“Time” for Summer Vacation Talk

23 06 2011

. . .and yes, that’s a pun of sorts. Lame but hey, it’s hot here. Be grateful I can work up a post at all. 😉

And do your reading so you can join the conversation: Time magazine’s The Case Against Summer Vacation

When a local actor-professor friend linked it on Facebook, this blurb appeared:

It’s an outdated legacy of the farm economy. Adults still romanticize it. But those months out of school do the most damage to the kids who can least afford it . . .

To which I responded even before reading the piece:

“Adults still romanticize school, too. 🙂
And family mealtime, bedtime, vacations.
Truth is that when school is better than home for some kids, we ought to fix THAT instead of just making more school. And when life outside of school is better (for kids like mine e.g.) then it’s summer vacation year-round and it’s amazing!
Everything is relative.”

Then I did read the whole thing. Twice. And came away with a strong sense that it’s two or more stories at cross purposes and the author doesn’t get it, that do-good public service types like me have been missing that crucial point too, that we haven’t fully understood how through decades of school reform, we never really were all in this together. Some of us were always reading “educational opportunity” to mean an opportunity to make private profits from the hugely important education market. So then I wrote:

But there’s an insidious “entrepreneurial” undertow pulling down this high-minded “educational” debate about helping all kids learn and grow, in school or out.

The floor is yours!

Oh wait, p.s. — here’s one quick example of what I think would be truly innovative for summer vacation instead of bargaining over ways to make it about academic measurements, and not because of but in spite of the fact this very cool idea might eventually become profitable down the road: A Floating Pool in the River, for Everyone

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52 responses

23 06 2011
COD

Summer vacation needs to stay an outdated legacy for at least a few more years. I don’t want the teeming masses encroaching on my discount and crowd free September vacations 🙂

24 06 2011
JJ

Speaking of summer vacations and whether we Americans get good value from them, wonder if we’ll get our money’s worth from:

Congressional Junket to Rome: Wives, Anniversary Dinner and Five-Star Hotels — “Burton’s latest junket, like all official government trips, has been planned in excruciating detail by military and diplomatic staff, the latter of whom are in the midst of a two-year pay freeze.”

25 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

We school year round with frequent short breaks. It is nice having a lot of places to ourselves. But then we normally live outside anyhow and with an increasingly sedentary population, we get more and more space and time to ourselves, whether we want it or not.

25 06 2011
JJ

Beep, I thought your kids were home with you? Do you think of that as year-round schooling — not quarreling about your choice of what words to use, just trying to understand and fit its key ideas into this power of story. 🙂

If they are with the family leading a very outdoorsy life year-round, isn’t that more like the traditional “summer vacation” (perhaps with assigned reading!) than it is like year-round schooling and no vacation? And you aren’t lining the pockets of private schools and amusement destinations either, doesn’t sound like . . .

25 06 2011
NanceConfer

Schooling year round is how a lot of unschoolers/relaxed hsers report to me (in my capacity as the director (a title and everything! 🙂 ) of a private umbrella school for unschoolers and other hsers in FL). Some report 90 days a quarter for four quarters or whatever strikes their fancy as long as it adds up to 180 days a year. When life is what you do, how do you report your “school attendance?” 🙂

Nance

25 06 2011
JJ

I’ve probably said it myself, back when I thought we were as you say “relaxed homeschoolers” and didn’t realize schooling all the time and learning all the time are more often opposites than synonyms!

But I was asking about how she really thinks of it herself, not how she would report it or speak for being generally understood among people who aren’t unschoolers. Maybe she hasn’t had the chance to open up to other ways of thinking of it yet, and by getting to know us unruly lot, she will now! 😀

25 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

I have to think about this for a second.

So if you were to look at me personally and my family and our consistent appearance of disorganization, and then compare that to some of my religious homeschool friends who have everything plotted out for them in a box–I think it would scare the hell out of most people. They would wonder what the hell we are doing and if I am all there.

I haven’t met anyone else in my area like me or families like ours.

We do school year round though. As in we do actual, formal homework. But that is mixed liberally with other less formal and less organized activities. And I do keep records of all of it. I want both to have an extensive portfolio to draw upon when they start college.

I will say, what I consider schooling might be a bit of a departure for some. I definitely consider keeping chickens, gardening, keeping bees, and rehabilitating wildlife [on occasion] as part of our homeschool work, and that it is just as important as formal homework in the the three Rs.

I am not sure, but I think I may be missing the gist of your question. If so, I apologize, I need to eat soon, then maybe my brain will turn on.

25 06 2011
JJ

Eating is always good but I don’t think you need it; sounds like your brain is doing fine. 🙂 If you’re the least schoolish family around in your homeschooling, that’s a long way towards living like you’re on vacation year-round, right there.

25 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

How about, we don’t put negative connotations on work and that includes homework. It’s usually not a chore and most often is a lot of fun. So perhaps when I say work, I have more positive associations with it {my kids as well} while other people might imagine that we are *slaving away.

And some [present company excluded] might get a warm fuzzy imagining us as slaving away, because misery loves company. But really, most of the time, we are having a great time learning new things and solving problems and talking.

