Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Book for new sibling

A good book for a child who has just become a big brother or sister:

Do You Still Love Me? by Charlotte Middleton
Picture book. The story of a dog's feelings when his girl owner gets a new chameleon -- bold, bright, simple pictures.

Children's Books -- Christmas

I love books. I read a lot to my dds and I keep notes on some of the books I like. The following is a list of Christmas books for children that I started keeping last year and thought I'd share.
To read more, click the Xs...

The Christmas Story from the Gospel According to St. Luke, Illustrated by James Bernardin. Picture Book. Good for all ages, picture book using the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, KJV. Beautiful, realistic illustrations accompanying short passages. My daughter, who was 3 years at the time, enjoyed it.

The Christmas Story According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (KJV). Illustrated by Gennady Spirin. More extensive than the book above. Each page of text has verse references. Lovely illustrations in a Renaissance style. The story is longer and the style of the illustrations may not appeal to young children as much as the book above. You may want to look at a library copy to see if it appeals to you and your children, if so, its worth owning -- a beautiful book.

Christmas is... by Gail Gibbons
Cartoonish illustrations with bright colors. Explains various aspects of the Christmas celebration: nativity story, Santa Claus/St. Nicholas (how the history of St. Nicholas evolved into the story of Santa Claus); Christmas tree, Christmas lights, gift giving. Shouldn't spoil Santa for kids who believe in him (told as "some people think"). While this book doesn't necessarily forward the story of Santa, neither does it dismantle it. Probably a good choice for those with young children looking to explain the various aspects of Christmas celebrations.

The Golden Books Treasury of Christmas Joy, complied and edited by Skip Skwarek. A beautiful book and collection of "stories, poems, carols and more." Cross cultural celebrations, Christmas ABCs, activities, religious and secular. School-age children. Get this for $6 through Daedalus.

Christmas by Alice K. Flanagan
Cartoonish illustrations. Explains all aspects of Christmas -- religious, secular, pagan origins of the winter festival. May spoil Santa Claus for those who still believe in him by giving so much history. Glossary and resources in back. Elementary, good explanation of all the various aspects of Christmas -- she sums it up by saying, "On Christmas, many people celebrate two holidays...the birthday of Jesus Christ...[and] the arrival of Santa Claus." I thought this was a pretty good way of distinguishing the two (personally, I'm not into Santa Claus, I can tolerate him, but I'm not going to the trouble of talking about Santa coming and what he's bringing, etc, etc. My dd gets enough of that from the culture).

Christmas, A True Book, by Dana Meachen Rau. Textbook-ish, lots of photographs and other illustrations. Basic information (history, gift giving, trees, cross-cultural) presented in a dry format. Mid-elementary aged children.

The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book, Take Joy
Songs, stories and poems. Older elementary aged children.

A Time to Keep, Tasha Tudor
Not a Christmas book. Recounts the year's activities. Set in an earlier time period. Beautiful picture book, goes month by month.

The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier *
Lovely picture book -- realistic illustrations on one page with text on the facing page. Setting is a mother explaining the nativity story to her school-age son (8 years old) and answering his many questions about it. Bible passages about the nativity story are interspersed with dialogue between the mother and son. Lots of background information and questions, the scripture takes up a much smaller part of the book. Looks like a great book for school aged kids.

The Nativity, Mary Remembers by Laurie Knowlton
Picture book -- illustrations on one page with text on the facing page. The nativity from Mary's perspective; good for elementary age kids, probably -- whatever age when kids can empathize. A nice way to make the nativity more meaningful.

The Christmas Story by Carol Heyer
Picture book. Realistic illustrations, bold clear clean lines, a bit stylized, may be too intense for young children. The nativity story with a brief follow-up of Jesus' live and ministry. Nice way to tie in nativity to the importance of Jesus and what he did.

Check your library for these books -- all of them came from my county's library.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Homeschooling Odyssey -- preparations

How I started thinking about Homeschooling, a Sparky exclusive.
These are my thoughts and research: began December 2002

Education is not a race [Elkind, Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk]. Neither is competition necessary to learning. Id.

