treating children like rational creatures

I was reading a philosophy book the other day, and I came across this interesting passage by John Locke: Remove hope and fear, and there is an end of all discipline. I grant that good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature; these are the spur and reigns whereby all mankind are set on work and guided, and therefore they are to be made use of to children too. For I advice their parents and governors always to carry this in thier minds, that children are to be treated as rational creatures. As I Continue reading

just keep reading, just keep reading

My brain itches right now, with this sense that new ideas are waiting to burst forth. I don’t know yet where they will take me but I can see the seeds. I’ve been rereading parts of Don Quixote in preparation to speak about it in a class I’m teaching. At the same time, I’m reading the book Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau by John Farrell. Among other things the book talks about the ways in which Don Quixote appeals to the possibility of enchanters, both helpful and malevolent to explain the disconnect between his understanding of reality and reality Continue reading

Someone’s judging a homeschooler! Call out the troops. Or maybe, don’t.


Sometimes I read something someone else writes, and I recognize in it something that connects with other issues. Today I saw a post titled “Maybe we haven’t been critical enough of our fellow moms….” I saw it posted on facebook, and in most of the comments on facebook people were being very critical of the blogger, saying that people need to mind their own business and not judge. For my part, the post and discussion threw me into all sorts of confusion. The sense I had from the article was not that someone wants to stick her nose into other Continue reading

doing schoolwork while thinking out of sync


Being out of sync with the world can make school work hard. I think back to the time I was a teenager homeschooling through a correspondence type program where I had to fax my test and assignments to a teacher far away. I hated multiple choice tests so I wrote commentary all through my social studies multiple choice test, explaining why none of the answers were entirely correct. That particular teacher agreed that I could just write essays instead. I was relieved. Essays I could understand. I watched this past month as one of my kids struggled with an assignment. His class Continue reading

Choosing to homeschool, again.


I wrote back in July about the decision to send my previously homeschooled children to school. They started school at the beginning of September, and I’m writing now with our one-month update. Two out of three children will continue in school. The third is going to be homeschooling again. Going from homeschooling, to sending them to school, to homeschooling one of them took me on a very weird rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions. I had mixed feelings about them going to school. I have mixed feelings about the one coming home. To some extent I expected that. However there were things Continue reading

Gretta Vosper and the atheist church

Gretta Vosper is a minister in the United Church of Canada, at least for now. A committee in Toronto has recommended that she not be allowed to continue as a minister, given her statements that she does not believe in God or call herself a Christian. The United Church, of which I am a part, is a church that recognizes that people’s understanding of theology changes. When someone says they don’t believe in God, the reaction is not necessarily shock as much as the question “what God is it you don’t believe in?” There is space a lot of space between believing Continue reading

sometimes staying home is better than the extracurriculars

Sometimes staying home is best.

As a homeschooler, I’ve felt at times like I’m a bit of a failure as far as extracurricular activities go. I hear people talk about how they provide socialization and the chance to follow one’s passions. We’ve had varying degrees of success at different activities, but most of the various activities we’ve signed the kids up for have involved us herding them into the car against their wills. I’ve tried to look at the extracurriculars from my kids points of view. They end up being dragged away from things they like doing. I’ve tried to encourage them to make friends, but Continue reading

a waiting room movie – the gift of imagination

monarch on my fingers

We went into a waiting room and sat down. After a while of playing with the toys, my five year old announced that she’s watching a movie and plops herself onto a chair opposite the receptionists desk. She stared intently at the receptionist while pretending to eat imaginary theatre snacks. “This isn’t a kids movie,” she announced after a minute or two. Then she noticed a shadow as someone moves in front of a door in the inner office. “Wait,” she says, “I saw a shadow.” She then proceeded to tell me, slowly, the story, as it took place in Continue reading

into the unknown: preparing myself to send my children to school

I feel like I'm looking ahead too, at an unknown path.

I sighed in the grocery store the other day. The store clerk, seeing I was watching my children, made a comment expressing sympathy about how it was only the beginning of summer holidays. I smiled, paid, and thanked him. He doesn’t need to know how much he misunderstood. To me this isn’t the beginning of a summer of having the kids around all the time. My kids have been around me almost constantly since they were born and this particular summer I am in mourning for the fact that my time homeschooling is coming to an end. This isn’t the Continue reading

my experience and plans teaching with Minecraft

a dwarven kingdom in minecraft

My kids and I are eagerly working on our minecraft server these days. We build scenes and then add non-player-characters (NPCs) the scripts of which we write using a plugin called Betonquest. The boys built a fairy kingdom full of mushroom houses. With their help, I wrote up conversations for the fairies based on Shakespeare’s fairies in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. We added a nine men’s morris board built of a grass path, like the “the quaint mazes in the wanton green” that the Shakespeare’s Titania had said was “for lack of tread are undistinguishable.” For each snippet of Shakespeare Continue reading