home schooling paths
E-journal July 29, 2008

Like A Dime Store Novel, part 2

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The fight on my front lawn

Last week I wrote about a fight that broke out on my front lawn between two tenants who live in apartments I own. You can read that story HERE>>

The thought that occurred to me as I walked away from the fight was, “These people’s lives are more like dime store novels than like great literature.” I wasn’t saying that as a judgment, but as an observation. And that observation led to a whole train of thought about the difference between a “dime store novel” life and a “great literature” life.

What kind of a life is a “dime store novel” life?

"Dime novel" or “dime store novel” has become a term to describe any lurid, poor quality novel, play, opera, or film that is generally sensationalized and superficial.

Let’s look at the typical content of a dime store novel.

First, there is a hero or heroine who is in a state of constant crisis, whose life consists of one fire after another that has to be put out.

Second, the hero or heroine has a history of hard luck. He or she is usually misunderstood, facing some sort of dire financial situation, and/or on the run from unsavory characters.

Third, none of it appears to be his or her fault. Calamity seems to just come out of the blue; doom looms around every corner; people do cruel things to them for no apparent reason. There is always someone or something else to blame for their life’s difficulties.

Fourth, the characters are all highly reactive. They overreact to situations by making dramatic statements, putting on shows of emotion, or spinning stories about events in their lives that are embellishments of the truth. These stories generally cast themselves in the role of the victimized hero or heroine and other people in the role of villain.

Fifth, their lives leave a trail of emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual debris. Things around them seem to be constantly damaged, destroyed, in some state of disrepair or tottering on the brink of disaster.

Sixth, their lives constantly churn up drama, and not just low-level drama, but lurid, sensational drama. A lot of this drama remains unresolved, creating “cliff-hangers” where everything in their lives is precariously hanging on until the next dramatic event, which usually involves some sort of heroic rescue from impending doom.

Seventh, their dramas require an audience. There has to be someone to tell their embellished, sensationalized stories to and act out their dramas in front of. “Dime store novel” people are always trying to build an “audience” of people who will take sides with them and agree with them that they are victims. So they usually surround themselves with other “dime store novel” people.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any of those old “Perils of Pauline” silent movies, but they are typical of the dime store novel plot. Pauline, the heroine, is an orphan who is continually mistreated and always in some sort of crisis, most often involving lack of finances. Her nemesis, usually the evil, lusting landlord, demands money or illicit favors from Pauline, which she either doesn’t have (in the case of money) or refuses to give (in the case of favors).

Eventually the villainous landlord escalates the struggle by kidnapping Pauline and trying to force himself upon her. When she still refuses, he ties her to a railroad track in front of an oncoming train. At the last second, a hero appears who has to battle the landlord before he can reach Pauline. Just as it seems she is going to be dashed to bits under the wheels of the train, the hero knocks out the landlord, rushes to the railroad tracks and unties Pauline. Pauline locks eyes with her hero, they embrace, then head off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

All of this happens in about 10 minutes of film, with dramatic music playing in the background. There is no character development, no plot development, no depth of meaning, no subtlety and no real acting. Everything is done in caricature. Pauline’s emotive skills boil down to gasps, screams, and swoons. The landlord acts out his evilness by giving sinister looks and twirling his moustache, and the hero expresses his hero-ness by striking “strong man” postures. It is strictly superficial entertainment. Audiences left the theater with their hearts pounding and their feelings scintillated.

Compare a Dime Store Novel to Good Literature

Now, let’s compare the characteristics of a "dime store novel" to a novel like Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is not the most amazing piece of literature on the planet, but it has certain plot similarities to “Perils of Pauline.” Jane is an orphan in financial need who has been unfairly treated by relatives. She takes a job as a governess for the ward of an extremely gruff, reclusive, and antisocial man named Edward Rochester who seems to be harboring some sinister secret. As the plot develops, we see the depth of Jane’s character and develop a real interest in her as a person. She is strong, resourceful, and principled. And although she has a lot of difficulties in her life, she does not play the “victim” or become melodramatic about her problems. Neither does she blame them on others.

