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  • enbateau
    replied
    In this past century, the idea of child-directed learning has really gained ground. As secular reasoning has dominated our culture, we've moved away from the fundamental idea that all children are born into sin (with original sin--not a blank slate upon which humanity writes its thesis), and left to their own devices, they will never choose good or seek truth. If we only look at scripture, which I hope we can agree speaks powerfully to the human condition, we can see why children need explicit instruction in the true, the good and the beautiful. Humankind will seek knowledge, acclaim and power--the things of this material world, but the Bible says humanity never seeks the Lord.

    Psalm 51:5 says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”

    Proverbs 22:15 says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”

    Genesis 8:21 declares, “. . . the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

    In Psalm 14:2-3 we see: “The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

    Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

    While Ecclesiastes 9:3 echoes it: “The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts through their lives.”

    Then we can look at what scripture says about teaching our children.

    Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

    Proverbs 29:15 tells us, "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." my emphasis added

    Proverbs 22:15 further explains, "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." So, children will pursue folly unless corrected from that path.

    Hebrews 12:5-9 goes into a lengthy explanation of why teacher-led instruction/parenting is so important. It is a mirror of Christ's relationship with us: And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

    Deuteronomy 6:6-7 reminds Israel (and us) that explicit teaching in the ways of the Lord, the kind we've already established children won't naturally seek after, is the only way to preserve a society that values God's laws, protects the innocent, establishes and maintains justice and stands on truth. The Lord reminded them: "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

    Another vote from scripture for allowing an education to persevere through difficulty: Hebrews 12:11 says, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

    From scripture alone, we know that a good education has appropriate challenges full of character development that the scriptures say the child won't enjoy. Only allowing a child to pursue knowledge that is pleasing and enjoyable means the parent who wants to follow Biblical tenants for godly instruction has an even bigger job, because now the parent has to find ways OUTSIDE of a child's education to develop virtue. That sounds exhausting.

    And let's briefly look at unschooling. The child picks a topic of interest, reading books and examining the topic in its natural state. Would you plan to pre-read every book the child gets? Would you be previewing every website and video they come across? Will you be educating yourself fully in the brief time it takes between expressed interest and evaluation of the topic to facilitate a thoughtful discussion? That, too, sounds exhausting. What do you do when the child drops one topic because it gets too hard or he loses interest? Do you make him press on? How is making the child press on not the same as making a child persevere in a lose curricular outline like MP?

    I also want to make sure I'm not saying that unschoolers don't follow the Bible or that they're unbiblical or that their foundation is secular. It's just so much extra work to exclude that goodness and recoup the goodness elsewhere.

    I've done eclectic and CM. I've been run ragged searching for resources with which my daughter can engage at her own leisure. I feel at home now w/ MP, but it hasn't come without introspection and examination of the underlying philosophy. MP is my launch board for a fabulous education. My eldest will always gripe at math (and things which she finds difficult because they are new or she hasn't practiced enough). I tire of that. *I* tire of listening to her whining, although I know WHY she does it. She wants to get out of the difficult thing, the hard work, the perseverance. Scripture tells me WHY she does that. It's up to me to hold to consistent, loving boundaries.

    And here's what scripture says about that:
    Galations 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

    1 Timothy tells us to fight the good fight, finish the race.
    Last edited by enbateau; 04-26-2019, 05:53 PM.

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  • jen1134
    replied
    Emilylovesbooks, I hear alot of my own questions in your post. These are questions I have struggled with for many years, especially with our homeschool background being an eclectic mix of Montessori, CM, traditional, and unschooling. I am whole-heartedly convinced of the necessity of Classical pedagogy (method) but I too feel the pull of all the CM-based bloggers. I actually avoid reading all but one of them so that I am not "tossed about the winds" of other methods.

    I wrote the following a few weeks ago as I tried to sort this all out in my head. Note that I start with educational philosophy as that is the root of any pedagogy/method. I hope it helps:


    Question: Does philosophy matter for education?

    Philosophy guides action

    Right philosophy guides right action

    What defines right action?

    That which will lead to the proper end of the human being as a human being

    The end: to know love and serve God and be happy with Him in heaven

    What is required for this? Right thinking and right action; we must cooperate with the grace of God

    How does education lead us to this end?

    By cultivating virtue in the human being, not only in morality but in all areas of our life. A virtuous metal-worker is one who has developed skill in metal-working and who uses that skill to create well-made objects.

    How do we cultivate virtue in the human being?

    By teaching the skills, and passing on the knowledge that are needed for the human being to be everything God has created them to be as a human being.

    So education must teach skills and pass on knowledge.

    What skills?

    Community is where God has placed us, but we cannot live in community without language. We cannot understand the ideas of others or share our own ideas. With a basic command of language, we can begin to understand/share but it will be limited. We must continue to build our skill with language: we must know what words to use in what situations, we must know how to combine our words in sentences that can be understood, even by those who do not hear us directly, we must know how to use language in specific ways to inspire, persuade, or admonish. All of these are necessary for man to live fully within a community.

    What knowledge?

    Language is useless if there are no ideas to convey. But we are not the first human beings to have lived. There is a rich tradition of thought in every sphere which touches us as human beings: the order and function of the natural world, the ordering of society, religious faith, morality, art, music, and abstract ideas such as love, truth, beauty, goodness.

