Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Secret Garden....

Our final Socratic Book Club read was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  It is a lovely story of overcoming one's negative thoughts.  The Secret Garden also shows how a child's love can heal the emotional scars of the adults around them.  It was a fabulous book to end the club with!

The Secret Garden is set primarily in Yorkshire, England shortly after the turn of the 20th century.  Mary Lennox, a spoiled and selfish girl, is orphaned at age 10 after a cholera epidemic in India.  She is then sent to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, whom she has never met.  Upon her arrival at the Craven's one hundred room manor, she expects staff to wait on her much like in India.  However, Mary is confined to two rooms and told to amuse herself.  She is befriended by lowly good-natured maid Martha, who tells her about the late Mrs. Craven and the gardens.

Eventually, Mary's childlike curiosity gets the best of her and she wanders outside.  In Archibald Craven's grief ten years prior, after his young wife died suddenly, he abandoned her garden, to which no one was allowed to enter.  Mary has heard tell of Mrs. Craven's special rose garden, but it is walled off and no one seems to remember where to find the entrance.

Then one day, Mary finds the buried key and a robin leads her to the door, which is in an overgrown tangle.  She secretly begins to breathe life back into the garden with the help of Martha's brother Dickon.  Along the way, Mary also discovers the source of the crying sounds in the night, but I must not give away the rest of the story, as it's a book that should be read by everyone young and old.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

God the Holy Spirit is the Divine Teacher....

Principle 20

We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life. 

How exciting it was to open the final pages of the reading for our Start Here 20 Principles study and find Charlotte Mason recognizing the value of 'Subjects Divinely Taught', including The Seven Liberal Arts. In Chapter XXV of Parents and Children, Charlotte begins by telling us about Mr. Ruskin's 'Vaulted Book', or Mornings in Florence, where he describes the frescoes in the Spanish Chapel attached to the Church of Sta. Maria Novella, in Florence.  Charlotte tells of "seven mythic figures representing the natural sciences, and with the figure of the Captain-teacher of each."  These of course being Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Music, Astronomy, Geometry, and Arithmetic.

Charlotte goes on to explain Education not Religious and Secular...
In the first place, we divide education into religious and secular.  The more devout among us insist upon religious education as well as secular.  Many of us are content to do without religious education altogether; and are satisfied with what we not only call secular but make secular, in the sense in which we understand the word, i.e. entirely limited to the uses of this visible world.  (Vol. 2, Parents and Children, p. 270)
She then takes it a step further with The Great Recognition...
Many Christian people rise a little higher; they conceive that even grammar and arithmetic may in some not very clear way be used for God; but the great recognition, that God the Holy Spirit is Himself, personally, the Imparter of knowledge, the Instructor of youth, the Inspirer of genius, is a conception so far lost to us that we should think it distinctly irreverent to conceive of the divine teaching as co-operating with ours in a child's arithmetic lesson, for example.  But the Florentine mind of the Middle Ages went further than this: it believed, not only that the seven Liberal Arts were fully under the direct outpouring of the Holy Ghost, but that every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit, without any thought at all as to whether the person so inspired named himself by the name of God, or recognized whence his inspiration came.  All of these seven figures are those of persons whom we should roughly class as pagans, and whom we might be lightly included to consider as outside the pale of the divine inspiration.  It is truly difficult to grasp the amazing boldness of this scheme of the education of the world which Florence accepted in simple faith.  
Knowledge, like Virtue, Divine. - But we must not accept even an inspiring idea blindly.  Were these people of the Middle Ages right in this plan and conception of theirs?  Plato hints at some such thought in his contention that knowledge and virtue are fundamentally identical, and that if virtue be divine in its origin, so must knowledge be also.  Ancient Egypt, too, was not in the dark in this matter... (Vol. 2, Parents and Children, p. 270-271)
Charlotte is not saying that every man who's ever made a discovery or advancement in technology is a Christian, however, she's suggesting that the initial conception of their idea was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, whether or not they recognize(d) it.

Next, Charlotte uses examples of Pharaoh, Saul, and David to show how their discernment and wisdom of everyday matters was inspired by the "Spirit of God".  She's quick to mention that the Holy Spirit is not just involved in 'high themes', but in the 'Ideas of Common Things' as well.  She uses Isaiah 28:24-29 to show how basic wisdom and knowledge, of which we use to meet our everyday needs, comes from the Lord.
'God doth Instruct.' - In the things of science, in the things of art, in the things of practical everyday life, his God doth instruct him and doth teach him, her God doth instruct her and doth teach her.  Let this be the mother's key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl; not of her children; the divine Spirit does not work with nouns of multitude, but with each single child.  Because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher, and because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of his infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils.  We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us. 
God is the Divine Teacher!  Whether or not we acknowledge it, He is the logos or the center, and not just of subjects such as "faith and hope and charity...temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude", but also of "...grammar, rhetoric, logic, music, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic - this we might have forgotten, if these Florentine teachers had not reminded us; his practical skill in the use of tools and instruments, from a knife and fork to a microscope, and in the sensible management of all affairs of life..."  Once again, we see Charlotte relieving the parent/teacher of carrying the solitary burden of what or how to teach.  She advises us to never contemplate any kind of instruction for our children without prayer and petition to the Holy Spirit.

