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Monday, March 8, 2010

Structured and Unstructured

Party! Party! Party! This weeks carnival of homeschooling is a party edition hosted by Misty at Home School Bytes.com. She has asked me to contribute an article, as I had submitted one last time she hosted.

I actually started this post yesterday, until I realized that it was my last day to blog about the book One Million Arrows (Which, by the way, tells some excellent stories about home schooled families.) That is what happens to the avid procrastinator, you put off Peter to meet Paul's deadline. Or in this case Peter is Misty and Paul is Julie. Well enough with the nonsense, let's get this party started.

I am constantly fighting between myself as to whether my home school personality/style should be structured or unstructured. I have always been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy. At times it has been a necessity. When I was a missionary in Russia, more than once I was asked to give remarks or a sermon 5 minutes before the service started. Doesn't the Bible say "always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)?

Ah! There's the key word, prepared! Often when I am unstructured, it is precisely because I am not prepared. I roll with the punches, rather than put a few jabs in of my own. Most people, like myself, who think they like getting things done at the very last minute are just fooling themselves. They like it because it's the only thing they've ever known.

Unstructured maybe a good style for some. but if unstructured is just a euphemism for lazy, then you have big trouble!

So here I am making a good argument to be structured. But here is the problem, when I try to be structured, I drive my kids and myself crazy. The problem is that when I structure myself, I am a very unforgiving master. If school is supposed to start at 9 and we don't start until 9:05 then the whole day is ruined! There are constant disruptions in our class day. It's the kind of thing you would expect when one of your students is nicknamed Destructo!

What I have been learning the hard way these past 2 years is that structure is good, but too much structure is suffocating. I think structured and unstructured can be on the same boat as Pete and Repeat, if you have good understanding of what structured and unstructured mean.

To me, structured means being prepared and unstructured means being flexible. This is problematic in our house as I have described my procrastination trouble in the past two posts and one of my student's has been telling me for years "I'm not flexible!". Problematic or not I see that I need to be prepared and flexible at the same time. Not unstructured because I wasn't prepared or structured because I'm inflexible.

I, like all of us, am a work in progress. On this past Friday, I got the idea for this post as I was both structured and unstructured at the same moment. On Friday, the last thing Emma does at the end of the school day is to work on her blog. The problem was she had just taken her spelling test and had not done as well as I would have wanted. We were running late (says the inflexible teacher), and I wanted her to move on to her blog, but I also wanted her to write sentences using the missed spellings words. That's when structured and unstructured were sitting in a tree s-c-h-ool-i-n-g. I told her to write a blog post using her missed spelling words.

Here is what my Bunny Girl came up with . . . (This is also available at her blog by clicking here)

I will create a story using these five words: allegiance, geometry, appearance, biennial, and disturbance. Get ready for a cool story about bunnies right now!

At school By Alice

Told by Jenny the Bunny

I was at school, during geometry when there was a sudden disturbance. "Jenny!" said my brother, Benny. " We just saw the appearance of Nero!" I whispered to him, " That cat is for show and tell. He is for the biennial of Whiskers!". Nero is my cat. He is a ancestor of Whiskers, the most famous cat in the B.S.B! I told Benny to bring me Nero after we pledge allegiance to the flag. Mrs. Honey told us to write a report of famous cat or the ancestor of a famous cat. She told us to bring a ancestor of a famous cat or draw one. After we pledged allegiance, Benny came in with a basket. A yowling basket! "Benny! What are you doing?!" I asked. Mrs. Honey asked me,"Will you please do show your show and tell please?" I looked in the basket, put it on the desk and said," Look in the basket. What do you see? The one in the middle is my pet cat, Nero. It looks like she just had kittens. Nero is related to Whiskers. And so are her baby kittens!"

The End.

By the way, B.S.B stands for the Bunny States of Bunny world. Good Bye!

So what do structured and unstructured mean to you? What other interior struggles does home education bring out in you? Please fell free to comment and let me know. Also hop on over to my daughter's bunny blog (pun intended) and let her know what you think of her story. Then do the hop back to the party at Homeschoolbytes for the rest of this weeks carnival.

Next Time: More about One Million Arrows

1 comment:

  1. LOL - Thanks for the article and mentioning my blog - I feel famous, and a bit like your 'structured' persona. . . you WILL send me an article by the deadline or everything else will be off. btw - great solution to use the spelling words and blog at the same time!

    Thanks again,



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