Thursday, October 30, 2008

WR: still campaining

KB worked with Tammy a couple of days this week on her campaign. She came home drained one day - some of the other helpers spent a lot of time talking about how ridiculous it is to learn grammar in addition to sharing their views that the world was going to end soon. I don't think that KB felt particularly edified by the exchange, especially as she is now teaching grammar on Fridays.
The littles continue to move forward on Latin and are having a lot of fun throwing around Latin vocab and sayings. We finally got a CD for the Foundations memory work so Flower has been singing the Monroe Doctrine song for whoever has ears to hear! Flower is reading ETC 2 with ease, though she'd rather be doing the ETC pages that focus on writing than reading. She has been leaving adorable little notes all around the house and made me a "little Bible." She continues to be the coloring/craft queen and spent a lot of time this week doing Kumon workbooks- mazes, cut and paste and crafts. They're all good! She officially started math becasue she's had too much time on her hands and she is thrilled that she gets it!
Cub is almost done with his 2nd science book for the year. I think I'll have him read "The History of Science" next. He is cruising through math; working on carrying with addition. He started throwing a fit about doing school today but came back in a minute and apologized!! woohoo!
Feche Boy is happy to read, write, draw and do math but doesn't really want to do Omnibus assignments or Logic. Not sure what is up with that other than that it he has to think on a different level.
The weather was beautiful today and we took a loong walk. The boys came back home through the fields while Flower played at the river waiting for them.

The kids want to tackle another neighborhood for Initiative 11 in the afternoon so I think we'll forgo art and hit the streets. They are all invested in this election on many different levels. The opposition has brought in some big dogs for this one. Seems to me, that's a good sign.

White & Nerdy

In case of needed laugh: wath this! The background dancer it's Donny Osmond making it that much better!

video

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lend a Helping Hand

Was at a homeschool mom's meeting last week pitching TeenPact - if you're in the neighborhood- join us February 23-27 in Pierre! One of the mom's brought up "motivation." Specifically how to motivate kids to sit down and do endless, boring, repetitive worksheets with a good attitude. HAHAHA. Maybe I've homeschooled too long, but this kind of discussion just drives me a little batty. It comes up at about every mom's meeting. The issue is not really one of education or motivation. Well, maybe it is, but it's far more about the mom's motivation than the kids.

I mean, the homeschooling parent gives the kids something to do and tells the kid to go off and do it. With a good attitude. And proper motivation. And in a timely manner. I don't know about your little kids or what you yourself were like as a little kid but honestly, I just don't think it's going to happen. Mom's who sit around and wonder how to make it so are wasting their time.
I'm a Andrew Pudewa/ IEW groupie- have learned a lot from listening to his CD's and watching his DVD's on writing and classical ed. One thing that has really struck me this year is his comment to give kids help when they need it. This means that if your kid needs help with staying motivated then cheer them on as they are working. When the 7 year old can't work up the steam to tackle 30 problems on a written page, do the math orally. Be involved. It's taken me a couple of children to realize that "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."

My advice to parents with kids who have motivation problems...Help them. They're asking for it in kidspeak. Attitude, motivation and behavior are the language of kids. Help them lot when they are little cause if you don't they sure won't ask you for help when they are big. And if they're big and need help, it's probably going to be about something that matters far more than addition facts.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Memoria Opus (Memory Work)

Several years ago I got to a place where I was really dissatisfied with how we homeschooled. We did what seemed like a lot of work, but at the end of the year I just wasn't sure what the kids knew. Yearly testing gave us some sense of what was going on but I wanted to know that we weren't just "putting in time." That the effort and money that we were pouring into educating our kids was acutally going to yield academic fruit in the form of our kids owning a body of knowledge.
I learned an important distinction a few years back and that is the difference between overview and memorization. Overview is generally the big picture. Memorization is the detail, the particulars. Both are important. As we read accounts of how school used to be (i.e. Laura Ingalls Wilder) I am amazed at the amount of memory work required, most likely due to a lack of resources like paper and printer cartridges! A lot of curriculum these days is good for overview but doesn't demand that the student memorize particulars. Memory work is important because it cements the details in the student's brain- giving them the power to recall. At the end of the day, or year, they know that they know. In addition, the students brain is being "trained to retain." I've noticed how much easier it is to memorize things this year than last- my kids have been working the mental muscles of their minds and they are able to tackle more difficult memory work as a result. IEW's Poetry Memorization program goes through 4 sets of increasingly difficult poems as the students acclimate to the rigors and joy of memorizing poetry (it's based on the Suzuki Violin method, which Andrew Pudewa was a teacher of for several years- the intro to the program makes for some interesting reading regarding learning methods and memory work).

The key to memory work is to involve as many senses as possible; sight, hearing, touch, speech.

