Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Election is the Lesson: “for such a time as this”

Joyce Kinmont,
LDS Home Educators Assn, since 1990

Many years ago, Diane Hopkins from wrote an article titled “The Baby is the Lesson.”  I don’t remember what the article said, but the title said volumes.  Regular schoolwork goes on auto-pilot or minimum schedule or is set aside all together while the most important lessons of life are learned.  What better teaching experience could there be?

Americans seem to have come alive with the recognition that the upcoming election is the most important election of our lifetime.  The presidential debates — the first one is being held tomorrow — is important and homeschoolers should watch and discuss it. 

Over the weekend I received a message from my good friend, Gayle Ruzicka, who is as constitutionally-minded a lady as you will ever meet and a long-time homeschooler and protector of homeschooling rights.  Her powerful influence can be measured by the way the media is always interviewing her about legislative matters, by the editorials written for and against her, and by the threats and hate mail she gets from certain groups.  Gayle was never a strong Romney supporter because Romney was not a strong conservative.  Now she, like so many others, has taken a deeper look and is wholeheartedly supporting him. Her endorsement means a lot.

I am also satisfied that Romney is the man for our day.  President Benson used to say that America is the Lord’s base of operations, and the first rule of warfare is to protect your base.  I have to think that if there are enough good people and the Constitution is to be saved, surely the Lord would want a spiritual, faithful leader?  Romney may need some informed citizen pressure here and there, and he needs a constitutional congress to work with him, but he is up to the job and the alternative is unthinkable.  Here is Gayle’s email note (emphasis hers):

Dear Friends,

Please join Don and myself as we join with thousands of good people across this nation in a special day of fast and prayer for Mitt Romney on Sunday, September 30. 
Mitt and his family need our prayers and support.  The first presidential debate will be [tomorrow], October 3, and we need to pray for Mitt’s success at the debate.  We need to pray that Mitt will have the strength and endurance necessary to survive the next 6 weeks.
We must have a change in the White House.  I am concerned that freedom cannot not survive for 4 more years if the current administration remains.

God loves the United States of America and he wants us to be successful as a nation. I believe if we do all that we can through our hard work and prayers in behalf of Mitt Romney that miracles will happen and through God’s grace this nation will be saved.
Can you imagine the power of a fast with thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people from all religious beliefs and churches joining together in prayer for the salvation of our country through the election of Mitt Romney?  Remember Esther Chapter 6 when Esther asked her people to “fast for me?”  They did and a nation was saved.
Please contact all your friends and family everywhere and ask them to join with us in this special day of fast.  Ask them to contact all of their friends.  Take this message to the churches. You can forward this email or compose your own.
I am so excited to be a part of this time in history, to have this special opportunity to stand for liberty.  Who knows that just maybe we are here for “such a time as this.”
Thank you,
Gayle Ruzicka

I received Gayle’s message a second time when it was forwarded by Oak Norton, a former Ron Paul supporter.  You may not know Oak, but he is probably the leading voice in opposition to Common Core.  You may not know what Common Core is, but you can learn about it on Oak’s website, Utah’s Republic .  Just look for articles on the right sidebar.  Common Core is the complete nationalization of education, which is the complete antithesis of liberty.  It will result in the end of homeschooling, and I can hardly think about what it will mean to our children.  Mitt Romney does not support Common Core.  Here is the note Oak added to Gayle’s email:

For any of you that feel like participating in this, I will be. Many of you are Ron Paul supporters like myself. Many of you were frustrated at the treatment he received by the GOP. I know I was. However, one thing is clear and that is the president has a definite motive to destroy America. His agenda is to tear us down and implement a fundamental change that would negate the constitution. Mitt Romney has some big government tendencies but he loves America. He’s also a good person at heart who loves God and I believe with that characteristic in the office of President, he will be open to inspiration because this country needs it more than ever if we are going to turn things around. Mitt turned around Massachusetts’ finances while he was in office, and my hope is that he can do the same for this country. We all know we need it and we all know we’re not going to get it from our current president who is actively trying to push us further into debt.