26 06 2011
JJ

We’d communicate so much better if it weren’t for the darned words! 😉

That’s why I go the long way around, with many stories to carry the water for my meanings. Examples off the top of my head:
How Our Unschooling is Like Charlotte Mason Homeschool Method and Nothing is immutable including school rules.

Thinking about the current conversation, it’s true, schooling and working were mostly fun like vacation for me personally. I was really good at both and happy when fully engaged in them, seldom sought to “vacate” or escape either one.

My response to this story is more along the lines of people turning Heaven into Hell no matter what their circumstances or working conditions, because that’s all they know, because that’s what they’ve been taught by their parents and school and life and society, because they can’t believe in anything else:

“If you think something’s supposed to hurt, you’re less likely to notice if you’re doing it wrong.”

The library was where I always wanted to get away to, and summer library books were my vacation FROM school vacation! — which most often were family road trips I could not escape any other way.

Or so it seems to me looking back, with new stories on my mind. . . .What’s wrong with this librarian [is] simply that she has the wrong power of story in her brain.

Trying to keep comparables close for the sake of conversation, since we’re talking about summer vacation we could, for example, compare and contrast the regimented month-long package tour of Europe I took as a young adult, with the truly free-spirited European vacation Favorite Daughter took two summers ago.

Both big summer trips to the same place, not for school or work.

My trip was interesting and educational and certainly different from my regular school and work in some ways, but there also were wearying similarities, the tight scheduling and supervision, the individual powerlessness, the lack of privacy and peace, the forced-march feel. Ever-present maddening companions. Anxiety on simmer, actual fear bordering on panic a few times that I attribute to identity crisis, the nagging feeling that who I was might be in doubt or just ignored.

Different in the important ways from FavD’s summer trip to Europe:

I’d say it’s not holiday OR work, though I hadn’t thought about it until you asked. It’s more like the way she’s always learned, as an unschooler — she meets people and gets involved in what appeals to her, like reading and writing, dancing and musical theatre. Then those people in those worlds connect to other people and overlapping interests, and she goes (how did the Narnia Chronicles put it?) “higher up and deeper in!”

So I guess you could say it’s a Power of Story trip? The Europe Adventure seems to have germinated in dance (Ireland) and been watered well by song and poetry and literature. The fertilizer then, seems to have been various college honors courses in religion and the humanities. She just got around to formal foreign language study (French) and if it hadn’t been for her fluent friend and meeting her family, I’m not sure she ever would have seen that as something worth her time and effort.

The agenda they’re planning (all by themselves) is very personal and offbeat, and the different arrangements they’re considering and what criteria they’re using to choose, are just fascinating to hear about.

26 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

People who create hell out of heaven because that is all they know.

BOY DO I KNOW THOSE PEOPLE!

You hit the nail on the head with that one! Like that joke about Baptists. Other religious folk walking along in the afterlife with their guide showing them their new heavenly abode, enjoying nature and feeling one with the universe, when suddenly, they are disturbed when the sky rips open and a mass of writhing tortured people appear from nowhere stinking of sulphur, while being tormented by demons. When their guide was asked about this apparition, he replies: “Oh them? That’s the Baptists. They wouldn’t have heaven any other way.”

We try to avoid those people in general. Baptists only being used as an example here because they were the punchline theologically speaking, though unfortunately I have witnessed this mindset in every walk of life, faith, and economic strata. I refer to such people as Hungry Ghosts. They are never satisfied, because they don’t know what they want. They cannot accept what they have nor find contentment with it, and so they go about knocking over random sand castles, while practicing to be uber critics, just before they die alone in their apartment, eaten by their own pets.

26 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

Oh yea, I totally get the story telling and the inadequacy of words.

I could tell you were looking for something, I just wasn’t sure what it was. I don’t want to just tell you whatever you want to hear, that would be disingenuous. But I also would like to try and comprehend what exactly it is, that I am being asked for, so that I can respect your curiosity with an answer worthy of the discussion.

26 06 2011
COD

I was going to write about this, but I think JJ will do more with it 🙂 http://www.blakeboles.com/2011/06/unschoolers-as-illegal-immigrants/

26 06 2011
NanceConfer

Hi BP —

Nance here. JJ is what is called a radical unschooler. Whether she would use that term herself is another, probably long, story. 🙂

So what I see (I’m also one of those radical unschoolers) when we see someone like you — so far out on the edge compared to your neighbors — is someone who is almost, but not quite, and maybe you don’t want to be, there.

“There” meaning having the intention and the ability to see learning all around you, not having to think of it in terms of school or future school, and living well. Living well as in being fully engaged with your family, involved (but not sickeningly so) in their lives, enjoying them and their activities, and just getting on with the joy of living.

Whether it’s feeding the chickens or browsing in the library, it is possible to live in a way that does not look or — even more important — feel like school. Where school is not an issue or a subject of conversation. Where a day is what it is and is not weighed against any sort of school standard.

This doesn’t sound like what you do but, damn, you are so much farther down the road to unschooling than your neighbors that, I agree, they might be rattled if they followed you around for a day. (Just thinking in terms of schooling year-round not because those damned kids will be slackers if you don’t but because that is real life, it goes on all year-round and there’s no need to impose a school calendar on it — that’s huge.)

