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LAmom

Question for those that like Circe, etc.

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[quote name="birchbark" post="5594092" timestamp="

 

One thing I realized after the original thread was that I needed time. You need time to read, to contemplate, to discuss. You need time to appreciate the arts. It doesn't work to tack them onto an already full day. And time is hard to come by in a multi-child homeschooling family. That is why I have been brutal in cutting down the number of subjects that we tackle. We eat lots of cold sandwiches and bean burritoes.

 

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I think your school day sounds lovely, but how do you get your kids to have even a bumbling attempt at a Socratic discussion? My boys are too busy fighting over Legos. Or whatever it is they Are fighting about. My oldest has an energy level that is about 5 times higher than the average kids, and he lives IN THE MOMENT if ever anyone did. If I can get about a 30 second discussion out of him about something he read, I feel like I'm doing really good! There is nothing contemplative or relaxed about this child. And he kind of sets the pace for his siblings. Last week, two days in a row he got in serious trouble and got sent to his room during Bible time. Those were the two days my other two kids I'm schooling and I had great discussions. Which leads me to wonder, maybe for the sake of the others I should put him in Brick and Mortar school. But I think that would still cause more problems than it would solve.

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I think your school day sounds lovely, but how do you get your kids to have even a bumbling attempt at a Socratic discussion? My boys are too busy fighting over Legos. Or whatever it is they Are fighting about. My oldest has an energy level that is about 5 times higher than the average kids, and he lives IN THE MOMENT if ever anyone did. If I can get about a 30 second discussion out of him about something he read, I feel like I'm doing really good! There is nothing contemplative or relaxed about this child. And he kind of sets the pace for his siblings. Last week, two days in a row he got in serious trouble and got sent to his room during Bible time. Those were the two days my other two kids I'm schooling and I had great discussions. Which leads me to wonder, maybe for the sake of the others I should put him in Brick and Mortar school. But I think that would still cause more problems than it would solve.

 

you can't always get them to participate but if they are in the room listening as you have said discussion with another they still get lots out of it, as I have learned from ds15.  DS15 reads just fine but analyzing what he is reading and translating that to discussion is really hard for him.  All 3 of my olders take online lit classes with our school board, these classes are almost entirely socratic discussion of the works they are reading.  Ds15 very rarely has anything to say in class, but he sits here for the full 90 minutes each week listening to the other students and tutor discuss back and forth, he follows the sideline discussion in the text chat (always related to the reading but where they discuss the bunny trail stuff as well).  He absorbs it all but doesn't usually add to it.  At first I was concerned that he wasn't getting anything out of the classes, and they are not cheap  at $155 per class (cheap compared to others but not on my budget).  But then I noticed something interesting.  Those discussions ingrained themselves in such a way that he has been making connections and such with his fun reading but also with things like his video games.  Nothing like hearing him on xbox live playing some shoot 'em up game discussing robinson crusoe or the Iliad etc.  Because of the quality of books he is reading in these classes (almost always classics) and listening in on the discussions he is making solid connections and I am very pleased about it.  Now perhaps it would come faster for those that participated in class, but he has auditory processing issues,he can't think on his feet to jump in with thoughts etc as the class is moving along, but he soaks it in and lets it percolate in his own time.  So even if yours are bickering over legos if they can hear this conversation happening back and forth between you and someone about a book they will still be hearing and processing even if they are not participating.  The funny thing is, dd6 has been seeing this process for the last couple years, so she often is the one adding insights and such to what we are discussing because to her is just comes naturally to discuss what you are reading because that is all she knows.  Ds10 does not talk in class, but I scribe for him int he text chat and he has great insights.  He has the attention span of a gnat though, she often he is balancing on one foot and pretending to play guitar as I am typing for him.  I am thankful no one can see him because it would distract them from the conversation at hand. dd14 excells at her classes.  The funny thing is if I tried to have the same discussion here with the 3 of them it would not go over well at all with almost nothing being discussed.  They feed off the other students ideas and run with them.  So that might be an option for you too, starting a book club (or finding one) or finding an online lit class etc that they can participate in.

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You know it's funny, when I started the more recent Circe thread I actually asked for more specifics as you are. I stuck my neck out and listed several specific things that had changed our homeschool. You can read the OP here. I posted a rough schedule of our day here.

 

I think it is totally fine to ask for examples. Some people just cannot grasp a concept fully until they see it fleshed out. And the more examples, the better. It is the difference between S's and N's, if you are into Myers-Briggs. :)

 

I just listened to Christopher Perrin's audio on Finishing the Year Strong. It was very good, and discussed specifics of a slower, richer education such as a smaller subject load, block scheduling, teaching/learning to mastery (his points on this are really good and ring with what I've learned from Joanne Calderwood), and making time for enjoying the arts. I could see myself listening to that one on a yearly basis.

 

What does the CM/Classical/Circe style look like in our house?

 

Short, thorough grammar (DGP)

Mastery-style math (Systemath)

Non-formulaic writing instruction (Understanding Writing) This also is a teacher-involved program which has forced me to interact with my DS with his writing, something I would tend NOT to do.

Living books for science for K-8. Also I am moving more toward interest-led on this one.

Moving toward yearly overviews in history, with time for interest-led deeper study. I'm looking forward to using books such as A Child's First Book in American History and Story of Mankind with my next student.

We are doing a lot more art and handwork. Not variety, just frequency.

 

We do not do Latin.

We do not write across the curriculum

We are not relaxed with the 3R's. We are with the rest.

 

The crowing gem of our day is read-aloud/morning basket time. I read first to the 7yo with the 4yo listening in. We start with a Psalm (the same one for a whole semester or year, so they memorize it). Then we read poetry, a Bible story, some classic children's lit or fairy tale, some living science or history story, some phonics, and then the next lesson of Ray's Primary Arithmetic orally. Then the 7th grader hears Hebrews 11, his poetry selections, and a bit of classic lit, followed by my bumbling attempts at rich Socratic discussion. :) We use Teaching the Classics and add in Caesar's English once a week.

 

One thing I realized after the original thread was that I needed time. You need time to read, to contemplate, to discuss. You need time to appreciate the arts. It doesn't work to tack them onto an already full day. And time is hard to come by in a multi-child homeschooling family. That is why I have been brutal in cutting down the number of subjects that we tackle. We eat lots of cold sandwiches and bean burritoes.

 

I do have to say that I think 8Fill really hit on something when she said a large part of teaching from rest is having the confidence that you can provide a good education. That is definitely something I gained from the original thread, that I hadn't had before.

 

Exactly the post I was looking for.  Thank you.  Good thoughts.  I'd love to hear any updates as you continue with the changes you've made.

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I think your school day sounds lovely, but how do you get your kids to have even a bumbling attempt at a Socratic discussion? My boys are too busy fighting over Legos. Or whatever it is they Are fighting about. My oldest has an energy level that is about 5 times higher than the average kids, and he lives IN THE MOMENT if ever anyone did. If I can get about a 30 second discussion out of him about something he read, I feel like I'm doing really good! There is nothing contemplative or relaxed about this child. And he kind of sets the pace for his siblings. Last week, two days in a row he got in serious trouble and got sent to his room during Bible time. Those were the two days my other two kids I'm schooling and I had great discussions. Which leads me to wonder, maybe for the sake of the others I should put him in Brick and Mortar school. But I think that would still cause more problems than it would solve.

 

This is what I would try: I would feed him high-protein and low-sugar. I would wear him out before before school. One mom had her boys run a mile every day before beginning. Then I would divide and conquer. Read to him separately from the other kiddos. I have two reading times because of the large age gap. When I am reading to my older DS, I shoo away the others to play in another room so we don't have distractions. Give your DS something to do while you read. There are whole threads here with ideas for this. Do you have a piece of exercise equipment he could use while listening? :) Many boys listen better when they can be active. Andrew Pudewa's audio on teaching boys will have some good ideas as well.

 

Then I would take it in stages. First just get him used to and enjoying listening to reading. Don't expect to have long, deep discussions right off the bat. Just work on that attention span. :) Then start modeling the kind of thinking that you are looking for. Don't ask anything of him yet. "Here's something I noticed while reading. . ." "You know, this scene reminds me of. . ." etc. Then start asking some questions. We've been doing discussions for a couple years and my 13yo is still not waxing eloquent and philosophical as I would like during our discussions. Did you read Justamouse's link about the grunting 13yo? :laugh:

 

I am thinking about getting a Classics Club DVD. Adam Andrews is an excellent teacher and I think it would be good for both DS and I to watch and learn how to discuss literature.

 

And it's okay if your DS is not the contemplative type. We can't all be; nothing would ever get done!  :lol:

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And that is my point earlier about the purpose of this thread.  I can read all about educational philosophies and all about the original CiRCE discussion on that actual thread.  And then there were numerous spin-offs to further discuss the thoughts and philosophies.  And then there have been numerous recommendations for books to read to understand the philosophies even more.

