat. The teacher is concerned that she will have a hard time keeping up with the extra work in 2nd grade. The teacher is not concerned about her ability to do the work.

 

DD wants her penmanship to be neat. She is very thoughtful about what she writes. She will think about what she is going to write before she starts. She will erase and re-write a letter if it is not perfect. I think this is why it takes her longer to complete the work.

 

The teacher has recommended journaling and giving her a deadline to complete her homework. I think these are bad ideas and I think that DD's thoroughness and attention to detail are good habits. However, in school, speed and quantity of output are more important than the quality of the work.

 

Any suggestions for how to encourage DD to write a little bit faster without encouraging sloppiness?

 

I was going to ignore the teacher's concerns until an incident in school today. I assisted with Little Flowers and my daughter cried when another little girl laughed at her because it was taking her longer to finish her scrapbook page for today's saint. Little Flowers does the standard arts and craft thing. We hand out the materials and tell the children exactly what to do; cut this, glue that, etc. After they complete the craft, they make a scrapbook page copying a model. My DD was trying to read the the Bible verses that she was gluing onto her page so it was taking more time and a little girl laughed at her for being slow. DD cried. As she was crying she said that she didn't like being last to finish her work.

 

Sometimes I really hate school. :(

 

ETA that part of the issue is that she did Spalding in K where they required the Spalding handwriting rules and they do something different in her new school. They will learn cursive the end of 2nd grade which should help her to write faster.

 

 


Edited by Ordinary Shoes, 04 March 2017 - 04:16 PM.


#93 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 04 March 2017 - 04:09 PM

Ordinary Shoes, I'm sorry - that sounds difficult. It wouldn't be that fun, but perhaps more penmanship practice so that your daughter can write faster without sacrificing her standards?

 

I agree with you that thoroughness and attention to detail are good qualities, and at the age your daughter is, I would think they should take precedence over encouraging work that is merely good enough. On the other hand, as someone who persisted in perfectionist tendencies (not in regards to my handwriting, alas!) well into a stage when I need to learn to prudentially accept when good enough was good enough, I do think that is a lesson I would have benefited from some guidance on rather than being left to figure it out myself with a fair amount of unproductive shutting down in the face of deadlines that made it impossible to work to my standards. So perhaps you can see this as an opportunity to help your daughter with that, even if it is coming a little younger than might be preferred.

 

ElizaG, thanks for those great quotes - I shared the one on normalizing the older child with my husband. It matches what a Montessori trainer told me when I asked her about it - just to get the child engaged attentively with something, anything - but it certainly fills in more of what happens next.

 

I try to do a round of decluttering every year either during Advent or Lent, depending on when I'm pregnant/have a newborn, so I'm obsessing about simplicity in surroundings even more than usual right now. I had kind of had the opposite idea to ElizaG of simplifying most of the house (we have a pretty open floorplan) and reserving our one non-bedroom that can be completely closed off for the grown-ups' less-simple stuff. The simplifying, I'm realizing, is probably necessary more for me than the kids. I just really cannot overemphasize how terrible of a stuff-manager I am, and how much energy and concentration that I need to, say, be more tactful, that I spend on stuff instead, whether actually managing it or just being overwhelmed and trying to hide from it. :laugh:

 

On supervising kids outdoors, maybe a good fence? We are fortunate to have lots of space and be very far back from the road with strict, thus-far respected rules about exactly how far down the driveway the children can venture on their own, so we haven't bothered with that so far. We also just treat the outdoors as a less-supervised space with fewer rules, boiling down to don't hurt anyone and don't "borrow" dad's tools from the garage - our yard would definitely not fly in suburbia as a result. :001_smile: I do have a very easy view from the house to the part of the yard where we've strategically located the dirt pile (for serious, you guys, you need a pile of dirt, I cannot tell you how many hours of contented play we have gotten of that) and the swingset (much more expensive and less used than the dirt pile, of course) and set up the sprinkler in the summer. I also leave windows open all around the house so I can hear what's going on even if they slip out of direct view for a little bit or I have to run to another room for something. In my experience, by about age 2, I can trust the littles to stick with the crowd, and the older kids know to keep an eye out for the littles. I'm probably going to need to figure out something new soon, though, because the oldest two are getting old enough that they want to and are capable of venturing out into the far back of the property, where I cannot see from the house and the littles cannot go without an adult. I will send the almost-4yo and the 2yo out by themselves if I'm working right by the back windows, usually this is while I'm still doing lessons with the bigs - they nearly always go straight out to the dirt pile, sit down with a few spoons and hot wheels, and stay there the whole time.