1. Read or overview the new work out loud
2. Have the student read the selection (or memory cards) outloud.
3. Write the selection on a white board (we have several smaller ones cut from a large shower tile and bordered by duct tape). Read the selection out loud together. Erase a small portion of the selection, recite from memory the erased section, read the rest. Erase another small portion, recite from memory and read the rest. Rinse. Repeat.
4. Flash cards. We use this time honored method for vocabulary, VP history cards, science, grammar, etc. Break the work down into manageable sections. People memorize most easily by having sets of 7 presented to them.
5. Audio CD's. This is a great way to introduce memory work and reinforce it. IEW's Language Aquisition Through Poetry Memorization has 80 poems on CD and is a great way to spend quiet or travel time ,reinforces the poems memorized and gently introduces new ones.
6. Post memory work throughout the house: on the fridge, bathroom, schoolroom walls. We have a large hanging white board in our dining (school) room. On it we list all of the weeks memory work. I have one of the kids re-write the weeks memory work at the beginning of the week reinforcing their learning.
7. Use games to re-inforce learning. "Jeopardy" is the classic memory skills game but there are certainly others. Teacher Created Resources has some fun and inexpensive game books. Right Start Math has an entire book on math games, Quarter Mile Math is a blast - a computer game dedicated to math facts, etc.
8. Contextualize the learning. We memorize history sentences as well as do related history read-alouds in addition to listening to SOTW audio CD's and making history time-line notebooks. Contextualizing learning creates more mental "hooks" in the kids brains so that they have a place to hang and organize the information (see Karen Andreola's writing on Charlotte Mason for more info on "mental hooks"). We are memorizing english grammar, making english grammar lapbooks and are learning sentence diagramming, in addition to learning latin grammar. We are memorizing a poem a week through the IEW program at the same time that we are working through Logos Academy's "Grammar of Poetry" book. The kids are learning how to write poems as they are memorizing them and gaining a richer understanding of trope, rhyme and meter as they go. All of the pieces start falling into place when the kids start making connections.
Memory work decontextualized is more difficult to learn and usually doesn't serve a good enough purpose imho to warrant the time and work involved. If you are having a Kindergartener memorize Latin declensions without a Latin program you are making both of your lives more difficult. Either give the kid a context or spend your time more age-appropriately learning fairy tales, songs and poems. One thing that really struck me during our day at the One Room Schoolhouse was the time the Rural Teachers spent on Fairy Tales, nursery rhymes, songs and poems. We used Calvert Curriculum for a couple of years and it was very similar to their approach. Not only did the kids come home singing the songs and narrating the stories (though no one had told them to) but they also had a marvelous time.

Many people wonder how an kinesthetic learner can sit still long enough to memorize long passages of poetry. Don't have them sit. Have them stand, hop, skip as they recite. We had a mini-tramp in our small student housing cottage and my oldest dd learned the times tables while bouncing. Swing your kids as you review the week's poetry. In other words, don't let your child's learning style dictate the lessons. Incorporate them in, strengthening those areas that are weak and utilizing strengths.

Use curriculum that incorporates memory work. Many classical curriculum suppliers have built in memory-work as part of the lessons, teaching us (the homeschool parent) what we didn't learn during our own formal schooling. Memoria Press and IEW are both blue ribbon winners. The Classical Conversations Foundations program is a great way to learn about memorization and how to actually do it with success in your own homeschool. They have 3 cycles, complete with audio CD's and powerpoint, which you can purchase without joining a CC community. Veritas Press and Logos Academy also have some great resources for memory work that are inexpensive and excellent, and there are many others.

Memorization is a rewarding skill that gets easier with practice. So... prodeo quod monumentum!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekly Report:Homeschooling in the Field

This week we did a fair amount of actual schoolwork- well, not too much. It was rainy and cold and drizzly and chilly. We did about 1/2 of our normal workload and didn't feel too guilty about it because were busy getting the house and ourselves warmed up and we did some other very cool things.
KB is interning with a friend who is running for State Legislature (votetammyweis.com) so she has been doing lots of mailings and other "grunt" work for her. This past week she was able to attend an invite only dinner with Tony Perkins and other noteables and had a grand time. Tammy and KB make quite a pair-Tammy might be 5'3" with heels and KB is 5'10" without. Tammy is a dynamo and in a hard race. Prayers are appreciated.
The kids and I and a couple of other TeenPact friends participated in the "Initiative 11" (voteyesforlife.com). We canvassed a portion of town, handing out literature, putting up yard signs for those who wanted them and letting people know about the initiative. Despite going through a conservative neighborhood the kids still had doors slammed in thier faces and a couple of nasty remarks. They came home worn-out. Walking for miles and participating in a hot-issue is tiring!
Yesterday we had the pleasure of spending the day at a One Room Schoolhouse, complete with Rural Teachers. Class is in session! Our kids were divied and sat together by grade but not before we went outside for a flag ceremony. Back inside for the Pledge of Alligience and and the singing of patriotic songs with piano accompaniment.
It was unanimous. The kids LOVED it. The morning was spent in age-appropriate lessons, with a recess break to try out the metal see-saw, merry-go-round, slide and swings. After recess we had the added treat of Mr. Julian, aged 92. His grandpa built the school over 125 years ago, he, his dad, and son all attended the school. He sang songs, several in Norwegian, recited poetry and answered question after question. For lunch he sang the Table Blessing in Norwegian, which we followed in English. Cub raised his hand and wanted to share the Table Blessing in Latin and went up front and recited the whole thing beautifully. 3 cheers for Prima Latina (again!).

