Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mummy, How are babies made?

Winning the internets? This is how to do it.

Mummy, how are babies made?

Yes, this home schooler does teach her kids that Emperor Nasi Goreng did indeed erect the Great Wall of China due to a rabbit population issue*...

Home Schooling is back in the spotlight again thanks to this news  item.
The article itself is nothing to get all up in arms about. For the record, we are registered home schoolers. And I am all for registration and accountability. (For us the pros of registering far outweigh the cons)

My concern with this article is the way it has painted the whole home school community. We spend a lot of our time already pandering to others who feel we have to validate and quantify our reasons for the choice we made to satisfy them. They need to know we are being monitored. (Why it's their business is yet to be fully explained to me) They give our kids pop quizzes. They attribute any behavioural quirk as a product of home schooling. They tell us we're endangering our children by not letting them experience the real world. (Because spending 6-8 hours a day in a class room with only people your age is experiencing the real world)  They worry our kids aren't being socialised right. They worry that we're teaching them that the sky is made of carpet and 2 + 2= Elephant.  (Yes, someone actually said that to me) The biggest concern people have is that we're all not teaching them about evolution. (Because apparently the world will fall apart if we don't.)

I don't ask you to validate and quantify why you send your child to an institution. I live firmly with the belief that as their parent, you have their best interests at heart and have made an informed choice based on what works best for your family. Australians increasing obsession with "illegals" is rather disturbing. Do I need to carry my registration certificates around and whip them out every time someones feels that they need reassurance I'm not illegal?

The assertion the article makes that home schoolers are religious types with tin foil hats who are suspicious and fearful of big government is, frankly, reaching.  Whilst there certainly are types who choose to home school (either on or off the grid for this very reason) one needs to remember that we are not Americans.  Rob Reich's studies and finding are UScentric. Americans by nature have an ingrained suspicion and fear of their government and the more conservative a person is the more extreme that suspicion and fear seem to become. Australians as a whole are not as anti government.

As a parent I would like to remind everyone that education is not a one size fits all system. If it was our literacy and numeracy rates would be higher and more stable. Not in decline.  There is no one perfect way. Because all children are different and all children learn differently. All families are different and all families function in a different way. Don't be so quick to judge the family next to you based on an assumption of what you think their choice means. No two home schooling families are alike. We don't judge you on your choice. Nor do we expect you to explain it.

I can't speak for the non-registered community (I am not a part of it) and I can only speak for my family when it comes to registered families. I'm not entirely sure what purpose this article was supposed to have. Or what the public is supposed to glean from it other than the message that there are "illegals living amongst you".  If the purpose was to be divisive, then the MSM have succeeded yet again.
ABC I am disappointed. I expect better from you. But this was tabloidy and tacky.

* no I didn't really but some fictional guy on a tv commercial did so it must be plausible.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mary Mary Quite Contrary....

 Well, there's no silver bells, cockle shells or pretty maids all in a row, but...I love my little garden. The time we spend together each morning alone as I sip my first cup of tea for the day and I turn on the hose to satiate their morning thirst.  It's peaceful and calm. I love watching my vegetables and fruit grow.

Impatiently waiting for the pumpkin to ripen.

More from the pumpkin patch...babies. 

My marrow, they are actually much bigger than they look.

This one is actually enormous.

Yummy yellow zucchini

and green...

Spaghetti Squash



So ends the pictorial....there's plenty of other plants in the garden, (cucumbers, herbs, strawberries, MORE tomatoes...different varieties.) But I figure, that's enough for one day. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We spent New Year at Bermagui this year.  (We usually spend some part of the Christmas holiday season in Bermagui, when we are posted close enough to that is.)

Anyone who has ever spent time in Bermagui will have also spent some time in Central Tilba. I love Tilba. And not just because this is the best cheese ever, or because it's shops are quaint and beautiful and the smell of the ocean drifts lightly on the air or because you can find delightful sleepy friends in doorways but because the place is just so green and lush and beautiful. Even on a day when the street is overflowing with tourists and you'd expect it to be all loud and bothersome, there is a peacefulness, a calm and the cheese. Did I mention the cheese?  Oh sweet Lord the cheese. (Fighting urge to run to fridge and cut up some must last until march. Dammit.)

One of my other favourite things is cemeteries.
I have often marvelled how a place full of silence and death is so rich with life. Every grave, every mound, every stone, every marker, they all tell a story. And the Tilba cemetery, well, it's just beautiful.
We took the girl child so she could pics that she could then use to draw, paint, sketch with. She hasn't started yet but I can't wait to see her finished products.

