Random This and Also That

K-Drama: For those of who were interested in Mystery Queen, the D-Krama about a housewife with a knack for detecting and a cranky tempered elited detective who team up together and solve crimes- the reason for the bizarre ending is that there was supposed to be a season 2.  You can read more about that here.  And now there is a season 2.  I watched episode and it was really funny.  I’m not sure if I will stay up to date with this one or wait until it’s done because:

~I now have trust issues because of the abrupt way they turned off the lights and closed the door, leaving viewers with gaping mouths, attempting to find our way out of the dark. I don’t trust them to resolve the issues.
~I don’t love this actress, and I especially don’t love this actress continuing to play cute ingenues.  IT’s kind of weird, because last season it felt like they tried to have her a tiny bit more grown up than the stuff she usually plays- she was married, after all.   And this season they are making her too cutesy and much younger and it just doesn’t work for me.  I just don’t think she matches well with the parts she plays in the last few years.  That’s possibly not her fault- that may be the only work she’s offered that pays the bills.  It just means while watching my cynical self is rolling its eyes and commenting that she seems more like his aunt than his girlfriend, and she’s too old and too experienced with crime to be this dewy eyed bashful about whether or not to hold hands with the guy she’s been crushing on for two years.
~I don’t like this pairing as a romantic pairing. They are fine as friendly co-workers, and a good detecting team. But I’m just not sold on their chemistry/romance. And they act like bashful teenagers who have never so much as kissed another person before, when she’s been married for years, and he was in a very serious relationship. Everything is off.
~ I’m not really drawn in to the life history stuff here- the reasons for her marriage and the reasons for her divorce, whatever is going on with the cop’s previous girlfriend, none of it worked or felt true to me. I know it’s fiction and really, any one of these things and I would love the show anyway (given a good season 2). But all of them make me disengage while watching.  But, again, the first episode was mostly incredibly funny, even while dealing with a pretty nasty set of criminals.

Baking in the Philippines

Living in the Philippines, my oven is a tiny toaster oven. I’ve had trouble finding recipes w/ingredients I can get adapted to my little toaster oven. I realized today I should be searching for Easy Bake Oven recipes.

I baked 3 1/2 batches of sugar cookies. In my oven that means 21 cookies. My Visaya language teacher was very impressed, so that was worth it.

I baked 2 batches of peanut butter cookies yesterday.   That’s 12 cookies for those keeping score at home.

The only pans I have that fit it are the flat tray it came with (that’s what holds six cookies), and four very small pans- 3 of them hold about 1 1/4 cups of cake batter, and the fourth holds more like 1/2 to 3/4 cups of batter.  Only 3 of those pans fit in the oven at the same time.



Leftist: Pence wants to kill gay people so he’s bad.

Fellow leftist: I think we should kill Trump and then kill Pence.
1st Leftist: No, I don’t know when he said that but it’s objectively true.
What ‘conversation’ is possible here? https://twitter.com/fleccas/status/969276951285317632

Call out culture:  I forget what it was I was reading, but it was recommending somebody call out somebody else very publicly for something that was really quite minor and in circumstances that made calling them out more obnoxious than usual.  It reminded me of TTW  my son was called out by his high school teacher because he said something like ‘she’s disabled’ and she overheard it and rebuked him in class (politely enough, but still irksome) because he should have said she is a person w/a disability’ instead because otherwise he was ‘depersoning’ the person and making it about her disability and not her.  She thing  boasted of her own roll as ‘activist for the disabled community’.
Not ‘community of people with disabilities?
Also, my son was referring to his his own sister, and in the context of the discussion the disability part was the point anyway.  And also, my son later when he told me about it: “I don’t remember seeing her around here at breakfast this morning, helping my sister get dressed and fed, in fact, I haven’t seen her around here, ever, so she maybe she should save her ‘advocacy’  corrections for people who don’t live with and love and take care of somebody with a disability 24 and 7.’ (I’m paraphrasing, but yes.)