But we would not be rattled. We would tell you to let go of even more school things and encourage any thinking in that direction. But you know what you are doing — keep it up. 🙂

Nance

P.S. And start looking into what is required to get into college — it isn’t a huge portfolio from 1st grade on, think dual enrollment, think test scores based on a lifetime of learning not test prep, think online courses when appropriate, think about whether or not college is for everyone, etc. Think of colleges that love to hear from hsers — not because they are religious nuts but because they know how to learn! Think of putting together a transcript based on that actual learning. Assume your child knows at least as much as the average public school student thinking about college. Don’t guess. Talk to the Guidance Counselors at the colleges when the time comes. Etc. Think outside the box. After all, that’s where you are already. 🙂

26 06 2011
NanceConfer

Chris, it sounds like Boles is using homeschooling and unschooling interchangeably?

Nance

26 06 2011
COD

Boles only unschools.

26 06 2011
COD

//And start looking into what is required to get into college//

Funny you should bring that up. Breck’s “assignment” for this week is to organize all the stuff he has been working on the last 3 years into classes so that we can create a transcript for him. We mix homeschooling and unschooling. Math has been fairly traditional textbook approach, history he is totally on his own. So we need to create “classes” around all the stuff he has worked on for the last 3 years.

27 06 2011
NanceConfer

The Bright Futures website wants 4 years of “courses” on an application/transcript. Just our state maybe but . . .

So all your reading is English I, English II, etc.

27 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

Well that is where some of our citizen science projects come in. We have long term conservation projects that involve recording years of observations and photographs, species categories etc., It’s fun, it gets us out of the house and doing something together. The kids learn to use photography equipment.

Keep in mind my husband and I are both prior military. Asking us to completely let go might be a bit much considering the nature of our personalities.

I think what blows my mind is that I did what I thought was thorough research on homeschooling and yet I am completely amazed at the material presented daily by various people.

27 06 2011
JJ

Well, our power was out 15 hours, from 4:00 yesterday afternoon until 8:00 this morning. A microburst within a regular afternoon thunderstorm suddenly took down many trees in our neighborhood, across power lines on all the canopy roads bordering us. With HARD hail. In Florida. In summer. Sigh.

Back here now for a bit, before I throw out everything in the fridge and go out to restock (it needs to get cool again first.) You guys are so interesting without me that I might just keep reading and not say much. Oh, just kidding about the last part, no way I can constrain myself . . . 😀

Beep, you might see some of yourselves in my “unschooling guinea pig” series of posts.

Guinea Pig part one

Guinea Pig part two

Guinea Pig Wooed for TV

My dad was a smalltown southern conservative USAF officer/Korean vet (later retired as colonel) before he went back to school on the GI bill and became a business prof (COD and I were both military brats.) My DH and I both are first-born, law-and-line-toeing overachiever types. Go to school, follow the rules, get the best grades, work the hardest, sacrifice the most and never whine! Money was not to be enjoyed much less flaunted, or even talked about. It was a duty to make enough to defend yourself against hard times and squirrel it away, never spend it even on the kids (except for college.) So our journey to radical unschooling has indeed been a looooong one, an odyssey we’d say for the transcript , and we had no idea at the start, always thought we’d just stop if it didn’t work out.

Nance and I actually met online when our kids were little and we were wrestling with state law, teasing out what the state association and all the church-schoolers kept imposing on all the local groups and telling the legislators and judges and newspapers, only to be amazed at what we learned. Then we sort of helped each other dare to go our own way, had a website to educate parents for a few years, we’ve had a parent discussion list for 10 years this summer, and so now we have grown children (nearly) and a 15-year track record to look back on and help others with . . .and we are indeed radical! No one is more surprised than I am at how it’s all worked out.

Btw, another part of our unschooling-ourselves story reflects the same dynamic. As we both figured out how to break free of School restrictions and mindsets, Nance helped me come to terms with a learning and thinking destination she saw me approaching but not facing — religious skepticism, free-thinking or what she matter-of-factly calls it: atheism.

More about heaven and hell from a climate change post in 2009:
(As a young Methodist once upon a time, I remember deciding that heaven and hell described the state of mind each of us lived out in real time on earth, created by who I became, how I lived and why.)

We can read heaven and hell into everything from the daily news to married life; in both journalism and marriage counseling, for example, what counts is what’s done, not just the words — of position, prescription, praise or promise — but their meaning manifest in reality, what’s behind the words, the circumstance and change described and delivered.

Show, don’t tell.

Whether in preaching or politics, inspiration literally means a new spirit goes “in” and becomes part of who you are, that you are affected and the totality that is “you” changes somehow that makes an outer difference for others. I suppose all presidents inspire the people and thereby change the nation’s reality but some presidents including the present one — hey, does the word president share a root with present? — inspire us to healthier change than others!

. . . see Teresa Heinz Kerry and what she’s doing not just for the earth or climate directly, but to educate and equip women and children struggling to live on it.

