Living in the Past

I’ve been thinking about the words “living in the past” a lot lately. It came up because of Jethro Tull being played in the car but for some reason the phrase really has stuck with me. There are so many ways to be living in the past. You could be angry about something that has happened and cannot be resolved. You could have had a wonderful period in your life and now that it’s over you don’t want to move on. You could be romanticizing how it would be to live in another time period that you model your world on it and don’t come out. No matter what, you’re missing today when you live in the past.

If you’re angry about something that has happened; a situation that didn’t go well, someone hurt you, something didn’t work out as you had hoped that it would, you can’t sit in the now and continue to be angry. What would help you move on to the new? Do it. You’re missing your present! You’re missing the family, job, house, car, plant, pet, or whatever that you have right now.

If you had a wonderful time in your life and it’s over for whatever reason, don’t just sit there reminiscing! Find the new wonderful. Life can still be good, maybe in a different way.

If you think living in the woods, off the land, on the beach, in Victorian England, would be the best life ever, I understand that! But there is so much good in our current time. I wouldn’t change being able to see pictures of my family from all over the country at the touch of a button for any cabin in the woods with a vegetable garden.

When I find myself dwelling on the past and what could have been, I stop and think to myself “This is depression sneaking up on me and it lies like the devil!” I won’t have it. I won’t let what could have been take away what I have now or stop me from looking for what is coming in the future! What has happened to me was not in my control, but how I respond to it is, regardless of how I feel in the moment it happens.

Locke on Learning to Read

Harvard Classics reading today was from John Locke’s “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”. I didn’t read the whole book, just the excerpt that the reading list suggests, but I’m definitely putting this on my “to-read” list!

The part I did read was about teaching children to read. I’m always amazed when I find bits of the ideas behind “unschooing” or “life learning” in old books. Here are a few quotes.

“When he can talk, ’tis time he should begin to learn to read. But as to this, give me leave here to inculcate again, what is very apt to be forgotten, viz. That great care is to be taken, that it be never made as a business to him, nor he look on it as a task.”

He goes on to talk of games to be be played, setting an example of how important and fun reading is, and how good it is for mothers to read to their children. All things we’ve done as our children have grown. There were never “lessons” or coercion. Some of his ideas are a bit contrived but I think it’s because there wasn’t as much print in his day as there is now. There are so many natural instances to point out letters and sounds today that you really can’t avoid learning to read.

“Children are much less apt to be idle than men;” Now there is something you don’t see much outside the radical unschooler message boards. They really are. You always hear about kids and their abounding energy. They really want to be busy doing a million things. Keep finding things for them to interest their minds and bodies about!

“’Tis better it be a year later before he can read, than that he should this way get an aversion to learning. If you have any contest with him, let it be in matters of moment, of truth, and good nature; but lay no task on him about ABC.” That’s something I’ve been telling people as long as I’ve had kids. It’s something people can’t get their brains around. I always hear, “But he’ll be behind!” We’re homeschooling. Who will he be behind? No one is behind. You are exactly where you need to be. Harassing a child to learn something faster than he is willing or able to learn, only creates tension and aversion to learning anything.

“And if those about him will talk to him often about the stories he has read, and hear him tell them, it will, besides other advantages, add encouragement and delight to his reading, when he finds there is some use and pleasure in it.” We learn so much from conversation. Young people love to talk and so few adults will take the time to listen to what they have to say. You may not really be interested in the book, movie, or game they love, but take the time to really listen. Ask questions about it. Find out what it is that they love about it. It’s so important to their education, more than any lesson.

And one more. Seriously, I could just quote the whole book! “the right way of teaching that language (French), which is by talking it into children in constant conversation, and not by grammatical rules.” Isn’t that the way we learn our own language? We don’t need grammatical rules for our own language, yet we speak fluently and correctly. Why would we not to that in a classroom? Can you imagine a class that you went to for an hour or so a day, where everyone spoke the language you were learning? Instead of meeting in a classroom you met at the park, the grocery store, the post office, and the museum each day and just walked and talked, over lunch or tea. Wow. I want that!

I love finding treasures like this! I can’t wait to read more.

What’s Wrong With Dollar General?

In my town, if you mention Dollar General you might get a dirty look. It’s like you made a deal with Satan. It’s second only to shopping at Walmart. Everyone does, you’re just not supposed to mention it in a positive way. But why? Dollar General is a competitor of Walmart. It’s a viable option for cheaper goods. But apparently, from conversations I’ve had, people around here believe both should not exist. Why?