Now, Charlotte does caution us that this does not mean only that "spiritual virtues may be exhibited by the teacher, and encouraged in the child in the course of a grammar lesson", but "that the teaching of grammar by its guiding ideas and simple principles, the true, direct, and humble teaching of grammar, without pedantry and without verbiage, is, we may venture to believe, accompanied by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, of whom is all knowledge."  Yes, we should be good role models exhibiting virtue, but this alone will not lure our children to see the hand of God.  We should not be the talking head, but must let each subject, whether it be grammar, math, etc., speak for itself.  We don't need to make it cute or fun or whatever else.  We need to simply let the Holy Spirit guide the child's mind through the lesson in a straightforward, no nonsense kind of way.   Charlotte reiterates this below...
Teaching that Invites and that Repels Divine Co-operation. - The contrary is equally true.  Such teaching as enwraps a child's mind in folds of many words that his thought is unable to penetrate, which gives him rules and definitions, and tables, in lieu of ideas - this is teaching which excludes and renders impossible the divine co-operation.  (Vol. 2, Parents and Children, p.274) 
Charlotte wraps up her proposal of Divine Teaching with the proposition of living ideas and the best books.
A first condition of this vitalising teaching is that all the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do; given the vitalising idea, children will readily hang the mere facts upon the idea as upon a peg capable of sustaining all that it is needful to retain.  We begin by believing in the children as spiritual beings of unmeasured powers - intellectual, moral, spiritual - capable of receiving and constantly enjoying intuitions from the intimate converse of the Divine Spirit. (Vol. 2, Parents and Children, p.277)
If a book is stale, flat, and dull to me, more than likely it will be to the children as well and I should drop it.
No neat system is of any use; it is the very nature of a system to grow stale in the using; every subject, every division of a subject, every lesson, in fact, must be brought up for examination before it is offered to the child as to whether it is living, vital, of a nature to invite the living Intellect of the universe.
We need not say one word about the necessity for living thought in the teacher; it is only so far as he is intellectually alive that he can be effective in the wonderful process which we glibly call 'education.' ( Vol. 2, Parents and Children, p.279)
Charlotte closes with the importance of the parent/teacher being filled with that which is beautiful in order to give back to the student.  We cannot pour out what has not been put in.   I believe she is strongly endorsing 'Mother Culture' here.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Findings: Schole Sisters, Habit Training, Ancient Egypt Study, Reading Readiness, New Audio Blog...

It's Friday again!...and tonight is our first Schole Sisters meeting.  As mentioned yesterday, we're reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and will gather for discussion.  I'm really excited!

Habits are very important in a Charlotte Mason education.  But are you cultivating habits in isolation?  Nancy Kelly shows us The Habits Pendulum and some tips to keep in mind while habit training.

In Living Books for Studying Ancient Egypt, Carol gives some fine examples of books that can be used for a literature approach to high school history.  I have several of the books mentioned and I think she's spot on in her description.  We're heading back to Ancient Egypt this fall so her post particularly peaked my interest.

How Do I Know When My Child is Ready to Read?, gives some 'old fashioned' ideas for determining readiness in young children.  I'm not sure it's always this cut and dried, but a general guideline can be helpful.  Something about this post really made sense to me.

Last, but not least, Pam Barnhill kicked off The Homeschool Solutions Show this week. It's an audio blog, which means she's sharing blog posts auditorily.  The episodes will be short, but hopefully allow hands free for moms to listen to blog posts while maybe folding laundry or making dinner, rather than sitting with a device reading it themselves.  I think it sounds like a neat idea.  She'll be streaming a new show every Friday.

Bet you didn't know a kicker wagon could double as a hit-a-way stick holder.  This is how we roll here on the farm....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mother Culture and Summer Schole, My Reading List...

..."I always keep three books going--a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel, and I always take up the one I feel fit for!" That is the secret; always have something "going" to grow by. If we mothers were all "growing" there would be less going astray among our boys, less separation in mind from our girls. ---The Parents' Review, Mother Culture, 1892/93
With the coming of Memorial Weekend, I thought I'd unveil my summer reading list.  I'm not sure I'll make it through the entire list, but these are books I plan to draw from this summer in my quest for Mother Culture.


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - After finishing our Charlotte Mason 20 Principle Study, our group wanted to continue to meet so I presented the idea of starting a Schole Sisters group for summer.  The idea was well received and it was decided we would start by reading Tolstoy's novel.  We are currently reading Part I and II and will meet for our first discussion Friday night.  I'll keep you posted :)

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - I've chosen this book as my "Re-read a classic you read for school" in the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge.  I first read it over twenty-five years ago for my high school English class.  Steinbeck is a favorite author of mine and I can't wait to re-read The Grapes of Wrath through adult eyes.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - The kids and I started this book a few months back, but unfortunately, life took over and we're only about half way through.   It's a great novel and I aim to finish it soon.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry - This book has been on my radar for some time, but I have yet to obtain a copy.  When Andrew Kern suggested I read it, I moved it closer to the top of my to-be-read list.  Maybe this will be the summer for completion.


