Tuesday, July 22, 2008

on homeschooling...

"Any place that anyone young can learn something useful from someone with experience is an educational institution." -Al Capp

"The home is the chief school of human virtues. "-William Ellerly Channing

"How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does

it. " -Alexandre Dumas

"To waken interest and kindle enthusiasm is the sure way to teach easily and successfully." -Tyron Edwards

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." -Albert Einstein

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something." -Richard Feynman

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." -Robert Frost

"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself." -Galileo Galilei

"The most important outcome of education is to help students become independent of formal education." -Paul E. Gray

"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." -Emma Goldman

"One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Schooling, instead of encouraging the asking of questions, too often discourages it." -Madeleine L'Engle

"Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be rather a sort of amusement; this will better enable you to find out the natural bent of the child." -Plato

"Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality."-Beatrix Potter

"Both class and race survive education, and neither should. What is education then? If it doesn't help a human being to recognize that humanity is humanity, what is it for? So you can make a bigger salary than other people?" -Beah Richards

"What does education often do? It makes a straight cut ditch of a free meandering brook."-Henry David Thoreau

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -William Butler Yeats

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -Mark Twain

Friday, May 2, 2008

This is how we do it...most days, um, sort of

In truth, there is no set rhythm to our day--I construct the education of my children in much the same way I dance when no one is looking: out of sync, out of tune and wildly, uh, creative, moving as I feel inclined to move. But what we lack in choreography, we make up for in creativity and, I'd like to think, fun.

This sort of freestyle results in many a night of worry--strikes of panic is a better way of describing the jolt to my heart when, just on the brink of sweet sleep, I suddenly question the effectiveness of my teaching them, my competence for the role. Oh dear god I'm dumbing them down! I'm dooming them to a life of stupidity, turning them into dim-wits because I opted out of traditional school! How can I possibly think I have what it takes to impart any sort of knowledge? On these sort of nights, I decide what needs to be done in order to put some illusory check in my imaginary box and I construct a schedule, turn over in bed to find a writing utensil and my external brain (day planner)--kept by the bed for moments such as these, and I list just what we will accomplish the next day.

In the hours of daylight, we might get to the list--it certainly provides a structure but there's usually something that pulls us from our intended path. Something like a book I pass on the shelf, some show coming on the history channel, some current event that begs our attention, some experiment or project that suddenly inspires me or less intellectually charged, some illness, some grocery list, some appointment, some headache I can't shake or some housecleaning.

Because any general explanation of just how we approach this homeschooling beast is nearly impossible, here are a few examples of spontaneous inspirations that epitomize the intellectual bent to (some of) our days:
Woke up one morning to find that Barack Obama had addressed the nation with a speech on race that will surely be paved in history, so I printed 3 copies and we read along while we watched the taped speech on YouTube.

During coffee one morning while reading my blogs of choice, I saw a video linked from No Impact Man on the cycle of stuff in our consumption culture--watched the video with the kiddos, discussed and, lesson learned.

The other night, after a rather unproductive "school" day, I decided to turn on the story of Sally Hemmings--Thomas Jefferson's slave mistress virtually erased from history. This epic introduced the kids to the French Revolution, widened their eyes to the complexities of the master/slave relationship, the various 'types' of masters and plantations, the bigotries and prejudices tied up in ideologies on race that perpetuated slavery, the imperfections of a man, Thomas Jefferson, typically held in high esteem and glossed over for history's sake...ad infinitum

The bottom line is, there's no bottom line, there's no one way or sure thing for us--there is simply the 'flow' of our lives.

I have been practicing yoga for the last 9 years of my life and for the past 9 months have become more devout and committed to my practice. I find that my approach to homeschooling mirrors my practice of yoga. I am the pulse and the heart of this family and as that pulse, I sense their limits, their gifts, their interests, their good days and bad, their tolerance levels, their attention spans, their capabilities and such. Just as I move within the grace and limits of my own body during yoga, which changes from day to day, so I move within the abilities and interests of my children and our family during homeschooling, which also changes from day to day.

It's all so sweet and tidy there at the end isn't it? Don't be fooled by the metaphor--for a further exploration into the reality reveals that 'grace' is just no where to be found in this house on some days. There is yelling, impatience, head butting and dirty, dirty words flying from my mouth like projectile vomit, behaviors certainly unbecoming of a 'teacher' as I say things like, "How do you NOT get this?" or "What about this don't you understand?"--rhetorical questions for sure.

Some days it feels like one big freaking gamble. Other days it feels as though I am gifting them with an immeasurable wealth of knowledge. So the question is, how do I know? The answer is, of course...I don't. And because I don't know, how dare I? And that answer is, because I believe in me and I believe in them and I believe in me for them and that is how we do it...most days, um, sort of.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

it's all about the benjamins...

Help support NYAH this holiday season and throughout the year by purchasing Amazon.com gift cards through our group! Please click the link on our sidebar to go directly to Amazon's gift card sales. (Helpful hint: You must click the link and go directly to purchase for us to get credit!) We earn a small percentage of each sale... and every little bit helps!

Thanks for the love!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

can you believe...

Here we are... spreading our wings! Can you believe we started with four families and now have almost 60 members!?! Let's keep going and growing. We have so much to share with each other and with our community at large.

This blog is going to be as eclectic as we are. One post might be a funny can-you-believe-this-happened tale, while the next might be a science experiment, followed by someone sharing about a really tough day. One thing it will be is REAL.

So sit back and enjoy the ride. Learn a little more about homeschooling... a lot more about the other moms you're sharing this journey with... and maybe even a little bit about yourself. The fun starts now!