Monday, January 25, 2010

The saga continues.

Okay, so, things have changed once again around here. My oldest son, the one that went to boarding school last year, tried home school/community college last semester and hated it. The schedule was erratic and left him with far too much unscheduled time. His time management skills just weren't developed enough for that system to work for him.

So now, he is at the local Catholic High School. We are on week two.

I am happy to have some help with his education. The transfer process was simple, respectful, and gave me some peace about this decision.


Last night I see he has been assigned "Catcher in the Rye" for his honors English class.


Not what I would have chosen for him to read.

After thought and discussion with my husband, we decided to guide his learning about this book and find out more what direction his teacher at school is taking it. We have an already planned meeting with his teachers in a couple of weeks, so we can share our views on Literature and Great/Good Books and learn about his teacher's objectives.

There is no easy way to educate your children. It is like childbirth. Home schooling to me is like giving birth without an epidural. Intensely painful, but rewarding. Sending kids to a brick and mortar school is like birth with an epidural. Less intensely painful, but a terrific accomplishment none-the-less. With an epidural, birth does not become painless, easy, or non-complicated. There is no way to give birth without experiencing pain, sacrifice, and suffering. The same goes for educating your children. I may not have to interact with every moment of my son's education now, but it is still going to require work from me, interaction with me, and probably some suffering from me.

So, any opinions on "Catcher in the Rye"? Words of wisdom? Salvageable study points so this book isn't just a waste of time for him?


Blogger Melanie Bettinelli said...

I have to confess, I've never read Catcher in the Rye. I managed to avoid having it assigned to me in schools and never felt a need to seek it out. Just what I've heard about it secondhand has convinced me it's not my cup of tea. But now I'm thinking maybe I should just read the darned thing for precisely this kind of purpose-- so I can have something intelligent to add to the discussion.

I suppose in your situation I'd take the tack of looking at it as a piece of historical evidence rather than a work of literature. It is a work which has been widely read, which has touched many people, which has been put on many curricula. So I'd approach the work with an eye to finding out why this particular book speaks to a certain generation so strongly even if it is lacking in greater literary merit. You could discuss other novels which have been popular in their time but have been forgotten. You could discuss how and why reading lists are put together and what values they reflect. Those at least are the sorts of questions I'd have as I picked up Catcher to read it for the first time.

January 25, 2010  
Blogger Renee said...


Thank you so much for your time to answer my question. As you can imagine, I have been wracked with self doubt about "retiring" from teaching high school, but truly felt something had to give. Your input helps me to not feel helpless about an assignment I am not thrilled about.

We are hoping to send my older girls to the same school next year, to free up some of my time to expand the home education of the other 4 school age kids and then also to care for and love up the baby. I am using this semester as a learning curve to assist me in the process. Thanks again.

January 25, 2010  
Blogger Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oh I so sympathize both with the feeling that something has to give and with the guilt and self-doubt. I know that feeling of helplessness, of wanting to be in control and realizing that you have to give some things over to others to do even if they won't do it the same way you would. Sometimes it seems God takes these things from me that I am convinced only I can do to help me become more humble, to whack away at that pride that so often trips me up. Oh but it hurts.

I'm glad if I am able to help. In your situation I'd also remind myself that as much as I think homeschooling is optimal, I myself am the product of some very fine private and public schools. And I managed to survive having some pretty bad teachers too. In fact, in thinking back on my experience I did learn something from even some of those bad teachers... if only some lessons in how not to teach. More though, I think in watching how they bungled the process, they helped me to see my own passion for learning. It offended my sensibilities to see education done so poorly. See even sub-optimal situations can be seen to bear fruit if you look at the bigger picture. I wasn't homeschooled a day but my parents did the best they could and I and my siblings all turned out pretty good.

I like the epidural metaphor (though of course I wouldn't know about that from experience all my babies having been c-sections-- yet another blow to that pride and need to be in control!)

January 25, 2010  
Blogger Mimi said...

As much as I read, I have to confess, I'm with Melanie on the "never read "Catcher in the Rye'" bench. But, I also think that learning to critically understand literature (and no one can argue that it isn't considered a modern classic), assess the viewpoint, and critique it well is definitely the point of high school literature.

You remind me, I should put that on my "to read" pile, I know my oldest got it for Christmas a year or two ago, so it's around the house.

You are an amazing mom, MPN, one that I can hardly aspire to be. Your kids are well served.

January 26, 2010  
Blogger Mother Mayhem said...

No help here. I've never read it either. Hug? HUG.

January 26, 2010  
Blogger Jane (a.k.a. patjrsmom) said...

Hey, are you guys at ACC? If so, we'll look for you at back-to-school night! ;-)
I don't remember Catcher in the Rye myself...sorry!
God Bless,

January 26, 2010  
Blogger Renee said...

Yes, Jane, I'll look for you. This is good news!

January 26, 2010  
Anonymous melissa6 said...

i'm sure your son has the intelligence to analyse catcher in the rye....i read it along time ago...from what i think i can remember it's about s teensge boy's mental breakdown..some bad language i think......but considering the wonderful family that he comes from i don't think your son will have any problems discerning right from wrong......

January 27, 2010  
Blogger Hope said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog. I don't remember what I said to you all that time ago about home schooling but I'm glad it helped. I think it is great that your son learns how to navigate stuff like Catcher In The Rye while he is still under your roof to discuss it with. It doesn't need to derail him. It's not what's out there but what's within us that needs to be of concern, if that makes sense.

January 27, 2010  
Anonymous ukok said...

I may be in a minority here, but i devoured 'Catcher in the Rye'. Maybe that's because i'm psycho though LOL!

Seriously, that was one cool book. It's one of those books that stays with you long after the tale has been told, the story read. I found, perhaps, the most interesting part of reading Cather in the Rye, was after i had closed the book and placed it back in the book pile. Then i realised how cleverly it was written.

February 01, 2010  
Anonymous ukok said...

And one day...if i read long enough, i might even learn how to spell...

February 01, 2010  
Blogger Rocky said...

Hey MPN - I read CITR many years ago and liked it because of the drama - that being said, I came here to comment because I saw an article about the book at "American Thinker" today and thought about your post - also, your post above this one about grace and your 16 year old is beautiful.
Here's the link to the article about the book. Enjoy
Culture in the Rye

February 01, 2010  

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