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Featured Blogs & Articles

Parshas Lech Lecha: A Homeschooling Lesson from Dr. Buckminster Fuller 10/14 (RabbiResnick)
posted Thu October 30th 2014 @ 12:44 PM


• Weekly wrap-up
• Insights into Homeschooling: a Homeschooling Lesson from Dr. Buckminster Fuller
• The Weekly Parsha - Lech Lecha
• Other announcements

There is a Chassidic epithet that one must live with the daily parsha; well, this certainly has been a week for me of "Lech Lecha!" As many of you know, my family moved to Western MA this week, to the lovely Pioneer Valley. We are not the first homeschoolers in the area, but observant Jewish homeschoolers in this little town? For sure! While I may be a bit of a curiosity to some, it sure is easy to make a kiddush HaShem in these parts!. Our new house was built in the late 19th century, and is quite charming. We would love to host you for a visit! Or better yet, to welcome you as neighbors. 
We are still getting set up, so the computer situation was a bit tenuous Monday and Tuesday, making classes a bit challenging. I am grateful for the flexibility of both students and parents. 
I guess this time of year is auspicious for winging it. I wrote the following a few years ago in my newsletter for parshas Lech Lecha:

For many of us on the East Coast, this week presented some distinct challenges. A winter storm in October left my family without power for about two days. (As I write this, there are still many people in the state without electricity, and staying in shelters.) Due to this, I had to teach classes from the back of a shul, where I at least had heat and an internet connection (and a very good coffee maker. So, can't complain too much!). It worked out okay for the two days I had to teach there, despite an internet connection that was somewhat tenuous. 

The experience made me think alternatively of:

1) How dependent we are on this country’s electric grid system, and the people who run it, and repair it. When there is a problem, we have to sit in a cold and dark home, or shelter, waiting for days for the experts to get around to fixing it. 

2) On the other hand, with an inexpensive netbook and a tenuous internet connection, one can share Torah with students from around the country, from the back of an empty shul in Massachusetts. 

So, how was your week? 

~ Insights into Homeschooling: A Homeschooling Lesson from Dr. Buckminster Fuller ~

We have talked about pressure from relatives and friends that we often face as homeschoolers. I quoted from Buckminster Fuller, the brilliant inventor/author (who was born not far from where I write this, in Milton, MA).

Much of his writing is very terse and difficult to parse. But maybe we can gleam just a little bit to apply in our homeschooling efforts. 

“Fuller believed that school limits the mind and suppresses original thinking.”

He said:

"What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed, and paralyzed, so that by the time most people are mature they have lost many of their innate capacities."

“So he became what he called a "comprehensivist" — interested in just about everything." 

Here’s what Fuller wrote about the awareness of children:

Awareness of the Child

"The simplest descriptions are those expressed by only one word. The one word alone that describes the experience "life" is "awareness." Awareness requires an otherness of which the observer can be aware. The communication of awareness is both subjective and objective, from passive to active, from otherness to self, from self to otherness.”

He even created an equation for this idea:

Awareness = self + otherness 
Awareness = observer + observed

“Although children have the most superb imaginative faculties, when they explore and arrive at new objective formulations, they rely - spontaneously and strategically - only upon their own memory of relevant experiences.

With anticipatory imagination children consider the consequences of their experiments, such as a physical experiment entailing pure, unprecedented risk yet affording a reasonable possibility of success and including a preconception of the probable alternative physical consequences of their attempt. 

For example, they may conceivably jump over a ditch today even though it is wider than any over which they have previously leapt. They only make the attempt because they have also learned experientially that, as they grow older and bigger, they are often surprised to find that they can jump farther and higher than ever before. 

"How do all my muscles feel about it now?" and "Shall I or shall I not try?" become exquisitely aesthetic questions leading to synergetically integrated, physical-metaphysical, split-second self-appraisals and exclusively intuitive decisions. If it's "Everything go!" all thoughts of negative consequences are brushed aside.”

Fuller seems to be talking about a certain sense of meta-cognition employed by children. This idea can dovetail very well with our homeschooling efforts: “With anticipatory imagination children consider the consequences of their experiments.” 

How do your children feel about trying new things? Do we superimpose our own (mature and jaded) adult “anticipatory imagination” on their new experiences? If so, we may be robbing them of their opportunities. Many of us are full of “thoughts of negative consequences,” and it can be hard for us to “brush them aside” so they don't interfere with our children’s new experiences.   

Madeline Hunter popularized the idea of the “anticipatory set.”

Anticipatory Set

Anticipatory set or Set Induction: sometimes called a "hook" to grab the student's attention: actions and statements by the teacher to relate the experiences of the students to the objectives of the lesson. To put students into a receptive frame of mind.
  • to focus student attention on the lesson.
  • to create an organizing framework for the ideas, principles, or information that is to follow (c.f., the teaching strategy called "advance organizers").
  • to extend the understanding and the application of abstract ideas through the use of example or analogy...used any time a different activity or new concept is to be introduced

We probably use this idea, at least unconsciously, to some extent when introducing new homeschooling ideas to our children. It can be a very useful tool for homeschooling parents. And it would seem to overlap with Fullers’ idea about “anticipatory imagination.“ 

Perhaps the trick is making sure that our “anticipatory set” doesn’t squelch their “anticipatory imagination!”

finally, here’s a related poem by Fuller:

Universe to each must be
All that is, including me.
Environment in turn must be
All that is, excepting me.


~ The Weekly Parsha - Lech Lecha ~

Through the covenant of circumcision, Abraham was to attain a higher, more perfect level of divine consciousness, necessary for him to father Isaac. Until now, Abraham possessed the consciousness of the world of Atzilut. Inasmuch as Abraham personified only one of G-d's attributes, that of chesed ("loving-kindness"), his consciousness was limited by this self-definition. To "become perfect" here means that G-d will grant Abraham infinite divine consciousness, which transcends that of the world of Atzilut.

From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky


Read More »

Parshas Noach: "Homeschooling falling from the heavens, and shaking the earth!" 9/14 (RabbiResnick)
posted Thu October 23rd 2014 @ 12:19 PM

Contents: Read More »

Parshas v'Zos haBracha Homeschoolers Manifest Their Destiny! 10/14 (RabbiResnick)
posted Thu October 2nd 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Hello everyone!
I hope you all had an inspiring Rosh haShanah, and I wish everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur fast. Read More »

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