Inclusive History Takes More Than a Month

I wrote this article for Heart of the Matter’s blog last March, right after February, also known as Black History Month.    There are those who wonder why Black History Month, or Hispanic Heritage Month or Women’s History Month, for that matter, exists.   I penned my heart here about the importance of teaching inclusive history to our children.   Enjoy and be blessed…

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A Blessed Heritage in Kid’s Language

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

                                                                                                 Psalms 127:3-5

 In my last post, I talked about the value of the search engine, even if most of the searches for this blog do revolve around a natural hair topic.   However, I also get traffic based upon other interesting queries, and it intrigues me to think about what others are thinking when they visit.   Recently, I saw this search parameter listed amongst my latest search data:

   ‘how do you say blessed heritage in kids language’

I’m sure they landed here because of our company, A Blessed Heritage Educational Resources.   However the curious person landed here, I was grateful for the question; it took me back, and it made me think.

Why did I name our company ‘A Blessed Heritage?’   What message was I trying to convey?

It’s the same message I think of every time I sit an allegedly family oriented sitcom on television, or listen to some of the conversation at the dance center (during the few times that I actually sit in the lobby), or even converse with some of the parents at church: society has little that is good to say about children.   Watch any sitcoms show often portray kids as arrogant, deceitful and disrespectful.   Reality shows–the most un-real shows on television, in my opinion–see major advertising dollars from showing the promiscuous female teen and her foul-mouthed male counterpart.   We shared these dynamics with our Sunday school class of 13-14 year olds, many of whom come from middle class backgrounds, but would rather emulate kids with far fewer advantages.    There is something uncool about being smart, in their minds; there is a problem with being a kid who is proud of the promise that God and their parents have placed within them.   The following is a quote from  Alex Harris, author of  the book Do Hard Things along with his brother Brett(both of whom I understand are homeschooled kids, ironically enough) reflect upon the environment in which many are expected to thrive:

“Unfortunately we often get praise for things that weren’t particularly difficult to achieve.  If we focus on the props and encouragement of those who have low expectations for us, we become mediocre.  It can be challenging to set our sights on excellence, particularly when we’re hearing that we’re already there.  One of life’s greatest lessons, which we all must learn, could be expressed in the phrase “That was nothing.  Watch this.”  Challenge yourself and others to call the normal things normal and save that word excellent for things that really are.”  ―    Alex  Harris

Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the nineteenth century, elaborates upon this with his own thoughts on mediocrity:

“Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you – Is your delight in the law
of God? Do you study God’s Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand – your best companion and hourly guide?” If not, Spurgeon said, the blessing of
Psalm 1 does not belong to you.

To live by God’s standards for young people and to enjoy the blessing He promises, we must get beyond simply avoiding bad stuff. To see this we need only look at the theme verse of the Rebelution, 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (NIV). We’re not just supposed to avoid sinning; we’re supposed to pursue righteousness in a way that others will want to imitate. – page 97-98, Do Hard Things

This latter mandate was the type of prompting I felt in my spirit when I began to craft the curriculum.    I wanted to the kids to meet Martin Luther King as a fun-loving prankster as described by his sister in My Brother, Martin so that they see a “regular” kid who did hard things and became a legend.   I wanted our kids to see Cesar Chavez’s passion for the cause of the immigrant farm worker even before he was THE labor activist.   I want them to know what the Lord can do with their loaves of bread and a few fish, brought before the Father in faith.

When I set up the first version of the company’s website, I posted across the header of each page what I still think of as the company’s motto:   ‘to instill pride, to educate minds, , and to change lives.’   I removed it from the revised version of the site, but those words, and that meaning, have never left my head and heart.

I say that you are more than what others expect of you.

I say in accordance with Ephesians 3:20 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 that you have not yet even begun to tap into your destiny.

I say in accordance with John 14:12 that the circumstances in your life are equipping you to do unbelievable things.

How do you say ‘a blessed heritage’ in kids’ language?

Our School in a Notebook

Not too long ago, I read a great article from a friend on recognizing and recuperating from homeschool burnout.    I’ve had that season in my life, but what struck me in reading through her post this time was a quote from Miss Charlotte Mason:

The object of children’s literary studies is not to give them precise information as to who wrote what in the reign of whom? – but to give them a sense of the spaciousness of the days, not only of great Elizabeth, but of all those times of which poets, historians and the makers of tales, have left us living pictures…

That small nugget reminded me of a brief conversation that I had with a customer who asked me about posts using my Blessed Heritage curriculum.   It occurred to me that when our older two used the elementary curriculum, it was pre-blogging.   Remember those days–the Stone Ages?   Anyway, I thought to discuss how we ‘give a sense of the spaciousness of the days,’ and to share some general information about how we use notebooks.

