Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a normal day here at home

We actually had a somewhat normal school day today.  At breakfast we chore-swapped, which led to mass confusion after breakfast as everyone  (including me) tried to figure what we were supposed to do, when we supposed to do it, and where the hell the cleaning supplies were??  I eventually gave up trying to clean the bathroom and just took a shower.  
School started at 8:42 a.m. on the dot. We sang Jesus Loves Me, much to the older kids' annoyance (I love torturing my children like that).  India, however, was thrilled.  Spanish followed (Yo uso una falda negra.) then bible reading (death, destruction and warfare), and Little Britches. If you have never read Little Britches I highly recommend it; it's a hilarious and sincere autobiography of a boy growing  up on a ranch in the early 1900's.  History continued with a brief account of Teddy Roosevelt from our textbook and a discussion of monopolies and social change (the more stuff changes, the more it stays the same... comparing the previous turn-of-the-century America to current turn-of the-century America is very interesting).
Snack break consisted of the kids eating cheesy crackers and fruit with me running around trying to clean up a bit and sending off a bunch of emails. Then back to the books... spelling, writing, journaling, editing. Everyone kind of doing their own thing. Lunch followed; roast beef sandwiches and oranges. The kids then took turns playing pointless computer games while I continued housework... oh, the drudgery...
We sprinted down to the Garden for a few moments to see how the transplants were faring- very well, thank you rain-  then came back to our own garden. Fed Ex had arrived with our Japanese Maple and butterfly bush, so our science today consisted of planting!  Woo hoo. 
Finally there was math; some group work (4 times 0 equals 0; 4 times 1 equals 4...) followed by individual assignments. And now here I am, chilling at the computer before starting dinner, while the kids decompress after all that intense learning!
So that's a somewhat normal day looks like... it happens about once a month, in between soccer, gardening, grandma's house, play dates and other 'real-life learning experiences'.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another homeschooling post

Ok, this doesn't need a lot of commentary from me. I'll just open and close with a few statements... this weekend in St. Louis is a homeschool conference, and a few 'real' teachers happened to see the flyer about it. These are some of their responses, as reported by an undercover homeschool supporter:

- These people are dangerous when they get together for their own conferences.
- They shouldn't be allowed to assemble
- Can't the city/state government ban their get-togethers?
 Homeschool parents belong at a Home & Garden Expo not an Educational Expo
- What do they talk about at the Expo since they are not REAL teachers?
- Why is it called a Home Educators Expo since they are not educators?
- What would curriculum vendors attend something for homeschoolers?
- Why would colleges ever pay to exhibit at a homeschool convention?
- Dr. Wile and Dr. Guffanti are probably fake doctors
- The Expo speakers and attendees are all right-wing fanatics
- The curriculum at these homeschool fairs is outdated and archaic
The Homeschool Clinic is for people that need to be cured of homeschooling
- There would be no variety in a homeschool Variety Show
- Homeschool parents are not qualified to discuss special needs.
- After the Expo, homeschoolers will go back to their bunkers

Maybe they should be comedians instead of teachers, eh?

So let's just talk about diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusiveness here. Or... let's not, and then maybe we'll be 'true' American teachers. 

Yes, I'm aware that there are many teachers that do not share the above view points. In fact, despite the fact that I am a narrow-minded, right-wing, outdated homeschooling fanatic living in a bunker, I actually think that the category 'teachers' includes a wide variety of people with a variety of lifestyles and philosophies, many of whom do a fine job educating the troublesome lot of miscreants they are handed each year. 

Oh gosh, I'm just ROFLMAO thinking of myself as a radical right-wing bunker person... sorry this blog post is abruptly terminated due to gales of laughter engulfing the blogger...  

Monday, March 23, 2009


Recently,  I've been starting all my blog posts with 'recently'.  This is what happens when you never update (bad Veronica).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"If they bring home one more coloring sheet, we're pulling them out!"

Recently a friend of mine did me a huge favor- she enrolled her homeschooled kids in a good public school.  This social experiment on her part saved me the trouble of doing it myself, as I can now glean all of her newly-acquired wisdom about education in America. Or, at least, in South St. Louis County.

