Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Retrospective II

I started this Very Long Post to retrospect on where I think our homeschooling journey has brought us, how I think my original questions above have been answered, but I haven't even gotten to that except indirectly. But perhaps that's all right!

I see just from a glance that if I made one of those real-life collages that represent our family journey, it would have:
A chalice, definitely.
A Suburban -- to represent all the miles we've conversed or shared time while on the road; it is the equivalent of our boat!
A computer (!!) -- the web icon being our cyber-connections to our online community, which has made such a difference to our lives in many ways.
An oxygen tank or the equivalent, to represent the medical journey and perhaps the way we sometimes seem to gasp for breath a bit when not in our environment of choice.
What else? What are your family icons or symbols?

On a very interesting thread about how temperaments affect mothering and homeschooling styles, I wrote (and perhaps this is the closest I've come to how I DO homeschooling, in essence-- I've edited the wording a bit to make it clearer):

....Being an INFP/INTP, whenever I start feeling like I have the answers, I know it's time to start moving "higher up and further in"! I guess that is the main thing that attracts me to the "Real Learning" concept -- there's always something more to learn, always room for improvement. Socrates said wisdom lies in knowing you are not wise. ... I am thinking that possibly we are given our diverse characteristics in order to balance each other and help the bigger community. We don't quite need to be complete and "perfect" in ourselves. The corollary to John Donne's "any man's death diminishes me" is that any one's devout life in the Church, or successful life (in the true sense of a quest for wisdom) increases me.

So then, how much are we to balance out our temperaments? I am a P who feels more comfortable with open options. I would say I could benefit often from just DECIDING and living with it, but a decisive person could benefit sometimes from keeping the options open a bit. Pondering this made me say what I did about temperaments balancing and perfecting each other, in the heart of the home and in the Body of the Church.

As Charlotte Mason said, with a "real learning" approach we can draw out what we need at a certain time from a wide spectrum of approaches and views. We probably are all somewhat aware of our lapses and blind spots and try to find ways to even them out but at the same time we have to develop THROUGH our strengths or BY them, we can't just ignore or deny the traits God gave us. Or, so I am thinking. Perhaps I as a P have to approach decisiveness through a pondering lens while a J person has to ponder through a more active, decisive lens. Hmm.

In one way I think we all DO and HAVE to start from scratch every day. Even if we do the same things today as we did yesterday, it is a new day and a new you -- we have to constantly recommit. Chesterton talks about this -- how God says the equivalent of "DO it again!" every day to the sun since He first created it. It doesn't just happen. He continues actively and decisively to keep us all in existence, every moment -- wonderful thought! And The Psalmist puts it: "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me." No coasting, no set patterns that can substitute for effort and continual reconversion. In that way, there's no way to avoid "starting from scratch".

But at the same time, I don't feel I'm starting from scratch at all -- if I set my course for China, say, my course might look different as I transverse the wide Atlantic or round the Horn, but the course is the same throughout. ... the goal is the same. IF I got locked into saying "This is how I sail," and tried to do the same thing around the Horn as I did in the wide open sea, it would be a disaster. It would work AGAINST my longterm goal, not FOR it. So, starting from scratch? No. Not going back to launch, ever. How could I, even if I wanted to ? But revising the methods and logistics according to circumstances. YES! My homeschool couldn't look the same with 7 kids of all ages as it did when I had 1 toddler. It can't look the same with a special needs 6th son as it did with an academically inclined firstborn. The principles have to be broad enough to cover all the eventualities.

Again, as an N and P I probably express it differently and even act it out differently than an S and J would, but I think the general principles are valid across the board even as the specific implementations will vary.

I see how this seeming uncertainty could be distracting and discouraging to a young mom just as too much certainty could be. But the "seeming" uncertainty is just that, it's not fundamental uncertainty. Not in the least. I have never decided I would really rather go to the Antarctic than to China, after all; (whatever the spiritual and educational equivalent of this geographical analogy might be; it is probably best expressed in Elizabeth's book).

No comments: