Education

I recently read a book called “For the Children’s Sake” written by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, examining the educational foundations for home and school. The author devotes a large amount of space in her book to the educational methods of Charlotte Mason, a Christian educationalist who lived some time ago. I found it a very interesting read and found myself not just ‘reading’ the book but almost ‘studying’ it, as I kept jotting down notes / quotes from the book that stood out for me, and blurting them out to my husband in excitement! J

If you are interested in education / teaching at all, or if you’re a parent with your own children, I hope you find the below quotations from her book very helpful and useful to bear in mind, especially with regards to deciding what type of educational method you believe would best serve your child. Whether you choose a large school, a small school, a co-ed school, a boys-only / girls-only school, a Christian school, a secular mainstream school, a boarding school, a day-scholar school, a home-based school, or to home-school your own child, I believe every child is unique and different educational methods will cater for your child’s individual needs in different ways, the decision comes down to ‘what would serve my child in the best possible way?’

Here are the quotes:

‘Educational institutions make poor substitute mothers, fathers and homes’. 

‘Charlotte Mason believed that parents have the most interesting and valuable job that exists amongst all mankind’. 

‘Charlotte Mason believed the family was of prime importance in all child development. The atmosphere in the family comes first.’ 

‘There can be no greater vocation in life than the family responsibility of sharing life with a growing child.’ 

‘When there is no parent who makes it his business to understand the individual child, and the people whose job it is to care for him treat him as part of their career, perhaps the only place where that child will find understanding is in the counselor’s office for one hour a week.’ 

‘Can we serve God’s children wholeheartedly while we are being consumed with career demands?’ 

‘There is no such thing as a neutral teacher. Every teacher does influence the child, either for the better or worse.’ 

‘Parents who provide for their children’s growth and learning….. Such children will be eager to exploit life without a sense of boredom. They will think, and express their thoughts. They are eagerly trying to master new skills.’ 

‘Charlotte Mason’s ideas are especially needed by deprived children today, the ones who are bored. Life is just too interesting for boredom!’ 

‘Children are to be respected and accepted as unique, valuable persons.’ 

‘Our children need to experience a day-by-day reality of those living life in relationship with a living King. They need to live in an atmosphere of love, truth, humility and forgiveness; an atmosphere of truly accepting the child, including his limitations.’ 

Practical quotes:

‘Teaching about the objective truth of Christianity is so very important. We do not become Christians because it will make us happy. We are called to One who is there. Have your children thrashed through the reasons why the Bible is true? Do they know about the historical and archaeological evidence? Can they remember the numerous occasions when the Bible fitted like a key into the keyhole of reality?’ 

‘Charlotte Mason did not advise enclosing a child in an artificial environment, such as a classroom, for too much of the day. The whole afternoon was to be free for the child’s own play. She held that the ideal was outdoor space where children ran, climbed trees, splashed, crawled, rode, explored and played.’ 

‘Part of life is the aspect of work and responsibility. When a child is at home, he wants to share in the activities that are going on: the work. The two-year-old says, “Me too! Me wash the floor. Me stir the food”. Whenever possible, a child should partake in real work situations. Therefore, if the school hours are shorter and more valuable, there is time for work and play.’ 

‘Let children illustrate (draw) a story that has interested them. Children become discouraged by their lack of expertise if they are used to “colouring in” an adult’s drawing. Sunday Schools, too, should stay away from such prepared (and boring) papers to colour in. How about large sheets of good-quality paper and fibre-tip pens for younger children, and drawing pencils for older children?’ 

‘The young child of six will spend twenty minutes a day (or more if practical) learning the mechanics of reading and writing. This process should be carried out in a friendly, quiet, regular and structured way. A child should never be made to feel that he is lagging behind others of his age. We don’t harass babies of eighteen months to walk if they still crawl. Einstein only started talking at four years!’ 

‘The habit of a dulled non-thinking mind may be easily produced by sitting the child in front of a TV for long periods.’ 

‘Literature is an important and central part of education. Make sure that the habit of reading is established. Make time for reading at home and at school. It is the foundation of education.’ 

