Monday, February 29, 2016

Logic as the Way of Reason...

Principle 16b & 18

There are two guides to moral and intellectual self-management to offer to children, [the second] we may call 'the way of the reason'...

Their way to reason: We teach children, too, not to 'lean (too confidently) to their own understanding'; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will, in the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.

**Reason = the power of the mind to think, understand and form judgments by a process of logic

To reason is to think.  Not only right thinking, but measuring and weighing all sides, because as Charlotte said, "every pro suggested by our reason is opposed to some con in the background".  In chapter IX of A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte aims to show us the importance and necessity of giving a variety of living ideas to shape a child's reasoning power or thinking.  

We must show the child instances where the outcome was negative even though the desire was strong and so, looked good. Sometimes a child should be taken into the psychology of crime, and he will see that reason brings infallible proofs of the rightness of the criminal act.   Charlotte begins with the example of Eve in the Garden of Eden...
We know the arguments before which Eve fell when the Serpent played the part of the 'weird Sisters.' It is pleasant to the eye; it is good for food; it shall make you wise in the knowledge of good and evil - good and convincing arguments, specious enough to overbear the counter-pleadings of Obedience. 
She goes on to say...
Children should know that such things are before them also; that whenever they want to do wrong capital reasons for doing the wrong thing will occur to them.  But, happily, when they want to do right no less cogent reasons for right doing will appear. 
After abundant practice in reasoning and tracing out the reasons of others, whether in fact or fiction, children may readily be brought to the conclusions that reasonable and right are not synonymous terms; that reason is their servant, not their ruler, - one of those servants which help Mansoul in the governance of his kingdom.  But no more than appetite, ambition, or the love of ease, is reason to be trusted with the government of a man, much less that of a state; because well-reasoned arguments are brought into play for a wrong course as for a right.  He will see that reason works involuntarily; that all the beautiful steps follow one another in his mind without any activity or intention on his own part; but he need never suppose that he was hurried along into evil by thoughts which he could not help, because reason never begins it.  It is only when he chooses to think about some course of plan, as Eve standing before the apples, that reason comes into play; so, if he chooses to think about a purpose that is good, many excellent reasons will hurry up to support him; but, alas, if he choose to entertain a wrong notion, he, as it were, rings the bell for reason, which enforces his wrong intention with a score of arguments proving that wrong is right.  (p. 142-143)
In defense of faulty reasoning, Charlotte suggests logic...
...for logic gives us the very formula of reason, and that which is logically proved is not necessarily right. We need no longer wonder that two men equally upright, equally virtuous, selected out of any company, will hold opposite views on almost any question; and which will support his views by logical argument.  So we are at the mercy of the doctrinaire in religion, the demagogue in politics, and, dare we say, of the dreamer in science; and we think to save our souls by being in the front rank of opinion in one or the other.  But not if we have grown up cognisant of the beauty and wonder of the act of reasoning, and also, of the limitations which attend it. 
We must be able to answer the arguments in the air, not so much by counter reasons as by exposing the fallacies in such arguments and proving on our own part the opposite position. (p. 144)
Children are born with the power to reason.  However, this power must be trained.  As ideas are planted, one must decide if they are worthy, right or wrong.  When we provide our children with a variety of living ideas through history, literature, and mathematics, we give them resources, of which, to draw from in training their power of reasoning.  For example, Plutarch's Lives comes to mind as one show of citizenship that could assist in this power of training.  When children are read a story of some noble and virtuous character, they are given a measure by which to weigh or reason.  
Reason like the other powers of the mind, requires material to work upon whether embalmed in history or literature, or afloat with the news of a strike or uprising.  It is madness to let children face a debatable world with only, say, a mathematical preparation.  If our business were to train their power of reasoning, such a training would no doubt be of service; but the power is there already, and only wants material to work upon.  
This caution must be borne in mind.  Reason, like all other properties of a person, is subject to habit and works upon the material it is accustomed to handle. (p. 147)
We must give consistent pabulum for the mind in a broad array of subjects in order to build habits of right thinking, or in other words, to train the power of reason.  I am going out on a limb here to suggest that once again Charlotte shows advocacy for a liberal arts education versus simply S.T.E.M. training.   The broad and varied curricula of a liberal arts education will give a balanced approach providing logic necessary to sustain reason.
We have seen that their reading and the affairs of the day should afford scope and opportunity for the delight in ratiocination proper to children.  The fallacies they themselves perpetrate when exposed make them the readier to detect fallacies elsewhere.  
What are we to do?  Are we to waste time in discussing with children every idle and blasphemous proposition that comes their way?  Surely not.  But we may help them to principles which should enable them to discern these two characters for themselves.  A proposition is idle when it rests on nothing and leads to nothing.  (p. 148)
Ratiocination is the process of exact thinking or a reasoned train of thought.  The ability to reason to a conclusion of right thinking, or virtuous ratiocination, is an extremely important skill so that our children do not fall prey to every notion that floats by.  However, this does not mean we should be talky talky, preaching regularly about morals and high standards, but rather, providing a broad and liberal education, giving ideas, of which, the child may draw from.    
Children must know that we cannot prove any of the great things of life, not even that we ourselves live; but we must rely upon that which we know without demonstration.
Once we are convinced of the fallibility of our own reason we are able to detect the fallacies in the reasoning of our opponents and are not liable to be carried away by every wind of doctrine. (p. 150)
The last sentence of the quote above is a perfect summary.  As humans, it's easy to fall to our sinful nature and faulty reasoning.  However, once we see the errant of our own thinking, we can realize the logic of reason.  When in doubt, we must encourage our children to pray...

