Seven Quick Takes: Dumb Homeschoolerz and Book Memes

— 1 —

I thought it was quaint that the New York Times ran a 1971 column from Dick Cavett on their Opinion Pages recently. My first clue was the dusty reference to the rhythm method and “Vatican roulette.” I bet that killed them, back in the day! The great thing is that now we have Internet access and can use esoteric tools like Wikipedia to find out what Natural Family Planning is and is not. We sure have progressed since those hazy days of misinformation and lazy stereotypes of Catholics! Ha! Ha!

Cavett also bravely takes on the newfangled practice of home schooling. He knows what’s what, because his parents were teachers and had to deal with students’ parents who were D-U-M dumb.

My parents were teachers and the thought of home-schooling sent them rolling before they were in their graves. Especially when parents, complaining of their kids’ schooling, wrote in report card responses things like “I am loathe to critacize…”; “my childs consantration”; “normalicy”; “my daughter’s abillaties”; “her examatian grades”; “she should of done better”; “greater supervizion,” etc., into the night.

What’s really needed are the proper qualifications. These parents must be closely monitored!

I think of the mournful home-school kid watching his friends board the school bus, laughing, gossiping and enjoying all that vital socialization we call schooldays.

Besides, aren’t you arguably a better person for having gone to school rather than having it funneled into you by dreary old Ma or Pa in their faded bathrobes at home?

I will have you know, sir, that my bathrobe is both brightly-colored and functional, with plenty of pockets. It complements my tinfoil hat.

Really, I was shocked to learn that people are still this obtuse about home schooling. I know it’s fun to pick on rednecks and that Rick Santorum is a lightning rod for every possible Boogedy Man of conservatism, Catholicism, and sweater vests, but COME ON.

You’re going to argue that home educators are a bunch of dummies? This is why I wear my Phi Beta Kappa key on my handmade silk Japanese schoolmistress robe.*

Look. We are not the poster children for homeschooling. We careen wildly from unschooling to super-serious-structured schooling; we don’t grind our own millet; we have never mummified a chicken. I’m not even sure we’re in it for the long haul. But what originally got me thinking about this choice was my belief in the primacy of parents as the first educators of their own children.

I spent 10 years as a teacher. I chose to homeschool after seeing that parents make even more difference in their kids’ education than teachers do.  Parents who are intellectually curious – and who pass that along – have children who will, by and large, enjoy more success than children from other home environments, regardless of the schooling situation.

There are sacrifices we’re making, and I do worry about socialization at times, but there are also tremendous benefits. We check out upwards of 30 books a week from the library and the kids tear through them like they’re Calvin and Hobbes books (which, every once in a while, they are.). We can go on a field trip and not be herded through a museum exhibit with 50 other kids who are also supposed to be contemplating the difference between an amethyst and a garnet. We have flexibility with our time and our imaginations. You can call us quirky, but please don’t call us dumb.

— 2 —

Uh…that was not a quick take. Pardon me.

Take #2: The Kindle Meme! Originally started by The Curt Jester, I happened upon this at Happy Catholic Bookshelf:

So, here are the rules. You post the rules and a link back to the person who tagged you. You also tell them that they’ve been tagged on their own blog, rather than just hoping they’ll discover it for themselves. Then you decide what three books are essential reading for anyone with a Kindle. Reasons would be good, but not essential. Then you tag five people.

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I LOVE it. I haven’t acquired *that* many books yet, but here are three things I’ve enjoyed:

  • Reading blogs is fun again, thanks to the RSS reader. Google Reader on my computer is so irritating to navigate now that I’d largely stopped using it to read blogs. Consequently, I was missing out on some great stuff – lots of smaller blogs I’d subscribed to long ago but forgotten about. I have a folder called “Learn Something New Every Day” and it includes Michael Baruzzini’s The Deeps of Time – “a blog dedicated to science and its interaction with the Catholic faith.”
  • I love being able to check out library books in Kindle format – enjoyed this novella, All My Friends Are Superheroes.
  • I also love being able to take notes via highlights or copy and paste into Evernote. I am still working my way through David Lodge’s A Man of Parts, a literary autobiography of H.G. Wells. Wells was a member of the Fabian Society and so it’s been helpful, when reading the Kindle version, to quickly look up information about the society and other prominent members mentioned in the book. If I were reading the print version, I’d probably gloss over a lot of things with which I wasn’t familiar.

If you have a Kindle, or have ever used kindling, I hereby tag you!

