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Friday, November 25, 2005

More philosophy

The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

I'll have to look this guy up.

Four hours later. Girls sleeping, second load of laundry in (only useful thing I've done all day except to rearrange refrigerator and food containers therein). I skipped the vigil tonight. Rainy and chilly and I finally seem to be shaking the cold which laid me low for almost a month. I knew some people were going to be there and it isn't quantity that counts so much as consistency. I'm only a couple of blocks away and if someone had called for help, I would have gone.

Messr. Amiel was a Swiss critic (of what I'm not sure but probably literature) who wrote something called Journal Intime. It was a failure during his lifetime (early 1800's) but has since been discovered. I read a little of it online (had to skip 30 pages of introduction first) in translation. Interesting person and some great quotes. I'll have to read more to see how much I agree with when the quotes are in context. He was also a Calvinist , as were many Swiss back then so he and I may not march in lockstep.

Blogging Baby has run a series of posts discussing homework. I had actually gotten away from the subject for a while. How much is too much help and are parents enabling, interfering, or contributing to a child's knowledge. As usual, the commenters ran the gamut.

I stayed out of it except for one comment on large projects such as science exhibits and constructing exhibits. My attitude is middle ground. I help but I don't do the work. We all pitched in on Rebecca's Native American village last year and I saw nothing wrong with that. We bought almost nothing and used common household stuff. We brainstormed but she was the leader. The other girls helped with glue and food coloring for various seeds, walnut shells, etc. We ended up with a village containing a "longhouse" for community activities (a shoebox), tule huts, pipe cleaner people and babies, walnut shells for cradles and food gathering, and a painted river with pipe cleaner fish. She made grass out of green sprinkles and "crops" out of seeds. (Our historical error - they didn't do much planting - more fishers and gatherers, famous for their baskets.) Oh well, it looked nice.

Almost all the other kids in the class were assigned to build California missions (mostly San Juan Bautista near Hollister) and they bought kits even though the teacher said not to. [Side note: The Native Americans in Rebecca's project were the same tribe who were shipped off to San Juan Bautista to be "civilized" and almost wiped out during the CA gold rush. Somehow, those facts were glossed over in her history book. We found it online. Now the few who are left run an extremely prosperous casino which we're trying to take away from them. I'm no big fan of gambling but the state's actions have nothing to do with morality; it's greed, plain and simple.]

I thought Rebecca learned more from our family project than the kids with their prefabs did. With her limited attention span and short fuse, it seemed important to make it fun for her as well as educational.

So anyhow, some would say we should have kept hands off. I say the important thing is what she learned by the time she finished her project. Her teacher had no problems with our approach and I think was glad to see one sort of sloppy, obviously homemade, exhibit. I was glad to see her enthusiasm and the family teamwork.

England is discussing (or has passed, I'm not sure) laws dealing with parent involvement. They feel there's too much and I think they're talking about the upper grades. Of course I won't do their homework and take their tests for them but I'll sit at the table and help them over the rough spots, especially with math. There is, to me, no point in filling pages with incorrect numbers because they don't know what they're doing. That is reinforcing misunderstanding of procedure. The more they do it wrong, the more it will be fixed in their brains and they will go through life forgetting to borrow or carry. (Or invert fractions - whatever they're working on). If the teachers don't check individual homework, then I think I must.

Just throwing it out here in case anyone has feedback.

I'm loving my new keyboard and mouse. The mouse turns itself off and it took me a while to figure out why it wouldn't work. Got it now. All asleep now including hubby; a good time to listen to my new Enya once more. I played it yesterday but there was too much going on to hear much. I have all her cd's except one copied from my originals to Music Match so I may just line them up starting with the newest and go to sleep. (After I finish laundry, of course).


ipodmomma said...

what I've been able to gather about the homework issue not much, as I have been off TV and web for a day or so. but Peter and I were having dinner at a pub a few weeks ago, and overheard a gal who works there talking to some people about the amount of work that her kids had to do... sounded like a lot to me. and that she'd come home and they'd be up still midnight trying to get assignments sorted. sounds like a lot of busy work, but then, I can't really be sure.

what it SEEMS like to me is that the govt' here wants lots of targets met, and one way to do that is through paperwork, that sort of thing. but then something came out yesterday that the brightest kids coming out of public schools aren't getting the same university places as kids from private schools.

but then a lot of that stuff I gloss over because it just doesn't apply to us in more ways than one.

lots of bullying here though. always hearing about that.

sounds like you all are enjoying your last few days off. we had a nice lazy Saturday, and no snow. that's always a plus for me.

Mother Damnable said...

Just wanted to say, I've been to Hollister, on honeymoon, the car broke down and there were no motel rooms because there was a rabbit breeders convention in town! At the last motel the owners, very kindly allowed us to stay on their guest bed.

My son's Grandmother Ann used to live in Bakersfield.

Good to meet you Ipodmomma, I checked out your blog a few days ago and I love your work.

Dancing Till Dawn............

Andrea said...

From what I hear in Canada a lot of [arents have been compaining about the TONS of homework their kids are getting. I agree that some is necessary and also agree that some parental supervision is sometimes necessary but the amount is getting crazy. A lot of kids are finding it hard to be kids.
when I was in school the kids on a school sports team had a spare block to work on homework. Great, but what about the people like me who had an activity (horses) that was not a school sport. Made for some late nights and a few unfinished assignments.

Here in Japan kids do school homework and after school school. It is all rediculous.