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

     and do not lean on your own understanding.

6  In all your ways acknowledge him,

     and he will make straight your paths.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Contemplating Classical Education: Various Types, Part 1 (Christian Classicism and Democratic Classicism)...

A couple weeks ago, I outlined what classical education is and how it has changed over the years according to Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Andrew Kern, authors of Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America. For further insight, I found What is Classical Education?, an article at the CiRCE Institute website.   In Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America, Veith and Kern go on to explain different types of classical education in chapters 3-6, including Christian Classical, Democratic Classical, Norms and Nobility, and Catholic Classicism.  Today, I'll attempt a summary...

Christian Classical
Classical education has always been nourished by the Christian Church.  The Christian scholar Boethius (c. 480-524) first divided the seven liberal arts into the trivium and quadrivium as part of the early Church's endeavor to understand the relationship between Greco-Roman civilization and Christianity.  The medieval university, which was organized around the liberal arts, was likewise a creation of the Church.  The Protestant Reformation, which proclaimed that lay Christians must read the Bible, championed universal education.  Protestant churches opened thousands of schools in the Old and New Worlds, which nearly always followed the classical model.  (p. 21)
Veith and Kern further assert that parochial education today retains elements of classical education.  As a matter of fact, in 1994 the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) was founded to encourage the formation and support of Christian Classical schools as the result of a conference on classical education hosted by Logos School.  Logos School began in 1980.  It was a pilot school created by Douglas Wilson, Senior Minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, as a gift to his daughter.  ACCS schools are dedicated to Dorothy Sayers understanding of the trivium as Douglas Wilson's ideas were strongly influenced by her essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning".
According to Sayers' essay, the trivium's significance rests on three enduring factors: the need to accumulate tools for learning, the process by which any subject can be learned, and the developmental stages of a child's growth. (p. 24) ACCS education is distinct because it relies on the trivium as an approach to learning while cultivating a Christian outlook on the world.  (p. 26) 
As of the 2013-2014 school year, Veith and Kern report there are over 40,000 students attending 236 schools within the ACCS.
ACCS has also gained considerable global influence. (p. 23)
There are now classical and Christian schools in Norther Iraq, Indonesia, Egypt, and Jordan with the bulk of the students coming from Kurdish Muslim families.  Curriculum developers such as Veritas Press are part of continuing support in the effort of building and maintaining Christian Classical schools in the U.S. and abroad.

