Wednesday, March 31, 2021

From the archives: Or we can keep on...

First posted April 2006 (which makes it fifteen years ago); edited slightly. The Apprentice was fourteen, still homeschooling that spring, but later in the year she started part time at the local high school. Ponytails was eight and a half. Crayons/Lydia was almost five.

 "Mom makes us work too hard." "Not another book!" "School is hard." If my children were talking Barbies, they might echo that unfortunate doll (who had her conversation chip yanked for saying that math is too hard). Yes, the Apprentice and Ponytails do complain about school, lest you think that these Shakespeare-reading progeny do everything excellently without ever needing to be prodded (that's only true of other peoples' children, right?). After all, The Apprentice isn't planning on going to university anyway...she alternates between interests in hairdressing/cosmetics, photography, and computer information systems (maybe she'll figure out a way to do all of them). Why does this stuff matter?

[2021 update: The Apprentice did a hairstyling apprenticeship first, but also studied science/math at university, and now works in computer information systems.]

So I have some alternatives. I could buy a fill-in-the-blanks homeschool curriculum instead of boring them with Thomas More or Winston Churchill. (Jane Austen and Charles Dickens don't get the "boring" face, for some reason.) I could let them follow their own interests completely. I could buy some of those prepared novel studies, comprehension workbooks, language textbooks, and spend a lot more time teaching them to write five-sentence paragraphs. (Squirrelings, that's not meant to be a threat--some homeschoolers spend a lot of time on those things because that's just the way they do school, and it works for them.)

I could send them to public school, so that they could develop the the following characteristics of current university students. (This list comes from the story "Educating the next wave" in a local newspaper. I'm only including some of them.)
* "Doing" is more important than "knowing." In other words, what you know is less important than knowing where to get the answer. "You don't have to master the subject anymore," Sharpe said. [Associate Professor Bob Sharpe of Wilfrid Laurier University, who led a seminar about preparing for the next generation of students.]
* They have zero tolerance for delays. When they send an e-mail to a professor, they want an answer immediately.
* They're consumers rather than producers of knowledge.
* They blur the lines between consumer and creator by sampling information on the Internet and producing new forms of expression. 
(That last one, in particular, intrigues me. It sounds like one of those creative report card comments that really means "He cheated on his term paper.")
Or we can keep on reading writers who are much wiser and better educated than we are, taking what we can from their thoughts, and making our responses to their books a central part of Treehouse homeschooling.

In spite of the grousing, there are those moments when I know that what we're doing is what we're supposed to be doing. Like when Ponytails asked for a James Whitcomb Riley poetry book at a booksale last year, or The Apprentice kindly found me a volume of Tennyson at this year's sale. Or when I found The Apprentice reading her Canadian history book without being reminded, or saw Ponytails poring over a map of Narnia. Or when The Apprentice found a creative way to make her science experiment work even though somebody discarded the plastic pop bottle she was hoarding. (Sorry.) Or when Ponytails was genuinely sad at finishing a biography of Galileo. Or when Crayons read me back part of the Charlotte's Web chapter we'd just finished together.

We'll try to understand that delays happen...there are disappointments...and that not everything's fun (though something can be enjoyable in its own way without being fun). Maybe the Squirrelings will be strange enough to think that knowing something is even more valuable than knowing where to look it up (or where to copy it from the Internet). Maybe when we've read Utopia and How to Read a Book and Whatever Happened to Justice, there won't be so many blurry lines. Maybe they will be subversive enough to think that they can be producers as well as consumers of knowledge.

If they turned out like that, I wouldn't mind at all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Frugal April Closet

Why call it frugal?

Because most of the clothes and accessories shown here were thrifted, some of them for a dollar apiece. The two scarves shown were, strangely enough, not thrifted, but one of them was a gift. A couple of things came from consignment stores and vintage clothing sellers. One purse was bought new a couple of years ago.

Why do frugal?

It's a budget-friendly way to shop sustainably. Plus you can find things nobody else has!

I've used this poster before as wardrobe inspiration. This time it came up kind of after the fact, but there's definitely some "Sonatina Per Due" going on here again.

It might be this scarf:

Or this one:

Or this blouse from the thrift store's dollar rack:

Or this taupe top, also a dollar...

