Monthly Archives: August 2009

“Not Back to School Picnics” – Badman Review.

 Picnic The picnics that are taking place to raise awareness of what home education is really all about-as opposed to the view put out by Badman Balls and some of the media are as follows:

OXFORD- 26th Sept. 11:30 am -venue tba but most likely South Parks Headington Hill

EVESHAM- 16th Sept 11am Crown Meadow, Evesham Worcester from 11am onwards

BIRMINGHAM – 16th Sept Wed at the Birmingham Cathedral Green from 1pm onwards.

 Bubbles BRING BUBBLES and of course a picnic. The Oxford event seems to have a lot of things going on but with the Evesham and Birmingham events we are asked to bring activities for the children. Be there and get seen and heard. While this is a protest there is no need for anyone to get angry. We are simply being home ed families showing that we are not a bunch of child abusers.

I don’t want to post phone numbers here but contact your local groups for more information. See you there! School's Out 

Curriculum plans; books and websites.

I’ve been mooching around websites looking for good curriculum ideas and the best prices for the books I want to get. I’ve also had a good look at Iona’s Open University plans.

IONA: entering yr 11 (grade 10): At the moment she has been using the OPEN LEARN site as a practice run for ‘real’ courses. Next year once she turns sixteen we are hoping to get her enrolled in YASS- Young Applicants in Schools and Colleges. Assuming there are no hitches over the fact that she is home educated (and I assume there won’t be) Iona wants to start with the “Start Writing Fiction” course which is level 1 and 10 points. She will need 120 points at level 1 to complete her first degree year. We are hoping that over the next three years that will take her to end of what would have been 6th form she can complete the majority of the 120 points.

Another way of getting qualifications would be to gain a High School Diploma via one of the high standard American homeschooling acadamies such as St Thomas Aquinas or Seton. Some time ago we did consider this for Iona and possibly Alex, but decided it didn’t suit them. Alex went on to college anyway. OU seems to be a more flexible route for Iona at this point.

I do use ideas from both Aquinas and Seton for curriculum and I love the fact that Seton let you have a preview of their recommended materials so I can decide if I really want to buy them or not. It really does help decision making.

Meanwhile Mr Linney and friends have been busy and Getting Started With Spanish is set up and running. It isn’t finished but that’s okay with us. I’ve ordered the book via Amazon. If it’s as good as the Latin we are going to do fine.

For those of a more Classical bent Memoria Press is a great place to start. I have ordered the cursive writing books from them. In the future I would be interested in their Rhetoric and Logic courses. They offer some great articles from The Classical Teacher as well.

Adoremus Books is just a brilliant hub all things homeschoolish and the prices aren’t too bad. I’m still checking around though and stuff I can get cheaper this side of the pond I am doing so. I have ordered some stuff from Catholic Heritage Curricula. They don’t take foreign orders automatically so I had to email them-but they were quick in sorting out what I wanted and setting up a payment page for me.

I think I’ve been a bit slow in discovering all these brilliant curriculums and bookstores and too reticent to order from America. But the quality of the stuff that side of the pond is excellent. I don’t know of equivalents over here. (sadly). They even have such gems as the Chesterton Academy which I think is a Dale Alquist venture. It looks very good indeed.

So, the timetable is done-books are ordered-some have even arrived…I think I’m about ready to roll.

Curriculum planning: What’s it all for?

S term fast approaches I have been getting the curriculum planned and ordering whatever books we will need to see us through another year of home education. I’ve also spent some time wondering around homeschooling sites and reading articles so that I keep my focus on just what it is I am trying to do with these children of mine.

I love this quote from Laura Berquist

there is a formation which is even more fundamental than, and indeed is essential to, intellectual formation. That is moral, or character, formation.

I think it is too easy to get bogged down, especially during the curriculum planning phase, with all the ‘edumacashional’ (as my dear Aunt Rose would have called it God rest her) side of things. Charlotte Mason was well balanced in her approach to children, they are “PERSONS” and must be formed as such. Mrs Berquist tells us how Aristotle and Plato recognised that men who do whatever they want whenever they want are simply slaves to their own feelings and passing fancies. No parent wants their children stuck in the slavery of bad behaviour, bad choices and all the misery that thus ensues. Children need to be taught to be free and given the tools that will allow them to be happy in directing their own lives and making good decisions.