Tilba really is a beautiful place....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning, when our backs are turned.

As I sit here, thinking about the lessons I am in the middle of compiling, the curriculum I have yet to purchase, my mind is on worry mode. We haven't covered enough from last year, will I have the time to cover what I want this year? We should be learning RIGHT NOW, we've had a 4 week break, going into our 5th and we STILL HAVEN'T STARTED LEARNING YET.....ARRGGH!!

Learning is something we do every day and truthfully, most of our useful skills are learnt through doing, observing and osmosis. Really. Kids absorb their environment unconsciously.  If you don't believe me, pay attention the next time you see young  kids playing. If you pay careful attention you will see how much education is really going on, while you weren't looking!

I have learnt more as an adult just by living my life than I ever did in a classroom. Actually, that's not entirely true. I am a book worm. My nose is always in a book. Always has been. My mother had to ban reading at the dinner table because my youngest sister and I would read and not eat our dinner.  I was educated by books. All books. Not just reference books. Fiction plays such an important role in teaching us about our world and how to live in it. Even when we are reading about Middle Earth or a galaxy far far away or a hidden world in the back of a cupboard.

When I say things like this around other home schooling parents they nod their heads, smile and say "Oh, You follow Charlotte Mason!" To which I am always quick to politely reply, No, No I don't.
Ms. Masons method, though seemingly complimentary to my own approach to education is simply not how we roll here in the crayon box.  Whilst we love nature walks, we're not really into doing them every single day.  And I don't agree with her that grammar and spelling are not important, even in the early years.

But literature is the focus and lynch pin of our home school environment. All subjects have a literature component. (We have a not-quite unit study approach to all our education so numerous subjects are covered by studying one topic) We read, together, separately, out loud. (The crayon box is a very silent place to be after 9pm. We're all in bed, either already asleep or reading.) In fact, recently on holiday in Bermagui, the family who own the caravan next to ours commented on how quiet we are, I just smiled and lifted my book up in answer. For a whole week the television was never turned on  and yes we do have a tv in the caravan.   During school times, if the tv is on it's because we are watching a documentary, something political, the news or listening to classical music on AIR. Books are our crack.

When we studied WW2 we read literature. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,  The Morris Gleitzmen trilogy Once, Then and Now.  The Book Thief.  And various non-fiction books. We read seemingly un-related fiction, like John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began series, Catherynne M Valente's The Little Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a boat of her own making, Michael Gruber's The Witch's Boy.  (Because the thing that linked them together was the human need for stories. It's why history exists in the first place. It's why our Indigenous cultures taught through story telling, through art, through dance, through song and why those cultures have prevailed despite the efforts made to rub them out of existence. It's why book burning has been used as a tool against societies for as long as there has been books.  Because it's  the humanities that show us how to be human, perfectly flawed humans. )

We also looked at Maps and we watched documentaries. And never cracked a single textbook.  I'm not sure how much of the dates we remember, or the names of actual people, but we certainly got a feel for the human cost, for the lessons that history had to teach us and a hunger to know more.

And that is my job as an educator and their mother. It's not to prepare them for high performance on standardised testing or how to parrot back information, it's to light that fire in them, to fuel the hunger to want to know more.  To show them how the world was, how it is and to ask them  how they would like it to be and urge them, guide them, facilitate them towards making that happen.

Literature is a powerful tool for an educator. Charlotte Mason got that much right.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Holidays over back to the grind.

Well, not that my version of grind is really grinding at all.

We've spent a fabulous month just existing as a family.  Fishing trips, bush walks, fierce xbox 360 Kinect competitions (I swear, I will beat the man in a sprint race eventually. My mistake was that I beat him first go and showed him how to run correctly for the game... *sigh*)
But I do believe I have the Kinect Ten Pin Bowling Trophy in the bag.

Our time spent down the coast was wonderful, but I did miss my ed and my garden that is spewing up all kinds of wonderful things to eat.  (I will post pics soonish, haven't taken any of the garden and my hay fever has reached such astronomical levels as to render me incapable of talking normally I couldn't be bothered to do it today. I keep losing my voice, much to everybody else's amusement)

So internet time is still sporadic as I finalise schooling plans for this term, get the dishwasher fixed (which judging from the telephone call I got today I am a little sceptical about whether or not 'Donna' logged my job properly.)  get some reading time in and you know just the general everyday stuff we women do that men never even have to think about!