Monday, February 13, 2017

Living & Learning Update #7: Fitbit, Canadian History, The Brothers K, MBTI


We are finally anticipating a big snowstorm tomorrow! We are hoping for 25-30 cm from Monday morning to Tuesday morning. We have had comparatively little snow so far this winter, but this will make up for it. It's time for some nice, cozy snowed-in time, maybe some hot chocolate and a movie.

I told you that I now have a fitbit. I have since brought my steps up from 5,000 per day to 7,500 per day. For a little while I was annoyed because my life seemed to be revolving around getting my steps in, and that's not something I want my life to revolve around. Also, I would find myself having to play catch-up at the end of the day. But now I have discovered the secret to getting enough steps: divide the amount of steps by the number of hours in the day, and never let myself get too far behind. It seems to be working, and I think I'm ready to bump it up to 8,000 per day this week. I am still amazed at people who get 10,000 steps in, but I'm starting to hope I'll get there someday.


I am really enjoying Canadian history with my boys. This term we are reading portions from The Story of Canada by George W. Brown, Eleanor Harman and Marsh Jeanneret; The Story of Canada by E.L. Marsh; and Great Canadian Lives by Karen Ford. I have talked about these titles before. Now that I am using them, I think I can add to my assessment then. I am finding that my boys (year 1 and 3) are not narrating particularly well from Brown's Story of Canada, and I think it may be a bit too fact-heavy. The funny thing is, I think they are finding it interesting (SA in particular loves facts!), but it is not translating into good narrations. I am continuing with it, though, as I like to give books a fair trial. On the other hand, Great Canadian Lives is turning out to be a particularly valuable resource. As I said in my previous post, the quality of the chapters in this book is uneven. Some are well-written, and others are choppy lists of facts. I have been reading the well-written chapters, and the narrations from the boys have been outstanding. I would recommend this book to all Canadian Charlotte Mason homeschoolers for use as a supplement in grades 1-3. This book is valuable for its table of contents alone --a list of a wide variety of Canadian people by time period. While a number of its chapters are not really well-written enough to be usable for reading and narration, the ones that are make the book worthwhile to have on your shelf, assuming you can find one! (This title is out of print, but keep an eye out at your local library sales and My own library system has this book in circulation as well, and yours may too.)


I've been reading The Brothers Karamazov with my book club. This is the first time I've ever read a Russian novel, so I don't know if they're all like this. It's hard to describe. The story seems melodramatic, almost unbelievable in places. On the other hand, there are the most amazing speeches and conversations that go very deep, that present ideas that you can chew on for days (and maybe a lifetime). For me it is impossible to race through this book. I read a few chapters and have to stop and let it digest for a while. This week I read Father Zosima's words about the beauty and power of God's Word, and how little it would take for priests to teach it to the people, even children, and it encouraged me in my own teaching to my children:

"So, one evening a week, to begin with, let them gather the children round them--and the fathers will hear of it and they too will start coming [...] Open this book and start reading to them in simple language and without conceit, but warmly and humbly, without elevating yourself above them, just enjoy reading them a well-beloved text and take pleasure in their listening to you and understanding you, pause once in a while to explain the odd word which may be beyond the grasp of simple folk, but don't worry, they'll understand it all, the truly believing heart will understand everything!...

..."Fathers and teachers, forgive me, and do not take offence that I talk like a small child about something which you have known for a long time already, and which, indeed, you can teach me a hundred times more skillfully and eloquently. I am talking merely out of happiness and excitement; forgive my tears, for I do so love this book! Let him, God's priest, also weep, and he will see how his listeners' hearts will tremble when they hear his words. All that is needed is a small, a tiny seed: if he sows it in the heart of the common man, it will not die, but will live in his soul all his life; it will hide there in the darkness, in the stench of his sins, as a glimmer of light, a sublime reminder. And there is no need, no need to explain or to teach much, he will understand everything simply."

Where else will you find this kind of passage in a novel? And yet I'm not sure how well I love the book as a whole...I'll let you know when I'm finished it, maybe. Right now, I'd say it's Original, Fascinating, Wordy, Incomprehensible, and Amazing. And definitely well worth reading. I can't wait to discuss this with my book club.


If you're interested in MBTI (personality types), you'll want to listen to the latest Schole Sisters podcast episode on cognitive functions. This episode laid to rest any lingering doubts I may have had about myself as an ISFJ. I had just been rereading one of my own posts on this blog, and as Mystie was talking, I recognized myself in that review as quintessentially ISFJ...the way I tried to be kind and fair (extroverted feeling) and the way I see the factual details as foundational (introverted sensing). I still think I'm right there... how can you have a true big picture when the details are not quite right? Anyway, it laid to rest my doubts about my ISFJ-ness. My doubts usually spring up because so many of the ISFJs I know seem to be naturally excellent housekeepers, and I am definitely not. (Though hope springs eternal, and I never stop working at it. I am loving Simplified Organization!)

At the same time, I have some questions about this podcast, and I almost joined the Schole Sisters forum just to have a chance to discuss it. I know I don't have time for another forum, though, so writing my thoughts here will have to do. The Schole Sisters had recorded an earlier podcast on learning styles (Episode 13: Learning Styles are Bunk). Without going back and listening to it again, the point I took away from that episode was that you and your children may have learning preferences, but it is counterproductive to cater to those learning preferences. Catering to them does not result in better learning, and could result in a person never learning to learn in ways outside of their preference. 

So my questions are, how are how much should we cater to our children's personality types in our homeschooling? And how are our learning preferences (styles) related to personality type? 

I have found it very helpful to think through MBTI personality types, especially when it comes to understanding and dealing with family members whose personalities are very different from my own. It has been helpful to realize that "different" does not mean "wrong", and to appreciate others' strengths where I might otherwise have been blinded with irritation at their weaknesses. However, I feel cautious about beginning to cater to a child's personality type. Obviously, children will each take what they are ready for and in their own way from the feast we lay out for them educationally. It may even be beneficial in some ways for a parent to understand how and why. But I worry that understanding could result in a parent laying out a lesser feast, assuming the child will not appreciate this or that based on their personality type, and the child will be poorer for it. Does that make sense?
Another concern I have is that I could have a tendency to excuse my own children's weaknesses based on their personality type, and children often live up (or down) to the expectations we place on them. For one small example, I still need to expect kindness and considerateness from my "thinking" child who is not naturally sensitive to others' feelings.

I would love to hear what you think.