Btw, My question to her for Snook had the hope and fear of heaven and hell right in the first sentence!

“It’s been said that all politics is based on either hope or fear.
What are some really hopeful environmental messages you’d like to emphasize for families living and learning with children, and what are some ideas other than public school lessons and tests, for helping our own children receive such messages, and take them to heart?”

Anyway, the point is such hope and inspiration is right here, right now, offering much more than words of hope for some heavenly reward after a hellish life. . .

27 06 2011
JJ

Beep, it is this “spirit” of unschooling I was asking if you’d felt yet because it seems like you’re on the path and open to it, living and learning year-round as if “school” and “church” and other institutions are there if and when you want them but had no more claim over you than the library, the forest and fields, the museum or zoo or theatre, video games and the Internet. Or Europe. The words on the transcript may look the same but . . .

. . . inspiration literally means a new spirit goes “in” and becomes part of who you are, that you are affected and the totality that is “you” changes somehow that makes an outer difference for others.

27 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

Yikes! Church!

Are you trying to scare me off or what?

The quote you made is reminiscent of Mercea Eliade on the nature of Initiation, and hints towards a kind of hierophany. We like his words, but we still run away from most organized religions.

27 06 2011
JJ

An SAT-style analogy for you: “School is to Church as . . .
a) Test is to trial?
b) Curriculum is to canon?
c) Graduation is to confirmation?
d) Unschooling is to heresy?
e) All of the above

Choose the BEST answer. On pain of intellectual and spiritual death . . .

27 06 2011
JJ

Heck, even simple words like these three confuse me endlessly much less a challenging sentence like this:
reminiscent of Mercea Eliade on the nature of Initiation, and hints towards a kind of hierophany.

Huh? 😀

But speaking of initiation — one word I recognize at least! –reminds me of something I once wrote about “groups” (see below) and how people running groups homogenize individual differences by imposing duty, scheduling, dress code and other rules.

School is not Education, any more than Church is philosophy, spirituality or humanity. Institutions will use words to try to confuse you on this, like “be all you can be” or “no child left behind” but emphasizing the individual is only a means; subsuming them into one individually indistinguishable, obedient group is the end. Like the Borg! 😉

Young Son was in the immediate pre-surgery cubicle and they kept coming in doing stuff, asking him or us questions (they asked about six different times if he had any loose teeth, etc) — one of the nurses turns to us and says “he must be homeschooled or gifted.” I say “both” and she smiles and says, yep, he’s not like your typical middle school boy and it shows all over.

Really, he hadn’t been saying much but he was agreeable and easy to instruct, and when he did talk, it was about the American Revolution and especially pirates in history and in operas. He got a shirt this weekend with a bird graphic that read “Parrots of the Caribbean” and he told about that, and how the tagline was “Drunk birds tell no tales!” He was calm yet concerned enough about certain things to ask in detail, which he would express for himself, and then the rest of the time he was polite and sweet and glad to have me and his dad there, and he was singing to himself.

(Chris, he sang Papelbon’s walk-on song, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” and “Tessie” over and over.)

One funny thing (to me) was when they afterward showed him pictures of faces and asked him which matched his pain level. He studied the row and then said there wasn’t any “three” and the nurse said oh, so that’s where his pain would fall? — and he croaked no, but it isn’t logical to skip from 2 to 4. That nurse was a little afraid of him I think. 🙂

And as promised, here’s what I wrote about home education truly being about individuals, not groups, including the military and the Junior League btw. All groups and communities from the bar association to the guild or union, party or fraternity. Think about it — their power to keep you in lies in making you more afraid of being put out. So you are taught to take pride in being allowed to stay in and to thereby help enforce the group as Authority.

[Home education] is a new kind of “place,” existing in the life of the mind and offering a safe meeting spot to foster the life of the mind.. . .encourages each individual to learn, grow, believe and contribute as he or she sees fit [and] models what I dearly wish the public schools could someday become.

No quotas, no required training, no handbook, no dress code. No dues to be paid, in blood or money or self-respect, no litmus test required, to achieve and maintain one’s good standing . . .

If every generation wants something better for its children, then I think the affiliated independence of . . . home education . . .represents real progress beyond the stifling organizational pressures that squeezed the joy out of so many group endeavors, including school, in the world of my youth.

And it pleases me to believe my mama – after a good look around this new world– might think so, too.

28 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

Hierophany–Something sacred shows itself to us. I like the generalization in that statement. To me it seemed to categorize sacred without judgement or even anthropomorphic gestures.

I know when I was a Humanities/Religious Studies student, my professors were shocked! That I had read anything specifically by Eliade and listed him in my top ten favorite authors ever–as in take his book The Sacred and the Profane on a desert island with a seed bank etc., favorite. I also like Emile Durkheim. He was the one who insisted that cultures, and religions, and tribal identities had to be studied in their own context and could not be judged by the rubric of Western Christian Society as good, bad, or other. {yet again WHAT a Concept!} And to do otherwise is to sacrifice objectivity for the sake of ego and cultural and/or religious identity and subsequent insecurities about supremacy and humanity. Oh those guys and their publications just make my bosoms heave!