One of the things that plays on my mind now and then is how we as parents actually view our children and how this helps to form them. It’s those round-robin Christmas letters, or even just general ‘parent talk’ that makes me a bit uncomfortable. Parents (and grandparents can be just as bad) talk about their children almost exclusively in terms of what they have achieved academically. A child who gets ‘A’s is ‘good’ and a child who doesn’t is either ‘bad’ depending on how bad the grades are, or just too embarrassing to mention. Of course it’s difficult to blame parents who fall into this trap, for most children academic achievement is all there is to talk about-it’s what they do. Sadly, for some of the children we know it is almost all they do.

Reading good ol’ Peter Kreeft I find this:

Education, as classically conceived, is not primarily for citizenship, or for making money, or for success in life, or for a veneer of “culture,” or for escaping your lower-class origins and joining the middle class, or for professional or vocational training, whether the profession is honorable, like auto repair, or questionable, like law; and whether the profession is telling the truth, like an x-ray technician, or telling lies, like advertising or communications or politics. The first and foundational purpose of education is not external but internal: it is to make the little human a little more human, bigger on the inside.

The primary end of classical education, then, is in the student. But the student is a human being, and according to all the religions of the world (and therefore according to the vast majority of all people who have ever lived, in all times, places, and cultures), the ultimate end or final cause of a human being is something more than simply the mature flourishing of human powers, especially the powers of mind, in this life. If this is true—if in fact this life is a gymnasium to train for another, sterner combat—then the ultimate purpose of classical education is there.

I am not training the children, therefore, to be successful (though that would be good too) but to be faithful. I need to keep an eye on that goal as I get all the books, curriculum planners and ideas sorted for September.

Been Reading: C.S.Lewis “Till We Have Faces” and Louis de Wohl “Citadel of God”

Getting the chance to read is a luxury but it’s one I want to try and keep going even in term time. Don’t know quite how that will work but it is definately worth a try.

SCAQJCXZACAYNGCCOCAVE4D01CA4VJW10CA36FIMACAOUKWLLCA8SUAPXCADCQZ0ZCAB4PD8TCACORZ4ICAA26VYCCAGL9CZOCABGR8ZBCAFXGN8WCA6FLF65CA2NGBE9CAODSNI7CA95RZMTCAQ2L9Y9This holiday I have managed to read “Till We Have Faces” the allegory on love based on the myth of Eros and Psyche. Of the Lewis books it doesn’t seem to be that well known but it’s an excellent read. I found it much easier than some of his space trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength) although it is a quieter book in many ways. Peter Kreeft has a great commentary on the book which I recommend-as I recommend most Kreefty stuff.

It’s a book about opposites and about the different faces love can show. Lewis writes first person as Orual the daughter of the king of Glome and does so with a remarkable womenliness that apparently came as a bit of a shock to critics when they discovered Lewis was the author. Hehehe. Orual is ugly and her two sisters are beautiful, Redival has only skin deep beauty but the youngest child Psyche is so beautiful she is saintly-or to the people of glome a goddess.

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The Year of the Priest: Melchizedek

Meeting_of_abraham_and_melchizadekThe next stage in looking at the history of the priesthood has to be to have a look at the rather obscure character in Scripture called Melchizedek. His name might not be his name it might- and more likely was- be a title. Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, something that has profound meaning to Christians as Christ is our Melchizedek. We know, as we read Genesis that Abraham was a priest as he offered sacrifice but Melchizedek seems to be the High Priest. Both he and Abraham are priests of the same God.

In Genesis (14:18-20) Melchizedek offers bread and wine as his sacrifice of thanks to God for the war Abraham has won over the four kings of the north to rescue Lot.  At this point God has not specifically requested animal sacrifice but then this sacrifice is slightly different that the usual ones a priest had offered- it was a Thanksgiving (Todah/Eucharist). It has been long recognised that this King of Righteousness is a “type” of Jesus and some Gnostics even went so far as to say he was Jesus.  He is the symbol of the priesthood of the Firstborn; thought to represent or even be the great Shem the firstborn son of Noah.