Lunch was brown-bagged, then more recess, the out-house for those willing to brave the cold and the smell, followed by story-time. Our Rural teacher was a masterful storyteller and we all sat enthralled by her craft. There were more lessons (geography, history, puzzles, recitation, fairy tales and mazes), then math races by grades. The kids loved them and the whole room was cheering and clapping! At the end of the day we went and took down the flag, gathered our things and went home. The kids all exclaimed that they loved the day and wanted to come back soon. One of the Rural Teachers mentioned to me that she didn't think that the One Room Schoolhouse and Homeschooling were that much different, and indeed it did not appear to be so.
Three times this week I've had adults tell me what a respectful, well-mannered "young son" I have and how "lucky" I am. I always forgo mentioning my opinon that "luck" has nothing to do with it and that deliberate parenting does. One adult (one of the docents at the One Room Schoolhouse) said, "most kids his age just aren't nice." We've had many comments about our older kids over the years; they are well-mannered, sweet, nice, behaved, beautiful and modest, intelligent, fun, respectful. I think that more than anything, they aren't sullen. They shake your hand, look you in the eyes, respond articulately and convey respect and appreciation. In that they are unusual from many of their peers. Imho it's not luck. It's the investment of 2 decades of deliberate dedication, prayer and pouring into. I had a friend tell me about 5 years ago, "Of course, everyone wants the benefits of homeschooling, but I, I mean, we, don't want to sacrifice what it would take." Whether by luck or deliberation, but more probably by the grace of God this boy rocks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fasting on the way to the Feast

The 100 Mile Diet has been this weeks read; the authors, journalists by trade, possess a quick ascerbic wit, though are a bit more crude than I'd choose at points. I earmarked several pages, wanting to go back and think about offered conclusions a bit more thouroughly. I am unlike both in many ways- they are a common law couple, childless, void of a guiding faith, skeptical, prone to live on the edge. And yet, we have more in common that one might first consider. I related easily to their self-imposed initial scarcity. Their search for answers to simple, yet profound questions, looking for answers that go beyond basic assumptions. They scratched hard beneath a layer of what is acceptable and expected and found some shocking facts and statistics, a lot of history and a yearning to go deeper. "The problem everywhere nowadays turns on how we shall decide to live. Neither the government leaders not the demographers have been able to supply an answer." (pg18). Yep, there's the question. Francis Shaeffer asked it years ago at L'Abri as he welcomed disenfranchised intellectuals to come and eat and learn and live with he and his family answering the question, "How Shall We Then Live?"

For many, it's business as usual. What you see is what you get, until you don't simply accept the usual. "There are degrees of eccentricity, I suppose...there are reactions to the soul-shock of modern life with all its cold seperation and routine violence, and not so different, perhaps, from the decision to eat close to home for a year. With our regular sojourns into the fields surrounding Vancouver, Alisa and I had seen the relentless advance of the city. The change had always seemed sad in the way that any loss of innocence is sad, but now it seemed like lunacy, impossibly wrongheaded...the conversion is a fundamentalist act- a pattern that assumes we have been liberated forever from the need to live in a real place, in real time." Kind of like banks that loan money that isn't there and politicians that make promises that, in reality, can't be kept. The world of make-believe and spin. The new normal.

The technological world, with it's globalization is taking over small and intimate things and leaving countless, unknown victims in its wake. Shockingly, or not, over 17,000 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2003 alone in response to being unable to feed themselves and their families. Government failed to protect them from agroindustrial imports and they faced crushing debt to continue farming up to modern standards. The gift of work and sustanence had been taken from them and literally crushed the life out of them.

I was asked recently what it was that I did to make a difference in the world. By the standards of many, not much. I stay home, keep a sorta tidy but lived in house, garden, cook, wash dishes, raise kids, homeschool, read. I've earned degrees and led programs and actually worked for pay long ago but in reality I've lived in seemingly inconsequential places doing nothing truly spectacular. To quote the 100 Mile Authors, "I have traveled these ethical pathways in one way or another for twenty years now, choosing to ride a bicycle in homicidal traffic, to re-use my tin-foil and buy less. It doesn't make me feel "good." It makes me feel like an alien....my being has done little to change the world. My actions are abstract and absurd, and they are neither saving the rain forests nor feeding the world's hungry." (pg 17)

So then, Why. Why do we live like aliens, barely scraping by in a place that offers some but not much in the economies of many. And How. How Shall We Live? We've lived in such a way that our oldest is an oddity in a conservative Christian school because we eat homemade food and shop rarely and read more than watch. Even where like-mindedness seems obvious we are aliens because we've choosen a narrow path. I write that, believe me, not in any sort of pat on the back way, but descriptively. To have homeschooled for a couple of years is hip, the new "concerned parent." To have done so for well-nigh 20 years is a bit off. To have 3-4 kids is a show of faith in the world. To have 5 is to not understand the mechanics of birth control and that there are people starving in the world. And on.

The "100 Mile" authors explain their compulsions as an experiment. And, in many ways, that is why we live the way we do. It is a grand, life-inclusive experiment to see where a life of faith takes us. Living by faith for answers, job, income, direction. Living to hear, in response to a Creator that we can experience, despite the noise of the world. Living to give up, no matter how precious and expensive it might be to do so, in a world that demands that we get and aquire and position. That we are where He wants us, doing what He would have us do, no matter how simple or seemingly inconsequential. We are banking on a Living God who is True, who we will sit with at a banquet and who will radiate peace and prosperity, making all of this seem like the dream before the waking.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Training Future Generations.