I don’t think that Homeschooling or even Unschooling will solve all our problems socially in this country. I look around at how people conduct their lives and the way we have made procrastination a *value, as well as Haphazard-ness and Hubris. I can see many people flailing horribly with the freedom that homeschooling offers. As much as I would like to give them freedom, they have to accept and embrace freedom in order to utilize it. Many have been conditioned to expect and anticipate something else entirely and tend to fall apart without structure being imposed from without.

That isn’t how I would have it, I am simply offering an observation about parents.

I agree that in theory your notions could help, but I have to also acknowledge that right now, culturally that paradigm shift is beyond the ken of many. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people who are so militantly hostile to the premise of home-education and especially to child-lead-learning. They are afraid of their children failing and if you are the teacher, then it is unequivocally *your fault. At least with public school, one can spread the blame around! lol And they are conditioned to believe that only teachers can teach children. Parents are integral but only so far as to help cultivate good study habits and provide clean clothes and good food. Parents are programed to view them selves as barely adequate nursemaids, biological parental units, taxis, cup cake bakers, etc.,

So I propose that what we will see will be the usual spectrum–From Radical Unschooler to Military School Warden! And everything in-between. For whatever reasons many families will land all up and down this line. My hope is that these families and their children find a niche that most suits their needs. If they can find success and contentment then who am I to question how they got there? And if the child can find those things despite their parents or a broken system–then I will applaud that as well.

I agree that every generation wants something better for their children. However I do not see this generation as capable of even grasping success for themselves, much less cultivating success en masse for their children. There are exceptions to that rule, but right now those–we are the minority for a variety of reasons.

28 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

I would like to rewrite something: I can see many people flailing horribly with the freedom that homeschooling offers.– I didn’t mean that right now, I mean if hordes of people started homeschooling tomorrow without considering what they are getting into, without preparing or preparing enough, that there would be a lot who without structure would flail. –sorry about the ambiguity regarding time and context. oops! *blush*

There is a difference between child lead learning and a lazy parent with no self discipline.

28 06 2011
NanceConfer

There is a difference. Thanks for clarifying that that’s what you meant.

What I read was somewhat different. What I read was what many unschoolers see time and time again — that being unstructured allows their children the freedom to grow to be people who know how to make decisions and create their own structure.

Both of my kids have mentioned times when they have been astounded that their always-schooled peers do not seem to know how to make decisions, organize themselves, make plans, etc. My kids (perfect, of course — no bias here 🙂 ) know the “rules” — don’t be an idiot, for instance — where their age-mates want to be told what the rules are by some adult so they can figure out a way to go around the rule of the day. Or simply don’t know what to do when they have free time on their hands.

At any rate, it sounds like your children have plenty of opportunities to be in charge of their own brains and bodies, enough to practice doing it.

Nance

28 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

Yea, that was a potential *insert foot in mouth and chew 20 times moment. I really do want to thank everyone here for being so supportive and stimulating. You guys really make my day when I come here.

28 06 2011
JJ

Beep, you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, I can tell. We come up with slogans for virtual t-shirts here at Snook — you get one in your favorite color that says, “Beep is deep.” 😉

And thanks for taking the question seriously and approaching it with respect. Educating the community’s next generation is a deep subject for sure, enough to keep me connecting everything to it . . .

So after all the broad political and psycho-social analysis and opinion, what about you, inside your own head raising your own kids, looking forward from the beginning end (nice oxymoron!) of the homeschool and parenting journey, as you actively educate yourself about educating them more every day while already “on the job” so to speak? Not what you believe about other moms or the society at large — do YOU feel those concerns about too little structure and not doing enough as their teacher, needing year-round lessons and transcripts even for elementary “schooling” in order to accommodate those psycho-social currents etc.?

I did. I would say more radical unschoolers did than didn’t, somewhere near the start of their own practical education in educating. Or they had family members, especially dads, who did — and many maybe still do, a little. But like the kids themselves, one thing you can count on is it changes. Whatever you think you know now, be prepared to laugh at yourself later. 😉

28 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

I honestly do not know. It has taken time for me to loosen up and to begin to discover what I like. And when I say that it isn’t in the sense of just my personal, selfish preferences, but more like someone carefully investing in a home or a business. There are certain markers I look for in subjects and coursework that really appeal to me as an academic.

1. Accuracy and genuine Scholarship. I totally despise revisionist history.
2. Specificity in language. Hey, one of these things is not like the other, say what you mean, mean what you say…. Linguistic Precision perhaps?
3. Consistency.
4. Fun and/or humor. The more ironic and twisted {to a point} the better. Not just for me but to help hone those razor sharp wits and tongues that all girls need when they venture into this world.
5. I like knowledge packaged in a way that encourages free-association, and making unusual and salient connections with other areas and disciplines, because I like to encourage a more wholistic thinking approach to the world. It really is all interconnected at some point and woe be to he or her that forgets that. Interdisciplinary is the word I am looking for 😉
6. For now–Age Appropriate. We will save the really shocking stuff for a little bit later.
7. Coherency. Sometimes you can have accuracy and all that other stuff, but the text is not coherent. When that happens people become frustrated and give up. So this relates to accessibility–especially to those who are not experts in the subject.
8. With very few exceptions, the child needs to have an interest in the subject. We will absolutely teach basic reading, writing and math and science. Beyond that the kids have a lot more say in what and how we explore things.
9. Learn to be a self starter.
10. I am very suspicious of any material that is preachy or stinks of propaganda. We might still use it, but it will be contextualized as propaganda.

