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Monday, February 24, 2014

On Intellectual Habits, the Fallibility of Reason and Being Transparent.

When Reason turns us against ourselves
"The reasoning power, acting in a more or less mechanical and involuntary manner, does not necessarily work towards the morally right conclusion." (v3, p117)

Have you ever experienced this?
"We all know that, entertain a notion that [so and so] is dishonest, that a friend is false, that a dress is unbecoming, and some power within us, unconsciously to us, sets to work to collect evidence and bring irrefragable proof of the position we have chosen to take up." (v3, p117)

This was my Thursday. It might be my tomorrow.
Wait. I'm about to be transparent. Are you ready for this?

This was a day I woke up with lots of 'reasons' to be annoyed, several of which are listed below, not in order of occurrence but by severity of annoyance.

Because of the existence and consistent insistence upon the rule - 'Thou shalt not exit thy room and shall remain quiet, if not speechless, before 7 am', I feel it is reasonable that one might wake up somewhat grumpily before 6 am, to the tune of a six year old neighbor's singing, at the top of her lungs (even if it was Great is Thy Faithfulness), after an awake-til-2am-late-night experience of blissfully picking billions of lice out of somethree's hair.

To me, it seems perfectly reasonable that I could be annoyed that someone took my running shoes outside and forgot them there overnight. It rained. They were right where whoever left them when I went searching for them, still outside, and FULL of water.
Things can potentially take a LOOOOOONNNNGGGG time to dry here in the humidity...
I don't have an extra pair.
I can't effectively walk on the treadmill in this seventh month of bulging belly in flip flops. Can't.
Yep. more annoying.

Some child bursts into my room (while I am still in bed looking upon the Proverb about how to handle loud early rising neighbors) and presents incriminating evidence re: a teenager. Evidently, Certain-Fifteen-Year-Old has decided to, this very day, break a rule that he has broken weekly for the last two months, for which has been doled out timely, just, and painful consequences every.single.time.
Try to imagine the pattern with me. Infraction. Weeklong restriction. Infraction. Weeklong restriction. Infraction. FOR WEEKS LONG ON END. Today, the cycle continues.
My husband being away, I get to deal with it
You get it.
Yep. super annoying.

Honestly, I was annoyed. Very. Multiple times.

Do you know what?
In part because of my recent rumination on this subject, but entirely for grace, I was able to quickly detect, even before leaving my bedroom, some fallacies in mine and my son's reasoning and therefore choose me that day whom I would serve.

You see, though there were without a doubt lots of things to be annoyed about, there are always innumerably MORE things to be thankful for. For example, that I have legs and am able to walk; that eventually, the sun will shine again, my shoes will dry, and even if they don't, I can afford another pair or ask my mother-in-law for one ;). And, how thankful I truly am to have a 6 year old daughter, a delightful child (who sings Great is Thy Faithfulness to boot).

Now in the case of the teenager, it was a little more difficult to find the bright side... heheh. Well, seriously, I'm only partly kidding. However, what an immense privilege to talk with him about how the decisions made right.this.very.minute do have an impact on who he is becoming, his character; about the importance of self-government; and how submission to authority now is simply practice for days when he'll have to will himself to obey an Invisible Authority without parents who look over shoulders. He may have said 'Amen' to that.

We got to discuss how we are capable of convincing ourselves using our REASON that certain things, while forbidden, are not that bad... or, it isn't really going to hurt anyone... or, this rule is unreasonable compared to... or, if I can indulge and just not get caught... or, only this one last time. I can stop this habit whenever I decide to... or... whatever.

Sin is sin. Disobedience of authority is disobedience of Authority. We can and naturally will use reason to justify sin, UNLESS we keep in step with the Spirit. The lights came on. The waters broke. I gave an illustration, which I can't remember now, and complimented myself on it; as it was really quite perfect considering. I wished aloud I could have recorded it. He told me, he wished he'd recorded the whole conversation it was all so good.

Praise the Lord. PRAISE the Lord.
It's all grace.

In this battle against fallible reasoning, where right thinking may become a matter of life or death, thankfully, we are not left alone. God has graciously given us a Standard of Truth by which we may judge aright, to which we may refer, rather must refer, and that often.