Life in the Philippines

They are building a house next door to ours and by next door I mean it’s essentially a condominium and our house is the other side.  The wall of the other house is flush to our fence- out fence is part of that house wall. That’s about 3 feet from my bedroom and bathroom windows.  It’s noisy and dusty.  So dusty that the sheets on the line had to be washed a second time the other day.  The construction workers annoy the dog by existing, and then he annoys them by barking like an idiot all day and then they get irked and yell at him and sometimes throw things at him.  Also, they have started calling him Afritada, which is basically like calling him “Dog Stew for Dinner.”

Mom to College Boy thousands of miles away: I send him a box of food via Amazon every month (or Walmart) – a constant tension between competing factors- my budget, me wanting to feed my kid because I’m the mom and he’s the youngest, him being kind of picky, me wanting to feed my kid healthy food and him wanting to eat junk. Mostly, I lose.  I draw the line at some things, though. We have a long tradition of everybody just knowing that I don’t buy sugary cereal except for dessert for very special occasions (.99 sale is a legit special occasion).   So I have not yet added a box of his favourite, frosted mini-wheats, to the package.  I seriously considered it last month and at the last minute changed my mind.
Instead, I bought him a five pound bag of peachies.

I know. I don’t know what came over me.

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Socrates on Writing: will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it

Why did I not know this?

“For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” (Phaedrus)
And also
“He who thinks, then, that he has left behind him any art in writing, and he who receives it in the belief that anything in writing will be clear and certain, would be an utterly simple person, and in truth ignorant of the prophecy of Ammon, if he thinks written words are of any use except to remind him who knows the matter about which they are written.”

Read more about Socrates and his aversion to new information technology as well as other get off my lawn types through history here.

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Formal Education (and Screens) Too Early Causes Later Delays

“Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” paediatric occupational therapist Sally Payne from the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust told The Guardian. More here

Early Academics is not doing the kids any favors:
“Early academic training somewhat increases children’s immediate scores on the specific tests that the training is aimed at (no surprise), but these initial gains wash out within 1 to 3 years and, at least in some studies, are eventually reversed. Perhaps more tragic than the lack of long-term academic advantage of early academic instruction is evidence that such instruction can produce long-term harm, especially in the realms of social and emotional development.

For example, in the 1970s, the German government sponsored a large-scale comparison in which the graduates of 50 play-based kindergartens were compared, over time, with the graduates of 50 academic direct-instruction-based kindergartens.[2] Despite the initial academic gains of direct instruction, by grade four the children from the direct-instruction kindergartens performed significantly worse than those from the play-based kindergartens on every measure that was used. In particular, they were less advanced in reading and mathematics and less well adjusted socially and emotionally.”

We are spending too much time imagining that we are teaching small children useful knowledge through screens and print over free, messy play. But think about it- do you learn more about how to make a cake and how it tastes by reading about it, or by baking and eating a cake- probably more than once?

Do you really understand the properties of water by reading about it and watching an educational video or ten if you haven’t ever been allowed hours and hours of mucking about in the water, making mud pies, digging out little streams, rivers, dams, and lakes in your backyard, by the side of a creek, at the lake? Everything you learn later through print, lectures, and media makes more sense if you already have the conceptual framework developed by actually just playing and messing about with mud, water, wood, stone, sand, grass, clay, bread-dough, flour, water, sugar, hills, and all that messy stuff that ought to be our children’s birth-right.

For young children, setting the table, counting out cookies or pieces of fruit to serve guests or buy at the grocery store, divvying up the legos or blocks to share with young friends, counting the seashells or buttons in a collection, sorting them into categories chosen by the child without outside interference, counting the stairs going up and down, counting spoonfuls of jam in a jam-cake, matching the shoes and socks, helping to weigh produce at the grocery store- all these things are more important tools for building math skills and the conceptual understanding for meaningful STEM knowledge thgan rote counting or other formal math skills. The rote counting or other rote memory math facts might as well be gibberish for all the good they do a child who has never learned a real world grasp of numbers, one to one correspondence, the concrete nature of the numbers he’s working with.

It’s like deciding to build a house by putting on the roof first, without any foundation or load bearing apparatus, with no beams supporting the roof beneath.

“Children must master the language of things before they master the language of words.”