 

But in this thread, the OP asked for some specifics.  Like what history plan has worked well for you using this philosophy?  or what tips do you have for a large family?  what do some of your days look like?  

 

And then so many people come back and say "I can't answer those questions....let's just keep discussing the underlying philosophy."  Thankfully, some have answered some of the specifics from their experiences.  I just wonder what the point of constantly shooting down those of us who want some more practical details.  If you don't want to answer these types of questions...don't.  Let those who are willing to answer them answer them. (and LostCove, I am in no way speaking of you.  I was just using your quote as an example of what I had been thinking)

 

It sometimes can feel like it's all just talk.  Like the bolded sentence above, I often fall into the trap of discussing something to death without actually putting it into practice.  It's sometimes easier to just keep discussing.  So every once in awhile it would be helpful to get a picture of what it can look like when you put it into practice.  (knowing it will look different for everyone, knowing you have to find your own path, knowing it's more than just a list of books, knowing that it's not what you use, but how you use it.......)

 

I keep trying to post in this thread, but by the time I catch up with all the other posts, I have used up all my board time. 

 

Keri, I can give you specifics.  I am very much into helping people find how to practically implement goals. 

 

First of all, I think that teaching from a place of rest, can also be interpreted as authentic learning.  And I bet that you have experienced authentic learning in your own life, as well as tick the box learning.  With authentic learning, you know *what* you want to learn, you have a *method* that is effective for you, and you have the *motivation* and *self discipline* to implement it. Often with this type of learning, you get in the 'zone' and *engage* with the material, fighting for understanding.  With tick-the-box learning, you often feel annoyed with having to do it, you keep looking at the time, you know that some of the work will help you learn the material but as a whole it just doesn't 'click' with your needs at the time or your learning style or whatever.  If you can identify the difference between these two styles, then you should be able to see them in your children.  Obviously, you want the authentic learning.

 

Now, every person has a different way to learn.  I'm not talking about aural or kinaesthetic learners.  I think that is a bit gimmicky.  Instead, I think it is much more useful to think about the family unit in a homeschool.  How can you make learning authentic for *your* family and its quirkiness.  Authentic learning needs to have strong guiding principles (which this thread keeps describing) which concurrently plans for the students' needs and the teacher's needs.  Some kids need a lot of parental interaction, whereas others like to learn independently.  Some kids like to do hands on activities but others hate them. etc Then you need to put the overlay of the parent's needs.  How much time do you have?  How much energy? How many kids? Clearly, there will be some give and take here.  To meet your goals you need to consider these things as a whole, and choose some subjects with curriculum that is authentic to *your* kids, and possibly develop some courses on your own.  But the key is that you consider your goals and limitations and what is authentic to your individual student, *before* you choose a curriculum for each subject.  That is how you avoid tick-the-box learning.

 

Have you ever read any of the threads that have asked for my help with science?  People come in with basically a tick-the-box question -- what curriculum should I use?  And I turn it around into a authentic-learning planning session.  I always ask the same questions, because you cannot create an authentic learning environment without looking at the big picture.  Although I do it for science, you can use the same process for any subject.  My questions usually are something like:

 

1) what are your goals?  content goals? skill goals?  attitude goals?  If you don't have any, you should start looking at other's goals.  Do some research and develop an opinion. Ask here.

 

2) What has worked for your student in the past?  basically, when have you seen authentic learning in your student and what, specifically, allowed it to happen? interaction with you? reading? hands-on?  going deep vs going broad? etc It is incredibly important to use past successes to plan future learning.

 

3) How much time do you as a teacher have to give?  This is just a practicality question.  Your availability limits your choices, and you have to be realistic. 

 

4) What kind of schedule and oversight has worked in the past?  All learning requires some time management.  So you have to plan this in so that your student is kept accountable. Also, how much time is available insures that you don't over schedule work, making it into a rush to tick the boxes.  Kids need time to work authentically.

 

5) a) What kind of output will help your student to process the material?  b )What kind of output do *you* want to see for your own sense of security?  c) What kind of output is required by the state?  you need to really think about this, because a student's output needs to be useful to make learning authentic.  Some people focus way too much on b and c, at the expense of a.  You need to find a balance for the competing interests.

 

6) Finally, what curriculum, set of books, online class, home-made class fits the above?  This is the *last* step, NOT the first step.  If you pick the curriculum as the first and only step, you are like to just be ticking the boxes.  Authentic learning will be much harder to accomplish because your needs and your students' needs are not likely to be met by chance.  And it becomes an uphill battle.

 

I can dig up examples of these planning sessions if you would like.  I have helped about 15 different people develop a individualized plan for authentic learning in science.  And what is really amazing, is that every.single.one of the plans is VERY different from the other. 

 

When experienced homeschoolers post about their planning sessions, where they create individualized plans for their students that allow for authentic learning, it appears to me that this process is going on in the background, intuitively and without any conscious thought. Excellent teachers just do it and don't realize it. 

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

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Hmm, so my ds10 gave me more to ponder in relation to all of this.  While I was focusing on what I can do next year differently for the teens to bring more beauty etc in and less "go, go, go" he came asking me why we don't do the stuff with the wax anymore.  What he was referring to was last year we were following a waldorf curriculum with the younger 2.  right away dd6 pipes up "I miss super sam, he was the best".  It turns out I already had been doing this and I threw it away in a panic of ensuring we did enough "real school".  What my youngers loved was the handwork, the stories, the baking, the rhythms that waldorf brought to our home.  Just as this year they love konos but not the rest of their seat work.  That spurred the teens to ask why we stopped morning basket and handbells that we started the year with and when we were going to do school at our "hidey hole" again (taking all the books to the trout pond in the provincial park and doing school work alternating with nature study (pond dipping, hiking in the trees, bird watching etc) complete with read alouds while we picnic.  So much to ponder how to bring all that back in without giving up on the things I find important (like the teens having time to work on their distance learning stuff for credits).  It gives me hope that maybe I have not been a complete failure at this and while perhaps I am not teaching from a state of rest, and haven't self educated in most areas, and don't have a perfectly organized house or plan, the kids are still  benefitting from those things.  The goal I need to work on is finding a balance that works for us with our circumstances.  To not give up the rigor for the beauty or the beauty for the rigor.  

Maybe next year will be a waldorfy/CM/classical/unit studied/literature filled/school at home adventure.  thank goodness it is only april and I have time to figure that out :P

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I agree that these are things we need to think about.  But the classical curriculum centered on rhetoric appears to be a somewhat living tradition, in the sense that there are people alive who received it.   In particular, it was still being taught in Quebec in the late 1960s.  

 

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cours_classique (Google translation)

 

I wouldn't be surprised if there were some traditionalists still teaching it in a bunker in the bush somewhere.  Maybe we should raise money to send Andrew Kern there.    :laugh:

 

If we could find them, we should raise money to send ourselves there! I'd be happy to do podcasts on what we've learned upon our return!  :laugh:

 

You know, my alma mater still had a professor of rhetoric, though at that point he had been absorbed into the English department - he passed away a year after I graduated. Ironically, I don't think his training was via the classical curriculum but....the Great Books!

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I think this discussion has been equally as inspiring as the original Circe thread. I just cut and pasted the super-helpful responses here into a word doc, and it's 10 pages! 10 pages, ladies, of fantastic insight and daily examples of how-to. I'm printing now to read later as part of my planning for next year. 

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Brandy, your post got me thinking.... Perhaps I should do more to consolidate my kids' learning experience. Obviously they are all at different levels in the skill areas, but so much of the time I feel like I am flying off in different directions, and that is not conducive to teaching "from a state of rest". We do Bible together, but I'm going to work at doing science together (I think I can do that with Apologia), and to do more music and art, which we can do together. I'm not sure how we can do history together, since dd is doing SOTW and the boys are on their second round, but maybe I can get creative.

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Brandy, your post got me thinking.... Perhaps I should do more to consolidate my kids' learning experience. Obviously they are all at different levels in the skill areas, but so much of the time I feel like I am flying off in different directions, and that is not conducive to teaching "from a state of rest". We do Bible together, but I'm going to work at doing science together (I think I can do that with Apologia), and to do more music and art, which we can do together. I'm not sure how we can do history together, since dd is doing SOTW and the boys are on their second round, but maybe I can get creative.

This year, due to many factors, I have combined my three kids (ages 13,11, and 8) in several subjects.  We do history, poetry, art, Bible, and literature read alouds together.  My youngest dd has her own Bible story book which she reads, but she also listens in on my reading of a Psalms and a Proverbs to the olders.  (We just started that.)  She is listening to the history, poetry, and literature read alouds.  When I started this year, I was working 25 hours a week and a compromise I made was to not do a history program for my little dd.  I felt guilty at first and then realized that it was working just fine.  In fact, my little dd often has interesting insights.