And look what I found today while rummaging around in my commonplace for an appropriate quote. Whoa. Great minds think alike...
"How are we to get this vital knowledge, without which we assuredly perish? - not in some unknown future state, but here and now, a slow paralysis creeps upon us. We have seen that there is but one source of illumination, the Bible itself. It is true that the divine Spirit is a light in every man's soul; but if a lamp is to be kindled, there must be the lamp; and it would seem as if the process followed by the Holy Spirit were to teach us by an arresting illumination, from time to time, of some phrase written in the Bible. Hence, our business is, before all things, to make ourselves acquainted with the text. (v4, p84)

By long, slow study and by quick heart's love we shall learn to discern God, to know in an instant those words which are not of him... (v4, p89)"

And this is the advice I gave myself on the temptation to be 'reasonably' annoyed on Thursday, and that which I subsequently shared with my son for 'truthfully' dealing with the temptation to use faulty reasoning to defend his wrongdoing.

Turn reason right side out.

We have a choice regarding what we will think about.

We can sit and smolder, thinking of all the reasons 'Why I am justifiably annoyed today', which will absolutely not help the situation, even if it feels by far the most reasonable thing at the moment.
Or, we could list all the reasons 'Why I can do this thing and disobey just this once'.
We can defend ourselves with good reasons to act whichever way the wind blows.


"...We turn away our thoughts from beholding evil, the evil in another or the evil suggestion to ourselves; and we do so, not by reasoning the matter out, but just by thinking of something else, some other pleasant or interesting thing belonging for the moment to our lives. For we are so made that there is always with the temptation an easy and natural way of escape."

I can't even tell you what good advice this is. Seriously.

Turn the thoughts.

To Scripture. Listen to an audiobook for 5 minutes. Take a shower. Eat peanut butter toast with limited edition raspberry jelly. Make coffee. Sit and read a visually appealing book with a 6yo Great is Thy Faithfulness aficionado. Search the attic for an old pair of running shoes. Sing a folksong or three and read poems. Make every opportunity to avoid direct speech with teenager until full composure has set in, toast and coffee are digested, etc.

When faced with temptation, think of something else, find something pleasant or interesting (and lawful) to do or think about.

Fallible reasoning can be overcome.

By testing with truth.
By thought turning.
By taking in big gulps of grace.


"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."
2 Cor.9:5

This post is based on thoughts on the first part of Chapter 11 in Volume 3, School Education by Charlotte Mason. The topic, Some Unconsidered Aspects of Intellectual Training, is one option for posts advocated by the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival 2014 Schedule. If you'd like to read other posts on the subject, be sure to read all the February editions.
If you'd like to share your post with the upcoming carnival, find out how here.
Find links to past CMBCarnivals here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Secrets and Surprises.

We've kept at least five really big ones for nine whole months. Can you believe we've never ever told a single soul (pre-birth) the gender (or names) of our previous five babies-in-waiting? Matter of fact, we've been so good at keeping secrets, we even kept them from ourselves!

Until recently, despite the prescience of ultrasound, we managed not to find out who we were adding to our family until each one actually made his or her own personal entrance. Anticipation built over months to make the moment of birth into an irreplaceably dramatic revelation of what came at the end of the umbilical cord. An emotionally stirring Introduction. Of course, the secret couldn't help getting out then.

It was absolutely precious, and EXACTLY what we wanted.

For months, we had names picked out for either or, and we were ever so happy just to wait and see. When people asked, as they always did, what we were having, we'd give them pause by whispering, “A baby!” Of course, that's not what they wanted to know... and we knew it. But then again, we didn't know what they wanted to know either... if you know what I mean.

We've never found out ahead of time. Until last October, that is. This time, being most likely the last time, I was wavering about whether to know or not to know. Problem is, I was wavering right there on the ultrasound table. And the doctor was not wavering at all. She didn't even waver slightly as she discovered the telling sign and unwaveringly told us her discovery before we could tell her...

Well, there was no going back then, was there...
So, now we knew.
Of course, it has been so long ago now.
It almost seems like we've always known who 'tis waiting (rather actively I might add) there inside me.
Oh and guess what?! Even though it's all so unexpected...

It's still absolutely precious, and EXACTLY what we wanted.

'Cause keeping a secret is hard work, this time we've decided to tell our secret before it gets accidentally discovered. Again. :) I hope this is as fun for you as it is for me... SURPRISE!
We're having a... baby!!


Okay. I know. Look closely, now...