I was not home on Saturday so I couldn’t send this message out on time, but fasting and prayer is going on all over this country and will continue.  There are many perspectives out there, so please be patient where there are disagreements.  And please be very serious about the consequences of this election.

Incidentally, Gayle was at the Republican convention and was well aware of the mischief that happened there against Ron Paul.  It was not Mitt’s doing; he was campaigning in a different state at the time.

I will post as much information as I am able between now and the election. I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is offered.  We are living in a historic time.

On 9-11 you probably spent the day in front of your television, maybe many days.  You may remember that flags were seen everywhere; you probably put one up in your front yard.  My daughter Tina was homeschooling in Salt Lake City at that time, and life stopped for them.  Even though they knew no one in the buildings, they clung to every piece of information. The event became the lesson. To focus her children, who were fairly young, on something positive, she had them make thank you cards for the New York City police and firefighters.  Then they put out a call for other children to make cards.  They put drop boxes in local libraries.  The tv news reported the effort.  Twelve hundred cards were collected by Tina and her children and sent to New York City through the Red Cross.  

This year an ambassador and three others were killed on 9-11 and the White House lied about it.  This month the election is the lesson.  We fought a spiritual battle over liberty before and we were valiant then; we are fighting for liberty again here on earth, both spiritually and physically.  Who shall be our Captain?  Who shall be his warriors?

Study from true sources, pray, fast if you can, and ask the Lord what you should lay on the altar.  The election is the lesson.  Our role in saving the Constitution and all that it stands for is the lesson. God bless us.

In the Morning We Homeschool . . .

 Joyce Kinmont, .
LDS Home Educators Assn, since 1990 .

In the afternoon we play. Such was the sentiment of one father in the comment section fora Wall Street Journal article  about homeschooling. (The best part of the article was about the variety of homeschooling options. The author said, “At this point it no longer seemed to us like a binary decision. It was less a matter of either/or than of how-much-of-each.” . . . “As our habits evolve, it won’t be home schooling as we’ve known it, but it won’t be brick-and-mortar schooling, either. I call it ’roam schooling.’”) (My Education in Homeschool, by Quinn Cummings, Wall Street Journal, July 2012)

The father, whose name was Mark, said in his comment that his boys choose to study from 7am until noon. After that “we played.” He said he did teach them long division, but he also took them bike riding to the beach, surfing, hiking in the High Sierras, fishing in Baja, and much more. “You take home-enlightened kids, they love it. Home ‘schooling’ is a total blast.”

(I like both words: “roam schooling” and “home-enlightened,”  I do think we need to rebrand homeschooling in a new, more open way. Unfortunately, “roam schooling” gives the idea but won’t be understood, and “home-enlightened” is still home-based. I love John Holt, but the word he coined, “unschooling,” also has to go.  I haven’t found anything yet that really works  Any suggestions?)

Another man, Jose, said his parents took him many places: community gardening projects, political conventions, city hall, hospitals, schools, churches, civic groups. He participated in spelling bees, attended a hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony and the unveiling of a Microsoft product, and he met and asked questions of authors, doctors, and scientists. He also took classes from various providers and made many friends. After high school – he got an accredited diploma — he took a technical class, got a job, rose to management, and started a business of his own – without college. In working with his clients, he said he “holds his own” with the Harvard grads. (Although college is sometimes a necessity, I applaud anyone who can find success without it.)

Here in Utah parents must fill out a form to exempt their children from public school. Rather than being pinned down, I always wrote, “learning activities take place a minimum of 6½ hours per day, for a minimum of 180 days per year between July 1 and June 30 between 6:00am and 9:00pm and include, but are not limited to, the subjects required by law.” Our family’s learning activities included many real life, away-from-the-desk activities.

As Latter-day Saints, we are commanded that we should engage in scholarship, but we are also commanded to work and to serve. One of the biggest problems with the public school is that it drags things out so long that children lose their desire to learn and families lose precious individual and family time. Learning should be an adventure, and life should include much more than sitting.