I won’t spoil the story for you if you’ve never read it, but I will say that by the end of the book you feel like you really know and care about Jane and Edward and there is a deep sense of inner satisfaction with the depth of the story and its characters. It all seems “real” and substantial. You also feel touched on every level—emotionally, mentally, and spiritually and feel a better person for having read the book.

All of us can point out people we know whose lives are either like dime store novels or like good literature. Since I do quite a bit of counseling, I find that most people who seek counseling do so because their lives have become like dime store novels—moving from crisis to crisis—and they want to change.

So, what does this have to do with home schooling?

One of the main reasons we chose to home school our children was because we wanted to mold their characters into something more like fine literature than like a dime store novel. We wanted to expose them to people, places, and experiences that developed in them a sense of greatness and purpose, because we knew that the culture around them was training its children to be superficial and mediocre. We wanted them to be “bigger” than any problems or difficulties that would come their way in life, and we wanted them to become responsible adults who didn’t adopt “victimhood” as a lifestyle.

How did we do that? By focusing them on people, places, and experiences that were the opposite of “dime store novel” people, places and experiences.

First, we taught them how to prevent creating “fires” in their lives by planning and thinking things through beforehand.

Second, we taught them that bad things do happen to good people, but because God works everything for the good of those who love Him, you can never really label a situation as “bad” because you don’t know how God is going to use it for good in your life yet. So getting dramatic and over-reacting when difficulties come into your life is not only wasted effort, but is also a lack of faith in God's ability to provide for you.

Third, we taught them that blaming others for your life’s difficulties doesn’t accomplish anything but give you a sense of victimhood and make you bitter. Bitterness is actually a state of disbelief in God’s love and kindness towards you and victimhood is often a way for you to evade responsibility for your own life choices.

Fourth, we taught them that being reactive is to be in resistance to life and actually shuts off the flow of abundance, grace, and joy in your life. Reactive people have a hard time “receiving” God’s blessings because they live their lives in opposition to them. Plus, reactivity takes up emotional, mental, and spiritual "space" in your life that could be used for something much more creative and valuable.

Fifth, we taught them that, just like in the Boy Scout creed, we should leave things in better condition than we found them. There is no excuse for leaving a trail of emotional, physical, financial or spiritual debris behind you as you move through life. It shows a tremendous lack of respect for property and for other people.

Sixth, we taught them that constant drama is the sign of a person who wants to get the attention from others that they are unwilling to give themselves.

Seventh, we taught them that what they want is relationships, not an audience. An audience is fickle and can easily turn on you or forget you. But true relationships will be there for you in good times and in bad, and will even point out when your life is becoming like a “dime store novel.”

I hope this article provokes some thoughts of your own on what kind of lives you want yourself and your children to lead.

To view all the Resources for great children's literature, GO HERE>>

To view all the Resources mentioned in the series of articles on Choosing Teaching Materials for Your Home School, go here>>

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Resources for rethinking education

Books by John Gatto. These books will change the way you think about education. Gatto was a public school teacher for decades and New York's Teacher of the Year, so he has first-hand experience with the effects of public schooling. Not only do his books discuss the major issues about what schooling does to our children, he offers insights into what a true education entails and reflects on our society as a whole and the distorted thinking that leads us to subject our children to an influence that robs them of their creativity and enthusiasm for learning. Gatto's books are "MUST READS."
Dumbing Us Down
A Different Kind of Teacher

Books by John Holt. Holt's books are wonderfully thought-provoking and give you a real appreciation for the natural learning ability of your children. Read all of these! How Children Learn, Learning All the Time, and Teach Your Own . Also highly recommended: Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School

Endangered Minds by Jane Healy. Subtitled “Why Children Don't Think and What We Can Do About It,” this is truly a significant book. The book's premise is that today's children, bombarded by a fast-paced media culture and with very little interaction with thinking adults, develop different “habits of mind” than children of the past and are therefore unable to tackle the skills involved in learning. Healy clearly explains why our modern lifestyles sabotage the ability to learn and tells us what to do about it. In the companion book, Your Child's Growing Mind Healy discusses how thinking and learning abilities develop for skills like reading, writing, spelling, proper use of grammar, etc. and what parents can do to create the “mind pathways” that enhance these thinking and learning abilities. These books are "must haves."

