Creative Learning Connection

Educational Resources from a Veteran Homeschool Mom

Category: General Encouragement

Movie Review Wonder

I don’t attend many movies in a theater – it’s generally cheaper and quieter to watch them at home. (And then I have the added benefit of being able to multitask!) The first eleven months of 2017 I saw four movies in a theater (three of them were historical fiction and one, I admit, was absolutely just for fun). But if all goes as planned, I may see four more during the month of December.

Wonder – A Wonderful Movie

Last week, three of my daughters and I went to see Wonder in a theater. I had known nothing about it, until someone in an on-line writer’s group I’m in mentioned it, almost in passing. Fortunately I then watched a trailer for it, so I knew to bring Kleenexes – lots of Kleenexes! Without giving too much away (because I hate those types of reviews) I will say it’s a movie I think almost anyone would enjoy seeing. And if there were more movies like this being made, I would probably take the time to see more of them!

Main Characters

The main characters are a 5th grader, his 9th grade sister, and their parents. The 5th grader has a rare genetic disease, Treacher Collins Syndrome, that has resulted in him having more than two dozen surgeries – to correct major facial deformities. As a result, he has been homeschooled through 4th grade and is about to attend “real” school for the first time.

Needless to say, some serious bullying goes on when he starts school (because of the deformities and the homeschooling).

So why do I like the movie so much?

  1. It portrays homeschooling in a positive way. The mother at one point says “I can’t homeschool him forever” which I might disagree with but the overarching message about homeschooling is still extremely positive.
  2. The importance of family and family values, as well as getting through family struggles, is shown throughout the movie – sometimes in surprising ways.
  3. There are no bedroom scenes and no bad language, which make it a rare, good movie for family watching (and adults who are happy to leave all that behind). One spoiler alert – the family pet dies during the movie – which was the only “sad” part for a friend of mine’s middle school daughter. (So if you have a young child who might be bothered by that, please don’t take them.)

And a warning – again – in case you didn’t take my “lots of Kleenex” comment seriously – I’m pretty sure I was crying within five minutes of the start of the movie – and I cried most of the way though it. But, as a Mom, that’s how these types of movies affect me. But it was still a wonderful movie! (Maybe that’s part of why it was such a good movie.)

Reasons you might not like it

  1. As I said before – there are no bedroom scenes and no bad language – if your movies need those to be complete – don’t bother. (There are two couples who kiss, that’s it.)
  2. If you have a problem with interracial couples, you won’t like this.
  3. If you are okay with bullies and parents who encourage bullying, same answer.

Ultimately, my crying notwithstanding, this a “feel good” type movie – once everything and everyone gets straightened out. But along the way, the author did a great job telling a compelling story and it was actually made into a good movie. I have it on good authority that the audio book version of Wonder is also good, but alas, I didn’t find time this last week to listen to it. Maybe one of these days!

So, in summary, if you’re looking for a good family-friendly movie, I strongly recommend Wonder. And I would love to hear what you think about it after you see it.

Happy viewing!

Cathy

35 Great Quotes about Learning and Education

Here are some of my absolute favorite quotes on education and learning, from a variety of sages across 2500 years. You may not agree with the sentiment of each of them, but my guess is they will all make you think!

  1. “He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)
  2. “Much learning does not teach understanding.” Heraclitus (544 BC – 483 BC)
  3. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)
  4. “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
  5. “Learning never exhausts the mind.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
  6. “The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
  7. “Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
  8. “I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
  9. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
  10. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
  11. “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)
  12. “I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)
  13. “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.” Abigail Adams (1744 – 1818)
  14. “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)
  15. “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
  16. “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
  17. “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
  18. “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” George Washington Carver (c.1863 – 1943)
  19. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Henry Ford (1863 – 1947)
  20. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
  21. “Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.” W.E.B. Du Bois (1868 – 1963)
  22. “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)
  23. “I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)
  24. “Education…has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.” G.M. Trevelyan (1876 – 1962)
  25. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  26. “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  27. “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  28. “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  29. “I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” e.e. cummings (1894 – 1962)
  30. “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” James Thurber (1894 – 1961)
  31. “The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980)
  32. “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)
  33. “The idea of education has been so tied to schools, universities, and professors that many assume there is no other way, but education is available to anyone within reach of a library, a post office, or even a newsstand.” Louis L’Amour (1908 – 1988)
  34. “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992)
  35.  “Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.” Thomas Sowell (1930 – )

 

Did I leave out any of your favorite quotes?