Oh, did you think getting secrets out of me was going to be easy?!
(Click to zoom)


At last, the secret's out!!
We're really excited.
Only 8 weeks to go.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nature Study Monday: Squashing Discoveries {NSM!}

The {Nature Study Monday} link up is for ANY nature study-ish blog post written at any time during the current month. Which means, when you submit your link, it will show up in every. single. {NSM} post. during the whole month! Oh, and be not confused, feel free to link up on any day, be it Monday or not! 

Look what I discovered! Lots of leaves, blooms and several squashes in the making!

Of course, the kids have seen all of this LONG ago and have been making spontaneous daily reports.
It's just me that's finally gotten out to have a good long look *with* my camera. :)
Thankfully, Siah (9) was with me and could point out ALL the particulars.

Discovery, check. Daily observation, check. Pictures, check. More study to come...
For now, be especially encouraged by Jeanne's carrot studies. Check them out!!

Snag a button if you wanna! :)
I hope you'll come back and share your nature studies with us this month!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sloyd: Warming the Intellect

No, not Slide nor Sled, even if it IS snowing at your house... apparently they got 4" in Portland!?!

Incorporating Paper Sloyd as schoolwork provides great warm-up exercises in strengthening intellectual habits all year round (I've tried it!!). Who would have thought? Paper folding! It can also be great fun and spur one on to make some cool stuff.  Read on and you'll see what I mean.

I learned about Sloyd through Charlotte Mason some time back, but never was sufficiently inspired to do more than schedule it until this summer while attending a workshop by my friend BobbyJo in Minnesota. At that time, I had recently been considering it again, though I can't remember why... maybe due to my friend Richele and its relation to Mathematics or maybe convos with yet another friend Tammy? Either way, for better or worse, I resolved to begin our adventures in Paper Folding the subsequent schoolyear (last fall).

Of course, we didn't start during the first term; that would have been So Very Drastic. :) This term however, we started at the very beginning (which is a very good place to start) in Paper Sloyd for Primary Grades. Even for the elder students who have no experience, Sloyd has it's benefits, though we must keep moving in order to keep attention and not insult pride or patience. We started with the basics as presented in this book. Working in order, we've finished the first nine projects over the last several weeks.

My littles have been especially SUPER excited about each project they can make as-is or adapt for gifts for their siblings and friends' special occasions! Two days after creating the envelope, we had a birthday! Not incidentally, that sister received more than one special note wrapped in a handmade envelope/wall hanger this year. :)

All of us have had to work into this new venue. I had to learn to be clear and careful in GIVING instructions. We have all had to work to maintain a friendly and relaxed atmosphere (struggle on, perfectionists!). The kids have had to make an effort not to get overwhelmed or frustrated while listening and concentrating in a group context with various skill levels represented. We have seen great progress in all of these after the first few projects! Yay!

Every project boasts a series of instructions to be followed including drawing lines, cutting, folding, etc. The comeliness of the final product is in direct correlation to how carefully each instruction is carried out. At every point, each step depends upon the previous step being done exactly. Students must pay attention and concentrate all the way through the verbal instructions. They must follow those same instructions thoroughly and accurately or their project will be wrong or turn out looking 'junky'. 

Here's the low down...
  • A perfect product is not the immediate goal (though I would be concerned if they cared not at all, but that hasn't been a problem with mine). My main objective is that the students take care to listen, concentrate and follow instructions thoroughly and accurately. If desired, they may later redo a project that they feel turned out poorly because of lack of skill or as a result of some inadvertent mistake (see below).
  • Instructions are succinct on purpose. The student has to audibly process the instructions in order to follow through. I repeat the instructions aloud twice (w/ demo for my year one student when there's any potential confusion). Ahead of time, I emphatically encourage them to *think* before asking a question. It's much easier to ask a question than to think. If they can't seem to figure it out, they may wait and watch how someone else interprets the information (though obviously, I'd rather they figure it out for themselves).
  • Everyone must respect others' need for concentration and NOT talk during the process unless asking a necessary question. It's also easy to get frustrated and have an outburst upon making a mistake - great for practicing self-control. (I encourage them that this is a learning process, to look for a way to make up for their mistake, and continue if possible. See next point)
  • Disallowing re-do's mid-project obliges the student to experience natural consequences (a less than stellar final result). I have given second chances once or twice in order for my littlest to not feel overwhelmedly discouraged. One difficulty is, allowing one student to 'start over' because they're not happy with their cut or have folded wrong, requires the rest of the group to wait while they catch up. Or, I have to keep track of where two different sets are in the instructions line-up. Asking them to carry on (sometimes it's easy to make amends for mistakes by adjusting the measurements of the initial project size by trimming off a mistake), finish the project and re-do it if desired AFTER they know all of the instructions, seems to have been an acceptable consequence in most cases. This might be explained ahead of time to ward off an emotional blow up mid-project.

