A protocol of a sort (words stolen from Willa)

Religion is no doubt a difficult topic of discussion. Specially if you hold a belief, like I do, that claims to be the right way, which excludes other denominations from being onto the right path. It is very uncomfortable for me to express this. I'm human. I want to be liked, I want to be accepted, and I want to be part of a group. I would love to be able to say I'm in the same sack when it comes to christianity... but  I can't say it, that would be untrue, and I can't but be loyal to what I believe to be the Truth. It's not at all that I'm forcing this upon any of you, but at times, if the topic comes up as recently it has, I feel compelled to speak up.

Needless to say most of the times we come to no understanding, but true tolerance to me is exactly that, to not hold information when in disagreement. Tolerance is not to say that what works for one doesn't work for another, that's postmodern, that trivializes your believe, if it's the case your believe is in contradiction with the person you are debating. I have a different view about which books are 'healthy' and 'edify' than most of my friends, but I can't tell them what they read is good for them, because in my case my concept of healthy is derived from my believes, and again, I claim it's not my opinion what I'm sharing, but the Truth. However at the end of the conversation, I do not think of them as 'inferior' for making their choices, or I don't talk about them on their back. And even if they'd insult me or simply criticize me in my absence, true respect and tolerance is to not be upset about this, to still don't think of myself as better (since I also am guilty of the same on occassion). See, I still think what 'works' for me should 'work' for anyone, because I believe it to be the Truth...

Once I heard that is better to debate with a convicted budist than with a postmodern. The postmodern approach, that has permeated most of our culture, and that we hold at times even without noticing, it is deprecating of the opponent. First, the person being postmodern doesn't tell you all his/her truth but debates from a sense of superiority, since things are relative, since they don't believe there are truths and principles. Secondly, it accuses you of being intolerant if your view excludes his/her. Third, it believes to be superior because it includes everything and everyone, everyone but YOU, that is, because you have a Truth, a vision, a side on a matter that you live coherently and try to defend with the example of your life. I could say more, like a postmodern changes by convenience and it likes to be politically correct. It also defends at times not even 'his/her' own views, but it becomes the protector of  'others' who are not even represented, who did not ask for them to 'defend' them, who truly don't care and who would ultimately not act like the postmodern himself, precisely because they also hold definite and exclusive believes that they don't want to accommodate or subject to circumstantial ethics of the moment.

Once out of my system, I can breathe now, I have to add that I respect and admire my blogging friends ... A LOT. As much as to be indebted to the fact truth that they have made a great impression on me and a better person, mom, and teacher.

If you didn't do it already, I encourage you to read Willa's post, Homeschool Toolbox. Like Willa, I like Gatto too. He is one of the first authors I read when I contemplated homeschooling. Like her, I also see the difference between not wanting to do something out of complacency, or judging that is not the right turn to take, or the 'bad pain and good pain'. And like her, I'm at a point where I can sincerely follow my insight more, and give me credit for that insight or common sense I know is an educated one, not just a fancy. As she says, to me planning and organization, if I take it to extremes, seems to be a drag from time with my family. We accomplish more when we have an open ended routine and a schedule with just the main blocks of time noted, and the fixed activities in the week.

I just like Willa's words, a protocol of some sort. That's exactly what I wanted to decide upon for this 'new year' that we'll start in July. I want a gentle routine, and I'm hoping those days a week devoted to 'different aspects' of our education, will simplify our day that I always tend to overload, and help with those aspects to not be scattered all over but to hopefully flow in a poetic cadence, and that the 'planning' will truly give me a good overview of the months and help me be better at those poetic parts of the learning you can't buy in a box. In a way it saves up lots of money, on the other hand, they require dedication and a mindset willing to get out of the home, not be grouchy for all the water paint cleaning, remembering that dancing to nice music is as important as the many extra books you want to read that day, and truly spend the time on the Internet looking for those videos and songs, and hymns, that you will be listening and watching those months.

I'm working more than in a detailed plan, on making the 'plan' a skin so that it doesn't show as a 'plan' at all. Does this make any sense? Now my challenge is really to be humble and stop from thinking that we can, should, and need all that exhaustive and rigid approach every day, every week, every month, but to also be diligent as to incorporate and prepare my disposition to be joyous when doing thinks such as the walks, dance, art studies... and patient instead of pushing to get to what "I", erroneously conceive to be the bone of education (ergo BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS). That's because of my faulty education or because grown ups, as Charlotte Mason says, have lost that ability to observe and be fascinated by the world around and we need to read about it in books, as I was translating yesterday from the most thought provoking words of CM about nature, that along with the Poetic Knowledge Book club are shaping my views of education.

7 opinion(s):

Pam... said...

I liked this: "I'm working more than in a detailed plan, on making the 'plan' a skin so that it doesn't show as a 'plan' at all."

And this "they [blogging friends of various 'persuasions' (if I may put it in my own words)]have made a great impression on me and a better person, mom, and teacher."

Agreeing also in this: "We accomplish more when we have an open ended routine and a schedule with just the main blocks of time noted, and the fixed activities in the week."

