Thursday, July 29, 2010

Learning: The Epiphany Rate

“It is not what a boy has, but what he is, that makes him valuable to the world, and the world valuable to him.”

A couple of months ago, I bought the book, “Ten Boys Who Lived on the Road from Long Ago” by Jane Andrews which was written in 1898. Each chapter shares stories and insight into a twelve year old boy’s life from more than four thousand years ago all the way to the boy who lived in 1888. Andrews shares information about how each boy throughout the ages dressed, lived, schooled and worked in the form of stories.

During the first part of the book the kids were not as thrilled about my pulling it out to read. We would read one chapter at a time and then move on to the next reading book. Despite their resistance, we learned a lot about history, geography, old names of countries like China, traditions, and old weapons. Instead of learning from a dry, watered down text book, we learned through stories of young boy’s lives and it had more impact on us.

By the time we got to the end of the book, the children all commented how good the book was. I smiled because I remembered the times that they would complain because it was dry and the language is sometimes hard to understand. None of that was important in the end. What was important was how the book changed their perspective and increased their knowledge.

In implementing the Thomas Jefferson Leadership education model in personal and family education I love Dr. Oliver DeMille’s idea of the ER or “Epiphany Rate”. He said it’s not the word count or how many books you read that’s important it’s the “Epiphany Rate” or how many times something connects in your mind, makes sense, teaches, or helps you understand. The Epiphany Rate should be your gauge when reading. When I heard that on his recent audio “Lessons from Four Types of Leadership Education” it really made sense to me. I thought of the recent books that changed my life because of the power of the written word, books like the Count of Monte Cristo, and all that I learned about life and even myself as I read the book. Dr. DeMille says this is what we should look for when reading a classic book- the ER or “Epiphany Rate” and it is one I’m now paying attention to when reading books with my children and myself.

Mom's Need Inspiring Too.

As I have mentioned in a previous posting, this is the first year that I am incorporating a plan, albeit a simple one, for my own personal education as a integral part of my children's education. Perhaps, I am moving beyond the core phase myself. It just felt like time. Not that I wasn't doing things that further developed my own personal "well," it is just more formally planned and known by those around me. Before... it was rather spur of the moment. I would share something I read to the kids. Show them something new I learned and always made it a point to share with them when I learned something new. This year... I am formally doing my own studies... still working out what exactly...but still... Mom is "homeschooling" too.

Like many homeschooling moms, I practically devoured any homeschooling information out there. Which of course, made things overwhelming given all the philosophies and options out there, but in doing so, I began to notice a pattern. The ones that seemed most appealing to me all seemed to overlap. Before TJED, the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf Education), were the most appealing but very different than my traditional educational background (aka- My conveyor Belt Education). Much of it just felt right and in my limited study of it seemed to flow naturally in our family. And when I discovered TJED... the two seemed to flow together and TJED was, for our family, a answer to many missing gaps.

Today... I was reading one of my favorite Waldorf Inspired blogs, The Magic Onions, it had a post on the importance of the continual education of Parents and Teachers. It's words spoke so clearly to me. Especially at a time when my personal development is at the forefront of my thoughts these days. Let me share with you some quotes (in red) that I found very inspiring.

Blogger, Melisa Nielsen, shares a quote from Rudolph Steiners, Rhythms of Learning. "The Self Education of adults is essential for the Waldorf approach to educating children, because Waldorf does not consist solely of methods, techniques, or structures, but rather the development of human capacities – those of the children but also, and more importantly, those of teachers and parents.”

I love the phrase, "the development of human capacities." Isn't it wonderful that there isn't a end to that capacity?

Don't you just love the blessings of the internet (and I admit it has its evils too). I think it is vital to remember the Philosophy of "Inspire, not require" doesn't only just apply to how you educate your children. I get so bogged down on requirements, that I placed on myself ,and when I see postings and informations such as this and the other I will mention... it is a breath of fresh air. I need a good homeschooling community of not only real life friends but virtual kindred spirits that inspire me to greater things.
Another awesome posting today I read on Mama Seasons, (nice to know other mamas get "the funk" too. Check out this quote she found:

From the unschooling site:

“If you think you can’t provide a rich, stimulating environment for your kids, maybe they *are* better off in school. Send them.