For further study, consider Classical Education for Christians, an article written by Doug Wilson or his book, Rediscovering the Lost Tools of Learning.  (I have since read Wilson's book and commented here.)

Democratic Classicism
The two men most responsible for the revival of classical education in this century were Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951, and Mortimer Adler, leader of the Paideia movement.  Hutchins' academic reforms and curricular innovations served as prototypes for colleges that wanted to provide a genuine liberal arts education.  For Hutchins, classical education was no elitist affectation of the upper class.  Rather, the liberal arts - taught by "The Great Books" of all ages - would offer precisely the kind of education necessary to democracy. Every citizen, he believed, needed to be equipped with the intellectual tools for self-government, personal success, and - in the original sense of the "liberal arts" - freedom. (p. 31)
Veith and Kern note significant differences between schools that follow the ACCS and Paideia models.
ACCS questions the validity of government-run schooling, by contrast, Adler wrote the Paideia Proposal to reform public schooling. Religion is foundational to the ACCS curriculum, and Christianity is the point of integration through which all knowledge is made complete.  The Paideia Proposal does not dismiss the importance of religion, but its approach is more secular, and its foundational principle is democracy. (p. 31-32) 
In 1947, Hutchins and Adler established the Great Books Foundation, with the Great Books Discussion aimed at college students, and in 1962, Junior Great Books, geared more for kindergarten through high school.  Adler was also an editor of The Encyclopedia Britannica and an authored some 50 books as well as many essays, possibly best know by home educators for his book How to Read a Book.  He believed John Dewey was a great American educator and drew inspiration from his writings.

The Democratic Classical education gives all students the same program of study with little or no variation. According to Veith and Kern, there are few true Paideia schools today.  However, various groups aspire to implement parts of the Paideia vision in the hope of reviving Democratic Classicism and the dream of an equal education opportunity. For more information, you may consider reading The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto by Mortimer Adler.

Given the length and breadth of this post, I will continue another time with Part 2, discussing Norms and Nobility and Catholic Classicism.  For further reading on theory, practice, and schools associated with each of these thoughts on classical education, I highly recommend Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America by Dr. Gene Edward Veith and Andrew Kern.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Findings: Perfect ACT, Choosing Curricula, Old Books, Reading Opposing Ideas....

Another week has come and gone here on Drywood Creek.  As our first week starting Term 3, it went pretty smoothly.  The weather has been crazy mild, which gives us all spring fever.  The snow is melting. I even hung clothes on the line three different days!...30 and 40 degrees in Februrary feels like a heat wave in WI :)

The following are some posts I read around the web this week...

The fact that a Homeschooled Student Gets Perfect ACT Score is no surprise to me.  It's what she plans to do with it that's quite amazing!  No spoiler here :)

Have you seen this blog post by Nancy Kelly?  As your curriculum shopping, this quote from Charlotte Mason is a great tidbit to tuck in our minds.

In The Modern Place for Older Books, Wendi Capehart shares some thoughts on AO's book choices.  One based on Charlotte's preference of students reading literature published in the historical time period they were studying, which I thought was a fascinating idea.

Encountering Opposing Ideas: A Catholic Reads Westward Ho! gives an interesting perspective on reading books not necessarily in line with our beliefs.  Kathy Wickward does an excellent job of articulating constructive thought.

I leave you with a little boy dressing himself in camo...

Monday, February 22, 2016

2015-2016 Term 2 Review...

Last Friday, we wrapped up Term 2 of this 2015-2016 school year.  You can see our Term 1 here, including changes I made to original Back to School 2015-2016 curriculum.  Below are books and resources used...

