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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let talented children be talented

sketch a day #27 - 10 minutes
Ruby Dee, Maya Angelou, Elaine Stritch, Casey Kasem, Robin Williams, Geoffrey Holder Joan Rivers, Oscar de la Renta, and many, many other deeply talented people died this year.  Mike Nichols, who died this last night influenced the last Seven decades of televisions and movies. His death had me thinking... who are we replacing these people with?

Kim K. West? Miley Cyrus? Justin Beiber?  Basically, we are replacing these talented, talented, icons with people who are just as infamous as they are famous. The media is more full of narcisists, and dysfunctional stars than talented ones. Sure each has something about them that makes people swoon, and some even have staying power, but they attract more idolatry and admiration. That is a problem.

As an artistic person, and as a parent of artistic people, I feel like my parents generation did us a disservice that we have to reverse. I distinctly remember my parents telling 13 year old me that black females won't get anywhere as architects, so I should keep my sketching as a hobby. They instead pointed me towards law.  It was interesting enough, but when I changed my major in college to art, I remember, a cousin who I respected being called on to brow-beat me into changing my mind. It didn't work, but it did nothing to my confidence as an artist. I feel like this is why I have stopped and started so many times over the years. When your parents don't support you as an artist, will the world? How will you know.

This is why I have always done my best to support my kids as artist. Even though the boy is now more into programming than art,
I believe that he should integrate his talents into whatever he wants to do, and praise his work whenever he cares to show it. So what, my daughter may never make it to the Broadway stage. She may never design a costume outside of community theatre. She may not write the next great novel. She may not get her work in a gallery.  But she might.  Who am I to discourage her, especially when it is clear that her work is very good. (This isn't just me speaking.  Do you know how hard it is to get A's in creative courses in college?  Near impossible.)

I pray homeschooling parents will continue to raise children in the way they should go, and not in the way that we parents envision them. Sure, their argumentative nature as children may have us dub them little lawyers. Sure, we would love for them to be doctors, or pastors.  But, God doesn't gift EVERYONE with talents. That is quite evident based on the "talents" put before us today by the media. If your kids are talented, encourage them to pursue it, in whatever way they can and don't discourage. You will never know what dreams you are breaking.

We need hope for a future where creative people are more positively influential then negatively, don't we?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Famous homeschoolers have people saying ... huh?

Sketch a day # 26  - 10 min 
What set of homeschool siblings are probably the most famous and least understood?  No. Not the Duggar kids.  It is the Smiths.  Jaden and Willow Smith, children of Will and Jada.

I'm not even sure they consider themselves homeschoolers, they went to school for a year after being officially homeschooled, and now they are lifelong learners.  According to Jaden, "School is not authentic because it ends. It’s not true, it’s not real. Our learning will never end. The school that we go to every single morning, we will continue to go to."  Since they are still minors and bound by education laws in their state, I consider that homeschooling. 

So people are weirding out because these famous and talented (some might disagree) children gave an interview and spoke about subjects that is not typical of children.  Gawker magazine tweeted "Every single thing about this Jaden and Willow Smith interview is nuts".  E Online says that the "interview will either blow your  mind or give you a headache." I say that they are just kids being kids... well read kids, and I don't have a problem with that.  

Willow's book list includes a book on Quantum Mechanics, and Osho, which is about meditation and unleashing creativity. Jaden is reading The Ancient Secret of the Flower of life, and other ancient texts. These most certainly were not on my children's most-read lists, but I can promise you these titles on their college applications... if they go to college will give them an instant acceptance letter. 


Ok.  There is some other stuff in the interview that most adults would consider goofy. But who of us were not goofy as children. I remember reading "A Tale of Two Cities" and in my essay assignment that followed, I put myself in the foot of the Surfs, and wrote "the crunching of their bones was music to my ears".  I got an A and my mother called the doctor to make sure I was alright in the head. Another time, I decided to speak only in the voice of the school librarian, who we were certain was drunk, all. the. time.  Eventually, my mother threatened to choke me and I stopped.  This is what 14 and 16 year olds do. Their minds are developing. They put information in... they give information out. 

Maybe their minds aren't mature enough for some of the more sophisticated books, especially if they believe they can control time.  Or perhaps the interviewer didn't care to understand their words from the viewpoint of a kid. Who knows, I wasn't there. 