But if you know that the whole wide world is rich and stimulating, then GET OUT THERE! DO things, BE with your kids. Find cool places to go. Bring new things home. Quit b#@%**’!

If you knew you only had a year more with that child, what would you expose him to? Where would you go? What would you eat? What would you watch? What would you do?

If you had only ONE year—and then it was all over, what would you do? Four seasons. Twelve months. 365 days.

Do that THIS year. And the next.”

Can I just tell you how much I needed that. I can only hope that a life lived to its fullest, is one that won't be regretted. Just how much I need to let go and have faith in the learning process. Back to the Magic Onions, she goes on to talk about just that. Read the posting and think about how it applies to your style. While it is of course from a Waldorf perspective you could easily replace the word Waldorf with "educating children" or even TJED

“The self-education of adults is essential to educating children, because educating children does not consist solely of methods, techniques, or structures, but rather the development of human capacities – those of the children but also, and more importantly, those of teachers and parents.”

Now take a look at this additional Rudolf Steiner Quote. I am going to interject some TJED corresponding stuff in red.

“If one observes children who, through proper upbringing, have developed a natural reverence for the adults around them [CORE Phase}, and if one follows them through their various phase of life[TJED_ Core, Love of Learning, scholar, Depth and Mission], one may discover that their feelings for reverence and devotion in childhood gradually transform during the years leading to old age. As adults, such persons may have a healing effect on others, so that through their mere presence, tone of voice, or perhaps a single glance they spread inner peace to others.[Perhaps this can be attributed to a completion of each phase, few or no gaps or repair work to be done] Their presence can be a blessing, because as children they have learned to venerate and to pray in the right way. No hands can bless in old age, unless in childhood they have been folded in prayer.[For many families, this is a vital part of the Core Phase]

The beauty in this, is that even though we are having to do all of this "repair work" for ourselves, our kids don't necessarily have to... depending on you. I know... pressure. But remember... "It's about YOU, not them." Focus on healing you and and that inner work you do now will affect your posterity. Ok... enough for such a late night. Just thought I would share some inspiration I found today.

Note to self... get a copy of

“Rhythms of Learning” by Steiner
and check out the unschooling site.
It's good to be homeschooling. Now its your turn... share with us your inspiration. What is inspiring you to develop your personal education?

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Book by Edgar Guest

“Now” - said a good book unto me -
“Open my pages and you shall see
Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine,
Gold and silver in every line,
And you may claim them if you but will
Open my pages and take your fill.

“Open my pages and run them o’er,
Take what you choose of my golden store.
Be you greedy, I shall not care -
All that you seize I shall gladly spare;
There is never a lock on my treasure doors,
Come - here are my jewels, make them yours!

“I am just a book on your mantel shelf,
But I can be part of your living self;
If only you’ll travel my pages through,
Then I will travel the world with you.
As two wines blended make better wine,
Blend your mind with these truths of mine.

“I’ll make you fitter to talk with men,
I’ll touch with silver the lines you pen,
I’ll lead you nearer the truth you seek,
I’ll strengthen you when your faith grows weak -
This place on your shelf is a prison cell,
Let me come into your mind to dwell!”

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mother's learn Too

Our family plans on starting structured time schooling again August 2nd and that doesn't mean just the kids going back to school. The philosophies of A Thomas Jefferson Education that influence our homeschooling involves me too. One of those philosophies involves mom.... "It's about YOU, not them." If they don't see me studying then how can I expect the same of them? All too often though they see my studies in scrapbooking and knitting as craft time. While I may be researching techniques to apply or following a pattern... to them it looks like fun and not the work that they are accomplishing. So I thought this fall during our structured time, there would also be "schooling for mom." What is glorious about this is that it forces me to take the time to learn something that I have been putting off or to read something I haven't. I thought for now, a modest goal of reading four books and a topic to delve into and then share with my kids would be a mother-sized goal for me. So when we go to the Library, I have a task of books to seek out as they do. They can see me study in a way they do and not just in the fun ways.