Church History

Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula - continue to read aloud

Missionary Study

George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge - completed audio

Advent Study

Jotham's Journey, A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide - read aloud

Modern American and World History

The Wright Brothers: Pioneers of American Aviation by Quentin Reynolds - read aloud
Sergeant York by John Perry - read aloud and watched movie
The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy - read aloud
Rascal by Sterling North - read aloud

Story of the World, Vol. 4, The Modern Age by Susan Wise Bauer - Riley and Ruben will continue to listen to audio

The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Van Loon - Riley will continue reading independently


Studied countries as they come up in our reading

U.S. map work – learn 50 states - Riley will move on to state capitals for Term 3

Exploring Our State – Wisconsin - Riley and Ruben took turns reading aloud from an old textbook 

Natural History

Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton - read aloud

History of Science

Benjamin Franklin's Adventures with Electricity by Beverly Birch and Robin Bell Corfield - read aloud
Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes by Beverly Birch and Christian Birmingham - read aloud

The Picture History of Great Inventors by Gillian Clements - continue to read aloud 
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay - continue to read aloud excerpts 

Apologia Land Animals of the Sixth Day - Riley will continue to read independently


Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Huffman Rockness - Riley completed independently

Alexander Graham Bell Invents the Telephone by Katherine B. Shippen - Ruben completed independently 

Aemilius Paulus with study notes from Anne White - read aloud

Artist/Picture Study

A Weekend with Winslow Homer by Ann Kay Beneduce - read aloud and studied misc. artwork


Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - Riley, Ruben, and I are reading independently, then coming together for discussion.  We only got about half way this term, so we will continue into third term

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien - listened to audio and watched movies
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen - read aloud

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald - Riley completed independently 
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Riley completed independently 

Riley and Ruben are both continuing with math and Using Language Well.  Riley is working through All About Spelling Level 4.  She completed Poetry for Young People: Carl Sandburg by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin and Steven Arcella.  Ruben finished tutoring at the Children's Dyslexia Center.  He also finished The Logic of English Cursive Handwriting and studied misc. poetry of Eugene Field.  Each will be assigned a new poet for Term 3.  Ruben will begin a new cursive book.

In addition, we saw the play Number the Stars based on the book by Lois Lowry and listened to a WWII veteran speak.   We watched the movie Catching Faith and the kids participated in the church Christmas play.  They also completed the first semester of choir in December and just last week started back in the spring semester of choir and art classes.  All in all, I'm please with their accomplishments and look forward to Term 3, not only to wrap up the closing of our official pencil/paper school year, but the coming of spring! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Findings: Prevent Burnout; Schole; Cleaning Cast Iron; and If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It....

It's been a busy week!  We finished up our final week of Term 2, which I'll post more about later.  We've had several things going on at church.  The kids met for their February Socratic Book Club discussion on Wednesday.  We discussed Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen.  We also started back into second semester choir and art yesterday.  Both, Riley and Ruben are taking art, but only Riley is singing in the choir this term.  I was a little disappointed that Ruben didn't want to participate.  However, while he was waiting that extra hour for Riley, he joined in with a group to play a board game.  It was awesome to see him step outside his box and interact with peers.  Later, he told me it was one of the highlights of his day :)

I did find time to sneak in a couple podcasts this week including What's Love Got to Do with It? at Schole Sisters and Teaching from Rest at Your Morning Basket with Pam Barnhill and Sarah Mackenzie.  Both were very encouraging, especially since February is known to be burnout month in the homeschool community. These women gave tips and tricks for smooth and easy days.

Speaking of Schole, a friend and I have decided we're going to try a night out to rejuvenate.  Tonight we're meeting for dinner.  I'm looking so forward to it!  Schole doesn't have to be some big major event.  It can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch, going on a nature walk, participating in a crafting project, or reading a book and discussing with a buddy. Sometimes less is more ;-)

On another note, I LOVE my cast iron skillets!!  I wouldn't know how to cook without them.  But for some, cast iron cleaning remains a mystery.  Recently, America's Test Kitchen posted a quick video on Maintaining a Cast-Iron Skillet in Cooks Illustrated.  I even learned a few things.

This week, Brandy Vencel posted a timely reminder that If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It. With conferences and curricula fairs starting, it's enough to make your head spin.  As usual, Brandy offers sound advice.

I leave you with images of Ruben plowing last week's snow and a little boy looking out the front door at a winter wonderland....

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Commonplace Book - Thomas Alva Edison...