    Our skills with language allow us to inherit, contemplate, and pass on this body of knowledge.

    But this education must have an end purpose. That end cannot simply be the human being for the human being did not cause himself and therefore cannot be the ultimate end of anything. Union with our uncaused Cause, which we call God, is the ultimate end of man. Therefore, man’s education must pave the way for him to reach that end.

    But to reach that end, we must fulfill our earthly purpose as well: to know, love, and serve God in this world. The ways in which we are individually called to serve can vary greatly, so we must be prepared — in a general way — for whatever God may call us to.

    In order to be prepared for the variety of callings we may have, we must learn and contemplate a body of knowledge that encompasses the foundations of every pursuit.

    We must understand the order and function of language (grammar, reasoning, writing, speaking, structure, and style), the order and function of the natural world (mathematics, science, art, music), who man is as man (history, literature, theology, philosophy), who man is in relation to others (history, government, literature, philosophy), who man is in relation to God (all areas of study).

    Obviously, we cannot know everything there is to know in each of these areas, but we must learn the foundational knowledge of each in order to be able to live fully.

    From this foundation, we will be able to learn anything else that is needed for our vocation in life for we will not only have a strong foundation in each area, and understand how each fits with the others, we will also have learned how to learn.

    Thus, education must have as its purpose the development of skills in language and mathematics so that we can cultivate knowledge of science, art, music, history, literature, theology, philosophy, and government in our students.

    This is a true and sound educational philosophy [the above is grounded in Catholic teaching on education; it also "just happens" to be the view of classical education as a philosophy]. The rest is a matter of method.

    So now the question is: is there a single method that best fulfills the goals of true education?

    What methods are there? [only considering two here; there are obviously many more]

    Charlotte Mason believes that the teacher needs to present a feast of knowledge to the child while also building specific skills. These are accomplished through the reading of living books which are meant to inspire a sense of connection between the child and the knowledge they are learning. Accordingly, skills are also taught through the medium of living books. The child is seen as their own educator with the teacher facilitating their meeting with the feast of ideas. Thus narration is the primary means of contemplating the works that are read, and synthesizing the knowledge they contain, as well as connecting it to prior knowledge. Likewise, Copywork, the imitation of well-written and worthy pieces of language, is the primary means of learning the order and structure of language.

    Classical educators believe that the teacher, based on their age, education, and experience, is the custodian of both knowledge and skills and passes these to the child. Skills are taught explicitly and directly through presentation, comparison, and modeling. Modeling includes methods such as copywork and the stylistic imitation of great written works. Knowledge is shared through the reading and/or presentation of well-written, worthy works on various topics, followed by direct questioning to guide the child to the most important points within the work, and socratic questioning to investigate any error/incompleteness in the child’s impressions, bringing them to a correct and/or more complete understanding of the topic at hand. Through this guidance, the child is equipped to make substantial connections between areas of knowledge.

    Either of these methods can support true education. The question is does one do so better than the other?
    I believe that classical education (understood both in its philosophical and pedagogical meaning) supports true education best because, while many families have met the goals of true education through other methods, those methods carry greater risk because they inherently foster a "wait and see" approach. By the time you figure out whether or not it worked well for your child, it can be very late in their schooling and difficult to try to help them make up that ground.

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  • Sugarbelle
    replied
    I haven't read all the responses so I'm sorry if I'm repeating anything. I completely understand your frustration and deal with the same things. What seems to help here is to tell them their schoolwork is their job, just like Daddy has a job. My job is to teach and guide, and their job is to do the work. Another thing that motivates my kids is to remind them that they will be doing school in the summer if they delay and don't get it done within our defined school year. They don't like going beyond our end date.

    How long does it take them per subject? Short lessons with the younger ages helped. We didn't go beyond twenty minutes per subject. What about breaks? I gave my boys ten or fifteen minute breaks between more difficult subjects, which really, really helped.

    My children have not reached a point where they enjoy all their work and there is regular complaining about difficult subjects and ones they don't like. If there is too much complaining, it counts against privileges. I am not sure if they will appreciate what I'm doing for them until they are older. That's really frustrating and sometimes it gets to me, but I press on. I'm convinced kids are just too immature to appreciate our sacrifices, and I've come to realize we don't need to justify ourselves to them. You know what's best and that's all they need to know.

    I hope this helps a little.
    Last edited by Sugarbelle; 04-26-2019, 11:28 AM.

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  • MBentley
    replied
    I love this thread. It's actually delves pretty deep into our own philosophies. It's fascinating really because we each tackle this question differently. Apparently, my constant approach to questions is to answer with processes. I find that hysterical. Looking back over my responses to other questions in the forum, my thoughts follow the same pattern: here's a tool, a process, a specific strategy or plan of attack. I'm just enjoying my own humor right now.

    I'm drawn to your question about whether school teaches virtue and whether school itself is the right forum to give instruction in this area. So far, if I can humbly add what I've learned of my own kids so far...the answer has been yes. If any thing, this is the only place where they seem to really be pondering these adult concepts.