Teacher Tips: 
Of vital importance for parents and educators → DO: Initiate & Direct, DO NOT: Control or Dominate.

Pre-work reminders...

  • Make sure to have materials ready - mine are kept in a basket and collected at the end (scissors, rulers, hole punches, glue sticks, etc.).
  • Have everyone clear their space of everything except scissors, ruler and a sharpened pencil.
  • Remind everyone that this is a time for listening, concentrating and working quietly. "We want to be quiet so that others can do the same." 
  • Remind them that you will be repeating each of the instructions several times. For that reason also, we will listen carefully and think before asking questions. We might wait and see if watching what our neighbor does will help us to understand."
  • Remind everyone that this is practice. "It's okay if we make a mistake. We'll do our best and get better with practice. If we do make a mistake, we'll keep going if possible. If it's not possible to fix it, we'll keep listening and following along to all of the instructions until they are finished and we can start over."
We've been talking about this on the AO Forum, check that out here and here.

The optional topic for discussion during February for the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is: Some Unconsidered Aspects of Intellectual Training. This post is my contribution to that discussion. If you would like to participate, see this post for more information! All CM inspired posts are welcome.

Wanna Share?! 
If you do blog specifically about Paper Sloyd, please come back and link with us so we can see and learn from you!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CM Blog Carnival Invitation for February (& Ideas for discussion)

Attn: Charlotte Mason bloggers! You're invited! 

Please consider joining us by submitting a post, or just reading along! Submissions are due by 2/10 and 2/24 anytime before 5pm EST. Send the URL of your post in an e-mail to: charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com.

As always, we welcome all Charlotte Mason inspired blog posts! Bloggers vary widely in their gifts and experiences, which means, we can all learn from each other. We hope you'll share with us!

Below, you will find an optional topic, a thought provoking quote (or two) and several ideas for those who need a little writing prompt or who would like some direction for further study. :)

I look forward to reading and sharing!

Feel free to snag the CMBC button for your post!
{Link it back here, if you'd like to inform or encourage your readers to share!}

The optional topic for discussion during the month of February is:
Some Unconsidered Aspects of Intellectual Training - Chapter 11

The intellectual life, like every manner of spiritual life, has but one food whereby it lives and grows––the sustenance of living ideas.” 

Key Points to delve into further.
  • Limits of Human Reasoning
  • Great ideas → best basis of Educational Philosophy
  • Intellectual Habits → Come of training, are not in-born. Therefore the development thereof rests primarily w/ parents.

Some Intellectual Habits:
(see chapter for further explanation)
Intellectual Volition.
(Quotes taken from Charlotte Mason's School Education, Volume 3)

*Please see the CM Blog Carnival Schedule page for a list of dates and topics for the whole year (in progress). 

subscribing to the Carnival Announcement/Reminder list you can stay up-to-date and never miss another carnival. Plus, you'll receive handy-dandy monthly ideas & links pertaining to the topic... for free! ;) oh wait, it's all free! heheh.

***Also, please encourage your bloggy AND non-bloggy friends, who love Charlotte Mason and/or those just getting interested, to visit the CMBCarnival, the more the merrier!! :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nature Study Monday: February 2014 (NSM! LinkUP)

After reading the fungi section in The Handbook of Nature Study and several mushroom prints later, I hope never to disdain a mushroom again. They're actually rather beautiful in their own warty fungal way.


I'm so proud of them.
It was over 90 degrees and highly humid...

Gotta love us some fungus.


Snag a button if you wanna! :)
Come back and share your nature studies with us this month!

The {Nature Study Monday} link up is for ANY nature study-ish blog post written at any time during the current month. Which means, when you submit your link, it will show up in every. single. {NSM} post. during the whole month! Oh, and be not confused, feel free to link up on any day, be it Monday or not! 

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