Necessary Skills for Success in the 21rst Century Job Market (source: Harvard Biz School of Government).

1-The ability to define problems without a guide.
2-The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions.
3-The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information.
4-The ability to work in teams without guidance.
5-The aiblity to work absolutely alone.
6-The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one.
7-The ability to conceptualize and reorganize information into new patterns.
8-The ability to discuss ideas, issues and techniques with an eye toward policy decision.
9-The ability to think inductively and deductively.
10- The ability to think dialectically.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meet the Fam: Fun with Grammar


KB took grammar to it's illogical conclusion last week and defined us all by grammatical definitions. We are either geeks or bored. Maybe we are bored geeks? Either way, we had way too much fun with it!

Viking Man is a noun. Just skip by the person, place or thing and get right to the activity or idea. The man has got to move and his mind is constantly making connections, brainstorming and coming up with new and improved ways of understanding. If I do say so myself, he is brilliant but sometimes he just talks way too fast.
Moi - an adjective. Like every good helpmeet my job is to describe, qualify or modify the noun! hahaha. Viking Man might differ with me but it's my blog so I'm not gonna ask him!
College Woman is an irregular verb. She is unique in her sense of style and what she's gonna do, trying new things, going new places and following her own path with verve.
KB is a conjunction. She is the queen of connections and metaphor. It's that gift of discernment coupled with the heart of an artist.
Feche -Boy is a preposition. He is all about position, moving constantly. He's the first kid up and the last to go to bed and moving the whole day through. The boy is the energizer bunny (but way cuter) and spends a great deal of time climbing up and hanging down from trees.
Cub is an interjection. His main vocalizations consist of kapows, kabluwies, whooshes, whoops and hollars. He frequently has a bionicle clutched in both hands as he swoops through the kitchen or is brandishing a wooden sword as he high-yas the great outdoors.
Miss Flower is a verb, verb, verb, she's an action word. Like Feche-Boy she is on the move! She loves to sweep and swing and run and hop and skip and hang upside down on the monkey bars and she has the callouses to prove it.

Maybe next week we'll define the fam by mathematical terms! Stay tuned.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Week in Review

It was another beautiful week for walking...or running...


School-wise it felt like a week to push through. The kids and I were in a daze the first half of the week- serious weather change or what I'm not sure. I had to wake people up in the mornings and Cub and Flower have both been complainig of needing more sleep.
By Wednesday it felt that we were back up to speed and we did get some things done.

Flower continues to do a lesson a day in AlphaPhonics and 4 pgs in ETC. She can do all the VP cards in order by memory (8 a week) and is loving poetry. We are memorizing Rebecca Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably by Helaire Belloic and she lOVES it. It is hysterical to watch her theatrics as she recites. We also finished John 1 this week and she has it down cold. She has really gotten into the counting thing and I need to get more serious about doing math every day. We've continued with playing ed CD's and her little auditory self is eating them up!.

Cub can memorize anything about once through (though the Latin Bible verse is still a challenge). School is a breeze for him and he loves it all but math, which he does fine with, he just has to think about it.

Feche-Boy wrote out his confession this week (Omni II- Augustine's Confessions.) Shock to me, but he didn't know that an indentation marked the beginning of a paragraph. I'm not sure who was more mortified by the discovery- him or me! He is loving the math tutoring with Dad as well as the Traditional Logic. It seems that no matter how much work we give him he always ends up with free time. I have to watch not loading him down.

KB is not loving the math tutoring with Dad but is glad that she is getting some concepts that were previously a mystery. She is helping a friend with her campaign for the state legislature, which consists mainly of mailings, but next week there are some banquets that she can attend, too. Tomorow she is going to begin teaching the Jr. Highers at co-op sentence diagramming and grammar as well as some basics of speech.

We didn't do a read-aloud this week, which is unusual for us and I have a feeling we'll be doing some homework on Saturday again, too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One Issue & the State of the Union.

I've been accused just recently of making my vote be about one issue. This came in response to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIdbYjmbFzo that proves that infanticide is occuring in the great state of Illinois.

While I appreciate this persons concern in thinking that I am a one-dimensional voter that is hardly the case. My reason for sending them the video clip was to let them know that the candidate they support legislates and endorses infanticide. These are babies born vaginally, babies that are issued birth certificates, and babies that are left to die. They are not killed in the womb. Once born they are murdered by health care professionals in collusion with parents, the government and us. I am grieved that so many choose to see the significance of this. It goes far beyond an “abortion issue” but gets to the heart of a nation. Do we choose life or death? Healthy countries and governments choose life. Those that are dead or dying embrace death. Do a little research on the fall of Greece, Rome, France during the reign of Napoleon or Germany under the leadership of Hitler, Cambodia under the leadership Pol Pot, etc. ad naeseum and you will find that abortion, infanticide, euthanasia are always a large part of the culture before it’s ultimate destruction. The weak and the powerless are always the first to go under the umbrella of "choice" or "cultural cleansing." It's as if the culture gives up, willingly and by choice, it's ability to be progenerative. I see this as an extension of a post-modern culture who is deciding what is "noise" and what to do about it. Clearly, the exhuberant cries of an unwanted newborn infant are considered expendable noise by many.

