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Reflections on Daniel Webster, Sketch of His Life

Daniel Webster, born in Salisbury New Hampshire was one of 10 children, grew up in near poverty, yet was sent to Dartmouth College through the efforts of his father and his mentor, Reverend Samuel Wood. Writes Hudson, “The very idea,”says he,”thrilled my whole frame. I remember that I was quite overcome. The thing appeared to me so high, the expense and sacrifice it was to cost my father so great, I could only press his hand and shed tears.” (The Life of Webster- H.N. Hudson)

In August 1797, he entered Dartmouth and described his life there,”My college life,” says he, “was not an idle one. Besides the regular attendance on prescribed duties and studies, I read something of English History and English literature. Perhaps my reading was too miscellaneous. I even paid my board by superintending a little newspaper and making selections for it from books of literature and from the contemporary publications.”

Taking a second look at Webster’s father, Ebenezer- he was the neighborhood scholar, after spending most of his years as a soldier, then an officer of the Revolutionary War.

He is described as having a mind “strong and healthy by nature” (Hudson) and “had no higher aim in life than to educate his children to the utmost of his ability.”

Scholarship.

Leadership.

To read and think about one of the greatest orators and statesmen of all time and to see the principles of leadership education in his background so evidently marked is one of the reasons I am so glad to have been able to read and study education philosophy related to home education.

Webster would go on to school himself in the law after paving the way for his younger brother to also go on to college. The drive and example of men such as these challenge methods in our days of assembly line models of “education”.

Imagine with me, also, the equation created when an officer of the Revolutionary War “had no higher aim in life than to educate his children to the utmost of his ability.” What drove Ebenezer Webster in his family life after his experiences, when he walked with his children by the wayside, while they ate together? Stunning.

John Adams once said,

images“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

I often wonder what would our schools look like if we actually followed this modus  operandi? What if our young were taught law and discernment regarding the behaviors of elected officials as a first course?

I personally feel challenged by examples like these.

Key to all, finally is the care of a parent placing a student in the helpful guidance of a mentor who knows. Daniel Webster would have many, and for this, and his independent drive to learn, his country is still thankful, even  if only expressed in the typed expressions of one mother on a Monday morning in Modernity.

 


“moral obligation no individual can abdicate.” Our Freedom Loving Sec. of Ed.

Source: “moral obligation no individual can abdicate.” Our Freedom Loving Sec. of Ed.


What’s in a name? Homeschooling: “…in terms so plain and firm as to command…”

“This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.” Thomas Jefferson in “A Letter to Henry Lee”images-1

Oh, to be like Thomas Jefferson, the writer!

In the above quotation, Thomas Jefferson shared with Henry Lee his recollection of what had inspired and informed its authors and signers. His leadership arrayed in plainness of language, precision and diligent training, held a place in defining the “common sense of the subject” of independence to the American mind. And those principles held fast for almost two centuries.

Allow me to try, with fingers crossed-to place before dear readers plainness and clarity regarding the language of Michigan’s Independent Schoolers.

Recent Michigan legislative attempts (Increased regulation for homeschoolers in Michigan proposed), (Common Core is not just about standards- Karen Braun Stopcommoncoreinmichigan, national bills  4 Ways HR 610 will threaten your rights) and confused terminology regarding  parents exiting the public schools command Michigan parents’ attention to the name “Homeschooling”.

Parental freedoms and access to our children are challenged by obtuse assumptions of well-meaning legislators who scratch their heads wondering about “homeschoolers,” a minority of the tax base, who wants family togetherness between the hours of 8am and 4 pm, yet seems confused at what it wants from government. Some like a little help and guidance from state and federal k-12 programs. Perhaps they accept vouchers or enroll back into taxpayer funded partnerships with schools, re-enrolling children as part time public school students and getting requirements in exchange for free or next-to-free classes.

Some do not want connection with schools at all and wish to remain one hundred percent free from regulations or requirements, rejecting taxpayer monies to ensure these freedoms.

State officials routinely demonstrate they do not know laws(Michigan State Board of Education Meeting video Nov. 9, 2010pt.2) relating to Homeschooling, arguably the very reason for the existence of HSLDA and INCH.

Advocacy groups must be seen to identify the homeschooling demographic clearly by legislators in order to advocate for their educational liberties at all.

