I just spent a little while (maybe far too long) reading blog posts trying to get inspired. I'm sure I will not accomplish this seven posts in seven days thing, but I'm certainly not about to give up on day two.
I started my day at breakfast with two of my four readers (thanks Ladies!) so anything I might've had to say, I probably already said.
Although some of it bears repeating... parenting teens is hard work!
On the other hand, I came home from breakfast (after a nice walk in a beautiful downtown because the weather was just too perfect not to walk around a little) to my teenagers who I kinda enjoy. Yes, it is hard and like so many things I feel like I'm pretty "middle of the road" in my parenting philosophy, and like so many things sometimes I think the middle of the road is the hardest place to be. Where is too much freedom? Where is too little? When they do so much to help others outside of the home (for pay and not for pay) is it ok that there is a ridiculous pile of shoes right here in the middle of the kitchen that no one seems to see besides me? Should I expect more from them? (maybe) Should I nag less? (absolutely) Would they even listen if I didn't nag? And on and on and on...
But today when I got home we had an enjoyable and educational conversation. Conversations have been the backbone of our homeschooling since the beginning. We're not always in the same place at the same time anymore. Today for a little while my two teenagers and I were. Jonathan and I were discussing his Economics class, his last "homeschool high school class". Something about it reminded me of something that I saw on facebook last night. A mom was questioning something that was in a child's textbook. It was not anything "bad" like all of these common core things that people are up in arms about that I am sure are fake. I'm pretty confident there is not pornography in a 4th grade textbook anywhere in America, we've gone too far as a society, but I have to live my life believing we haven't gone that far yet. Anyway this particular post was nothing like that, it was just something that this mom didn't think seemed educational enough to warrant an appearance in an elementary school textbook. Madi was eager to take a break from her Geometry and jumped into the discussion. As conversation has always been our most important mode of education, I tend to think that things that don't seem educational to some, can be used very educationally. I feel like most of what I'm trying to say, I've said before, but there is just a basic understanding of the world and our role in it, that colors the way I teach my kids. I personally have a sort of 20th century timeline in my head which has personal family things interspersed with actual "History", so that when I think of the end of WWII and the atomic bomb, I also picture my Memere, pregnant with my father, traveling across the country to have her baby. I picture my mother's childhood easily in Mugga and Papa's same kitchen and "parlor" that I knew from my own childhood and even Jonathan and Madi remember it. It was the same kitchen and "parlor" (pronounced pahlah, and it was really called that, not living room or family room, and no they weren't fancy). When I picture my mother's childhood though, it is in black and white, very leave it to beaveresque. I'm pretty sure Madi sort of pictures my childhood with a little bit of Family Ties mixed in. Madi doesn't have the benefit of knowing the houses that I grew up in, but the Keatons had the same pfaltzgraff dishes as us and I definitely wore those awful 80s sweaters. Anyway knowing that Mugga was born during WWI and that Grampa Carlie was born just after WWII, makes history real. It does for me, and it does for my kids. History is not just a bunch of memorized and forgotten dates, it is real lives of real people. The ones that the history books remember and the ones that we'll never forget. With this parenting/teaching/living philosophy in mind perhaps seemingly unnecessary facts fit together to lay out a kind of understanding or society past and present. Does it matter what kind of dishes I had growing up? Maybe so. Maybe that wouldn't be considered educational, but they are certainly dated and that pattern (did you look at it?) is as much 80s as Duran Duran and Ronald Reagan. Not necessarily as important, but they set the stage the same way that the yellow unbreakable comb in your back pocket was there to comb your feathered hair. Madi thinks I have the same hands as Molly Ringwald (she tweeted that recently). I guess they're 80s hands. I think I often picture my mother as a teenager in the same black and white dresses that Betty from Father Knows Best wore. If pop culture helps you to fill in the blanks on real life history, then that's pretty educational to me. A big mall with amusement park rides in Minnesota might not seem very important to school children in Florida, but malls represent a changing of society. In my parents teenage years in small town Connecticut the main street stores were open until 8 on Thursday nights (they closed at 5 every other night...and of course were closed on Sundays). That was when and where everyone did there shopping. That was the same way Beaver and Wally bought their new suits. By my teenage years people went to the mall to do their shopping and malls were open until 9 every night except Sunday. Mallory would shop for her prom dress at the mall. Now malls might be on the way out. We currently have a Chinese teenager living in our house who has turned a bare room into a typical teenage looking room (or maybe not typical, but that's a post for another time), with the internet, a debit card, and piles of her parents' money without even leaving said bedroom. That is culture (in a loose sense), that is current events, that is modern history. It is all educational, and nothing is off limits when it comes to educating my kids.