Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fifteen minutes


There's always something to ponder in life, isn't there?

Not necessarily the Big Questions; just silly, farty, devil's-in-the-detail sort of stuff. Logistics, finances, time, people, they all take some sorting out...

As always, the best response to such nonsense is to wear some brightly coloured bit of vintage finery, to chase the cobwebs and befuddlement away.

1970s English Lady maxi dress - flea market
Faux fur coat - vintage fair
Cardigan, hat and bangles - charity shopped
Gloves and flower - retail (sale)
1980s boots - Second to None
Scarf - gift

One of the many questions under consideration at the moment is homework. More specifically, that of the Seldom Seen Kid.

We have Learning Log Issues.

I have a well-nigh pathological dislike of parents who do their kid's homework for them.

You might know the ones; they take over as though it was their own task, and produce fabulous work on their child's behalf, to the astonishment/irritation/amusement* of onlooking teachers and slacker parents like me who prefer to let their children live or die by their own efforts. (*Delete as appropriate, or feel free to add your own reaction.)

 As my children have moved through school, I have consistently struggled with deciding where the boundary lies between offering them support and encouragement, and taking over so that the work is no longer their own.

We had decided on a Back Right Off policy for Seldom Seen. He's 10, he knows what is expected of him, and I thought he could manage to take some responsibility for his own learning.

It appears I was wrong, and this approach has failed, rather spectacularly.

So in an alarming volte face which has me stifling my resentment ("It's not my homework. I DID my homework") and gritting my teeth, we are now trying to approach Learning Logs as a team effort. I can't deny that spending more time with both SSK and Littlest (Eldest is thankfully independent and self-starting) is improving the quality of their work. And I am hoping that the ability to plan and edit and summarise will eventually rub off on them... 

But at the moment, I feel I am in the driving seat, when I really want be reclining in the back and looking out of the window. 

Still, Seldom Seen has been quite engaged with recent explorations of both Cubism and pop art.

Here's his homage to Andy Warhol, courtesy of PicMonkey.

We  talked about the Factory, we listened to the Velvet Underground and looked at the cover of the Warhol "banana" album, we read about Valerie Solanas and Edie Sedgewick, and he asked me to define hangers-on and drag queens. We discussed whether a bottle of Coke or a tin of soup is a good subject for art, and whether a cartoon-y image of Marilyn Monroe is as beautiful as Botticelli's Venus or the Mona Lisa. We admired the remarkable prescience of his observation that In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes, in this age of reality TV and the internet.

Sure, I was asking the questions, but he was doing some thinking, and he was interested and engaged, and that's when learning happens. Not when you're bored and under pressure and lonely and anxious. 

I'm learning right along with him, and not just about art.

I'm not always very good at admitting when I'm wrong.

But I have underestimated what my son needs from me at the moment, and I need to make it right.

And now he rather likes the Velvet Underground, which is a bonus.

 A teacher at school, with whom I get on very well, recently described me as intractable, and I recognise the accuracy of the description. But I am trying to be less so. Intractability when you've clearly screwed up is just plain old pigheadedness, right?



Patti said...

"Intractable"? Hmmm, you have strong beliefs and a keen intellect - and you are able to change your view, so not pigheaded, imo. I have a lot of personal experience with pigheaded-ness (I speak of myself).

The banana album! And what a fascinating discussion re: can of soup vs. Mona Lisa. Lucky kid/s!

And what a marvelous, colorful outfit to cheer the day. Love the hat. xoxo

Ripple Dandelion said...

Beautiful colors today! I have a 14-year-old son with Asperger's Syndrome, and figuring out the right measure of maternal involvement vs. allowing him to make his own mistakes has been and still is verrrry difficult. It sounds like you and your son are having a nice time of it together (mine fights me at the same time as he clings to me), so it sounds as though your shift in emphasis has to be good for now. Lucky lad to have you as his mum!

Sheila said...

As I don't have kids, I'm not going to comment on that aspect (although I'm a fan of the "sink or swim" unless there is a serious learning disorder).

I love your beautiful dress and swooning over your red leather gloves!

ayoung70 said...