I sometimes get e-mails that express a concern about a younger child “getting it,” and I have responded, though not nearly as eloquently, about what to expect of younger students when completing literature-based curriculum.    A classical approach that is more memory-focused than Charlotte Mason’s would emphasize the memorization of dates, events, and people.   Yes, your child might impress a few more relatives with rote memorization, but does he understand conceptually what he is saying?   Can he place visual “pegs” in history based upon the stories of the period?   Does he talk in “offline” conversations about the books he read?    That is the value of a leterature-based curriculum, and it is perfectly acceptable that a little one does not “get” every story.  He’s not ready for the AP exam just yet; by the time high school has arrived, and he’s seen American history at least once more, he will dialogue about this spaciousness of days in ways that will amaze even you.   

When our oldest narrated her way through this same curriculum, we used a big box of perforated computer paper in order for her to create her own version of history based upon what we read.   I still have some of that paper in a box that is now a part of our scrap/ recycled paper bin!   But, I’ve upgraded our notebook work with pre-printed pages for all the children.   The problem with my youngest is she doesn’t like to color!   So her book is nowhere near as illustrated as the oldest’s book was, but every now and then I’ll say, “Draw me a picture, and I want it in color.”   So, here are several of my favorites:

We don’t just notebook about our history studies; I splurged on  Live and Learn’s pre-printed foldables for the Apologia elementary series.   With CurrClick’s sale, these were far more affordable than some of my previous lapbook purchases from the same company.

When it comes to notebooking, we didn’t stop there!    On last year, I shared our wonderful notebook makeover, and how excited the youngest was to spruce up her learning in this way.   So one of these notebooks became her current events notebook, where she summarizes a couple of articles that she reads through kids’ sites (see our 2012/2013 Curriculum page for details).   Nothing fancy here in terms of her capturing the jist of the articles, but she gets more handwriting practice and an indirect lesson in sentence structure and readability.

By the way, notebooks aren’t just for little people in our home.    Our son has become quite creative with his pages as well!

And though I don’t take the time to illustrate my work as much as I once did (I’m getting back to it), even I’ve “gotten into the act” of narration in order to have even more meaningful discussions with the kids!

 

I’ll confess that I’ve gotten rejuvenated after reading a post from Jimmie Lanley, aka the Notebooking Fairy, lists a number of boards that center on journaling and notebooking.

 

If you are a fan of notebooking or lapbooking, how are you using these tools in your home?

Starting a Home-Based Business, Pt. 3

For those of you waiting on the third (and final) installment of this series, it is published here, and may God bless your hands and heart to do His will, whatever it may be.   Remember, commit to the LORD whatever you do,  and he will establish your plans.   Proverbs 16:3

Also, for convenience’s sake, here is the first article in this series, and here is the second.

Using Social Media

My husband made an observation some months back while trying to send me an online article for later reading: it is hard to just send someone an article anymore.    The assumption is that everyone has a Twitter and/or Facebook account.    So, very recently, he bit the proverbial bullet and became a Twitter enrollee.    After a few weeks of orientation/ experimentation, he and I recently had a conversation that went something like this:

Hubby: “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.   I can’t get anyone to respond to me!”

Me: “Well, who are you following?”

Hubby lists the few people/ organizations that he follows.

Me: “It looks like you’re following people who don’t tweet that much, or people who only tweet as PR for their jobs.   You might have to back up and just find people who share your same interests, and people who actually tweet.    You might search according to your hobbies or…”

I felt funny advising him as to how to find people and make friends (?) via social networking.    I’m very much a novice, and there’s much that I need to learn.    Initially hesitant, if not outright suspicious, of social media, it took me a while to embrace these tools—and I do mean tools—as being potentially effective.    I never had a MySpace account.    I’ve made conscious decisions not to join Linked In; I don’t “Digg” anything, nor do I “Stumble Upon” anything.    At this point, I am strictly a blog/Facebook/ Twitter person.    

I’ll confess that, when first introduced to Twitter, I didn’t contemplate getting involved that much.    I signed up for it somewhat by accident, but was hooked after seeing how I could quickly keep up with a friend and/or family member or two.   It took me a while to pick up the art of stating something about myself in 140 characters, and then making it entertaining enough for people to actually appreciate it and respond.     It took a bit more time for me to extend myself past people that I knew and learn how to seek out people that had my same interests.