I Saw the Angel in the Marble

With over 4,000 copies sold in just a few months, I Saw the Angel in the Marble is becoming a home schooling best seller!

This book represents the best of 15 years of Elijah Company articles. Find our more HERE>>

Turning Hearts: Davis Seminar Set (8 CDs)

The Best of Chris and Ellyn Davis, this set contains seminars given by Chris and Ellyn Davis of The Elijah Company at home schooling conventions. The set contains all of the favorites that home schoolers ask for over and over. People have told us this set of CDs changed their lives. Find out more about them HERE>>

Angel in the Marble/Davis Seminars Set
Order a combination of I Saw the Angel in the Marble and the Davis Seminars CDs HERE>>

Building the Home School of Your Dreams

Building the Home School of Your Dreams is a 6 CD set taken from the From Home School To Home Business Seminar and features sessions by Chris Davis and Mary Hood. Find out more HERE>>

Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling. The title can be deceiving, because the book isn't just for those getting started, it's also very helpful to veteran home schoolers who want to re-evaluate what they are doing and the resources that are available to them.

Veteran home educators will dive into a vast amounts of up-to-date information with sections on Field Trips, Conferences, Retreats & Homeschool Days for the Whole Family, and Worldview & Leadership Training for Teens. There's also information on how to find everything from contests, to how to write a winning college application essay. If there were one "top expert" in homeschooling, I would say Mary Pride is it. With her numerous books, Practical Homeschooling Magazine, and website, Mary knows her stuff.

Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School by Rebecca Rupp. This book does not come from a Christian orientation, but is one of the few books I know that gives you a checklist of what the traditional pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum expects a child to learn year by year and then tells you how to accomplish the same level of learning at home. Home Learning Year by Year also gives guidelines for the importance of each topic, pointing out which knowledge is essential and which is best for more expansive study based on your child's personal interests.

Life Skills for Kids by Christine Field is a guide to equipping your children with the life skills they will need as adults: people/home life skills, time/space organization skills, money management skills, healthy lifestyle skills, spiritual habits, decision making skills, creative skills, and celebration skills. Christine is a home schooling mother herself, and the book is written in such a way that it may be used as a reference point and checklist of desired skills and knowledge to be mastered.

Homeschooling the Early Years
Homeschooling the Middle Years
Homeschooling the Teen Years
Each of these books is a guide to successfully homeschooling the age group it covers. Starting with what makes the age group tick, chapters cover the important aspects of learning, practical ways to approach each subject area, and the many paths to success.

What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know
What Your First Grader Needs to Know
What Your Second Grader Needs to Know
What Your Third Grader Needs to Know
What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know
What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know
What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know
This series of books covers what a child at each grade level should be learning in every subject. The books are great to have around to help you design your own curriculum and make sure you aren't leaving any "gaps." History, language arts, science, and several other subjects are covered in enough detail that the book could become your primary textbook for those subjects, but math is summarized, so further teaching materials may be needed there. As you develop your own "Home School Reference Center" of books you can refer to over and over, these need to be there.

Resources to discover how your child learns best

Developed by the authors of Discover Your Child's Learning Style, this is the most powerful and user friendly learning styles inventory in the world and it is NOW ONLINE! A Self-Portrait™ Profile assesses several aspects of learning style, quickly and simply, in language that is easily understood by everyone. These aspects are: Disposition, Modality, Environment, Interests, and Talents. If you want help in understanding what makes your child "tick" and how your can help him or her learn easier and better (or find out more about yourself), take this easy, quick learning styles assessment test. For more about this learning styles assessment test, CLICK HERE>>

Discover Your Child's Learning Style is a book you need. Period. It has more potential to improve your child's education - and your family relationships - than almost any other book I have ever read. The authors of this book have developed a "Learning Styles Model" of education that helps you discern your child's:
Preferred learning environment
Thinking Style
The book includes handy self-tests. Use these to find out just how each child in your family loves to learn... and what teaching approaches help or hinder his learning style. What a huge difference this will make in your homeschool... and in your family relationships!