—Friedrich Froebel, Pedagogics of the Kindergarten, 1895

“In one sentence, Froebel, father of the kindergarten, expressed the essence of early-childhood education. Children are not born knowing the difference between red and green, sweet and sour, rough and smooth, cold and hot, or any number of physical sensations. The natural world is the infant’s and young child’s first curriculum, and it can only be learned by direct interaction with things. There is no way a young child can learn the difference between sweet and sour, rough and smooth, hot and cold without tasting, touching, or feeling something. Learning about the world of things, and their various properties, is a time-consuming and intense process that cannot be hurried.” (more here)

Let them make messes, poke bugs, make an unsightly hole in your yard, get splinters and skinned knees and take a few tumbles. Let them be bored. Let them go barefoot, dig holes, climb trees, wash dishes, play in the sink, spill things, squish bread dough, drop pieces of bread into their glasses of water or milk and experiment with what floats and what doesn’t. Let them find out what happens when…. Give them the time, the space, the freedom, and the boredom that result in those real world experiences and experiments. Put away the screens, and don’t give in to the grumbling.

Posted in Charlotte Mason, education, homeschooling | Leave a comment

Here and There: Culture Stuff

Culture… “is something inculcated into you from your very earliest breath, your very first awareness of the world…. ” At the very basic level, people from other cultures move differently. They shop differently, they think differently and they live differently.” (Sarah Hoyt, in a longer post on immigration stuff)

I find cultural differences and distinctions and the possible reasons for them endlessly fascinating (not the uguly diferences, like the fact that in one culture victims of rape are punished by public lashing, and child brides are hunky-dory). Part of that is also discovering the false assumptions we make about other cultures because of those differences. I’ve talked about this a bit before, but, for example, while we have this idea that Asians are very indirect and Americans are very blunt and straightforward, and this is generally true. Except for when it isn’t.

In the two Asian cultures I am most familiar with it’s perfectly respectable and straightforward to discuss a woman’s menstrual cycle in mixed company, in public, on television (I saw a Korean talk show where an older singer was asked how old she was when she stopped menstruating and everybody was genuinely interested and super impressed with how late it was). REgular bowel movements can also be an appropriate topic of conversation outside of your medical provider. It’s okay to ask about how much stuff in your house cost and how much you make and similar personal questions about money. People who come to my house think absolutely nothing of picking up my electric bill off the fridge and reading it in front of me, and then commenting on the size (previously, it was too large, since we stopped running the air-con at all, I’ve had a couple Filipinas comment that our bill is smaller than theirs). I’m putting a paragraph break here because if you’re American, try to imagine my efforts to control my face the first, second, and third time this happened.

It’s not only acceptable to ask a woman’s age, knowing everybody else’s age is something of a social necessity. People can and do comment on your weight, body size, and personal appearance in not necessarily complimentary ways. They aren’t being insulting, it’s just that for most Americans, we generally can’t say anything about somebody’s personal appearance that might be less than complimetary unless we want to be rude and insulting or we’re talking behind their backs.

I floored a couple younger friends (Korean and Filipino) when I told him that if I were in the U.S. and I happened to pass by somebody in public who was sobbing, in most cases, I would probably feel like I had to stop and ask if I could help with something. I would probably pat them on the back or touch their shoulder if it were a woman, or a youngster. My Filipino friends couldn’t believe it, because a significant difference between Filipinos and Americans is the issue of personal space- Americans have a huge bubble, and Filipinos wil not only sit hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder with total strangers on a jeepney bench, when somebody leaves the jeep, they won’t spread out and take the newly open space, they just keep their sardine like seating. But he would never stop and touch a stranger who was crying. And for the Koreans, that would be embarrassing to both parties, and the kindest thing to do would be not to notice.

So, yes, generally speaking, Americans are more direct and have stronger personal space expectations, but in some ways, we also have different things that are acceptable to be direct about. The utility bill thing still astonishes me, but I’ve squelched the automatic indignation that arises.