Happy learning!

Cathy

 

Book Review – 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

Book Review: 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke


First, I want to start with a quote that the author, Mr. Reinke, used from Charles Spurgeon: “The easiest work in the world is to find fault.” Mr. Reinke used that quote in the context of Chapter 11 – “We Become Harsh to One Another.” My goal is not to just find fault with Mr. Reinke’s book – I do have some positive things to say about it. But I also want to turn this quote back on the book as a mirror, because ultimately that was my biggest complaint with this book – I felt like much of it was just the author finding fault with smart phones and smart phone users.

Before I go further with my review, let me back up to why I found myself reading/listening to this book, and why I am offering this review on my homeschool website.

The Background

One of our church elders likes to tell us about good non-fiction books that he has discovered. I often read his recommendations and generally like them and learn from them. Last week’s recommendation was another interesting-sounding title that I wasn’t familiar with – 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. I did what I do with the majority of books that catch my interest – I went to Audible and got the audio version of it – so I could listen to the book on my phone. I’m still mulling over the irony of that decision for this particular title, but I knew it was the best way for me to get to the book sooner rather than later.

I listened to most of the book during the week – while I was driving to swimming, driving to the airport in Nashville, and during down times on a family trip when the others were occupied). I like the fact that I can listen while I drive – that fact alone has allowed me to finish many great books in the last few years that I would not have had the time to read. (In fact, that was one of my first complaints about the book – Mr. Reinke went to great lengths to share the differences between reading a print version of something and reading the ebook version. But he completely ignored those of us who listen to books, which for some of us is our most frequent method of consuming books today.)

Because I listened to the book, I can tell you approximately how much time I initially spent with the book – just under seven hours. Was the book worth seven hours of my time? Definitely. Was it worth the price(s) that I paid? Yes, I would say so.  Did I agree with everything the author wrote? Not even close. But that isn’t ultimately my measure for whether a book was worth reading (or listening to).

I think the author makes some really good points about the way cell phones have invaded our lives in these modern times.  But I cannot agree with much of what he says, as hard as I might try.

Positive Points of the Book

The introduction was a little lengthy, but overall I liked his “Theology of Technology.” It’s good to be reminded that technology is not a new thing, nor strictly speaking a human invention. We have to give God credit for giving us the ability and the raw materials with which to invent things.

The breakfast area in our hotel this weekend might be showing us how far we’ve come with our addictions to our phones as a society!

It is also good for all of us who use smart phones to evaluate how we use our phones, or as the book’s description puts it “Do you control your phone or does your phone control you?” And the author does give many suggestions for how to determine that.

Another quote from the book that I agree with: “I do not have ‘time to kill’ – I have time to redeem.” This is a good thing for Christians to remember, particularly in regards to our use of technology. Putting that quote on our smart phones and our laptops would probably be a good reminder as we make decisions throughout our days.

Additionally, it is good to remember that Jesus commanded us to love God and to love our neighbors. How we use the tools in our life certainly fall under those commandments. I do agree with that fact, though I often got the impression that the author was balking at the idea that we could use our smart phones in the obedience of God’s commandments.

Negative Points of the Book

I think the author paints with too wide a brush. He describes extremes of smart phone usage as if that was the norm. And while I know there are many who do abuse the use of their phones, I don’t believe it to be the case that the majority do.  I’m spending the weekend out of state with my sisters and our mother. (We’re attending a family reunion tomorrow.) We’re all smart phone users to some degree (my mother, who is in her 80s, is much less so, not surprisingly), but I think it’s fair to state that none of us our controlled by our cell phones.

In fact, when I read the following quote aloud to my sisters, there was universal disagreement: “If we are honest, we use most of the time we spend on our phones for sharing jokes, GIFs, images, and videos, and for talking about sports, the weather, humor, and entertainment with our friends and family members.”

All three of us have children and grandchildren around the country and around the world. As a result, we all use our cell phones as a primary form of communication with them. No, we don’t necessarily use our devices to TALK to them, but we use texting, emailing, and WhatsApp to keep in touch with them. Most of our photo and video sharing is to keep up with the same kids and grandkids. While memory might be great for something you experience yourself (a point the author made when he seemed to dismiss the value of most digital photography), these videos and photos are what keep us in the loop with our families, and are something we are all extremely happy to have.

So, in answer to his question towards the end of the book, what should we do with our phones, rather than what can we do, for us as grandmothers and mothers, using them to help us keep connected to our families certainly falls in the should category.