The above is my structure–my code. It is only just recently really truly coming together for me.

When I started out, I was a lot more uptight. It has been a few years. As I noticed that some things came naturally to my spawn I loosened up. True to our gene pool both are early readers who quickly increase their reading comprehension beyond that of just decoding. So in everything but the math, that solves a lot of potential problems. Both have very long attention spans too, which is another excellent quality that leads to my success in teaching them.

So I don’t worry so much if everything doesn’t turn out or stick the first time. I know eventually they will get it [whatever that might be in the moment].

But you will notice that in my list up there, there is no *religious adherence to a specific publisher, or line of thought, or discipline or style. I think that if you are going to homeschool your kids and they are gifted {I believe mine are or at least above average} then there is no point in being dogmatic about material selection. Other than quality [which most of the above relates to] I could care less.

I used to worry all the time. But part of it was that I was simply new at this. And while I wasn’t being inundated with negative responses to my decision to homeschool, I wasn’t getting any support or friendly instruction either. So I worried a lot that I might miss something. Then I realized how low the bar had fallen, how ignorant our leaders are and that it would be unlikely my children would have the gaps in their education that these people possess. Not that I won’t try hard to ensure they get a quality primary education just because our leadership is ignorant–I am not saying that. I am just pointing out that if this is the best that our Public School Systems and Colleges can turn out–then what have I to fear?

I don’t have to pit my kids against a classroom of 40 other kids and hope they learn in a system that encourages bullying, fashion shows, precocious sexual behavior, and playing dumb to be popular until you are dumb.

My kids don’t have to go as slow as the slowest learner in a class. They don’t have to kowtow to the biggest bully or work around the most disruptive kids. They don’t have to swim through school or small town politics or deal with a tracking system that is also another popularity contest. They do not have to study to the test. They are allowed to learn a whole subject and not just G-rated snippets that have been disneyfied and pre-chewed. And they do not have to adhere to the local PTA politics that affects textbook selection and coursework.

To me–putting my kids into *THAT is way scarier than if they forget what a participle is, or how to multiple integers.

I probably still haven’t answered your question JJ. I am trying, I feel like it is nowhere and everywhere at once.

28 06 2011
NanceConfer

I think you did a beautiful job answering. A+ 🙂

Nance

28 06 2011
JJ

No argument from me! 😀

28 06 2011
JJ

Pretty good description of radical unschooling btw — nowhere and everywhere at once!

29 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

Cool! Speaking of crazy fun stuff–we went to the library and found a book on how to read body language.

That just sounds fun! So we are going to be attending the human zoo soon 🙂

29 06 2011
JJ

Hmm, And I’ll bet there are videos online, so you can get the full effect of the language in action instead of being limited to the written description. Yep — probably better than the one I found in 12 seconds flat:

Are they too young to watch Lie to Me on Netflix?

My bachelor’s degree reads “journalism and COMMUNICATION” but that was back in the 70s and body language wasn’t included, that I recall. Most of the breakthroughs in cognitive science came long after that, so I’ve had to catch up on my own. We did do a lot with word shadings and subliminal messages, and how the medium affects the message, a la Marshall McLuhan and Theodore White.

29 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

My kids? Hmmm, well if they are, then that means we will have to do it more than once. We shall See. I would hate to be a public person scrutinized like this. I am a good public speaker but I can only imagine how my gestures would pan out for psychological profiling. 😉

29 06 2011
JJ

My favorite body language science is the apolitical, romantic stuff: looking into their eyes, mirroring someone’s position changes like leg-crossing, touching your hair to let them know you are interested, etc. 😉

10 07 2011
JJ

“. . .the business of summer has only just begun.”

[Not sure how everything wrong with the economy, especially in education and other private family matters, always winds up not being business or government’s fault, always no one’s fault but our own — and here we go again.]

“It is not enough anymore to just go to camp to have fun and make friends and improve independence and self-esteem,” Mr. Black says. “Some parents want actual takeaways. They want to see skills, achievements, patches and certificates.”

15 07 2011
JJ

“It had to stop being about me and my achievement, before I could begin to understand stopping it as being about HER achievement . . .”

For Beep and all, i just fished this out from an old discussion:

We’ve always said affectionately that Young Son lives and learns in “Young Son World” which is a rare gift for him, and a rare privilege for us, that we’re able to provide that for him.

I was more concerned with getting all sorts of private lessons and camps and classical enrichment for his sister — she stayed very busy when she was little! — but he has truly charted his own quirky course from Day One (Day One being birth, not kindergarten age.) His sister is five years older and of course a girl, which further widens the maturity gap between them, but when you think of each family member at any age as an individual with life interests rather than school-specific needs, there’s a lot of natural overlap.

