Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Retrospective

(I was writing this for a Spacious Place and then decided to put it here for now at least)
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On January 2005 I began my first attempt at a blog: Heart of Home The idea behind the title was "A Mother's heart is the child's schoolroom." I wanted to make my heart better -- "heart" in the old sense of center of being; core point of body, spirit, and so on.

I wrote:
Just about 23 years ago, I met my future husband. Now there are 12 of us, if you count the 3 little souls that are in God's arms. We, Kevin and Willa, have been married 20 years this coming June. When we go to Mass, we fill a 9-seat Suburban. "We have our own crew" in the words of an Irish Tenors song. One plus one doesn't always make just two. Deo gratias.
Now it's been 25 years! But otherwise, there isn't really much to change about that quote. I still keep up my Heart of Home blog but it's mostly just notes to myself about household logistics and that kind of thing. Still, you are welcome to check it out if you're interested in a somewhat spotty record of how one mom of seven children handles day to day details of life.

In August 2005 I started this blog, then called Every Waking Hour. It was a specific targeted blog to deal with my unschooling questions, among them these:

Do we indeed learn all the time? How could anyone dispute that? I'm sure my skepticism is a bit better expressed by the question: Are some forms of learning more focused and more effective than others?

Is learning more effective when it's driven by personal desire?

Are some kinds of learning more valuable intrinsically than others? To give an example -- is being an expert on Pokemon (I'm not knocking it! I am sort of an expert myself) equal to being able to communicate in Spanish, or solve math problems?

I said at the time that "most of this will be concrete -- I hope -- I want to journal what my kids are actually doing and what I do as well, as their mom and to some extent mentor."

But soon, I found that the tone of this blog was going to be less journal, and more philosophical speculations. Isn't it interesting how blogs evolve and grow? Then Ron and Andrea started their homeschooljournal.net space, which struck me as a better place to do the nitty-gritty type journalling. So I started yet another blog on May 2006 called everywakinghour.

I quoted John Holt again:

“Among the many things I have learned about children, learned by many, many years of hanging out with them, watching carefully what they do, and thinking about it, is that children are natural learners......

“A hungry child, even a tiny baby who experiences hunger as real pain, will stop eating or nursing or drinking if something interesting happens, because that little child wants to see what it is. This curiosity, this desire to make some kind of sense out of things, goes right to the heart of the kind of creatures that we are.”

and the Suburban figured into it again. And to the mathematical idea that one plus one can equal many, is added the further concept that quantity isn't always quality:

ME, sitting in passenger seat of ancient Suburban, browsing through old Growing Without Schooling newsletter: Hey, listen to this. It’s about a debate between some early homeschoolers and a representative of the NEA. The NEA rep is saying, “There is no way that a parent can teach in 2 hours per day what it takes a qualified teacher 5+ hours per day to teach.”

HUSBAND, driving: The only proper reply to that is, “Thank goodness!”

Meanwhile, this blog had acquired less of a "pondering about classical unschooling" tone as I came to some tentative conclusions about how homeschooling worked best for us.... mostly because of the interesting Right-Brained Learning information at Apple Stars and Throwing Marshmallows and A Room of My Own and now, several more homeschooljournal blogs.

So in December 2006, I changed the name of this one to In A Spacious Place.
To explain that, I wrote:
Finally, it was getting so confusing dealing with two blogs of the same name! My other blog is called Every Waking Hour, too.... I started this one to deal with my ponderings on unschooling, way back in August 2005 and then started the homeschool journal version last spring because I liked the community over there, and the wordpress format, and I wanted to have a more journal-like focus to record what my children (and I) were learning and doing. Meanwhile this one has moved towards more of a general real learning focus: my ongoing blend of classical and Charlotte Mason and unschooling which takes different forms at different seasons of our lives. I wanted the title change to reflect that.

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; if we have our own crew, this old stand-by -- our one car, with 170K miles on it so far, is the equivalent of our boat. We bought it just before Aidan was born and how many voyages we have been on since then!
  • 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.

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