Saturday, October 22, 2011

A breakthrough

Je m'excuse à mes lecteurs francophones, mais ce billet sera à nouveau en anglais seulement. Essayez le Mini Site Translator dans la barre de droite (cliquez sur le petit drapeau français, le deuxième), c'est loin d'être parfait, mais c'est lisible! Les prochains billets devraient être dans les deux langues.

Vous pouvez même lire l'échange avec Donna sur en français! Vous pourrez me laisser des commentaires. J'aimerais bien lire votre avis!

Parents et amis, je vous invite à lire ceci, malgré les difficultés engendrées par la compréhension d'une langue seconde (essayez le traducteur automatique, c'est vraiment pas si mal). Cet échange a été très important dans nos réflexions en matière d'école-maison et je partage ici des passages qui ont particulièrement sollicité un positionnement plus clair de notre part.

For those of you who did not follow the conversation we had with Donna in the last post (see the comments at the bottom), I will paste some excerpts here. It was such a rich discussion! I myself experienced a major breakthrough and came to see homeschooling on another level. I think that my reflexions finally came together and its like the music that I was hearing inside finally resonated with the music outside. It is a very powerful feeling and I can already see the transformation in our household.

:: Gifts from friends: A little squirrel with acorn for Mathilde's birthday and candles in volcanic lava from Iceland, a gift the fairies' godparents brought back from their latest trip. ::

At some point in my reflexions, I was reminded of the beautiful post Donna wrote for New Years a couple of years ago and the part about listening. She wrote: I need to listen. To listen into, to listen directly, to listen behind. To listen within and to others. I need to listen more and speak less. I need to listen with the warmth and compassion which helps people - children and adults - speak what they need to say. I need to listen more to my teenage sons - without censure or judgment or fear. I need to listen to those I disagree with without letting my disagreement predetermine my thoughts. I need to listen without my emotions getting in the way and thus preventing me from truly hearing what is offered - instead of getting caught up with my reaction to those words. I need to listen to others and never let past experiences color what they say right now. I need to listen to my own inner wisdom - to learn which is my Voice of Wisdom and which is my Voice of Fear. I need to take words at face value - and to also be able to hear what lies behind, unspoken.

:: Adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplicating with dragon tears: the girls are finally enjoying maths! Would it have something to do with my inner attitude? ::

So, here are some bits and pieces of our discussion :

Catherine, who is in charge here? Are you following the inclinations and desires of these little girls or are they securely held by your strong intentions, your clarity of purpose and your conviction that what you are doing is right? Let me elaborate - by being in charge, on top of things, you can then truly understand what those little girls need and not have to ask them, not have to wonder, not have to doubt and thus invite them to come in and walk all over you! This is NOT about being authoritarian - it is about being the authority, about being the loving center of those little girls' universe, forming what they do and - this is CRITICAL - thereby understanding what they truly need so that in a meaningful and not chaotic way, their needs can be met, not simply their whims. One cannot meet a child's deepest soul needs if one is trailing after them wondering what is coming next (Donna).

:: Form drawing on a chalkboard-painted wall is so great! ::

Being real. Being in the moment yet with a longer view. Being calm and "in control" but not "controlling" - subtle but important distinction there. It's a nuanced dance and one can so easily get out of step, either stiffening into rigidity or flowing away into chaos. Both extremes are out of step with what a child needs. (Donna) Very powerful words!

I was thinking of what you wrote, Catherine, about Aisha refusing to do her work, and I guess as her teacher I would be observing and perhaps changing things based on my observation, but perhaps not ! You know things like: how is her vision? What is her pencil grip like? Is the noise level too high and she can’t focus? Is she hungry? Is she a complete perfectionist and needs to draw on separate sheets of paper because a Main Lesson book is daunting? Has she been writing away all week and truly does need the work lessened or does she really need to persist – in other words, is it now really not about drawing a picture, but about her relationship to authority, her need to finish something, her need to do something even if it is not what she would choose? In other words, will doing this help her be the healthy adult I intend for her to grow up and become? Where is the place of this refusal not only in school, but in the family? How does she make restitution for this? It is not all about her, it is also about the impact she has on her sisters when she does this as well…These are the sorts of things I ponder when things get off track in my own homeschooling experience. (Carrie)

I can change on a dime, but I won’t change on a whim. (Carrie) I love this!