Do I Recommend The Book?

So, after all that, do I recommend this book? To the right audience, yes. I think it could be really helpful for a family with teenagers (and/or adults) who are using smart phones. (Especially if some or all of said family members are overusing their phones.) My recommendation would be to read (or listen to) the book out-loud together, one chapter at a time. I can envision good conversations as families discuss the principles that Mr. Reinke presents. And in many cases, I can see it making a real difference, as family members evaluate how their phones really impact their daily lives! (Just keep in mind that everything he says is not going to apply to everyone!)

My Personal Usage

I do believe that for many of us, smart phones are a legitimate tool for many of us to use in our daily lives. Does my morning routine involve my cell phone? Yes, I willingly admit that it does. I check my emails, texts and WhatsApp almost as soon as my alarm goes off. (My phone has been on silent all night, and with family all over the world it is not infrequent to awake to messages.) I glance at my recent emails that aren’t from family, but seldom respond to them at that time, since I’m generally getting ready to get out the door for swimming.

One of the next things that I do is check the email that came in during the night from BibleGateway with the verse for the day. I always read the verse, and generally listen to the entire chapter that the verse is from.  My one real “time waste” at this time is also to check the Audible Daily Deal – I seldom purchase those, but I listen to enough Audible books that I like to see what the option is. (I have encountered countless great books through the Daily Deals that I would otherwise not have known about.)

If I’m by myself, I generally turn on music or push play on one of my current Audible books. One of those will generally be on until I join other family members or get where I’m going (again, many mornings I’m heading straight to the pool). My personal rule – I don’t listen to my phone when I’m around others, unless we are listening to something together. I seldom deviate from that rule!

Later in the day my phone gets used for communication, research, my calendar and to do list, and only rarely do I get on Facebook (usually to catch up with family members, or currently, to check in with a writers group that I’m involved with). I don’t play games, seldom watch videos, or do any of the other things Mr. Reinke mentions. Could I use other devices to set my alarms and do all of the above things? Sure. But why would I want to? Just like the laptop that I do most of my writing on, my phone is a very useful tool. I appreciate the ways that it can streamline my life. I will make no apologies for that. If my use of it becomes problematic, I will certainly reconsider, but at the moment, I am comfortable with my cell phone usage.

What is Your Usage?

But again, everyone who uses a smart phone would be well served to periodically do a reality check of how that usage is going. This book could a good tool to help make that check.

Happy learning!

Cathy

Celebrating Celebrations

This time of year weddings and graduations are often on people’s minds. Add Mother’s Day and in families like ours, several birthdays, and it can be a month centered around celebrations.  Which isn’t such a bad thing, if you ask me.

My Mom and my Daughter-in-law were both in town for Mothers Day 2017. What a treat.

This year was an unusual one for us – there actually were no weddings in our immediate family (though two of my five married children had their weddings in past months of May) and there were no graduations (also unusual, since between high school and college graduations we’ve also done quite a few of those in previous Mays). But we still had our share of birthdays, including my youngest son turning 21. And it was fun to celebrate Mother’s Day this year with three mothers in the house (me, my Mom, and one of my daughters-in-law).

To celebrate a month of celebrations, I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes on each of these topics:

Weddings (Love)

  • “Who, being loved, is poor?” Oscar Wilde
  • “Where there is love there is life.” Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”  William Shakespeare
  • “The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller

All dressed up for Wedding #4 (February 14, 2016)

Graduation (Education)

  • “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats
  • “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” George Washington Carver
  • “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.” Abigail Adams
  • “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin
  • “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein

One of our many, many high school graduations (this one in 2012).

Mother’s Day

  • “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” Victor Hugo
  • “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.” Henry Ward Beecher
  • “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” Agatha Christie

With three mothers in the house this year, flowers were in abundance!

Birthdays

  • “May happiness and sunshine fill your day not only on your birthday but the whole year through.” Author Unknown
  •  “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Dr. Seuss
  • “May you live all the days of your life.”  Jonathan Swift
  • “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln
  •  “I am long on ideas, but short on time. I expect to live to be only about a hundred.” Thomas Edison

Celebrating another birthday at our house – this one Eli’s 21st.

What are some of your favorite quotes for birthdays, weddings, graduations, or Mothers Day? Please share.

Happy celebrating!

Cathy (Mom of 12) – which means lots of celebrations!

Top