  • ElizaG likes this

#94 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 08 March 2017 - 10:14 AM

Ordinary Shoes - This is such a tough one.  One of my children used to have neat-but-slow handwriting -- his cursive was even better than his printing!-- and I finally started hurrying him up around 4th grade, because the work was taking all day.  Now he no longer writes neatly, and has the attitude that he "just can't" write any better.  I showed him some of his old papers, and he was amazed that he'd written them.  

 

With these children, once the workload starts to increase, it seems necessary to explain that we tend to have two kinds of handwriting, "ordinary" and "best," and make sure they have regular practice with both.  We've kept doing formal handwriting practice over the years, but have probably taken too many breaks.  Although I'm just guessing here.  Maybe this child's writing would have slipped even if we'd been more consistent.  But the formal practice is recommended by EFL, and was done in the old-time schools -- even in the higher grades -- which suggests that it does have some effect.

 

 

LostCove, our yard is fenced, but your post made me realize that although it's one of the larger ones in our area, it's very small by rural standards.  I think it's just not big enough for the older ones, so they try to come up with ways to make it more exciting, which usually results in the younger ones getting hurt.  :001_rolleyes:

 

IDK what to do about this.  In EFL's day, the older ones might have been free to leave the property, but it's still not an option here (except short distances for the eldest), and there aren't many places to go anyway.   We saw this coming when we bought the house, but with very young children, and DH not able to commit to much yard work, I thought living farther out would be too isolating and physically difficult.  We talked about possibly moving when they got older (which sounded a lot simpler back then!), but thought there was a chance we'd have found more friends and unstructured activities nearby by now.   As it turns out, there are plenty of specialized classes, and lots of Sayers-ish co-ops and part-time schools, but nothing along the lines of drop-in recreation or "general PE," which is what we really need.   I don't know if this is due to lack of demand, or to the discovery that the Oakland public schools made when they tried EFL's system:  it takes more effort for adults to supervise children at play, than to line them up and teach them structured lessons as a group. 

 

Digressing here, but... this is something I wonder about more and more, now.   After reflecting on older ideas about home education, it seems obvious that many (all?) public school and daycare methods are optimized, not for long-term learning and character development, but for day-to-day management and crowd control.   And on realizing this, we'd naturally be inclined to take them off the table in disgust.  But then I think... how many popular homeschool methods are the same way?   For instance, I've read many blogs on scheduling and organization from mothers whose home is optimized as a learning space, but whose children appear to almost never go outside, or do anything potentially dangerous.  Then there are the numerous plans for academics that are based on a stack of books, all dealt with in a similar way -- whether workbooks, or "living books + a formula."  This is all very tempting, especially as our family gets larger.  And maybe it's not so terrible.  But these approaches seem to me to be much closer to "school at home" than their advocates would like to acknowledge.  

 

Even the large amount of childen's trade fiction and non-fiction that homeschoolers use is, I think, mostly an artifact of modern public school practices.  For one thing, it's what most of us are used to.  Beyond that, would most of these books even have been published, without the demand that comes from graded reading levels, book reports, and research papers?  I don't think so, given the difficulty I've encountered in finding children's books on subjects that don't fit neatly with the current public school curriculum.  Even if they make it to publication, there certainly aren't abundant cheap discards available. 

 

The public schools have the power to create a certain reading culture, and they have done so, with profound effects even on homeschoolers who consider themselves deeply opposed to present-day mass education.

 

Okay, I've psyched myself up to take away more books.  Look out, Landmark.  I'm not going to show you any mercy, just because you have such sturdy bindings and look so "educationally virtuous" when I line you up on the shelves.  :D   


Edited by ElizaG, 08 March 2017 - 10:19 AM.


#95 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 11 March 2017 - 09:25 PM

Hmmm, how to make the yard more exciting for the bigs without being too dangerous for the smalls. I know your oldests are older than mine, so my ideas probably aren't worth much, but I wonder if there are some tools and materials that could be only accessible to the older kids? Our oldest has a whittling knife and will spend a lot of time using it. We have found the biggest issue for him not to be safe use, but absent-mindedness, as he has from time to time left it where a little kid could get a hold of it. We initially got him a fixed-blade whittling knife out of fear of injury while opening and closing the blade, but he got a Swiss Army knife for Christmas and having something that really fits in his pocket has pretty much solved the issue of it getting left around, and so far, he has opened and closed it without incident. 