So lets start with the four books. I figured I should get back to working on the Thomas Jefferson Education 5 Pillars Certification books and also put the requirement that I write a book report about each one.

Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew

Holt, How Children Learn

Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

So.... what about this project? I figure that it needed to be something that I want to learn a skill in. Perhaps something that would put me out of my comfort zone.... just a little. I was thinking perhaps Photography. Perhaps I could sign up for a class through the rec center or community college, but then I wondered if it would inspire in me a huge dissatisfaction with our camera. Well that is one option, but what else?
I also really need to learn to sew. The kids wants so many costumes and what nots... it would be nice to have the talents to do those things. But once again, I worry that the kids will think I am having more fun than them. Hehehehe! Part of my reason for doing this is, that not only do I want to make cool things but I also want Cassie to have these skills going into her adult life (and some basic sewing at least for the boys too) as I didn't have them. So perhaps a class at JoAnn's fabric or the Rec Center.So for now, I have at least two topics to ponder and decide on. So how about you? What do you plan on learning this coming fall. Don't forget to take time to continue learning yourselves.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Need to Learn of our Country's History & the Constitution

Declaration of Independence

Our country is in a mess right now and things are getting worse by the day. One of the biggest problems is that few people in our country know any of its history let alone the constitution. The elected officials are disregarding the constitution and trampling over the rights of the people.

That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people...And that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, A MAJORITY of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal. (Annals of America 2:432 --Virgina Declaration of Rights section 3)

Because of the ignorance on the side of the people and willful ignorance to the Constitution on the side of the elected officials the government has crossed the line of government. Instead of getting control of the oil spill and many other important issues going on in our country the government is more focused on taking away more rights of the people. Just yesterday I heard of the "worry and concern" the government has over obesity in America so they decided to add a tax on all sugary beverages such as Coke or Gatorade. This is only trivial compared to what is going on in the Arizona and border control issues.

It is time to awaken the sleeping giant. We as parents, homeschooling or not, need to learn all we can about our Constitution and history and then teach it to our children. We need to adopt the attitude John Adams did...

The science of government is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the art of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take [the] place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. 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 and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

Where to begin?

"The first thing you could do, please, is get 'The 5,000 Year Leap,' says Glenn Beck. "Over my book or anything else, get 'The 5,000 Year Leap.' ... It is the principle. It is so easy to read. It's the book Ronald Reagan wanted taught in high schools and Ted Kennedy stopped it from happening. That should tell you all you need to know. ... When you read these principles, your mouth will fall open. ... The scales will fall off your eyes on who we are. ... It will help you understand American free enterprise. You'll be able to defend it. You'll be able to know what makes it possible for 6 percent of humanity living under our free economy to produce one-half of the Earth's developed wealth every single year."
(Thanks to

Here is a sad, sad example of where our country is today...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We Had the Baby - Baby #8!

Shiloah and Braedon

So, we were told that the baby was a girl and while the boys were disappointed we prepared for a little "sister". We bought all pink and purple, frills and bows. It was one of my best pregnancies ever. I was running until my 7th month. After 9 weeks of bed-rest and contracting I got back on the elliptical for the last 3 1/2 weeks of the pregnancy. (Baby was overdue by 5 days).

Braedon Carter Baker was born after 1.5 hours of labor 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20 inches long at 2 a.m. end of June... Much to the relief of his shocked and exhausted mom, dad, his 7 excited siblings, Daddy's chain of command and the gym staff and everyone else that knows us...IT'S A BOY!!! {Not a girl as we were told!}

Braedon Carter

Ben was tickled "blue" and so was Benjamin. Everyone else was excited too, except little Bella who insisted a girl would be better. :) I think she's used to her brother now.

Ben, Shi, Braedon

FYI- Because we are so thrilled about our new son, we're having a sale at the

Deluxe Edition Magazine
Coupon Code: new-baby for 50% off Deluxe Subscriptions