4/25/15

What Kind of Home Schooler Am I?

I've never really known what to call myself.  I usually end up saying that I prefer a literature based approach to homeschooling with classical leanings.  I do not consider myself a classical home schooler though.

For the last couple of days I have been contemplating the question "What kind of home schooler am I?" and I've been playing with this quiz that a crew friend posted to the crew forum.

I love narration. I love Latin and Logic. I think children learn best when they are interested but I do think that sometimes they have to learn about things they are not interested in. I am the parent and I am responsible for their education. I think formal school before 7 isn't evil but I don't think it is necessary for many children. I think living books are fabulous and I think text books can be living books. I love using a literature based approach to history and science and geography. I think discussions are vitally important and a great way to interact with my kids about what they are learning. I think all people need to learn how to do things like garden, car maintenance, chores etc. but I do not think they should be part of a formal academic education. I would teach those things to my children whether they were home schooled, public schooled, private schooled, or parochial schooled.

I took the quiz several times and each time I got different results.  Why? Well, because I wasn’t sure how to answer the questions.  There is a statement and then you have to choose between strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree or strongly disagree. Some of the statements, my gut responded, it depends.

What Kind of Homeschooler am I  Circling Through This Life

For a statement such as “short lessons with focused attention are better than big chunks of time,” I shouted, in my head, “it depends on the child’s personality, the age of the child, and the subject matter!” 

There were some questions that I agreed with part of the statement but not the whole statement. “Great books from history and literature should be used in place of textbooks.”  Yes, I strongly agree that great books from history and literature should be used.  I disagree that they should be used in place of (or instead of) textbooks. I think textbooks have their place and a textbook can be a living book. I do label myself as a literature based home schooler but but but I use textbooks too!

I found the quiz valuable to help me understand myself and my approach to education. I am still hesitant to call myself a classical home schooler. I have never thought of myself as an unschooler but one thing that kept popping up high was unschooling!

Seriously? I think my favorite line from Princess Bride fits perfectly: “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”  I did read the Feedback post that breaks each approach down and lists the questions. According to that list, I am indeed an unschooler. But when I look at the definition of Unschooling from the Explanation of Philosophies I am not not not not an unschooler. A Key component of Unschooling is “Child led interest.”

I do think children learn best when they are interested, but I prefer a parent-directed approach that takes children’s personality, learning style, and interests into consideration when planning a course of study.

I have elements from several of the categories. Perhaps I truly am an eclectic home schooler which the website defines as “Eclectic homeschooling means that a variety of philosophies and methods are used to come up with a unique mix that works for your family.” Yup that is me. Maybe I should come up with the Tess Approach and write a book called The Tess Education.

Visit the Eclectic Homeschool Blog to take the What Kind of Homeschooler Are You? Quiz for yourself. If you home educate, I’d love to hear what kind of home schooler you are, and if you are in the educational field, do you have a philosophy that you follow in your classroom? Is it influenced by district or school policy or do you have the freedom to teach in a style you prefer?

4/17/15

Random Five on Friday April 17th Edition

It’s Friday again!!!  Here’s Five Random Thoughts for this week:

1.  Today is April 17th.  50 years ago today my dad and my mom got married.  They had only known each other for something like 6 weeks before they got married and they were married until my dad died.

2. This year Western Easter fell one week before Pascha so Easter was our Palm Sunday and then we entered into Holy Week.  I've written about Holy Week and Great Lent in the past so today I thought I would just share a few of my past posts:

3.  The weather was supposed to be nasty last weekend. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn out to be as cold or as wet as weather.com predicated. It wasn’t exactly warm and sunny for our Agape Feast but at least the ground was dry and the kids didn’t get rained on when they did the Easter Treat Hunt.

Supergirl finds a prize on the Easter Treat Hunt!

 

4.  Pascha is the one Sunday a year that Orthodox Christians sleep in and eat breakfast before heading to church. In addition to Kulich and bacon and sausage, this year I made a family favorite: Cream Cheese and Bacon Scrambled Eggs.  It was so yummy! I tried something different though.  I did not beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add the cream cheese mix.  I just cracked the eggs directly into the cream cheese/butter/milk mix and whipped it all together.  Why didn’t I think of doing that sooner?  We baked it in a 9x13 glass dish.  If you haven’t tried them, you should!

5. It’s Bright Week and I am looking forward to Vespers tonight and liturgy tomorrow for Bright Saturday!

4/10/15

Random Five on Friday ~ Holy Friday Edition

1.  I have decided I like caviar.  It is a tradition in Russian style Orthodox churches to eat caviar on Lazarus Saturday.  I first tried caviar at a church function several years ago and so this was either the 2nd or 3rd time I have had it.  I'm fine so long as I don't think about what it is.  It's very salty and I think it's the saltiness that I like. It's very good spread on a slice of French bread.

Random Five April 10th Edition at Circling Through This Life ~ It's Holy Week!

2. While the Western Christian Churches celebrated Easter, the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches (except those like in Finland who must follow the Gregorian Calendar), celebrated Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday 2015 ~ Turtlegirl carries the Festal Icon of the Great Entry into Jerusalem

3.  Holy Week is the most incredible, overwhelming, exhausting, exhilarating, fabulous and awesome week of the year. Each day has multiple church services.  I have never been to all of the services because there are something like 20.  Two services a day with some days offering three.  But I love this week!