As part of our Beautiful Feet History of Science study, we recently read The Story of Thomas Alva Edison by Margaret Cousins.  It was a delightful Landmark title, of which I learned a great deal and made several commomplace entries...

After one of the thousands of tests had turned out badly, one of his men came to him and said: "It won't work.  The whole thing is a waste of time and money!"
"Is that all you have to say for yourself?" Edison demanded. 
"It's a problem without a solution," another associate said.  
"If the Lord made a problem, he as made a solution," Edison said.  "Don't tell me the Lord made something impossible." (pg 142-143)

Edison was a man of ideas.  But he did not believe that there was anything unusual about his ability to have ideas.  He said that anybody could have ideas who was willing to observe, study and think.  He believed that people should start as early as possible to look at the world and nature and to draw conclusions about what they saw.  "Thinking is a habit," he said over and over.  "If you do not learn to think when you are young, you may never learn."  He never denied that he made guesses.  Guesswork or hunches, proved out by experiment, may become invention, he said.  
 "Imagination supplies the ideas," Edison said.  "Technical knowledge carries them out." Unless ideas are carried out they are useless. 
"I always keep within a few feet of the earth's surface all the time," Edison said.  "I never let my thoughts run up higher than the Himalayas!"
Edison believed in education.  Self-educated, he knew the value of learning.  "Education isn't play - and it can't be made to look like play," he said.  "It is hard, hard work.  But it can be made interesting work."
Edison believed in God.  "I tell you that no person can be bought into close contact with the mysteries of nature or make a study of chemistry without being convinced that behind it all there is a supreme intelligence." (pg. 163-165) 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Findings: Mason Jar, Narration, Schole Sisters, Finding a Mentor....

Our second term is winding down with only one week to go.  We'll be finishing up several books and beginning a few new, to which I'll be posting about in the next couple of weeks.

Yesterday, the kids and I listened to a WWII veteran speak about his experiences in and around his three year tour in Okinawa and China.  It was fascinating to hear his experiences and to feel his patriotism.  I love these non-traditional teachable moments that homeschooling afford us.  I think it's days like that which make all the reading we do come alive.  Afterward, we went to friend's house, where the kids went sledding, romped, ran, and played.  It was a great day of knowledge, socialization, friendship, and camaraderie.

Oh my, I loved The Mason Jar #3 with Dr. Jack Beckman!  I had no idea there were colleges using Charlotte Mason's methods.  There are many gold nuggets in this podcast.  It's one I will go back and listen to again for reference.

Wanna learn more about narration or brush up on what you know about narration?   Check out Your Morning Basket #10, where Pam Barnhill interviews Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason All About Narration.

I also listened to Schole Sisters Podcast #1, Preventing Burnout Through Levity.  It was fabulous! I'm looking forward to #2.

I'm in full planning mode for the upcoming school year.  I'm meeting a couple friends/veteran homeschooling moms today to discuss homeschooling through middle school, high school, Charlotte Mason education, and Classical Education.  I'm so excited to refresh old ideas and bounce around new ones.  Even after eight years and two graduates, I still look to mentors and other like minded moms for support and encouragement.

Lastly, I gotta tell you, one day the house was silent and I wondered where everyone was and what they were up to.  Upon my search, I came across the sight below.  What a joy to see my kiddos laid out with books!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contemplating Classical Education: What is it and how has it changed?...

I've been studying classical education for years and decided to start a series here regarding my findings.  In fact, the classical method was one of the first that I learned of when beginning homeschooling.  Ironically, it was the road that led me to Charlotte Mason.

Most recently, I've been working through Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America by Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Andrew Kern, CiRCE Institute.   I would describe the book as a means to understanding what a classical education is.  It begins with the history of where education in America went wrong, then describes the elements of a classical education, followed by explaining different types or philosophies of thought regarding classical education.  I've been taking a copious amount of notes.