Discover Your Children's Gifts will help you uncover your children's natural giftings and personality traits. It helps explain why their personality "quirks" are really evidences of their own God-given gifts. The theological foundation is very sound, making good sense of the main passages on spiritual gifts in a way very few others do. Gifts are broken into 1) Manifestation (sign gifts - 1 Cor 12-14; Acts 2) 2) Ministry (equipping gifts - Eph 4) & 3) Motivational (every-Christian-gifts - Rom 12).

Dreamers, Discoverers and Dynamos. Every now and then a book comes along that fills in so many gaps in my understanding that I want to tell everyone about it. Dr. Pallodino suggests that one in five children is an "Edison Trait child," meaning he or she has one or more of the following: dazzling intelligence, an active imagination, a free-spirited approach to life, and the ability to frustrate the you-know-what out of others. The heart of the issue is that these children think divergently, while schools generally reward convergent thinking. This book discusses the different types of approaches to life your children may have (dreamer, discover, or dynamo) and how you can most help each type succeed.

100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy. Selecting the right curriculum can be a time consuming task for any family that chooses home education. Now, Cathy Duffy makes choosing the right resources for your child easy!

I've always recommended Cathy's curriculum guides as the best out there for choosing teaching materials that "mesh" with who your family is. Now Cathy guides you through the process, offering her "Top Picks" from each subject area.

Home School Mom Creates Organic, Non-toxic,
Great Smelling Play Dough That Kids Love to Play With

It's Going Fast!

My friend Susan is a home schooling Mom and she is very concerned about her children's health. Her son, Liam is allergic to almost every chemical known to man, so Susan has to be very, very careful what she allows him to play with. When he gets together with other children and they play with Play Doh, Liam can't play. The dyes and chemicals in the dough can not only make him very sick, they might kill him.

To read the story of how Susan solved Liam's problem and how you can benefit from what she did, GO HERE>>

Be a part of our Home Business Incubator!

At Home School Marketplace we are not just about home schooling. We also want to encourage and support you in developing home centered income.

One of the ways we want to do this is by providing you with the opportunity for involvement in businesses that we and other home schooling families develop.

So for years we have thought about creating a home business incubator that home schooling families can participate in.

What is a Business Incubator?

What is a business incubator? A business incubator is a collection of resources designed to help businesses become established and sustainable.

We want to create businesses that allow home schooling families to participate in their development and share in their future profits.

If you would like to participate in one of our Business Incubators, please GO HERE NOW>>>

CLICK HERE to listen to a teleconference explaining the concept and our vision for a Home School Business Incubator.

Highly Recommended Programs and Events

Rhea's Entrepreneur Days
I've known Rhea Perry for over ten years and seen her heart for helping home school families develop an entrepreneurial mindset and start their own family businesses. She also is very concerned that teens are trained to become entrepreneurs. So for the last six or so years Rhea has held "Entrepreneur Days" where she brings together leaders in different businesses and lets them share their secrets.

Entrepreneur Days is in Atlanta, August 15 - 17..

If you want to:

1) Create additional income or replace current monthly income

2) Reduce debt to manage monthly bills

3) Work for yourself instead of for someone else

4) Train your children to own their own business so they can become financially free

5) Create a family business that the whole family can participate in

....then this is the place to go!
Find out more about Rhea's Entrepreneur Days here.

Home Business Resources

Let Your Mortgage Make You Rich.
A friend in my internet marketing group discovered this technique for paying down your mortgage incredibly quickly without making an extra payment or refinancing. Using her method, people are cutting a 30 year mortgage down to eight or nine years. It’s true; without extra payments or refinancing – you could save tens of thousands of dollars - even hundreds of thousands - on what you pay for your home. And the best part is that the book comes with a money-back guarantee. If you don't save more on your mortgage than the book costs in the first 18 months of using the techniques, you'll get your money back.
Find out more about this money-saving book NOW!

