Wednesday, October 5, 2011

First Autumn Storms

Nature Outlook:

 Kevin took these pictures of the hail we got today, which the littler boys called "snow" because it made the ground so white.    But can you see it pouring down in torrents from our roof?

The poor mini-trampoline still thinks it is summer. 
 For contrast, he took a picture of our warm house.  We happened to be having our Afternoon Time -- you can see Kieron's head, and Paddy's, and mine is behind Paddy's.

I read them some haikus today, and then Tennyson "The Kraken", and then Tales from Shakespeare (The Tempest seemed appropriate) and then our usual St Patrick's Summer and Little Britches

Down below is a schedule I made so I can have something to refer to when I get lost in the day.     I am sorry it is hard to read.    To look at a bigger copy or download to use, you could go here:   Schedule for Autumn

Also, I have been researching timelines! 

Some resources:
I put more over at my Top Meadow Study Center, which is where I am organizing things I want to remember this year.   (Sorry, the site is chaotic right now, as I jot down things randomly, but the links I listed all look really good).

Remember how in Poetic Knowledge we talked about reading books poetically?  I am trying to do that this year.   Silvia mentioned how she tends to overplan at time, and how she has to watch out for this, how it can be a symptom sometimes.   The same thing happens to me, I must say.   Planning is a useful thing in itself, but something in me makes me want to use it as an escape from actually doing things.  

Lying awake last night as the rain pounded our metal roof (I need a nap after I write this), I realized that if I don't watch myself I escape into what you might call meta-planning.  That is, I try to organize things in such a way that the method and the structure are carrying me, not the actual ideas or thought behind the books we are reading.  I think it is because I am aware of my tendency to get lost in things, so I try to compensate.  Nevertheless, I think it is dangerous because it presents to me the illusion that once I get my organization and method all set, then I'm basically there.  Which is a snare, because method (let's call it technique or system) and organization are the skeleton, at most, not the lifeblood, of the thing.

I'm wandering... what I meant to say is that this year, I am trying to steer more towards something I did in the past, which I described at my old blog:  Literature Themes.     That was a great year, probably one of the years both my now 21 year old and my 23 year old best remember (they were 12 and 13 back then!). 

 Of course, I will do it differently, because I am older now and I have a different mix of ages and temperaments -- a 15 year old, a 12 year old and an 8 year old.  Still, I think it will work.   The thing I want to bring over is how we dwelt on the book's context... and how we emphasized themes throughout, so we were making connections across books.   This takes time, my time;  I can't do it when they are working independently completely, though I can assign things as supplements and extensions, of course.

The reason I am researching timelines is that I am figuring out how to bring it together and allow for review, because that was the tricky part last time I tried this... I was never sure what they were actually retaning at the time, though later I found out they remembered a lot of that year.

Anyway, a Century Book will help ME keep my brain organized.   Right now I think I will have it be a group endeavour.  This particular set of boys, oddly enough considering the disparity in age, do better working together than apart (obviously won't work too well in things like math, but you'd be surprised -- Paddy watches the Teaching Company Mental Math lectures along with me and Kieron, and Kieron watched Paddy do his MEP Math yesterday) 

This post wasn't really a journal... more of a mishmash.

The pines and cedars outside look so pretty after a rain -- the colors so deep and quiet, and sparkling with water.   It reminds me of an elven wood. 


  1. I like your mishmash, still it has some journalling in it.
    Have I already told you your home is breathtaking?

    You describe things I suffer from very clearly, yes, metaplaning, that's what I do too... but when I'm in planning mood, as you say, it helps me set a pace for the year, although other times, planning is my refuge for not doing.

    Actually, the plans I forged last summer were decent, they are still carrying us through pretty well, though I confess I would love just a bit more of that literature themes you talk about, and a timeline is in our future, but I thought after our trip, when we come back in January, since I have Hyllier's book in Madrid, and I planned to follow it for our timeline, maybe it's even better to wait till next 'school year', so to speak... but for my two girls this would be too much. What I need to do is simply enjoy and let the readings and ideas carry us through.

    I saw that Paddy loved Little House in the Big Woods, when you wrote you were in chapter 10, and we just finished chapter 9 today, and my oldest girl loves this book too... there are days that we have that poetic flow, others, I admit, are a bit cold in the 'academic' department, I sense the girls are a bit tired of their 'overall' routine, but then we go to the park, and we meet with friends, and I think it's so important to do those things. I don't know why, but I always keep the minimums, as I call them, a bit of constancy for little things, and we truly stick to short lessons, has proven a great difference in both girls, and for the first time this year, my plans are not excessive, I like the weekly distribution of the days, Monday natural science, Tuesday literature, Wednesday geography, Thursday history, Fridays free or 'left overs' and art and music (in addition to what little or much we have done in the week in this regard). And even though many times we alter the plans, having them helps me with an idea of what's been done in the big picture.

    At times I feel the girls are not doing much, but others I think it's not the quantity in hours or pages produced, or books read and check marked, but since the learning is only in what they TAKE and INITIATE THEMSELVES, I see they are assimilating and opening to many things, not to mention all the learning I'm going through myself.

    All in all, we desperately need a vacation... and it's coming.

    Excuse the long comment, I don't expect an answer, I even write comments to understand myself, LOL.

    And I had to tell you that I can explain how to make your blogs a word document from google reader, if you are interested, and maybe even into a kindle book, or any book. I would love to buy any book, compilation of articles, posts or anything written by you, Willa.
    I read your new posts, and some things from your other blogs, but it is quite uncomfortable to read from the screen those older blogs. I'd love to have them for the kindle or in a book.

  2. I clicked with the thought that planning can become an escape from actually doing things, Willa. In the past, I was tempted to think that I had already fulfilled my obligations when I finished the lesson plans. Now, with unschooling, I find myself more involved with the learning and more actively exploring new ideas and connections.

    I also considered the idea that we can spend too much time thinking about resources and methods, rather than actually living the life of learning. I wonder if the specific resources and methods we use are less relevant than how open we are to God's inspirations, and how readily we recognize God in the beauty of the world and man's own expressions of that beauty. It seems obvious, though, that good classic literature opens itself to the Divine with more beauty and clarity than inferior readings. My thoughts are beginning to ramble, again - time to stop!

    Your home is stunning, Willa! What a beautiful haven!:)

  3. Silvia, I like the idea of trying to convert the blogs over to some kind of e-format. Thank you for your kind words about my writing.

    Vicky, I so agree about being open. What I'm writing about may not sound much like unschooling, but I feel like it is more unschooly than what we were doing last year, because I'm trying to stay open rather than just try to plan and then implement the plans.

    So the planning is something more like planning out a garden (to use your spring garden as a metaphor!) but then working with what sprouts, in a way. Maybe the metaphor isn't quite right because children are different than plants or soil. But I know that for me, what tripped up my unschooling last time was that I stopped strewing or actively fostering a learning environment. So I'm trying to foster learning without making it into a dreary checklist -- not easy to describe, but maybe you both understand what I'm trying to say.

  4. I understand what you're saying, Willa - in our house, we tend to drift when I don't think ahead or have some direction in mind.

    I, also, wonder if our approaches change with the seasons - literally, as well as metaphorically. At the moment, with it being Spring over here, we are taking time out to rejoice in God's creation but, when the cooler weather comes, I tend to stop, reassess and plan our future direction. I'm finding that blogging as been really useful for all of this.

    It's so nice to see your beautiful photos, Willa - they're a lovely compliment to your inspiring posts:)


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!