Good one Matt

Earlier this evening I read this paragraph over Andrea’s shoulder:

Within you there is courage, grace, honour, integrity. These are things that are not advertised but that resound throughout your life with far greater impact than appearance. They do not sell products, they are contradictory to you becoming one, but they are of the utmost importance. They do not mean that you cannot be beautiful, only that without them being beautiful is worthless. – Matthew Good

In the few hours that have passed since I read Matt’s post, the struggle I have had has been not wanting to distract you from what he has said. There is probably not alot that I can say that will improve upon it. He has done an excellent job of contrasting that which is priceless and that which is worthless.

But, I do disagree with him on one small point.

My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it-this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment, and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care. – C.S. Lewis

Snobbery (under the guise of different names) has been around for generations.

I’m a few years older than Matt. I grew up in the time when the aura of the 60’s was in it’s death throes. I do not believe I was under any less pressure to conform than my children’s peers are. What is obvious is that they are under pressure to conform to something different, somthing more superficial. What’s come to mind while writing this post is what happened to “friends” when I turned down offers to participate (in a variety of things). For example, I lost alot of “friends” by turning down alcohol. It turned out that I wasn’t a friend at all, but someone to drink with. What I’ve always found ridiculous about this was that if I had wanted to blame in on something (Andrea, the wagon, religion, etc.), I could have escaped the dissociation. But simply not wanting to drink was unacceptable.

A young person today is likely suffer the same fate if they are unwilling to be shallow, self-absorbed, manipulative and materialistic (or, at least, maintain the appearance of being so). I did say, though, that it was a small point. One of the reasons I feel that way is that the “60’s ideal” may take 30-40 years to catch up to you. But, I expect that “today’s ideal” of superficiality catchs up far faster than that.

Team Challenges – a review

I must confess first off, when I was contacted to review Team Challenges by Kris Bordessa, I was a little sceptical. I wasn’t quite sure it would be a good fit for a homeschooling family, especially one leaning towards unschooling. I expected a bunch of recycled indeas and the usal teacher/student instructions.

Boy, was I surprised.

First, when I got my hands on the book, I noted how professionally made it was. It’s about eight by ten, with a nice glossy cover and at least a half-inch thick. Even though it has regular binding on it, it still manages to lay flat, which is a good thing for a fun book like this.

In the first chapter, Kris talks about creativity, cooperation and communication. I consider myself and our family highly creative people. There were enough good points, that had I underlined all the ones I liked, the page would be half-covered.

Some might be tempted to thumb through the book and start in the middle. I would really suggest reading the first few chapters, as they have quite a gold-mine of tips within. Not only is this book good for people who work with groups of children (it made me actually wish I was back helping Brownies!) I can see how it would help *any* family group learn how to work together and have fun. Like the next step up from Family Game Night. I immediately thought of at least two families that I know who would enjoy this book.

We have done an activity similar to these before, and Ron has done something similar in one of his classes. Using straws, toothpicks, tape, paper and strawberry gummi candies, he had his students build either a structure to hold a book or a bridge.

Kris has a chapter on activities that are more improvisational or drama oriented, which personally appealed to me. There’s also a long list of answers that participants have to think of the questions for. I tried some on my children.

“The answer is ice cream.” I said. I got a blank stare from Addison, until he finally said “I’m eighteen. I’m exempt.” I looked at Meaghan and she said, ‘What’s for breakfast?” with a grin. Fair enough.

So you can see from the above, it is not just book with one kind of activity inside, repeated a hundred different ways. There is quite a wide variety to appeal to all kinds of learning styles. I can also see how things like vague, open-ended activities and/or a small time frame could turn off some participants. As with everything else, you could adjust that to your needs.

If you stop by Kris’s blog, you can request a FREE copy of her e-book, Ten Minute Tasks. It’ll give you a great idea of what her book is about. And I know my readers like free stuff.

(cross-posted to both blogs)

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
A harsh and honest critisicm of public schools, from the trenches. This book will certainly make you think twice about sending junior off to school. It’s a collection of essays and speeches, one of which Gatto delivered at (ironically enough) an awards ceremony where he won Teacher of the Year.