Facebook I gave a lot more thought to before signing up.     I’d heard so much about the privacy issues, and there are some concerns.   I grow concerned each time I sign onto CNN.com and see the articles that my friends recommended: how does CNN know who my Facebook friends are?     I grow concerned when students say to me, “I looked you up on Facebook…”    It’s an invasion of my privacy, as far as I’m concerned, and it makes me wary about employers and others who look and make judgments.

Another point of confusion for me was that no one could tell me how their Facebook account differed that much from their blog.   By that time, I’d put so much energy into developing my blog, and I thought that one more social network would take me totally away from those items that I consider to be more about purpose.   I decided, slowly but surely, to give Facebook a try after several friends in small business endeavors convinced me that I was missing out from a business standpoint by not getting on board.

I probably put more way more thought into all of this than was necessary.   Everything doesn’t have to be a heady exercise in reflection, or is it a life-and-death decision regarding typing a few lines about what’s going in your life.   “Tweeting” and mini-blogging (which I consider Facebook to be) can be fun, efficient, and in its own way relaxing.   I get that.    In fact, I played around in the early stages of watching the Superbowl, tweeting about all my observations.    One of my followers later pointed out that Christina Aguilera’s botching of the lyrics to the National Anthem got more press than the latest news from Cairo (‘good to know we have our priorities straight,’ she posts).    She’s right, but hey, it was funny for the time that I stayed online, and I needed the respite as I watched my Steelers go down for the count.    But in order to be a good steward of the time God gives me, I debated internally, and rather seriously, how I might use all of this to my advantage without becoming a slave to any of it.    I know people who spend a significant portion of their day on Facebook, or blogging, or on some other point of connectivity via the web.   I know some who pay outrageous phone bills just to stay in touch with it all.   I know the amount of time that it takes me to craft a blog entry, which is the reason that I only post, at most, twice weekly.    I just choose to do something different with the time I have.

So, at the end of the day, how do I use social media networks?

Blogging—still my favorite of all the ways to connect over the Internet, I pen my heart and mind in the hopes of ministering to others like me, making real connections, and allowing my customers to meet the person behind the products.

Facebook—FB is great for linking with friends and family and sharing photos and quick pics of life as it exists here.  Its major function for me, however, is to share short stories and links that interest me, to find out more about my FB friends, and to jot down thoughts and happenings that don’t necessarily warrant an extensive blog entry.

Twitter—Twitter is what it is—140 characters to very quickly say what you are doing right now.   For one who talks to herself quite a bit, this is a neat way to get some of those random thoughts down in one spot, and where else can you meet amazing business connections by telling someone how absolutely uneventful your life really is :-)?

Recently in her 31 Days of Blog Ministry, Amy Bayliss posted about blog purpose and niche, and suggested reading Hebrews 13 as a place of prayer and seeking God about your blog’s purpose.    This was a blog-changing, if not a life-changing, exercise for me.    For some strange reason, I didn’t like my blog being labeled as a “marriage and family” blog, as one reader referred to it; I wanted to be something more.    But as I read through Hebrews 13, it began to resonate with me that marriage and family are high callings, and viewing the writing of them as boring was a rejection of the gifts and blessings I’ve been given.    If I can eloquently depict a house where God is first and foremost, where peace exists and health and wholeness reign in spite of all that isn’t here, I am indeed blessed and highly favored.    Many cannot.   Comments and “likes” should never be the concern when we are aligned with God’s assignment for us.   He role models the nature of truly effective ministry, reaching one here, changing the life of ten there, and teaching twelve at a most intimate level.    So, having said that, here are the guidelines I use for how I interact on any social medium:

  1. Make straight paths for your feet…   Romans 12:13 (Bullard living translation: Be clear in your communication)
  2. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without no moan shall see the Lord…Hebrews 13:?
  3. Let brotherly love continue…Hebrews 13:1
  4. The Lord is my helper, and I will fear not what man shall do unto me…Hebrews 13:6
  5. …the fruit of our lips give thanks to His name…Hebrews 13:15
  6. Making you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight…Hebrews 13:21

 

As I stated before, by no stretch of the imagination would anyone call me an expert; I’m still learning so much about how to navigate these networks and how to put them to best use for my wants and needs.    These are simply my ramblings musings, and my own follow-up thoughts from my husband’s tweeting dilemma.   I am curious, though:  how do you use social media?