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I agree with combining in subjects.  I cannot imagine doing all subjects separately!   We combine in catechism, science, history, and morning basket time (our read aloud time where we do mythology, fairy tales, history, nature study, etc).  I just try to focus some books for each child.  Most everything is focused on the level of my oldest children, but I add in some books for my 4 year old as well.  My oldest also reads a lot to my 4 year old.  He loves to do that.

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1) what are your goals?  content goals? skill goals?  attitude goals?  If you don't have any, you should start looking at other's goals.  Do some research and develop an opinion. Ask here.

 

2) What has worked for your student in the past?  basically, when have you seen authentic learning in your student and what, specifically, allowed it to happen? interaction with you? reading? hands-on?  going deep vs going broad? etc It is incredibly important to use past successes to plan future learning.

 

3) How much time do you as a teacher have to give?  This is just a practicality question.  Your availability limits your choices, and you have to be realistic. 

 

4) What kind of schedule and oversight has worked in the past?  All learning requires some time management.  So you have to plan this in so that your student is kept accountable. Also, how much time is available insures that you don't over schedule work, making it into a rush to tick the boxes.  Kids need time to work authentically.

 

5) a) What kind of output will help your student to process the material?  b )What kind of output do *you* want to see for your own sense of security?  c) What kind of output is required by the state?  you need to really think about this, because a student's output needs to be useful to make learning authentic.  Some people focus way too much on b and c, at the expense of a.  You need to find a balance for the competing interests.

 

6) Finally, what curriculum, set of books, online class, home-made class fits the above?  This is the *last* step, NOT the first step.  If you pick the curriculum as the first and only step, you are like to just be ticking the boxes.  Authentic learning will be much harder to accomplish because your needs and your students' needs are not likely to be met by chance.  And it becomes an uphill battle.

 

I can dig up examples of these planning sessions if you would like.  I have helped about 15 different people develop a individualized plan for authentic learning in science.  And what is really amazing, is that every.single.one of the plans is VERY different from the other. 

 

When experienced homeschoolers post about their planning sessions, where they create individualized plans for their students that allow for authentic learning, it appears to me that this process is going on in the background, intuitively and without any conscious thought. Excellent teachers just do it and don't realize it. 

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Ruth, thank you so much. (Didn't we used to have a "bow down" emoticon?)

 

I would like to see some examples of the planning, if it's not too much trouble.

 

I am confused about the content goals. Using math as an example, we're using Singapore and Beast Academy. DS enjoys both of them, but it's true I chose them based on larger themes, such as "going deeper" and "Asian-style math." Are those the content goals? Or do you mean I decide I need to cover fractions, decimals, etc because I think that doesn't really narrow it down much as all the curricula cover the basics. The same applies for phonics, spelling, etc. Or am I not getting it? I can be really dense about these things, plus I'm a box checker. 

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Ruth, thank you so much. (Didn't we used to have a "bow down" emoticon?)

 

I would like to see some examples of the planning, if it's not too much trouble.

 

I am confused about the content goals. Using math as an example, we're using Singapore and Beast Academy. DS enjoys both of them, but it's true I chose them based on larger themes, such as "going deeper" and "Asian-style math." Are those the content goals? Or do you mean I decide I need to cover fractions, decimals, etc because I think that doesn't really narrow it down much as all the curricula cover the basics. The same applies for phonics, spelling, etc. Or am I not getting it? I can be really dense about these things, plus I'm a box checker. 

 

I think of content goals as the goals you have in your content subjects: lit, history, fine arts. Math would fall under the heading of a skill subject. So I would see those as skill goals - the goals you have for a skill subject.

 

I will add a question, though. I science a skill or content subject? I'm thinking it's a content subject until high school. Any thoughts? (Ruth or anybody else)

 

I agree that Ruth's post needs a bow down smilie. :)

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How did you train your kids to be VERY good at getting stuff done.  My dd, who loves reading/history/lit glazes over during math and grammar.  I ruins our whole morning....she is SO SLOW.  While my almost 9yo ds rushes through his basics so fast that today I realized he isn't really mastering anything.  He just gets it done without the learning part.  :/

 

It looks like our kids are the same ages. Here are a couple things I've done that help with these issues you mention here:

 

So slow: Our general outline schedule for the day is on a whiteboard on the wall. Their free afternoon play time is on there. But their work has to be done before they get it. There's an hour for math. If they aren't done in that hour, they have to put it away, move on to the next thing, and finish it "on their own time." This helped tremendously at our house! In addition to seeing that they were only losing their own play time by dawdling, the forced change in activity after blurring out helps them get back on track. I also send them to run a lap around the house outside if they're just glazing over. And, yes, they argue and complain and make it known that they don't like it, but I stick to my guns and hold them to it. If they don't like it, they can do their work. If they need help, they can ask.

 

So fast: In our house, your math isn't done until it's 100%. So after they turn it in, I correct it, and any that are wrong, they have to correct. Done = 100%. Less than 100% = not finished.  Hard core, but it works. They have a lot more invested into working it correctly. As a bonus to them, if they show their work, I will look it over and show them where they went wrong. The same "no free time until you're done" applies as does my sending them to run a lap if they moan or otherwise act like they need a break. 

 

I think Morning Time (or Circle Time) is a key to the CiRCE/rest style teaching. That doesn't mean it's always a lovely time:  Circle Time: Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real, Exhausting

 

For us, school is math, Circle Time, Latin, and reading - we don't "study" history or literature or science in elementary....we just read a lot. So far I'm really pleased with how this is working out. I felt like it was a bet on the unknown when we started, but it's paying off now. However, it works because my 10 & 8 year old are fluent readers who enjoy reading. If I put the book on the shelf, they'll pick it up and read it. Part of that is because we are a house of readers and books (and both my husband and I grew up that way, too), but mostly that's their temperaments, too. I don't think I did anything to make them that way, really, but I have been very cautious about making sure I don't ruin that tendency by equating reading with work. At our house, reading is play. 

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I am confused about the content goals. Using math as an example, we're using Singapore and Beast Academy. DS enjoys both of them, but it's true I chose them based on larger themes, such as "going deeper" and "Asian-style math." Are those the content goals? Or do you mean I decide I need to cover fractions, decimals, etc because I think that doesn't really narrow it down much as all the curricula cover the basics. The same applies for phonics, spelling, etc. Or am I not getting it? I can be really dense about these things, plus I'm a box checker. 

 

 

I think of content goals as the goals you have in your content subjects: lit, history, fine arts. Math would fall under the heading of a skill subject. So I would see those as skill goals - the goals you have for a skill subject.

 

I will add a question, though. I science a skill or content subject? I'm thinking it's a content subject until high school. Any thoughts? (Ruth or anybody else)

 

 

Most 'subjects' have both content and skill areas mixed together.  Some subjects are only really skill based, but no subject is *only* content based. 

 

So skills (this is just a brain dump to get you thinking bigger):

Reading comprehension

writing essays or short answer

spelling and grammar skills

Math

oral presentations

poster layout

study skills (how to memorize, how to evaluate what to study etc)

time mangagement, paper management

test taking skills (reading the question, time management etc)

Violin

Foreign language

critical analysis

etc

 

Content

science concepts

history concepts

economics concepts

art history

psychology

current events

literature

etc

 

So some subjects like math, mandarin, violin, spelling, are really just skills that need to be learned.  You could pick the big picture content, like my kid will study geometry this year, but basically these are skills to learn.  So I personally don't think of content topics, just skills to master.  So for violin the skills my kids are working on concurrently: performance with accompaniment, aural/oral skills, sight reading, scales, theory, technique.  Content?  doesn't really work that way for production type subjects.

 

As for content subjects, you could learn the basics of anything on the above list by just watching youtube videos or listening to audio books, but typically you will learn the material better if you study it using some skills. This reinforces the skills and helps you learn the material better. So you could read current events magazines (like economist) and then give a presentation about a controversial topic.  You would be using 3 skills (at least): reading comprehension, critical analysis, and oral presentation skills. 

 

So when I am planning my goals, I try to decide both *what* they are going to learn (the content), and *how* they are going to learn it (with what skills).  This is how some people integrate multiple subjects, they might not have writing as a separate subject, because they are having their students master the skill while studying history. 

 

I  have more to say, but I am tutoring in 10 minutes, so will need to come back.

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When making goals for my children, I also like to think about the 4 ways subjects can be classified:

 

Critical analysis: (multiple points of view that need to be analyzed and clarified and an opinion formed) literary analysis, history

Analytical: Math, physics

Production: (this is all skill work, you just need to practice) violin, foreign language

Synthesis: (lots of memory that you then synthesize into a bigger whole) biology, art history, economics

 

obviously there is some overlap (you do need math for economics, and some subjects like chemistry are really a mix of analytical (lots of math) and synthesis (memorizing all the equations so you gain that big picture) .

