Sunday, February 24, 2019

Quote for a Sunday: What breaks us apart

"At least for a moment we all saw, I think, that the danger of pluralism is that it becomes factionalism, and that if factions grind their separate axes too vociferously, something mutual, precious, and human is in danger of being drowned out and lost.” ~~ Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Monday, February 18, 2019

From the archives: Happy Blogaversary

First posted February 18, 2015.
It's ironic that the tenth anniversary (blogaversary) of Dewey's Treehouse falls on the same day as the first U.S. Common Core-based standardized testing.

It's ironic partly because this blog has never been all about education, but, in another sense, yes, it is. It's about the past ten years of watching our children experience different sides of home and government education. It's about the growth and changes of the AmblesideOnline curriculum in those ten years, and the ongoing discussions of Charlotte Mason and "subversive teaching." Even when I'm posting about what's for supper, it reminds me that "education is a life."

Last night I finished reading Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, by Martha C. Nussbaum. (Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago.) In vocabulary and in some of her suggested solutions to education issues, Nussbaum does not run along all the same tracks as Charlotte Mason or the Circe Institute. She spends a lot of time discussing the Socratic method, and she has a surprising amount of respect for the current U.S. president, although (even in 2010) she said she did not entirely trust his educational outlook. I think that she's not totally into "dead white (Protestant) guys"; she would prefer a more global and inclusive curriculum. She believes in democracy, in spite of what "Uncle Eric" says about it.

However, when it comes to the need for a more humanizing education, and the consequences if it's lost, I'm right in there with her. Charlotte Mason warned against utilitarian education. Nussbaum warns against allowing education to be controlled by economics. This week, the Truth in American Education website posted this:
"Then the vice-chair of the NGA Education and Workforce Committee said something peculiar.

 “'The Elementary and Secondary Education Act will allow states to align our needs through early education to higher education with the needs of our innovative businesses, developing a stronger workforce development pipeline, expanding opportunity for all of our people and ensuring that students are prepared for success in all phases of life,' said Governor Maggie Hassan (D-NH). 

"There you have it.  They believe education is about the needs of our business and not the needs of our children and their families.  It’s not about teaching kids to be well-educated, well-rounded citizens.  Instead education is to be a pipeline for the workforce.  That’s the shift from classical education to workforce development."
A word that Nussbaum uses throughout Not for Profit is "sympathy." In a list of abilities that citizens should have (page 25), she includes "the ability to have concern for the lives of others, to grasp what policies of many types mean for the opportunities and experiences of ones fellow citizens, of many types, and for people outside one's own nation." Next on the list is "the ability to imagine well a variety of complex issues affecting the story of a human life as it a way informed by an understanding of a wide range of human stories, not just by aggregate data." (emphasis mine)

On this day when the success or failure of Common Core will be computer, no less...let's celebrate sympathy. Let's hold up the failing hands of imagination. Let's have some fun that is funny.

Happy Blogaversary. Climb on up, share some stories, have some cake.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Intentional Thrifter(s) Find Art

The thrift store where I volunteer has had a special display of artwork this month. Every time I went in, I was drawn to this print by a local artist. Mr. Fixit had dropped in there as well and noticed it. Last night we finished dinner and said, "The store's still open, let's go see if it's still there."

It was, and we bought it. It's hanging over one of the bookshelves.

Other recent finds:
An off-white shirt. The last one I bought had a peplum at the bottom, which was cute but hard to tuck in. Sometimes plainer is better.
A tote bag that somebody made out of upholstery samples.
Purple boots (to replace my purple shoes that wore out faster than we could fix them).

And a couple of books.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Best conscious-consumer post I've read this week

"Whatever I might gain from convenience or price, it’s often worth it to wait to decide if I’m making the right choice or spend more money for something that I truly love…if only so I don’t end up in this exact same situation a year from now, wondering how on earth I managed to buy so many things that I hate.
"The Konmari method also gave me permission to say goodbye to those mistakes, something I feel awfully guilty about as a person invested in sustainable living. I shouldn’t hoard stuff I don’t even like to make myself feel better about wasting less; instead, I should learn from my past decisions so I can make better sustainable decisions in the future."

Friday, February 01, 2019

What I did with my closet (A little KonMari Tidying)

I said recently that I don't own any plastic drawers, but they had already been on my mind. Not because everybody and their aunt are talking about KonMari, but because I had been looking at the assortment of bins and boxes on the closet floor, and thinking of possible improvements. And not because I love plastic, but I did figure out that Sterilite's wide-drawer unit was just the right size for the space, if we left the wheels off, so it was probably the simplest choice. 
So you may have already noticed the drawers in this week's minimalism posts. I've added scrapbookish inserts to the fronts of each drawer, but they can easily be removed or changed. 
Some people would probably use closet drawers for underwear or basic stuff. For me, these are more like spark-joy holders. One drawer is for scarves, because I'm strange like that, and also because adding the drawers meant losing the basket they were in. (I will probably eliminate a few of these.)

One drawer is for doilies, mats, and small tablecloths, because I've never been able to arrange them "joyfully" before, or get at them easily, and because we got rid of their bin. Also some crocheted pinecones which never had a real home before.
The third drawer is for summer clothes. Now I can use my suitcase again.
Fitting in the unit moved two plastic bins on to a new life in the storage room, and it eliminated several cardboard boxes. I also cleaned out our "medical" supplies and found a new spot for the overnight-guest bedding, and it all made me feel very productive. And yes, I do things other than clean my closet, but this seemed like a good way to take better care of my stuff. 

Besides, it was too cold to go out.