I used to think homeschoolers were nuts. We live in an expensive area, in part because schools are so good. Why live here and home school? Now, home schooling seems so desirable to me, I wonder why more people aren't doing it.
To read more, click on the Xs

I had always assumed I'd send my DD to preschool at age 4, maybe even at 3. Conventional wisdom holds that its difficult to get a spot in a 4 year old class without having been in 3 year old program resulted in my considering preschool at 3, but I'm a gambling woman and would be willing to roll the dice (really, its not impossible to find preschools, though you might not get your first choice and might wind up in the dreaded afternoon program). Then I began questioning the necessity of preschool and ultimately rejected the notion of preschool. I read articles about choosing whether or not to preschool.

I had some casual discussions with DH that we could probably home school through junior high but don’t know how to handle HS level math and science. I met a woman who home schooled to high school. Suddenly the concern about higher level math and science disappeared, the kids could always go to high school.

I had some concerns over unnecessary competition in school; unwanted socialization experiences and possible, though perhaps not probable results - eating disorders, stress, having life controlled by school [day at school, homework, projects].

So I started reading about preschool, what goes on in a typical day, etc. I read Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk by David Elkind and moved to from there...

Books I’ve read as I considered home schooling:

Home schooling Almanac by Michael and Mary Leppert – nice overview, easy to read, no need to read sequentially. Lots of information and interviews with parents and even one with a college student. Resource review.

Kingdom of Children by Mitchell Stevens – sociologist’s dissertation on the home school movement. Neither pro nor con, really just reporting and interpreting the social movement of home schooling and looking at the distinctions between “Christian” home schooling and the more liberal ‘unschooling’ movements.

This book gave me a wonderful sense of perspective on the subject as well as lots of information on the effects of homeschooling and the mechanics and history of the movement. Especially helpful was the information and background of the various support groups and homeschool organizations. Found the unbiased look at both the inclusives and the believers to be very helpful. -- I was later told by others that they felt the inclusive v. believer dicotomy oversimplified the movement, but I found it helpful, a good starting point.

Rebecca Rupp books – Getting Started on HomeLearning and HomeLearning Year by Year. California crunchy and well-educated. Level-headed and easy to read. Encouraging but also intimidating when you read about all the questions her kids were asking. Completely non-religious. Like her style, agree with her philosophy, lots of quotes. Year by Year book has curriculum for each year.

The Essential Montessori by Elizabeth Hainstock (recommended by my good friend, The Barely Attentive Mother). While this really wasn’t about home schooling, some of the statements really struck a chord with me. “The time that we spent learning together gave me the chance to work closely with my girls, laying the groundwork for a continuing rapport in their later years. I was able to watch each of them develop into a unique individual and learn infinitely more about them than would have been possible in any other situation. I felt that their emergence as individuals was more readily apparent to me because of our shared Montessori experiences than it would have been if I’d just given them a cheerful good-bye and sent them off to nursery school each morning. [p.7 explaining her teaching experiences with her preschool children].

Home schooling the Early Years Child by Linda Dobson – A good book, non-religious, maybe too how-to before I’m ready for it. General how and why, lots of tips.

Home school Manual by Theodore Wade – collection of articles, Christian, some by HSLDA leaders; dated look, didn’t really appeal to me, but seems comprehensive.

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock –
“Education need not be imposed on the child; given a learning environment he will be free to act and to develop himself along the lines of his own inner direction.” p.8
“Far too many schools today are also guilty of not allowing our children to think for themselves. Children are too often being forced to submit to an unimaginative curriculum in an environment where the teacher makes all the decisions, while the children suffer under the delusion that they are really learning. What they are getting is shallow, superficial learning that profits neither the teacher nor the pupil. Today’s children need far more stimulation than they are being given. They are learning by rote, responding to stock questions with stock answers; too seldom are they allowed to use their minds imaginatively and creatively. On the few occasions when a child or young adult is suddenly presented with a “thought” question, he is unprepared to cope with it – his thinking processes have become stagnant from disuse. It is a pathetic fact that too many young people today are able to think and talk only in vague generalities and abstractions. Is it the fault of the child that he is ill prepared, or does the fault lie within the structure of our present-day educational system and indeed, with the parents themselves, for placing too much emphasis on dependency?” p.14

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Shaeffer Macauley – an overview of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. Love it! Religious but not overtly fundamentalist Christian – religious as in, we are all God’s children and each deserve respect. Hates ‘twaddle’, watered down, uninteresting texts used by school to teach. Emphasizes the importance of living books, ones that captivate the imagination and give children something to think about. Give them good books, give them books you may think are too old for them, they will learn and take something from them and want more.