 

These categories have helped me with my goal setting and detailed planning of resources, time, etc. Different students do better in different areas. So my older has learned to work independently through his analytical work;  he does math alone.  But my younger is able to work independently with production work, so mandarin and latin are independent, whereas he needs me right there with him for math.

 

I have also used these categories to help me manage where my time needs to go.  It is very difficult to learn a critical analysis subject without discussion -- the give and take of ideas.  Also, production subjects must be corrected on a regular basis or you are just practising the wrong thing.  But you can teach a student to work independently in synthesis subjects (once they have some good study skills and reading comprehension skills), and for some students they can also work independently on analytical subjects because every answer can be checked as you go (this is different from violin because how you hold your hand or your bowing technique is not right or wrong or easily checked by the student but needs to be guided over time)

 

Just another overlay that I use when thinking through how to make learning authentic for my students.

 

 

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So in both a literal and figurative sense, I could make a grid with the skills going down the side and the content across the top and add the work into the intersections? Using the Economist example above, in the intersections of the column "Current Events Content," with the rows "Reading Comprehension Skills," "Critical Analysis Skills," and "Oral Presentation Skills," I could write "Read the Economist and give a presentation about a controversial subject."

 

Is that right, at least conceptually?

 

ETA: I wrote this before reading your second post. Trying to digest that now....

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From The Teacher by John Abbott, 1844

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=awEBAAAAYAAJ&printsec=titlepage&dq=intitle:teacher+inauthor:abbott&lr=&as_brr=1&source=gbs_summary_r#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

There are three kinds of human knowledge which stand strikingly distinct from all the rest. They lie at the foundation. They constitute the roots of the tree. In other words, they are the means, by which all other knowledge is acquired. I need not say, that I mean, Reading, Writing, and Calculation.

 

Teachers do not perhaps always consider, how entirely and essentially distinct these three are from all the rest. They are arts; the acquisition of them is not to be considered as knowledge, so much as the means, by which knowledge may be obtained. A child, who is studying Geography, or History, or Natural Science, is learning facts,--gaining information ; on the other hand, the one who is learning to write, or to read, or to calculate, may be adding little or nothing to his stock of knowledge. He is acquiring skill, which, at some future time, he may make the means of increasing his knowledge, to any extent.

 

This distinction ought to be kept constantly in view, and the teacher should feel that these three fundamental branches stand by themselves, and stand first in importance. I do not mean to undervalue the others, but only to insist upon the superior value and importance of these. Teaching a pupil to read, before he enters upon the active business of life, is like giving a new settler an axe, as he goes to seek his new home in the forest. Teaching him a lesson in history, is, on the other hand, only cutting down a tree or two for him. (p. 64)

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I keep trying to post in this thread, but by the time I catch up with all the other posts, I have used up all my board time. 

 

Keri, I can give you specifics.  I am very much into helping people find how to practically implement goals. 

 

First of all, I think that teaching from a place of rest, can also be interpreted as authentic learning.  And I bet that you have experienced authentic learning in your own life, as well as tick the box learning.  With authentic learning, you know *what* you want to learn, you have a *method* that is effective for you, and you have the *motivation* and *self discipline* to implement it. Often with this type of learning, you get in the 'zone' and *engage* with the material, fighting for understanding.  With tick-the-box learning, you often feel annoyed with having to do it, you keep looking at the time, you know that some of the work will help you learn the material but as a whole it just doesn't 'click' with your needs at the time or your learning style or whatever.  If you can identify the difference between these two styles, then you should be able to see them in your children.  Obviously, you want the authentic learning.

 

Now, every person has a different way to learn.  I'm not talking about aural or kinaesthetic learners.  I think that is a bit gimmicky.  Instead, I think it is much more useful to think about the family unit in a homeschool.  How can you make learning authentic for *your* family and its quirkiness.  Authentic learning needs to have strong guiding principles (which this thread keeps describing) which concurrently plans for the students' needs and the teacher's needs.  Some kids need a lot of parental interaction, whereas others like to learn independently.  Some kids like to do hands on activities but others hate them. etc Then you need to put the overlay of the parent's needs.  How much time do you have?  How much energy? How many kids? Clearly, there will be some give and take here.  To meet your goals you need to consider these things as a whole, and choose some subjects with curriculum that is authentic to *your* kids, and possibly develop some courses on your own.  But the key is that you consider your goals and limitations and what is authentic to your individual student, *before* you choose a curriculum for each subject.  That is how you avoid tick-the-box learning.

 

Have you ever read any of the threads that have asked for my help with science?  People come in with basically a tick-the-box question -- what curriculum should I use?  And I turn it around into a authentic-learning planning session.  I always ask the same questions, because you cannot create an authentic learning environment without looking at the big picture.  Although I do it for science, you can use the same process for any subject.  My questions usually are something like:

 

1) what are your goals?  content goals? skill goals?  attitude goals?  If you don't have any, you should start looking at other's goals.  Do some research and develop an opinion. Ask here.

 

2) What has worked for your student in the past?  basically, when have you seen authentic learning in your student and what, specifically, allowed it to happen? interaction with you? reading? hands-on?  going deep vs going broad? etc It is incredibly important to use past successes to plan future learning.

 

3) How much time do you as a teacher have to give?  This is just a practicality question.  Your availability limits your choices, and you have to be realistic. 

 

4) What kind of schedule and oversight has worked in the past?  All learning requires some time management.  So you have to plan this in so that your student is kept accountable. Also, how much time is available insures that you don't over schedule work, making it into a rush to tick the boxes.  Kids need time to work authentically.

 

5) a) What kind of output will help your student to process the material?  b )What kind of output do *you* want to see for your own sense of security?  c) What kind of output is required by the state?  you need to really think about this, because a student's output needs to be useful to make learning authentic.  Some people focus way too much on b and c, at the expense of a.  You need to find a balance for the competing interests.

 

6) Finally, what curriculum, set of books, online class, home-made class fits the above?  This is the *last* step, NOT the first step.  If you pick the curriculum as the first and only step, you are like to just be ticking the boxes.  Authentic learning will be much harder to accomplish because your needs and your students' needs are not likely to be met by chance.  And it becomes an uphill battle.

 

I can dig up examples of these planning sessions if you would like.  I have helped about 15 different people develop a individualized plan for authentic learning in science.  And what is really amazing, is that every.single.one of the plans is VERY different from the other. 

 

When experienced homeschoolers post about their planning sessions, where they create individualized plans for their students that allow for authentic learning, it appears to me that this process is going on in the background, intuitively and without any conscious thought. Excellent teachers just do it and don't realize it. 

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

This approach resonates with me and feels comprehensible!

 

A lot of learning here does come from life... today, for example, we had a question of how the (mostly green) food eaten by truly free range chickens turns their yolks so brilliant yellow-orange....and then orchard bee observation ... and a new house (out of a milk carton) for the orchard bees where an old one got soaked, and then figuring out how to help them find the new home ... ds figured out how they carry their mud, and also that when they look yellow it is pollen all over them...    and then a wounded honey bee needed attention ... meanwhile the chicken coop continued to receive building work. We discussed what might be done about our dog's cataracts... I shared research on natural remedies...

 

Or it may come from chance findings that we come to, for example, In the midst of reading aloud from a popular fiction book (Ranger's Apprentice) I stopped to contemplate whether the Temujai might be a fictional version of the Mongols, since the apparent time is more or less right for that...  and would the Arridi be the Arabic areas at their height, such as pre 1258 Bagdad?  We use our popular fiction to just as much benefit as the "classics".  Shakespeare is loved, and so is Percy Jackson.  The young dog played hide and seek, and ds is trying to teach him to be a ranger dog...(hey, training pigeons got college psych class credit, so why not training the dog).  In fact, at times we have done dog-history, dog-science, dog-writing, dog-reading...everything but dog-math.

 

We do a lot of learning via documentaries, because that works for us. We saw a documentary last night  that fit with wondering today about whether the fictional Arridi and Temujai fit the real Arabic and Mongol areas/peoples.

 

Math...the spine is AoPS ... it is a good fit, by trial and error really. Required as a formal subject.

 

Writing is its own subject, required. 

 

Music is guitar, taken casually.

 

Foreign language is German, taken casually at the moment.

 

Word roots from classics have been part of our home schooling, but not formal Latin.  I took Latin, and while I appreciated it, for my ds it is an elective that he could choose if he wanted to, but so far he has not wanted to.

 

Art has not been getting much attention lately. Poetry has been getting a lot.

 

My son went to a Waldorf school that had circle time--and hated it, so it is not part of our homeschooling...   It is hard to do a circle with only one child, anyway, I think.