 

Also slightly more dangerous and thus requiring a bit more supervision/structure, but wood scraps, stumps, hammer and nails? Oh, various lengths and sizes of PVC could be a safer alternative. Or just really big wood blocks - there's a playground near us that has a set that seems to always attract the older siblings, who often organize a big building project while the littles do the manual labor.  :laugh: Or bricks? 

 

All ages get a lot of use out of sidewalk chalk here, and since I never, ever do messy art inside (like, not even markers), everyone gets excited about messy art projects outside. Of course, that requires a bit more set-up than just kicking everyone out the door. 

 

I'd be curious what you come up with since, as I mentioned, I think it's about to get a little harder for us to manage this issue, too.

 

Re: public school methods and the trickle-down effect, that seems totally right to me. Crowd control, and also easily measurable outcomes.

 

I was thinking about something along these lines recently when looking at a particular neoclassical writing curriculum. I flipped through it and thought...oh, we should be doing more (any) writing besides copywork...and look how easy this is to use...and when am I going to have time to read Quintillian and DIY my own progym-based composition program anyway... 

 

But then I looked at the literary models, which were mostly from vintage, "living" books (several of which we do, in fact, own) and kept thinking...hmmm, if I spend my time making the kids do this workbook, what am I not going to have the energy to do? Read Miles Standish with them? Would I actually rather they be studying M.B. Synge instead of Longfellow? And, hey, wait a minute, did Quintillian really have eight year olds doing the progymnasmata anyway? I mean, he wasn't trying to squeeze in a "classical" education while also taking his students through a 21st-century college prep high school curriculum.

 

I think part of the reason why I'm digging the Rogoff right now is that it's a reminder that "observing and pitching in" is a very natural way for children to learn - and one in which the child is doing most of the work (at least as far as the learning goes - there's plenty of other work for the adults to do!). Still not sure what that looks like in a manuscript culture, ha, but at least it keeps me thinking about what specifically I am giving my kids a chance to observe and try their hand at - and when am I maybe relying on some kind of crutch or material to try and get them to do something I don't actually do or even know much about. That may sometimes be necessary and appropriate, but it seems to require a very different kind of system to be effective.

 

Another odd part of this is how, for at least part of the homeschooling world, books written specifically for children seem to have become the key mediating material, not just for academics, which would at least kind of make sense, but for the entire mother-child relationship. When you start to consider the question of why all these books were ever published really, it's just very...interesting.

 

That being said, while I stopped buying Landmarks a while back when we discussed EFL and children's non-fiction books, I haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of the handful we already owned. I even read the Pilgrim one aloud to all the kids over lunch when we started studying Miles Standish, I guess because I was sure we should be doing something more for "context." :001_rolleyes:


Edited by LostCove, 11 March 2017 - 09:27 PM.

  • ElizaG and elizahelen like this

#96 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 18 March 2017 - 08:34 PM

LostCove, I've just started doing a more focused reading of a book that I found a while back:  Home Education by Isaac Taylor (1838).  The author lived in England (whose countryside, he argues at length, is the world's best place in which to homeschool :laugh: ), but the book was popular in the US as well.  Page 31 describes the hours of happiness that any 10-12 year old boy can spend, with just a couple of simple tools and materials.   I'm going to take this as a sign that you're right.  Though, given that mine still aren't entirely reliable about putting things away, I'm :svengo: at the thought of giving them a gimlet.

 

As for the rest of the book, it's definitely in the "better late than early" camp, perhaps to a greater extreme than the Moores et al.  I think he probably overstates his case in places, and it's a tad Rousseauian for me, but I still like it a great deal.  

 

Oddly enough, I'm finding that books from the 1810s-40s often feel more modern and relatable than ones from the later 19th century.  Maybe it's because there was less artifice?  For instance, page 59 is about tact, and he doesn't assume that we know what it is, or that most of us have it.   Parents evidently found it confusing and difficult back then, as well.  
 

Beside the affection of which we have spoken, and beside the energy of mind which should be its counterpoise, and beside also the natural taste for teaching, there is a tact and address, not easily described, any more than easily acquired, which, in the daily and hourly government of children, and in rendering them happy, avails far more than all other qualities put together ,apart from itself. Mothers or teachers may be seen, in every respect, very poorly endowed with the knowledge or the principles, or with even the moral sentiments proper to the business of education, and yet unrivalled in the art of securing obedience, and of diffusing enjoyment, and of imparting so much knowledge as they profess to communicate.