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison – brief and spotty, not as much of Mason’s philosophy but more quick summaries of how-tos [not fleshed out, not always coherent]. Author is a conservative Christian [talks about covering up ‘objectionable’ parts of art with post-its].

The Way they Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias – not a home schooling book, just talks about learning styles and environmental preferences and how we remember. Its more than just the modalities of learning [aural, visual, kinesthetic, etc], its got lots of different theories and has references to many other books.

EasyHomeschooling Techniques by Lorraine Curry – fundamentalist Christian, a quick read and not bad if you ignore a lot of her religious beliefs [Creationism and disdain for evolution; ‘unacceptable’ art featuring nudity]; talks about setting up a scope and sequence, choosing good books, etc.

The Question of God by Dr. Armand M Nicholi, Jr.
Not a homeschooling book, but talks about C.S.Lewis’ experiences as a student at a private boarding school. I imagine that some of his critiques might be applicable to the public school system.
“If the parents in each generation...knew what really goes on at their son’s schools, the history of education would be very different.” “I have never seen a community so competitive, so full of snobbery and flunkeyism, a ruling class so selfish and so self-conscious, or a proletariat so fawning, so lacking in all solidarity and sense of corporate honor.” The environment fostered pride and arrogance and the tendency to look down on others. Lewis’ father eventually withdrew C.S. to study with a private tutor. The years he spent with his tutor were the most formative and happy of his life. He spent many hours of each day delving into books of his own choice. Every afternoon he was free ‘to read, write or moon about in the golden-tinted woods and valleys of this country.’ pp. 8-9.

Should I Home School? By Elizabeth and Dan Hamilton
A very helpful book, examines the question of whether to homeschool recognizing that its not the right choice for everyone [especially families where the spouses disagree]. Christian, assumes curriculum use. Likes Magic SchoolBus educational software.
Begins with educational options available – public school, parochial school, private school, Christian Day School, homeschool. Continues with questions to ask – developing an educational philosophy and determining which of these options most closely follows. Consider your time, interest and availability to homeschool [planning and teaching]. Consider your personality and your child’s [whether homeschooling would lead to or contribute to conflict with a difficult child]. Very helpful in providing questions to consider for those who feel pressured to homeschool [especially if for religious reasons].
Gives an overview of available curriculum and urges the reader to consider how much planning they would be able to do for homeschooling. Some curricula offer more structure and guidance which may be helpful or stifling – this structure corresponds to the availablity of the teacher to prepare assignments. Some curricula are heavy on review and drill, some move at a faster speed. She suggests Cathy Duffy’s Christian Home Educator’s Curriculum Guide and Mary Pride’s Big Book of Learning as resources.

Christian Home Educator’s Curriculum Guide by Cathy Duffy
Comprehensive. Discusses learning styles and teaching styles. Gives an overview of different homeschooling methods. I enjoyed this a lot but it was overwhelming.

Mary Pride's Big Book of Home Learning is another great resource.

Very pleased with the products offered by Sonlight Curriculum. Based on a living books approach, it offers a scheduled curriculum using real books [as opposed to text books]. Liked their philosophy – decidely Christian but more ecumenical, not Western culture biased.