 

Most of his authentic learning comes from life and documentaries, less from reading.

But the formal math and writing do also yield authentic learning, and there just would not be enough in regular day to day life without making then formal. Also both need actually doing them and are not, at least for my son, absorbable via a film--a film can help, but working problems at some point, or actually writing something is needed too.

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So in both a literal and figurative sense, I could make a grid with the skills going down the side and the content across the top and add the work into the intersections?

 

I would say no.  I think you will fall back into the box checking. 

 

You are looking for authentic learning, which is individualized for each student for each subject.  And I think that if you make a grid, even in your mind, you will be focused on the wrong thing.

 

I will use my younger boy as an example and work through the steps I outlined above.

 

1) goals. What are my goals for *this* child?  The subjects are easy:  English, Math, Science, History, Mandarin, Violin, PE.  We all do them, the difference is I don't just go a pick a curriculum for each one and call it authentic.  I need to *think* a bit about *this* child.  My main goal right now (and for as long as it takes) is helping him to develop 1)  focus, 2) independence in learning (obviously within reason), 3) time and paper management, 4) personal motivation, and finally 5) the ability to read a textbook (this will a multi year process for this boy).  These are both attitude and skill goals.  The content for ds is just moving along with no clear holes to clean up, so it is not really on my radar.  Instead, my focus is on my little boy to *owning* his learning, and I am designing a program to help him do this.  If I were to just get a bunch of workbooks that he can do independently, and give him a schedule, and make up a reward/punishment system, *this* child would not develop independence, focus, or motivation (obviously I won't speak for other kids). He would never own his learning, he would just keep looking at the clock and trying to get it all in before some activity, so he doesn't lose privileges.  How is that authentic learning?  For this boy it is not.

 

2) So step 2, what has worked for this child?  Well he loves to discuss, read, watch documentaries, listen to audiobooks -- so very much of an input kid.  He likes to write "research" papers over 3-4 weeks, rather than 1 a week or even 1 a day.  He likes it that way because of the continuity.  He wants to go deep rather than broad.  He likes variety in his maths, which told me that I needed an integrated program (rather than a year of algebra).  He likes to give presentations, work with tutors, learn about computers with his dad.  He just really likes to learn *with* people.  His focus is not more than about 30 minutes right now.

 

So this information informs me as to not just *what* curriculum I should buy or make, but also *how* it should be implemented. Given my goals of starting to work independently, I need to be very careful not to mess with his discussion-centered approach.  But obviously I have limited time and he does need to learn to study without discussion all the time.  So it is a process to make learning authentic for him while concurrently developing skills that are hard for him.  Slow and steady wins the race.

This is getting long so I'm not going to write out everything for my time, scheduling/oversight, and output, and just cut to the *how* to accomplish these goals.

 

During his day he needs lots of time to read, and I want him to develop his nonfiction skills and his independence skills, so one of the things he works on independently is his nonfiction reading.  He loves National Geographic because of the complex coverage of single topics, and he likes the variety.  Is he systematically covering science, history, geography with National Geographic?  No, of course not.  What he is getting is the *love* of reading nonfiction, the time to develop the skills of reading comprehension (I encourage him to read more and more difficult articles), and the independence.  I discuss what he has read and he likes to write for 3 or 4 weeks about a single article. So I am integrating all composition into this study.  We do not do any writing curriculum.  I also pull words straight from his writing for spelling each week, and I also pull sentences out of his writing to analyze.  So for *this* child, English is completely integrated into Geography (although Nat Geo has quite a bit of science and history too).  This work is very authentic for this boy.

 

(In contrast, my older boy found KISS grammar workbooks very engaging, and needed to go through SWR spelling intensively.  He also used WWS for writing.  This was authentic to *him*.  I could tell because he engaged.  Plain and simple. My older boy is *very* different from my younger boy.)

 

I could go through all the subjects in detail if you would like.  But in summary:

He learns history by read alouds and discussion with dad. 

He learns math through an integrated program, a 30 minute buzzer, a star chart for good attitude, and me sitting with him while doing my own work. 

He learns mandarin and latin independently, with a tutor once a week for mandarin, and me answering questions when he has them for latin. 

He learns science snuggled up on the sofa with me.

He practices violin with me every day and sees a tutor once a week, but the tutor wants him independent by the time he is 11, so we are slowing working on 10 minutes independent time, 20 minutes with me, and slowly switching that ratio.

He does PE with lots of friends.

 

So a very communal learning environment, but still with independence in the areas he is currently the most successful at.  We are working on longer focus by increasing the buzzer, and paper management after every subject.  Personal motivation is a by product of engagement, so I can definitely tell when the fit is poor.  I am trying to build up his stamina for school work and his independence by giving him a list of work each day noting what is independent work and what is with me.  There is no punishment or reward for ticking it all off, but more of a discussion about how to plan to get it all in, how to work ahead when he is really motivated, how to work on his only favourite subjects when he is having a lazy day.  Really trying to teach him to own it.

 

This is authentic for *this* child.  I can tell because he is engaged.

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

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Examples of developing an authentic science program for your student:

 

These are reverting to later posts, so just go to post #1 to see the process we went through to come up with the different plans.

 http://forums.welltr.../#entry4436605;

http://forums.welltr...h/#entry4431909

http://forums.welltr...e/#entry4513402;

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So in both a literal and figurative sense, I could make a grid with the skills going down the side and the content across the top and add the work into the intersections? Using the Economist example above, in the intersections of the column "Current Events Content," with the rows "Reading Comprehension Skills," "Critical Analysis Skills," and "Oral Presentation Skills," I could write "Read the Economist and give a presentation about a controversial subject."

 

Is that right, at least conceptually?

 

ETA: I wrote this before reading your second post. Trying to digest that now....

I do not have a lot to contribute to this thread, but if there is one thing I have learned so far, it is that I am most successful when I am true to myself and least successful when I fight my own nature. I learn and stretch and grow, yes. But I no longer fight my true nature. If your nature is to make grids and check boxes, and you are most successful when you do so, do it! There is nothing inherent in a planning tool that renders the learning that stems from that planning inauthentic. It is simply a matter of staying in tune with your child, your vision, your reality. You can absolutely combine Ruth's excellent planning advice and the heart of Circe's message with your own style and needs. You can turn it all into one cohesive plan in whatever form best suits you. The secret is to control the grid instead of letting it control you. Let it be an organizational tool that helps you narrow down and focus on your vision. Just write in (proverbial) pencil. :tongue_smilie:

 

Although...speaking of grids... After seeing OhElizabeth post about it so many times, I finally got Inspiration software for DS11, and I love it! I LOOOOOOVE it. So much. I can't even put into words how much I love it. :lol: Anyway, a lovely alternative to a grid. :D I have been using it for next year's planning, and never before have things crystallized so easily for me!

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 The secret is to control the grid instead of letting it control you. Let it be an organizational tool that helps you narrow down and focus on your vision.

 

Very good advice.  I would just add that some times you can't get into one year all the different skills that you want learned because your student would be overwhelmed.  You need to make sure that your grid has a realistic element to it or you might create 'teaching from a state of stress' rather than 'teaching from a state of rest.'

 

So for example, if you look at my content list and skill list (#169); and then compare it to my goals for my younger (#175), you will notice that a grid would just not line up because not all skills are learned, some are combined, and content is not my focus.  So just be mindful of what you are doing.

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Very good advice. I would just add that some times you can't get into one year all the different skills that you want learned because your student would be overwhelmed. You need to make sure that your grid has a realistic element to it or you might create 'teaching from a state of stress' rather than 'teaching from a state of rest.'

 

So for example, if you look at my content list and skill list (#169); and then compare it to my goals for my younger (#175), you will notice that a grid would just not line up because not all skills are learned, some are combined, and content is not my focus. So just be mindful of what you are doing.

So, so true! I remember an old thread about whether or not it was worthwhile to plan years ahead. Some of us have K-12 spreadsheets and others think that is nuts because so much is bound to change. For me though, assigning something (content or skill) a spot gets it out of my "gotta get it done" brain loop. The spreadsheet is there, patiently storing whatever is excess or inappropriate for the present, reducing my stress and making the present more restful.

 

And because I mentioned Inspiration, I will also say that is one thing I love about it vs a spreadsheet. It doesn't have to line up. It can simply be linked. Or the main driver could be skill building, in which case content would be secondary.

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I think Morning Time (or Circle Time) is a key to the CiRCE/rest style teaching. That doesn't mean it's always a lovely time:  Circle Time: Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real, Exhausting

 

 

I loved this, thank you for sharing it. Our morning basket time is never peaceful for than 15 minutes with an almost 3 year old. I know when I can embrace it for what it IS instead of the picture perfect scene that I have in my head, then I will truly be at a state of rest, and your post helped with that. 

