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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Digging out of a rut...

The winter "blahs"...

Apparently, I'm not the only one suffering from them! So many of my homeschooling friends seem to be "stuck". Lacking inspiration. Struggling with feelings of inadequacy.

I've been there, sisters...many times. I've been digging out my rut for the past week.

The unfortunate tendency of mine during these "down times" is to scale back... to do less. We call it "core"; a nice way of saying "just the essentials, please!" In my experience, it only seems to exacerbate the problem. Feelings of guilt over not doing enough, frustration over merely "doing" school and not "living" it, abound. And boredom, boredom, boredom!

It seems that the moment that I'm most ready to throw in the towel, it becomes increasingly obvious that I'm being called to take up the cross and persevere.

So...I'm in evaluation mode. As a classical home educator, I'm constantly searching for the best "Multum non multa" (much not many) approach. I've used packaged curricula, but none have ever seemed to fit well for my large family and teaching style. Our current program consists of whatever product best suits the subject being taught with Latin and Religion forming the base upon which the entire "house" is built. I'm constantly seeking the best of the best, questioning others on the efficacy of a particular text book and listening to both experienced and novice home educators. Believe it or not, in spite of the fact that our homeschool boasts three graduates (two from our homeschool and one who went to public school her senior year) and all three have made it to college, I agonize as much as any novice over whether or not I'm up to the challenge of home education.

I prefer "flying by the seat of my pants", adhering to (as much as this home educator is capable) the principles set forth by Dorothy Sayers' excellent essay The Lost Tools of Learning. The following quote aptly summarizes the desire of most of the home educators with whom I am acquainted:

What use is it to pile task on task and prolong the days of labor, if at the close the chief object is left unattained? It is not the fault of the teachers--they work only too hard already. The combined folly of a civilization that has forgotten its own roots is forcing them to shore up the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built upon sand. They are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.

What a terrific reminder!

So...having decided to persevere in the face of the "blahs", I've happened upon a real I've been meaning to read for sometime. The Latin Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell has truly helped this classical home educator get back on track. Too many distractions, too many diversions from our primary goal has dimmed the original vision, indeed the mission of this homeschool. Time to get back on track...

My point: whether you're a classical home educator, Thomistic/scholastic, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unschooler--whatever--if you're in a rut, dig out! Find inspiration. Remember why you're doing this. And don't just "do school". Live it.

Nothing succeeds like success!


+JMJ+ said...

HAve you implemented the program yet? You've tweaked my interest in reading this book and Climbing Parnassus.

Would love to hear more as you get into it.

Kimberly said...

AG: The LCC program is, for the most part, what this home educator's original intentions have always been. My problem? I keep "adding" to the core subjects, wandering down new roads and not trusting that a truly classical education is up to par. It is!! Our subject list had really begun to grow, and so did the frustration of the children as their desire became that of "let's get this done as quickly as possible." I had begun to panic, looking into other packaged programs. I want it to be easy, less work, less time. This has been disastrous, but my sense of panic is always heightened when I have a student approaching highschool. I had even discussed with my husband sending our young man to a boarding school. Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with sending a student to an excellent Catholic boarding or preparatory school. BUT...the only reason I was considering this was due to my fear that I wasn't up to the challenge, which is ridiculous to say the least.

And then we got hit with the flu.

The sad part of the last few weeks, with all the sickness, etc. is that I've been omitting the backbone of a truly classical program: we dropped our Latin, scaled back on history had all but eliminated recitation and merely pursued the four "R's": reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic and religion!

The scope and sequence of the LCC is rather simple and very much like what we've been doing in the past. One difference: I've not implemented Greek. We've dabbled a bit...with programs like English From The Roots Up, but never really attempted a formal study. And I've been truly hesitant to use my Prima Latina program with the youngest children, feeling that it would be "too much". In other words: dumbing things down.

I certainly don't mean to imply that every preschooler needs Latin! I simply mean that I have the program and I keep waiting for the right moment...that moment is now!

It's interesting that you mentioned Climbing Parnassus. I just ordered this book from for $6.00. I can't wait to read it, though it is certainly more of an intellectual treatise. The LCC is excellent because it provides, in a few short pages, practical and applicable advice for providing what Campbell calls the handing on of "the best that has been thought and said in the world."

Check out his website:

The Latin-Centered Curriculum

Wow...that was a loooong reply!