The Liberal Arts Tradition by Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark - I purchased this book last year, skimmed through it, and set it aside where it continues to lay on the nightstand by my bed.  A local friend and Charlotte Mason educating mother recently told me it was on her reading list as well so we decided to read it together, having discussion by e-mail.  I'm very excited to find a study buddy.  Assembling a book study group doesn't have to be a major production.  It can be as simple as finding one like-minded friend to bounce ideas with.

Consider This by Karen Glass - Here's another book I ordered and began over a year ago, but didn't finish.  Our CM Study Group is contemplating this as our next read so I will wait until that decision is made before beginning.  Either way, I aim to finish it this year!

Home Education by Charlotte Mason - Since finishing A Philosophy of Education, I've wanted to begin another of Charlotte's volumes.  I've been trying to decide between Home Education and School Education since I have children at both levels.  I think I will go with the first because sequentially it makes sense.

Simply Charlotte Mason Presents Enjoying the Early Years - I realize this is not a book but a DVD.  However, since I'm watching it this summer to learn more about teaching our preschooler, I'm including it here.  I've skimmed the book in the past, but recently bought the DVD at the Great Homeschool Convention in Ohio.  I'm looking forward to approaching the early years in a more Charlotte Mason like way.

There are other books on my list as well including read-alouds for the kids and pre-reading for the kids' upcoming school year.  However, those books I view differently than Mother Culture so I will not include them here.

What are you reading this summer?  Please share in the comments below....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Living Science Book Sale...

Updated 9-24-2016 Updated 11-23-2016

Spring is definitely in full swing here on Drywood Creek and nature study is at its peek!  In preparation, RileyAnn and I cleaned off our science shelves and decided to offer you some fabulous books.

We are a smoke and pet free home.  Some books are ex-library, while others are from private collections.  There are several out of print books as well.   I accept PayPal and ship media mail anywhere in the U.S.  Please use the contact form on the right side bar for questions, clarifications, or book list quotes.

Thanks for your consideration,


The Brown Paper School Series $4 each
-       This Book is about Time by Marilyn Burns
-       Blood and Guts by Linda Allison SL 5/F

The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole SL $2

White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt $3

Rain Drop Splash by Alvin Tresselt $3

Dolphin Adventure, A True Story by Wayne Grover SL $3 each

Shark Lady, True Adventures of Eugenie Clark by Ann McGovern SCM $3 each

Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation by Dennis Petersen (hardcover) $4

Science Around the Year by Janice VanCleave $5

202 Oozing, Bubbling, Dripping, & Bouncing Experiments by Janice VanCleave $4

Rocks & Minerals by Janice VanCleave $3

Microscopes and Magnifying Lenses by Janice VanCleave $3

See For Yourself More Than 100 Experiments for Science Fairs & Projects by Vicki Cobb $4

A+ Projects in Biology by Janice VanCleave $4

Science in the Creation Week by Unfred – grades 2-5 $5

Exploring Nature with Your Child by Dorothy Edwards Shutttlesworth (hardcover) $6

The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets by Jean Craighead George WP $3 each

I Wonder Why series $10 set
-       Why Fish Don’t Drown and other neat facts about underwater animals
-       If Dragons are Real and other neat facts about reptiles & amphibians
-       Why Skunks Are So Smelly and other neat facts about mammals
-       Where Butterflies Go In Winter and other neat facts about insects
-       Why Kangaroos Have Pouches and other questions about baby animals

Field Trips by Jim Arnosky (hardcover) $5

Fun with Nature Take-Along Guide (hardcover) $4

Glow-in-the-Dark Fish and 59 More Ways to See God through His Creation by B.J. Reinhard (hardcover) $4

Our Place in Space and 59 More Ways to See God through His Creation by B.J. Reinhard (hardcover) $4

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holder (hardcover w/jacket) $8

Kids Can Do It Electric Gadgets and Gizmos Battery-powered buildable gadgets that go! By Alan Bartholomew $3

Kids Can Do It Electric Mischief Battery-powered gadgets kids can build By Alan Bartholomew $3

Teacher Created Materials Thematic Unit Inventions (Intermediate) $3

The Nature Company Discoveries Library – Flight by Donald Lopez (hardcover) $3

Usborne Science with Magnets $4

Turtles by Bertie Ann Stewart and Gordon E. Burks (hardcover) $3

Simple Chemistry Experiments with Everyday Materials by Louis V. Loeschnig $3

Hands-On Physical  Science Activities for Grades K-8 $4 

Making Things Float and Sink with Easy-to-make Scientific Projects $2

Science Topic/Unit Sets

Insects & Spiders $15 set

The DK Picturepedia Insects and Spiders
Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Guide to Insects and Spiders by Jinny Johnson
Incredible Insects! (and spiders too!) by Annalisa Suid
Teacher Created Material Thematic Unit on Creepy Crawlers
Dover Coloring Book – Insects by Jan Sovak
Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons
Usborne First Nature Butterflies and Moths
Little Giants by Seymour Simon
Monarch Butterflies by Alice L. Hopf
Spiders by Gail Gibbons
Life Story – Spider by Michael Chinery
The Audubon Society Field Gide to North American Insects & Spiders
Lady Bugs by Mia Posada
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Misc. activities to accompany study

