Friday, September 23, 2011

It's a blessing...and a curse.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a curse…

…but blessings abound within it.

Mom and Dad with their Drexler grandchildren, 1993

My Dad’s words today: "When I went into Greencroft, there was music.  All residents who could were in the meeting room listening to former Miss PA of about 40 years ago singing songs from the 40's and 50's accompanied by her trombone playing husband and a big band in an electronic box. 

Veva was alert and enjoying the music.  When I sat down next to her, I was greeted with a big smile of acknowledgement.  The music had brought her alert.  And, Mark, when I told her that you phoned me last evening she knew who you were.  I took her for a ride around the building before her lunch of ham loaf and sweet potatoes."

I can see her in my mind
toes tapping
hand conducting
voice humming

a big smile for her dear husband of 61 years.

Blessings abound.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Classical Education in Our Home part 4: the method

I won’t share our mistakes
except to say they were many
…and rose mostly from my pride

and trying to jump in with both feet.


I did learn something very important from my mistakes:

Children are living, growing, developing people.
Not mini-me,
Not monsters,
And not perfect.

Children learn things in small doses...
…liquid drops melting into their mouths and running down their throats…
...a bright cherry-red drop of Rome, a blueberry drop of Latin, a strawberry drop of prime numbers
...drops and layers growing into a stalagmite...

A foundation of knowledge.

Knowledge of simple things that the child builds on as experience widens.

Rome wasn’t built in a day,
children don’t learn everything in one year,
or one exposure.

Repetitio Mater Studiorum.
...repetition is the mother of learning...

I learned to bake with phyllo. Lay down the dough, spread the melted butter, another layer of dough, another layer of butter.
Layer upon layer, until you have a single whole.


That’s the method when teaching children.
Year after year of layers and the children start making connections between the familiar pieces.
Things make sense.
The foundation is firm.

The early years – basic stuff – the grammar, the mechanics, the what of language, math, science, history.
Spelling, phonics, reading.
Counting, number relationships, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
Nature exploration and much time spent outside experiencing sights, smells, textures.
And the who and what of history. The early years are for biographies and historical fiction – learning about people.

The middle years – building on the foundation – the logic, the why
Grammar, classical languages, logic, more reading.
Numbers play games in algebra.
Science separates into different disciplines.
The why of history: why did these people do what they did? What else was going on?

The later years – getting ready to branch out – the rhetoric, the how…
Learning to take ideas, analyze them, examine them, judge them…how do they relate to each other? How do they affect me and my life?
Critical thinking about science. Does this make sense? How and why?
Knowing what happened in history and why; but how could these things happen, and how can we influence our world for the better?

The method
the discipline
the learning
evolved over time…

...but the joy came in bright flashes
when we made connections
to the learning
to each other
and we know
this moment is forever.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Classical Education in our home part 3: answering the call

God calls.
We listen and respond, right?

How many times does God’s call go unheeded because our first reaction is fear?
What if I can’t?
What if they won’t?
What if I’m wrong?
But where God calls…
…where God calls He equips.

HE equips.

Internet searches are fine – if you know what it is and how to use it. This was 1996. We had a computer, and email. But the internet was in its infancy back then.
But a friend had heard of this school in Pennsylvania
…and one in Idaho…
Classical Education was finding its feet in private schools.
Some say it had never left.
I found Calvert School. I found Greenleaf Press.
We started our second year of homeschooling armed with a desire to educate our children

We read. I studied.

God brought Charlotte Mason to my attention.

I studied more, adapted, made do with a small, very small, budget.

Veritas Press. Memoria Press. Sonlight. Susan Wise Bauer and The Well Trained Mind. Tapestry of Grace.

I studied history, Latin, math.
I dove into the Bible.
I learned the things I should have learned in those naive years between 12 and 20.
A plan developed; a method.

My poor children. Guinea Pigs, all.