‘Read the child a good story, full of interest (a living book). Then say to him, “Can you tell me the story?” As he puts it into words, he has to think for himself. He uses his memory, he has acquired knowledge, and having expressed it creatively in his own words, he will be able to remember what he has learned.’ 

‘These are some of our family’s “living books”: 

  • The Bible
  • Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan 
  • Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • Chronicles of Narnia, by C S Lewis 
  • Hans Christian Anderson’s and Grimm’s fairy tales 
  • Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter 
  • Just so Stories, by Rudyard Kipling 
  • All of Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  • The Secret Garden, by Frances Burnett 
  • Abraham Lincoln, by Ingrid and Edgar D’Aulaire 
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame 
  • Oliver Twist and Hard Times, by Charles Dickens 
  • … and others.’ 

‘Poem:

Come, child.

I respect you, you are a person.

Come with me.

You belong on this planet,

You are to inherit,

You are to understand.

Look. Look, and you will see.

Enjoy this day: the sun, the grass, your friends.

Listen – we will read God’s word.

We are His sheep, He is our Shepherd.

Grow! Flourish! Be master!

Let us do what we ought.

Let us choose what is right!

Let us be brothers and sisters, together.

The bored wake up,

The failures find a new spring,

The sinful start again.

Come, little child,

I will listen, I will learn, too –

Let us enjoy ABUNDANT LIFE!’

______________________

‘One day we will stand before the Creator. Were we willing to give, serve and sacrifice “for the children’s sake?”‘ 




Marie: My Story

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post about ‘my story’ for those who don’t know me so well – recent friends, new acquaintances, even family, so today I’m actually getting round to it…

During this blog post, I want to mention and highlight a few wonderful people who have all played significant roles in different seasons of my life.

Firstly, I’m truly grateful to my parents (Wouter and Yvette Theron) for raising me in the best way they knew how and for teaching me the values of hard work and authenticity. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, my home, and attended boarding school in Harare from the age of 5 until 17. When I was 14 years old, a very special friend of mine (who was also my dorm prefect at the time) Joanne Milligan, invited me along to River of Life Church. At first I thought ‘why on earth would I want to go sit through a long, boring, formal, stuffy service listening to an old guy preach at me and singing from hymn books that are not relevant to me today?’ My parents don’t attend church and this is what I thought churches were like, but Jo immediately went on to tell me that the church meets in St John’s high school hall, there’s a band and lots of boys! 🙂 Well I can’t remember if she used those exact words, but it’s what I discovered on the first Sunday that I went along. I remember thinking to myself ‘why not try it out? It’s better than being stuck at school on Sundays’ (as boarders, we would try anything to get out of school). Well, I can honestly say that that day changed the course of the rest of my life…

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I was in my vulnerable teenage years, peer pressure at its strongest, where I could have chosen popularity, boys, sex, drinking or drugs over God any day. But I’m so grateful that God revealed Himself to me through River of Life Church – I asked Jesus into my life and I came to know His powerful love for me, I experienced a true happiness and joy and peace that I’d never known before. From that moment on, I wanted to live for my Father and Him alone, because the Father’s love can not be compared to anything else in this world. So many people search for fulfillment in the things of this world, but only God’s love can truly satisfy the longings in our hearts. If God created us, then surely He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He created us for Himself.

I left school and went on to secretarial college for a year, and sadly stopped going to church for a while. I had a fairly serious boyfriend who occupied my time at the weekends (and during the week), but after about a year the relationship ended and God lovingly drew me back to Himself.

The following year, I started working and studying a BA psychology degree part-time and started going back to River of Life church, which was then meeting in Mount Pleasant School hall. God gave me some real quality friends in church (male, female, black, white and Asian) who I genuinely had loads of fun with and who had my best interests at heart, one of them being Chipo Rwapunga, who was just always there for me whenever I needed a friend to talk to or get advice from. She’s a woman of wisdom.

By this time, I had a fantastic mornings-only job working for agricultural businesses doing their bookkeeping (also still studying at this stage), but River of Life church (which now has its own building in Eastlea) offered me a bookkeeping job. I asked God what He wanted me to do as I was being paid very well and I’d be taking a big pay cut for doing the same type of job and the same hours! It sounds ludicrous to change jobs for reduced pay, but money is not everything. So no surprise there, He told me to take the job! 🙂 So I worked at ROL Eastlea for a year and a half until I finished my degree. To this day, it has been the best job I’ve ever had, I loved every minute of it! There hasn’t been another job that I’ve enjoyed doing more. I had amazing work colleagues and a real sense of passion and purpose for the work I was doing!

