September 4, 2016


On Love, and Learning Finnish

I'm getting older, you know? I've been a parent for over twenty years now... And when it comes to educating kids, we've tried just about all of the available options. Public school, private school, church school, homeschool. Just haven't quite gotten to the outer extreme of unschool--but I have to admit, I might be on my way.

This fall, I'll be homeschooling our littlest--he's ten now, and in fifth grade. He's smart, and curious, and has a fascinating brain. He's adventurous, like I am, and so we're a pretty good team. I feel fortunate to have this time with him, and he says fairly often that he feels lucky too. 

I used to think that the best sort of educated kid was the one who listened to classical music, who read beautiful and poignant literature, who could tell you all sorts of cool things about the ancient world, and maybe even pass the national Latin exam while still in grade school. I still kinda think some of this is important, and it certainly won't harm your child if he or she is pursuing these things, but I've come to see education from another vantage point.

As individuals, we are all constructed so incredibly different. Some of us learn beautifully through reading text. Some of us become creative thinkers while rock hopping. Some of us need to use our hands in order to sift through our thoughts. Others of us are masterful with oral language, but see only blurred lines while trying to write on paper... I think we should push our brains to do the things that don't come easy to us, but... I believe we should dedicate the majority of our time doing those things in which we excel. And maybe, as parents, more than anything we choose to send into the lives of our children, we should teach our children to love.

I am homeschooling my son so that he can learn to love. And love in all the ways possible. To love himself--to recognize those gifts imbued in him, and learn to use those gifts. To feel comfortable with who he is--so he can understand his own strengths and weaknesses and work on being his own person instead of mimicking those around him. To love others--to develop a sense of compassion for those he encounters, accepting others just as they are. To serve others, even those he doesn't appreciate and like. To love creation--to explore the beauty of the natural world, and learn to be responsible for it... To not hate.

Though some children seem to love more naturally--to be more selfless than others (I know, I was a pleaser)--this active education in loving fits all types. Doesn't it? It doesn't matter where your kids are going to school--it doesn't matter what grades are on their test scores (as long as they are working hard--I'm a BIG believer in working hard...) All of our attention as parents should be on love. Giving love. Modeling love. Teaching love. Encouraging our children to love more.

I know, this totally sounds like a blog post from the 60's! But some messages are timeless.

What does this have to do with Finnish? Ha!

Next summer we are planning a trip to Finland. I've longed to go since I was a little girl, when Raija Rauhamaa came to live in our house. She brought with her salted licorice, a fascinating language, cigarettes that I flushed down the toilet repeatedly, and a contagious laugh. I wrote reports on caribou and the Lapland, and the older I get, the more visiting there seems important. I believe in learning foreign languages (despite Google Translate) and so instead of embarking on Spanish, or French, or Japanese, or Russian--we're diving into Finnish, because, in the end, why not?! We don't have to follow the classical music/ancient history/national Latin exam model. We are Jane and John Ronan, and we are going to Finland.

And maybe the year after we'll go to Japan. Who knows? Why not learn twelve languages? So that we can love more people, in more places.


Cheers, friends.









Published: September 4, 2016 | Filed under: Home

Comments (4)
GretchenJoanna said:
September 4, 2016 @ 8:34 PM

That's a wonderful idea! It is the obvious thing to do because it fits in with your "unit study" on Finland, and I think the experience of learning a language because you want to be able to speak it with people you know and love can only make your son want to learn more languages after that. IF he likes that kind of thing. I was a student who wanted to learn lots of languages, and I started in on several over the course of 30+ years, including during our decades of homeschooling, so each of my five children had a different mix of exposure to foreign tongues. One of them as a child was like me, and wanted to learn every language that came along, but the course of her life took her away from that altogether. The two youngest children have ended up going abroad for various reasons more than the older ones, and one is becoming fluent in Korean, and one in Hindi! After a smattering of French, German, Turkish, Latin, Spanish and Greek, I don't know much. I discovered that it's a lot harder to learn a foreign language after the age of 40, but in the last two years I started using the Pimsleur method to learn Greek, then to brush up on Turkish, and I enjoyed it very much. Neither of the trips that I was preparing for materialized in the end, so I stopped. I wonder what language will be next for me? ;-)

GretchenJoanna said:
September 4, 2016 @ 8:36 PM

I put paragraph breaks in my comment because it was so long - but I see that they didn't "take"! Sorry!

jane g meyer replied:
September 5, 2016 @ 10:22 AM

I like the rectangle of words. :) GretchenJoanna, you're another language lover! Wow, Turkish? Love that... I studied French from the time I was a little girl all the way into college and beyond, and that gave me a really nice starting point for understanding how one learns a language. I landed in Italy when I was just 19, and after six months was pretty fluent--just lots of vocab building after that. I've always wanted to learn Arabic, and Basque. Anyway, Finnish is a funny sounding language, so we're getting lots of laughs in while we learn. We'll report as the year progresses! All the best.

GretchenJoanna said:
September 5, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

One of my best friends is Finnish, and she told me that the origin of that language is uncertain, but that it appears to be related to Hungarian, and not to Scandinavian languages. Have fun!

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