4. We haven’t done any formal schooling this week, nor do we plan to do any formal real school days next week. Supergirl is super excited because we’ll be studying Knights and Castles and making a lapbook. She’s started watching the recommended DVD about castles this week and next weeks we’ll start reading some books. Don’t don’t tell her but I am pretty excited too.  Yes you’ll get to read all about it in two reviews! 

5. There are tiny bubbles of excitement exploding inside me today.  Pascha is coming! The beautiful hymns are already running through my head as I scramble to get us ready for services tonight and work on my to-do list for Pascha preparation!

4/4/15

Lazarus Saturday ~ The Dead Will Be Alive

Today, for most Eastern Orthodox Churches,  is Lazarus Saturday.  On this day we remember and celebrate how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  This is a beautiful foreshadowing of the glorious Resurrection that we'll celebrate next week. 

Traditionally, children are often baptized on Lazarus Saturday. Honeybear’s godson was baptized on Lazarus Saturday so each year I think back and remember that day.

Honeybear becomes a godfather Lazarus Saturday!

This year though, I really listened. I mean as in over and over again and printed out the sheet music.   Rejoice, O Bethany. Lazarus was dead. Four days in the tomb dead. Jesus told Martha stop lamenting because her brother would live again.  Then Jesus goes to the tomb and cries out Lazarus arise! And he did. I don’t think I’ve really truly grasped the depth of that miracle, nor do I truly understand all of the implications for humanity.

This is a beautiful hymn for Lazarus Saturday. It is so beautiful that I had to write a blog post about it!

This part really got to me during the service Friday night:

“We, who are dead in sin, in Thee, O Jesus are made a live! We are made alive!”

I also love this bit:

“On this day God came to thee and in Him the dead are made a live as is right for He is the Life!” Listen and Enjoy!

 

4/1/15

Confession is Good for the Soul!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you might already know or remember that I was raised Catholic. One of the huge issues for me as a Catholic was the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was very formalized and very intimidating. There were certain prayers that you had to say to the priest and then the priest might give you penance like saying 10 Hail Mary’s or praying the rosary.  Granted, I don’t recall ever having been given a penance like that but I was terrified of confession. I dreaded it.  I avoided it.  I did not feel good after it was over. I didn’t feel cleansed or healed. I felt frustrated at going through the motions of something that I did not understand. I went to confession less than a handful of times before I gave up on being Catholic in my 20s.

I spent nearly 20 years as a protestant. I read more books. I studied more theology. I read more scripture.  Usually with the disgruntled Catholic lens covering my eyes. I was convinced, at least for a short while that ritualistic liturgy type services with rote prayers and the same exact service every Sunday was wrong. Not just Catholic but any service like that, including Lutheran!  As time went by and I grew up more and more, I was less antagonistic over “ritual” religion but I was still anti-confession.  Why should I confess to another human being?  Why can’t I just say a prayer and tell God I’m sorry?

Confession is good for the soul. It restores joy, hope and brings healing to the heart.

I had a dread of the Orthodox Mystery of Reconciliation or Confession. Would it be the same as my experience growing up?  Would it just be something I avoided as much as I could? Would it truly be healing?  Were these people nuts, the ones who would tell me that they love confession?

There are prayers to say before confession and there are many different ways to do a Self-Examination but the process is less formal and rigid. At least my experience with Orthodox Confession is more inviting and less frightening. I do not need to be afraid that I will say the wrong prayer or forget the words I am supposed to say. It is much more conversational in tone. I pray before going to church and it is very helpful to read through a check list of self-examination.  There is one in my little red prayer book.

There are prayers that that priest says before confession but thankfully I do not have to have them memorized. I don’t say them.  I just hear them.  <grin>.  Sometimes the priest will say the prayer once when there are several who are waiting to confess and sometimes if there are only a couple of confessions he’ll read the prayers at the start of each individual confession.  For appointed prayer times, such as after a Vespers service there is someone who reads through the Psalms. Those who are waiting are quiet and contemplative. Maybe they dread confession as much as I do? I don’t know but I see demeanors change after confession.  The dread is gone.  The frowns are gone. I see the hope and the joy and the smiles.

I do find that Orthodox Confession is good for the soul.  It does bring healing, joy, and yes, reconciliation. Of course I am biased and agree that the Mystery of Reconciliation is more than just confessing my sins but I do think that as a protestant reading and praying through the Self-Examination Before Confession would have been good for my soul too.  The questions are tough. I realized that I do a whole lot more sinning than I am willing to admit even to myself and that I sin in far more ways than I thought possible. I was depressed and discouraged before going to confession but speaking with my priest, getting his advice, admonishment, and encouragement and participating in the prayers wiped away all the depression and discouragement.  Each time I participate in the Mystery, I come away with a renewed sense of Joy and Hope. I feel healed.  It’s difficult to explain and not exactly something I understand but I have become, over the years, a firm believer in regular and frequent confession.  I just have to get past that hurdle of fear and dread and remember the joy, hope, peace, and love that I feel afterwards.

Holy Week draws near, and I feel the stirrings of deep longing and excited anticipation. During Great Lent we begin by forgiving one another, we focus on our own repentance, and then we prepare for the Feast of Feasts, the foundation of Christian Faith, the Glorious Victory of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.