Organic School

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Teens working on Shakespeare scenes

I have stepped in to help….coordinate?……teach?…a weekly homeschool learning center sort of thing for teens. Near the end of it’s first year of operation, it has consistently attracted about 10 teens to each quarterly session. This is a pretty good number considering our relatively rural setting. The difficult moments of realizing that we are asking the teens to do things outside their comfort zone are balanced by the “Ah ha” moments when they do not want to break for lunch because we are still discussing ( arguing?) about something that came up in “class”. Now, we are abandoning the social studies premise for “class” in favor of sheer discussion. This should help set them up to work with a writer friend next Fall when she teaches them basic essay writing. After all, the real trick is to have ideas that one is compelled to convey. It is not so difficult to learn to convey them!

And just to be perfectly honest, at least 3 of the ten teens dropped out of the Shakespeare scenes class pictured above….again, outside of their comfort zone, especially the comfort zone of those with reading difficulties. Imagine trying to get through a Shakespeare couplet full of unusual words if vowel sounds are still a bit confusing.

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Homeschooling on the ski slopes

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Sometimes I think of how easy it would be send my two teenagers off to school in the morning… I could have uninterrupted time to write cover letters for teaching jobs, work in my studio, revise my resume, see friends, take one friend up on a ski lesson offer, etc. Then I drive my daughter to her 10AM violin lesson where she plays Vivaldi under the tutelage of a gifted and passionate teacher. (Our school district has no strings program anyway) Next, I drop my daughter and her friend off with the friend’s mother to go to a group horse riding lesson where the two girls are going to work on jumping and then a free Latin class. (Our school district does not offer Latin) I go home, and realize that now that I do not have to pick my daughter up later thanks to the help of the other mom, I can go home, pick up my son, and head off to ski with him for a couple of warm afternoon hours. He is practicing a few things: how to do a 180 in the air off the jumps in the terrain park, and also how to teach skiing. It is a win win situation for me, as he happens to be a very good teacher and has me 100% more confident and focused on using varied pressure of my feet to steer, among lots of other things. He watches me and makes suggestions, and by the end of the afternoon, he has persuaded me to go down “Hell’s Gate”, an extremely steep icy slope named so as to dissuade middle aged novice skiers to even think of attempting it. This is what a good homeschooling day looks like. We are taking advantage of the weather, our moods, our discounted season pass, our geography, and our flexibility. We will do some math tonight in front of the fire, and go to our once a week homeschool cooperative tomorrow.

The Moment

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Ever a wanna-be practitioner of zen appreciation of the moment, I began looking forward to a needed visit to the laundromat. Our washing machine broke, and it will be several more days before a repairman can find his way to our rural residence.

I am envious of the true practitioners of zen meditation who can sit for hours with nothing in their hands, only the thoughts in their head that they are skillfully sorting into helpful layers of nutritious mulch. or something like that.

I, on the other hand, had my crutch with me, my digital drawing tablet. Armed with a sketchbook of any type, I can completely engross myself in the moment anywhere. (Perhaps the most challenging ” anywhere” ever, was the white classroom wall that my first art school painting teacher told us to draw…but that also came with the competitive and challenging drawing class environment…not exactly just any old anywhere)

Perhaps a time will come when I will be without my crutch. I think of prisoners, hospital patients, people crippled by disease. Will my mind be able to savor the moment enveloping it then?