Therefore it has been incumbent  upon Home School Legal Defense Association, Conservatives for  Traditional Values and Information Network of Christian Homeschoolers in Michigan for the past decade to plainly present clear distinction in the interest of keeping education in the hands of parents alone. Each association lays claim to lead homeschoolers (HSLDA Mission Statement) and asks homeschoolers to support them monetarily and follow their lobbying lead (Information Network Christian Homes- Why attend convention? see “legislative work”)

My plain appeal to both organizations, HSLDA and CTV/ INCH would be to fulfill your stated goals and mission for homeschoolers, defining “Homeschooler” as that family which delivers education which is privately funded and parent led and receives no taxpayer monies for education. Define “Homeschooling” as separate from “Part-time public schooling” where the family receives money from the state or federal government and requirements to fulfill for their guidance. Apply the math of those attached funds in your literature, your website and offerings out of the kindness of clarity and the fulfilling of your stated mission.

Oppose confused language in program literature targeted to Exodus families, those leaving the state school system, which do not speak plainly where the mathematics of funding makes competing interests clear.

Stand for the same clarity in websites and literature from taxpayer funded community service providers and parent partnerships, asking that they clearly identify their services as for “Part-time public schooling” families.

Exodus parents are to be applauded for their courage and bravery. They are often blazing a new trail as pioneers, the first generation in their family lines to take primary responsibility for educational content of their families. Many times they face fears and lack of support from grandparents, siblings and most recent circles of community.Let their transition from the brick-and-mortar be clearly marked and understood, when they choose to either accept or reject government funding.

It is unkind to serve those still wanting funding and requirements from the state to a cocktail of confused terminology-rather, when the math warrants through state funding and requirements, clearly offer these families the designation “Part Time Public Schoolers.”

By all means, statewide Homeschooling Support group, offer aid  to PTPS families, welcome them to your events, introduce them to parent-led privately funded options, clearly termed “Homeschooling”, and be assured that independent homeschoolers will invite them as well-but do not call them “Homeschoolers” or fail to diligently define proper designation in the community, the math must determine the terms, particularly when we exist in the realities of  well-meaning legislators “confused” on whether we should be regulated by the State or not.

State Advocacy groups, Homeschoolers and Part-time Public Schooling families will either grasp the mathematical truths of these designations faithfully responding  to their varying needs, or non-brick-and-mortar schoolers of all kinds will be pulled down into state restrictions by our identity confusion and the creation of a befuddled state legislature.

 

 


Sieks Photoshoot at Home

From Jenny:

“We just got our photos, sponsored by Mom and Dad Siek (thank you), from Breathing Moments Photography. Annette came over to our home and put up with Mommy’s wacky ideas and added a few of her own. The children young and old felt it was a fun, special time, and I loved that Daddy picked out the location- our own home and yard. The photos are so perfect for us, and we’re so glad to have these captured memories to share with you.

Annette has everything you want in a professional photographer. She is fun but takes her work seriously. She’s flexible to work with young and old. Her photos are of undeniable quality and design. She follows through and communicates well.

Any time someone asks about a photographer for a great visual capture, I will suggest Annette Walker at Breathing Moments Photography.”   Breathing Moments Photography


Calling the Dance with Best Partners

“Grab a partner, circle left!”

Contradance enthusiasts hear about “partners” every time they show up for another great evening of fun and exercise, and choosing your partner is a fun social opportunity for the 3 minute dance time that ensues. Within the lifestyle of homeschooling, however, the dance with a “partner” is a matter for prayer, great thought and wise counselcontradance-pic

What is your process for deciding who partners with you in training your children in the way they should go?

A Parent Partnership Program is a public school re-enrollment program developed in the last decade, offered throughout my state to homeschoolers in which students choose from a menu of offered activities sponsored by local studios, museums, even YMCAs, and then are enrolled into required activities determined by that public school or a public school employee. Hired staff, often from within the homeschooling community, studios, museums and YMCAs insist upon calling the re-enrollment programs geared for “homeschoolers”, rather than “part time public schoolers”, yet the school district considers the enrolled children as part time students of that school district.

I first learned of a parent “partnership” program when I moved to the Midwest from Pennsylvania. Ms. “Smith”, the partnership coordinator came to the door of the house we were renting with a mug of candy, a friendly smile and forms. Our requirements were listed beginning with data on not only the children who would be getting the free or next-to-free- classes, but also their siblings’ information.

Pennsylvania’s overreach in draconian homeschooling laws trained my spirit for this moment- I knew I would not be signing up for this program. I will never forget seeing my husband on the computer accounting for the children’s learning hours per subject, every week, getting documents notarized and delivered to the school district, or driving the family up to the evaluators’ home for a two hour long interview session.

After my new friend left with her mug and blank forms, I noticed later in the months that followed news of the State Board of Education meeting where they discussed the “problem” of homeschoolers. Watching the proceedings I saw the Board was unhappy homeschooled  students do not register their names into the system, so they can be tracked and overseen by the state.