Later (at the Golden Calf) the priesthood of the Firstborn is lost and not restored again until David is made king and priest and Solomon after him. Then in Psalm 110 David announces either of himself or Solomon “You are priest forever of the order of Melchizedek.” He recognised that they were in a very special position-not so much as kings but as men of the tribe of Judah (not Levi) who were ordained priests. The special circumstances that allowed David and Solomon to be priests do not appear to have been repeated once Israel and Judah (with Benjamin) split. The next priest-king of the line of David was Jesus.

The priesthood that Jesus passed on to the apostles is the priesthood of the Bridegroom and First born son that Adam had and passed down to Melchizadek. Jesus is the Bridegroom and First born son who made the sacrifice for his Bride the Church that Adam had refused to make- and He gives us Himself in Bread and Wine and Melchizadek offered on the day the war was won.

The place of endless sky.

We’ve been away for a week and are back to ‘real life’ now. We stayed near Bamburgh as we have done for the last few years. It is a place with a huge amount of sky. You really do feel you are out in the open with a great dome stretching overhead and arching down into the sea. We went up to Edinburgh for the day to see the kin folk and had a lovely time with them all. The little ones all play together as though they see each other every day.

P1000435We visited Lindisfarne and the three biggies walked the causeway as we were coming home. It takes about an hour following the line of poles across the sea bed from the island to the mainland.

Lindisfarne is an ambivalent place I think. It has all that natural beauty and so much history to it but also a kind of sadness. The great abbey was destroyed by the rapacious greed of Henry VIII and a lot of the stone went to building the rather ugly castle on the other side of the island. Yet this is a place of saints; Cuthbert, Aidan Chad who brought Christ to Mercia and Cedd his brother who went further south. Across the bay at Bamburgh was Saint Oswald and his son St Oswy and near by St Wilfred came and even St Ronan of Iona (for whom our Ronan is named).

It’s not always easy to sense that Lindisfarne is still Holy Isle but it is there. P1000442

Once they were near the mainland (we have driven over the road causeway) Alistair and Heleyna went out to meet them.

Back at the caravan site the children made friends and played for hours.

On the Wednesday night on the way back from Edinburgh we saw a shooting star. There had been a few the night before apparently but we just saw this one-which was special enough. The caravan site was very dark and this meant the stars on a clear night were very easy to see. The Milky Way was clear over head-not quite as white and definite as I once saw it in the middle of nowhere some years ago but it was still there. I don’t think I have ever seen it in the city.

It was a lovely week and we are very grateful for the generosity of someone who made sure we could afford to go. Thank you.

The Story of Josh…so far


Josh likes using heavy duty tools so he had great fun with the chain saw and now we have lots of lovely chunks of wood for the winter. His dad never got a look in 🙂

We went off to the hospital together yesterday to meet with the dietician. Normally Josh goes off on his own for appts but this one was all about carb counting so I went along too as I need to have some understanding of it as I cook most of the meals here.

His sugars have been climbing recently so we were wondering if the small window of pancreatic activity was coming to an end. We were told when he was first starting insulin that often the pancreas kicks back in and those poor old tired beta cells make one last effort to make insulin themselves before finally giving up the ghost. This can lead to a lot of hypos as Josh soon discovered. Now his sugars are climbing he finds spending some solid time with a chain saw helps bring them down again. Chain saw therapy. Umm.

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Home Education; in the hols and why we might lose on the Badman Review.

One home ed mum once said that when she was explaining her families autonomous approach to their children’s education the EWO in a fit of frustration demanded “But when do they know when to STOP learning?” (Honestly this is a true story).

During the Summer hols I need a break and I don’t ‘formally’ educate the children. However once they have formed the ‘habit’ as Charlotte would call it, of learning they just DO.

Ronan has taken up the recorder that I am afraid I had let slip during term time, and he is practicing it and asking questions about how to play the songs from his book. He has helped take the battery out of the car and get it recharged and refitted. He plays and reads to his sisters.

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love is what you do

We had one of the home ed families over yesterday for the children to play.  The grown ups got talking around a nice cup of tea and the subject of love came up. How we love God and how we teach our children to love Him and what that love is exactly. I said that love is something you do, not necessarily something you feel. I mentioned that when we go through the long dark night of the soul, there doesn’t seem to be much love feelings and yet the love has to be there. It has to be done.

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