Archive for January, 2009

Dumbing Us Down

My wife and I have decided to homeschool the children God gives us.  We decided this for a number of reasons, but one enormous factor was John Taylor Gatto’s book, Dumbing Us Down.  A short read, the book delves into the philosophical foundations for modern public education, turning them on their heads and exposing all of their deficiencies.

Gatto addresses several subjects:

– Age Segregation:  He shows how segregating children by age for the vast majority of their waking hours is a disservice to any real attempt to educate.  Imagine the absurdity of sending your child to a school where 99% of his teachers only knew as much or less than he did.  But, Gatto argues, this is precisely what we already do, and we have learned the lesson so well that we now have reservations for the old, too.

– The lessons of bells and grades:  Bells teach children that no subject is so important that it cannot be immediately dropped once a bell is rung.  Grades are arbitrary, and yet we make children base their lives, interests, and self-respect on these evaluations from “experts.”

– Privacy:  Children get no time to themselves, to think for themselves, to examine their lives, etc.  After public school comes homework, then television or other activities that don’t help children to cultivate reflection about who they are.  What we need is less school, he says, and more independent study, community service, large doses of solitude, and a thousand different apprenticeships with adults of all walks of life.

– Dependence:  Public education has become adept at “curing” children of their innate love of learning.  Better to let an expert handle what will be learned, read, thought, etc.  We are a nation that now relies upon experts in much the same way.  The society of self-educators is extinct.

– Monopoly: the certification of “experts” in teaching is, in Gatto’s words, “a scam and a fraud.”  He argues that this system has produced disastrous results like teachers unions, whose primary goal is self-preservation, not education of students.  Gatto argues that market forces and private individuals are a much better way to produce genuinely educated communities.  He cites studies which show the shameful results of the current system.

The book has so many powerful ideas– I’m so glad I came across it and read it with my wife before my children were born.  I’m sending copies to all my family who will listen.


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Sanctity of Life

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” Jeremiah 1:5

As parents it is essential to talk to our children about the sanctity of life.  Does anyone have ideas about how to do that (age appropriate)?  We couldn’t make it this year to the March for Life, but we are praying for those who are travelling to our nation’s capital for the event.   I found a great Orthodox prayer service available here: Prayer and Supplication service for the Victims of Abortion.  It’s a shame that the “civil rights” folks, for the most part, are blinded to such a violation of civil rights!

Also it is important that if you are not aware of FOCA to educate yourself about its “change,” and if you feel like I do, sign the petition.

Some more great links for the day:

National Sanctity of Human Life Day proclamation by President Bush

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah for Sanctity of Life Sunday

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wreath_blueTomorrow is finally yolka at our parish.  Yolka, in Russian, literally means evergreen tree and has come to mean Christmas pageant.  Songs, readings, skits, and poems are preformed by the Sunday school classes.  Last year my husband and I led our 7th and 8th grade class in the Legend of the Candy Cane.  The kids each read a bit about what the candy cane represented and how it came about.  This year our class is explaining the meaning behind the classic Christmas song, the twelve days of Christmas.

Many people think of the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, as a secular song like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snow Man, but it was first used as a way to teach children the basics of the Christian faith.

1st DAY:  On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree.  The first day of Christmas, Dec. 25, is the Nativity of Christ— He is the Partridge in a Pear Tree.  A Partridge hen symbolizes Christ who said in the Gospels, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”  The Pear Tree refers to the Lord’s ultimate victory on the Tree of the Cross, conquering sin, death, and the devil.

2nd DAY:  On the second day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Two Turtledoves…  The Two Turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments, which both bear witness to the coming of Christ, as he told his two followers on the Road to Emmaus: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

3rd DAY:  On the third day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Three French Hens…  The Three French Hens are the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope, and Love.  Like the Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian Church:  “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

4th DAY:  On the fourth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Four Calling Birds…  The Four Calling Birds are the Four Gospels of the New Testament, which call out to the whole word with the message of salvation in Christ.

5th DAY:  On the fifth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Five Golden Rings…  The five golden rings are the first five books of the Old Testament, the Penteteuch (PENT-a-TOUK), written by the Prophet Moses, which explains God’s creation of the world, mankind’s fall from Grace into sin and death, and the promise of a Redeemer to bring Adam and his children back to God.  Christ told the Pharisees, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.”

6th DAY:  On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Six Geese-a-Laying…  The Six Geese-a-Laying represent the six days of Genesis in which God created the world, and continues to sustain it in His providence and power.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

7th DAY:  On the seventh day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Seven Swans-a-Swimming…  The Seven Swans-a-Swimming symbolize the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.

8th DAY:  On the eighth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Eight Maids-a-Milking…  The Eight Maids-a-Milking are the Lord’s Eight Beatitudes:
1 Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…
2 Blessed are those who mourn…
3 Blessed are the meek…
4 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…
5 Blessed are the merciful…
6 Blessed are the pure in heart…
7 Blessed are the peacemakers…
8 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…

9th DAY:  On the ninth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Nine Ladies Dancing…  The Nine Ladies dancing represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit from the book of Galatians:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.”

10th DAY:  On the tenth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Ten Lords-a-Leaping…  The Ten Lords-a-Leaping symbolize the Ten Commandments by which we fulfill the first and greatest commandment, to love God with all of our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

11th DAY:  On the eleventh day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Eleven Pipers Piping…  The Eleven Pipers Piping are the eleven faithful apostles, after Judas betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.  As the Psalms say of the Apostles:  “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

12th DAY:  On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, Twelve Drummers Drumming…  The Twelve Drummers Drumming represent the twelve articles of the Nicene Creed.  The Creed, regular like the beating of a drum, sets forth the Orthodox faith upon which the Church is founded.

On each of the Twelve Days, it was the True Love who gave us each of these gifts…

Our True Love is God, the Lover of Mankind, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

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Initial Post

our weddingOver the past few weeks I’ve been reading blogs written by mothers from all walks of life.  Most of these have been by women who share my faith, Orthodox Christianity.  My eagerness to see how other Christian women walk in their daily lives is one more way of preparing for my own journey of motherhood.  My husband graduates law school in the spring, and we are expecting our first child in June, for which we couldn’t be more excited!  There is so much to do before baby is with us– I’m overwhelmed!  I hope that by joining this community of online Christian mothers I can learn some things before baby arrives.  I want to use this blog as a way to chronicle our journey as a new family.

Today as I was doing my blog search I came across Passionate Homemaking.  They are going to begin a book study February 1st on Prac­tic­ing Hos­pi­tal­ity: The Joy of Serv­ing Others by Pat Ennis & Lisa Tat­lock.  This looks like an interesting read so I entered into their giveaway.  If you have a few seconds, comment on their post and enter yourself.  A book study like this will be a great way for me to jump start my blog.

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