    A few specific examples (I'm incapable of anything else!):
    In the story Little Toot...on the surface, it's a cute story. Without guidance, my sons only picked up on the fact that the other tugboats were "being mean". I had to guide them a little more because I had to make them realize that while this cute little character had his feelings hurt, he was living his "entire" life pursuing his own hobbies and interests with the goal of "fun" alone. But a person can't always spend time having "fun". Is there work to do? Important work? Sometimes, life saving work? Are there responsibilities? Silliness is fun, but doesn't it have a time and place? If you are someone who isn't recognized for making that distinction - that there's a time and place for silly fun, and a time and place for focused work - people won't treat you like a grown up. My boys were confused then, because later Little Toot wanted to help. He wasn't taken seriously. He was treated like a silly child. My boys didn't like that. It bothered them that Little Toot couldn't spontaneously decide one day he was going to be "different" and others didn't just fall into line and treat him as an adult. I had to explain that more. I had to tell them that you don't just become an adult "one day". You are becoming an adult "right now". You are becoming the man you will be, right now, in this moment. Are you the man that understands how to separate a time to work and a time to rest? Are you going to be the man who works hard for his family, even when he is tired, frustrated, angry, etc? Are you going to be the man who does what he should, even without reward? (Think the opening prayer). Are you going to be the man that chooses right from wrong, even when no one else will know it but God alone? Are you the man who tells the truth or exaggerates? Are you the kind of man that only poses more problems or a man that seeks out solutions to fix them? Should you think of yourself as a little boy at all - or a Man in training? Heavy concepts for a 7 and 8 year old. But it's a silly story right? It's supposed to be teaching reading, etc. What does this long-winded example mean? Kids are notoriously bad at really seeing the deeper truths without direct, focused, and intensive guidance. Left to their own, their conclusions about behaviors are pretty shallow. They may get the "facts" of a story, but little else and I fear that is all a self directed approach to education provides - at least for this batch of boys. They may like or dislike a story, but they are unlikely to "ponder" it without my active guidance. The Enrichment for MP is, if anything, some of the most important because I get real time to help them understand people, and their own personal character development. I don't get that kind of laser like focus in any other time or place - except in the school environment.

    Example 2: Little House in the Big Woods
    "Don't interrupt Laura".
    Ah....the concept of interrupting. Laura interrupts her sister and she's called on it by her Pa. We have a problem with that here because the boys are so young and manners are a work in progress. Seeing that this was a rule 150 years ago, and it applies to siblings as well as adults, allowed me a chance to explain that truth. Believe it or not, the concept of "interrupting" being bad is not a "universal truth". Side note. I used to work in Oil and Gas for a French company that was partly run by London and both guided actions in the U.S. entity. Sitting around a conference table, the cultural distinctions become very apparent. (I have great respect for both cultures, but they themselves held seminars for us explaining their approach - so these are their words, not mine.) Interrupting is nearly an art form for the French and they don't take offense to giving or being on the receiving end of it. The British were seemingly "hostile" around the table using confrontational tones and words, but apparently, that's their approach to business models and they don't frown on it when they do it or receive it. However, the Americans around the table were hopping mad. (I was 6 months pregnant...my mouth filters were a little absent.) The point is, the cultural exposure is fascinating because you have to learn to create a foreign "filter" to what you believe are universal norms of civility. I had to explain that to my husband who had a similar experience years later at a business meeting in London. Believe it or not, after these very aggressive meetings, these same people want to have lunch and visit and have fun, be friends even. You may be ready to speak softly and go find a very big stick, but they are not! So here is the question. Are these people being rude? Is rudeness a lack of "virtue". They believe these meetings are successful, productive, effective. However, taking that same approach amongst our own culture will not have a desirable outcome. So, many desirable behaviors must be taught - explicitly. If each culture has a different view on what is a desirable behavior, then we can't stumble into that truth because it is not "universal" . My son, who has some expressive/receptive challenges, understood all of a sudden that the concept of "interrupting" really was frowned upon. Maybe it goes back to that "voodoo man voice". If Pa said not to do it, maybe it's worth listening to. It's not just "Mama's rule". When I corrected him later in the week, the use of the phrase "don't interrupt your brother" had much more gravity.

    Sometimes, I feel like school is an "appeal to authority" approach. The concept "Do this because I said so" doesn't educate, so much as end the conversation. If I can appeal to the authority of history, that an expectation is millennia old, then they start to see their place in this world and that if everyone before them came to this wisdom, then the onus of it falls to them as well - and not just because "Mama said so". If anything, I cease to be "Mama" in many ways and become more "Magistra".

    Originally posted by Callista View Post


    As far as trying to make those battles more manageable on a day to day basis though, this takes grit. It isn't easy and we all struggle with it. I could list a hundred things that I have tried and have worked and have tried and have failed. It would get boring so I will just list one of our major rules that became a game changer for us years ago: We do not speak or act negatively or in a complaining way about school during school. After school is over you may share your thoughts or complaints with me. (There does have to be consequences for when this rule is broken). It is no different than not allowing 4 letter words. It's a rule.

    I thint that the opening prayer is a great way to set up this rule. "... To give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not see for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward...." They do have to give in school, they have to fight through the frustration of the task, they have to work without immediate reward. It is all training. As Sarah said, it isn't visible yet. It will be though... just wait and see!


    .
    I used this in class on the board the other day to great effect. Thanks Callista!

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  • Callista
    replied
    You have some lovely thoughts and provoking questions! I too give you credit for bringing them up. It is a nice conversations and great to be able to take in all of the ideas and thoughts gathered here. I’ll offer up a couple of thoughts running through my mind after reading your post (keep in mind I’ve only one cup of coffee in).