Gorgeous as always. Intractable? Was that a compliment or an insult?
I've raised 4 children, all very different from each other, but "sink or swim" seemed to work over the long haul. "Lack of planning on your part does not constitue an emergency on mine" was repeated more than a hundred times I'm sure, but they all graduated high school and one even has a masters degree now. I will admit to caving in and bringing forgotten assignments to school more times than I'd like to admit...

Brooke F said...

Hmmmm. Lots to think about. My eldest is still young enough to have just reading as homework but it is all about to change this year, and to be honest I'm not sure if I am up to it. I am having a hard enough time completing my homework! Oh well I will give it my best and keep my fingers crossed that I can encourage and motivate and maybe nag enough for him to get his stuff done. By the way, I adore your colour combo - absolutely stunning! XXX

Trees said...

Woah - learning about pop art in primary school? That's pretty awesome! I remember being being in the last year or two of primary and seeing one of my classmates art projects knowing full well her Mum or Dad must have done it! I guess its a matter of guidance rather than straight out hand holding and taking over. I know you will do a fabulous job :D

Melanie said...

I must hug and run, but I know I will be thinking about this post for a while. Thank you, Curtise. I am a pig head too. You zapped me with that excellent ensemble.

Carina Rosenholm said...

I dont have any kids of my own but im sure that you are a great mum !
Love your colourful outfit .

Olga Rani said...

I've never done my kids' homework for them but sometimes I did help them by explaining more thoroughly or pointing out mistakes. This is not that easy task and requires much patience.
You look marvelous in this bright outfit, Curtise, as always. Love the hat!

Makeminemidcentury said...

Occasionally a blog post from someone will really strike a chord with me. I have four children - 12,9,8 and 4. The 12-year-old is the only one who's really had 'serious' homework. She sounds a lot like your 10-year-old. I've generally let her on her own. I recoil when I see some of her classmates projects which have obviously be done by child geniuses or their mother or father. That's not fair. Because the stuff my daughter churns out is fairly ordinary ... but at least she's done it herself. The one time I did help her, the teacher shamed her in front of the class saying her speech 'sounded like a lawyer had written it'. A lawyer had written it. That was the last time I helped her. I believe children have to learn how to be self-sufficient and learn the consequences of hard-work or laziness. Having said that, I don't want to see my children drown in a sea of classmates who've had their projects down for them by parents who project themselves on their children. I think what you've done is completely right. I love how you're prompting and encouraging your son's own learning. I wish I could bookmark this post for the year of homework ahead of me. I'd high-five you if I saw you at pick-up time. Carmel

señora Allnut said...

oh yeah, wearing a so fabulous colorful outfit you're ready to cheer up the day and fight any dullness!!
lovely color combo, lovely dress, lovely purple hat and red flower, and lovely You!!
I've no advices to share about other people learning, just my own!. I've received encouragement from my parents to do my homework, and that's all they could give me!. Even thought they received just primary education, they were always very supportive and my mom has always loved books!.
I think your attitude is great, anyway. Intractable would be a pretty compliment in my dictionary, ;DD

besos & educación

Loo xx from Jumbles and Pompoms said...

Chevrons! Squeal! I love them!

Oh God, homework. We've had some torrid times with homework I can tell you. I love it that SS was "interested" and "engaged" when you spoke to him about Andy Warhol and VU etc. My daughter is never interested and engaged when I try to give advice on homework matters or any other matter come to think of it. She thinks SHE knows best *sigh*. xx

Angels have Red Hair said...

I have one self starter ... that I really don't have to worry about ... and one lazy layabout ... that has to be micro managed all day, every day. I don't do his homework for him ... like you I've already been to school and done my homework ... but I nag and nag and nag him until he does do it. Sometimes I just think "nah ... leave him be and let him face the consequences" ... but for all his slackness he panics if it's time to hand it in and it hasn't been done.
His New Years Resolution this year was to try harder ... his decision, not mine ... I'm hoping I will see some changes ... but I'm not holding my breath.

Jan Graham-McMillen said...