We have ten months left to live here, and I made a list of the things I’m looking forward to, the things I will miss the things I won’t. Spot some culture clues:

Just for fun and mostly not really very serious, here are a few of the things I look forward to when we go back to the US (mostly in no particular order)
1. My grandkids, their parents, my two youngest kids, and my mom.
2. Fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries (they have strawberries here but they are super expensive) and peaches. If there are any berries I left out, I miss them too.
3. Sausage that isn’t sugary
4. Lunchmeat that tastes the way I am used to lunchmeat tasting.
5. Tomatoes with real tomato flavor. These tomatoes are the size of golfballs and completely flavorless.
6. Spring and Autumn, though it occurs to me that one of the pleasures of spring is that it’s been brown and colourless all winter so we’re starved for colour. The flowers bloom around the year here
7. Rhubarb pie, pumpkin pie
8. Being able to get in the car and go somewhere without walking to find a cab or trike
9. Plumbing related: Hot baths, which is funny because I’m not a bath person, but not being a bath person is not the same as never being able to take a bath because there are no bathtubs. Hot running water in every sink, being able to flush toilet paper in the toilet, double sink in the kitchen, a dishwasher
10. My mom’s tri-tip on the grill.
11. Many little efficiencies, because while I do love the relationship first and the time a transcation takes is irrelevant and the slow pace attitude, I also miss being able to know that it will take five minutes to dash into the convenience store, grab a bottle of milk and dash out, and I don’t aways want o go through a conversation about how many kids I have and how long I’ve been in Davao and where I am from in the U.S. just to buy a couple t-shirts and pasalobong at the department store.
12. Being able to buy clothes that fit me
13. You, and you, and you… (I started to list some people but then realized I would leave somebody out)
14. My books

Things I do not expect to miss:
1. Trash, litter, garbage along the side of the road, at the beaches where they don’t have people raking it up, and the accompanying smell that goes with spilled garbage and a hot climate
2. Having to go to the mall to pay the bills for various utilities- and not just one mall. No. The electric bill gets paid at that mall, and that store, the water bill elsewhere, and the internet bill at a totally different mall.
3. Being agreeably told yes, we can do that when the answer is really, “No, no way, not at all,” or just “I dont know.” I *understand* this cultural difference, and sometimes I can even tell when the answer is really no or I don’t know- but it’s still tough to figure out how to phrase my questions in a way that won’t be hurtful or rude and will gain the information I seek.
4. Being unable to go places if the cab fare is too much (because of the Cherub we don’t do jeepneys and bikes can’t go to some places).
5. Neighborhood children ringing the doorbell and running away (this is justice because I did this too as a child, and I am sure it still happens many places in the U.S. just not where we live)
6. unreliable internet.
7. Paying a jack of all trades neighbor to fix a leaking outdoor faucet and finding that part of the fix included cutting up a rubber glove I left by the outside sink and using it to tie the thing together.

(Addendum: These humidity levels, and the construction next door)

What I do expect to miss in random order mostly):
1. The people, the people, the people. People at church, people in the neighbourhood, people from the school, people we just got lucky to meet.
2. The fruit (except for Durian)
3. Fresh seafood
4. cabdrivers and trikes
5. the neighborhood kids, even the rascals who ring my doorbell and run away.
6. crispy kangkong
7. sinugang soup
8. bangus
9. Being able to afford a katabang and all the other things we can afford here that we can’t in the U.S.
10. The people
11. The sea
12. These amazing flowers
13. The people
14. Hopia bread
15. The people at church (last week one of the older gentlemen related the story of being baptized in a Carabao watering hole, and he told it in Visaya and I UNDERSTOOD HIM!)
16. All things buko and pandan
17. Korean everything and everyone. I have my own little private fan-girl sessions every single week over all of it. I get giddy when my little girl I tutor bows and gives me a formal goodbye in Korean. I get warm all over when one of the Korean co-workers gives us some kimchi (and not just because of the pepper). I practically hug myself in delight when I get to have an English conversation session with a Korean friend and co-worker. Just all of it.
18. Cute clothes that fit the Cherub and are affordable
19. Sari Sari stores- when I find myself out of coffee or out of soy sauce I can slip on my shoes and dash across the street, or two or three houses up or down the road and buy a pouch of instant coffee for tencents, a foil packet of soy sauce for 20 cents, and a candy bar on impulse for 20 cents.
20. How really kind, patient, and interested people are with the Cherub, people at church who make sure they greet her and shake her hand, guards at school who make sure to tell her hello and patiently wait for her to wave back, and just people who take time to pay attention to her.