From Home School to Home Business
(14 CD Set)

If you missed one of our From Home School to Home Business Conferences, you missed a great time.People who have attended tell us that it changed their lives—not only in the area of home schooling, but also in the area of creating their own sources of home income.This set is huge and filled with useful and encouraging information about how to be successful at home schooling and at home business! Find out more about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Building the Business of Your Dreams (8 CD Set) I've had requests for just the business portion of the From Home School to Home Business Seminar, so have developed a set of the business CDs from that set. It contains 8 CDs and includes sessions on The Entrepreneurial Mind, Multiple Streams of Home Income, Discovering Your Ideal Life and Ideal Business (2 CDs) , Developing a Business Plan (2 CDs), and The Importance of Business Relationships. Plus, there is a very important and insightful interview on Redeeming the Marketplace. Find out about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

SALE PRODUCTS! Limited Quantities
30% Off! We only have a few of each of these left.

We have the following WIN books available: The Reluctant Writer, Comprehensive Story Writing, Writing Man 1 & 2, and WIN Twin.

For more information and to place an order, GO HERE>>

Common Teaching Approaches

All home schooling materials fall into two main categories: traditional textbook curricula and non-textbook curricula. For more detailed explanations of each teaching approach, and for resources that help you choose teaching materials for the upcoming school year, GO HERE>>

The Traditional Approach

In the Traditional Approach, graded textbooks or workbooks follow a scope and sequence that covers each subject in 180 daily increments over a span of 12 years. Teacher's manuals, tests, and record keeping materials are usually available that correspond to each of the texts. Textbook curricula assume you will run your home school like an institutional school.

Worktext programs present textbooks in consumable workbook format. The student learns his lesson, is given assignments, and is tested all in the workbook. The worktexts include tests or checkpoints to ensure that the material in each section is mastered before the student moves on to the next. Worktexts also allow more independent study and require minimal teacher preparation time and supervision.

Video programs are also available that are actual classrooms on video. The child follows along with the video as if he or she were attending an actual classroom, and uses the accompanying textbooks or workbooks.
Traditional curricula are also available on computer. Many satellite schools and well as universities now offer computer courses on CD or through the internet.

Most of the textbook and worktext programs used in private Christian schools are available to homeschoolers. They each share a distinct doctrinal perspective, and usually contain strong elements of essentialism (the view that there is one "right" essential course of study for all children).

Non-Textbook Approaches

Although there are a number of excellent textbook and worktext programs available, many home educators object to the fact that textbooks are teacher-directed, chalkboard-oriented, and seldom take into account different teaching approaches or the different ways children receive and process information.

John Gatto says, “Real books educate. School books school.” With textbooks, parents may feel they are “bringing the classroom home” instead of educating their children in a way that is uniquely home-based. These parents have found alternative teaching approaches that allow them to tailor their home schooling to their family’s particular needs. Here are the six most common non-textbook teaching approaches:

The Classical Approach is derived from successful courses of study throughout history and recently revived through the writings of Dorothy Sayers.

The Principle Approach is based on the premise that our nation is a unique and vital link in the westward chain of Christianity.

The Living Books and Life Experiences Approach of Charlotte Mason treats children as persons, not as containers to be filled with information.

The Unit Study Approach integrates several subject areas around a common theme.

Unschooling assumes that children are natural learners and gives them resources to do so.

The Eclectic Approach takes a cafeteria-style view of home schooling and chooses suitable teaching materials from all different approaches.

Any article appearing on this website may be copied or forwarded electronically provided that proper credit is given and that the article is not substantively modified. No article may appear in whole or in part in a publication sold for profit or as part of any commercial endeavor without the written consent of Home School Marketplace. Any reprint must include an acknowledgement of where it came from and the sentence "Sign up for the Home School Marketplace newsletter at www.homeschoolmarketplace.com."

© Copyright 2008. Home School Marketplace, 1053 Eldridge Loop, Crossville, TN 38571.

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Webpages about the importance of reading great books and booklists for children of all ages
te are completed:
Webpages about choosing teaching materials

Webpages about charting a course through high school

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