The Relaxed Homeschool, Mary Hood
I really liked this book; its short [just over 100 pages] and easy to read. Mary is called the Christian unschooler by many. She has a Ph.D. in education which certainly lends credence to her opinions. She dedicated this book to Charlotte Mason for ‘who taught me to respect my children.’ This book is not a nuts and bolts how-to, though it does sort of help you get started. She urges you to determine your philosophy and some long range goals as a means to guide you. She mentions that she is Christian and it comes up during the course of her book but in a very low-key manner – no hammering away about God’s will nor sprinkling her book with Bible quotes. She highlights some of the shortcomings of institutional school without attacking them. She is a proponent of using living books but doesn’t get into details. She touchs on the teaching of different subjects but since she uses the living books approach, she doesn’t really approach teaching from a view of separate and distinct subject areas.
She discusses the importance of having a general daily schedule but isn’t a slave to it. The schedule is important, because even if you scrap it every day, it allows you to see areas you may be missing. Also, she does not have separate blocks of time for the various subjects, but simply an hour or two for academic subjects, some quiet time, chore time and time for activities.
She does a funny aside about unit studies – she basically says that she is more child directed and literature based while unit studies tend to be parent driven and activities heavy. This was helpful to me as I decide what approach I want to take.
In Chapter 4, she illustrates the lunacy around ‘teaching reading’ by comparing it to teaching kids to talk. Basically, kids are motivated on their own and provided a rich environment, will learn just fine without all the high priced gimmickry of experts. She points out that motivational techniques actually kill the intrinsic desire to learn [reading is made drudgery through dry, dumbed down textbooks and then made to answer questions, write reports and dissect them until reading is no longer an enjoyable experience]. She gives an example of how her son read great books but every summer, would turn to short dumb books to rack up points for the library’s summer reading program.
I was also interested in what she said about teaching science. She mentioned that people tend to approach it in one of two ways, either from a textbook approach [which tends to be very dry and not always clearly relevent] or an experiment driven approach [which tends to be disjointed as you learn about various parts of science without any obvious connection; ie magnetism to chemistry]. She prefers a literature based approach which involves checking out books from the library on subjects in which her children have shown interest and subscribing to various science magazines and just learning through living [gardening, etc].
Early math is also easily learned through living; one on one correspondance being very important. Cooking, measuring, math games. Purchased manipulatives aren’t necessary, use cheerios, popsicle sticks or other objects. If you want a text, use inexpensive workbooks.

So You’re Thinking about Homeschooling, Lisa Whelchel
A quick, easy read. Briefly profiles about 15 different composite families and uses a few pages to tell how and why each homeschools [single parent; harassed kids; unusual circumstances]. Of all the "families," only 2 homeschooled from the start, including the author. The 'families' are actually composites of many people she'd interviewed.

Teach Your Own, John Holt
Loved it – more substantive than a rah-rah homeschooling book. Holt seems to really like and respect children and emphasizes that they learn plenty on their own.

The Unschooling Handbook, Mary Griffith
More general, lots of encouraging quotes....

John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down and The Underground History of American Education are wonderful if you're feeling saucy. If you're unsure whether you want to homeschool they will either scare the heck out of you or get you started homeschooling immediately. Personally, I love them.

I am now a member of my state's inclusive homeschooling organization, subscribe to the Home Education Magazine, plan to become involved in monitoring homeschool legislation and hope someday to help with lobbying.
As my DH has said about our desire to homeschool, "Yes, we drank the Kool-Aid."

Homeschooling Conference

I enjoyed last weekend's homeschooling conference very much and recommend it to anyone interested in homeschooling. The sessions were informative, interesting, and fun. I especially enjoyed meeting other homeschoolers -- it was nice not to have to explain why I want to homeschool and why I'm not worried about socialization! I'm very interested in volunteering with the organization that sponsored the conference and volunteered at the conference, so it was especially nice to meet the officers of the organization.

My DH also enjoyed the conference. Maybe I can coax him to post a comment about his thoughts. He attended different sessions than I did.

Actually, as I write this it occurs to me that my blog hasn't really addressed why and how I became interested in homeschooling and why I'm not concerned about socialization -- I think most of my posts thus far have been quotes from books I've read and monologues about my philosophy. I'll have to make a 'how I got here' post.