The last part works best in our home because with 8 students and much busyness, I find that if we want a certain thing to be done, or a goal accomplished it will be accomplished...if written down. As general as that thing is or as detailed. "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." Anatole France; novelist

Willa said...

I like that idea of a "skin", too. And I have been thinking about "blocks of time" -- how that would work. Perhaps still do MEP (which is what we have used in the past) and things like that but not worry about finishing a lesson each day? I have been trying to figure out how it would look!

Thanks for quoting me! ;-) I am glad you liked that post!

About post-modernism, I understand it is defined as seeing truth as a construct, something that we create in our minds. I just read that it was a reaction to the mechanical scientific ideas of the Enlightenment. In trying to acknowledge a certain amount of complexity, it went off the deep end and denied the existence of truth altogether.

What I see in the Bible, perhaps, is a different kind of acknowledgement of complexity. Jesus often talked in paradoxes -- "blessed are the poor" "if you are struck in the face, turn your other cheek" He also used parables and hyperbole -- say, the camel going through the needle's eye. This is not giving up on truth in the least, of course, but a way of using language to show that truth takes our whole selves to understand, not just the uppermost parts of our brains.

I agree with you that it's better to be truthful, though sometimes I find it hard to express truth in a few words because I realize there is so much richness that a few words can be misunderstood. That's probably why I like discussions where people are willing to listen as well as speak out, because it advances the discussion -- you get a better sense of how the other people are using the words, which seems important especially when we're typing and can't see each other face to face -- as you mentioned on my blog!

Silvia said...

Pam, I know that you so wisely have learned fast how to have a meaningful learning time with all your children and doing what it takes to get to that point, such as getting things in writing, so that they happen. Even me, with just two children, like writing goals so that not much is floating and ends up forgotten.

It's an effort to me to stay away from goals seen as check lists, but at the same time, we still pursue goals that I want to fall into place and 'get done' at the right time, and I like typing the plans, even if they don't happen like dreamed, even if I need to adjust them often. All this is because the way my girls that are little interact with their plans, is by trying what 'mom has planned' and that way I get to see if it was appropriate or not. They need to do the adjustments, and that's taking some time, to get to know each other, and to respect not pushing but not having them without guidance. The perfect dance that will happen, and has already taken place at times, and that gives you a feeling and fulfillment hard to put in words.

Have you all noticed how difficult is to find the right words when talking about planning? Everything is so goal oriented in a negative modern sense of getting things done, making progress, accomplishing, checking things off, listing, moving forward... I know some people are very oriented to writing lists, detailed plans, organization... so I don't know if it's the way I am, or the path I've chosen, but my views are changing and departing from this urge I had to organize, plan and be so rigorous with our schedule. I now prefer being generous, in the offering to them, and in the criticizing my efforts.

Silvia said...

(Read with a smirk in your face: I need to blame YOU, friends, Pam for raising the list of my aspirations for my family (painting, poetry, nature identification, notebooking, narration... you name it). She is always bringing something from CM that I thought... nay... I can surely live without it! To make me realize I need to try, even if it's baby steps, it's important, and I can't escape from the knowledge those are worth the time invested.

I need poetic words to describe this, but it's hard not to be too vague as if I did not do anything toward planning, when it's not the case. That's why, I think, you both liked the 'skin' metaphor, because it expresses better what is a poetic approach to planing, I believe.

Willa, (put that smirk back), I can't believe you are 'making an unschooler of me', or am I bringing you back into the 'schooling'? Not really. I also have a very subversive view of education. That scares me sometimes, because I'm very abiding by the rules. I'm going to keep 'stealing', ha ha ha, and tell you that's what I envision, not to worry if the 'math lesson' is finished. I truly believe I need to make what modern education sees as important secondary, because there are many other things that need to be in place before and that should matter me most since I already know about their importance. And truly make those happen, more than 'if we have time after the lessons'.

I like what you say about the Bible. I truly admire your ability to always make real connections from the 'difficult readings' and with your faith. I never got this postmodern reaction from any of you, friends (you are far from postmodern -- even if you could have 'sounded' for a minute like that, I know you are not, :P), I was referring to authors, other things I come across. I could have said I rather discuss with a convicted person like any of you, from any 'persuasion', as Pam called it, than with a person that holds no truth. (Horror... I hope nobody thought I was alluding to any of the respectful people that have conversed about religion in your blog, Willa... I precisely thought that it was impressive we could debate with so much respect, versus the kind of desperate feeling I get when I debate or hear a postmodern talk or written thing.

When we talked at your blog, Willa, you and the others offered always information, arguments, your experience, and what you believe on the controversial points in a candid open way... you just didn't tell me, oh, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree, end of the question, but cared for me enough as to elaborate and as you say, try with words to express your views.

And your explanation of postmodernism is clear and right on the spot. Then post moderns have the same problem the sophists and all those who deny any truth or principle have. They still hold one principle, that of the existence of no truth.

I'm going to retire now. Thanks A LOT for conversing with me during this busy summer. I love to listen to you when you can, and when you can't I still know you are there.

Thanks for all you mean to me.

Pam... said...