It is difficult, except by naming its opposites, to fix in words our conception of this desirable tact. We may say, if it be really needful to say so much, that it is not the product of any laboriously obtained knowledge of human nature, or of a scientific acquaintance with its principles. The happy management of human beings is, no doubt, in fact, always in harmony with the laws of the human mind ; but this harmony is intuitively perceived, not learnedly acquired. Many a village dame plies the machinery of human nature well ; but never has a professor of philosophy told those to whom nature has not granted this tact, either how to acquire it, or how to manage without it.

Parents may be found, in the highest degree solicitous for the welfare of their children, and not deficient in general intelligence, who nevertheless are perpetually struggling with domestic embarrassments, and sadly depressed by disappointment in the discharge of their daily duties. In such instances there may be observed, a something too much in the modes of treatment — too much talking and preaching, and a too frequent bringing in of ultimate motives, until the natural sensibility and delicacy of children's minds are, if the phrase may be allowed, worn threadbare ; for all the gloss of the feelings is gone, and the warp and substance are going.

Such parents often, for the sake of making sure doubly sure, lift the arm of authority, when the raising of the finger is more than enough. An indiscreet anticipation of resistance never fails to suggest it. The simple law of the association of ideas is the immediate cause of a vastly larger amount of human actions than what springs from any formal resolution so to act. In all cases, therefore, the probability of compliance is much greater when nothing but compliance is expected, than when a thought of the contrary is, by some inauspicious word, or a mere look of doubt and anxiety, suggested. The great world of moral agency turns glibly upon its pivots, by the momentum of habit and the association of ideas : mischief attends the attempt to urge its onward force, by more motive or reason, in any instance, than is wanted.

If we were to attempt to divine the secret of a prosperous management of children, perhaps it would resolve itself into the simple fact of a quick perception of the train of their ideas, at any moment, and a facility in concurring with the stream of thought, whatever it may be, which, by the slightest guiding word or gesture, can be led into whatever channel may be desired.

The rule of management might then be condensed into the three words— discern, follow, and lead. That is to say, there is first the catching of the clue of thought in a child's mind ; then the going on with the same train a little way ; and, lastly, the giving it a new, though not opposite direction. By the means of a governance of the wandering minds of children in some such method as this, there is hardly any limit to the control which may be exercised over, as well their conduct, as their moral and intellectual habits. The same law of influence holds good even with adults, or at least with all but the most highly cultured and vigorous minds, which renounce this sort of control ; and it is on this principle that the demagogue, or the religious orator, who is gifted with an intuition of human nature, leads and turns the minds of thousands, by the lifting of his finger.

But to return to our proper sphere — we may affirm that the government of minds is the easiest of all exercises, to whoever possesses the secret of influence, and is confident of success ; but the most difficult, and the most vexatious, to those who attempt it on formal principles, such as may be laid down in so many rules fitted to occasions.

 

He goes on to recommend that parents build up the bonds of affection with their children -- and, thus, of influence -- by a sort of "Playful Parenting" approach, which isn't something we'd associate with later Victorian family life.   In fact, Charlotte Mason seemed to discourage the use of this influence altogether. 

 

BTW, two of the author's sisters became poets, and one of them wrote "Twinkle, twinkle, little star."   Their father (another Isaac Taylor) also wrote books about education.  I'll have to look them up.  Maybe the Taylors had the real "poetic knowledge" curriculum?  


Edited by ElizaG, 18 March 2017 - 08:38 PM.

  • Mrs. A and elizahelen like this

#97 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 20 March 2017 - 01:21 PM

Okay, I found a book that explains some of the shifts I've been seeing in 19th century women's education:  How Young Ladies Became Girls:  The Victorian Origins of American Girlhood by Jane H. Hunter.  I've only been looking at it in Preview mode, but it's been enough to give a general idea. 

 

The chapter on "Work" begins: 

 

"At some point in the nineteenth century, middle- and upper-middle-class daughters of the urban Northeast stopped doing substantial housework." 