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I do not have a lot to contribute to this thread, but if there is one thing I have learned so far, it is that I am most successful when I am true to myself and least successful when I fight my own nature. I learn and stretch and grow, yes. But I no longer fight my true nature!

Thank you for saying this. It is so true and I think that is the heart of..... Everything. Life! This is life advice. We need to look at ourselves, at our own strengths (especially) and weaknesses and not look at everyone else and want our family, homeschool, marriage, life to be like theirs and somehow feel inferior (which I have a major problem with) when it's not.

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Examples of developing an authentic science program for your student:

 

These are reverting to later posts, so just go to post #1 to see the process we went through to come up with the different plans.

 http://forums.welltr.../#entry4436605;

http://forums.welltr...h/#entry4431909

http://forums.welltr...e/#entry4513402;

 

Wow! Just . . . wow! Thanks for taking the time in the first place to help these posters, and thanks for linking the threads here. I'm spinning with ideas . . . . :) 

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Ruth, you've been a big help :001_tt1:  but I'm also a bit depressed(?) because it turns out I don't know many of the answers to your questions, despite spending so much time with my kids. I've done my best to pick curricula I thought was rigorous with the idea that if they were just used to rigor they wouldn't realize it was "supposed to be" strenuous. Then I've just done the next thing and checked boxes. This hasn't been without merit and comfort that we won't have huge gaps, and they are often engaged, but I just feel it could be so much more, you know? I feel like my work is in pillars (see I like structures!) and they don't touch or cross enough and generate a real learning environment. I don't know how they learn best, I know which topics they struggle with or find easy.  I'm operating at a more basic and lower level then the level of thinking required to answer your questions.

 

The grid is probably a bad idea on the whole, and I don't actually have a desire to use it. If it could be considered an intermediate step I'd rather leapfrog over it and make a bigger change; I just don't know how to do it. I'm going to have to stretch outside of my comfort zone and try some things in faith. I wish I were more creative and less "square" about these things. (The analogy I can think of is that when I played an instrument I practiced and practiced classical music and was very good at playing all the notes I needed to when I was supposed to. But when people improvised music or played more syncopated jazz I couldn't fathom it. Or jam bands; yeah, I'm not going to be in a jam band. :) ) I've been fine with my tendencies because they only affected my own life; now I feel I have to do something different because my kids are not like me and I'm doing them a disservice. 

 

It's difficult to find the balance between "being true to myself" and stretching myself to make things work better for my kids.

 

I feel like I've derailed the thread. May I take your postings above and copy them into a new thread? I am finding your feedback invaluable but I feel guilty for doing this on the Circe thread.  :blushing:

 

 

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Comparison breeds nothing but discontent. Elizabeth Foss wrote a great blog post on it called The Pharisee in Us.

 

I don't understand this post.  Is she trying to say that the people who've read her blogs and books about her family's homeschooling experiences, and "filled in the blanks," are Pharisees?   :confused1:   

 

There seems to be some blaming the victim going on here.  Not to say that this problem is the fault of these authors, who perhaps just were/are trying to help.  I think it has more to do with contemporary culture -- the media, the short and carefully selected "slice of life" posts, the visual images, the constant self-marketing.   There's an aspect of glamor in all this that seems antithetical to classical education.  Not to mention genuine Christian family life.  

 

My experience has been that the blogs that mainly offer spiritual support (prayers, quotations from inspirational classics, etc.) are more helpful than the picturesque ones.  Because really, quite a lot of the time, it's a hard slog.  

 

(And for what it's worth, I think the tendency toward excessive reading of blogs, comparing curricula, etc. has more to do with acedia than Pharisaism.   Though maybe that's just me.)

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I don't understand this post.  Is she trying to say that the people who've read her blogs and books about her family's homeschooling experiences, and "filled in the blanks," are Pharisees?   :confused1:   

 

There seems to be some blaming the victim going on here.  Not to say that this problem is the fault of these authors, who perhaps just were/are trying to help.  I think it has more to do with contemporary culture -- the media, the short and carefully selected "slice of life" posts, the visual images, the constant self-marketing.   There's an aspect of glamor in all this that seems antithetical to classical education.  Not to mention genuine Christian family life.  

 

My experience has been that the blogs that mainly offer spiritual support (prayers, quotations from inspirational classics, etc.) are more helpful than the picturesque ones.  Because really, quite a lot of the time, it's a hard slog.  

 

(And for what it's worth, I think the tendency toward excessive reading of blogs, comparing curricula, etc. has more to do with acedia than Pharisaism.   Though maybe that's just me.)

it's about constantly comparing ourselves. She gets e-mails saying how people don't like her blog because it's too pretty, to spiritual, too... Or that it seems like she doesn't suffer. And I was bringing that constant comparing to homeschooling. We judge each other and ourselves when we constantly compare-especially when we find ourselves constantly lacking. 

 

So, to bring it over to this subject, constantly comparing your kids to another posters, your curriculum to another newer one, your home flow to others isn't really good for us or our families. Discontent doesn't get much done, and it's not a fruitful place to be.  

 

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it's about constantly comparing ourselves. (...) Discontent doesn't get much done, and it's not a fruitful place to be.  

 

I understand that part.  It just seems like quite a leap to bring the Pharisees into it.  

 

Aside from that, I still think that the media themselves are a big part of the problem.  I don't think we can hope to remedy the situation without recognizing this.  From the post:

 

"My favorite social media is Instagram. I love a picture. I really, really do. I love the way a picture can tell a whole story. Instagram (and all its sisters) is a slippery slope towards filling in all the blanks outside the frame and making a false idol of one's neighbor."

 

But the picture doesn't tell a whole story.  (I just showed this to DH, and he had the same reaction.)  There's no context.  That's precisely why we're tempted to fill things in. 

 

I fix my gaze on my own icon of my neighbor and on the distorted vision of myself reflected in my perception of her."

 

The feeling I'm getting is that all of this is a somewhat automatic reaction to something very unnatural -- the constant sensory bombardment with all sorts of tempting images.   

 

Tibby's Mama, or anyone else familiar with Eastern Christian spirituality -- can you help me out with something?

 

I was reading about nepsis (vigilance, watchfulness), which is supposed to be a remedy for acedia.  It seems that the Desert Fathers considered images to be temptations to concupiscence (i.e., a false desire of the sensuous appetites).  So, part of nepsis was preventing images from taking hold.   These images could be interior ones conjured up by our imagination, but they could also be exterior ones in our environment.

 

Is this just something for monastics, or is it advice that Orthodox Christians and Byzantine Catholics would tend to apply in everyday life?  If the latter, how do people go about this?  (I originally came across the reference to nepsis and images in the preview of this crazy expensive book, but would like something a bit more accessible.)  

 

ETA:  Just found a message board on which someone asked the same question last year.  Quite a helpful thread.      

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Perhaps your boxes, or some of them, could be questions pertaining to your goals? Sometimes even changing a word helps me focus on what  -- maybe "explore" instead of just "read".

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I understand that part.  It just seems like quite a leap to bring the Pharisees into it.  

 

Aside from that, I still think that the media themselves are a big part of the problem.  I don't think we can hope to remedy the situation without recognizing this.  From the post:

 

"My favorite social media is Instagram. I love a picture. I really, really do. I love the way a picture can tell a whole story. Instagram (and all its sisters) is a slippery slope towards filling in all the blanks outside the frame and making a false idol of one's neighbor."

 

But the picture doesn't tell a whole story.  (I just showed this to DH, and he had the same reaction.)  There's no context.  That's precisely why we're tempted to fill things in. 

 

I fix my gaze on my own icon of my neighbor and on the distorted vision of myself reflected in my perception of her."

 

The feeling I'm getting is that all of this is a somewhat automatic reaction to something very unnatural -- the constant sensory bombardment with all sorts of tempting images.   

 

Tibby's Mama, or anyone else familiar with Eastern Christian spirituality -- can you help me out with something?

 

I was reading about nepsis (vigilance, watchfulness), which is supposed to be a remedy for acedia.  It seems that the Desert Fathers considered images to be temptations to concupiscence (i.e., a false desire of the sensuous appetites).  So, part of nepsis was preventing images from taking hold.   These images could be interior ones conjured up by our imagination, but they could also be exterior ones in our environment.

 

Is this just something for monastics, or is it advice that Orthodox Christians and Byzantine Catholics would tend to apply in everyday life?  If the latter, how do people go about this?  (I originally came across the reference to nepsis and images in the preview of this crazy expensive book, but would like something a bit more accessible.)  

 

ETA:  Just found a message board on which someone asked the same question last year.  Quite a helpful thread.      