Read the rest of the page here

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

An Overly Hodgepodgeish Wednesday

 From this Side of the Pond

1. March 9th is National Get Over It Day...what's something you need to 'just get over already'? 

Do you want a serious answer, or not so much? I mean, there are things that are very difficult to get over, and rightfully so.

But on the less serious side...I've never been happy about the way they messed with Canadian Smarties twelve years ago, and made them all healthier colours and not so shiny. Some things should have stayed the same forever.

2. Something you're currently 'over the moon' about? 

Nothing huge. Small victories, small gratitudes. Warmer weather.

3. What's something you're 'chewing over' these days? (meaning-thinking over carefully)

Plutarch's Life of Pyrrhus.

4. The last thing you cooked or ate that was overdone? 

Well, when I make chocolate microwave cake in a mug (which we share between the two of us), I usually manage to give it a few seconds too long, so I should really remember that or write it down somewhere ("underdone is okay"). But Mr. Fixit says he likes the edges a little hard.

5. In celebration of hitting volume 411 in the weekly Hodgepodge, give us the 411 on something happening in your life in the next 30 days. 

Right now it seems wiser not to plan more than a few days ahead. Things change too quickly.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

We were at an antique market on the weekend and found a framed print we both liked...and it was on sale, too, so we brought it home and hung it in our dining area. This is Falls, Montreal River, painted by J.E.H. MacDonald in 1920.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Let's Think Spring (Clothes)

 When I started shopping my closet for spring, I came up with clothes in navy, off-white, grey, denim blue, pink, green. Plus a pair of old-faithful I-think-they're-khaki pants.

All fine, but a lot the same. Even this new-to-me pullover, nice as it is, seemed a bit dark.
Then something caught my eye on a blog post about "business casual" clothes, although I don't need business casual, just really casual.  First of all, a pink shirt...I had a blouse like that a couple of years ago, downsized it around the time we moved, but miss it now...okay, I could probably find another similar one. (Haven't found one yet, but I'm looking.) But the use of light yellow...I'm a chronic yellow-avoider, with traumatic memories of 1970's warm yellows and golds, but I liked the way that the yellow in these photos broke up the dark blues, greys, wines. It reminded me of the light colours in the foreground of Houstoun's painting. I decided that I could use a little yellow in my life, or at least in my closet.

Wednesday Hodgepodge: On the March

From this Side of the Pond

1. Is March coming in like a lion where you live? Aslan, Simba, Elsa, The Cowardly Lion...your favorite 'famous' lion? 

Yes, so far we've had strong winds and we still have lots of snow. Not unusual, but tiresome.

2. In what way do you 'march to the beat of your own drum'? 

Well...that could take awhile. 

I have never, ever had a gym membership, and don't intend to get one.

I drink plain coffee without all that extra coffee shop stuff.

And I still have a blog.

3. What item that you don't have already, would you most like to own? Any chance of that happening soon?

A new couch. The one we have was in the basement at our old house, then we moved it upstairs to the living room, then  to the apartment four years ago, then  to the townhouse almost two years ago. It has a spring that would be popping out of its back if it weren't against the wall. Last winter we were starting to browse local furniture stores for possible replacements, but that got put on hold; and right now we have other financial obligations. But maybe later this year.

4. March is National Flour Month...are you a baker? Cookies-cakes-or pies...your favorite sweet treat to bake? What's the last non-sweet thing you made that called for flour?

When the girls were young, I used to bake all the time. Now, not so much.

Last non-sweet thing: deep-dish pizza dough. 

5. There are 31 days in the month of March...where were you and what were you doing when you were 31? If you haven't hit that milestone yet, then tell us where you were and what you were doing 31 months ago? (if math is not your thing, that would be August 3, 2018)

The year I was 31 was almost a quarter-century ago. I was busy  homeschooling a kindergartner, having a baby, and moving to a new neighbourhood. 

August 3, 2018? Consignment-store shopping. That store was around for years, but it never re-opened after the first lockdown here last year. Much missed.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Do you prefer paper notebooks, journals, scrapbooks, or some electronic version? My life seems to have a mixture of both. I will send people birthday e-cards because I know then they don't have to deal with more paper; but a friend of mine sent me a very springy-looking paper card today, and it was delightful. Paperless isn't always the way to go.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.