Unschooling Math for Preschool

Today my 4 year old and I opened up a math game that I bought this weekend at the Homeschool Conference (more on the conference in another post). The game is Math Play from DK and it includes brightly colored cards with numbers, number names, and pictures of the same number of items, in correspondance to the number on the card. There are also some other kinds of cards in this game kit. Its cute and bright and if you feel like spending about $13, not bad, but doesn't have much that can't be played by using a regular deck of playing cards and removing Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces and Jokers.

One feature of this game are a set of cards that have a number of objects on one side and a sentence asking how many objects. Flip the card over and you see the answer -- the number. My daughter is completely capable of reading the question and counting the items for the answer, but she doesn't -- she reads the question then flips over the card and reads the answer. This bugs me. I have enough of an unschooling philosophy that I'm okay with her playing with the cards any way she wants. However, it annoys me that she asks a question, makes no attempt to answer it, but immediately flips to the answer. Why? I don't know -- it makes me almost feel that she's being lazy -- but I don't know any lazy 4 year olds and she certainly isn't one.

To read more, click the Xs...

I'm intrigued with this because I noticed the same thing with a set of Brain Quest books she received [these are cards that are hinged at the bottom. Each card has three simple questions on it. The answers are on the following card]. She loves these cards and they are great for the card, very compact. I always thought she was doing them, but once when I paid attention, she was really only reading the question cards and immediately sliding them over and reading the answer. To me, its like cheating to do that, but I don't think thats her intent at all. Maybe she's practicing reading, maybe she sees no reason to find an answer when its provided to her -- maybe she even thinks that the game is to read the question and then the answer -- perhaps it makes no sense to a 4 year old mind that you would work out an answer which is provided on the next page. Dunno.

Anyway, long story short is my irritability at how she was playing with the cards led her to pack up the game and not want to play it anymore. She conducted herself with a lot of maturity considering I probably frustrated her and ruined her fun.

I know I need to leave her alone on things like this. So long as she has other toys or things to play with where the answers are not provided for her, she will work them out. I know her well enough that I should not have gotten on her case about not 'working' the cards properly.

Bad mommy, go read more Holt.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Tech Support III

Grrr...I'm back to Thisaway Rose. I've decided I would rather have recent posts listed on my sidebar than links. I think either can be added to my template and it looks like its less involved to add links. Plus, I've figured out how to put links within each post, so that will suffice my need to link to others for the moment.

I don't see anything in Blogger help that indicates I can assign posts to categories and I haven't seen any categories listed in any of the templates. Perhaps I'll check out other people's blogs on blogspot to see if I can find someone who did it.

Of course, I think I lost all the truncating work I did when I was with the Sand Dollar template. I hope that since I've done it once, I can do it again...

Happy trails, I'm off to a homeschool conference this weekend, sans kids -- hows that for irony!

Tech support II

Hmmm....got the 'read more' thing working on one of my posts, but it appears at the bottom of every post, whether or not the post has been truncated. How annoying...

Update: I was just re-reading Blogger help on this and it notes that Read More will appear at the bottom of every post regardless. It adds "modifying this feature is left as an exercise for the reader." Not this reader!


Okay, I'm having some blogger problems -- minor ones, mind you, I don't know enough to have big problems.

My first problem was getting links on my sidebar. I went to blogger help and found the answer I needed, which is to cut and paste some code into my template. I did this but still no links section on my sidebar. Perhaps I added the code in the wrong place. I decided it might be easier to change to a template that already had an established link section on the sidebar. Looking through the templates, very few seemed to have these but I found one and changed my template, thus the new look of my page. Interestingly, my sidebar moved from the right of the screen to the left -- I wonder if this has spiritual implications? In order to link with others, I must move to the left...

ANYWAY, my next projects include trying to truncate my posts so that only the first couple of paragraphs show with a link to the rest of the post. Blogger help calls these 'expandable post summaries.' I've printed out their help section for this and hope I am more successful with cutting and pasting on this issue. I know the code needs to be added within the style section and I think I've located it on my current template [I couldn't find an exact match on my last template, Thisaway Rose]. Now, I only need to paste it in the proper place -- where within the style sheet? At the end of it is my guess. Perhaps you can tell I'm a lawyer by training and former profession, I can't follow a simple directive without generating umpteen questions about it.