However, for a long time I’d been asking God if He wanted me to move to the UK when I finished my degree, and eventually He said yes! I told Scott Marques (my boss at the time) and he said he’d ask around the Newfrontiers UK contacts if there were any available jobs (ROL Eastlea is part of the Newfrontiers International family of churches). To cut a long story short, through the combined efforts of Scott Marques and Sean Mullens, I started work at the Newfrontiers office in Brighton, UK as Matt Simmonds’ PA in December 2007. Matt was responsible for Newfrontiers Media & Comms and Newday event at the time.

At the Newfrontiers church in Brighton, I met my special Australian friend Ali Devitt 🙂 If it was not for her, I don’t think I would have lasted in the UK as long as I did. Ali introduced me to a host of other friends in church, we went to loads of social events and even travelled around Europe! It was a real season of enjoying my youth – fun, friends and travelling 🙂

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After a year and a half of loving life and good friends in Brighton, God spoke to me again and said it was time to move to London! This was not what I wanted to hear as I was nicely settled in Brighton, I had good solid friends and I was loving my job – I didn’t want to start from scratch all over again.

Anyway, there was a job vacancy advertised by email for an Office Administrator at the Newfrontiers London office, so I thought I’d apply for the job and see what happens. I was asked to go to London for an interview and then got offered the job! Within a month, I had moved to London and started working as the Office Administrator at the Newfrontiers London office in May 2009.

When I started the new job, I met my wonderful husband Anthony Somerset who was working as the IT Co-ordinator for Newfrontiers UK at the time. We were friends and work colleagues for a long time before anything further happened between us. Then (thanks to the matchmaking skills of my boss Sharon Mukungu) we finally took a huge risk entering into a relationship because of the fact that we were working together. It would have been hard to continue working together if the relationship hadn’t worked out. However, just 4 months later we were engaged and 4 months later we were married! 🙂

marieant1

For 3 and a half years, I lived and worked in London.

For almost 2 years of marriage, Anthony and I lived in London together.

Then we both felt that God was wanting us to move back to Zimbabwe and start a family, so in August 2012, we packed up and moved to Zim when I was 4 months pregnant.

On 22 January 2013, our first child Ronnie was born 🙂

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On 12 September 2014, our second child Rosie was born 🙂

rosie1

Both our children are such huge blessings to us and they’ve brought us so much joy and happiness and laughter 🙂 Yes indeed children are very hard work, but we love them to bits and would lay down our lives for them and we’re so grateful to God for each of them!

kids1

Anthony, being the incredible husband and father that he is, has provided for his family and looked after our financial needs, which means that to this day I’ve not had to go out to work, but instead I’ve had the huge privilege of being a stay-at-home mum. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done, and day after day I’m having to rely on God to give me the grace and patience and love to discipline and raise my children in a way that leads them to Him, our Heavenly Father, who created them and loves them more than I do, because He literally laid down His life for them.

I’m so excited to see what God has in store for us in the future, I love living a life of adventure with Him!

Until next time….




Belatedly Introducing Ronald “Ronnie” Edward Somerset

I can’t believe this is 2 and a half months late already, I wish I could come up with some elaborate reason for that but honestly its just been that hectic that I haven’t had time or just plain forgot. So a big welcome to the world to Ronald “Ronnie” Edward Somerset, Born 11:45 AM on 22nd January 2013 at a perfectly average 2.95KG or 6 lbs 8oz in English money. It’s hard to believe that at 10 and a half weeks he is already well over 5KG’s and totally healthy, the paediatrician even commented on his strength for such a young baby.

Ronnie_smiling

I have to confess, being a dad is the hardest job in the world, but its absolutely 100% without a doubt totally worth it. I’m only about 3 months in and probably making mistakes but learning all the time. Smelly Diapers (Nappies for the English) are definitely my weakness, but thankfully I have an amazing wife that does most of the nappy changing for me.

