Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Attributes Of Lifelong Learning...

I mentioned in my post about the wall coming down how angry I was at the idea of having to memorize some principles for a class. I am most thankful to announce that those negative feels continue to hold no place in my heart now. And amazingly I have felt a blessing of being able to quickly recall the 10 points of the 5,000 Year Leap that I have thus memorized.

Last week my mind was opened to another foolish attribute of mine. I am beginning to see that I don't understand what it means to say that I will give 100 percent of myself to a project. I have always said sure I'll give 100 percent of what I can. So what I'm really saying is that I'll give 100 percent of the 5 percent that I actually am seriously giving to this endeavor. Wow, you mean I have actually never given 100 percent to anything Nickie? Yes my dear you never have. And what is really true is that I have not given a great percentage to God. I don't think I can give a big percentage of myself to any one thing because I'm giving in many areas. This doesn't mean I a failure either. I just learned that I can't honestly give 100 percent to this class I'm taking and although I ought not use numbers with myself, I think I'm being pretty honest with me if I can give 10 percent.

Funny thing is that I am getting much more back in return.

However, what I learned while praying last week is that I should not be using a number system to determine what I am doing in a given area of my life. What I learned for me and at that moment is that if I am incorporating the teachings I am seeking to learn for the good of my mission to serve my family, help others, teach others and be taught myself towards becoming a greater follower of Jesus, then that is right.

Today and last night I tuned in to BYU TV on the web to watch a talk given by Robert D. Hales during Education Week 2008. He entitled it, "The Journey of Lifelong Learning". His talk is what the eternal doctor ordered for me (Scott Anderson gives a fantastic talk too).

The positive attributes of life long learners are these: Courage, Faithful Desire, Humility, Patience, Curiosity, and Communication. I would imagine that for some people, lifelong learning is a gift that has naturally been a part of said person. For me and many others, we can be taught the drive and determination for lifelong learning through the development of the above qualities. Courage is needed to enter the cave of education. Don't let fear stop you. (Br. Anderson uses a quote from Jeffrey Holland regarding the disgrace we give to God when we are exercising fear instead of trust.)

Lifelong learners desire self-improvement and desire knowledge to be better mothers, fathers, teachers, servants, neighbors, etc. Yet humility is key to lifelong learning. Intelligence is a gift from God, and each discovery of knowledge comes from God. The value of learning now may not be fully realized for many years. It takes energy and time to seek out and find pure knowledge. Three key words when talking about patience: search, ponder, and pray.

Upstairs in our home, I have a printed sign that says, "curious kids are observant kids". As adults we need to apply our hearts to learning and develop techniques that are not taught in our school systems today. The key is to hold on to our God given curiosity and ask WHY and then find the answers.

Lifelong Learners don't give up says Br. Hales. I thought of giving up two weeks ago. I have since learned two important weaknesses about myself that I can now begin to improve upon and at some point maybe I will be a help to someone else suffering in the like manor. But if I had given up I would not know this yet.

Lifelong learners are here today. In the present. Having learned from the past but not dwelling in the past. We ought to communicate with God by prayer to give thanks for the opportunity to search, find and learn. As a lifelong learner I need to develop the skill for listening and actually being present with my mind focused on the person talking. It's not about you when someone else is talking.

Scripture study is a lifelong learning experience. Why just last Sunday I was surprised by the lesson in Relief Society. I came right home, read the lesson for myself and then I prayed that I might learn more to begin to understand the depth of the plan of salvation for mankind. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Then my mind and heart will grow and expand to come to appreciate the goodness of eternal principles.

Lifelong learning is about who we are becoming. That means me, humbly asking for help to do better then I have been doing. My lifelong learning is taking shape because of my past, my present and the future. What I do with my time determines my lifelong learning, my eternal rewards,my growth and development.

I.Q. is a gift from God. Add knowledge and experience and you get wisdom. And with wisdom seek understanding.

