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Wednesday, August 12, 2020
2. Tell us about a time you felt like (or you actually were) in the middle of nowhere.
3. What's something you're smack in the middle of currently?
4. What's a food you love to eat that has something delicious in the middle?
Sunday, August 09, 2020
Season(s) covered: September through November 2020
The planning process: I posted earlier about starting to think about fall clothes, here and here. Along with many other people, I am looking at a fall with few opportunities for trips, outings, or occasions. At this point, even a casual run into the public library is a no-go, and eating inside a restaurant seems to be reserved for the brave. The outfits shown here are as my-real-life as I can make them.
Where I'm shopping: Most of the clothes were thrifted unless otherwise noted (because we are able to access thrift stores). Some of the accessories and jewelry came from antiques malls or markets (because ditto).
Would I really wear a skirt to Food Basics? Yes, I would. Next?
Colour Inspirations:This scarf (from the antiques market)
And these apatite-bead bracelets (from Fierce Lynx Designs in New Brunswick)
Wednesday, August 05, 2020
3. August 4th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Will you/did you celebrate by baking a batch? Eating a batch? Nuts or no nuts? Homemade or store bought? Soft and chewy or do you prefer your cookie to snap when you bite into it?
4. What are you starved for?
Sunday, August 02, 2020
"'The sea may kick up her heels a trifle,' said Mr. Pipes. He scanned the blue expanse all around them. 'A blow could follow a calm such as this....However, no sense our worrying over the future; we are in God's hands, my dear, not some storm's.'" The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries, by Douglas Bond.
Friday, July 31, 2020
Discover Reading, by Amy Tuttle. How an experienced homeschool mom applies Charlotte Mason's early reading lessons.
Let's Play Math, by Denise Gaskins. Just about everything you need to be a great homeschool math teacher, all in one book. I was impressed by the fact that this is not just another book of website links: it's something I actually enjoyed reading (even without anybody homeschooling here now).
Some things you might like to listen to:
The most recent episode of The Mason Jar, with guest Naomi Goegan. You too can do nature study!
And more nature study: The Deputy Headmistress reads from a CM-era conference paper. The Reverend Thornley is said to have been a favourite guest with the student teachers at Ambleside.
Episode 13 of Your Morning Basket. About Plutarch. With guest...me. I hope you enjoy it.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
1. Last time you moved house? Something you've learned in moving house?
2. Move mountains, move along, make a wrong move, moved to tears, get a move on, move up, move over, move out of the way, move the deck chairs on the Titanic, move it!...pick one and tell us how it fits your recent circumstances.
The barn was facing them, and the old storm-twisted oak tree bent over the ate to lay its branches on the roof of the old barn. It was studded with new green leaves, coral-tipped, and they made a sort of canopy over the gate. Ben was out of the car in a flash and had opened it."Always thought this gate led to into a farmyard," said George as he drove forward."I didn't," said Caroline softly. "I always had a feeling it led somewhere wonderful, but I was afraid to go and see, in case it didn't." (Pilgrim's Inn)
3. What have you been doing to make yourself move (aka stay fit-active) during these strange times?
4. This week's calendar includes celebrations for the following foods-
National Coffee Milkshake Day (Sunday), National Creme Brûlée Day (Monday), National Milk Chocolate Day (Tuesday), National Chicken Wing Day (Wednesday), National Lasagne Day (Wednesday), National Cheesecake Day (Thursday), and National Avocado Day (Friday)
Which one on the list would you be most inclined to celebrate? Which would you be most inclined to skip?
5. Next week's Hodgepodge lands in August! I know!! Raise your hand if you feel like July flew by in the blink of an eye? Now bid farewell to your July acrostic style. If you don't know what that means click here.
6. Insert your own random thought here.
Monday, July 27, 2020
Sunday, July 26, 2020
MCC and its partners are helping create opportunities for women and girls to flourish by:
- Supporting survivors of sexual violence after Hurricane Matthew in Haiti
- Participating in the UN's Commission on the Status of Women
- Working to improve maternal and child health in Kenya
- Partnering to provide women with access to loans and agricultural training in India
- Facilitating mental health services for women in Afghanistan
So it's all about choice, isn't it? I can support a small business by buying its products, if I can afford them and if they have something I need myself, or can use for my own business, or want to give to someone. Or I can support a ministry or charity that has worthwhile goals. Or I can make a hundred other choices.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Here's the latest, from the New York Times International Weekly section of the Toronto Star: Tom Brady's piece "Nurturing Students, Naturally." (2020: link no longer works)
It starts out with a description of the "forest schools," the trendy kindergartens where children spend a large part of the day outdoors (while, as he notes, their parents are probably working indoors in cubicles).
But then he switches to a brief but tantalizing story about two school districts in New Jersey. Because the link above may not stay active, I'll type out the relevant part:
"Consider Union City, New Jersey, which, like its neighboring city Newark had failing schools for decades. But then Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to Newark's schools in 2010.Doesn't that just blow you away? I have no way to verify that story or any of its results...I'm trusting the NYT and Tom Brady that they got it right. But why should it be surprising? It's a very old story, one that Marva Collins would have recognized; one that Dorothy Canfield Fisher described in 1916.