Animal/Mammals/Habitats $15 set

Dover Coloring Book – Ponies of the World by John Green
The Magic School Bus Adventures in the Food Chain Coloring and Activity Book
Animals of the Bible by Dorothy P. Lathrop
The Racers: Speed in the Animal World by Hilda Simon
DK Eyewitness Amazing Wolves Dogs & Foxes
Nature’s Children – Hippopotamus by Sally Banks
Wallabies and Their Babies by Marianne Johnston
Who Lives Here? By Dot and Sy Barlowe
Animals Keeping Safe by Jane Burton
Animals in Their Homes by Anita Ganeri
A First Look at Animals with Horns by Millicent E. Selsam and Joyce Hunt
What is a Mammal? By Jenifer Day
An Animal Information Book – 14 book set
-       Lions & Tigers
-       Puppies & Dogs
-       Kittens & Cats
-       Zoo Animals
-       Horses & Ponies
-       Farm Animals
-       Baby Animals
-       Bears
-       Birds
-       Wild Animals
-       Monkeys & Apes
-       Sea Animals
-       Reptiles & Amphibians
-       Big & Little Animal
Misc. activities to accompany study

Birds $15 set

Birds in the Sky by Lucy and John Hawkinson
The Peregrine Falcon by Alvin, Virginia, and Robert Silverstein
The Eagle and the River by Charles Craighead
Owls and Their Homes by Deborah Chase Gibson
Bird Watching by Aubrey Burns
Ducks Don’t Get Wet by Augusta Goldin
How Ducklings Grow by Diane Molleson
Animal Architects: How Birds Build Their Amazing Homes by W. Wright Robinson
Bird Watching Housing and Feeding by Walter E. Schutz
Misc. activities to accompany study

Plants & Trees $ 15 set

Growth and Change in Plants – The Solski Group
Plants by Linda Schwartz
Plants – From Your Friends at Mailbox
Teacher Created Material Thematic Unit Our Environment
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
Starting With Nature: Trees by Pamela Hickman
Seeing Science through Art Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
Corn Belt Harvest by Raymond Bial
Sugar by Sheryl Peterson
Growing Apples and Pumpkins by Amy and Richard Hutchins
Trees of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada by William M. Harlow (field guide)
Misc. activities to accompany study

Earth Science & Biomes $10 set

Our Earth, a skill-builder activity book
Science in Special Places by Lucia Kemp Henry
Teacher Created Material Thematic Unit Rocks & Soil
A Walk in the Deciduous Forest by Rebecca L. Johnson
Rivers by E. Joseph Dreany
Planet Earth Animals of Africa by Lisa L. Ryan-Herndon
The Taiga Biome by Carol Talley
Misc. activities to accompany study

Oceans $10 set

Outstanding Oceans! By Annalisa Suid
Habitats Oceans and Ponds by Jo Ellen Moore & Joy Evans
Sea Turtles by Frank Staub
Giant Tubeworms by Valerie J. Weber
Whale Sharks by Sarah Palmer
Blue Whales by Sarah Palmer
Whales the Gentle Giants by Joyce Milton
Sharks by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Misc. activities to accompany study

Human Body & Nutrition $15 set

Food, Fact, Fund & Fiction by The Solski Group
The Human Body by The Solski Group
Your Body by Linda Schwartz
Science Pocket – Human Senses & Body Parts by Dinah Zike
Drugs & Your Body – Creative Teaching Press
The Air I Breathe by Bobbie Kalman & Janine Schaub
Looking Into My Body by Nigel Nelson
Your Lungs by Anne Ylvisaker
Your Stomach by Anne Ylvisaker
A Book About Your Skeleton by Ruth Belov Gross
Misc. activities to accompany study

Physics, Magnets, & Electricity $10 set

Delta Science – Properties of Matter
My First Batteries & Magnets Book by Jack Challoner
A True Book – Experiments with Magnets by Salvatore Tocci
Science Secrets: Magnets by Jason Cooper
Electricity Unit Study Adventures by Amanda Bennett
All About Electricity by Melvin Berger
Misc. activities to accompany study

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Findings: BF Modern American and World History, Classical Education, Object Lessons, R. W. Emerson on Reading Plutarch, and Limiting Summer Screen Time....

We're celebrating our last official week of the academic school year here on Drywood Creek.  We will continue BF Modern American and World History as well as some intermittent math and reading over summer, but for the most part, our 'school year' has ended.  Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to start my summer planning mode, which gets me excited since I'm a better planner than an implementer of my plan....ahem.  

