No classrooms. No homework.

Wandering around museums, reading, looking, talking. Who knows what rabbit trails you will find.
And there lies the beauty, the learning, the education, the atmosphere of relations , for unschoolers.
For we do not plan a museum trip with firm outcomes in mind.
We go. Out of interest. Out of something to do. We know we will learn… But exactly what it is that we will learn, well, that we are unsure of.
Meandering around a local museum yesterday, we knew we would learn about local Australian history. And geography. And culture.
But our Unschooling museum rabbit trail involved far more than that. It involved literature…
Imagine my bookworm heart being excited to find that Trollope, yes, the Anthony Trollope, he of Barchester Towers fame, had visited the early colony in the 1800s. Had even written in praise of the area. Has travelled on one of the first trains to the area . And that, subsequently, there was a landmark named after him. Trollope’s Reach.
A search with google, with my phone and maps, with museum volunteers, showed that no one these days knows of Trollope’s Reach.
But what an interesting trail! And on arrival home, I promptly set boys to look for our novels by Trollope, to tall about his books, to discuss married Anglican Bishops, to display and strew some novels on the dining table, to say to Anthony “Oh my goodness, you haven’t read Trollope? You must!”
A literary museum rabbit trail, within the realm of the expected Australian history education, within discussions and research on female emancipation, convicts and free men, Mary Reiby, the Arndell family, Bligh and Macquaurie and currency and the novel/TV aeries Sara Dane…
And so, as today we, Anthony and I, sit in the airport, on our way interstate to another museum, this time for the King Tut exhibition, I can’t help but wonder what rabbit trails we will find.
Egyptian history, yes.
But possibly there is another window there, a window to a new area, a new interest, to new ideas .
A window to a new Unschooling rabbit trail.
Or.. Perhaps not!
It’s all an adventure anyway.
A homeschooling, Unschooling adventure.
No classrooms. No homework.
Museums and rabbit trails.

Liturgical… What?

Two different masses.

Both outside my parish.

One evening last week I attended a mass with older girl altar servers in attendance. Maybe girls aged eighteen to twenty.

The head or senior server wore a fancy hair do with frangipani flowers in her hair, lots of eye makeup, dangling earrings to match the liturgical year. Very distracting!

Why was I looking and allowing myself to be distracted? I was up the front in one of those altar-in-the-middle churches so no choice but to be distracted when I looked up from my missal and from prayer, to adore Jesus.

Mass the next day was a different affair. A more traditional chapel. Mass, again, in the Ordinary Form. Celebrated with reverence. Altar servers in soutanes and surplices, serving unobtrusively and with dignity.
Sometimes I feel like I live with liturgical schizophrenia!

Are people naive?

Are people naive?

I heard a speaker the other night, one who had been at university and seminary at the time of the Second Vatican Council, talk about his feeling of enthusiasm during the Council.  He felt, he said , that he and others thought that the Council would be a “new Pentecost.” And he said that experience has shown that this was not the case.

Were they really so naive?

So naive as to think that a relatively large drift from tradition in a relatively short period of time would yield positive fruit? When history and human nature shows us that people need guidelines and ritual and routine.  .. take these away and you cause confusion and floundering . And without the safety net of beliefs and customs, there is often a vacuum within each one, a vacuum waiting to be filled… and sometimes it is filled by apathy. Or secularism.

Indeed, instead of naivety and thinking all change is for the good, all change is a  new Pentecost, we can heed the words of the Holy Father….” We are not a production plant, we are not a for-profit business, we are Church . That means a community of men standing together in faith. The task is not to manufacture some product or to be a success at selling merchandise. Instead the task is to live the faith in an exemplary way, to proclaim it and at the same time to keep this voluntary association, which cuts across all cultures, nations, and times and is not based on external interests , spiritually connected with Christ and so with God himself .” (Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World)


A Fifteen Year Old Unschooler’s Reading List

In January, lounging around the sitting room on a very hot day, an idea was formed.

We all love books.

Could we make a list, specific for our interests and for Anthony, an avid reader , of books or authors he could read this year? Our last unschooler, while brothers are at university or away, to read and share? That ongoing family literary discussion.

Of course, the making of the list involved discussion, debate, quotes … And friends on Facebook!