So he’s benefiting from years of doubt and experimentation. Back then I started out calling our approach “parent-directed education” and only gradually did Nance and I discover what we care about is really more like “parent-protected education.” It’s not a job, for you or the children; it’s an incredible privilege, as if family life is one big vacation trip everyone is excited about and helps chart exactly as they wish, for the love of it and to experience and enjoy together, not a business trip or a school field trip to learn something or meet a family obligation like a graduation or funeral. Vacate all that and life is a vacation!

I do remember poring over Well-Trained Mind, bought both of the Wise-Bauer books when FavD was three I think, read and marked them up, aren’t they seductive?? I resolved she would be the perfect classical scholar which I would have enjoyed as an overachieving scholar type myself — and she would reflect well on me! Validate my abilities as both mother and teacher. Remember, I had an education doctorate and an established professional reputation; everyone I knew was in knowledge work, many directly in K-12 and higher education and the rest in what might loosely be called public education as in educating the public, e.g. journalism, libraries, law and government research/communications.

I felt I had a great deal at stake, had to prove I hadn’t gone wacko religious, that I wasn’t home being lazy or neglectful, that my child would be extraordinary, etc. — I’d never even heard of unschooling then but I would have sneered, perhaps even set out to trash it. I knew people still working who I could have helped write legislation to ban it!

It had to stop being about me and my achievement, before I could begin to understand stopping it as being about HER achievement . . .

Every educational journey at any age turns out to be unique, even for the strictly schooled and churched much less those who aren’t, which will either terrify you or help you relax. Probably both at the same time for a while. 😉

22 07 2011
JJ

An Unschooler’s Mantra! “Want Happiness? Don’t Buy More Stuff — Go on Vacation!”

Many material purchases are essential and/or provide immense satisfaction. But other research shows that people’s most common regrets about material goods are those of action — buying something that later seems unwise or impulsive. Their biggest regrets about experiential purchases tend to be regrets of inaction — not pouncing on an experience that was there for the taking.

This, by the way, is one post we hope will be read by policy-makers, philanthropists and other types who make decisions involving public money. It’s hard for people to have the kinds of experiences that do so much to promote well-being if there are no trails to hike or ride, and if local and national parks are run down or shuttered. [not to overlook educational experiences that change us forever!]

Material things grow familiar, become obsolete or break. Memories have very long warranties.

25 07 2011
JJ

More on just how driven by economic rather than education interests, how greed-status-class driven all this supposed family summer learning talk really is, here (don’t read on an empty stomach!) —

But some parents have already tired of this private-plane status infiltrating the simpler world of summer camp. Nancy Chemtob, a divorce lawyer, made several summer trips to Maine in the past decade, where her children attended camp . . .After listening to enough banter among parents about “who is flying, who is flying private, who they can get a lift home with,” she decided she “was done with Maine and the planes and all of the people.”

“It’s a crazy world out there,” she added. She now sends her children to camp in Europe.

25 07 2011
JJ

More here on just how driven by economic rather than education interests, how greed-status-class oriented, all this supposed family summer learning talk really is and always has been (warning: don’t read on an empty stomach!)

But some parents have already tired of this private-plane status infiltrating the simpler world of summer camp. Nancy Chemtob, a divorce lawyer, . . .decided she “was done with Maine and the planes and all of the people.”

“It’s a crazy world out there,” she added. She now sends her children to camp in Europe.

26 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

I feel so disconnected from the mentality that you describe, and so much more so because that is so far beyond the reach of my meager monetary status.

I try to balance the fun with the practical. And in my world, as I see it, often fun and practical are one and the same. It is after all, all in your approach and context.

I try to put them in the mindset so that they are allowed to and encouraged to see the magic in the natural world, in science. Not hokum, but genuine enchantment with the mundane processes that we never think of, much less imagine. Like Frank Herbert’s “Wheels within wheels”.

Vacation? How about an amazing journey.

Sometimes we do get bored. Sometimes it isn’t all enchantment and exploration. Sometimes nothing turns out like we planned or hoped. But that doesn’t always mean failure. That is just life.

I would rather be with my kids in that tent, telling ghost stories–because I know all the good ones, not that urban myth crap that so many people rely upon. I would rather be with them at the microscope and the telescope, and with them when they are exploring new ideas transmitted from books and magazines and other medias. Or even old ideas or even bad ideas–because all have something to teach us.

Honestly Summer Camps where people pretend to be Indians so that they can give themselves permission to experience and love nature in spite of their Calvinist cultural leanings, allowing them to break free from pre-destination and the most perverse forms of transcendenalism that only separates them from the cosmos, rather than allowing them to see and experience their part within it–why pay for that?

We can turn on the television and be disenchanted and lied to daily, and without cost.

That’s how I see it. Perhaps I am mistaken. But that is my interpretation.

11 08 2011
JJ

From the original post:
there’s an insidious “entrepreneurial” undertow

Summer vacation as news is heating up again, big time, as folks bash the president’s family for planning to go to Martha’s Vineyard while the economy finishes crashing and burning.

