Monday, August 14, 2006

Reasons to Homeschool, #34 & 35

It's sitting there like a big fat squatty toad. Waiting for me to read it. I don't want to read it. Too bad there's not a font called "Whiny" 'cause I need it right now. It's too hard! Waaaaah.

Got sidetracked for a minute. "Whiny" didn't look right, so I tried "whiney" which didn't look right either. It turns out both spellings are correct even though neither looks that way. Go figure. Then I came across some whine quotes and got more sidetracked looking at different quotes about whining. On the way there was another little side trip: "Quotations!" I shout at my monitor, then a moment later, chagrined, I apologize to the screen because the M-W Online Dictionary does indeed list quote as a noun as well as a verb.

Then I came across this quote:

The covers of this book are too far apart." -Ambrose Bierce

...which has not much to do with whining and everything to do with what I am whining about, which got me back on track.

The Reformation: A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch is sitting atop the dictionary for a reason. I am almost 250 pages into this nearly-700 page book, and I've already got two bookmarks full of words. (Though I'll admit that the very bottom of the second bookmark has a couple doodles and the beginnings of my Christmas wish list.) Not just unfamiliar words, there's also a "look up" list: Gnosticism, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine of Hippo, "why was unitarianism considered dangerous?" and so forth. I'm reading a book written with the assumption that the reader has some very basic knowledge about the historical period we call the Reformation or Protestant Reformation, and also based on the assumption that MacCulloch does not need to hold my hand and explain everything for me. (Think how many pages the book would be then!) Thanks to my woefully inadequate education, at least when it comes to world history, the most that I ever learned was something about Martin Luther nailing something to a church door. I'm spending a good chunk of my reading time studying, holding my own hand and searching out my own explanations, which makes getting through the actual book slooooooooooooooow going.

I'm done whining now. Here's why: I'm enjoying myself. All of the "In this year this one guy did blah, then another guy did bleh, then so-and-so fought, and there was a war," the dates and names and chronology is dusty plodding for me. But when the story circles back around to the why and the battles over doctrine and the ways that people and politics and history were influenced by new ideas, that's fascinating stuff. I'm learning. It's been a long time since I've really challenged myself this much intellectually. I have to concentrate while reading this book. Sometimes I have to read a passage three times to feel like I really understand the doctrinal differences folks were bickering about and beheading one another over.

The fine young gents and lovely ladies, particularly the oldest young lady who's feeling challenged by some of her own schoolwork, see me learning something challenging. Watching me take on a new subject might help them realize that learning is ongoing, that sometimes it's "Let's find out" instead of "This is the way to do it" and "Here are the facts." That's my hope anyway.

And a final reason to stop whining: I am nearly 40 years old. Granted, the years between college and the present have been full with work and babies and marriage and autism and school, so it's not as though I've been pointlessly frittering away my time and intellect. But it's time to stop blaming the schools I've attended for what I haven't learned. At some point I've got to let go of the fact that I was never taught whatever knowledge I believe that I'm lacking, and just learn it. Or decide not to learn it, and be okay with that too.

So there we have it. Reasons to homeschool, #34 & 35: I get to challenge myself. My children get to see me take responsiblity for my own learning.

Someone remind me of how hard this is and how much I've whined in about two months when I am frustrated because the kids don't want to learn about fractions or photosynthesis or, actually, the Reformation, as the looming school year and my complete and utter lack of knowledge about this part of history are what led me to slog my way through this book in the first place. Seriously, remind me. I'll probably say "Oh shut up," but I'll think about it later and secretly admit that you're right. Of course I'll never let you know that. Ever.

New words: eschatology, ecumenical, moribund, and my favorite, neologism.

Off to read some more. I'll let you know when I finish the darn thing.

1 comment:

Nina said...

Cathy-I just popped over to this post. The bookmark idea is grand. I plan to start it tonight. Just today I was trying to explain Fog and realized I couldn't do it well. It seems I will be learning science all over again.