    I think that your questions beg more questions that you alone will have to answer for yourself… that being, how do you interpret and perceive what virtue is and how it is attained?

    Feelings aren’t virtues. Feelings deceive us and change with the wind. Virtue forms who we are regardless of our feelings. It exists through the storm and even after the winds have died down though we be battered a bit. Thankfulness is where it starts, not happiness. Aren’t you thankful that your faith and the truth behind it isn’t dependent on how happy or how sad you are any given day?

    Here is the thought that I find interesting….You said this: “However, there does seem to be enough struggle available in regular life, and to purposely add it in for schoolwork, well....I'm going to think more about that.”

    I have struggled with this too earlier on in our homeschool days so I can relate. To me you are on the right track just flip that around a little bit…. “I AM going to purposely add in struggle to our regular ordinary lives so that when regular adult life hits them as adults they can handle it because they will be prepared.”

    Here is my example… All of my children have done and continue to strive in the martial arts. Oddly it was this activity and a passing impromptu conversation from one of the teachers that helped me in the realization of the importance of struggle, most definitely purposeful struggle. It was along the lines of life is hard and kids need to be instructed how to handle it when it hits them.… and sometimes beats them up. It doesn’t matter if your happy or sad or mad, or self-aware, life happens. What will their response be?

    On the mat the kids are sweating, they are going back and forth physically with one another and testing their own strength against other kids, other coaches.. They want to quit. They want to hit to hard that kid they don’t like. They had to do push ups for being disrespectful or late or are now angry or embarrassed. They are hot, tired, thirsty. They wonder if the black belt is worth it. It is a mess of practicing for life happening out there. It is a safe place to practice though. It is a habit of handling uncomfortable situations in a controlled environment. It is how the emotional well being of the adult that those children will become is being formed.
    • **I got noticed and praised in front of the entire group: practice thankfulness with humility
    • **There is a kid over there who is scared to death and struggling at what to do next: practice kindness and go be their partner for the evening
    • **That kid that I can’t stand is acting out again and I want to punch him: practice self control/self-discipline
    • **I’m tired and I don’t want to go to the gym tonight, even though I told them I would be there: practice loyalty.
    • **I’ve worked so hard to get my belt but I just couldn’t break the board this time. I should just throw in the towel now: practice perseverance, keep trying to break that board and test again for that belt
    • **I'm afraid to try again and fail in front of all of these people: practice bravery and courage
    • **My hand or foot hurts from practicing the board breaking so much: practice again perseverance, diligence, and toil.
    • **The gym is closed today: practice rest

    I could go on, but you get the point… the idea is that the purposeful struggle in a controlled environment is preparing for them how they will handle situations in an UNCONTROLLED environment. These things can be applied to schooling too.

    One of the coaches always tell the kids, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes habit!” It is the habit of our lives that is the formation of how they will proceed into adulthood and tackle all of that life that they will have to be able to handle.

    Kids don’t wake up one day as adults with the self awareness to realize it is time to be virtuous. Our kids won't always feel happiness. I wish! It reminds of the Amazon commercial where the mom said, “Alexa, raise the kids!”

    School is a tool to teach virtue, there are other tools too but you specifically mentioned schooling. Our habits in our homeschooling: the literature we read, the brave and courageous characters we learn about, even the lazy and prideful ones we learn about, the repetition of math drills, the handwriting practice every.single.day. , when a subject is hard for our kids (or for us) and takes more time than we wish it did but we keep going anyway… all of this is the formation of who they are and who they will become. The opposite is true too… if we chase their desires, focus on feeling happy all the time, comparing ourselves and our kids to others, hopping from one curriculum and philosophy to the next without ever completing anything and so forth…this too will determine who they become. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Lessons are caught not taught?” I get this! With homeschooling our kids get to see us at our worst and our best. Tears, struggles, joy, happiness... it all works together. We aren't covering up struggles, we are teaching (maybe without realizing it) how to handle struggles.

    On the thought of lessons being caught and just being, "tired." It's a real thing and rest is important. We also teach when it is a time for rest and how to discern that. Perhaps you could take one more week of school to tie up some loose ends / finish each lesson that you are on and then break for several weeks (start your summer now) and take your rest. Would it be possible to start back up then in July with where you stopped now. Then by September (fall) be where you would like to be? Thinking outside the box and letting go of the curriculum guide schedule is very freeing.

    This was a lot longer than I intended so please forgive me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I find them very interesting and appreciate the conversation to continue to flesh this out as it is something that I have pondered on a lot myself and still seek for right thinking….

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  • KF2000
    replied
    Emily,
    I am so glad to see you responded, and to have you flesh out even more what you are really thinking about. I am not trying to eclipse anyone else here, so I hope everyone will jump in here today and offer thoughts as well - I just happen to have my quietest time at between 5am and 6am!

    I give you so much credit for bringing your thoughts here to have this discussion. What you are reading and hearing about unschooling, or at least schooling in a way that is not quite so "school-ish" is tugging at your heart and you are wondering if it is something that will bring more happiness to your home, as far as I can tell from how you explained things. It's a restlessness about your primary vocation as a mother, who also happens to be a homeschooler. You have a beautiful brood of little people, and it sounds like perhaps you are not enjoying them all that much when it comes to your school days - and that is indeed a cause for sadness and concern that you are missing the best years of their lives by being so heavy-handed with school.