Say I live in a small desert town and there are two options nearby for shopping necessities (a gallon of milk, loaf of bread, as my husband so often says). These two stores are small “Mom & Pop” establishments that also pump gas. A loaf of bread at this place costs $5. That’s kind of steep for a family of four. Our family usually uses about two loaves a week, $10 a week, $40 a month, for bread.

I could drive down to the bigger town ten miles away if I had a car. There’s a big Walmart and two grocery stores there with $1.99 bread. That cuts my cost to less than half! Maybe I wouldn’t need to be so stingy with the bread. $4 a week, $16 a month. I have to add in gas now but I’d probably get more than just bread and I’d probably do it once a week. But what if I didn’t have a car? Or I shared one with the whole family? I’d have to take the bus down to town. That creates a grocery store run that takes most of the day. It takes the bus approximately an hour to get from our town to the next. Shop, only buy what you can carry on the bus, and another hour back home.

So then I hear that a Dollar General is planning on opening up in our little town. I’m pretty excited. My cost of living will go down. I’ll have money for other things. It will be easier for me to feed my family. Some people in our area may have the opportunity for some work close to home. But then I hear people (who mostly don’t live in my neighborhood) are signing a petition to stop Dollar General from building.

I’ve heard some reasons that those people would object. One is that Dollar General will drive out small businesses, like that little grocery next to the gas station. I can understand that sentiment. But it is sentiment, a feeling or emotion. I like our little rural town but I also like to have a job and eat. The little store in our town doesn’t hire new people very often. And I can’t afford the nice bread and meat they offer. I’m not buying their products. People who can afford their stuff will still shop there because they can and like to. Those that are poorer because they have to buy the higher priced goods will be richer because now they will have a cheaper option.

I see one problem and that’s “light pollution”. Desert dwellers tend to cherish their night skies. A big bright sign and parking lot lights will cause grief. I bet they could work on that. Hire a security guard and turn off the lights after 10pm. There are probably other ways.

Another positive is that it’s competition for Walmart. I feel like Walmart used to be pretty darn great to get as big as it has, but it has few competitors now and is getting lazy. Their service is getting poorer and products are TOO cheap. But they have no incentive to do things differently because you have no other place to shop. Dollar General changes that. It’s the same with the grocery stores. Walmart’s grocery department is unimpressive. It is cheaper at times, but they don’t have all the options I’d like and I’d have to wait way too long with groceries in my cart due to the lack of open registers. So I go to the grocery store instead. For some, it’s the cost. They don’t have the money for higher prices at Vons, so they go to Walmart. Choices are a good thing!

I’ve never seen an ugly run down Dollar General. They pay to have the street modified so that you can turn into their parking lot safely. They landscape and keep their part of the neighborhood clean and pleasant. And they offer much of the same merchandise Walmart does at a competitive price. And in our town they just created several jobs to be had by local people.

What more do people want?

Cicero’s “On Old Age”

“There is therefore nothing in the arguments of those who say that old age takes no part in public business. They are like men who would say that a steersman does nothing in sailing a ship, because, while some of the crew are climbing the masts, others hurrying up and down the gangways, others pumping out the bilge water, he sits quietly in the stern holding the tiller.”

Voter Registration

Our governor signed a bill to let the DMV automatically register people to vote when they get a driver’s license in our state. The reasoning behind it, from what I could find, is that voter participation is low and they believe that the reason that is so is because it is too difficult to register to vote. Really? Too difficult? Going to the post office, picking up a card, filling out your name and address, and dropping it into a mailbox is too hard? What about actually voting? Is that too hard too? Maybe we should just automatically vote as well.

The reason behind this bill is ridiculous and most likely a lie, in my opinion. If registering to vote is the difficult barrier between you and voting, what kind of voter are you? Are you going to research what you’re voting for? I mean, that’s a lot of work. I feel like I’m a minimally informed voter. I don’t work outside the home. But I still find it difficult and tedious to research who and what I’m voting for. I can’t find the truth about anything we have on these ballots. And all the candidates seem pretty shady to me.

I find it strange that last year we decided to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses because somehow that would make them safer drivers while they are here. And now, the DMV register’s voters? Oh, but don’t worry, they are going to verify eligibility to vote. How? When I registered to vote, I put my driver’s license number on the card. The idea is that if you have a driver’s license, you must have shown your birth certificate or visa to a DMV worker. I had a driver’s license with the wrong name on it for awhile. I was supposed to be getting married in a month and my wallet had been stolen so I had to replace my license. I had mentioned that to the DMV guy and he just changed my name for me without any prompting or documentation of who I was. And now you legally don’t need to show any documentation of who you actually are or where you came from to get a driver’s license. What are they going to check to be sure you are eligible?