Reproduction is political. Check out China's "One-child Rule." In seminary I worked with a young Chineese woman who whispered (she was afraid of being overheard by the wrong people) about how spouses were seperated to keep them from reproducing and forced abortions and sterilization. It's nothing new, reproduction and freedom over ones children has been a political issue for thousands of years (see Exodus 1:22- if you don’t consider the Bible as an authoritative source it shouldn’t be too hard to do some research on the Pharaohs or other ancient rulers ). Planned Parenthood is an excellent example of an organization that was formed and continues to be used as a political and social control agent. The intent of the organization was eugenics, and it has succeeded well in that. For more info on that I would encourage you to read the biography of Margaret Sanger by George Grant (one of the great minds of our time and researcher extraordinaire), titled, “Angel of Death.” Sanger made no apologies for the fact that her goal with PP was to rid the world of blacks. On that point it has done exceedingly well as 50% of black pregnancies end in abortion. Ironically, blacks like Obama that support PP are colluding with an organization that originated with the vision of destroying their race.

Abortion is just one issue and there are clearly more that should be considered in this presidential election: the economy and the war in Iraq among others. But I'm a pragmatist and I believe in getting to the heart of issues. While I won't be voting for Obama for many reasons, his willingness to usher in and embrace a culture of death is a leading factor.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life, Death & Meaning

Bodies in Motion is a display of dead bodies touring the country. They are sliced, diced, stripped of skin, anatomically correct and on display. The guide claims that the display is suitable for children ages 10 & up. The founder of this controversial display assures us that he has gone through a "reputable body broker" and that they are not, as some have speculated, tortured Chinese prisioners. Cause, I mean, ya know, the reputable body brokers can be so trusted. Right.

When I mentioned the display to Viking Man his first reaction was that the thing was vile and unorthodox (in the little "u" sense of the word), breaking Levitical Codes. Orthodox (in the capitol "U" sense of the word) Jews have firm prohibitions against desecrating human bodies and have strict codes of behavior around death and corpses, as most cultures do, in honor of the dead. The body is seen as an extension of the spirit who once occupied it and to desecrate the body would to defile and dishonor the person that they once knew.

Imago Deo- we are created in the image of God. We are created by the Holy of Holies in the image of Holy.

Today a friend sent me a link to a YouTube which for some reason wont upload. You can see it here: http://WWW.youtube.Com/watch?v=VIdbYjmbFzo .

Infanticide is now being touted as abortion. Babies are being born live through an induced, vaginal birth. The baby is issued a birth certificate. The baby is left to die. The great state of Illinois practices this form of "abortion" in large urban hosptials. Thank-you Senator Obama (said tongue in check) for opening wide the door to the culture of death in the name of change. That kind of change I can live without.

I'm grieved. Deeply, deeply grieved. I'd like to think that as a nation we still value life. Of course, I'm pro-choice just like everybody else. Choose to have sex or not. Once you do, be responsible. This would mean don't murder and deconstruct the meaning asserting that it's a choice, cause the dead person didn't choose. And God's plan was thwarted and aborted and justice was wronged.

Post-modernism and the deconstruction of language is taking it's toll. We look at dead bodies, in the name of science, but c'mon, it's all about entertainment and pay for the privelage to do so, carting our little, impressionable minded kiddos along, desensitizing them as we go to what's right and pure and holy. (For an excellent discussion from a Biblical perspective on these terms see Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture by David DeSilva). It's but a baby step to go from full blown dead bodies on disply to live birth murder by neglect. They are just bodies after all.
Imago Deo. Bodies created in the image of a Holy God.
And I wonder about the breathe of life that God gifts to each person at birth. The Ruwach, snuffed out. We are turning our backs on God in more profound and fundamental ways than simply wiping "In God We Trust" off of buildings.
Flower, in a burst of profound 5 year old wisdom asked me today, "Mommy, why are they killing the babies like the Pharoh's kill the babies."
Cause we now consider life to be cheap instead of sacred, death to be exploited instead of honored and meaning to be whatever we've de or re-constructed it to mean instead of a logical connotation of a word or phrase.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Of 3 Minds

Went to a Yom Kippur presentation last week and it got me thinking again about some philosophies that I've been trying to wrap my mind around for quite some time: Modernism, Post-modernism and the Hebraic mind-set. It's the whole world-view thing again. There are so many seminars on "World -View" but I have a beef with them. In essence, I see that they are advocating the Hellenistic, modern way of thinking, focusing on correct doctrine instead of correct living, getting "it" right, instead of getting Him. I'm on a quest to understand these world views better. I'm starting simply enough- with definitions.


