What is diligence? And why am I pondering it?

I was reading a blog today about homeschooling and how homeschooling consists of one part scholarship and five parts love. *

I was thinking about the scholarship bit.

How does this term “scholarship” fit with unschooling? I know radical unschoolers would say that children will learn diligence and scholarship via application to their interests and so in real life.

But what about learning diligence through something you don’t particularly want to do – and then, through the application of diligence, finding out that you do enjoy the activity and find it worthwhile.

How important is this diligence, this one part scholarship?




Well, its not that we live in a home of anarchy – but then, again,maybe it depends on your definition of anarchy.

My computer dictionary defines anarchy as
1. lack of formal government
2. a chaotic situation.

Although we sometimes look like definition 2 above, in reality we have many little routines and pegs to our day – and , as for me, my To Do list is my informal government.

This informal government also rises from our daily and weekly meetings and our spouse and child dates. So, we may appear to have a lack of formal government but we have lots of informal direction and leadership.

And, as Christians and Catholics, we have the guidance of formal, sacred governance.

Why this talk of governance and anarchy?

Jonathon and I noticed billboard posters for a new film with Viggo Mortenson ( or Aragorn, the chick magnet, as Anthony has labelled him!).

Jonathon did a search for the film – V for Vendetta. Apparently small groups of anarchists have been handing out leaflets at showings of the film – they feel that it is a film in support of anarchy.

I commented that, sadly, today’s anarchists seem to be depressed and desolate – to them, anarchy seems to mean not only a chaotic situation but also death and destrution, with no hope for the future.

This would make Kropotkin turn in his grave.

Thus followed a long discussion between Alexander, Jonathon and I on Kropotkin and anarchy. Kroptokin was a Russian anarchist who gave up his royal rights and believed in anarchy as a system of no national formal government. Instead, he believed in the strength of rural communites – each setting their own parameters and learning to live in harmony.

One of my older sons, Greg, has read some of Kropotkin, after we watched the old movie Sneakers – Donald Sutherland plays a character who knows a group of French anarchists and who “talks Kropotkin.”

I have been interested in the concept of anarchy since the original release of the Sex Pistols song Anarchy in the UK. ( deep dark secret time)

Yet, I feel that that Kropotkin’s idea of anarchy is unrealistic. I gave the example last night to the boys of the unhealthy government portrayed in the small community of the film The Village.

I am not an anarchist.

We are not anarchists.

Our family is not anarchial.

But the discussion has been good!


Mental Muscles

I have been to two conferences these last two weeks – last week to a Kumon Education Conference and this week to a Home Education Conference.

At the Kumon Conference, a speaker discussed the film Pay It Forward. I have hired this film for our family to see. Maybe tonight?

The premise of the film is – what would happen if you do a favour that really helps someone and tell him or her not to pay it back, but to pay it forward to three other people who, in turn, each pay it forward to three more – and on and on into a global outpouring of kindness and decency?

This is one of the goals of Kumon – to encourage students to pay it forward – both in education and in being a better person in our community.

At the Home Education Conference one of the speakers discussed high school education, specifically high school Science and the SAT and university entrance. As he discussed his rigorous programme, he used a didactic manner. “Your child must do Saxon Algebra 1/2 at the same time as General or Physical Science. Then Biology. Then serious Science – Chemistry after Saxon Algebra 1.”

And so on.

The women around me fidgeted. We looked uneasily at each other. I know I was feeling inadequate and also bored – imagine how bored my students would be!

Then onto the dais strolled the next speaker. Her words were like a breath of cool air for us all.

Her topic was “Building Mental Muscles.”

She also mentioned SAT scores and high school homeschooling.

However, she talked about homeschooling as a family lifestyle. As a discipline, yes, but also as an atmosphere and a life ( to paraphrase the educator Charlotte Mason).

The mothers in my row took an almost audible sigh of rest.Here was home education at its best – family centred while still academic and soul oriented.

I have experienced the type of education described by the second speaker – in fact, she describes a fair amount of our day to day life over the years.

And my children have grown and achieved. Are still growing and achieving. As are my husband and I.

What was this type of education? How did the speaker build mental muscle ?

She stressed seven areas –


All stressed via every day life, some formal work and lots of discussion and sharing of books.