Booklists and Hard Copies

I've gotten several emails with variations of this theme:

I was just looking on your serendipitysite for more specific curriculum ideas, book titles, etc., and started printing and writing down the many, many book suggestions/ideas you have listed, but realized I’d use a lot of ink printing plans you have laid out and/or would be up for many hours writing the most helpful titles down, so I was wondering if you had a “book” or hard copy of the resources, book titles, ideas, themes, etc. in a book, syllabus you could sell to me.

And the short answer, right now, is "no." There is a longer answer (as long as Karoline stays asleep). Many of the booklists will eventually appear in the revised version of Real Learning, along with a new chapter or two. But writing booklists is a ginormous project, particularly when I'm writing booklists that I'm not planning to use right now. I envision well-developed booklists for pretty much every subject I plan to teach (or have taught) using living books. Huge project. What you have on Serendipity are plans for my family.  I am using them. That's time I can invest. I write those because they will be the underpinning of our family life and family education. I need them written down and I want them to be functional. I truly enjoy writing in blog format and I feel called to share. But I also know that I have to pace myself. Life would have to stop around me for me to get all the booklists finsihed at once. In the next few weeks, I hope to enlist the aid of a couple of children to retrieve all of the titles from the Alphabet Path posts and make them into a booklist. And I think it's reasonable to expect that I can do the same for the Colonial America posts (only in that case, I'd have to do it, because I'm working from a 6-year-old hard copy and I'm adding and deleting as I go). I'm wondering if it wouldn't be very helpful to all of you if I put all the Colonial American plans up at once, but that idea leads me to part two of the long anwer:

There will never be a published, printed version of my lesson plans. First of all, something in me says that to print them and sell them somehow is to say that they are finished and that they are "perfect" enough to sell. I don't believe that about them. They will never be finished. Even if I put all of Colonial America up tomorrow (don't hold your breath;-), I will add to it and tweak it as we do it. There is always a new book or two, or there is a book that goes out of print. And then there are the ideas that spring up as we are inspired. In the end, it will look much different than when I did it six years ago. That's a good thing. I'm writing these plans for my children in my family. I can't begin to accept money from someone else for them, implying that somehow I think they are finished and ready for her children. I'm too much of a "tweaker." If I thought I was selling them and I couldn't go back and edit at will, you would never see anything. I'd never finish. What you are seeing, as someone recently called it, is a "rough draft of the day." It's the recipe from which I'll work. If you did it exactly, it would probably be fine. But I never follow recipes exactly. Ever. Often I don't have the right amount of every ingredient. Sometimes, I make allergy substitutions. Sometimes, I think the recipe writer uses way too much sugar or salt, and I cut back. I expect you will do the same if you use my plans as your rough draft. But I'm not too keen on printing, packaging, marketing and mailing my rough draft.

Also, these plans are pretty link-dependent. It would take additional work to figure out a way around that for the print version. I don't have time for additional work right now. I'm trying mightily to get my rough drafts finished so that I have the ease of a "boxed curriculum" with the blessing of a tailored curriculum, all before the school year begins.

And finally, these plans are not all mine. They were written a little at a time by four different people. Someone roughs out a post, puts it in a draft folder, and we all contribute when we can. Which is very tricky, because no more than one of us can actually be signed into Typepad to work at a given time--I get the early morning slot and then I need to stay out of the way lest I click "save" and end up deleting someone else's work in progress. This techonological annoyance actually keeps any one of us from working very much every day. And it keeps me personally from working after my children awaken. So, rest assured that no children were neglected in the writing of these plans.

All of these things come together to keep us from presenting plans in a published version. And because we aren't looking at this as a professional endeavor, we are committed again and again to the idea that it is a ministry. First, it must bless our families. We've noticed that as we progress in the planning, our children are catching our enthusiasm for the subject matter and for the books we're previewing. That's a good thing. And every once in a while, they are also blessed to see how their contributions are beneifting other people. Mary Beth does a lion's share of the linking. We put the titles up there and she writes the codes. But that's not all she writes. Since, way back around letter "H" or so, she's been the creative mind behind the Alphabet Path stories. She researches the fairies, the flowers, and the saints, she kicks around ideas and bounces them off of me. I make suggestions and she writes. Then, in an incredible display of humility I can only hope to attain someday, she lets me go in and heavily edit her writing. You get a polished version--but the story started in an eleve-year-old's brain. Can you even begin to imagine the joy it brings to my heart that I'm writing stories and lesson plans with my daughter? No, you really can't;-) That experience alone is reason enough to keep doing this. But, imagine her joy when she discovered a little girl at her ballet school reading a Flower Fairy book. When Mary Beth asked if she liked the fairies, this little darling said, "Yes, and I like Michael and Mrs. Applebee, too." And suddenly, my daughter was an author and someone "out there" in the world knew "her" characters.

All that said, what about your time and effort and ink? I do have some ideas for that and I know that a very smart lady in western Loudoun county does too. Perhaps I can persuade her to share some examples and maybe this week I can make some PDFs and show you how I print from the blog and then hand write on the printed lists for my own use. My scanner now talks to my computer, so we do have the technology to do that.

But I hear Karoline and she's reminding me that we're all out of time for now.