I think, perhaps, it also had to do with a personality type (not saying that media doesn't feed the beast). I LOVE images. (certain kinds) In my creative space, I have tons of images decoupaged on poster boards and hung up. Gardens, flowers, art I love, scenes, quotes, lots of textural stuff, and beaded jewelry...  It totally feeds my creativity. It's why pinterest is awesome for me, and that slippery slope for another. I get completely creatively filled and then turn and kapow! I'm painting something, sewing something, mixed media...after looking at them, while another person hates pinterest because to her, it's everything she feels is lacking in her life. 

 

I decorate with images in mind. The texture of the fern against the curtain, with the couch at the base. The way the sunlight hits it in the afternoon is just beautiful. 

 

 

A still life has no context, either, it's just a study in form and color, and shading, yet they are beautiful. 

 

 

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I understand that part.  It just seems like quite a leap to bring the Pharisees into it.  

 

Aside from that, I still think that the media themselves are a big part of the problem.  I don't think we can hope to remedy the situation without recognizing this.  From the post:

 

"My favorite social media is Instagram. I love a picture. I really, really do. I love the way a picture can tell a whole story. Instagram (and all its sisters) is a slippery slope towards filling in all the blanks outside the frame and making a false idol of one's neighbor."

 

But the picture doesn't tell a whole story.  (I just showed this to DH, and he had the same reaction.)  There's no context.  That's precisely why we're tempted to fill things in. 

 

I fix my gaze on my own icon of my neighbor and on the distorted vision of myself reflected in my perception of her."

 

The feeling I'm getting is that all of this is a somewhat automatic reaction to something very unnatural -- the constant sensory bombardment with all sorts of tempting images.   

 

Tibby's Mama, or anyone else familiar with Eastern Christian spirituality -- can you help me out with something?

 

I was reading about nepsis (vigilance, watchfulness), which is supposed to be a remedy for acedia.  It seems that the Desert Fathers considered images to be temptations to concupiscence (i.e., a false desire of the sensuous appetites).  So, part of nepsis was preventing images from taking hold.   These images could be interior ones conjured up by our imagination, but they could also be exterior ones in our environment.

 

Is this just something for monastics, or is it advice that Orthodox Christians and Byzantine Catholics would tend to apply in everyday life?  If the latter, how do people go about this?  (I originally came across the reference to nepsis and images in the preview of this crazy expensive book, but would like something a bit more accessible.)  

 

Sorry I can't answer your question since I'd never heard of "nepsis" myself. It may be something monks do but is not something typically discussed on a parish level. 

 

But you're definitely onto something about these homeschooling "lifestyle" blogs. There is something very unnatural about them although it's what is to be expected in the unnatural world that we live in. We're so separated from authethenic culture and tradition that we go looking for it on a blog full of pretty pictures specifically chosen by the blogger to convey a lifestyle. And then we beat ourselves up because our house isn't that pretty and our kids aren't that well behaved or don't read Latin or [fill in the blanks]. And then the blogger insists "oh no no no, you misunderstand. My kids are awful. Honest." But of course she didn't show pictures of the kids being awful, KWIM?

 

New Orthodox and Orthodox inquirers are always told to stay off the internet because it gives a distorted view of Orthodox life. But where else are you going to find this mystical "real" Orthodox (or any traditional Christianity - replace with Catholicism in this context) life? We're muddling our way through, trying to recreate something that was discarded a few generations ago all by ourselves with our books and google. But what else are you going to do? Once you begin to understand how much has been lost you can't just go along with everyone else. And bringing this back to the topic, I think this muddling through all by ourselves with Google and good books is exactly what I'm doing with trying to figure out what Andrew Kern is all about (I write "I" since I only want to speak for myself here).

 

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So in both a literal and figurative sense, I could make a grid with the skills going down the side and the content across the top and add the work into the intersections? Using the Economist example above, in the intersections of the column "Current Events Content," with the rows "Reading Comprehension Skills," "Critical Analysis Skills," and "Oral Presentation Skills," I could write "Read the Economist and give a presentation about a controversial subject."

 

Is that right, at least conceptually?

 

ETA: I wrote this before reading your second post. Trying to digest that now....

 

 

If I tried to make a grid like that, I would be stressed, not helped to be at a place of rest.  At the same time, though, box checking or checking things off a list can release endorphins, and so might be very useful--both restful to have the list and boxes, and also perhaps uplifting to check things off.

 

I think that to some degree when I plan I have a degree of an subconscious list somewhat like the grid idea above.

 

The reality is that a lot of subjects in our homeschool are governed by the world we live in. We live in the USA, thus English is a required subject, and skills related to English (reading, writing, speaking) are key. We live in a rural area, thus gardening and related enterprises are central to our homeschool (this is an area where things Andrew Kern has said hugely resonate with me, and though I am not trying to do a Circe education, part of what we have always done, does seem to fit in with Kern's ideas). We live in the early 21st century, and thus a certain level of competence in mathematics (I think I place mathematics into a position of much greater importance than does Circe) and science is needed. I think history is important to understanding how the world got to where it is now, and to take ones place in the future, plus my son loves history, so that is a key part of our homeschool.  Literature and reading are a key part of our homeschool.  We live in the 21st century and thus DVD's, computer, etc. are available to be a significant part of our homeschooling. We live in an area that has weather that plays a part in what we do...3/4 of the year lots of outdoor exercise (PE) is possible... swimming has only a small window of opportunity, but biking can be done with few days exceptions, year round.

 

I also feel that some area of arts is important--doing it, not just appreciating and studying it, but it can be visual arts, or music, or theater, or poetry.  If we lived somewhere like New York City, museums and events would probably play a big part in our homeschool, and gardening might be hard to do, but where we are, the gardening is a big component, with lots of room to do it, and the art has to be mainly appreciated via recordings, and picture in books, nor do we have easy access to excellent art, music, etc. classes here.

 

If I lived in New York City now much would be different, and even more different if in Moscow now, or in 1814 rural America, or in a suburb of Sao Paulo in 1989. much would be different.

 

I also have a sense of what he has been doing and can do, and what he needs to do. When he was little, I sheltered him from the news of the day, but now at 12, current events have become something to pay attention to more.

 

When he was still not reading at 9, that was the key focus of homeschooling, and needing to find right curricula that would work for him.

 

I have a sense of what subjects are necessary and possible for the world we are in, here in this exact place and time...and which might be nice, but are not necessary... some are perhaps not necessary, but because they are possible here they may get done.  A lot of subjects are, in a sense, available as electives if he should be interested, but are not mandatory. For me, the 3 Rs and also life skills (cooking, chores, learning to plan things, etc. etc.) are mandatory, whether or not he wants them.

 

But as far as your Economist example goes, for us it would be different: more like, an ad might come in the mail for a magazine, say Discover or Smithsonian or National Geographic as more likely to interest my particular ds, which he might bring to my attention and ask if he can get it. So if I could afford it, I would probably say Yes. (This has happened several times so far.) Then, when it came, he might pick it up and read some of it, and then if it is interesting to him, he will tell me about an article he has read.   So that is all the things you mention happening, like oral presentation and reading etc., but I have not assigned him to do those things. If I did, he would probably quickly hate it and clam up.

 

ETA: other  significant parts of our homeschool relate to what my ds has as his own goals--or at least as they manifest at age 12. I would probably had him do Spanish--but he decided on German, for example.

And probably at least some of what is chosen, fits what appeals to me as teacher to be able to work with.

 

 

I think it is sort of like there is an unwritten "grid" at the back of my mind, and I am aware what happens in our homeschool life that is forwarding different aspects of my son's education, and then if something seems like it is getting left out, I find a way to put that in place and work on that skill or content.  But if it will happen in the course of day, week or month, then I sort of note that on an invisible check list/grid.  

 

At the same time, I note what has worked well in the past and so know, for example, that for our particular homeschool, getting documentary movies is very useful, or that just leaving books around that I think would be good for him to read is useful, or that 2 shorter sessions of math is better for us than one long one, and that around an hour per day is about right for him, or that he is more likely to work well on logic by using a game like Mastermind than a book like Perplexors, or that playing classical music during cleaning time is useful.

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I often have to remind myself that really (and this is in no way meant to offend), we are all kind of the blind leading the blind. No one has all of the answers. The newer we are to homeschooling, the younger our children are, the less answers we probably have. Now, that is not to say that we should not try and help one another. Frankly, sometimes another homeschool mom has just the answer we need in our given situation. But, she likely does not have ALL the answers we need.

 

I also need to remind myself that many bloggers are marketing themselves. And, many homeschool bloggers have changed the way they do things over the years and those “answers†they had in their early blogging years no longer seem to be the right answers for their family. Again, this does not mean that blogs are bad and that we should never read them. But, we do need to understand that these bloggers are merely trying their best. If we are inspired and walk away from the computer ready to give our best to our duties then reading blogs may be a good use of time. If we walk away discouraged and doubting ourselves, then we probably would be better off playing with, reading to, or discussing with our children.