The following list of chapter titles may give you a further sense of some of the various philosophies, some of which I hope to unpack throughout this series:

Chapter 1 The Lost Content of Learning
Chapter 2 The Elements of Classical Education
Chapter 3 Christian Classicism
Chapter 4 Democratic Classicism
Chapter 5 Norms and Nobility
Chapter 6 Catholic Classicism
Chapter 7 Liberating Classicism
Chapter 8 Classical Homeschooling
Chapter 9 Higher Education
Chapter 10 Epilogue: Myths and Realities of Classical Education

There is also an appendix at the end with a wonderful list of Organizations and Resources related to classical education.

So far, I am half way through the book and have made several connections.  I've learned more about such views as modernism, postmodernism, and progressivism.  I have since been on high alert when hearing the current presidential candidates debate and tout their agendas, particularly when referring to themselves as "progressive", which of course, I now realize is a person advocating or implementing social reform, or new liberal ideas, more than likely, ones of which I disagree...ahem.

Anyway, back to the book.  It's no surprise that education has changed significantly over the years.  The authors attribute these changes in part to the work of John Dewey, a modernist education theorist, who lived from 1958-1952.  Dewey believed it was more important to teach the process of learning than the content of what was being learned.  He used Charles Darwin's theory to call for radical changes in education.

According to Veith and Kern, a classical education has four elements that define it: 1) A high view of man, 2) Logocentrism, 3) Responsibility for the Western tradition, and 4) A pedagogy that sustains these commitments; most of which, seem to be in line with a Charlotte Mason education.

A High View of Man

We are human beings, of which Christians see as being created in the image of God, creatures of timeless significance.  This is perfectly in line with Charlotte Mason's first principle, children are born persons.   The purpose of classical education is to cultivate human excellence or virtue within each child.    


Logos is Greek for 'word' or 'reason'.  In theology, it's the Word of God, or the principle of divine reason and creative order.
Christians recognize that Christ is that Logos.  He makes reason possible, harmonizes everything, and creates the conditions for order, knowable truth.  He is the unifying principle of thought, the key in which the music of the spheres is played, the archetype of every virtue. (p. 14)
Christ is the center.  He is the reason and He is a God of order.  According to a logocentric view of the universe, organized knowledge can be discovered, arranged, and even taught.  Charlotte Mason understood the importance of Logocentrism and keeping God first and foremost in teaching.  In Volume 6, she wrote,
Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child, - the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe, - the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable, and most happy-making.  (p. 158) 
Responsibility for the Western Tradition

"Western civilization is the property of all who live in America." (p. 15)  It is rooted in classicism, or those traditions of civilizations that have gone before us, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, European, etc.  This does not mean that a classical education doesn't recognize more recent American achievements, such as technology, but rather that we don't forget our roots in the tradition.

Charlotte's students studied a wide variety of history throughout, sometimes referred to as a "pageant of history".  Her students studied such classic works as Plutarch's Lives, Iliad, Odyssey, Stories from the History of Rome, etc. to gain knowledge of man and traditions throughout all of civilization.

A Pedagogy That Sustains These Commitments
Western civilization, the classical educator believes, offers its children a rich heritage on which they can feed their own souls and those of their neighbors. The classical curriculum provides the means to do so.  [pabulum for the mind] 
The classical curriculum can be divided into two stages. First, the student masters the arts of learning.  Then he uses the skills and tools mastered to enter the great conversation, which is another way to say, to study the sciences.  (p. 16-17)
There are Seven Liberal Arts of learning, The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences were the curriculum known to ancient Greece and Rome and to Western Europe of medieval times.  The Seven Liberal Arts offered a canonical way of depicting the realms of higher learning.  The Liberal Arts and Sciences were divided into two parts, the Trivium ("the three roads") and the Quadrivium ("the four roads").

The Trivium consisted of:
  • Grammar
  • Rhetoric
  • Logic
The Quadrivium consisted of:
  • Arithmetic -- Number in itself
  • Geometry -- Number in space
  • Music, Harmonics, or Tuning Theory -- Number in time
  • Astronomy or Cosmology -- Number in space and time

I will not get into each of these now because I'm still working to fully understand them.  However, there are many websites with more information.  There's what appears to be a good concise explanation here.  Also, Andrew Fleming West, Professor at Princeton College, wrote an exposition published at Classical Academic Press on the origin of The Seven Liberal Arts.