— 3 —

A few weeks ago, I backed into my husband’s car while still in the driveway. A lifelong fear has been realized. Fortunately, the damage wasn’t sufficient to require an insurance claim, because I really wasn’t looking forward to that phone call to the insurance agency. Now, my kids are constantly providing helpful input on my driving. This is my penance.

— 4 —

Via Why I Am Catholic, I think this movie about the rebirth of Nagasaki after the atomic bomb looks like it could be quite good:

You can help fund the production of All That Remains at Indiegogo. I really hope this film gets made. The production blog has stills from the film and beautiful photographs of Japan.

— 5 —

A few weeks ago, I made a batch of homemade playdough – I think I used this recipe from The Imagination Tree. I added a bit of lavender oil to the mix and it really improved upon the “play-dough experience,” which for me is normally quite traumatic. The kids sat for hours creating structures, animals, ROCKET I NEED A ROCKET SHIP PLEASE BUILD A ROCKET.

I actually enjoyed sitting with them, which was partly due to the fact that we weren’t on a carpeted surface, partly due to the aromatherapy, and partly due to them being pretty good kids, on balance. Plus, the dough has somehow remained non-moldy and soft in the refrigerator, which was a nice surprise. I can’t exaggerate my hostility towards normal Play-doh(TM) and so this really is somewhat miraculous.

— 6 —

What do you call this bug?

Crane fly
I’ve been calling it a “mayfly,” but apparently it’s a crane fly. GeekLady calls it a “mosquito hawk,” but whatever it is: they are EVERYWHERE. I have to caution the children to immediately close the doors upon entering the minivan, lest it become filled with not-mayflies. They don’t bite or do anything especially pernicious, and they’re a terrific source of entertainment for the three-year-old, but I shudder to think what this portends for the arrival of mosquito season.

— 7 —

We’ve been having some incredible sunsets recently. I snapped this the other evening after dropping my kids off at one of the Many Enriching Educational Activities in Which We Partake (still smarting about Take #1, yes). This is the old sugar mill in Sugar Land. I look forward to owning a real camera but sometimes my Droid takes pretty good pictures.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 *I realize this statement is completely obnoxious. I also wish to credit Matthew Lickona with the masterful addition of “handmade silk Japanese schoolmistress” to the original sentence as part of the unsuccessful campaign to make this A Thing, namely, a letter to the NYT.

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  1. says

    that bug looks like a male mosquito but what do I know?

    I’m thinking of making playdough for my grandbaby.

    My kids comment on my driving al the time. Usually after a small thunk “Close enough mom” – hey they are snowbanks. 😛

    • says

      I should have put an orange next to the bug for scale purposes. Because they are THAT big. Of course, Texas does have some mutant mosquitoes, too.

    • says

      It might look like a mosquito, but it’s enormous, even for Texas where everything is bigger. The wing/legspan of these things is about the size of a nickle, and the body is about half an inch long.

  2. says

    When I was a kid in Houma Louisiana, we had our own sugar cane plantation, Southdown, which refined & sold the sugar to the local stores. I had to move to SC to figure out that sugar usually came from further away.

    The Southdown mansion had beautiful stained glass around the entrance with a charming sugarcane motif.

    • says

      I didn’t mean to suggest that the Imperial Sugar building isn’t every bit as lovely. And being in Texas it’s of course much bigger.

    • says

      Well, I failed to follow directions, and sent the letter after the 7-days-from-original-article requirements (because I sent it after midnight last Friday…er, Saturday morning). I’m sure that’s why it wasn’t published. Nothing to do with the content! Ha! Ha!

  3. says

    Mummify a chicken?? Now THAT is a reason to homeschool. You’ve completely sold me. Now I just need a chicken, some sand, and a heavy duty dehumidifier. This is the Gulf Coast.

    GeekBaby has been insistent on ‘playing school’ so on my weekdays at home with him, I’ve put together an impromptu preschool curriculum. We play with counting bears, do the weekly activity from Slow and Steady Get Me Ready, and have a reading lesson if he’s feeling particularly cooperative.

  4. says

    geeklady- it is so much more fun to ‘play’ school- my two big girls give the two littles a ‘Lovebug class’ every day

    Dorian- I am writing a post in response (I’ll link back- as a former English major, I am into giving proper credit.)

  5. says

    That bug, in New Jersey, is known as a “mosquito eater” and he is welcome around here ANYTIME. He can get all the mosquitoes before they get me.

    As to kids commenting on your driving–it gets worse when they hit driving age! I have one with a license and one about to get a permit. Amazingly, I’d rather sit in the passenger seat with my 20-year-old son driving than many other drivers I know.