Thursday, April 05, 2007

Trees in the Forest and the Forest of Trees

I think one of the struggles I have with monastery bells is that they all seem to go off at once at my house. Javamom and I were just talking about this via email yesterday.

I am really good at focusing on just one thing, down to the smallest microcosm of thought. I can think one thing to death. That is my problem. I can get down to kindergarten level and identify completely with the young child-mind, and live there all day-- but don't ask me to talk about past participles or Plutarch. Or I can commiserate with the difficulty of third grade math, and rejoice to be learning the exploits of British kings-- but then it is hard to be understanding of my kindergartner's position when she begins doing whatever she can to get my attention after being by herself for an hour. Or I can attempt to understand Plato and Shakespeare and have a theoretical discussion on the virtues of socialization versus academic achievement (with my sixth grader), but if my 3rd grader approaches me wanting help with her basic division facts I have to "climb out of a pit" in order to remember how to explain it.

And I'm very good at homemaking-- as long as that is all I am doing. I can clean and pay bills and have lovely dinners and peaceful evenings-- but during school seasons I'm thinking of other things. Or I can be a fun summer Mom, but I will most likely forget to have the oil changed in the car.

Javamom said that I am global. I have thought for a long time that I am the opposite-- I examine every tree and forget about the forest. But after disagreeing with her, I thought of something Krakovianka said once in a conversation about synthesis versus analysis (which I think is the same thing as global versus analytical): it depends on how you define the whole and the parts. She had a conversation with someone once about synthesis and analysis in studying art, and they both agreed that children ought to go from whole to parts-- synthesis to analysis-- as they progress through their learning in art appreciation. But one (I think it was Krakovianka) believed the forest was being immersed in the art world of one artist, while the other looked at the whole as being the entire art realm-- giving the child an overview of the entire history of art before focusing on individuals.

I think my conversation with Javamom must have some similarities. I deeply immerse myself in whatever I am doing-- wholly. I go as deep as my mind can get (and get turned upside down and in circles a lot, because my reasoning ability is not of the best). So whatever I am doing could be considered the forest. Or it could be considered just one tree-- after all, there are so many things a mother must immerse herself in. Then the forest would be the whole of my life.

I get scattered and do not know which tree (forest? bell?) to focus on. For instance, as I sit here blogging this morning, I can hear the children getting ready. Or rather, making ice skating plans rather than getting ready. I ought to go move them along a little. And before I sat down with these thoughts, I was beginning to make oatmeal, but not a bit of water nor oats have made it to the pot. I have gotten myself almost ready for the day already, which is good-- but I still have my makeup to put on. And it is now time for Bible lesson. There are numerous other duties at the back of my mind as well, each jostling for the position of importance, and it is puzzling which one to place in front. This is one reason I find housekeeping systems like Flylady and Sidetracked Home Executives very comforting-- until I rebel at my own stringency in following them to the letter.

Each thing is a world I could immerse myself in. So I blog about them instead.


truevyne said...

I don't know if I good at either forest or trees, but I do know I have a goal for my children. The goal is to model and teach both analysis and synthesis. They seem to go hand in hand. The impetus of this goal comes from allowing, sometimes creating, space for wonder in my children's lives. Wonder seems to be both global and focused.

tootlepip said...

You have described me to a tee! I tend to throw myself headlong into one thing and then another, but I can never manage to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. I am thankful for our housekeeping system and some other routines we have put into place. We may not follow them perfectly, but I can look at a chart and see what needs to be done and who needs to do it.

Mother Auma said...

"Wonder seems to be both global and focused."

Truevyne, I'm still thinking about this. I wonder if, while the statement is true, it perhaps isn't necessarily true within each individual.

I agree that both are essential to an excellent education.

Tootlepip, you are right~ routines are so very helpful. I am just now learning to hold them lightly rather than cling to them as law. ;o)