And then there is the whole debate on whether or not we should vote at all. It seems pretty pointless. And there are decent arguments against participating in a immoral and useless A great start to the idea is written here.

Who do they think they are?

I found this article posted online yesterday afternoon.

My first response was, who do they think they are? First of all, I’m not really a fan of HSLDA, mostly because I don’t agree with mixing politics and religion. They tend to be alarmist (which isn’t always wrong) and they tend to get caught up in things outside the realm of homeschooling, like parental rights. That would be fine if they did have the name homeschool in their title. But that’s not what I got worked up about in this article.

The author is appalled by the lack of oversight and regulation of home schooling across the country. It seems to me they have a fundamental problem with their logic. Or maybe their premise is wrong. If you believe that children belong ultimately belong to the state or society, then she would be right to be outraged. But the truth is that they do not. Children belong to their parents. Yes, they have rights as individual human beings and parents would do well to remember that. But ultimately, parents are responsible for the children they bring into this world, not the state.

Think of it this way.

If the government hired teachers to educate the state’s children, they must pass a test of muster to get that job and do it for the government.

If parents hire teachers to educate their children, it’s up to them to decide what qualifications they need to get that job and do it for them, just like who does our yard work or works on our car.

Parents that home educate have chosen to do that job themselves. It’s not up to the state to decide whether or not I am qualified to do that job. Just like if I’d rather paint the house myself, or go to the doctor or not, this is my decision to make.

THAT is why homeschooling is unregulated and should remain so, if we wish to remain a free country. They are not the state’s children!

I don’t think I’m writing this as well as it should be written. I’m a citizen of a state. That state offers a free education to all children. It decides what the qualifications should be to teach at their schools. But if I choose not to use those free schools, it’s up to me to decide who is good enough to teach my children, not the state.

Thoughts on Hippocrates

My Harvard Classics list lead me to Hippocrates this morning. I found two interesting quotes.

From “The Oath of Hippocrates”

“I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.”

Life was sacred 2500 years ago.

And from “The Law of Hippocrates”

“First of all, a natural talent is required; for, when Nature leads the way to what is most excellent, instruction in the art takes place, which the student must try to appropriate to himself by reflection, becoming an early pupil in a place well adapted for instruction.”

‘Natural talent is required”, I’d say that goes for any subject. Everyone at any age should be encouraged in their natural talents. I hear often, “My child is doing great in reading, but math is harder for him so we’re doing more of math.” Why? His natural talent is in reading, why not encourage and develop that instead? Don’t you think he’ll find math when he is more naturally ready to learn those things?

I find it strange that older texts understand education and children better than our current times. I find it heartbreaking to watch what we currently do to children and then wonder why they have so many learning and emotional difficulties.

What would happen if we let children develop their natural talents instead?

Blogging and Ideas

I started my blog with the intention of writing daily and did fairly well…for awhile. I seem to have lost my initiative though. At first I’d sit down to write what was on my mind and have no trouble at all but I soon ran into trouble. Sometimes I’d have too much to write about. I’d have read something that gave me a couple topics, heard something on one of the podcasts I listen to, or read something online and I couldn’t decide which was more important. Then I’d just give up that day. A few days later, the opposite would happen!

Today I was listening to Isaac Morehouse’s podcast and the subject came up. Someone asked what he does to remember and use more of what he reads. I’ve had that question as well. What makes me really understand and make my ideas concrete is talking. I have few outlets for that, so I write. I’m not the best of writers but at least I think I can get my ideas across. And once I write about them they do seem to be more stuck in my consciousness. He said he stores up ideas in files or lists when he has a lot to write about, just enough to remind him of the feeling and thought and get back to it.

(And now my sons have come in from the garage and started talking and distracting me!)

Another thing that came up in that podcast this morning was something I had heard and have discussed before but about children and learning. When you read a book you don’t need to understand and completely GET everything in the book while you’re reading it. Some of the nourishment is subconscious. You may not think you’ve understood any of it at all. But it’s in your brain somewhere. You just need to keep reading, writing, and discussing. Those ideas will come back around and fit into new information as it comes up.

I’ve used that idea when talking to homeschoolers about reading to their kids. Unlike a classroom, the children in a family are different ages but that doesn’t mean you should read only books the youngest will understand. We read books that are just beyond the level of the oldest child listening. There are many starts and stops and questions, and sometimes the littlest would be playing with toys or a computer while we read, but the information is still there. And when they read or hear something else, the information they have stored up from the past is used to make sense of the new ideas. It’s pretty amazing to see in action, in myself and my children!