I ask myself, and you can ask yourself; How do these 6 attributes apply to me?
How can I enhance these qualities in my life?
Are my goals in line with lifelong learning?

Good luck! I think it's already exciting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

America is a shining city upon a hill...

Ronald Reagan emphasized, America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere."

As Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address to the nation, "I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still."

I guess Winthrop isn't the only one using the scriptural reference.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Light Upon The Hill...

This Wednesday will be our second GWU class meeting. We are discussing the books of Genesis, Leviticus, Exodus, and Deuteronomy in relationship with John Winthrop's writing entitle A Model of Christian Charity.

My attention is directed to Lev. chapter 26 and Deut. ch 28 as I've thought about this group of Puritans coming to the Massachusetts Bay area. If I'm understanding anything, it seem that these people saw themselves as the new children of Israel. They had made a covenant to obey god, to love and support each other through the bond of charity (1 Corinthians chapter 13).

God shows his wisdom and glory through the diversity of man. Thus some are poor and some are rich says Winthrop. And this he says is allowed that "this great king will have many stewards, counting himself more honored in dispensing his gifts to man by men, then if he did it by his own immediate hands".

Here are these pilgrims, getting ready to embark upon the ship Arbella in 1630. And like the Israelites lead by Moses, they too had a sea to cross. Granted the Atlantic is larger yet perhaps their faith was not lacking as it was for the Hebrews as the Egyptians were coming upon them.

The way Winthrop talks about helping and sustaining and forgiving debts if they can't be paid back, and the use of Justice, Mercy, the Law of Grace and the Law of Nature had to set the stage in the minds of every passenger their commitment to God. This reminded me today of the Farmers Market. A booth across from me is trying to develop awareness for the idea of Co-housing. Bingo! These early arrivals to America must have been all for Co-housing. You had to be if you wanted to survive.

The keys he says in order to avoid a "shipwreck" and to provide for their posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah; to do justly, love mercy, to walk humbly with God. And if they would do this (here I see what the Lord is saying in the 26 the 28 chapters I mentioned earlier. Jehovah said you are blessed if you obey or you will be plagued if you don't). These faithful pioneering pilgrims realized they could become " a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work...and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us we shall be made a story, a by-word through the world."

I read that Winthrop did not feel that the American Indians had civil right to the land because they had not subdued it. I don't know if it's right, yet if you use what Jehovah said to the Israelites in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and place a different nation as the subject then it opens the potential of the meaning. For example in Deut. 28 verse 1( relate it to America at our Founding) The Lord will set thee on high above all nations. v12...shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. (Relate this to America today! The lack of respect because American spending has no virtuous or moral control) but then if you don't obey God (and by the way the 4th fundamental belief of our Founding Fathers says that "without religion, the government of a free people will not be maintained.") verse 49 says the Lord shall bring a nation against thee from afar (I'm thinking China) whose tongue thou shalt not understand.

Now just because these scriptures are old, doesn't mean they aren't relatable to our time. The 27th founding principle says,"The burden of debt is as destructive to freedom as subjugation by conquest."

Three quarters of the way through this motivating speech (which I'm sure everyone understood his mode of talking. I don't in our modern type of English) Winthrop starts to talk of a mother and her love for family and community. Two points enlightened my learning here.

Firstly, Proverbs 31 the glory of a virtuous women. My mind was opened to relating the deeds of this women to the less known concepts of public virtue, liber, georgics, providence (founding point #5 is the fact that we are created by God and thus mankind is equally dependent upon Him and equally responsible to Him). The fifth concept being freedom which we still use today but I know I don't understand the full meaning.

Secondly, the core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family; therefore, the government should foster and protect it's integrity. So says founding point 26. Existence started with family. There is not only a loving Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ, there is a heavenly mother who probably feels like the mother that Winthrop describes in this paragraph. "...She sets no bounds to her affections, nor hath any thought of reward. She finds recompense enough in the exercise of her love towards it."