"Today, Union City's schools are performing better.
"The school district there, led by Fred Carrigg, faced two challenges head on. They taught more classes in Spanish so the three quarters of their students who were learning English did not fall farther behind. They turned youngsters, many of whom came from homes without books, into capable readers...To get students excited about books, the schools assigned daily reading and writing assignments, even in subjects like art and science.
Meanwhile, Newark spent tens of millions on outside consultants.
"'The real story of Union City is that it didn't fall back,' Mr Carrigg told The Times. 'It stabilized and has continued to improve.'"
"Elizabeth Ann had not understood more than one word in five of this, but just then the school-bell rang and they went back, little Molly helping Elizabeth Ann over the log and thinking she was being helped, as before.They ran along to the little building, and there I'm going to leave them, because I think I've told enough about their school for ONE while.It was only a poor, rough, little district school anyway, that no Superintendent of Schools would have looked at for a minute, except to sniff." (Understood Betsy)Winning the grant lottery...or having a rich fairy godfather...is not always an advantage, whether in education, business, or anything. Especially if the bureaucrats take the gift and spend it on more bureaucracy.
Sometimes the solution is not more money...or more consultants, more Superintendents of Schools. And it's not about making things easier or more fun. It's about actually getting students to read and write. Regularly, with purpose, with excitement; and whether that happens in a "poor, rough, llittle district school," or on the living room couch, or in the Union City schools, doesn't matter.
First "How a Generation Lost its Common Culture," by Patrick Deneen, at MindingTheCampus.org.
"During my lifetime, lamentation over student ignorance has been sounded by the likes of E.D. Hirsch, Allan Bloom, Mark Bauerlein and Jay Leno, among many others. But these lamentations have been leavened with the hope that appeal to our and their better angels might reverse the trend...Broadly missing is sufficient appreciation that this ignorance is the intended consequence of our educational system, a sign of its robust health and success...What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like 'critical thinking,' 'diversity,' 'ways of knowing,' 'social justice,' and 'cultural competence.'”And then go and read Brandy's Afterthoughts post, "The Origin of Nature Knowledge in a Charlotte Mason Education."
"I remember a number of years ago when my oldest child was reading Secrets of the Woods...This book made him long to spend extended time in the woods, and it enticed him into holding still and listening for movement, and then seeing what there was to see. It changed a boy that once romped wildly along the path into someone who tried to be quiet as a mouse. To this day, he behaves differently out on a trail because of that book."That is why.
"This is a U.S.A. attempt to individualize reading instruction in a large class with a wide range of reading ability. A triumph of pedagogical ingenuity combined with superb industrial design, it provides, in a container 16 x 8 x 8 inches, sufficient material to keep a class of forty students with a reading range of over six years purposefully busy for at least fifty-four periods...The levels, each of which is identified by a distinctive colour, are very carefully graded and cover a reading range of approximately 7.5-15 years and are designed to interest children from 9 to 12 years. The material, however, is stimulating and so attractively presented that the laboratory would be acceptable to most children up to the age of fourteen years."Are you excited so far?
"The laboratory consists of:-- 150 Power Building Cards, 15 at each of 10 levels, all very attractively illustrated and laid-out, which give carefully planned training in reading for comprehension, word recognition and semantic skills; a Key Card for marking each Power Builder; 150 Rate Builder Cards..."and so on and so on and so on.
If I told you that the review of the learning kit came from a journal called The Slow Learning Child, would that make a difference?
"I am jealous for the children; every modern educational movement tends to belittle them intellectually; and none more so than a late ingenious attempt to feed normal children with the pap-meat which may (?) be good for the mentally sick*..." (Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education)*"Mentally sick": obviously the terminology for cognitive disability has changed a great deal since 1923.
And that, I think, was what was wrong with this attractively presented triumph of pedagogical ingenuity. It taught us to read reprinted stories on folded cards, answer multiple-choice questions about main idea, and work through lists of antonyms. You might become very good at answering main-idea questions and picking out antonyms, just like you might master the technique of shaking chicken parts in a bag of something that comes out of a package and then putting them in the oven for the required time. It's a programmed skill, but it doesn't make you a chef.
And those cards didn't make us readers.
According to the blog post I linked above, the teacher who first came up with the idea was working with seventh graders and had too limited a budget to get fancy consumable materials, so he cut and pasted some workbooks to make them re-useable. (Shades of some homeschoolers, yes?) But here's the thing...he could have used books. He could have done what Marva Collins did (without a box). He could have asked the students to narrate, to tell and write about the books they were reading. He could have taken advantage of the natural world around them. Maybe I have the completely wrong impression, and they spent every afternoon reading classic novels and going out for nature walks. He could have done a lot of things, and maybe he did, I have no idea.
But I think he should have skipped the box.
At any rate, we can. Our boxes these days may look like computer pages instead of shiny cards, but they're no more real or necessary than SRA kits were in my classroom. Don't buy or do the things that make you feel more like a teacher. Do what matters for the students. Do the things that really feed mind-hunger. Nurture the readers and writers, curious human beings, creative spirits, and care-takers of all kinds.
That's my back-to-school post.