In studying this notion of what is a classical education, I watched a variety of YouTube videos published by Roman Roads Media, including:

A Conversation with Andrew Kern on the Definition of a Classical Education

What is Classical Education? Interview with Martin Cothran 

Interview with John Hodges on Classical Education

Interview with Andrew Pudewa on Classical Education

Are you educating classically?  If so, what does it mean to you?  Feel free to leave comments below...

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Singing Tree...

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy happened to be the third title we've read by this author.  Many years ago we read The Chestry Oak and for Christmas 2014 we read A Tree for Peter.  Early on RileyAnn mentioned the fact that all three Seredy books we've read had something to do with a tree.  I found this to be an interesting connection, however, I'm not sure whether or not there was purpose to Seredy's titling.

Anyhow, The Singing Tree takes place on the Hungarian plains during WWI.  It not only covers the war, but is also a coming of age story for Jancsi and his cousin Kate.  When their fathers are sent off to war, the children learn what it is to grow up.  They not only have the responsibility of a farm, but also neighbors and family around them.  When it's been decided they will house six Russian prisoners of war and six semi-orphaned German children, they learn valuable lessons about peaceable relations with the so-called enemy.

As with other Seredy books we've read, there are a variety of themes and story threads woven throughout.  From our experience, I can't imagine that you'd be disappointed.  Seredy is a fabulous story teller and her illustrations are like no other.  In fact, she considered herself an illustrator and not an author, stating something to the effect that her stories simply gave her an excuse to draw pictures.  Ironically, Seredy was born in Budapest, Hungary.  Although most of her books were written in English, it was not her native tongue.

As part of the Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study, while reading The Singing Tree, the kids were assigned a character sketch.  The following is the work of Ruben...

Ruben’s Character Sketch of Lily
February 1, 2016

Lily was very mean.  Her father was Judge Kormos.  He sent Lily to boarding school because her mother was sick.  Lily returned and one day they went to a wedding.  The Nagy’s were there and Lily didn’t get along with Kate Nagy.  Lily didn’t want to dance with Peter and she called him a bad name.  Kate stepped on Lily’s toe, which started a fight.  Lily fell into a hay pile in Varadi’s barn and Kate locked her in. 
Eventually Lily’s disappearance was discovered.  Judge Kormos admitted his struggle rearing Lily and Marton Nagy asked if Lily could spend the summer on this farm.  Judge Kormos thought it was a good idea.

Lily went to live at the Nagy farm.   At first, she didn’t like it, but after a while she didn’t want to leave.  Lily liked the animals and people.  By the end of the story, Lily matured into a young lady.  She was kinder and more helpful.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Findings: Snow Fractals, Homeschooling Independently, and Misc. Matters...

This week went off pretty much without a hitch.  We finished a couple of books and started a couple new books.  The kids are progressing and we're nearly finished with our second term!

Tonight is our CM Book Study, where we will take a look at Principles 16b and 18, which entail the way of the reason.  It looks like a continuation of last month's Self-Governance, An Ordering of the Will.  We will also be discussing history rotations and beginning planning for the upcoming school year.

We had a "blizzard" here mid-week, with about 5-6 inches of snow.  I don't think the storm was as bad as predicted, although we did have blowing and drifting snow.

Speaking of snow, have you seen Simon Beck's snow art? These Stunning Fractals Are Made of Snow.  This would be a very fun way to get the kids doing math :)

Yes, Yes, Yes...I love this article and what this veteran homeschooling mom wrote about actually educating at home.  Read, Read, Read... Homeschooling Without Co-ops, Online Classes or Tutors…Does It Work?!!  is a testament to homeschooling without the extras.

And alas, more podcasts and videos watched...

SCM Answers Your Questions on Plutarch

What Belongs On Your To Do List? by Mystie Winckler

How about a tour of Wes Calihan's personal library and Doug Wilson's office?  I love to see what treasures other libraries hold!