I would also like to see if I can add categories -- my blog is all over the place and I realize that some readers might only be interested in my ramblings on certain topics. Again, this might be an easy task for some, but I feel confident that I'll be able to turn it into a huge problem.

Happy reading -- hope you like the new look. I miss the pink.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Proselytizing: a discussion, well, maybe a monologue

Again, thanks to Larry for leading me to another issue thats been kicking around in my head. He mentioned that Quakers never proselytize. Coincidentally [or not?], I've been thinking about this a lot recently, but also generally ever since I began BSF. Its come up recently because of the press coverage generated by the Jews for Jesus campaign -- they are doing a big blitz in the DC area and the papers have been reporting on it for weeks.
To read more, click the Xs...

The media coverage has included reporting on meetings held at Jewish community centers as a counter to the street campaign by the Jews for Jesus, in conjunction with a local megachurch. The Jewish opposition includes a group called Jews for Judaism. Jews for Judaism is not happy about the Jews for Jesus campaign to spread the message the message that Jesus is Messiah. The gist, I guess, is that Jews for Judaism feels its misleading to tell Jews that they can believe in Christ and still be Jewish.

How do I feel about all of this? I don't know. I can't help but wonder what the big deal is. I don't like Mormons coming to my door several times a year and I'd much rather just pass them on the street than deal with them at the door of my home. My understanding is that the Jews for Jesus campaign is being conducted on public streets and at Metro stations.

Now, back to the generally simmering question in my mind. Proselytize, yes or no?

Well, I've generally been raised with the idea that the best evangelism is lifestyle evangelism. By your actions and attitude you share the love of Christ with others, even if you never speak his name. Sometimes this seems too weak for me. Mind you, I feel that not everyone has a gift to evangelize through the spoken word and I wouldn't want anyone to feel forced to talk about God or Christ.

Now, I've been very excited about God for several years now and I must say that if I have any gifts at all, I have the gift of enthusiasm. Thus, I have eagerly told all who would listen, and probably some who didn't want to, about how wonderful Bible Study has been for me and urging them to attend as well, or at least read the Bible. My problem has been that my excitement leads me to being pushy and judgmental -- I have the answer, Bible Study, go! I began to feel like a used car salesman for God. And if there is anything God doesn't need, its me, trying to shove Him down other people's throats. So, my 'evangelism' doesn't seem to be working and I may even be alienating people. Thus, I am lead back to the thought that perhaps lifestyle evangelism is the way to go. It certainly fits with my unschooling philosophy that you can't force anyone to learn anything, especially in the search for God. God gives us free will, why do some of us have so much trouble with allowing it for others?

How Do You Like Your Religion?

I've been blessed with a new friend, Larry. He commented on my post about Books I'd Like to Read. He kindly e-mailed me and I responded with a long e-mail. Since my time is so limited, and I'm neglecting my children by being on-line, I'm going to post parts of my response to him because it raises issues that I'm struggling with. Maybe I'll even make some attempts to clarify my babblings... Let's take a look at my e-mail response, in media res...
To read more, click the Xs...

I consider myself a liberal Protestant and I attend Bible Study Fellowship which follows a Reformed theology. It seems to me that these groups believe that God is in everyone, through the Holy Spirit, and it differs within the individual how much they allow that to shine through. I am very interested in the concept of sin, I was frightened by it as a child, its not mentioned much at all in my church, but comes up quite frequently in my Bible Study! I find it useful to believe in sin, but I've had discussions with my friends who've indicated that perhaps I see sin everywhere. However, its my hope that I'm not judgmental about it. I recognize that we all have sin and we all have to try to overcome it in order to be the people God wants us to be. I don't know if any of this makes sense -- this is my current state of understanding and perhaps my theology is a bit utilitarian right now -- I follow what I can understand and what works for me.