I can see John Winthrop end his oration with these final words that probably did what he needed.
"Therefore let us choose life,
that we and our seed may live,
by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him,
for he is our life and our prosperity."


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Little Culture Mingled With Nature...

Yesterday morning, I almost dragged the kids to the BYU Forum. Boy, they are glad for it now. After all was said and done, they thanked me for "making" them come (it wasn't that bad actually).

We went to the Forum to have a little cultural encounter with Ronan Tynan, one of the original Irish Tenors. I wanted to hear for myself and for the kids the story of one persons desire to not give up when life is hard. Ronan had bilateral below the knee amputations when he was twenty. He was in medical school at the age of 33 when he decided to take singing lessons.
He was raised by parents who always told him "you are great". Ronan came to believe it even as a child when his abnormally short leg limbs did not work like other kids around him in Ireland.

The Irish Tenor's message was quite simple,
"Focus on what you have, not on what you want."

Today we took a field trip with another homeschool family. We traveled the Mt. Nebo loop. Oh the autumn colors were fresh with recent change. Bright pinks, reds, oranges numerous greens against the majestic pine trees. Lovely.

We learned that Nebo means Sentinel of God. I guess the mountains stands as such. But you wouldn't know it looking from the base were the land is dried and brown. Drive up the back side and a whole new world awaits you. There's even a bit of southern Utah at a place called Devil's Kitchen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Alexis de Tocqueville and American Women...

I found the whole chapter! It's interesting and will take some time for me to digest. Democracy in this form is not about government. It's about an attitude.

"Thus the Americans do not think that man and woman have either the duty or the right to perform the same offices, but they show an equal regard for both their respective parts; and though their lot is different, they consider both of them as beings of equal value. They do not give to the courage of woman the same form or the same direction as to that of man; but they never doubt her courage: and if they hold that man and his partner ought not always to exercise their intellect and understanding in the same manner, they at least believe the understanding of the one to be as sound as that of the other, and her intellect to be as clear. Thus, then, whilst they have allowed the social inferiority of woman to subsist, they have done all they could to raise her morally and intellectually to the level of man; and in this respect they appear to me to have excellently understood the true principle of democratic improvement. As for myself, I do not hesitate to avow that, although the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of domestic life, and their situation is in some respects one of extreme dependence, I have nowhere seen woman occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply-to the superiority of their women".

And Down Came The Steel Wall...

Last night I attended my first class (St101A) through GWU. I wasn't excited, I wasn't nervous. I went not knowing what to expect or even if I was prepared.

Attending this type of liberal arts focused university is not a "normal" experience. I am programed for sitting down and being lectured at with occasional questions extended to the students. Last nights encounter was based upon our reactions to the reading of The 5,000 Year Leap; what principles influenced or moved us.
In the beginning we had to divide into groups of 4 and where given one minute to prepare a teaching principle. We were then given one minute to present that point. I thought I was going to totally freeze up.
Just prior Dr. Schulthies spoke about listening. How our minds are either in the past, present , or future. It's easy to be thinking about what you are going to say next and really not be there in the present listening to what is being said. You end up not connecting via listening when you let your mind go else where. When we went into these groups I wanted to find my point before the first person started talking in order to be mentally present.

I admit to you now that I am ashamed to say that my mind is often in the future when it needs to be here in the now with my child talking to me. This principle, although not in the book was taught to me last night.

Anyway, I said my one minute point, well almost said 1/4 of my point. It's hard to think and present in such a crunch of time. I wasn't always sure what everyone meant. We are at different levels of education some having read more then others.

I also learned this morning that I did not understand what it meant when I said I'd give 100 percent of myself for this learning experience. What is 100% anyway? Compared to what or who.

I tell you I was hit with self doubting this morning I started to cry. Am I kidding myself. Can I related or experience epiphanies while trying to understand and gain meaning for me from the selected reading from the O.T. and John Winthrop?

I don't know. All I can do is try. Actually it more then try. I can pray for an open mind to what God would have me to learn. I can exercise my faith.