I do have to say that after watching Marie in action, I don’t know how single parents do it, and despite their circumstances I have a whole new respect for them doing what really is a 2 person job on their own. Marie is such a faithful wife and doesn’t complain that it’s hard and tiring, even though it is and most days she is in bed by 8PM and out for the count. She so amazingly releases me by doing the night time feeds so that I get a reasonably good nights rest so that I can work the next day without being tired myself. She is the absolutely biblical model of a wife!

So I’ve got at least the next 18+ years to look forward to, sure its going to have its ups and downs but right now I get to quote God from Mathew 3:17  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 🙂

Despite the Credit Crunch and all that, the Bank of Dad is now open, will likely need bailing out in about 18 or so years!

 




Zimbabwe Life – 4 Months In

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, it’s a testament to how busy its been for me with work, church and life.

I thought I’d give an update on African life 4 months in as it’s the new year, its been interesting to look back on the last few months and compare the differences to life in the UK.

I’ll try and not rehash too many of the details that Marie shared in her last post.

So we have been in Zim a little over 4 months now, I have to say all the negative stories you hear about Zim are probably a little over blown by western media, sure there are some problems but I wouldn’t say they are as bad as western media makes out.

We’ve been blessed enough that we live in an area with very few power cuts and I mean perhaps 2 mins every other week or so compared to 12 hours a day that some areas get. I think this is because we probably are on the same power feed as the local hospital in our area.

Water hasn’t really been an issue for us with the exception that you cannot safely drink straight from the tap, we have a borehole (2 actually) which supplies drinking water for the complex, but its not enough to run the general water supply for the whole complex, which means the main water pipes are fed from a tank which is kept full with a mixture of Borehole water, Municipally supplied water and even the Swimming Pool when the municipal supplies are not working (which is fairly regularly at least in the winter months which are June through September). As you can guess chlorine isn’t good for you and it’s commonly known that the municipal water is not to the same standards compared to the UK. This is mostly down to the infrastructure not being as reliable (burst pipes, no power at treatment facilities etc). The water situation hasn’t been too much of an issue for us, we have our containers with which we go to the main borehole tap and fill for drinking water and for the puppies, which is luckily by the side of our house which is convenient. The only real challenge has been remembering that I must spit the water out when rinsing my mouth out after brushing my teeth (I used to have a quick drink after rinsing my mouth in the UK).

As I mentioned, work has been pretty hectic the last few months. I’ve made some changes as well in recent months too, I was previously spending a lot of my time working with Frederick Townes, Willie Jackson and the gang at W3 EDGE who are the main go-to guys to go to when you want WordPress to scale. It was a blast but unfortunately it was ultimately taking way too much time away from spending it with my wife and doing some of my own project based work (not directly in the WordPress/Internet sphere).

While I was working at W3 EDGE, I had the privilege to take a trip down to Cape Town in October and speak at a WordCamp Conference. I spoke on how to scale servers for maximum WordPress performance. It was quite a geeky and very tech focused talk but it went down well from feedback from others. I put the slides up on slideshare and the video has been uploaded to YouTube, unfortunately the audio quality for the first few minutes of my presentation was a bit poor but it picks up further in. Hopefully I’ll be able to do another talk at WordCamp Cape Town in 2013.

So even after wrapping up with the W3 EDGE team it turns out I was still very busy, some new hosting clients came in looking for more capacity for their magento store, as they were paying a rather hefty amount to Rackspace each month but not getting the amount of scale they desired. Scale roughly can be thought about as the amount of traffic a site can take based upon certain factors – for example when I mention scaling up a site, it could mean adding more servers into the equation or adding resources to the existing servers or just optimising the existing gear so it can do more in the same hardware, and so on. I won’t bore you with all the details, if you do want to find out more, please do take a look at my business website and contact me there 🙂

So Christmas has been and gone, perhaps the most exciting thing in the run up to Christmas this year was getting to be involved with our church’s (ONE Church) large missional event. This year it was called “Christmas Unrapped”. It was a mix of traditional carols, a 5-10 min gospel message and a play/performance combining Spoken Word, Dance, Acting and even some Bollywood, all in the Avondale car park (there’s a reasonably large Indian population within the Avondale area). I was originally only put down to do some lighting design and lighting on the day, but quite late on it was realised that a lot of the technical side of things was not arranged yet at all. So I got promoted to Technical Director and ended up arranging and organising all the technical aspects of the event from Power, Sound, Lighting and then running Sound on the night. It was definitely an eye opening experience and may have given me a few grey hairs in the process, but looking back I really did enjoy it!