A guest attendee, the Teacher of the Year award recipient offered an idea that homeschoolers would be happier to voluntarily register and accept Public school requirements if the registering family got “the freebies, the band, the teacher development classes, more benefits than” (independent homeschool families).

At the close of the Board meeting, the Board President asserted she would “follow up” on those suggestions.

“Oh”, I thought.”This might explain the knocks on the door, mugs and smiles.”

While I do not impugn the motives of legislators designing a plan to “offer” electives in return for student data and requirements like Count Day, or a school vetted “mentor” to sit with or interview the re-enrolled child once a week, after all, I do question whether this dance partner may result in a stubbed toe or worse.

School districts are intent on data from students which draw tax dollars. Shall we dance with a partner motivated chiefly by the bottom line? Ouch.

Is a partner a true partner if they don’t believe you can dance? The best pairings are two people with confidence in their dance partner, yet what do we find- requirements placed upon a family before they were ever tried and found negligent in their homeschooling? Whoa. I think I may have sprained something.

Moreover, the situation is unjust. Self-funding families operating under their own guidance are ushered into their community music studios, art classes and YMCA Swim-Gym programs and told they will pay a great deal more than their friends in the class who have re-enrolled their children into part-time public school status through the new “Parent Partnership”.

In practice, this amounts to a harsh fine placed upon parent-led, privately paying homeschooling families, a newly created class system of winners and losers. The new normal is a division within the homeschool community where before the partnership, every family was treated  and billed the same for the same great class. The dance hall has been divided, many are flagging and the band is thinking about packing it in and going home.

May I suggest a biblical test for choosing your dance partner in the homeschooling journey?  Perhaps a biblical test to apply may be found in~

Genesis 18:19  “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Perhaps, consider: In what ways are keeping to school district requirements through parent partnerships helping families to direct children “after their father”? In what ways are allowing a state worker “mentor” to interview our children helping family members  keep the way of the Lord?

From our family’s experience, should I ever be the Contradance caller I might call out: “Circle ‘round, all join hands, avoid partnerships which drain confident leadership, tooling and time with children.” “ Promenade away from state programs clouding parent educators of a right vision, a reliance on Jesus, The Way”. “Now bow to your corner, keep fair pricing, share  a class, a gift or talent joining your neighbor.”

Let’s partner with one another, Let’s partner with the Lord, the Best.


Integrity in Home Education

One of my deepest instincts is that of encouraging parents to protect their own autonomy to direct the education and upbringing of their children.  Many in the homeschooling lifestyle agree with me that one of the biggest threats to our liberty is entanglement with government funding. When I hear of the government trying to “help” homeschoolers, I am very cautious as not to jeopardize our liberty and expose any threat which would end it-. My friends and I agree with President John Adams’s sentiment, “Liberty once lost is lost forever.”

Indiana Home Christian Educators’ entry lays out this cautionary tale well as it gives us the origins of the Common School to consider…


“Common Schools

Although Common Schools are mentioned in the Indiana Constitution, we wonder if the State remembers the history of Common Schools? According to E.G. West author of, Education and the State, the Common Schools were only for those families who did not desire to take responsibility to educate their children privately.

Before these government schools began in America, most families were privately educating their children in brick and mortar schools or at home. The Common Schools were first formed in the rural areas for those who did not have access to private brick and mortar schools. Common Schools were not universal, compulsory, or free. Parents had to pay to send their child to a Common School.”

When we decide to spend our time and energies educating our families in our homes, using our chosen resources and reaching out to our immediate communities with our gifts of time and sponsorship, we remember this- that all is possible because we are not being forced by a government body, compelled to “seat time,” mandatory phone calls from an outside monitor or required hours of certain activities outside of the home devoid of faith development or home discipleship.

Enjoy this excellent and thorough work by clicking the link below… May it encourage you to apply the Freedom Test to our family’s Home Education lifestyle.

Maintaining Integrity of Home Education  Click:     http://iaheaction.net/maintaining-integrity-of-home-education/


Homeschooling in small spaces

Small-Space Homeschooling

smallspace

Creativity, it has once been said, arises from limitation. Raise you hand if you look around from your chair and see what I mean. A house filled with children at least for our family, means envelopes, drawings, pencils, books, water glasses, iPod speakers, earbuds, socks, sneakers, hair doodles, squinkies —you name it. (When you raise your hand, watch out for the tower by your elbow.)

This is why hslda’s article was relatable to me. In a 19th century farmhouse with small rooms, every surface shared, is our fun reality for now- and being on the go a lot, often enough my “office” is a tote bag I toss in the van for the 40 minute wait during violin lessons.

Wherever your Zone of necessary development, I hope you gain fresh insight and a broader view of simpler spaces as you read. Cheerio!