I yelled out last night, NO! when the question of memorizing the 28 principles of freedom from the 5,000 Year Leap book was suggested by our mentor. What is the deal with that?! I felt so hostile towards the idea of having to memorize. This sound so elementary to me. What is this fear or better I feel like it's a steel wall crashing down in front of me when ever I thought of having to memorize these points. I don't want to feel this way. Education requires hard work and memorizing is part of that work. I prayed in my mind a lot this morning.

As we left just after 9am for the State Fair, I decided to take my copy of the 28 principles. And as I entered the roundabout to go westbound I felt a change in my mind and my steel wall was lifted. I said to myself that I want to learn these fundamental principles of freedom. And really, this angry resentful feeling has now subsided. This is a spiritual blessing for me. I see this as God hearing my cry and wanting me to learn.

On the trip to and from SLC, I memorized 1,2,3,26,27,and28. Divine Nature, Virtue/Moral Strength, Elected Leaders, Core Unit, Debt/Subjugation, Manifest Destiny; these are my key trigger words.

The second principle that I was taught last night also did not come directly from the assigned reading. I had mentioned my theory which I posted yesterday, and then how de Tocqueville said in his Democracy in America that the family unit in 1830's was so organized, strong, and a desire to be with. Yet in Europe at that very time he said the disconnection of family had been going on for some time. I wondered if there was any connection to my thought process with the I.S.S. of 1905.
Dr. Schulthies didn't say yes, but he processed to read from the second vol. of de Tocqueville about the placement of man and women. I felt like I have never been told or rather understood and frankly I still don't understand the greatness it is to be called WOMAN. I learned that I and my daughters need to know this value. It's more then just saying you are a daughter of God. It's nice, but it's not fulfilling.

Epiphanies to explore: 1. Listening in the present and 2. Beautiful Womanhood.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Response To Comment From September 2 Post...

I appreciated what you said about the Pevensie's. I think if a great epidemic hit my area, I too would send my children away and stay to assist using my nursing skills. Although I'd much rather be with my children.

I can hardly go to the library for a few hours of personal study without wondering how my family's doing and what they are doing. I miss them.

I think the point of my post is whether this idea that publishers during the early part of the twentieth century influenced a change in children's literature to the point of disconnecting families. When Gove and I read this page in The Underground History of American Education, it was a sudden opening to many books we have read to the children without realizing the connection. Below is the first paragraph I was referring to. However, I think the additional paragraphs are informative from the same pages of 126-127.

"Another dramatic switch in children’s books had to do with a character’s dependence on community to solve problems and to give life meaning. Across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, strength, afforded by stable community life, was an important part of narrative action, but toward the end of the nineteenth century a totally new note of "self" was sounded. Now protagonists became more competent, more in control; their need for family and communal affirmation disappeared, to be replaced by a new imperative—the quest for certification by legitimate authority. Needs now suddenly dominant among literary characters were so-called "expressive needs": exploring, playing, joy, loving, self-actualizing, intriguing against one’s own parents. By the early twentieth century, a solid majority of all children’s books focus on the individual child free from the web of family and community.

This model had been established by the Horatio Alger books in the second half of the nineteenth century; now with some savage modern flourishes (like encouraging active indifference to family) it came to totally dominate the children’s book business. Children were invited to divide their interests from those of their families and to concentrate on private concerns. A few alarmed critical voices saw this as a strategy of "divide and conquer," a means to separate children from family so they could be more easily molded into new social designs. In the words of Mary Lystad, the biographer of children’s literary history from whom I have drawn heavily in this analysis:

As the twentieth century continued, book characters were provided more and more opportunities to pay attention to themselves. More and more characters were allowed to look inward to their own needs and desires.

This change of emphasis "was managed at the expense of others in the family group," she adds.