I don't have a ton of links this week since I haven't been on online much.  In my quest for knowledge on Classical Education, I've been checking out Classical Conversations over the past couple of months. I've observed Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge A in the past, as well as spending a day in a CC Parent Practicum this week.  I'll be posting my observations at some point over the upcoming summer months.  But for now...

Nicole Williams at Sabbath Mood Homeschool wrote some helpful thoughts on Object Lessons.

Did you know Ralph Waldo Emerson read Plutarch?  Anne White shows us a quote in On the boyhood reading of Plutarch.

In 8 Ways We Limit Screen Time in Our Home, Marianne gives some excellent tips for setting up your summer without screens.

That's all for this week.  I'm off to more thrift sales today.  A neighboring community holds their annual city wide sales this weekend.  The kids and I look forward to it every year!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Contemplating Classical Education: Various Types, Part 2 (Norms & Nobility and Catholic Classicism)....

It's been a couple of months, but I'm finally getting back to Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America by Veith and Kern.  In this part 2, I aim to further my contemplation's on the various types of classical education.  You can view Part 1 here, which reflects on Christian Classical and Democratic Classicism.

Norms and Nobility

Much has been made in the Classical Education revival movement of David Hicks' Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education.  This less than two hundred page treatise was originally published in the early 1980's, but has since been reissued.  Hicks is the first to confess that his writing was not originally intended for a book with a variable audience in mind.

In the 1970's, Hicks was hired to write a curricula for the Westminster School in Atlanta, GA.  As part of his research process, he had the privilege of traveling to the best schools to get ideas for the development of his curricula.  As time went on, he decided to publish his findings so people could see what Classical Education is and what it was attempting to achieve.  His hope was then that parents and teachers would come up with their own ideas on how best to put those findings into practice in their own schools and homeschools.

In Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America, Veith and Kern, say this about Hicks' book...
In his book, Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education (1981), Hicks develops these ideas into a comprehensive theory of education.  He places special emphasis on the importance of teaching morality and fostering virtue that characterizes the classical approach to learning but noticeable by its absence in most contemporary schools. Norms and Nobility offers a modern curriculum and methodology based on classical standards and ideals.... (pg. 48)
Veith and Kern further assert that "If the ACCS offers a Christian classicism and Paideia champions a democratic classicism, Hicks can be described as a spokesman for what he calls a 'normative classicism'."  I believe this to mean normative as of or relating to a norm, especially an assumed norm regarded as the standard of correctness in behavior, speech, writing, etc. and classicism meaning the ideas and styles that are common in the literature, art, and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome and/or a traditional style of art, literature, music, architecture, etc., that is usually graceful and simple with parts that are organized in a pleasing way.   Veith and Kern also suggest Hicks "...finds inspiration in the ideals of Plato.  He builds his educational theory on a search for the ideal and a condition that education should be a path to virtue".

In theory, according to Veith and Kern, Hicks argues that ancient education looks very different from modern education.
The present clash is between the normative and the analytical.  In the ancient world, teachers and students learned together in an atmosphere dominated by what Hicks calls the Ideal Type. The Ideal Type is an image of the fully developed human being.  
Because educators accepted the Ideal as a model or prototype, their instruction was aimed at cultivating within individuals what we now call "the whole person."  The educational Ideal informed what the individual aspired to become; it expressed what religion taught as God's will for mankind; and it incorporated the most elevated components of what classical culture held up for admiration.
The rise of "modern" philosophy changed all that.  The Ideal Type was replaced by scientific method, which reduced the reality of the Ideal to the particularity of atomized individuals whose traits could be measured.  (pg. 50-51)
Charlotte Mason addressed this same issue in Principle 12, which states 'Education is the Science of Relations'.  She believed in providing a broad and liberal education for all children in order to cultivate "those first-born affinities", rather than teaching to the test or providing a utilitarian education.

Hicks also advocates cultivating virtue in lieu of merely helping students become successful in a career.  He suggests that we rely on dialectic, the art of investigating, to teach virtue, as "Everything begins with the question." This should be done using good books, i.e. classic literature.
...classical schools should be selective about what students read.  Such schools will prefer time-honored books to those that superficially reflect current trends.  History will be studied without cynicism, and ancient soul-nourishing myths, folk tales, and Bible stories will be cherished.  Even science will be taught in light of virtue.  (pg. 52)
In Classical Education..., Veith and Kern explain Hicks' use of dogma, which is a Greek word meaning 'that which seems good' in teaching truth.
Classical teachers must be dogmatic teachers in the sense that they cannot be skeptical or neutral toward knowledge.  Instead, they must be committed and responsible to knowable truth.  (pg. 53)
The student accepts dogma, but as the teacher and student read, they question, or use dialectic, "to reformulate dogma to better align with truth".

This chapter holds some really great information that I will not further give away here, but suffice to say, I hope to someday read Norms and Nobility for myself.  If you're interested in more information regarding David Hicks and/or Norms and Nobility, may I suggest this podcast between David Hicks and Matt Bianco,  this CiRCE Institute Q&A Podcast with David Hicks, or this CiRCE Magazine interview with David Hicks.   Brandy Vencel at Afterthoughts blog also did a series of posts relating her thoughts on Norms and Nobility against some of Charlotte Mason's theory.