And a lot more.

Posted in Davao Diary | 1 Response

Is a CM Education for All? Principles, part II of III

Part 1 is here.

My premise is that yes, certainly a Charlotte Mason education is for pretty much everybody. When it isn’t, it’s because of two reasons:
1. somebody has misunderstood what a CM education is, or
2. Something is clinically wrong. Our Cherub, for instance, cannot really participate in much beyond the 9th principle- but for most children, yes, I do think this form of education is for the majority of all humans, and elements of it apply to every one of us.

Let’s pick up with principle 12:

“12. Education is the Science of Relations”; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––

“Those first-born affinities
“That fit our new existence to existing things.”

An affinity is a natural connection, a relationship, a sympathetic interest. It can also mean a ‘Relationship by marriage.’ This starts to make sense of what Miss Mason means when she says that ‘education is the science of relations.’

You see, the more things we know and find interesting, the more connections we discover between those old things and new things we learn- the more we know, the more we can know, and the more we care about things, the more interested we will be in knowing more. This isn’t some esoteric nonsense that only applies to a few people. This is the way the world, and human nature, work. It’s a description of things as they are, and it’s true for all of us. We all have ‘affinities,’ and there’s something uniquely special about those formed in childhood.

For the rest, do we really need to argue about whether or not it’s true that all children need some form of physical exercise? All children benefit from knowing nature lore, from knowing things about the world around them, from handicrafts, science, art, and living books.  None of us are better off for not knowing these things.


13. In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered:

(a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.

(b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity)

(c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.”

As born persons, it’s obvious that they are born living.   Living organisms are sustained, they grow and develop, on what they take in, not by what is applied from without.  Whatever is applied from without might help or hinder proper growth, but it doesn’t nurture, sustain, and produce growth. Good shoes can protect feet, bad shoes can hurt them, but the shoes are not what make the feet grow. Food for the body must be nourishing and must be the sort of thing the body can absorb and derive nutrients.  Panda Bears thrive on a massive diet of bamboo because that is the food proper for
them. The food proper for the human mind is ideas.  Where there is a human who cannot take in and learn and grow from ideas, that is a human who is in need of a permanent care-giver, and I am not being rude.  Something has gone wrong.   But when a child’s mind is able to develop beyond that of an infant, that mind needs food and that food which nurtures minds is ideas, not merely facts. This is true of all humans.

I suppose some may chafe at the notion that all children should learn from books written in well chosen language and that children respond to what is conveyed in story form. For my part, I have known thousands of children to ask to hear a story, and I have never known one normal preschooler or school aged child to plead for his parents to recount the multiplication tables or a list of dates just for fun. I have known a few children who like to show off by recounting lists of memorized facts, but that’s different from wanting to hear somebody else perform the same demonstration.
Every culture has beginning stories, traditional stories told around the hearth or campfire or bedside, stories designed for teaching children the cultural standards and norms. Genesis begins with stories, not the geneologies.  Since all cultures do tell stories it seems that stories are uniquely suitable for all humans.


14. As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should ‘tell back’ after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.

I first heard this principle iterated to me in a sixth grade science class by a teacher who had likely never heard of Miss Mason.  He told us that unless we could communicate what we had learned, we couldn’t really say we had learned it, and untill a scientific experiment had been written down and communicated to others, it was essentially incomplete.  “Telling  back” can be done in a variety of ways- the point is that they must reproduce the knowledge some way, in written form or oral, via a drawing, a skit, a report- the thing that matters is the telling back.


Your child might tell back by writing a poem, painting a picture, making a test, talking about it to you over the dishes, calling Grandma on the phone to tell her about it- all sorts of ways.  The telling back is the essential part, reproducing knowledge, working through it in his own mind.  This is often harder than it seems, but it’s no less worth doing.

I’ll cover the final five principles in a week or two.


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