    The first thought I have from what you have shared is that you sound tired, no? Looking at your signature, my first instinct is "she HAS to be tired!" I only have one little guy and then a five year old...you have two very little boys right next to each other...that in itself is like a whole day's work right there! I would think that right now, your need to meet the physical demands of young children overwhelms your ability to really focus on school with your older two - which leaves you constantly battling and feeling behind. I think a good thing to do is to first, not make a ton of changes. Don't drop the curriculum and call it the fault of the plan. That's not it. I can tell you that right now. Don't jump ship. But what I would do is simply have the work that you do, but approach it in a more relaxed manner - a way that is more appropriate for the size and age of your household.

    I had to do that this year as well. This year is the biggest stretch I will ever have...from senior in high school all the way down to a baby underfoot (he's not really a baby - but he will get that label forever since he's most likely the last!) But midway through the year I was losing it. Always behind with everyone. So I made what I felt was a drastic change. My two primary kids went down to just three days per week - MWF. They don't get as much done, and we will probably school through the summer, but they need to anyway to keep practicing, and I needed to have two days per week to do whatever I needed with older kids, to call doctors, to make plans, to deal with life with a big family. And it has been so much more peaceful for me! I think you should make your school work FOR you instead of against you. Decide how much you can manage each week, while still making time to do fun things with your family - even if it is sitting on the floor, enjoying the fact that you have been given such blessings!

    The second thing that struck me was your concern about happiness - which is as much of an important thing for yourself as it is for your children. But what has always been true in my house is that kids can always find a reason to be unhappy. Happiness is a choice, not a goal. When you strive for it, you often can't find it. When I have been served something unpleasant for dinner, I can choose to be grumpy about it, or I can choose to be grateful for having something at all to eat. This is what I teach my children - that it's all in how you look at it. There will always be things that don't go their way, that they don't like, or that can disappoint them. They could be miserable every single day if they wanted to. But they could also be happy if they wanted to. And this is intrinsically tied to the next thing...

    Which is that yes, the quote I included was from In Conversation with God. And just this past Monday there was a great one about Joy - the Joy of the Resurrection. It's Easter Monday, so if you have the book, check it out. It's such a great reminder about our true joy coming from the Lord. When we try to do things without Him, on our own, they are fruitless - a waste of time, just like the Apostles who fished all night and caught nothing. It is only when we follow the prompting of Christ that we reap the benefits we seek. So, again, I would encourage you to not make any big changes right now, but to instead, see how you are doing in your prayer life. I always find that when I let other things fill up my time and I don't do my daily commitment, I lose sight very quickly of what God is asking of me every single day. You may not be certain of what homeschooling path is right for your family, but God is. You may have a zillion and one questions, worries, and concerns about how your children will turn out, but God knows. The reading from Fernandez today pointed out that Jesus chose fishermen because they knew how to be patient to see the fruits of their labor. That's important for us to remember too.

    Which brings me back to the podcast too - did you realize that he didn't say anything about "do this certain thing with your students" in order to help them appreciate struggle? It really didn't have anything practical to offer in the way of steps, tips, or strategies. The entire focus was on cultivating the right level of commitment on the part of the teacher so that he or she could create the kind of culture in the classroom where struggle is valued as an exciting challenge. It was about fostering the right commitment, and then being able to communicate that commitment well to the parents as well, so that everyone was one the same page as far as understanding the goal. This is what I do in my home, and is what has helped my children realize that their education is valuable to them. This is what we talk about frequently - the vision of the person they each want to become. You are not at a place to have those conversations too much yet - your 9 year old can start thinking in these ways though. I would say you are on the cusp of having young people who are thoughtful and committed to their own education. But whether they become that or not rests on your shoulders. It depends on your commitment level, and how you communicate that to them. For me, I rely wholeheartedly on the Holy Spirit to give me the right words at the right time. And again, that comes down to daily prayer.

    I know classical Christian homeschooling is not the only path out there. And if your prayer and reflection leads you to make a different commitment, then trust that. I would just encourage you that once you do make a commitment, follow through on that. Read and listen to things that support it and inspire you to keep going. Right now you are splitting your time because you are questioning. But part of that might be leading you into doubt just to get you to leave the path you are supposed to be on. Once you decide, shut your ears to those voices that weaken you rather than strengthen you.

    God bless,
    AMDG,
    Sarah

    P.S. 9 year old girls are especially taxing in their own particular way. I am on my fourth 9 year old girl, and the number of times I have repeated the same conversation about attitude boggles my mind. I know she will turn the corner toward positivity eventually because I know her true heart, but this stage is just beastly.
    Last edited by KF2000; 04-26-2019, 09:09 AM.

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  • Emilylovesbooks
    replied
    Thank you to everyone who offered their thoughts on my questions. I am so grateful that this forum exists because I have a place to take my questions and know that others will hear them and be thoughtful in their responses.

    Melissa, you gave me some ideas for reimagining what our mornings could look like. You reminded me of a few things--that talk with Daddy. (I have the same experience here with my lack of the "magic voodoo.") And YES, I do need to be with them while they are working and stop expecting things to get done while I'm tending to other things or people. I put that into action today, and it helped so much!