I was such a swot as a kid. My daughter was so not. I remember lots of time spent trying to help her find a way to be interested in her education, just no good memories to treasure.
She recently called to tell me her outrage that her application to a local state college was rejected because of her poor grades in high school. She's almost 40.
You have no idea how much effort it took not to say "I told you so." And then I had a good weep afterward.
I'm sure your memories will be different. I'm thrilled for you that your kids know about Warhol and The Velvet Underground and the whole thing. Good for you, and good for them. Good that they will let you get in there to help and inspire. Best homage ever ... bet SS loves it. Print, mount, then show-and-tell?
Speaking of inspiring, your outfit certainly should brighten up your outlook. I love looking at you and your outfit ... pretty dress, especially with you in it and I love a pretty dress. Brilliant coat and accessories, of course. And isn't your cardi the color of the year? Proof positive, you are, that redheads wear all these colors very well, thank you!
Congrats on all, Curtise. You're a great mom and a vintage styling genius and premier blogger.

Forest City Fashionista said...

Not having any kids myself, I really have no place in this discussion, but I'm going to make one anyway ;) I think you have struck an excellent balance in the assistance you're offering the SSK. You are asking the questions, yes, but sometimes that needs to happen for a child to get the brain wheels turning. I wish we got to learn about cool stuff like Andy Warhol in public school. I would have loved to have taken part in that discussion, and told SSK about how awesome Lou Reed was (aside from the drinking and drug use...)

I love pretty colours in the dress, and that odd crocheted scarf/necklace thing, and you are NOT intractable. That's a word that wishy-washy people call those of us who are strong in our opinions!

Sandra said...

Yep, I think homework is their responsibility, don't do it, then face the consequences yourself, fairly ruthless I suppose but life is full of consequences for our actions, but it's knowing when to step in and sometimes you have to - Missy is dyslexic, we had words everywhere, spelling work, music lessons and specialist work with a SPLD teacher at school, she will never be the greatest speller, so what! she's a smart kid - I like your approach to SS's learning too! I love your outfit too, Blogger keeps pulling tongues at me or something and saying page un/responsive, bugger, will comment asap, bugger! x x x

Diane said...

I always maintain that my kids have taught me more than I ever taught them. I think this is the 2nd time I've said this, this week - but don't beat yourself up. It sounds like he's back on track and you've tapped into what makes him tick. Crack on xxx

Fran said...

Ahhh yes, the homework dilemma. I have encountered those difficulties both as a parent and as a teacher. Bless you. I am always impressed with your garden in your photos. Everything is always so green. It does not look like winter at all. So lovely as are your unique outfits.

Connie said...

Intractafabulous!!! You are quite the beautiful English Lady! I'm certain that the educational authorities don't know quite what to do with you. I just about dropped my gluten- free cookie when I read the description of Seldom Seen. That sounds so much like my Izzy at that age. And....he has the Andy Warhol bananas poster hanging on the wall in his bedroom. Also a Jimi Hendrix. He eventually pulled his act together as we say here and is at a good university where he is majoring in history and disturbing the peace. This is his punk band:

Vicky Hayes said...

Well it's hard! Each child needs something different and you could have 12 of them (bet you clenched then didn't you?!) and still would be constantly surprised by them because they don't come with manuals. It sounds as if what you're doing with SSK is a bit of brilliant parental support, NOT doing the whole thing for him. I expect both he and you are enjoying spending the time together too! Also, I think you've just proved that you're not intractable!

LOVING the burst of colour! I know you're never shy of colour but this is something else! Vicky x

Helga! said...

You look fecking HEAVENLY!!!!!
A joyous riot of colour!
Whilst my parents never helped me with homework (I was very bloody lazy with it, too, I might add), my mother did everything else for me, so I left home with NO idea of how to cook, make a bed, operate a washing machine etc. That made me a bit useless in the world! It's a similar thing, I suppose.
It must be tricky. Being interested and engaged is indeed the only way to learn, and I guess it's finding out HOW he learns too. Jeez, all I really got out of school was learning to read and basic maths. Nothing else engaged or interested me, and teachers made little effort to find out what did!
Here's to being intractable, incidentally! I'm bloody intractable, mostly with good reason, and I don't care!

Aya in Couturgatory said...

I love how colorful you look, and I think the finishing touches are your gloves and hat. They are gorgeous.

On school issues, I do not have children, but speaking from my experience as a student, what I would have benefited from is parental involvement, like what you're describing you are doing. It's hard to learn in a vacuum without any insights into larger culture or perspective. Most of the assignments I did turn into school were just plain weird because I didn't have any outside input.

Winter Moon said...

It sounds as though you're handling the homework situation extremely well, and learning about Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground is always a bonus.