 

I need to remind myself that homeschooling young children looks very different than homeschooling high school aged students. Homeschooling one or two children looks very different than homeschooling a large family. Homeschooling children who are all elementary or all high school aged looks very different than homeschooling multiple ages and stages.

 

I need to remind myself that no one has all of the answers because, frankly, there is no single right way to educate. Not even Circe has all of the answers. For example, Circe seeks to help Christian educators at Christian schools as well as homeschool parents. What a teacher of one subject or one grade at a Christian school (imagine on one end of the spectrum a young teacher without a family of his or her own) has time to accomplish is very different than what a homeschool mom with 3 children (or 5 or 7 or more) all working at different levels has time to plan and execute. We are responsible for SO much as homeschool moms. It is a blessing to be able to care for these children that God has entrusted to us. But, it is also a daunting task!

 

Because it is so daunting, forums like this are very helpful to get advice from other parents. Sometimes, we need to know “what did you use for X subject†or “what do you like about Y curriculum†or “what would you do in Z situation.†But what others have taken from the Circe thread and from the lectures and articles on their website is likely going to be diverse. What one mother “calls†(or not) "Circe" may not hold up to another parent’s definition of “Circe.†I completely understand the desire for answers but I am not sure that there is a collective “Circe†way of doing things. (If there is, I have missed it.)

 

The Circe thread a couple of years ago helped me to return to this basic premise that I was losing sight of- God gave these children to me and as long as I work hard, continually learn more, share myself and my talents with my children, God will cover all of my errors (and I make a lot of them). The more I read about education (and I have been studying educational theory, pedagogy and curricula for years), the more I am convinced that there is no one right way to educate. For some, a purchased curriculum can be the means to teaching from a state of rest. For others, a purchased curriculum can take all of the life out of teaching and cause anxiety.

 

Because really, Circe, for me, boils down to providing inspiration, not answers. For me, Circe helped me to remember that whatever we use, whatever books we read, whatever curriculum we love, we need to teach or guide our children and not merely send them off to learn on their own. At some point, we need to teach our children to learn independently, and they will be spending part (or most) of the day learning on their own. I am finding that it is more challenging to keep up with my children’s learning when they are older and independent. (This could be because I have a pre-Ker as well.) But I am also finding that it is incredibly rewarding for me to discuss my children’s learning as they get older. Educating our children is about connection- our children connecting with knowledge and finding their path in life, us connecting with our children and being privileged to hear their inner thoughts and celebrate their academic accomplishments, and all of us connecting to Christ. Because for me, Circe inspired one thing above all else- to keep Christ at the center.

 

And that leads to one final thing I need to remind myself of- it is a rare mother who is always able to teach from a state of rest. We write about teaching from a state of rest. We strive to teach from a state of rest. We even achieve teaching from a state of rest from time to time- sometimes even for days or months at a time. But then, high school rolls around or college applications need to be written or everyone starts talking about this subject or that test and we suddenly feel anxious- if even for a moment. The only real rest comes through our Faith.

 

Sorry this turned out to be so long (and came so late in the thread).

 

Happy Easter!

 

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And as for the "Great, but what do I do on Monday morning" responses (I have been there and can relate to that response).

 

Don't stress yourself out by thinking you have to throw everything out of the window and start over on Monday. May I humbly suggest that you do exactly what you have planned to do but focus on the child (or children) you are teaching more and less on getting it done. If you are not already doing it, try and make time to read a little more of what they are reading. Ask a question you come up with on your own in addition to the ones in the guide. Listen to your children. Encourage their questions by finding answers together instead of rushing off to the next thing.  Baby steps. Relax. Learn. Give yourself time and be good to yourself.

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And as for the "Great, but what do I do on Monday morning" responses (I have been there and can relate to that response).

 

Don't stress yourself out by thinking you have to throw everything out of the window and start over on Monday. May I humbly suggest that you do exactly what you have planned to do but focus on the child (or children) you are teaching more and less on getting it done. If you are not already doing it, try and make time to read a little more of what they are reading. Ask a question you come up with on your own in addition to the ones in the guide. Listen to your children. Encourage their questions by finding answers together instead of rushing off to the next thing. Baby steps. Relax. Learn. Give yourself time and be good to yourself.

Interesting. I don't see the Monday morning inquiries as people wanting to immediately throw everything out, just as wanting specific baby steps toward change, as you indicated. But then I guess we all tend to see things through our own lens. Things are going well here, but I am always on the lookout for beneficial tweaks. I also try to keep one eye down the path, looking toward changes we need to make as the kids get older.

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Interesting. I don't see the Monday morning inquiries as people wanting to immediately throw everything out, just as wanting specific baby steps toward change, as you indicated. But then I guess we all tend to see things through our own lens. Things are going well here, but I am always on the lookout for beneficial tweaks. I also try to keep one eye down the path, looking toward changes we need to make as the kids get older.

 

You are probably right. I have had moments where I wanted things to be different but I did not know how to make that happen come Monday morning. I am not a "baby steps" person by nature. When I have a goal in mind I want to make it happen right away! Sorry for assuming anyone else would have the same reaction.

 

Since I did not have specifics to offer I probably should have just kept my reflections to myself. Sorry.

 

Wishing everyone luck as they search for the tweaks that will lead them where they want to go!

 

 

 

 

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You are probably right. I have had moments where I wanted things to be different but I did not know how to make that happen come Monday morning. I am not a "baby steps" person by nature. When I have a goal in mind I want to make it happen right away! Sorry for assuming anyone else would have the same reaction.

 

Since I did not have specifics to offer I probably should have just kept my reflections to myself. Sorry.

 

Wishing everyone luck as they search for the tweaks that will lead them where they want to go!

Oh my gosh! I didn't mean that you shouldn't have posted or that I am more likely right than you are! I just commented because I viewed it through a different lens, something I only noticed when I read your post. You made me aware of my own bias, which is a good thing! So if we are looking at it from different viewpoints, surely there are others viewing through their own lenses all along the spectrum between those POV's.

 

(And I haven't offered specifics in this thread either, but I'm still here. LOL)

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Since I did not have specifics to offer I probably should have just kept my reflections to myself. Sorry.

 

Does this mean I have to apologize for "liking" your post?   :001_smile:

 

Seriously, though, I found it a helpful reminder.  Things that are obvious to other people sometimes sail right over my head.  

 

Part of me still wants to chuck it all, and teach with the literature, media, people and places around us.   More or less "parent-led unschooling."  (Is that a thing?)  And I just might do that in the upcoming year, if I can come up with a checklist of skills to keep track of things.  

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Oh my gosh! I didn't mean that you shouldn't have posted or that I am more likely right than you are! I just commented because I viewed it through a different lens, something I only noticed when I read your post. You made me aware of my own bias, which is a good thing! So if we are looking at it from different viewpoints, surely there are others viewing through their own lenses all along the spectrum between those POV's.

 

(And I haven't offered specifics in this thread either, but I'm still here. LOL)

 

No worries!

 

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Does this mean I have to apologize for "liking" your post?   :001_smile:

 

 

 

:laugh: Is it painstakingly obvious that I have not gotten comfortable participating in online communities?

 

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Does this mean I have to apologize for "liking" your post?   :001_smile:

 

Seriously, though, I found it a helpful reminder.  Things that are obvious to other people sometimes sail right over my head.  

 

Part of me still wants to chuck it all, and teach with the literature, media, people and places around us.   More or less "parent-led unschooling."  (Is that a thing?)  And I just might do that in the upcoming year, if I can come up with a checklist of skills to keep track of things.  

 

What would be wrong with that? 

 

You are not an uneducated woman. Your husband is not an uneducated man. I know that you are constantly self educating, and that you have exceptional possibilities around you. 

 

I think that it would be an amazing year for you. 

 

I pulled Hannah out of school when she was 11, and in 4/5th grade. The twins were born when Hannah was 7, so they were 4, and then I had Nate who was 3, and I was pregnant with Sophia. How much homeschooling do you think I got done? Almost none. I honestly don't remember those years much at all. Their schooling wasn't lacking those years, but do you know when I screwed up the most? It in the *older* years, when she went back to PS and I gave up her junior and senior year when we would have been bearing most of the fruit of the earlier years. 

 

 

 

 

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I love this!!

 

I am relaxed because I am well prepared. I have done my job, and I am not that often caught unaware. I am confident because I am well prepared. I am in a state of rest because I have done my part, and I know God will show up for the day. I know that even with mistakes, He writes straight with crooked lines, and that as long as I'm doing my part in good faith and to the best of my ability, God will fill in my gaps. 



 

 

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I know that even with mistakes, He writes straight with crooked lines,

 

I missed this line until I read it in the quote. Makes me think of los reglones torcidos de Dios. Spanish speakers can correct me if I am wrong about that. It has been a long time since I have spoken Spanish.

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