    Sarah, I've been thinking about your response, and there is a quite a bit packed in to continue to ponder. The quote you included was from In Conversation with God, right? I'm going to get back to using those books again. Also, I appreciated the reminder of the podcast about the value of struggle. I had listened to it before, but I listened again with my current questions in mind. I think my own bursts of immaturity and lack of ability to struggle well often get in the way of good parenting.
    I agree with so much of what you said. The part I am not yet fully convinced of is whether school must be the thing that teaches the virtue. That doing the schoolwork in a schoolish way is necessary for kids to grown into decent and virtuous adults. I am somewhat drawn to self-directed learning philosophies because of the value placed on intrinsic motivation and how that plays out into adulthood. I wonder if people were generally happier and had more self awareness they would be able to choose to be virtuous. I don't know....I actually think it would be harder to follow my children's interests than to follow a curriculum I enjoy, but it is the emotional well being of the adult the child becomes that I am interested in. The podcast about the value of struggle suggested that emotions and feelings should be downplayed, and his reasons do make sense. However, there does seem to be enough struggle available in regular life, and to purposely add it in for schoolwork, well....I'm going to think more about that.

    Jennifer, thinking through the reason for the push-back and your providing several examples makes me realize that time is probably a big one for my older student. I need to keep in mind that different kids will have different reasons for not wanting to do their work. Your comment shows that the push-back is helpful feedback for me that something isn't right, and I need to make adjustments.

    Enbateau, you get it, too. But as adults are we not usually a better version of ourselves when we are happy? I think I am. So how does this fit into the idea that we are not supposed to be making our kids happy but instead virtuous, wise, "sturdy", etc.? (This is something I wondered about while listening to that podcast about struggle.) If we are feeling happy, can't we still choose wisdom and virtue? Will we be more likely to? Just questions that I have in general lately. I am not usually impressed by "unschooling" ideas, and I am well aware that MP seems quite opposite. However, there is one unschooling blogger/podcaster who is so very thoughtful and also serious about her faith, and she has made me realize that different paths won't always lead people astray either.

    Christine, you are so right about finding a "sweet spot" with MP. Sometimes thinking I need to follow the guide exactly, even though I've heard on here so, so many times that it is just a guide, is what is stressful. It is hard to know at times which parts to let go of. My kids are not where I'd like them to be at the end of April. I really wanted to take a summer break, but maybe we should just keep going to get finished before fall. Since reading Climbing Parnassus, I have really wondered how much I should expect from a homeschool versus and cottage school or regular full-time school. Having the parent as teacher creates a very different feeling than having a non-family member as teacher.

    Callista, I agree that it is worth teaching them to not talk negatively about school while trying to do their schoolwork. I will make an effort to work on this with them!

    The days really fly by so quickly for me that I just do not want to look back and wonder why I made such a big deal over such and such if I did not have to. You know?

    Thank you all so much for sharing your wisdom!

    Last edited by Emilylovesbooks; 04-25-2019, 11:31 PM.

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  • KF2000
    replied
    I just got back from my walk this morning, and I was listening to this awesome podcast from Circe that speaks to this question so well. It’s about 40 minutes, but is really good.

    Circe Commons: Keith McCurdy on the Value of Struggle 3/5/19

    AMDG,
    Sarah
    Last edited by KF2000; 04-25-2019, 08:53 AM.

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  • KF2000
    replied
    Originally posted by jen1134 View Post
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything Sarah said, but (and I think Sarah would agree) we also need to be discerning. If we automatically assume all push-back is due to fallen human nature, we run the risk of missing something a child may actually need.
    Yes, Jen, absolutely. Definitely agree with your post. This is the beauty of the Forum in action - so many wonderful women offering ideas from all segments to cover all the bases. Making sure to address each child’s particular struggles are definitely a key component of helping them succeed and grow in confidence - which then goes a long way toward helping them see the beauty of the fruits of their labor.

    However, the battles remain, you know? Even in the best of circumstances, when children are reasonably placed and used to routines - the battles continue. Even when they have generally been docile, obedient, darling toddlers - the battles can (and eventually will) appear. Super bright whipper snappers who have a negative streak to offset their brilliance. Hardworking cheerful souls who still go through stages of pushing everyone’s buttons just for fun. Impatient young people who are frustrated at thinking their lives will never begin and have the dramatic streak to let everyone in the house know.

    Battles, battles, battles. Today my 15 month old wanted to shove entire strawberries in his mouth instead of letting me cut them. My five year old decided she absolutely had to have the exact same thing her 11 year sister wanted to buy with her Easter money. My 7 year old was heartbroken that dinner plans got changed because mommy had to return the bad meat to the store. And on and on it goes. It’s not just school. It’s teaching these people to live life with the appropriate amount of passion and self-restraint.

    I am am so glad that everyone has offered such additional, wonderful advice to fill out the whole picture of things to consider. (And I am so humbled by the positive comments). But even with all the stars aligned on a perfect day, part of the need to cherish those days so strongly is because we all know they are 1) rare; 2) fleeting; 3) impossible to replicate. What has helped me a ton is to be ok with that reality. These battles don’t “get” to me the way they used to. It’s like building up an immunity. Do it enough times, and it no longer surprises you. You realize each child will go through so many stages and difficulties that it’s pretty useless to get too worked up over any of them.

    AMDG,
    Sarah
    Last edited by KF2000; 04-24-2019, 06:40 PM.

