Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The road to hell…


I am a terribly disorganised person by any standard. I would utterly fail in the structured life of my beloved boarding school books. I am messy, perpetually unkempt, absent-minded, forgetful. These traits are unlikely to change, both because of my personality, and my child-led life. Oh, and chronic illness. There’s that.

I am also a very happy person with a full, loving, creative life.

Every now and then, I realise that my life would be (even) happier and I’d have more time for what I really want to do if I broke things down into little tasks and actually made an effort to make them habits.

I had a big realisation yesterday, because I was reading Montessori blogs, and realising that the invitations I want to set up with my some kind of involve less cluttered space. Strewing, invitations–whatever you call them, they are a big part of a relaxed homeschooling approach, and they work better without a blanket of toys over everything.

And… I want to write more. It’s not just a matter of getting books out; I am a more healthy and happy person with daily writing. Giving up sending my son to childcare For His Own Good a morning a week (a whole different story) means I don’t have dedicated writing time any more, although in practice I was often too stressed during it to get more done. I miss that. Writing is my joy.

I want to keep up with my lifelong learning, both for myself and as an example for my future-unschooled son. I want to actually make progress on craft projects instead of always abandoning them for the next thing. I want to be tidier.

So last night I made one of my periodic resolutions to Get Organised. I set up Habitica, the gamify-your-life rpg, and being me, I ignored all the advice to start with a few tasks and have hundreds, but small and manageable (I hope) ones. I unsubbed from about a million mailing lists. I decided to start from scratch again with Fly Lady, which really helped me before when I kept up with it.

I am going to get thirty minutes of writing or editing in a day, no matter what.

And I’m going to shine my sink.

Let’s see how it goes, huh?

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Review: Penelope’s Prefects (1950) by Judith Carr

Penelope's PrefectsPenelope’s Prefects by Judith Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three and a half-ish stars.

School Story Type: Madcap Schoolgirl.

Given a scholarly, vague and forgetful Prefect for the ill-reputed Middle School, the Middle School monitress, Penelope, decides to reform her form with the help of her self-appointed “prefects”, her best chums. Given that Penelope is not exactly a model schoolgirl herself–it’s beyond me why she’s monitress in the first place–her gang’s efforts to bully the form into line only cause more chaos.

The plot is predictable enough: ill-advised attempts to improve things, followed by rebellion by other girls, pitched physical skirmishes and predicaments and furious mistresses and seniors. Detention and punishments inevitably follow, including the fairly barbaric one of being locked in a cupboard for half an hour a day. But you know all will be well in the end, and Penelope and her “prefects” will win out.

The girls often seem too young and idiotic for their age, and there is a preoccupation with stockings and suspenders, including trying to wrestle them off each other to put the seams straight, which feels quite strange out of historical context. All the manic energy is a bit tiring after a while, too, and I found myself wishing Penelope was just a wee bit more self-reflective, and that her schoolfellows had a wee bit more personality. But these are prettyy minor complaints.

All in all, this is an amusing and sometimes sparkling example of the madcap schoolgirl subgenre.

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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Rainy Day Unschooling

Shower Rain, 15°C

Adelaide, South Australia

The weather has finally remembered that it is nearly winter, and is wet and blustery. A perfect day for cuddling up inside reading, sewing and writing.

Unfortunately, the little boy has decided it’s the perfect day for Disney Infinity, and the stay at home mummy’s services are required for playing Thor. I put in a plea to be Black Widow or Ant Man, to no avail. He’s Iron Man.

The little boy has recently mastered the art of playing console games, and right now, it’s all he wants to do. That means I’m battling against all the voices in my head telling me that screen time for three year olds is evil. We’re intending to unschool our son, and I am trying to remind myself to stop listening to “commonsense” in favour of seeing the learning happening: problem solving, hand-eye coordination, persistence in the face of failure and frustration, sight words. And to see the joy.

It’s strange, really, that I write about regimented school systems where every hour is planned for, when it’s the opposite of my actual educational beliefs. Maybe that’s part of the appeal, just like I devoured school stories while loathing school. I just wanted to be left alone, to read, to write and learn without interference.

Oh, well, break over. Time for Thor to smash some frost giants.

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