Key Action (in response to post on TJEdMUSE)

The timing for this post was perfect for me! Maybe it's the Jan/Feb slump we all feel, I don't know, but I have actually had the same nagging feeling. Yes, I am doing more than needed right now, but I am headed in the right direction (finishing up what I"ve already started while working on the place I want to be). When you posted . . .
She called me to say that after the couple of overwhelmed emails she had sent, she had figured out what was needed: She was supposed to start writing more. She had interpreted her malaise to having too full a plate, and was really surprised to find it all fitting together when she actually added something to her roster.
. . . I thought, "Exactly!" Writing more has been a though floating around in my head for the past two weeks. Writing was something I loved to do all growing up, in school and at home and even through college. Poems, books, music; I even loved essay exams! Then when the deadlines stopped and the kids started to come, I stopped writing. I mean, I still had my journal and I now have a blog and emails, etc., but I am finding the need to do so much more than that!

To go right along with all of this, I was listening to talk radio today where the caller was scared to go after her dreams. The host said a couple of things that struck me, "There is no price to pay when you wrap yourself around something you create!" and "You betrayed your passion." I wouldn't say I, personally, have betrayed my passion (my #1 passion being a wife and mother!), but I would say that the past few years I've forgotten to "wrap myself around" the things that I truly love, the things that make me sparkle inside, that "key action."

So, what is my key action? I would say I have a few. 1) Writing with a purpose 2) A good solid hour in the morning wrapped in my core book and 3) Teaching, serving and inspiring others (including my children). No, I have not been getting those actions done as well as I'd like, but I'm just about to start again.

Q&A's from TJEdMUSE

The following is a post from the TJEdMUSE yahoog group.  I wanted to keep it for my own memory:

You wrote:

Do I just stop what we are doing?

Yes, if what you are doing is not working. And I have to assume that you have tried the conveyor belt approach and that it is not completely attractive to you. Now my guess is that some of what you are doing is working. Be sure to keep that part. It might be family relationships, reading together, daily devotional, weekend trips, craft activities, games or walks. I don’t know what is working in your home but I’m betting something is. Be sure to keep that and build on it.

When will their own initiative kick in?

May 3rd 2011. Sorry I couldn’t resist. Where is that crystal ball when we want it? We would love to be able to not have to trust the process and just be offered some guarantees, wouldn’t we? Of course, there are none. We really do have to have some faith and trust. If we don’t, we can’t let go of our old way of thinking and behaving.

Do I require the 3Rs?

How inspired are you to do the things required of you? Don’t require the 3Rs. But do inspire them. Are you reading great things to them? Things that you enjoy and they enjoy? When was the last time you wrote a paper and asked one of your children to give you some feedback on it? When children are inspired they will tackle the 3Rs. In the meantime, we can play math games, bake together and make sure that the recipe has to be made 2 ½ times or 5 ¼ to get the right amount, read math classics, write letters to each other and hide them around the house, (I had a friend who had a daily writing relationship with her son all based on the premise that he was leaving notes for the tooth fairy), read great books together, write a family mission statement together. Ask a friend or relative to write to your child and encourage your child to write back.

My freshman does his own work.

Then obviously something is going right in your home. To what do you attribute this? Is this really just this child’s nature or have you done something to inspire this?

They love playing, watching TV, or anything else but "school."

It is great that they love playing. We should all play more. BUT the type of play is crucial. Math can be play, exercise can be play, yard work can, so can any kind of academics. However, as is discussed in LE we have to allow the “right kind of vacuum”. If a child’s time is filled with television and computer games there is no “right kind of vacuum”. Rather than attempting to require what your children do you may have to place limits and make it clear what they may not do. If there is something to constantly entertain then thinking, reading, writing, and coming up with creative things to do becomes unnecessary and far less attractive.

Your subject line mentioned guilt. I’m not seeing in your post where the guilt comes in. How would getting off the conveyor bring up guilt for you? Is it really guilt or fear? I would encourage you to look at this deeply. Often when we are making motions towards getting off the conveyor belt we are afraid our children will miss something or that we are cheating them in some way. It is useful to get this fear out of the dark closet and into the light of day. We might be afraid they will never experience the joy we had on the night of our senior prom. Maybe they won’t learn trigonometry before they are 18. Maybe they will never have a high school sweetheart. Maybe they will never learn how to read, or write a paper without grammatical errors. If fear is the issue I encourage you to get as specific as you can about what it is. Sometimes what is holding us back is not even our own fear. It is someone else’s; your husband’s, mother-in-law’s, neighbors, etc. Can you get clear on the source of your guilty or fearful feelings?

Jumping off the conveyor belt into Leadership Education is a wonderful path. Exciting, freeing and sometimes downright scary. But most of us have found it worth the work. I encourage you to be brave and give it a shot. What do you have to lose? You can rest assured that if you decide the conveyor is ideal for your children it will always be there waiting for you.

Shawn Crane



I would label today a successful TJEd day in our home.

