Today has been a beautiful day in Bahrain. We have few days here which are warm but not humid with a pleasant breeze. It seems to go from too cold to too hot all of a sudden! Edward had done a couple of hours of what I loosely call ‘lessons’ and I felt it was too lovely to be inside. So we got the tennis racquets out and headed for the compound tennis court to knock a ball around (nimbly side-stepping the court’s many pot holes, exercise in itself!) After doing that for a bit, with Petra as our ball girl, the kids decided it was hot enough to swim in the compound pool, also rather pathetically maintained but the water is clean. I tried to dissuade them. Since it was the first really warm day in a long time, I explained that such a large body of water wouldn’t yet be warm enough to swim in (a little bit of science) but they were dogged and swim they did! It took them a while to get in but Edward in particular was determined to not just dip but swim several lengths. I was full of vocal admiration for them and stood on the sidelines not even dipping in a toe! They sat in the sun for a while afterwards soaking up the Vitamin D and I thought this is the life! This is the way it should be for a 7 year old and a 3 year old, not stuck in a fusty classroom (actually Edward’s old school’s classrooms weren’t fusty, to be fair, but they weren’t flooded by sunlight either).
I got a book today called ‘Homeschooling for Excellence’ by David and Micki Colfax. Three of their four sons went to Harvard. I must say, I did google to find out what happened to their fourth son – how much pressure must he have faced, from Society if not his family! A 2002 article said that he was working with the developmentally-disabled in Sacramento. Now that’s success in my mind! Their homeschooling approach might not suit me at all but I’m certainly interested to read what they’ve got to say and so far it sounds promising, “Some readers may conclude that despite our disclaimers we do in fact have an educational philosophy. If so, it is only that children will learn, will aspire to excellence, if we recognize and respect their different interests and abilities and give them a chance to develop them. In our view, every child is gifted in one way or another. The tragedy is that this is denied every day, in word and in action, in our schools.”
They start their book with a poem by William Blake that I feel I read as a child but had totally forgotten about. I think it is very much worth sharing and unbelievably I read it as the kids were laughing with unalloyed joy in the pool. Serendipity! That’s happened quite a lot since I’ve started homeschooling. It really makes me feel that we are following our destinies and that we are being helped by a higher power. You have got to wonder! Enjoy this, even if you aren’t a homeschooler it is simply a lovely poem, full of a young boy’s longing to play in the summer.
I love to rise in a summer morn;/When the birds sing on every tree;/The distant huntsman winds his horn,/And the sky-lark sings with me. O! What sweet company.
But to go to school in a summer morn,/O! it drives all joy away;/Under a cruel eye outworn,/The little ones spend the day,/In sighing and dismay.
Ah! then at times I dropping sit,/And spend many an anxious hour,/Nor in my book can I take delight,/Nor sit in learnings bower,/Worn thro’ with the dreary shower.
How can the bird that is born for joy,/Sit in a cage and sing./How can a child when fears annoy,/But droop his tender wing,/And forget his youthful spring.
O! father and mother, if buds are nip’d,/And blossoms blown away,/And if the tender plants are strip’d/Of their joy in the springing day,/By sorrow and cares dismay,
How shall the summer arise in joy/Or the summer fruits appear./Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy/Or bless the mellowing year,/When the blasts of winter appear.
William Blake from ‘Songs of Experience’, 1794
Please always feel free to post comments on any of the days you read, however old they are. Your views are valuable and it’s always good to have debate. If you’re busy but enjoyed that day’s blog, please do press the ‘Like’ button at the end of the post. It would be much appreciated as it helps encourage more people to read homeschoolinginthemiddleeast! Any comments about Maths teaching is especially appreciated and suggestions about resources warmly welcome!