 

In the early US, these young women and their mothers generally did their own work, sometimes with temporary "helpers" who were similar in education and status to their employers.  The author seems to present the latter as an example of American egalitarianism, but I wonder if it might be connected with the earlier British system of sending sons and daughters out to service in the households of friends or relatives.  In any case, this was apparently how things were done in the early Northeast until the 1840s, although not without some awkwardness (which I think I can understand, having hired some young women from our social circle as mother's helpers).

 

With industrialization, the largest literate class began moving out of the countryside, and changing their occupation from "farmers of the middling sort" to urban businessmen.  As we've discussed earlier, the factories were also taking over many of the functions of the productive home.    Starting in the 1850s, large-scale Irish immigration created an instant servant class, who were looked down upon and treated as underlings.  This is something I'd never really considered -- the effect of the influx of cheap foreign labor on northern US family culture -- but Hunter makes a case for its being a significant factor.

 

As a result of all this, by the 1870s, daughters' help was usually no longer needed, either in their own home or the neighbors', and "doing one's own work" was associated with a lower social status.  Still, most parents recognized its character-building benefits, and gave their girls make-work tasks such as fancy sewing and token amounts of dusting.   The daughters were well aware that this was gratuitous.  "Especially when girls saw their house work as 'helping mother,' a note of wryness or rebellion crept into otherwise implacable diaries." 

 

This seems to have been a large part of the reason why the early high schools enrolled more girls than boys:  the girls weren't doing anything useful anyway, so they might as well get an education, and perhaps marry up in social class.   Many of these schools were co-ed, and their academic workload had been designed for boys with no domestic responsibilities, so the girls' parents often stopped expecting even token amounts of housework.  "By the end of the century, cultural promoters of domesticity had almost given up on their efforts to reintroduce domestic apprenticeships among an urban elite.  (...) The founding of clubs and the establishment of classes, like the writing of advice manuals themselves, were designed to encourage the practice of dying arts."  

 

This is reminding me of Kathleen Norris yet again.  One of her most memorable short stories, "Rising Water" (1934), is about a family on a California ranch whose nanny sees herself as part of the family, rather than as a servant.  This horrifies the child's mother, who was "born and brought up in New York," in households with "capped and aproned maids."   So it also seems possible that due to patterns of settlement, servant culture never really got established in any but the fanciest neighborhoods of California.  (Which would make sense, since as far as I can tell, neither did culture in general.  :laugh: )

 

In many of Norris's California stories, the closest equivalent to the "capped and aproned maid" is the Chinese houseboy.   And in one of her novels, the heroine, who grew up in a well-off San Francisco family, ends up marrying a ranch hand.  Who turns out to be an aristocrat in disguise... :lol: but the point is, the characters who object to their friendship are clearly depicted as snobs.  So it's sort of a return to 1830s values, at least as they're described in Hunter's book. 

 

This would explain why, when Norris's 1920s-30s town-dwelling women go to live on a ranch, it always feels as if they're going back to pioneer days.  In a sense, they were, and this would have been one of the last ways that American women could experience that way of life.  Interesting.

 

So, looking especially at New England, I think there is a real tradition of literate servantless domesticity for us to connect with, though we have to go back quite a bit farther than I'd expected.  :001_smile:


Edited by ElizaG, 20 March 2017 - 01:30 PM.

  • Woodland Mist Academy likes this

#98 ElizaG

ElizaG

    Prefect of Minims

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2342 posts

Posted 20 March 2017 - 04:04 PM

Forgot to add links to some interesting early US writings on women's education.   I found out about all of these through another scholarly book, Imagining Rhetoric:  Composing Women of the Early United States by Janet Carey Eldred and Peter Mortensen.

 

The Young Lady's Home by Mrs. Louisa C. Tuthill (1839; this is the 1847 edition)

 

This book contains suggestions for young women in their teens and early twenties, who were home from school, to fill in the gaps in their learning and character development.  As with Isaac Taylor, the author doesn't assume that her readers, or their parents or teachers, are anywhere near perfect, which is a refreshing change from so many later books.  Just as as Taylor's book was available in the US, this one made it into a UK edition (titled Home), so there must have been a fair bit of common ground on this subject. 

 

Ida Norman:  Or, Trials and Their Uses, by Mrs. Lincoln Phelps (1848)

 

This is a fictional work that was originally written to be read aloud in a girls' school.  For me, it started off feeling stilted, but ended up quite compelling.