I have a 17 year old daughter, and trying to get her to do her college homework can be quite challenging at times.

You look rather fabulous, I do love the black coat and red gloves. I'll pop back for another visit soon *waves* xx

Goody said...

The pressure on children with respect to homework is so much greater than when we were at school. The classes are crowded, the teachers are expected to teach, be social workers, and perform miracles-that does not leave much time for one-on-on instruction.

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for letting your son take the lead with his homework. How else would you know what he was capable of, or where he needed a bit more help/encouragement? There's a difference between assisting, and doing the work for him. This may be a temporary hurdle, and next year he may be better able to manage his time.

Of course, whatever you do with respect to your children, someone will find fault with it-which is kind of liberating as you no longer have to fault yourself!

I'm the daughter of an artist who never spent any time discussing art with me. Certainly not pop art.

Indigo Violet said...

You are one hip mama - I don't think my mother knew much about Andy Warhol or Velvet Underground. Nor any of my teachers for that matter, except maybe my Welsh art teacher. It's a different world now, with so much information at our fingertips.

Sue said...

Kids and homework is like the old "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink" sort of thing. My lads have finished school but I remember encouraging them when small. But later on I made it clear that it was their own responsibility and that getting an education gave them choices when they left school. I like how you made his art a lesson without him realising it, the best way to learn is like that.
PS: you look lovely in all your joyful colour. Good luck with the homework.

Fiona said...

I speak as a childless woman (had to google Learning Log) and I know there are plenty out there who will think what does she know? Personally, I agree that parents should not do the child's homework, encouragement and prompting are good...shouting not so. (memories of my Dad trying to explain Pythagorus' Theorum) We all have to learn to take responsilbility for ourselves at some stage and I'm sure the message will get through to him sooner or later. (Unfortunately with me it was later, sounds like I went to the same school as Helga.) Sounds as if you are doing a brilliant job with him anyway.
Love you in those regal colours, such a joy to see colour in this grey old month.

Delia Ryder said...

I am having lots of issues with my 13 year old and one of the less major ones for me is homework or lack of it I to like you believed in them doing their own work and standing on their own to feet I am not a nag and will ask him he has homework and he needs help to ask turns out my son tells lies and many of them just lately he is now getting detentions for not doing his homework. Its very tricky at the moment as he now suffering from depression and doing things that every parent dreads we are now awaiting his specialist health care appointment and I am lost as to know what to say or do for him for fear of pushing him further. Sorry for writing all this here today your post struck a cord and all over home work :-) Your a great mum and we all do what we think is best at the end of the day we can only help and guild our children the way we think is best how they interpret that I suppose is up to them. If only parenting came with a rule book :-) dee xx

mondoagogo said...

When I was at school, the word the teachers always used to use to describe me was "truculent" which is a word I have never ever not even once heard since. I think it was a half-accurate description, but I think I was only truculent because I felt patronised and ignored by most of my teachers (the ones who didn't ignore or patronise me never described me that way!).

I used to bunk off a lot and go into the West End (which actually taught me a lot about street layouts and how to get around that I still use today, unlike lots of stuff from school that I've totally forgotten). Sometimes I'd spend that time in museums or libraries too, though. It wasn't learning or education I hated, it was the way I was (or wasn't) being taught. I think as long as kids discover that *learning* is not the same as *school* there's still some hope :)

Emma Kate at Painted Style said...

I hate the chore of homework. My daughter won't do it unless I'm standing over her but I know other kids just get on with it. Even at seven. We have to make sure the childs homework is correct. If not, it may come back to be done again. I feel like I'm having to be a teacher and I didn't sign up for any of this. I thought kids were taught at school. We have no guidance about the best way to teach them. In maths there are so many ways you can approach it. I end up getting frazzled as does my daughter. She just wants to relax after being on her best behaviour all day.
I sympathise about not knowing how much intervention you need to give. We need a handbook.
Love your maxi and the beautiful scarf! Enjoy the weekend. xxxx

Tamera Wolfe said...

First--you look fab in your bright colors!!1

I think it's awesome you and SS explored Andy Warhol and all together. Making memories....

Some kids just need a little more "supervision/butt kicking" than others to keep on track. My middle nephew had to have my sister on his case to get stuff done until he was in high school.

My daughter is like your eldest--she is a type A driven self-starter.