When I say “we homeschool our kids” to evangelical-Christian-types and I get the response “Praise the Lord!” I am genuinely happy to hear it. And if people assume we only homeschool because we are wierldly religious or something, that’s fine. You know, people will assume whatever they want.
I came home the other day to find this graffiti painted on the dog house by my little, eight year old Banksy. It is a riddle apparently. It’s meaning, I have since divined, is ‘chicken’ plus ‘bread’ equals ‘what’? The answer is of course ‘chicken sandwich’.
My son draws pictures of Ravana and loves to read the seemingly infinite versions of Rama & Sita (picture books from the library) again and again.
I don’t know if he likes Rama & Sita more than the stories of Greek mythology and stories from the Bible. I noticed that a sun in one of his pictures had an image of Hyperion drawn in it.
He still favors dinosaurs. And he is getting into Mark Twain. We have a few picture books about Mark Twain. One incorporates a biography written by Twain’s daughter.
My son doesn’t like just sitting down to a chapter book like Adventures of Tom Sawyer and reading it. He’s not there yet (still on a steady diet of picture books). But he’s getting close, I think. He likes a level of familiarity before he’ll dig into something like that. So, I checked out The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Mark Twain Classic as told by Jim Weiss and he liked listening to that (multiple times). That was the impetus for him to start flipping through the full text by Twain. He was finding the parts that he’d heard and reading them for himself there. Now he and Mama are have started reading the whole text through aloud.
Just before “third grade” started for him in a proper sense (first week of September) he organized a picnic for us and prepared all the food on a blanket in the front yard (see picture).
He makes swords for himself and his brother (two years old). His swords are made from Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) stalks and the swords he provides his brother are the stalks of day-lilies (Hemerocallis fulva). If you know these plants, you know this is not a square deal.
My ideas about what should be done by my son are becoming fewer and fewer. Think of this request I made to his teacher (Mama) that he write one page per school day. These are the hurried instructions that I provided:
“the goal of this exercise (you don’t need to tell him this) is to instill in him a love of writing for its own sake, because it can be beautiful and it is a powerful tool for reflection and distilling a jumble of thoughts.This is not something you can teach. It is something he’ll have to learn himself. That’s what the exercise is about, helping him learn it for himself.It is important to understand that the true lesson is all internal. So there should be no or almost no external motivation, reward, punishment, withholding, etc.The assignment is to everyday write whatever you want, at least one page.So this is how I would guide and facilitate:”I don’t know what to write about.”Are you asking me for help and a suggestion? Let’s explore that. You said you don’t know what to write about. How about write about that? How about a story about a boy who doesn’t know what to write about?…”I hate writing.”You can write anything you want. Are you asking me for help and a suggestion? You said you hate writing. Well, you could write about why you hate writing. You could say how much you hate writing…”I don’t want to do writing.”You don’t have to do it right now. Why don’t you take a break and come back to it later. Maybe you need to go out and swing for a while first…****DON’T GIVE HIM FEEDBACK on what he wrote. – If he asks, then just ask him what HE thought of it. If HE felt good about it. Or if it gave HIM ideas of things to write about in the future.**** Definitely DON’t CORRECT SPELLING. This is not an opportunity to teach spelling. that can be done when it is important in other situation. like addressing letters or something where if you make a mistake it could go to the wrong place. the point of this exorcise is to learn to love writing. and that has nothing to do with spelling.If this doesn’t seem clear to you then don’t start today, we can talk about it tonight…”
Do you hear all of the contradictions in there?
Who am I to say that he should love writing? Why should he write if he doesn’t want to? The answers to these questions might very well be that I am no one to tell him he should love anything. And, if he doesn’t want to write then he shouldn’t.
So yesterday he didn’t. And I’m okay with that. Am I okay if he doesn’t want to write the rest of the week? The rest of the month? The rest of the year? I don’t know, maybe.
The last few weeks he’s really enjoyed making these dinosaurs out of paper and tape. He spends a lot of time involved in it and they are all unique and sometimes fascinating. And he and his brother and sister play with these creations and name them and set them up.
Who am I to say that he should be doing something else with his time? What could be “better” than making these toys to play with? Maybe I wasn’t adequately socialized.
I was working on this poem a few weeks ago and haven’t been able to finish it.
There are those that can get an education in institutional schools.
And God bless them that they can.
They come out of the machine sparkling, blunt and ready to serve an unknown master.
And there are those that can only question the point.
And the system tries to beat servitude into them.
This violence is repaid in greater acts of rebellion.
They too leave the machine blunt,
but stained with their own blood, their sharpness removed
They’re less a threat to their unknown master.
Each of these, dull and thrashing, enters service in the world.
And the unknown master smiles as duty is carried out.
Duty, the quiet rebellion.
Duty, blind adherence.
All duty in service to the lord.
Play your part for the unknown master,
Protest injustice and call yourself good.
Deceive others for wealth and call yourself good.
You are duty bound and in service, either way.
In moments though, your sharpness returns (you slice through questions and answers)
You stumble into the master’s chambers on questions: what’s the point? what matters? what is duty? who am I?
It should come to some conclusion after that. I don’t know if I’ll work with the poem anymore.
I’ve received notice that my copy of Ben Hewitt’s Home Grown is on it’s way to my mailbox. So maybe after I read that I’ll have more answers, come to some conclusion and feel more socialized.