So here is Anthony’s list… A beginning list…

Dickens, Charles – Martin Chuzzlewit

Goldsmith,Oliver – She Stoops to Conquer (play, 18th century comedy)

Shakespeare, William – King Lear

Shakespeare, William – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Trollope, Anthony – Barchester Towers

Eliot, T.S. – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Arnold, Matthew – Culture and Anarchy (Non-fiction, 19th century criticism)

James, Henry – The Europeans

Pope, Alexander – The Rape of the Lock (poem, 18th century)

Dryden, John – MacFlecknoe (poem, 17th century)

Plato – The Apology of Socrates

Aeschylus – Oresteian trilogy (plays)

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Jonson, Ben – Volpone (play, 17th century)

Shaw, Bernard – Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant

Johnson, Dr Samuel – Introductions to King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (18th century criticism)

Swift, Jonathon – Gulliver’s Travels

Contemporary Criticism (I can send through a selection of recent articles from American and English writers)

Hartnett, Cynthia – The Wool Pack

Orwell, George – Animal Farm

Tey, Josephine – The Daughter of Time

Epictetus – Sayings (Stoic philosopher)

The Little Princess

Seven Little Australians

The day I became an autodidact

John Wyndham

John Christopher

Cynthia Violet

Yes Minister

Sir Walter Scott

E. Nesbit

Noel Streetfield

Stories from Opera



To Kill a Mockingbird

Chesterton’s saints (St. Francis, St Thomas)

Waugh’s Edmund Campion

The Andromeda Strain & Jurassic Park

Jane Austen

Little Women

Apologia Pro Vita Sua

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Terry Pratchet

Lepanto by Chesterton

A Fortunate Life

R. L. Stevenson

Joan of Arc  Belloc

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay

Cheaper by the dozen

Belles on their toes

Collin Thiele

Biography of Pope John Paul II (Wiegel)

Tim Winton

No have-tos but hopefully some want-tos. With discussion. And maybe even blogging or email. Or Facebook.




Unschooling Resource Post # Three

What else helps us unschool?

Our form of life without school means weaving education into life , threading an interest into a day, a book into a car trip, a movie alongside dinner.

A shopping trip and a discussion.

Learning to read with computer games and Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes.

Understanding strategies and problem solving playing Warhammer.

That kind of thing.

So what helps us in this life? We cook and we pray, as discussed in recent posts.

With the thread of prayer, our life is woven.

But to weave requires time.

Plain and simple, to unschool requires time. Not always quality time but quantative time. Time spent day after day, day in and day out.

And not even time spent in great pursuits, in learning adventures, or even mindfully.

These sorts of time are important to unschooling, to learning, to memories…but so is the every day time, ordinary time, time spent in the dailiness, the discipline of life…but spent together more often than not.

Time like a morning last week.

The older boys were up and went to university, with a friend who had stayed the night. I was going to work eleven a.m. until six p.m , no six forty-five a.m. start for a change and Mass for St Anthony at seven that night…so I had a slow morning… no rushing, just doing stuff at home, chatting to the fifteen year old unschooler son, doing a workout while he played computer games and then we did chores together. We went to the shopping centre and post office about ten and just had time to talk about inconsequential things … but those things make relationships don’t they? Anthony helped me buy shoes, we talked about his winter clothing needs then I drove to work and he went to the library, to walk home the thirty minute walk later, to do some Maths and Saxon Physics and meet up with his older brother at home to fold junk mail.

Almost sounds like nothing, doesn’t it? But that is the simplicity of unschooling time…. That which is small is actually great. The little spending of time in small things reaps big benefits long term….The chores, the discussion, the reading is woven into learning and relationships and memories and Faith and Love.

The Little Way of Homeschooling. As in that new unschooling book. And that quote, again, of St Therese….”You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love at which we do them.”

religion, Unschooling

Unschooling Resource Post # Two

What else is it that helps our family unschool?

For me it is prayer.

I cannot see how one can unschool, can live one’s life as an open book for one’s children, can share every day, highs and lows, sorrows and joys, busyness and minutiae, without prayer.

Without prayer, my unschooling life would be a hive of activity, needing bolstering with reading and affirmations and subject to individualism.

With prayer underpinning my efforts as an unschooling mum, our busyness can be mindful, our interest driven education and lifestyle can be part of a bigger picture of life as a Christian, in the Church, with service for others.

“All the basic themes are the one you have noted: Do not become utterly absorbed in activism! There would be so much to do that one could be working on it constantly. And that is precisely the wrong thing. Not becoming totally absorbed in activism means maintaining considerario, discretion, deeper examination, contemplation, time for interior pondering, vision, and dealing with things, remaining with God and meditating about God. ” Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World.

Would I be able to unschool without prayer, without this meditation about God? Well, as often as family life provides comfort and satisfaction, as often as I may enjoy the juggling act of work and family, there are many times when things fall…the juggle becomes a heap, a mess. It is prayer that lifts me up from the sometimes messiness of an unschooling life to the experience of Our Lord, His Love…and the purpose of it all.

Prayer snatches me from the everydayness and pushes me towards God, reminding me to be faithful in my vocation, to live with purpose, to share my life unceasingly. To unschool.

That sursum corda in the mass, when my heart and mind is lifted up to the Lord so that I receive the grace to continue in my vocation.

The Holy Father wrote, of liturgy, of public prayer “…the decisive thing is that we enter into something that is much greater. That we can get out of ourselves, as it were, and into the wide open spaces….liturgy, in truth, is an event by means of which we let ourselves be introduced into the expansive faith and prayer of the Church.” (Light of the World)

Talking about unschooling resources? Don’t forget prayer.