Typically this doesn’t touch me because I feel lucky not to need a vacation, see above discussion. But this afternoon I find myself thinking: yeah! Why should HE get to go again, when my family hasn’t had a real summer vacation together since — EVER??? And while I sit here making yet another cheese sandwich this week, instead of getting a Chik-Fil-A which would be too much of a treat, with tuition coming up again and after having just paid the extortionist health insurance company again, more than we pay in property taxes per month, and knowing I’m more lucky than another family on my own street because I was able to pay the mortgage again this month . . .

All of Congress too, of course, even though everyone picks on the President’s family. They’re all so insulated from the very real class warfare collateral damage out here in the real world that we real persons (not SCOTUS-created persons aka corporations) can’t take even a minute’s vacation from —

11 08 2011
Nance Confer

You have hit the nail on the head so perfectly!

11 08 2011
JJ

Just heard that budget-cutter [and Rupert Murdoch compromised!] conservative leader David Cameron, while blaming “bad parenting” for the burning of UK cities by poor youth, only just returned from summer-vacationing with his own family and friends in a $15,000 per week villa in Tuscany. . . it is his planned SECOND summer vacation the poor-folk riots may spoil, poor thing! [“A second break later this month will mean that David and Samantha Cameron have been away on holiday four times in just under five months.
At the end of May the Cameron family. . .spent a few days on the ‘party island’ of Ibiza.”
]

Re the Tuscan villa:

The 650 acre estate also features a swimming pool, tennis court, billiards room and three fishing lakes. Italian language and cooking lessons are also available for guests.

A terrace at the back of the house looks out onto a huge magnolia tree and an ornamental garden of roses and lavender bushes, with woods and vineyards beyond.

“It’s a magnificent view – a natural amphitheatre – and I hope they like it,” Baron Sanjust said.

“We’ll treat Mr Cameron like any other guest. He may be the prime minister but I’m sure he wants to relax, just like anyone else on holiday. . .[yeah, Nance, wouldn’t that be nice??]

The police certainly have him covered on his little “just like everyone else” family vaca.

Dozens of police from four Italian law enforcement agencies will provide security for the Prime Minister during his stay.

Armed officers from the paramilitary Carabinieri, the state police and the municipal police will set up a security cordon around the picturesque 18th century farmhouse, while officers from the Forestry Corps will patrol the surrounding woodland on horseback.

But they have pledged to maintain as discreet a profile as possible so that the Prime Minister, his wife and three children can enjoy the villa without feeling as though they are in a gilded cage.

Can’t have that, no feeling of being special and above the hungry, mistreated, undereducated, unemployed and hopeless tenement-trapped populace for these folks!

11 08 2011
JJ

And unlike our president, Cameron reportedly was born with a butler-polished silver spoon in his own mouth.

p.s. I looked it up. He’s a descendant of King William IV to boot, born into a family with both wealth and an aristocratic pedigree. Hardly the mixed-race son of a single mom who at times relied on her parents and government assistance to finish her anthropology doctorate and work with impoverished African women to help them start profitable microbusinesses (selling things they made with their own hands)!

Oh, and this is fun! — when he and his friends smash windows, it’s okay because they’re upper class! It’s only when those scruffy people do it that he rails to Parliament about criminals and punishment by god:

“They’re a lawless minority, the criminals who have taken what they can get. I say this: we will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you and we will PUNISH you! You will pay for what you have done.”

Right idea on either side of the pond, but wrongly not directed to his Right.

12 08 2011
Nance Confer

“Lawless minority” = political talk to marginalize majorities of underserved and disgruntled citizens.

12 08 2011
JJ

It made me think of him and his club as the lawless minority, the elite locusts in media, finance, government who have been systematically looting society and then burning it behind them . . .

On BBC radio this morning I heard a British MP expanding Cameron’s blame for “bad parents” out to teachers and youth workers. And I’m thinking, yes, those are the people you recognize as shaping the next generation and now you see that when you undercut their ability to do it well, slashing all the social programs supporting their efforts (for the good of your kingdom) then it’s not so good for your kingdom, is it?

12 08 2011
Nance Confer

But they don’t see any of that. They don’t see, or acknowledge, any of the nuanced thinking you put into such things. All they want to do is jail people who are inconvenient.

And frighten anyone else who might think about being inconvenient.

Look at this man trying to explain reality to a reporter — http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=biJgILxGK0o

14 08 2011
JJ

[I did mean to post this here under the Summer Vacation post but since it deals with technology in our regular human-being lives and whether that can/should be messed with for politics, I guess I’ll put it there too]

Ooh, now to me THAT’s whole-life-as-vacation learning time! 🙂
Our Plugged-In Summer

“I concocted a scheme. During weekends this summer, I would pursue the opposite of an unplugged vacation: I would check screens whenever I could. Not in the service of work, but in the service of play. I would crowd-source new ideas for car games and YouTube my picnic recipes. I would test the prevailing wisdom that the Internet spoils all the fun. With back-to-school fast approaching, here’s my report. . .”

29 08 2011
JJ

Just in time for “back-to-school” season ending summer vacation comes Unschooling Gains Popularity”:

“Unschooling parents are doing what good parents do anyway when they’re on summer vacation,” Brown said. “We just had more time to do it.”

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