From 1796 to 1855, 18 percent of all children’s books were constructed around the idea of conformity to some adult norm; but by 1896 emphasis on conformity had tripled. This took place in the thirty years following the Civil War. Did the elimination of the Southern pole of our national dialectic have anything to do with that? Yes, everything, I think. With tension between Northern and Southern ways of life and politics resolved permanently in favor of the North, the way was clear for triumphant American orthodoxy to seize the entire field. The huge increase in conformist themes rose even more as we entered the twentieth century and has remained at an elevated level through the decades since.

What is most deceptive in trying to fix this characteristic conformity is the introduction of an apparently libertarian note of free choice into the narrative equation. Modern characters are encouraged to self-start and to proceed on what appears to be an independent course. But upon closer inspection, that course is always toward a centrally prescribed feeling that you have freedom, not from its actual possession. Thus social planners get the best of both worlds: a large measure of control without any kicking at the traces. In modern business circles, such a style of oversight is known as management by objectives social goal, never toward personal solutions to life’s dilemmas. Freedom of choice in this formulation arises from the ."

Wow! I said. "This is Harry Potter, Magic Tree House, Boxcar Kids, Ender's Game, and Narnia" not that any of these are bad stories. But the fact is there is no family involved with all that the children do. It's not bad what the kids are doing. Yet the books seem to fit into the above statements. All of these books were written after 1930. The books that I felt had family dynamics involved with the plot of the children includes the Laura Ingells Series(1800's), Little Britches by Ralph Moody(1950), Laddie(1913), Strike at Shane's(1893), A Girl of the Limberlost(1909), Freckles(1904), and to a degree The Keeper of the Bees and The Harvester(1911) by Gene Stratton-Porter. The last two books I mention of Gene's are about young men who's parents have died and their journey seeking family and preparing for family life. Mother by K. Norris(1911),Rebbecca of Sunny Brook Farm by K. Wiggin(1903).

Last night I came across a 1905 group called the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. It was set up to "throw light on the world-wide movement of industrial DEMOCRACY known as socialism"(The New York Times Jan.28, 1919). In 1921 they changed to "The League for Industrial DEMOCRACY" due to the USSR term of socialism being strongly repugnant to many Americans. President Wilson had surrounded himself with members of the ISS.

Here is something I think is interesting: " the 1930's the more brilliant young leaders of the movement from WWI days(regading the ISS members) had risen to some of the most prestigious positions in politics, press, publishing houses, radio, academic circles, teaching-training colleges, the National Council of Churches, and just about every other major center of opinion-molding influence" (The 5,000 Year Leap, pg.156-159).

I wonder if these are the publishers that influenced the change that Gatto speaks of in his Underground History of Education of America?

I think this is the question that needs me to find an answer.

Post Note:9/11/08 I just remembered that the Boxcar Kids lost their parents. They do end up with their grandfather. It seemed that their adventures were focused upon themselves. Which would be the case without a parent. But just the fact that parents are written out of the script seems to be a form of disconnecting family.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Annual Utah County Homeschool Picnic Is A Huge Success!!!

The first county wide homeschoolers picnic held at South Fork Park today was a great triumph. Just over 150 people participated.

I love South Forth because the creek whispers sweet sounds to me. The crickets sing all day. The majestic trees provide shade and peaceful areas for quite reflection.

With over 100 children running and splashing, raising the parachute, laughing, singing and having a great time. It might not have been the quiet place
I normally come to; yet it was peaceful.

I was happy to see so many mothers talking and fellowshiping. I think new friendship were made. This is what I was hoping for.

To see more pictures come here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Welcome To Learning...gross!

Don't tell my kids, but the frog dissection which I preformed for them is gross. I did not act sickened. I simply smiled and said how neat and named the internal organs as we found them.
For instance, a frog has 3 liver lobes, the stomach had a partially digested insect. We think it's a cockroach or a beetle. This frog was a female. As such, every free space of the abdominal cavity was full of eggs. Did you know a frog has teeth? I didn't, but I've felt them and it sure does.
Unfortunately the kit did not say what type of frog volunteered for this procedure. Thank goodness for formaldehyde.

