Friday, 25 September 2015
As the World Meeting of Families draws to a close, I have been reflecting on my own family through the lens of its theme, Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive. We began home schooling when my oldest son was in second grade. That single decision has made our lives together more a celebration of family as the sanctuary of love and life than anything else my husband and I have done. One of the unique gifts of home schooling is how it challenges each of us to love one another more purely and sacrificially, and enables us to focus on each person’s unique gifts and interests in order to make them fully alive and active, both for our own family and the family of society. A Musical Home I maintain that position because I know piano is the best musical foundation to build on; every musician I know says so (and I live in Nashville). And music is a beautiful foundation for other noble endeavors. Proven to support and nurture logic skills and creativity, kids in the arts also perform better on standardized tests, watch fewer hours of TV, participate in more community service, and report less boredom in school. Music is nurturing in more areas than I wish to document with footnotes. Family as Music In our home school, Tuesday is Music Day. EVERYONE LOOKS FORWARD TO TUESDAYS! The boys beg to practice and do more than the required 30 minutes. They eagerly gather their music books and rush to the car to arrive at their lessons early. Um… not exactly. The truth involves much more messiness. But that’s how life, and family life in particular, really is, right? My 16-year-old accuses me of forcing him to stay in piano because I love it myself. He wants to play guitar or drums. I want him to also, and hope he does. But while he lives at home, he’s going to play piano at least. Although we suffered five years or so of his regular, ear-bleeding piano practices at our house, we have reached the lovely point that my 16-year-old is playing Rachmaninoff and Chopin. He makes up for the current ear-bleeding practices of the youngest. And I love it all. When listening to my oldest practice, hearing the music that leaves his fingertips makes me weep—like bawl an ugly cry sometimes— although I don’t let him see that. I just hide somewhere I can hear him and let it out in thanksgiving to God, for music and motherhood, for sons who persevere, for a husband who works so hard in order that I can stay home, and for the best piano teacher I have ever encountered. Like King Saul, who was only sane when young David played for him (1 Sam 16:23), I am touched and more at ease in the soul when my son practices. My husband often falls asleep listening to him play. Our cat sits on the piano and meows if he stops. Life as Music But my son gets agitated and upset at his mistakes and faults. He swears under his breath at every missed note and rest. Sometimes he gets very angry at missing the same note or measure over and over and over. He throws the music and forces away from the piano in a wrath. But as I listen to him practice, all I hear is glory. At this point in his musical life, even his practice is beautiful. And what I realized, through him, is that God feels the same way about us. Isn’t the messiness of practicing at love—for family, for God, for our neighbor—the essence of life? “And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Gal 6:9). Is there a sin you have been battling for weeks or months, maybe even years? Is there a virtue or habit you’re trying to cultivate that you fail in more than you succeed? Is there a goal you’ve been striving toward but missing for what seems like ages? The family is there to create a supportive environment and help us in the most frustrating moments of our humanity. It takes the love of a mother and father to offer the patience needed to walk with children in their struggles of development. Can you remember a time when your parents or loved ones guided you to virtuous habits? If you have children of your own, have you passed on any of those habits to them? No matter what we may be trying to achieve in life, there will be some ugly moments and some wrong notes played on the road to the goal; but when surrounded by those who love you…even your practice is beautiful. Sonja is a Scripture evangelist, wife, and homeschooling mother from Nashville whose Bible study show, Pursuing the Summit broadcasts on Real Life Radio. Her new release, Unleashed, is airing now on Catholic TV and is available wherever books are sold. Find her at pursuingthesummit.com.
Monday, 17 August 2015
Shameful, for such a technologically advanced country! This is not news: America does pretty badly when it goes up against other countries academically. This is true even if we take it one state at a time—no single state, no matter how wealthy or small, matches the top scoring countries. And yet, the U.S. spends more per student than many other countries in the world. The U.S. is not even in the top 15 countries of the world even though they spend more money than the other countries in almost every category. That is according to an international test of mathematical reasoning skills given to 15-year-olds. So why is U.S. Education so bad? Amanda Ripley decided to find out. She started asking random people what they thought and she followed up on their ideas. The same theories came up over and over: People blamed poverty and diversity for the difference between U.S. students and students everywhere else. But when Ripley dug into the numbers, she discovered that, while those are factors, they don't fully explain the difference. No adult could give her a satisfactory answer, so she went to the experts: kids. Kids spend more time in school than anyone. They've got strong opinions about school. They have opinions on what is working. She talked to the only students who could have firsthand knowledge of the differences between schools in top-performing countries and those in the U.S.: American kids who were exchange students in those countries. She surveyed hundreds of exchange students and found three major points that they all agreed on. The students all said that in their host countries: 1. School is harder. There's less homework but the material is more rigorous. People take education more seriously, from selecting the content to selecting the teachers. 2. Sports are just a hobby. In the U.S., sports are a huge distraction from the business of school, but that's not the case in other countries. 3. Kids believe there's something in it for them. The students in other countries deeply believe that what they are doing in school affects how interesting their lives were going to be. Even if they don't like a class, they see their education as a stepping stone to their future. Story on Upworthy.com We now live in a country where kids are smarter than adults, because it's the adults that try to make school easier! The adults are the driving force behind pushing their kids into sports! And the adults are the ones who give the kids a free ride and push for entitlement!
Sunday, 5 July 2015
With the Department of Education putting the rainbow flag behind their logo on their Facebook page in celebration of the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage it is pretty clear that children will not be getting an unbiased education! Now is the time to flood the homeschooling movement with hundreds of thousands of new students! This will speak louder than anything else to the voices in Washington who have taken away so many of our freedoms. Here is the testimony of an ex-teacher: "As a former Catholic school teacher, I well remember how public school districts hated parents teaching their own children (and all the stereotypical profiles of parents and how it really took a teacher to really teach). The fact that test scores usually exceed pubic schools has been enough to close most of their diatribes. What many might not know is that this attitude also pervaded diocesan schools, as well. This was particularly noticed when parents refused to send their children Catholic schools because they weren't receiving proper Catholic instruction. I only had to quiz my children when they returned from CCD to know this was true. I never had this problem after I revamped the middle school Religion program where I taught, as my 8th grade students always scored above the national norm in religion (as well as my 7th graders - testing at the beginning of their 8th grade year - scoring at the 10 grade level in math and 11th grade level in science). A new principal and Religion was no longer the first concern of the school, though it should always be. Technology rules the day and religion is so passé. With the advent of the bishops’ submission to Common Core (and the collusion between the National Catholic Education Association and the Bill Gates Foundation), the odds are that education across the board will suffer, both at the public and diocesan levels." WRBaker