Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Living in a creative society

We live in a consumer society, yet what I want with my family is a creative society. It's important to understand the difference and realize that with our daily actions we not only choose, we create, the life we life.

A person in a consumer culture looks outside of the individual for entertainment, education and survival. A person in a creative culture looks to each individual for the entertainment, education and survival.

Today as I write this, my husband is showing a friend and his brother how to use his table saw to cut the wood they need to build a small sail boat. The friend's children are here playing with our children. The older two are on an ancient laptop, programming in python. They are laughing manically - it must be a funny program! The younger 4 kids are outside burying and then digging up treasure, occasionally throwing a ball for our big mutt. I sit here typing up posts in advance, having just discovered that I have the power to pre-schedule blog posts. (Yea me!)

We are making our own entertainment. We are creating our own community.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


At the request of a friend I'm posting today about games.

As we started homeschooling I began to realize how great games were with kids. Games teach turn taking, rule following, math, probability, reading, planning, consequences, sportsmanship, and so much more. Perhaps most importantly games give kids and adults a place to meet and play together. Any time spent enjoying each others company is a win/win, add to that the possibility of kids beating adults and you've got a carrot that few kids can resist.

I remember playing Monopoly, Scrabble, and a board game called "Dungeon" growing up. Go Fish, Old Maid and Uno were the extent of my card game experiences. Now we've embraced many difference games. From those that included all ages, to those that enjoyed by mostly adults and older kids, we are constantly finding new (to us) great games.

We've got a closet full of games. Maybe someday I'll review them all. Or not. Until then Gameboard Geek is a great site for game reviews.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Being on the Outside

I'm not a people person. If I followed my "druthers" I'd stay home, reading books and puttering. Yet, I'm involved in several on going groups, book groups, choirs, homeschooling, church, etc. Being involved in my community, giving back, and keeping in touch is important to me even if, as an introvert, being with other people is tiring. Dealing with people is a skill that doesn't come naturally, so I'll share a little of what I've learned.

Recently I had the unpleasant experience of being an "outsider", attending a regular meeting that I had missed for many months. It was a good reminder of how hard it is to join an existing group, and what a group can look like from the outside. It's difficult to see why we should make the effort if we're going to be excluded or even experience rudeness when we attempt to get involved. So, for today, here are two perspectives to consider.

The existing group has a history and a culture that doesn't involve you. When you show up, full of energy and ideas, you challenge that. Until you've been showing up for a while, until the individuals in the group know you, trust you, and believe that you understand the culture, structure, and purpose of the group, you will continue to be an outsider. Even short absence can lead to being an outsider in some groups.

Before you expect to be included, be prepared to put in some time equity. Think about what your values are and what communities are worth getting involved in. Although human nature will always be what it is, some are more welcoming than others. Groups that revolve around a shared goal and some sort of work, like a performance group or volunteer organization, will probably make room for you quickly, happy to use your skills.

Spend some time making meetings and learning about the groups goals and dynamics before opening yourself up or expecting acceptance. You're the new one here. It's easy step on toes if you're not familiar with how things are done. Just your presence can build a bit of trust equity with the group, so it's not wasted time. If this is a group you want to be involved in, be ready to give it some time and effort.

Make friends with individuals within the group. Be respectful of existing relationships, and create some of your own. As a whole, I find large groups intimidating. I do better when I know some individuals within the group. An individual can often clue me in on details I'm unfamiliar with, and if nothing else, be one face I can be genuinely glad to see.

Volunteer to do some real work. If an opportunity arises to be of use, grab it! There's nothing like being of value and doing something useful for getting involved and being included. If after a time you still feel excluded, or even taken advantage of, then that will tell you something about the group, and perhaps about your own skills at making connections.

If you are part of an existing group (that is open to new people), be aware of newcomers. Think about how you are being perceived, both as a group and as an individual. The group might even want to have a regular way of welcoming newbies, and helping them be included. Work to create a positive and welcoming culture. If your group has a negative culture you will not only scare off new people, but probably experience attrition of existing members. If there's not already a person who takes it upon themselves to be welcoming of newcomers, consider being that person.

I'm not skilled at people stuff or groups at all. Man, this topic is hard for me. I can only share my own experiences. Please, if you have ideas, share them!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Building Community

Time for a new topic string.... :-)

A couple of recent incidents in real life groups and an on-line group have reminded me of the importance of community. It's also made it clear to me that many of us don't know how important community can be, and even if we do, we don't know how to build that community.

I know that I didn't grow up in a strong community. My nearby family was incestuously close, but closed off from others. I didn't grow up in a church community and my live-in parent was hostile towards our neighbors. Public school, even with all the bullying and regular humiliations, was the most wonderful place in my life. That's one of the reasons that, even though we homeschool our children, I will forever support public schools and public education. I know that for many children that's as good as it can get.

As an adult, I have discovered the importance of community and I am learning how to create, build and maintain that community. I'm not an expert, but this topic is important enough that I want to explore it.

In this series of blogs, I'd like to explore the meaning and value of community, how to find and build communities, and how to maintain them once we've got them.

What does community mean to you?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ask a Homeschooler

Tonight my children begged to watch the Super Bowl, so I sit here watching them get some new cultural knowledge. :-D

Tomorrow I'll be part of an "Ask a Homeschooler" panel at a local coffee shop. Four brave homeschooling moms will let members of the general public ask them questions about homeschooling. Ack!

As I prep I made a little hand-out with the information I most often pass on to new homeschoolers. It's by no means complete, but hopefully it will be of some use to some body.
Let me know if I left out your favorite resources.

And, wish me luck?

Colorado Homeschooling Law
Home Education Magazine – Getting Started
American Homeschool Association

Some favorite books
Better Than School, by Nancy Wallace
How Children Learn, and Teach Your Own, by John Holt
Dumbing Us Down, by John Gatto
A Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver DeMille
A Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer
The Book of Learning and Forgetting, by Frank Smith

Tuesday, February 2, 2010