:: A friend taught the girls to do some more advanced finger-knitting and they are making yards and yards of it! ::

No one ever said learning is easy or painless - much of it is not. But....the joy that a child has once he's faced down his walls of resistance (and he needs a parent's help with this for many many years) is priceless. There is nothing that makes homeschooling more worthwhile than witnessing the deep satisfaction a child can experience when he has mastered or overcome something. If we always back down when a child protests about lessons, we never give him the opportunity to have this experience. (Donna)

I know that one sure way for my confidence to dip and for me to start questioning what I’m doing, and how, is if my child is resistant, you know, if he doesn’t show great enthusiasm. But then if I am really honest, I can see that this is almost always because I am not bringing great enthusiasm myself, it is as if I am saying, “please like this, I need your approval.” (Cathy)

Donna gave very practical and detailed advice on the importance of real work to help channel little whirlwinds (please read the whole thing if you have energetic little boys that drive each other crazy, it
s a two part answer from Donna to Anonyme from Carries) and she says that towards the end of the post: So here is where you need to be right in there forming every part of their day so that these two don't drive you and each other nuts - and so you don't lose their sister in the shuffle! You need to work out and plan every minute of the day - really!!! - for these boys. And before you despair, this is not forever. It is perhaps for 6 months, maybe a year until they get this so into themselves that it becomes their own life rhythm - and then they can take a step away from it and you and a step toward their own personal freedom. But in such a situation you cannot leave it to them. They need your authority expressed as forming everything they do - so that they can iron themselves out. It is A LOT of work. But believe me, it is far less exhausting than living with boys who fight all the time.

If you did not have a chance to participate in the discussion, please share your feelings and thoughts about this. I would love to hear your voice!


Sarah said...

Thanks again Catherine for hosting and inviting us all to participate in such a wonderful discussion! You have very nicely summed up some very good points. I have also benefited a great deal from all of the words shared here.

I. said...

oui c etait super super riche, merci Catherine and thanks Donna.
je me demandais comment tu articules ca avec l intuition que tu decrivais apres ton entrevue avec Leandre?

Catherine said...

Je mijote encore tout ça Isabelle... J'en parlerai dans un prochain billet!

Thank you Sarah for your participation in the exchanger! I am glad it was helpful to you too!

Francesca said...

it was a great post with a very interesting discussion and threads. thank you for reposting some parts of it.

I. said...

catherine, je te lirai avec plaisir!
juste pr l echo, jeviens de re visiter une bloggueuse que j aime bcp et que je n avais pas lue depuis un temps. ca tombe a pic , voici le lien:
a bientot!

Catherine said...

Je file lire ça!

Anne said...

Thank you Catherine for hosting this exchange. It reminded me of the "good ol' days" at the Waldorf at Home Forum. Thanks for letting Donna share her wisdom and insight with your readers. I've missed the guidance. Congrats on finding the strength and resolve within yourself to discern what's needed by your family.

Catherine said...

Yes, Anne! I have missed Donna's wisdom too!

Catherine said...

Wow! Isabelle, ce lien est tellement intéressant! Ça fait déjà une heure que je lis des billets de son blogue! Je me reconnais tellement dans ce qu'elle dit (au point de vue alimentaire aussi!). MERCI!

I. said...

je suis contente que tu aimes! je pensais bien;-)

Marianne said...

Merci encore Catherine, chaque fois que je passe par ici j'apprends énormément, je pourrais y passer de nombreuses heures encore. Toutes ces réflexions sont comme des petites graines semées dans ma tête et j'ai hâte de voir quelle sorte d'arbre cela va faire!