It is too funny; but I think we may all in agreement about poetic learning despite the approach (unschooling or not)? Possibly we are somewhat in agreement, or at least having similar goals of loose/adjustable plans. This way we are fully in the moment vs. bogged down by someone's curriculum guide/check off lists; yet not totally wingin it? Ya think?

In my case the group times and circle times are loose and geared toward 'what fits for today'.Yet the choices are listed for me to reference...or I could totally draw a blank! Then there are other learning times that are more cut and dry: in a time and place.

See, it does make a bit of a difference having 8 students and an ankle biter. Chaos needs to be avoided! Mom needs to be relaxed and joyful and that attitude flows down and out. Whatever it takes, I am for attaining these goals. I suppose that if an unschooler had 8 students it may look similar to a Montessori type classroom. (Which is lovely, by the way). Just my 2cents worth. Whatdoyaall think?

Silvia said...

I'm with you. I understand better if we talk about our practices, the way we see all this, and I think if the underlying principles (say CM, or christian goals, the way we each understand our faith which though different seems to be intense and with conviction), unites us more than whatever the 'label'. And as you say, Pam, the number of children, or in Willa's case, her living in the woods, all that makes up for the particularities.
Until I met Willa and until recently, I never had a good concept of unschooling, something rebels against or dislikes it... but funny, my friend Heather knows a friend whose mom was close to Holt, and she was unschooled or not taken to schools when unschooling was not even named like that, now she does the same with her children, and as far as she tells me, they are deeply engaged in all sort of knowledge.
I'm not sure if I look more 'unschooling' because of my stress of outdoors, and gentle academic beginnings, or because CM did not seem to see 'academics' as we know them now, but more poetic, or the classic study of liberal arts, that is not understood or practiced much more.

And a Montessori, or Waldorf approach... there are many overlaps, but again at the end of the day I don't consider any approach as well based and say 'proven' as CM. Maybe classic, as in old time classic education as Brandy describes it, which I don't know much, as opposed by a more modern tendency of making classicism as elitist, would also be a whole method, versus the systems of today, that I see more limited or mechanical... But yet all this is how I describe it in theory, I'm sure in practice we look more the same, with our uniqueness, which is what makes this 'homeschooling/unschooling' movement so rich and fascinating.

Ah, Willa, Sandra Dodds (Is that how you spell her name?) rubbed me off the wrong way because I thought of one of her posts about christianity in her site sarcastic. I've seen things from her in other blogs, and mainly I like it, but it truly springs up a bad vibe, a wrong 'feeling', something I can't put my finger on quite well.

I don't think I'll ever give up the lessons (for short or appropriate to their age, and with the right content that they may be). But my aspirations are those of blurring the limits of school and life, and that's sort of an unschooling motto, isn't it?

Labeling is a needed process for humans, but it is difficult too. We need names and labels to discern, but we always should aspire to not label to diminish or hinder, such as when they label students in schools, they tell you not to mark them, but it's a scarlet letter for them, it's unnecessary.

Willa, I don't know if this is another cliche, but I told a friend once that I'd be an unschooler if I lived in the country, or the woods... ha ha ha. Seriously, if you live where the surroundings are as rich, who'd care for reproducing schools at home. And a CM routine will happen naturally, or will it not?

But you are an unschooler as I have never seen before.

Ah, the other thing I like from Mason is that she says knowledge has an order, and if I leave it all up to the child, her interests may or may not present a rich feast that has as complete view of the broad Western culture as possible. But in any case, this 'minimums', are not an intensive course designated to make intellectual or exemplar students, but to provide them with a broad education that respects each of them as the person they are, plus it truly facilitates the awakening of different hobbies, interests, and diverse things they truly pursue, because they have plenty time for it. That's how I see it. My responsibility, not only for them, but for me to learn it as a grown up that is crippled in her education, is to find this line and order of knowledge and be sure I guide and invite the girls into it.

Willa said...

Well, you are right that Sandra Dodd is opposed to Christianity. I think she came from a home that presented a legalistic form of it and that affected her perspective. Needless to say I do not agree with everything she writes. I can understand what you mean about the bad vibe and I think that is probably your poetic experience talking.

I can't claim to be a total unschooler. I guess unschooling ideas help me see past schedules and checklists (which are sort of like addictions to me because they are so tidy and neat) into what I am doing to help my family grow. I always think more about unschooling when I realize our regular homeschooling has gotten too mechanical.

I certainly didn't think you were accusing me or anyone of being post-modern, so don't worry about that! : ) It's just that I was thinking about how hard it is to have serious conversations with people nowadays -- it's so easy either to polarize and just take completely opposite positions, or else say something that sounds like relativism. I think we did all did quite well in avoiding those traps.

A CM routine can be natural -- when I first found CM I realized it was exactly the same type of thing I did on my own after school when I was a young girl. I did copywork, memorized poetry and Bible verses, "played" the books I read, and loved the old childrens' classics. I even tried to learn languages for fun, though I never got very far on my own.

However, my boys don't always take to it so naturally, so I have to work on it with them -- having a Morning Time, giving them books to read that they might not pick up on their own, copywork, things like that.


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