Much of the following definitions about modernism and post-modernism was excerpted from Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed by Mary Klages. You can find the full document at http://www.colorado.edu/English/courses/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.htmll


Modernism tends to present a fragmented view of human subjectivity and history (think of The Wasteland, for instance, or of Woolf's To the Lighthouse), but presents that fragmentation as something tragic, something to be lamented and mourned as a loss. Many modernist works try to uphold the idea that works of art can provide the unity, coherence, and meaning which has been lost in most of modern life; art will do what other human institutions fail to do. It is also considered an economic phase of capitalism that occurred from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century (about WWII); this phase, monopoly capitalism, is associated with electric and internal combustion motors, and with modernism. Modernity is fundamentally about order: about rationality and rationalization, creating order out of chaos. There is a stable, coherent, knowable self. This self is conscious, rational, autonomous, and universal--no physical conditions or differences substantially affect how this self operates. The modern mind-set believes that reason is the highest form of mental functioning and that the mode of knowing produced by the objective rational self is "science." Science provides universal truths about the world, the knowledge produced by science is "truth" and therefore eternal. Reason, or scientific inquiry is the ultimate judge of what is true, and therefore of what is right, and what is good or what is legal and ethical. The true will always be the same as the good and the right and the beautiful, there can be no conflict betweent what is true and what is right as science is neutral and objective. Language, or the mode of disseminating knowledge, must be rational also. What you see is what you get.


Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates it. The world is meaningless? Let's just play with nonsense. This economic phase includes multinational or consumer capitalism (with the emphasis placed on marketing, selling, and consuming commodities, not on producing them), associated with nuclear and electronic technologies. Postmodernism would be the concept of virtual reality, a reality created by simulation, for which there is no original (think Sim Town). For postmodern societies, there are only surfaces, without depth; only signifiers, no signifiends. The idea of any stable or permanent reality disappears, and with it the idea that the signifiers point to. Words and agreements shift and change and become situational.


"Finally, postmodernism is concerned with questions of the organization of knowledge. In modern societies, knowledge was equated with science, and was contrasted to narrative; science was good knowledge, and narrative was bad, primitive, irrational (and thus associated with women, children, primitives, and insane people). Knowledge, however, was good for its own sake; one gained knowledge, via education, in order to be knowledgeable in general, to become an educated person. This is the ideal of the liberal arts education. In a postmodern society, however, knowledge becomes functional--you learn things, not to know them, but to use that knowledge" In this paradigm, the opposite of "knowledge" is not "ignorance," as it is the modern/humanist paradigm, but rather "noise," anything that cannot be categorized electronically. The questions that will ethically be asked by a post-modern society is what to do about the noise.


So I move on to the Hebraic Mindset. The following definitons are taking from"Hebraism and Hellenism" by Brian Knowles which you can find here: http://www.godward.org/Hebrew%20Roots/hebrew_mind_vs__the_western_mind.htm


*Everything blurs into everything else.
*Supernatural affects everything.
*Contextual or block thinking as opposed to linear,
*importance of community,
*values comes from place in heirarchy,
*security vs. freedom orientation,
*competition, as opposed to cooperation, is evil,
*the universe is God/tribe/man centered vs. man (self) centered,
*worth is derived from family relationships vs. money or material power or possession,
*God, rather than chance or science. causes everything in the universe,
*God, as opposed to man, rules everything, so relationship with God determines how things turn out.
*Power over others is structured by social patterns, as opposed to business, politics and human organizations and is ordained by God.
*The universe is filled with powerful spirit beings.
*Cyclical or spiraling time vs. linear time.
*Similar events constantly reoccur.
*History is an attempt to preserve significant truths in meaningful or memorable ways whether or not details are objective facts.
*we are oriented to events throughout history, as opposed to simply near events.
*Change is bad = destruction of traditions vs. change is good and equals progress.
*Universe created by God as opposed to chance.
*God gave man stewardship over his earthly creation.
*Accountability to God.
*Material goods are a measure of God’s blessing vs personal acheivement.
*Knowledge-based faith vs. blind faith.
*Time determined by content ("In the day that the Lord did…").


Heschel writes, "The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. The modern man learns in order to use" He goes on, "To the Jewish mind, the understanding of God is not achieved by referring to a Greek way to timeless qualitites of a Supreme Being, to ideas of goodness and perfection, but rather by sensing the living acts of His concern, to His dynamic attentiveness to man. We speak not of His goodness in general but of his compassion for the individual man in a particular situations. In other words, God is not "known" in the abstract, but in the specific situations into which He has asserted Himself. God is what He as revealed Himself to be, not what we have theorized Him to be."


I'm still at the grammar stage of understanding what all of this means, how it plays out in our relationshiops, jobs, bank accounts and homes. Having a better understanding of definitions has clarified some recent problems with collegues- we were coming at words, situations and relationships with a totally different mind-set and so our ability to understand and work with each other was compromised; and though I had assumed that as people of the same faith, we would hold the same values, it just isn't so. Our mind-set is where it's at.

Golden Grasses

As a freshwoman in college I had the incredible privilage of going on a "Wilderness Pre-Term;" a month-long backpacking trip to the High Uintas of Utah. It was one of those gifts in life that I'll never forget. We gave each other "Indian names" (I'm over 40, k, so political correctness wasn't yet a cult), my best friend of the year gave me the moniker of "Laughing Lioness of the Golden Grasses." As a Leo (B.C. and back when it meant something significant to me) I thought that was pretty cool.

