I have often thought about writing you and now I am finally getting around to it. We are settled quite nicely now in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, a city of about 500,000 people, most of whom are Tajiks. There is an 8% population of Russians here still. Many Russians left after the overthrow of the Soviet Union.
I am writing because I have missed getting your “Teaching the Trivium” magazine and I would like to have you send to my mother all of the issues that I have missed. After several months of moving around and disorder, we have finally gotten into a school routine again and it is such a blessing. Nathaniel (my son who is 12 now) is studying Russian every day with a Russian young woman who comes to our house. Nate is reading Russian already and building vocabulary everyday. His pronunciation is quite good, too. He was the one who really wanted to learn Russian so we let him put aside his Latin for awhile in order to devote more time to his Russian studies while we are here in this country where everyone speaks Russian. I noticed that Dorothy Sayers recommended Russian for those who objected to learning a dead language! Anyway, Nate is doing quite well and so we are encouraging him. We are going to start spending more time with Greek this next year and I am looking forward to that.
I have also been having the same old problem I always have and that is trying to cover too much information each day and using too many workbooks. How do you keep things simple? Do you struggle with this? I just reread your suggested daily schedule and it looked so simple compared to what I try to do. I keep my kids on a rigid full schedule and I think I am burning them out! My son especially is feeling frustrated because of too much to do. I would like to simplify without compromising the kids’ education. I realize that I have a tendency to try to do too much and therefore take pleasure out of many subjects.
Thank you Laurie for your help. You have been such an encouragement to me. Your friend, Teresa
To think I’m getting an email from halfway around the globe. I picture you living in the mountains of Tibet in a tent made of skins eating milk curds and salted coffee.
I would think at this time in your life you would take full advantage of your living situation. Workbooks will always be there, but you will not always be in Tajikistan. I don’t have any idea what it is like living in a foreign country or how long you will be there, but there is probably an endless source of unit studies where you are. Here are some suggestions:
Take advantage of the language situation. If you can surround yourself with people who speak the language (whatever language you are learning) your children will learn inductively. It would be great if they could become bi-lingual. The process of learning another language, even inductively where you are not necessarily learning the grammar, builds and strengthens the mind. The Russian is great. If you are only going to be there a few years, I would consider dropping Latin and Greek temporarily to take advantage of the language around you.
You are living in field trip heaven. Travel and explore. History, geography, culture, food, art, textiles, history of religions, clothing, flora and fauna, learn local crafts.
And of course there are the service opportunities, which is why you are there in the first place.
If you are only going to be there a year, I might even be tempted to drop math if it interferes with and doesn’t leave you time for these things.
What is education? For some it is books and workbooks. For the few people who are given the opportunity to live in an exotic foreign country, it could be something entirely different. Write me again. Laurie