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  • Callista
    replied
    Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post
    I am very aware that we should just persevere and stay the course. I try to read the forum often. However, to those who love MP and feel like they’ve figured out a routine they are happy with, what did you do to help your kids hop on board and get into the routine of just doing the work without battles? Did they reach a point where they realized they wanted to learn the material (for themselves, not for you)? How do you justify to them memorizing the content in areas that are not obviously cumulative, as Latin and math are? I feel like I must make them do their work because it’s my duty, but I dislike seeing them resent such beautiful study opportunities I think I’m offering them.
    I think that the battles are part of our journey toward cultivating virtue in our children (and ourselves). Kids do not realize that they want to learn for themselves. They do not see the beauty in the opportunity that they have. That is one reason that you are there in their lives. To tell them what they are to learn and to show them how they are to learn and battle (and when). Battles will always be part of the journey. They are necessary. You have answered your own question: persevere and stay the course.

    As far as trying to make those battles more manageable on a day to day basis though, this takes grit. It isn't easy and we all struggle with it. I could list a hundred things that I have tried and have worked and have tried and have failed. It would get boring so I will just list one of our major rules that became a game changer for us years ago: We do not speak or act negatively or in a complaining way about school during school. After school is over you may share your thoughts or complaints with me. (There does have to be consequences for when this rule is broken). It is no different than not allowing 4 letter words. It's a rule.

    I thint that the opening prayer is a great way to set up this rule. "... To give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not see for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward...." They do have to give in school, they have to fight through the frustration of the task, they have to work without immediate reward. It is all training. As Sarah said, it isn't visible yet. It will be though... just wait and see!

    And sometimes you just need to call it a day, enjoy the weather, understand it is just a season, know that you got this even though you doubt, and take everyone for ice cream!

    Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
    So, this is what I personally communicate to my children as we go through our days. It is the life of faithfulness in small things, the life of virtue in choosing the good things over the easy things. It is what we remind ourselves of in prayer, we convict ourselves of as we prepare for Confession, and what we encourage each other in as we read our stories and study our lessons. This is why classical education seeks wisdom and cultivates virtue. It's like a garden that is constantly tended in order to produce fruit. These are active, active, active pursuits - NOT a passive reception of good things.

    This was in my morning reflection today. I hope it helps, too:
    "In the Gospels Our Lord often speaks about fidelity. He gives us the example of the faithful and prudent servant, of the valet who is good and loyal even in the smallest things, of the faithful steward, etc. So deeply has the notion of fidelity permeated the Christian that the title "faithful" is sufficient of itself to identify the disciples of Christ.

    The opposite of perseverance is inconstancy, which inclines a person to break off easily from doing good or from the practice of virtue as soon as difficulties or temptations arise. Among the most frequent obstacles to faithful perseverance, the first one of all is pride, which attacks the very foundations of fidelity and weakens the will to fight difficulties and temptations...On other occasions, obstacles can have their origin in carelessness concerning little things. Our Lord himself said: He who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much. The Christian who takes care of even the smallest duties of his or her work, who struggles to keep presence of God throughout the day, who guards his senses with naturalness...these are the ones who are on the right road to being faithful when the time comes for their commitment to the call for genuine heroism." - Francis Fernandez


    AMDG,
    Sarah
    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

    Leave a comment:


  • howiecram
    replied
    I am with Jen and that sometimes it isn't a "heart" issue or a we need to "train their will" issue (though of course this is also sometimes true). I also find that most of the time the child really doesn't understand! I find that you really need to find the "sweet" spot with MP. I would make sure that the material is at an appropriate level. Are you moving too fast? (or too slow?) I'm not saying that every day is a joy and my children are running to get work, but yes, they have found that at the end of the rope is knowledge! The light that beams when they see what their hard work has done for them is simply amazing. I do have to remind them when something seems like work again of that joy they experienced previously from hard work!!

    I also wanted to point out that just because a days work is "done" might not mean they get it. Each day should begin with review. If that takes a considerable amount of time, do not move onto the next day! I found this out the hard way!!

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  • enbateau
    replied
    Hear! Hear! Sarah, you speak truth.

    It is not easy for any of us. Those mythological YouTubers of the homeschool world are selling the vision we all strive for yet isn't present in reality. Honestly, it's the same snake oil that's been sold since the Garden. If this is so good for me, why am I not enjoying myself? Just last night I called my pastor dad at almost midnight, confessing all of my discouragement and weariness in persevering. It's not that I haven't seen amazing fruit, it's just that it's still hard to hear the whining. After much prayer, the burden lifted. In no small grace, this morning was the best morning we've ever had. Everyone did what he or she was supposed to in their MP lessons. Our gracious Father knows exactly what we need, even before we ask. Fall before His throne to give you the strength to push through.

    Leave a comment:


  • jen1134
    replied
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything Sarah said, but (and I think Sarah would agree) we also need to be discerning. If we automatically assume all push-back is due to fallen human nature, we run the risk of missing something a child may actually need. In our house, I've found that push-back can usually be traced to one (or more) of five things:

    1. Lack of mastery/knowledge gaps. If a child is missing a piece of foundational knowledge, they will hate having to do anything that requires that knowledge. This doesn't only happen in cumulative/skills subjects though. If a child hasn't mastered the steps to forming a complete sentence, they will push-back on anything that requires them to do that, regardless of what subject it is in.