Catholic Classicism
No institution has a longer tradition or more vigorous claim to classical education than the Catholic school.  While only a few Catholic schools refer to themselves as classical, Catholic education has always contained a classical element, and today there are a variety of classical forms within the orbit of Catholic education, including home schools., home school co-operatives, parochial schools, and private schools.  Though a relatively small movement, classicism has a long heritage and a natural home within Catholicism.  (pg. 59)
I attended a Catholic school from 1st through 8th grade.  I am no longer a practicing Catholic, but I have always felt privileged by the wonderful elementary education I received in comparison to my public high school counterparts.

Veith and Kern point out the excellence of Catholic education as being rooted in tradition.  The history of Catholic education dates back to the early church fathers beginning with Cassiodorus in the sixth century, Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages, Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits in the sixteenth century, John Baptist de la Salle in the seventeenth century, and Elizabeth Ann Seton in the U.S. in the early 1800's.  With the rise of Catholic schools, came a conflict with dominant Protestant culture eventually sparking the 1834 burning of a Catholic convent and the 1844 Philadelphia Bible riots.   As a result, state funding was ended for Catholic schools.  To no avail, the Catholics instead embraced the change and enrollment in Catholic schools increased, peaking in 1965 at over 6 million students.  Sadly, a great decline has occurred for a variety of reasons since.

The theory of Catholic Classicism, as cited by Veith and Kern, outlines five qualities of Catholic schools.  First, Catholic education forms the whole child with "eyes fixed on a vision of God."  "Second, Catholic schools are founded on a Christian anthropology - a term that means "an understanding of man" and that comes from the Greek word for 'man,' anthropos."  Third, the school is developed as community based on teamwork among all involved, interaction of students and teachers, and the school's physical environment and appearance.  Fourth is a distinct Catholic Worldview.  And, fifth, Catholic schools attempt to maintain staff "who meet the standards of doctrine and integrity of life essential to maintaining and advancing a school's Catholic identity."  Veith and Kern further assert,
These five characteristics of Catholic education mesh well with the four characteristics of classical education presented in this book, namely: a high view of man, logocentricity, a respect for the Western tradition, and a pedagogy that concentrates its efforts on a true classical liberal arts education. (pg. 65)
Catholic education is rooted in a tradition that values a sense of history.  (pg. 65)
Catholic schools prioritize the liberal arts, emphasizing knowledge, thought, communication, and conversation.  (pg. 65)
Catholic schools promote personalism over individualism.   (pg. 65)
If you are interested in learning more about the practice of Catholic Classicism, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist is a great place to start.  "Berquist founded Mother of Divine Grace School in 1995, and it now serves about 4,000 students. It is accredited and licensed in California and provides home schooling legal and curricular assistance to families."   The Kolbe Academy is another excellent resource, as is Seton Home Study School.

This wraps up the various types of Classical Education as outlined by Veith and Kern in Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America.  There are a few chapters left that I will attempt to outline as I read and ideas are sparked.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Findings: School Reviews, Hiding a Bible, Classical Education, and Charlotte Mason...

We're down to one week left of our official academic school year here on Drywood Creek!  You may have noticed some of my review/wrap-up posts over the past couple of weeks.

Beautiful Feet History of Science
Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History
Life of Fred

Over the coming months, I will continue to review as well as brainstorm about possibilities for fall.  I've also been cleaning shelves and purging books.  I have listed and will continue to list books as they become available.

Around the web this week I found Rea Berg's historical post, A Bible in a Chignon? fascinating.  We have so many freedoms here in America, that it's hard to fathom not being able to freely worship.  ....And, our ancestors were so clever!

How do you define Classical Education?  In What is Classical Education?, Dr. Christopher Perrin attempts to share his thoughts on a definition.  I'm a word girl so the etymology of 'classical education' is interesting to me, but Dr. Perrin's analogies are also fabulous in painting a picture of classical education.  There is so much to ponder in his 16-minute video clip at the bottom.  I will more than likely be watching it again many times over as I further my study of classical education.  The last 60 seconds spoke volumes to me.

I started reading Consider This by Karen Glass when it was first published, but got distracted and let if fall by the wayside.  It's now back on my summer reading list as I hope to pick up and finish where I left off.  In the meantime, Carol at Journey and Destination gave a wonderful overview in Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass.

We're also thinking about planting our vegetable gardens soon, though the possibility of frost has not quite past.  Dear daughter has been working fervently in the flower gardens, while brother inspects :)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History Update...