Lastly, Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles posted an interesting essay/activity On Rhetoric - Socratic Dialogue 1.  I took the challenge and it was fun!

When it's snowing outside, who says you can't camp?  Our boys created a canopy of sorts in their room....

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Knowledge of Man, Cycling Through History....

I've been thinking a lot about history lately, or as Charlotte Mason said, the Knowledge of Man, and how I want to approach the coming years.  Initially, I'd planned a 6 year history cycle, to which we are finishing our final year in our first rotation.  I'm now at a crossroads and trying to decide whether to proceed with another six year rotation or two three year rotations.  In a nutshell, here's what we've done...

Angel - high school graduate - homeschooled from 6th-12th grade
      6th grade Ancient History
      7th grade Middle Ages, Renaissance, & Reformation
      8th grade In Depth American History
      9th grade Ancient History
     10th grade World History
     11th grade Early American History
     12th grade Modern American History

      1st grade Ancient Civilizations
      2nd grade Middle Ages
      3rd grade Renaissance & Reformation
      4th grade American Exploration, Colonization, & Revolutionary War
      5th grade American Westward Expansion
      6th grade American Civil War to Modern American & World History

      K Ancient Civilizations
      1st grade Middle Ages
      2nd grade Renaissance & Reformation
      3rd grade American Exploration, Colonization, & Revolutionary War
      4th grade American Westward Expansion
      5th grade American Civil War to Modern American & World History

Riley and Ruben have always studied history together.  However, I've decided to split them up this fall because Riley is ready to work independently and Ruben still needs a bit more help.  Also, because Ruben has one more year left than Riley, it will allow me to slow down a bit with him and focus on some other areas.  They will more than likely be on a similar time period, but each will be reading separate books.  I really want Ruben to go through two more cycles of history since he doesn't remember much from the first time around prior to American History.  Initially, I was thinking Riley could do another six year cycle, possibly using Ambleside Online and then I started looking at Veritas Press Omnibus who does two three year cycles, which is also appealing.

Right now, I'm in research mode and here are some options that appeal to me or things I've been studying....

6 Year Rotation
Ambleside Online
Simply Charlotte Mason

4 Year Rotation
A Delectable Education - The Chronology of History Podcast - History Rotation Diagrams
Story of the World
The Mystery of History
My Father's World - high school

3 Year Rotation
Beautiful Feet
Veritias Press Omnibus
Mystie Winckler at Simply Convivial

Other Options
Charlotte Mason Help
A Mind in the Light
TruthQuest History
Any thoughts?  What have you used to study middle and high school history?  Do you prefer a 6 year, 4 year, or 3 year rotation?  Please feel free to comment below...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Calendar/Planner Update...

In my first post of the year, I explained my calendar/planner dilemma and how I was planning to create my own.  Well, without further ado, here are the results...

At this point, I only created the first six months of the year.  This allowed me a margin of error as I play around and decide how much space to use for each month.  Behind the initial two page monthly spread, I left four blank pages (2-2 page spreads).  For January, I used these pages for a Gratitude Journal, Meal Planer, and Blog Post list.  I really liked having these pages and plan to continue them each month.  The fourth page I used for Books Read and Ideas.  However, I wasn't as crazy about it.  I did use the Books Read space to keep track of, not only books finished, but books I'm still reading and carrying forward to the next month. Unfortunately, I wrote nothing in the Idea space.  Apparently, I had no ideas in January...ha!  I'm trying to decide if I want to change the space to a Commonplace area or Misc.  Maybe I'll just leave it blank until something hits me :)

You can see from the first photo above that I used a simple sewn composition notebook for the calendar/planner.  I did decide to tab each month for easy access.  I also use this Creative Lettering book to help me with font ideas...

I'm in the process of finding pens that I like.  Currently, I have Bic Cristal Bold colored pens, but I'd love to invest in Pigma Micron pens as time goes by.  Making your own calendar/planner is definitely more work up front, but I love the flexibility of creating personalized pages.  I can customize my calendar/planner to exactly what I need!