Homeschooling should be more efficient than classroom school by virtue of its small teacher-student ratio, the freedom we have to innovate, and the love that drives and bonds a family together. We should accomplish more is less time. Families who follow the plan Elder Bednar teaches us ( see our YouTube video) should be even more efficient and effective as the learn to act as agents rather than being “acted upon” as objects.  And the family should have the help of the Holy Ghost, the only true teacher. Is there a better plan than this?

Thomas Jefferson, the greatest of scholars, recommended studying in the morning and then taking long walks. Experts from the past and from the pioneering days of home schooling, would agree. Charlotte Mason (1842 – 1923) taught that 15-20 minutes was long enough for young children’s lessons and 45 minutes for high school. She would also expect the lessons to be interesting and the children to be self-disciplined.  (The adult Institute class my husband and I attend is 1 1/2 hours and the time flies by.  Our teachers are wonderful and most of us are too old to raise a ruckus.)  I hear often of young boys being forced to sit at their desks until the math is done if it takes all afternoon. I came close to chaining one of mine to his desk, but D&C 121 taught me that wouldn’t work. I gave him his freedom, and he did fine. (I think I could do my part better today.)

Charlotte Mason also insisted on an afternoon outing every day, even in the cold English winters. For my sons, the outdoors was the classroom, or at least one of the classrooms. Another was the shop teacher’s well-equipped back yard workshop. If the heart is not engaged and the brain cells aren’t lighting, what is accomplished?

Raymond Moore and John Holt were contemporaries in my early homeschooling days, although both are deceased now. Both wrote books on the subject. Dr. Moore, a professional educator and college president, taught that only half of the day should be spent in academics to leave time for work and service opportunities. He recommended no formal schooling until 8 or 12, and said mature reasoning isn’t there until 10 to 12, or later if the children don’t have sufficient interaction with adults. John Holt coined the term “unschooling” to describe the unlimited ways children could learn outside of the traditional classroom. The truths these wise men taught endure, but many homeschoolers today seem to prefer the security of an “acted upon” textbook or computer-intensive curriculum.

  • Today we have brain imaging so we know much more about what’s happening in our heads. In Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids, author David Walsh says that children need lots of movement and exercise for healthy brains. Their muscles and brains are connected: * Human survival depended [he’s an evolutionist] on both our muscles and our brains. And new research confirms that exercise not only increases the brain’s ability to focus, but also builds and strengthens brain cells involved in planning, memory, and learning. p.107

He notes that newborn premature infants were once tightly blanketed so they couldn’t move,

  • since doctors wanted the infant’s calories directed toward growing, not wasted on movement. Someone with good sense eventually realized that the premature infant would be turning somersaults and doing handstands if he were still in the womb, so maybe movement was good for a developing baby. Subsequent studies confirmed that gently exercised babies grew more muscle mass and strong bones in their arms and legs. Moreover, their bodies produced more growth-stimulating hormones. . . . If we could peer inside these babies’ brains, we would see neurons sprouting new branches like weeds. Brain scientists now know exercise doesn’t just build strong bodies. It builds strong brains. p.106

He also notes that with the current emphasis on testing, schools are abandoning recess and physical education: 

  • This is counterproductive since brain research shows that exercise during the school day improves brain functioning and raises test scores. p.110
  • Today’s kids don’t just get less exercise at school; their homes are often exercise-free as well, with screen-time the number one activity for kids today. . . the average K-12 student today spends over fifty hours a week in front of some sort of screen. That’s the equivalent of a full-time job. Our bodies and brains were designed to move. p.111

Since “moving and exercising our muscles directly builds better brains,” let’s take frequent breaks in our morning schooling (I highly recommend a mini tramp or running to the corner and back), and in the afternoon let’s play, let’s create, let’s work, let’s serve. And then let’s get innovative about the way we learn in the morning. All this in whatever way works for your family!