This is why I'm interested in Christianity and healing -- we all have sufferings or sin or something that clogs us or separates us from God. I'm interested in how we seek to be our best, to overcome these obstacles or sin, to heal ourselves, or seek healing through God's grace. My interest in healing focuses on the spiritual health of the individual, right now, not physical healing. I can't help but feel that our nation is drugged out -- it seems so many people are on anti-depressants and I don't think its the cure. I wonder, perhaps even hope, that we can heal ourselves [or rather, be healed through grace] by examining our spirituality, by seeking God. I have a good friend who is interested in Buddhism, but I can't help but feel she's on the wrong path [hows that for a direct contradiction of my unschooling philosophy?]. However, I know that its her decision to make and that perhaps this path will lead her to God. I know that I myself have many problems with pride and control, thinking that I know the best path for her. I'd like to think its only a misguided desire on my part to help.

Sorry to ramble so long -- please feel free to share any insights or commentary you have with me -- I'm seeking, but I'm not so sure where to look sometimes. I really do struggle between liberalism and conservatism. I feel liberalism is more understanding and loving and perhaps even more Godly, but it feels a bit elusive to me. What I like about conservatism is that it seems to give me something more to hold onto. Also note, my conservatism is a fairly liberal brand of it.

I've tried to read some Marcus Borg, but I can't seem to find the time or real interest to accomplish this task. Frankly, it kind of spooks me out when he refers to the pre-resurrection Jesus and the post-resurrection Christ. I'm not an inerrantist, but I am a literalist, at least to the degree that I believe that Jesus died and was resurrected and is the Son of God. I didn't read enough of Borg to understand his message but it seemed to be going along the lines of Jesus being a great example of a human being but that he couldn't be divine because then we, as humans, wouldn't be able to relate to him. Feel free to post corrections -- please. I could really use a Cliff's Notes for theology...

ANYWAY, I realize that much of the Bible is figurative, but I believe that much of it is both figurative and literal. I believe that we have to understand the historical context of the Bible, but that it is living and has important application for today. This is a big change for me from my college belief that the Bible is a work of literature but not much more than that [this was not even an original thought on my part, I think I learned in a religion class that liberal Christians view the Bible in this manner].

Ah well, I'm clearly muddled and would be happy to dialogue with anyone on these issues.

To see my good friend's blog post which mentions parts of this post, click here

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


"We destroy the disinterested (I do not mean uninterested) love of learning in small children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards -- gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A's on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean's lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys -- in short for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else." John Holt, How Children Fail, Revised Edition, p. 274

See also Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards -- I've glanced at it; my main interest is rewards in the context of learning and his book covers rewards in many situations, including the workplace.

Monday, August 09, 2004

More Holt quotes

From How Children Fail, Revised Edition, by John Holt

For times when DH or others are tempted to test what the munchkins know:
"I now realize that when we keep trying to find out what our students understand we are more likely than not to destroy whatever understanding they may have. Not until people get very secure in their knowledge and very skillful in talking about it -- which rules out almost all young children -- is there much point in asking them to talk about what they know, and how they know they know it. The closest we can come to finding out what children really know -- and it's not very close -- is to watch what they do when they are free to do what interests them most." (emphasis in original) p. 181

"A few good pinciples to keep in mind: (1) Children do not need to be "taught" in order to learn; they will learn a great deal, and probably learn best, without being taught. (2) Children are enormously interested in our adult world and what we do there. (3) Children learn best when the things they learn are embedded in a context of real life...(4) Children learn best when their learning is connected with an immediate and serious purpose." pp.221-22

"How can we foster a joyous, alert, wholehearted participation in life if we build all our schooling around the holiness of getting "right answers"?" p.242

Many parents and teachers have a belief about children in general that is both profoundly disrespectful and untrue. "It is that they never do anything and never will do anything "worthwhile" unless some adult makes them do it.... The only triumphs of [the child] that [the mother] savors are those for which she can give herself most of the credit. Children sense this attitude. They resent it. By what right do we assume that there is nothing good in children except what we put there? This view is condescending and presumptuous. More important, it is untrue, and blinds us to the fact that in our clumsy and ignorant efforts to mold the character of children we probably destroy at least as many good qualities as we develop, do at least as much harm as good. No -- we do far more harm than good." pp.267-68