Saturday, August 14, 2010


4: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5 a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior c: self-control

As I mentioned in another recent post, I read an article that talked about education being an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.  OK, I actually didn't read the article.  I just read the title and decided I needed some time to think about these concepts for myself before reading the article.  I've now home schooled for an entire half-day and I can already see at least one way discipline will be a part of our year.

Some components of discipline are fairly easy for A and I.  We're pretty orderly in our conduct.  We both like prescribed patterns of behavior.  And self-control?  Pretty good at that, too (unless books are involved, then self-control flies out the window).  And I can already see that it will be easy to be disciplined about spending time studying history.  After just one day, A has articulated several key points of the Reformation based on her reading.  Here's a conversation we had at the end of the day while we waited in the air conditioned van for as long as possible before standing outside to wait for B and K in the sultry heat:

Me: "So, how do you think today went?"
A: "Good."
I think: Come up with a better question! One that won't allow a one word answer!
I say: "What did you learn in the history chapter you read?"
A: "Well, they really didn't want the Bible translated into English."
Me: "Why?"
A: "To keep people ignorant."
Me: "Why did they want to keep people ignorant?"
A: "So that people wouldn't know how ignorant they were."
This is not the answer I was anticipating.  Earlier that day, we had talked about the Pope selling Cardinal, Bishop and Arch Bishop positions for his own financial gain. I was anticipating something more along these lines.  So my follow up question was pretty honest:
Me: "Really?"
A: "Yeah.  A lot of the monks couldn't even read and if anyone could read the Bible, they'd know the monks weren't able to read it and were making stuff up."

So I've already learned something and clearly A has, too.  She's a natural at history - making mental leaps and connecting the dots in ways that amaze me, especially when coming from a ten year old.  I told her exactly this following our conversation and said, "Yet you still have to practice your math.  Your mind can do that, too.  Even if you don't like it as much.  I could see you slowing down as you did your worksheet today.  You started out pretty quick and got slower and slower."  A laughed in response and then groaned a bit when I told her we were going to spend the next three minutes quizzing on multiplication facts before getting her sisters.  She went along without complaint and got (most of) the answers correct, if not as quickly as I'd like.

Covering history will require discipline this year:  the self-control kind.  We'll both have to be careful to leave enough time for other subjects (which is why we do math first).  Covering math will require a different kind of discipline - the training, correcting and molding kind.  I don't have high hopes that A will one day be a mathematician.  But I want to equip her to be confident that she can cut a recipe in half, calculate a tip in her head, check unit prices in the store.

I will also need discipline this year.  Having a headache on day one of the school year showed me how challenging it's going to be to teach A when my head hurts.  I'll have to push through anyway.  Whether that means creating a headache back-up plan or cutting one subject out of the day because we've gone slower through my pain, I'm not sure.  But I do know that discipline doesn't happen overnight and won't happen at all if not modeled in my own behavior.


EJN said...

Congratulations on the completion of your first day! That is exciting. Thank you for sharing your conversation.
I am guessing that her unexpected answers will be a means that fill you with joy.
Great Job today. Hope your head fills better soon.
Sending Love and Best wishes in your endeavors this year.

EJN said...

feels not fills. Whoops!

Allison in Texas said...

You'll be great on the daily schedule. Ours changed so much from the beginning of the year to the end. As far as headaches go, remember that at "real" school the kids have subs and days where they don't do anything due to tests and whatnot. So try not to be too hard on yourself.

Kim said...

It is incredibly rewarding when you think you are teaching one thing and the child's brain goes into a different place, helping you to see it differently!

ps - tell A history was always my FAVORITE subject and passion (besides reading)

WordGirl said...

I know at "real" school that kids get subs when their teachers are sick - but most teachers aren't sick five days a month! Need to figure out some way to get the headaches under control since I think the other stuff will come with time. I already made a few little adjustments that I think will make next week go smoother. Thanks for all of the encouragement, guys!

Variations On A Theme said...

sounds like an amazing first day!