Christmas itself was nice and quiet, I was able to take just over a week off which made a real change to the fast pace busyness of work and was really relaxing, spending lots of time with Marie, enjoying the quiet moments while they last, and playing with our puppies! We can’t really call our dogs “Puppies” for too much longer as they are over 6 months old now and just recently got spayed, which was a little bit traumatic for them but Salt & Pepper have both bounced back nicely.

In just a few days that quiet will be all but gone for the most part & I don’t say that as a negative point. Our baby is due on around the 28th January, so it literally could be any day now. In some respects its still a bit surreal that I’m going to be a dad in a few days time (because I haven’t really had much to do in the last 9 months), in some respects its quite scary to think another human life is going to be totally dependant on me (& Marie) for absolutely everything, and in some respects its quite exciting and I look forward to the challenge. I’m certain that as I learn stuff, I’ll share here as time allows as well as share as many photos as I can, here or via facebook.

I’m going to leave it there for now, hopefully we won’t be so tardy with updates in the future (I say that now….).




Update from Zimbabwe

Well it has been one and a half months since my husband and I landed at Harare Airport, Zimbabwe, so here’s a brief summary of what we’ve been up to so far. Our time here has been very fruitful, productive and joy-filled! We have achieved everything we set out to accomplish by the grace of God, for example:

  • Ant obtained residency in Zimbabwe for the next two years
  • We opened a local Zimbabwean joint bank account
  • We moved into our new home and furnished it
  • Our Nissan Navara (Ant’s car) and household belongings, that we shipped from the UK, arrived two weeks ago
  • We bought a Hyundai Excel (my car) about a month ago (It literally had only one lady owner previously – whatever that means! – Ant says thats good)
  • We registered with Cimas Medical Aid Society and with a doctor
  • I registered with a gynaecologist, who is apparently the best in Zim, and had my 20-week scan a few weeks ago (who will also be delivering our baby)
  • I have booked into the maternity section at the hospital to have my baby (as if you don’t book in advance you might not get a bed and be turned away, that’s how busy/popular they are!)
  • We have a reliable internet connection set-up in our home, which means Ant has been able to work from home for over a month now
  • We found a maid who works for us 1 day a week, who does the cleaning and ironing (I’m so grateful for her!)
  • We were given two cutie-pie jack russell puppies from my parents, their names are Salt and Pepper ☺

We’ve got involved and stuck into One Church (a Newfrontiers church plant) and recently completed the three-week Vision & Values Course to become members, and we joined the Vainona “Vainona Massive!” Community Group, which is the closest one to our house. Ant is doing the Sound at church every third Sunday and he’s been asked to oversee the Media Team, which means he gets to church two hours early each Sunday for set-ups and to make sure all Media aspects are running smoothly. Basically, he’s in his element and he’s absolutely loving it!

Ant joined a gym, which is about a 15-minute drive from our house, and he’s been going three days a week – early on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I would have loved to join him but of course I’m not allowed, being pregnant and all, how convenient J I am so enjoying seeing how happy Ant has been since he arrived in Zim, I think the laid-back culture and lifestyle really suits him (as well as the hot climate). He gets on really well with the people here and it makes me happy to see him so happy!

I have been a real house-wife doing the cooking, washing, cleaning, baking bread (we have a bread-machine), baking biscuits, buying the groceries, feeding the dogs, and doing bits of Admin for hubby J I’ve also been able to see and connect with old friends and family, some of whom I had not seen for years. I’ve been enjoying going out for coffees, visiting friends and having friends visit me, even some who I hadn’t seen since school days. It’s been fantastic being able to spend time building relationships with new and old friends! I’ve been a real social busy bee J

All in all, I hadn’t realized how much I missed the Zimbabwean lifestyle and wonderful people until I moved back here!




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