Her husband was the one pushing for this social experiment. He had never felt comfortable with homeschooling and was unsure why his wife insisted on it.  After almost 5 successful years of their children learning at home, he finally talked his wife into trying the local public school, so they signed up their 9 year old twins for the winter semester.

Oh my, the kids had fun. They quickly made friends and were endlessly distracted at school by the parade of plays, recess, snack breaks, and so forth that make up 4th grade in South County. The school worked hard at integrating my friend's children into class and school culture with a 'no tolerance' position on bullying or teasing.

So... I asked... why are you guys going back to homeschooling now? Because the dad was insisting: "If they bring home one more coloring sheet, we're pulling them out!"  Because while the parents were pleasantly surprised at how much the kids enjoyed school, how nice one (just one) of their teachers were, how nice the school was, they were even more horrified at the actual education the children were receiving. Coloring sheets in fourth grade? Social studies programs that consist mostly of  'Indians lived in tents and wigwams' with a diorama thrown in for good measure? Simplistic math two years behind what their children had already mastered?  But the kids were learning- that boys don't play with girls, that parents shouldn't be around much, that old friends are supposed to bullied and that learning is dull. The kids who had loved to read before going to 'school' suddenly stopped reading, only a couple weeks into the semester. But even beyond all that- what the entire family learned was the point of schoolwork: not to get the right answer, but to give the answer the teacher was searching for, whether right or wrong.  They learned that grades and doing well on standardized tests are the true goals of education, and that analyzation or application get you big fat 'F's.

The kids now have mixed feelings about coming back home. What nine year old doesn't want to hang around with their friends all day?  But I hope they have the maturity and intelligence to understand their parents' decision and even appreciate it in the long run.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Recently I walked into a grocery store, right behind a young black man. He had on a grey sweatshirt, hood pulled up over his head, hands in his pockets, backpack on his back. It was a middle-to-upper class store, in a middle-to-upper class, progressively-minded neighborhood.

I watched the expressions on the shoppers' faces.

Lowered brows. Stares. Craned necks.

I walked up to my young friend, who was actually shopping with me.  I had been delayed while getting a cart and he had entered the store ahead of me.

I watched the faces again, as realization spread across them: Oh, he's with that white woman (little do they know). Everyone visibly relaxed.

This isn't the first time this has happened- I've had almost the exact experiences with several of our young, black male friends, and I have to wonder: how does this affect them? I need to ask, but I'm almost ashamed to.  What is like to be assumed guilty before any crime is even committed? What is like to be seen as only a statistic?  To be the media's favorite target? 

By the way, the young man I was with that night is one of the humblest, most pleasant people I know, and I can only pray that God will keep his heart from bitterness as he lives his life among such prejudice.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Simultaneously Counting My Blessings and Updating My Blog

I am actually determined to update my blog more often. I am just amazed at how quickly time passes... has it really been almost two weeks since my last update? Well, anyway.

As I think over this winter that now is rapidly moving into Spring, I have to shake my head and say: wow, we are blessed. Things aren't always perfect (to say the least) but our lives are interesting and full of goodness- and change.

David has recently been working with Sylvester on some artistic endeavors. This has been a great opportunity for him to use some talents he hasn't had a chance to exercise in a long time, not to mention just having a great time with that enormous goofball Sylvester (and no, that's not a reference to Syl's girth.  I swear.)

Charlotte is half-way thru her senior year... wow. She has been in numerous art shows this year, and been recognized in several for her excellent work.

I have gotten a job (because I didn't have enough to do already). This was partly because of the real possibility of David's company crumbling (it's going through Ch. 11) and partly because the job is really perfect for me- coordinating a community garden in our own ghetto- I mean- formally blighted urban area.  It's mostly management, which is my strongpoint, and can include my precocious children.  Plus, what is better in life than gardening!?

School is going great too- the kids are at a point where they hardly complain about anything I ask them to do, and frequently teach themselves. Even India is learning to read with hardly any effort on my part.  The kids are getting along well (typical sibling stuff but nothing too insane) and maturing well. 

I feel very unworthy of these many blessings.