Saturday, September 10, 2005

Life and Education

The older the boys get, the less direct input I have on their education. Not that we've ever done formal 'homeschooling' as some do, particularly in the USA. We've been fairly relaxed and eclectic since starting nearly eight years ago. But in most of the topics that interest them, their abilities are now so far beyond mine that the only thing left for me to do is to provide resources, and issue occasional reminders.

Of course Dan is now nearly 19 and if at school in the UK would have completed A-levels by now, and probably be taking his gap-year off before (possibly) going on to college. As it is, since he went on the Doulos at the end of June, he didn't quite complete the NCSC level 2 correspondence programme which he had been working on. He will probably never need this kind of formal qualification, but as he's so far through we both thought he might as well finish the last eleven workbooks: seven in physics, five in New Testament church history. He hopes to finish these soon. It probably won't be before we return to the UK (for a month) in just over two weeks, but at least should be before Christmas. He's put in an application to return to the Doulos for two years from next February and would really like to have finished with coursework before then.

But home education never really ends. Dan is also working at various musical instruments (clarinet and drums primarily, also guitar, piano and recorder), juggling, learning complex knots, building web-sites: one for our church, and one for an artist friend, and spending time working on animation and model-building in Blender, his favourite graphics program on the computer. Oh, and he too decided to re-read all five previous Harry Potter books before embarking on the sixth. He finished the fifth yesterday. As well as this he has a few performances with Theatre Antidote before Christmas too, and is working on turning his Doulos blog into a printed book.

Today Dan went up to Troodos with some friends from another organisation locally, to pack up the camp and put away tents etc. The group owns a camp-site which is available from mid-June to mid-September, but now the rains have started and the weather is cooling (at least in the mountains) people wouldn't want to stay in tents. Thankfully it was dry and sunny, and there were plenty of helpers so they finished by lunchtime.

Tim's schedule has been less quiet than is usual over the summer, since the inter-church youth group (for 12-18s) has kept going, and he's now on the committee which helps to run it as well as playing keyboard in the band. The church group for students has continued too, and while Tim's too young to attend as a group member, he goes along to lead some singing with his guitar each week. Then there's been a club for children and families running just through the summer, and he's been going there as a helper.

He was going to work on his NCSC programme through the summer, but somehow that never happens. Even with the a/c running, summertime feels like a time to slow down and relax, and neither of the boys has ever succeeded in doing academic work in July or August.

But now it's Autumn, so Tim wrote himself an organised schedule on Monday intending to complete two or three workbooks each week. Unfortunately on Tuesday he didn't feel well, and on Wednesday woke up late... so he's done less this week than expected, as far as academics go.

However we did manage to find some special offer music books - just a pound each for several previous years' piano music in grades 6, 7 and 8, to give him some more pieces to challenge him. So he's been working on a grade 7 Handel piece and enjoying it very much. He's also doing more guitar practice; he hadn't played it much over the summer so his fingertips had softened. And starting next week, he's going to start taking singing lessons - something he's wanted to do for a while but has only just got around to arranging.

Tim also spent much of this week practising, on both piano and church organ, arrangements of two bridal marches and 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' which he played at a wedding this afternoon. He was only told what music was needed last Sunday so it didn't give much time to learn them!

Tomorrow at the Community Church which three of us attend, Dan's going to be talking about his time on the Doulos. Unfortunately I shall be working in Sunday School so I won't hear him! Over the road, at the Anglican church, Tim will be playing the organ in both morning and evening services. Richard returns from a few days in Egypt, arriving - we hope - about 8am so he'll probably be exhausted.

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