We are a little over half way through our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study (lesson 65 of 117) with only a couple weeks left of our academic school year.  The program is fabulous!  The books are incredible!  However, as previously mentioned, the readings are long and I've had to split the lessons in half so we are not making the progress I'd hoped.  Fortunately, our kids love history so much that in our discussion on how to proceed, they were quick to jump at the chance to continue over summer....now that says a ton about the program if you ask me ;-)

The books we've read so far are:

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
The Perilous Road by William O. Steele
Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson (subbed for Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass)
Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
Theodore Roosevelt by Genevieve Foster
The Wright Brother: Pioneers of American Aviation by Quentin Reynolds
Sergeant York by John Perry
The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
Rascal by Sterling North
Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert De Jong (currently reading)

As I was typing this list, I immediately began to feel sentimental.  My memories are fond.  I was thinking about a favorite and couldn't narrow it to one book.  I can totally see how the folks at Beautiful Feet had a hard time making the final cuts.

In looking at the books ahead, we've read Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop and The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin in the past while using Sonlight so I don't plan to re-read them, although, they are excellent books.  Riley remembers both.  Ruben was sketchy so I may have him read them independently.  I have also heard fabulous reports on Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan and will consider substituting it depending on how I feel the coverage is after skipping the above two mentioned books and also considering time.

For more information on our study, you can read my Getting Started post here and our Term One Review here.  There are also samples of numerous notebooking pages at both posts as well as the linked books above.  Overall, we are loving this BF study and not only will continue, but also recommend it!  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Findings: Old Science Books, FREE Greenleaf Guide, Multiplication Circle Patterns....

Ball, books, babysitting, and buying the next size clothing for our kiddos is what this week brought.  I can't believe it's already Friday!  And would you believe it could hit 90 degrees today here in WI!!  Speaking of books, I just have to share a bit of info on our local homeschool curricula sale happening tomorrow....

Annual Chippewa Valley Homeschool Book Sale
& Kid’s Craft Sale
Sponsored by HomeStars (Homeschool Ministry of Bethesda Lutheran Church)

Saturday, May 7, 2016
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Bethesda Lutheran Church
123 W Hamilton Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701

40+ vendors with new and used books, curriculum, toys, games, crafts, and misc. educational resources  

There’s something for everyone!!

I totally realize many of you are around the world from me and it's not possible to attend, but for those of you in and around the area, it's always a good time.  And, for those of you anywhere in the lower 48 states, I will be posting updated book sale lists very soon, so stay tuned.

Around the web this week, I was intrigued by How Old is Too Old for a Science Book because this is something I often wonder.  You can't change history, but science is constantly evolving.  There are new science discoveries and theories every day.  Some are obviously better, but some...well, who's to say.  I love what Nicole has to say about using living science books.  I was encouraged to hear a mix of both is best.

I cannot believe the Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History is FREE on Lulu!!  This resource looks amazing and I've been contemplating using it with the kiddos in the fall.  I've owned the print copy for years, but was elated to see it accessible online as well.

We need fact practice!  There's just no way around it.  This week I stumbled on this Multiplication Circle Patterns post that looks super fun.   I printed the lesson plan and intend to try it.

At home, The Farmer recently dumped a sand pile for the boys.  Here they are in last week's cold, rainy weather building a 'retention pond'....

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry...

The more I read, the more it takes to impress me.  I've noticed that I am pickier than I used to be about what constitutes a good book.  But every now and then, I still come across one.   Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is one of those great books.  It is the story of an African-American family's struggle in the deep south during the Great Depression.  It is a book about racism.

Though Taylor's subject matter is heavy, her story is engrossing.  The characters are deep, sympathetic, and multi-faceted.  Taylor develops them in such a way that we see their person-hood come to life.   Throughout the struggle and hardship, there is growth.  I used one such example a couple of weeks ago in A Matter of Principle.

It is my understanding that Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is part of a series Taylor wrote, with it being a middle book chronologically in the series.  I have not read other books in the series, but I know RileyAnn was immediately investigating them and plans to read more at some point.  I have seen Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry on many book lists including, Sonlight and TruthQuest, but of course, we read it as part of our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.  When studying American history, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is not to be missed!

Monday, May 2, 2016

My Love Hate Relationship with Life of Fred....

Kids love Fred.  My kids even love(d) Fred.   Some parents love Fred.   Some parents think it's all you need for math and that Life of Fred can stand alone.  I have worked through Apples to Goldfish with Ruben.  I do not love Fred.  I do not think Life of Fred is a stand alone math program.   But wait, before throwing stones, please let me explain...

I acquired a few elementary Life of Fred math books several years ago, when they were first coming on the scene.  I had/have friends using them with mixed reviews so I wasn't sure I wanted to attempt them.  However, after hitting many walls with traditional curricula, this year I caved.

RileyAnn really wanted to try Life of Fred so she was my biggest push.  She dabbled in the intermediate levels of Fred at the end of 5th grade, but felt like she was missing the story and the math was a bit of a challenge, so she started back at the beginning this year in 6th grade with Life of Fred Apples.  Initially, she was loving the story and the math was easy so she thought it fun.  I thought, how fabulous!  Fred is bringing life and a love of math back into our homeschool.