Lately I've used it as my on-line i.d. for a couple of different reasons. A) It's fun. B) As a Xian I dig that the Lion of Judah roars over us. I want to be part of that pride and tribe. C) I am a lover of all things Narnia and C.S. Lewis.

I was thinking today about what the point of this blog is. A lot of it has to do with creating and learning and writing. But the point of all of that is to share our family culture. Our goal is to create a beautiful family culture and writing and creating a space that celebrates that clarifies what it is I'm doing. It's cathartic in that way, much the same way scrapbooking is for me. Depsite all of the rocky roads and stuff life throws at ya, the kids still smile and pick flowers and exclaim over the snapping turtle in the yard and we still celebrate and live a pretty good life. I'm liking the title "Golden Grasses" because it's a good metaphor for what this is about. The mundane things, like grass, which is everywhere. Like raising children, and homeschooling, and cooking and reading outloud and living our faith when God seems distant and when God seems right close. And creating something from that everyday, normal, ordinary and seeing it as golden and precious and extraordinary.

I like to think of myself as a Laughing Lioness. I don't laugh enough though I am strong and opinonated as I imagine a true lioness would be. But I think the Golden Grasses fits just right.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Week 6 Weekly Report

Another week that whizzed by. The weather has been incredible- fall pefection! The kids have begged to be in it so we've taken lots of time to enjoy the outdoors; including a nice long walk with the kids, up the hill, with a great view of our entire valley. The kittens followed and then got scared on the way back.

KB and Feche-Boy continued working through Traditional Logic, Math (Viking Man tutored them this week) and Poetry. KB is working through IEW's Progymnasta and FB continues on with Omnibus II. He started Confessions by Augustine this week. While he loves the reading he is not so thrilled about the lessons, which in my opinion is what makes the program so great. He is definitely gettting a writing work-out this year. The drawing lessons during co-op have really sparked his committment to drawing again and he and KB stayed up late one night, both working on beautiful drawings- KB can really capture movement.

Cub is cruisin' through the science book: The World Around Us and between that and Ranger Rick is constantly sharing fun facts to know and tell about the natural world. Of course, these facts are interspersed with tidbits about the world of bionicles and star wars- my well-rounded renaissance boy!

Flower is seeing words everywhere and sounded out several of the states names while were playing the "States Game" this week. It is a blast to see how thrilled she when she gets it. She's been going around singing, "I'm a verb, verb, verb, I'm an action word" - got that right! KB got on a roll with that and ended up attributing parts of speech to all of us....pretty darn funny!

We continued on with Bible, sometimes after dinner, but the kids all got out drawing pads while I read. IEW's Poetry is going just fine. We listened to the next set of 20 poems and decided to take 2 out and sub with something else. The 2 were deemed "just weird" by Feche Boy and KB hates the one, so we'll find something else to spend our time on.

I just discovered that VP has 160 Bible timeline cards as well as history. Another discovered irritation with Foundations- why on earth do they just intersperse parts of the first Bible pack in to the history timeline? Why don't they do the whole thing? or do both timelines?

We are off- to co-op today and the other mom with older kids wants to do speech, Fallacy Detective and diagramming so I think we're going to peel off the older kids to do that instead of having them stay for review and geography. KB is going to led the speech class. Tomorrow we'll be doing some Latin, phonics and another Math tutoring session. A friend loaned me this beautiful old book of the Gospels- English on one side and Latin on the other with hand-tinted pictures in the middle. We are almost done memorizing first John in Latin and English so I'm going to copy out a couple more verses.

For now, off to co-op...


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Really Wordless Wednesday




My not so Wordless Wednesday decorating victory & dilemma.

A sampling of the cabinets and counter top that Mom & Dad VikingFam brought from Nuncle Eils biz bldg. Isn't it lovely? This replaces the industrial metal counter that we had under the window leaving a 2 foot gap between the counter and the stove. The best part - they are standard height as opposed to 6" below standard that the originals are. Can't wait to replace the rest!

Still in decision making mode regarding the trim and 3 solid wood doors . The wood is ash- a beautiful hard wood and really gorgeous once the stain is removed. The problem- there is a LOT of it and after 80 years the stain and the ash have done the zen thing and become one. I'd like to go for the refinished look but I don't want to do it myself and therin lies the dilemma. Also, wall color. I like the intense, color drenched look. Viking Man thinks that wall colors should be white, off-white, eggshell white or cream white - can anyone besides me say snore? The ceilings are 10' - which gives the feeling of either a) spaciousness or b) Mammoth Cave, reinforced by the white on white color scheme. Decisions, decisions , of which I've made few in regards to this room.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tropes and Weekly Readers

This week we are reading several books by Jean Fritz. "At the time when Jean Fritz first began writing her biographies of famous Americans, most biographies for young readers were fictionalized. They contained lots of facts but writers often invented conversations and fictitious or imagined situations through which the narrative was propelled. Then Jean Fritz came along and proceeded to tell us fascinating, often funny details about the people and events that brought full dimension to the book without resorting to fictionalization. Her biographies contain no invention or traces of author's license." (Carol Hurst for Teaching K-8 Magazine).