I certainly don't agree with a lot of the things more traditional homeschoolers do and believe in, I still support everyone's right to educate their kids as they choose. And so, I support the efforts of the Smith kids too.  You certainly can't accuse them of not being well read, and able to digest advanced books and subjects. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just a quick sketch

Sketch a day #25 - 10 minutes. 
This took about 10 minutes.  I plan to revisit this subject Viola Davis in a week or so when I got from doing a sketch a day to a full fledged finished piece a week.  She is a great actress and inspires me to be creative.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Homeschooling will not make your family happy

Homeschooling will not make your family happy. Having a happy family will make your family happy.

I realize this is a simplistic statement, but it must be said, especially in light of all of the negative media surrounding homeschooling these days. There are some young adults out there with an axe to grind where homeschooling is concerned.  Many of them have every right to be disgruntled because their parents... and therefor their homeschool experience sucked.

So, I was reading a post today about "the homeschool myth", where the writer says that they blame homeschooling for their less than stellar upbringing because "homeschooling made that $hit (the bad stuff that happened) seem natural. That because they did not have access to people outside the home... ever... that they didn't know that this kind of abuse was not normal. Furthermore, her abuse was intensified because her mother was egged on by other homeschoolers who counseled her on making her child less rebellious.  (Boy do I understand that... some of my mom's friends made my life a living hell!  I couldn't get away with anything!)

sketch a day #24 -20 min. 
I am not writing to discredit the story of this young woman and others who have a problem with homeschooling, conservative homeschooling, and last, but not least, the quiverfull movement.  I am writing this so that any family out there hoping to homeschooling will understand homeschooling is a tough job, and while it is also rewarding, anyone who expects perfection from themselves or their children might as well go ahead and pack it up now.

You can expect a dirty house.  My youngest is well into her third semester of college and I am just now beginning to reclaim my house and to make it is as nice as I'd always hoped. I am just beginning, and I have a way to go. Think about it. The kids are home ALL THE TIME. Think summer, and multiply that by pi. That is your house. At one point, I hired a house keeper.  At another point, I paid the kids to clean.  I went on strike a couple of times. Finally, I threw my hands up and decided to wait them out. They had to leave eventually. You have to be OK with a TeePee in the living room, and unfolded laundry when you are homeschooling. There are many times when I was tempted to snatch a book from my kids hand and send them to clean, but how absurd is it to snatch a book?  And so, I learned to find a happy place in the mess and move on.

Expect to have arguments. You will argue with your kids. They will argue back. You will argue with your spouse. They will argue with each other. This is healthy. If only one person in the family is allowed to pitch a fit and leave everyone else cowering, there is a problem. Children need to be able to express anger and upset (without calling names of course), and adults need to. At the end of the discussions, everyone can have ice-cream... but if you are going to be the type of family that is together all the time, you have to give everyone an outlet to express themselves. That is only good and fair.

Expect to see your worse behaviors mirrored in your children. If you are angry all the time, your children will be angry. If you yell, they will yell.  If you curse, they will curse... ahem. No comment.  I will tell you that the best thing I ever did for myself was to homeschool. After telling off a few people in front of my children (I have been known to give a piece of my mind), I realized how it affected them, and learned to be more diplomatic.  I will also tell you that my kids saw me depressed for over a year after my brother died. My kids saw me try things and give up. My kids saw me angry and resentful. Fortunately, my kids were allowed to tell me about myself, and them bring me ice cream. So, if you are a raving lunatic, expect your kids to be raving lunatics too... or withdrawn and damaged.

Expect to be ridiculed and rejected.  You probably already expect for your family and friends to decide you are wacko and for some of them to even turn their backs on you... for a while at least. You should also expect some homeschoolers to do the same. Here is why. When you do something different or out of the norm, people take that as judgement upon them, that by doing things differently you are saying they are doing it wrong. So choose a different math program than your homeschool mentor, send your daughter to college when other homeschoolers around you won't, put academics before values (as other people see it) and people won't like it. They will tell you so, or they will freeze you out.  But here's the good news. If people object to the way you do things, you just might be doing them right.

Expect for there to be failures. Sometimes a homeschooling kid turns out just like the kid next door who went to the worst public school in the county. You will look up one day and they will be snippy, withdrawn, and may even get into trouble you can't get them out of.  You won't even see it coming. Sometimes it just happens.  You are going to have to love them anyway.  Things will come together. Remember even fairytales start out scary.

If I haven't scared you away from homeschooling yet, I will now add that it can be magical, and wonderful, and your kids can turn out great, but you will have to work at it. Keeping your kids at home and having 2 or 10 kids will not make your household perfect and magical in any way. But, being the kind of parent that kids want to be around... that guides, cajoles, hugs, and supports, will make your homeschooling family happy, and if you can do that, they won't be writing an angry blog about you in ten years.