7:30am - up and studying the gospel (me at least)
8:00am - devotional and breakfast
9:00am - chores and a little bit of free time while I get the Group Learning stuff ready
10:00am - Group Learning Time:  we went to the park and had our own Olympics:  standing long jump, races, a relay race, arm wrestling, and track ball throwing.  Each child chose their favorite primary song as their "National Anthem" and so we sang the song of the winner in each category.  Then we came back home and did some mapwork.  We charted where each winter olympics took place.  My 10yo took off and added some of the summer dates all on his own afterwards. 
11:30am - More free time before lunch, played games with the boys
12:00noon - Lunch
12:30-3:00pm - Individual Learning Time:  we did some math and spelling, the girls played in the treehouse (platform nailed in our tree) all afternoon because my 7yo figured out how to climb up to it, finally!  I pretty much did all the busy work I needed to get done on the computer, telephone, etc. 
3:00pm - Free play time until 4:30, then clean up & help with dinner
6:00 scouts, basketball practice, read stories with the younger boys while girls bathe and then read to the girls when they were done
8:30pm - all kids in bed, 10yo gets home from basketball and we have a little one-on-one discussion about the phases of learning and how he is an "agent unto himself."  I'm still feeling I squelched his love of learning, but maybe he's just a laid back kid and wants to play games all day.  ????   I asked him tonight what he really wanted to learn and he said, "You always ask me that, and I don't know."  Time to get some sparks going. 

9:30pm - time with husband - I broke down and watched a recorded episode of American Idol.  I told myself I wouldn't, knowing I can seriously get addicted.  It was fine, but I wouldn't say I'm hooked . . . yet. :-)

And finally, at 11:00pm I am rolling into bed.


Stepping Off

Things have been stressful the last month or so.  Some of it could be do to overscheduling, that is true, but there is something else that I have not been able to put my finger on.  Today I finally pinned it down.  Stepping off the "conveyor belt" is quite unnerving.  There are so many "what if's" in the process!! "What if my kids don't follow the leadership pattern?" "What if I'm not a good enough mentor?"  "What if I don't do things exactly right?" "What if my kids don't learn anything or fall behind?"  "What if my mom (husband, neighbor, friend, cousin . . . ) doesn't like it?"  These are the questions I've been asking myself, and I'm sure many others have had similar thoughts before me. 

This weekend in my reading I decided to keep track of Conveyor Belt Thinking vs. Leadership Education Thinking.  Here is what I came up with (from Leadership Education by the DeMilles):

Conveyor Belt

Lessons learned: to copy, to count, to compare
Result: dependable followers

*Creates fear that the child won't "measure up"
*Require or push child to "fit the system"
*Students are expected to copmlete assignments
*The "generation gap" is deemed normal and healthy
*Parents/adults applaud kids' activities from a distance
*Promotes comparisions

Leadership Education

Lessons Learned: to create, to value, to impact
Result: responsible leaders

*Creates the assumption that the child will meet & exceed expectations
*Mentors build a system around the child's strengths
*Parents get their assignments from the kids/youth
*Listening & discussing together bridges "the gap"
*Parents/adults get involved in the child's interests (not overboard)
*Teaches the individual student to value - look at things as they really are

This side by side comparison has really helped me to see the differences between the two and to more clearly see which side of the fence I am on.  Before making this list, I thought of Leadership Education in a box (as I see most things) of "to do's" and "not to do's":  Inspire, not require; Time, not Content; Classics, Not Textbooks, etc.  When looking at it that way, Leadership Education seems very limiting, confusing and stressful.  For instance, I worry when I use a textbook or give them an assignment or require something (other than housework) and think I must be failing my children by not "doing it right."  Maybe many of us struggle with this concept because of how education has become in our country.  We rate children on their test scores rather than their character.  We worry more about them "falling behind" than helping others who are behind.  We measure our worth and the worth of our children by what they do, rather than who they are

With this new perspective, I have realized that this philosophy really much more than the boxed "to do" lists.  Leadership Education is primarily about the relationship.  Leadership Education is about the heart of the matter, not the external output.  Leadership Education is a very positive philosophy.  I have recognized my lack of enthusiasm with the kids lately (that could be because I have a two year old!!) because I am more concerned about "am I doing it right?" rather than just doing it!! 

So, what am I doing now to be sure I am moving forward?  I am building my math library - - fun math books, games, biographies, etc.  I am thinking outside the box for more projects that I can do with the kids. For instance, last week I took the kids to a friend's hobby farm where she has a lot of rabbits for my rabbit-loving daughter to see and learn more.  Today we built a mini-greenhouse because we're working on a wheelbarrel garden.  I am trying to pay more attention to the tone and relationships within the walls of our home.  I am reading books that I've never even thought of before and completely fascinated by them.  I'm having FEC with my husband (yay!). 

And I'm really learning more about myself!  I'm learning that I can do these things with the kids (again, having a baby/2-year-old has kept me a little closer to home, too much activity leads to too much stress).  I am learning, too, that everything does NOT need to be planned out before we can follow through and that it is worth the effort to JUST DO IT!

Yes, I still do worry that they will "fall behind" and comparing myself with others, but each week I make just one slight change.  Baby steps . . . another thing I've learned about myself.  It's usually "all or nothing for me", and now I'm learning the art of taking those small and simple steps, one at a time.
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