We ordered our science kits from Home Science Tools. Besides dissection, we have chemistry, incubator (with four quail eggs which will hopefully hatch this weekend), a bacteria growing kit, and equipment for further chemistry experiments.

Oh, and lets not forget the Owl Pellets. No it's not fecal waste, it's vomit! That's right, you receive a sterilized pullet of owl vomit. A pellet is the undigested hair and bones of the victims the owl has eaten. I did not know that owls can't digest these items and so they vomit about once a day.
The bones are tiny. At this point we have identified a few jaw and skull bones.

Off to the library for a chemistry book. Eli seems determined to create a significant explosion. He also wants to try putting a fire out with baking powder and vinegar.

This is love of learning. I'm here to guide and inspire. Yeap, even when I think it's gross I don't let them know.. After all this may be an area where they find their mission.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reading With Your Spouse...

Would you believe that my PhD husband doesn't like to read? He thinks it's because he was forced to read as a child and never enjoyed it. However, he is willing to read with another person, such as his good wife.

With the in-laws headed back to their home in Minnesota. We returned to our reading of The Underground History of American Education by J T Gatto. You can start reading this interesting book here. It's fun to be in bed reading and the kids coming to listen if they wanted.
While finishing the 6th chapter at section 83 entitled "Death Dies" we read this statement.
"By the early twentieth century, a solid majority of all children's books focus on the individual child free from the web of family and community"
We stopped and listed what we could recall of the books we have read with the children that fit this category. Here they are: Harry Potter, Narnia, Series of Unfortunate Events, Ender's Game, Boxcar Children, and Magic Tree House. Oh and Goose Girl, Book of a Thousand Days,...

So what books have we read that include family? Let's see off the top of my head I'd say Little Britches series, Laddie, (Freckles, The Keeper of the Bees, and The Harvester are novels where the main character has lost his family and longs to create family ties. Does that count?)
Wow, this is harder or I'm just tired. O.K. there's Heidie, Mother, Rebbecca of Sunny Brook Farm?,(my kids are helping me with this now) Little Women. Little House Series, Book of Mormon, Bible,...

I'm just back from weeding, and now must scoot to the library . Our books are due today!

Summer's Gone???

I think so.
It snowed on the top of Mt. Timpanogos yesterday.
I found a coating of ice on the deck this morning.
Sadly, none of my tomatoes are red yet. The peaches have not ripened either.
I saw October coming, across Septembers land... lets not get to October yet!

Our first county wide homeschool picnic is this Friday. I have about 130 people planning to attend. Lets hope for nice weather. I know it will be lovely up the canyon at any rate.

All our company left yesterday afternoon. Today we super cleaned the living room, library, and kitchen. Lots of laundry. The dust of summer had really piled up I'm embarrassed to admit. It should be good for another 6 months maybe longer.
Last Week In Review:
Eli graduated from Webelos, into the Scouting program. His parents even managed to help him earn his Arrow of Light.

I with my daughters in tow, drove a 17 foot U-haul to Monticello on Friday the 29th. We helped my friend Jenny move there. She has a lovely apartment. Six men from church showed up to help unload the truck and in two hours everything was in the house. Gove drove down later in the evening. He was pleased to not have to move boxes up to the second floor. Jenny said this is her first home with so much storage built in. I think she is going to thrive and develop her mission while living and attending GWU there.

Since we were already in the neighborhood, we attended the Saturday morning groundbreaking for George Wythe University. I'm not sure what the elevation is for Monticello but it's windy and dryer there then here in Provo. I expected a greater turn out but I guess with the higher cost of traveling it wasn't to be.

Here it is September! Wow the years keep getting faster for me. In eight days I start attending my first college class again. I am interested to see how this event is going to progress. I have had a couple concerns since reading about the credentials of the founder of this university.

The days go by and life has been good to us. A blessing it is to awake to a new day.