 

Interestingly, both of the above books contain long descriptions of some especially appealing part of European Catholic culture, which are followed by brief, standard Protestant criticisms of the Catholic faith, as if to "slam the lid on it."  This was right around the same time that French religious communities began opening large numbers of US girls' schools, whose early students were mostly Protestant.   It seems as if there are some connections there that haven't been fully explored.  

 

Going back a few decades earlier, Hannah Webster Foster's The Boarding School (1798) describes a sort of "finishing school" in which the teacher has the girls take turns reading aloud from a good book, while the rest of them do their needlework.  They repeat the process in the afternoon, except that this time, the girls are taking turns reading their own compositions.  Sort of like a "socialized Robinson curriculum."   Well, they could do a lot worse! 

 

That reminds me of a practical request.   I've been trying to make a list of types of old-time handwork that were at least sometimes done while reading silently to oneself, or while listening to someone else read aloud.  Your contributions would be appreciated.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

 

While reading to oneself:  rocking the cradle with one foot; spinning ("with the book taped to the distaff," as Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote of their mother)

 

While listening to a reader:  plain sewing, fancy sewing, knitting, spinning, shelling beans, peeling potatoes; for men, whittling, carving, sewing harness

 

Now, off to do some (hopefully useful) work of my own...


  • Woodland Mist Academy likes this

#99 LostCove

LostCove

    teacher-mother

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 206 posts

Posted 22 March 2017 - 01:29 PM

In the early US, these young women and their mothers generally did their own work, sometimes with temporary "helpers" who were similar in education and status to their employers.  The author seems to present the latter as an example of American egalitarianism, but I wonder if it might be connected with the earlier British system of sending sons and daughters out to service in the households of friends or relatives.  In any case, this was apparently how things were done in the early Northeast until the 1840s, although not without some awkwardness (which I think I can understand, having hired some young women from our social circle as mother's helpers).

 

If I'm remembering the right book (can't find my copy at the moment), I think A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has a good description of this kind of domestic employment of neighbors' daughters in a community in 18th-century Maine. DH has been saying for a while that I need a "mothering intern," but as it is we can hardly find a teenager around here interested in babysitting for a few hours every month or so.  <_<

 

I'm really interested in your observations about how the advice manuals shift over time, because a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I should go back and look at some of the 19th-century texts (all American) I studied in grad school. Back then, I read them for insights into the development of Victorian ideologies of domesticity, but now I thought, hey, maybe there are some good tips in there! But in fact, overall, the ones I've glanced through thus far are high on sentimentality and low on practical advice.

 

I also pulled an old grad school favorite off the shelf, which I may have mentioned before, Jeanne Boydston's Home and Work. There's nothing about literary culture in there, but there is a lot about how women's work did and did not change from the colonial period through to mid-19th century. One thing that jumped out at me this time was that apparently in the antebellum period mothers' failure to pass on domestic skills to their daughters was a widely discussed issue. Boydston argues that part of the problem was the introduction of a number of new household technologies, particularly the cast-iron stove and the treadle sewing machine, which affected two of a woman's most time-consuming tasks. Women had to learn how to use these technologies from scratch - their mother's experiences or their own from childhood were no help - and plenty of them seemed unconvinced that they were that much of an improvement over the old ways of doing things (so the ambivalence some of us feel about modern labor-saving conveniences is nothing new). The explosion in housekeeping advice manuals was in part a response to this disorienting situation, and of course, runs right along into the home ec movement.


  • Woodland Mist Academy and elizahelen like this

#100 Woodland Mist Academy

Woodland Mist Academy

    Wandering through Wonders

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4457 posts

Posted 23 March 2017 - 10:43 AM

 

That reminds me of a practical request.   I've been trying to make a list of types of old-time handwork that were at least sometimes done while reading silently to oneself, or while listening to someone else read aloud.  Your contributions would be appreciated.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

 

While reading to oneself:  rocking the cradle with one foot; spinning ("with the book taped to the distaff," as Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote of their mother)

 

While listening to a reader:  plain sewing, fancy sewing, knitting, spinning, shelling beans, peeling potatoes; for men, whittling, carving, sewing harness

 

Now, off to do some (hopefully useful) work of my own...

 

When my daughter was in middle school, we took turns reading to each other while doing dishes. We should start doing that again...

 

I sometimes listen to audiobooks while doing the dishes. At other times doing dishes is more of a working meditation.

 

Grinding grain is also conducive to reading or being read to. Something else I did when she was younger....ah the memories!


  • ElizaG likes this