Monday, January 05, 2015

How to be a homeschool-parent-mensch

"If it be not goodness, the will is virtue, in the etymological sense of that word; it is manliness." -- Charlotte Mason, Ourselves (Volume 4)
In other words: Menschliness.

Mini poster and further explanations found on Life Without Pants; blog (outside of that post) contains adult language.
The post at Life Without Pants refers to a book by Bruna (not Brenda) Martinuzzi, The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. From her website: "Martinuzzi takes the reader on a transformative journey to a way of living, self-discovery, and personal strength that translates into becoming a person who authentically inspires with empathy and confidence—and successfully motivates others to follow by example, a mensch-leader."  I also liked one of the reviews posted there: “Bruna Martinuzzi has distilled the essence of what it takes to influence and motivate others, not by the exercise of authority, but through the example of ethical and admirable character. She doesn’t just tell us how—she helps us understand.”  Mark D. Lange, Christian Science Monitor

So what does that have to do with homeschooling parents? The attributes listed in the above poster, which are summarized from Martinuzzi's book on leadership, can be taken as characteristics of good teachers, and also of good parents. I won't paste the explanations as given on Life Without Pants, but here are my own (homeschooling) takes on the list.

1. Give people gifts other than those that you buy.  LWP mentions the gift of "A reason to care," among other things. In November I wrote a series of posts here about the gift of discipline, including this one.. We invite, we offer, we give; we don't invade or impose.
2. Become a talent hunter. See #5.
3. Share ideas and information that can enrich. Don't keep all your good ideas to yourself. Homeschooling parents seem to understand this naturally...hence the existence of support groups and the publication of many "how we did it" books and magazines, not to mention the Carnival of Homeschooling.

And of course it applies as well to what we actually teach. One way we frequently start our day here is with our homeschool "principal" (Mr Fixit), who tunes in closely to current events of all kinds and who is usually good for a "weekday update."

4. Spend more time in the “beginner’s mind.”  Put yourself in the student's place. What would you want to know about a topic? What would be a good way to communicate a particular idea? What points should you explain first, and which ones does your student need to discover for him or herself?
5. Don’t tell people what they can’t (aren't able to) do.  Marva Collins is a prime example of ignoring "can'ts," and so are John Holt and John Mighton.
6. Minimize the space you take up. LWP interprets this as referring to focus and lack of clutter, but I actually see another meaning in it: what Charlotte Mason calls Masterly Inactivity. That is, the focus is put on the student, rather than on the teacher. The student gets to ask the questions instead of just answer them.
7. Become a relationship anthropologist.  Maybe like this? "Justice can best be grasped through the prism of three generations. If I want you to treat me justly, I must imagine you and your parents and your grandparents in context. If we want to treat each other justly, we must imagine each other in context - you and your parents and grandparents; and me with mine. I must battle as hard for me to “get” your story as I battle for you to “get” my story." (Trustcounts.org
8. Be happy for others. At the L'Harmas retreat last fall, Tammy Glaser told the story of a boy in their community school with a particular set of special needs, who was also hypersensitive to noise. On one occasion, when he demonstrated how far he had come by doing some kind of classroom presentation, the rest of the students all clapped for him...quietly.
9. Get rid of grudges. Allow second, third, fourth chances. Don't let past tensions spoil a good learning opportunity.
10. "Help others caress the rainbow," which means "Inspire hopefulness." One way to do this: include books that inspire in your homeschool curriculum: poetry, fiction, biography.
11. Make people feel better about themselves. No matter where they come from, no matter what's happened before. Give them opportunities to succeed, and let them know they're smart.
12. View promises as unpaid debt.  And don't promise what you can't follow through on. "How do you become the kind of person others want to follow? By being a person that people trust." (LWP)

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