    2. Beating a dead horse. On the other hand, some kids master things more quickly than we, or the lesson plans, anticipate. If your child has truly MASTERED a concept, shift it to the once-a-week review category and let them move on.

    3. Time. Some kids hate to devote time to anything they didn't plan for themselves while others honestly think that things take FAR more time than they actually do. If the former, follow Sarah's advice. If the latter, ask them how long they think something will take and then, once they start, secretly time it. They'll be surprised that what they thought was for.ev.er was really only 10 minutes. Do this a few times and it will start helping reset their understanding of time.

    4. Confidence. See point #1

    5. It really is too hard. This can be for two reasons:

    A. When my son's meltdowns over school kept up, I had him take an official online reading/phonics assessment (DORA). He had just turned 9 but tested at an early-mid Kindergarten level in everything — and I was trying to do Storytime Treasures with him. I thought his "too hard" was simply lack of diligence, especially since he was already working well-below grade level due to reading struggles. Turns out, it really was too hard. We later discovered he had several hidden physical issues that were interfering with his ability to learn (they were also at the root of his unwillingness to do chores; he literally didn't have the strength to do anything for more than a few minutes!). After addressing the physical issues and switching to Simply Classical, he has completely taken off academically. He will likely be able to transition back to MP cores in the future.

    B. They aren't developmentally ready for the level of independence we expect of them. Sometimes all it takes is staying at elbow to turn a "hates-school-never-focuses-takes-forever-truant" into a cheerfully diligent student.

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  • carriede
    replied
    I'm glad (I guess?) that I am not the only one with this problem.

    Thank you, Sarah, for your encouragement.

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  • MBentley
    replied
    Originally posted by KF2000 View Post


    What is attractive from tailoring an education to the happiness, enjoyment, and interests of a child is the respect that is given to our children as people. We each cherish our precious children so much, that it is only natural to want to focus on and develop them to be the best they can be. But what I have concluded is that while these philosophies esteem children for their personhood (which is indeed good), there are two things wrong with trying to romanticize childhood:

    1. Children are not mini-adults. They do not have the ability to acknowledge the value of anything they do not like. Their interests, tastes, and choices are inherently immature and driven by disordered passions.
    2. It is not desirable for them to stay in this state.

    This is why we face the daily struggle of loving our children as they are and then trying our darnedest to change them! It makes it that much harder to know that what we are doing to them is for their own good even though they push back on us at nearly every turn. Think about any aspect of adult life - eating right, getting exercise, being faithful in all the small ways we know we should...how easy is self-discipline for any of us? How many of us truly do all the good things we know we should? The fact is, it is tough for all of us, right? To know the good, and to choose it. A hard enough expectation for adults, let alone our children.

    So, this is what I personally communicate to my children as we go through our days. It is the life of faithfulness in small things, the life of virtue in choosing the good things over the easy things. It is what we remind ourselves of in prayer, we convict ourselves of as we prepare for Confession, and what we encourage each other in as we read our stories and study our lessons. This is why classical education seeks wisdom and cultivates virtue. It's like a garden that is constantly tended in order to produce fruit. These are active, active, active pursuits - NOT a passive reception of good things.

    In my experience, what you are seeking does develop, praise be to God. It was not a magic formula other than what you already know to do - to just persevere and stay the course. There will be favorite things, and hated things, and a lot of in-between things. But where you are right now, with children all in grammar school or below - no, you're not feeling it yet. Don't expect it. Your work right now is to set work habits, to set obedience habits, to set standards, to build a culture. And to not see any result of your efforts. Think of it like the foundation walls of a house. They are buried in the dirt and you never see them, yet they are critical to the stability of the entire house. Cut corners, rush things, give up before it's finished and you will get a bit of relief, but you will not see the effect of your shortcut until later - when the house is rocky and cracks begin to show. You are in the thankless zone where it's all work and not a lot of reward. But have faith. Take it to prayer every day. Be reminded that all that time these children were being prepared before their birth, you had nothing much to do with them other than to feed your body well and give it rest. Invisible growth was taking place that was out of your control. Continue that. Feed yourselves and them on the richness of your educational path, rest well when needed, and trust that the invisible growth is taking place.

    This was in my morning reflection today. I hope it helps, too:
    "In the Gospels Our Lord often speaks about fidelity. He gives us the example of the faithful and prudent servant, of the valet who is good and loyal even in the smallest things, of the faithful steward, etc. So deeply has the notion of fidelity permeated the Christian that the title "faithful" is sufficient of itself to identify the disciples of Christ.

    The opposite of perseverance is inconstancy, which inclines a person to break off easily from doing good or from the practice of virtue as soon as difficulties or temptations arise. Among the most frequent obstacles to faithful perseverance, the first one of all is pride, which attacks the very foundations of fidelity and weakens the will to fight difficulties and temptations...On other occasions, obstacles can have their origin in carelessness concerning little things. Our Lord himself said: He who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much. The Christian who takes care of even the smallest duties of his or her work, who struggles to keep presence of God throughout the day, who guards his senses with naturalness...these are the ones who are on the right road to being faithful when the time comes for their commitment to the call for genuine heroism." - Francis Fernandez


    AMDG,
    Sarah
    Listen to everything this woman says. She's amazing and one of my heroes.

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