Of course, what's good for the goose, must be good for the gander, so I immediately sought to start Life of Fred with Ruben.  After all, he was also struggling in math and I so wanted to develop a love of learning.  Therefore, we also began with Life of Fred Apples.  Riley worked independently, but Ruben and I worked together.  I read Fred aloud and he performed "Your Turn to Play" on paper, just as prescribed.  Without hesitation, he too loved the story so we tarried on.

After finishing Apples, Ruben wanted to continue with Butterflies.  After finishing Butterflies, he wanted to continue with Cats.  After finishing Cats, of course, we had to proceed with Dogs....and so the story goes.  Our school year pushed forward, one month leading into another as we walked through Life of Fred.

Now, as for me, I suspected twaddle early on.  Something just didn't feel right.  The story is just so stupid! The words of Charlotte Mason rang in my head, "I have said much of history and science, but mathematics, a mountainous land which pays the climber, makes its appeal to mind, and good teachers know that they may not drown their teaching in verbiage." (Vol. 6, p. 51)  "Verbiage", hmm, could this be Life of Fred?   I found myself continually questioning and wrestling with the use of it.  And, why was I trying to make math 'fun'?  Isn't math true and beautiful in it's own right?  I felt like Life of Fred was trying to hide math in a story.....verbiage.  Also, there is not enough practice in Life of Fred for long term retention!  You either need to supplement or have facts mastered before beginning Fred, which is not indicative of a stand alone math program.  

On the other hand, presentation of what might be considered a difficult concept, became easier with Life of Fred.  Ruben was able to see math in a useful sort of way.  Numbers on a page are confusing to him.  However, he's quite genius with story problems and mental math.  Life of Fred presented some concepts of higher level math in a way that made understanding achievable for him.  This pacified my worries short term, but I kept having moments of doubt.  My kids still appeared to be loving it....or were they?

Ironically, about early March, after RileyAnn  had worked through nearly the entire elementary series, she came to me and said something like, mom, when can I go back and do real math?   I said, whatever do you mean by 'real math'?  She talked about having a more traditional text with pages of problems, rather than a storybook.  She explained that Life of Fred was becoming sickening to her because Fred kept having problems that he was too dumb to figure out.  She felt Fred was "cheesy".  I was shocked and elated!  I jumped for joy, not only because I was never a real fan of Fred, but because our 12-year old came to my conclusion all on her own.

Unfortunately, Ruben wants to continue Fred simply because of the story, but he hates the math.  We are currently in Honey and it's getting a bit more difficult for him.  He did say, he will be satisfied to finish the elementary series and move on to something else.  Now, you might say, if it's not working, why give him a choice?  Truth be told, we have three weeks left of school.  Wisconsin weather looks like it is finally going to settle into spring.  We are busy with other things and I really don't want to start a new math program at this point.  We will finish Honey and call it good.  If Ruben wants to read Ice Cream and Jelly Beans on his own, I certainly will not stop him.  However, I am personally done with Life of Fred!

By the way, Riley did also complete Simply Charlotte Mason's Your Business Math this year, as well as some misc. math books like Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales and Mathematicians Are People Too, so all was not lost.   She has since went back and finished an old Math-U-See book and now she's working through a Modern Curriculum Press workbook that I had laying around, which actually seems like a good fit.  I'm trying to decide where to go from here. She is not quite ready for pre-algebra, but I'm actually OK with that....maybe by 8th grade. I really believe in getting arithmetic down solid before starting algebra.  Riley still hates math and feels like she's not good at it, though I would beg to differ. I think most other subjects come fairly easy for her and she's a perfectionist so when math is a bit challenging, she gets overwhelmed. I've actually been contemplating Saxon for a variety of reasons or possibly going back and finishing the elementary series of Math-U-See. I think she could work through them faster now and probably complete the last three elementary levels in 1 1/2 to 2 years. On the other hand, if MCP continues to go well, maybe we'll just stick with that until Algebra....I don't know, some days it feels like a crap shoot. It's six to one, half dozen the other.  However, I do know Life of Fred did not create the love of math in either of my kids that I'd hoped. More importantly, it did not strengthen their math skills.  And, it did not help them see the beauty and truth of mathematics.
Let his arithmetic lesson be to the child a daily exercise in clear thinking and rapid, careful execution, and his mental growth will be as obvious as the sprouting of seedlings in the spring. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 261
The question of Arithmetic and Mathematics generally is one of great import to us as educators.  So long as the idea of 'faculties' obtained no doubt we were right to put all possible weight on a subject so well adapted to train the reasoning power, but now we are assured that these powers do not wait upon our training.  They are there in any case; and if we keep a chief place in our curriculum for Arithmetic we must justify ourselves upon other grounds.. We take strong ground when we appeal to the beauty and truth of Mathematics; that, as Ruskin points out, two and two make four and cannot conceivably make five, is an inevitable law.  It is a great thing to be brought into the presence of a law, of a whole system of laws, that exist without our concurrence, - that two straight lines cannot enclose a space is a fact which we can perceive, state, and act upon but cannot in any wise alter, should give to children the sense of limitation which is wholesome, for all of us, and inspire that sursum corda which we should hear in all natural law. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 230-231