We love Jean Fritz's sense of style and wit. Several years ago I happened upon a garage sale hosted by a teacher that was recently retired and picked up several of Fritz's "Question Books" including: Shh! We're Writing the Constitution, What's the Big Idea Ben Franklin? Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?, George Washington's Breakfast, Why Don't you get a horse, Sam Adams?, Why Don't you make them behave, King George? Each one is chock full of historical information, personal tidbits and the details that make you want to research and find out more. Of course, there are even more books from this prolific author and should be available at your local bibliotecha. Good reads, the lot of them. What I've appreciated especially is how she has captured some of the confusion, hard work, ambiguity, and floundering that went into creating something as unique as the United States. Often times I think about history the way it's written; neat, tidy and figured out. But studying the dates, times and thoughts that went into severing ties with England and creating from the ground up a new nation was anything but neat and tidy. We've been involved in boards and the creation of certain small groups and getting agreement, focus, etc is not a task for the faint at heart. Hats off to the Founders and those that had the vision for a country called Free.
Poetry continues to be too much fun. My new vocab word: Trope - a figure of speech such as a metaphor, simile, pun, etc.

Yesterday friends Cyndi and Amber came over to do poetry with KB and Feche Boy and we probably talked too much and accomplished too little in the way of homework. But I'll tell ya: learning rhyme and meter and foot boundaries- in other words, the limits (of poetry)- has really sparked the kids imaginations. Flower has been going through Feche Boy's old drawings and "copying them" (sometimes kids are just so darn cute!) and we came across a pirate ship. Flower empahtically stated, "Dontcha know that pirates can capture little girls" and it just went from there. The pirates are gonna escape the picture, capture KB, who will then turn them all into civilizers but it's all gonna be written in iambic meter. The cool thing is that I knew what they were talking about (I'm teaching the class so that's a good thing = ) and so did they.


KB's Acrostic Assignment:
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Decidedly
Engaging in
Cultural War where
Leaders
Act as
Rebels
And citizens work
Together.
Independently, yet as
One united
Nation.
Overly
Fanatical

Independently
Nominating
Daring
Engaging
People into
Enormous
National
Duties to
Ensure
National safety &
Citizen leadership for
Evermore.
~ KB

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gratitude

51. I am grateful for how long fall has lasted. It's been lovely here- last week was in the 70's. We are soaking up every ray of sunshine we can!
52. For the fun the fam had yesterday painting the sandbox/playscape that Viking Man upgraded. He also added 2 more bi-swings (for lack of a better name). The kids are living at the play area these days!
53. For the good food Viking Man brought home on Friday- catered Mexican with salsa that was delish! Next year we're growing cilantro.
54. Talking with College Woman each week and keeping up to date with blogs, facebook, email and phone!
55. That Viking Man is a techno-head and got me up to speed with a 3-column lay-out. Woohoo!
56. For kids who know how to work and do so without (much) griping.
57. For all of the new babies at church. The little 4-mth old that we sat behind today was too cute!
58. For apples to dry.
59. For apples to eat.
60. For the friends at class-day on Friday. Good food & laughs shared all around.
61. For United Streaming.
62. The ability to watch the V.P.debate on Thursday.
63. The very funny SNL spoof on the debate!
64. A new contact I talked with on Thursday regarding the possibility of a UMS in the area.
65. For TeaParty Queen KB and the tea party she hosted today for the other kids.
66. For Cub. He is so stinkin' cute. KB made him get dressed up and he looked soo adorable!!
67. For the p.b. cookies Flower and KB made.
68. For popcorn every Sunday nite.
69. For words. The poetry class that I am teaching is a blast. Writing is a blast. Reading is a blast. Words are just fun.
70. For the kids piling in our bed every night to get read to, to talk and to pray together.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Weekly Report

My friend Lori is very organized and diligent and gets an amazing amount of school work done each day. She has inspired me to make better use of our daily time- friends that help us to sharpen and focus are a blessing! So, with her for inspiration, I made a daily plan that has enough flex built in even for me!

8-8:45 - eat, listen to an educational CD -grammar songs, Foundations, Lingua Angelica, IEW's Poetry, etc.
8:45 - Morning jobs, older kids do math, Cub reads science. I do AlphaPhonics & ETC with Flower.
9:30 -Memory Work, including Latin & English Bible, History sentence, english grammar, geography, math, science, books of the Bible & details, Poetry, VP timeline cards -all together.
11:30- Bible, including reading, timeline and memory or geography notebooks.
12:30- lunch & break.
1:30 - math
2:00 Latin Dvd for Cub and Flower
2:30-3:30 - Latin memory, read alouds.
Feche-boy and KB continue to do Logic, Math, IEW, Poetry etc.

Beginning the mornings with the CD's has made a difference. Some of the songs are goofy, the Lingua Angelica is peaceful and beautiful and IEW's poetry is just plain fun, mainly due to Andrew Pudewa's excruciatingly correct diction and the teriffic poetry selection. It's been great for Cub to hear and imitate and we have seen further improvement in his articulation.

As I posted earlier we are really enjoying the Christian Studies from Memoria Press. It rocks.

Cub has been reading the "Exploring the World" series. Being an offspring of Viking Man and Grandpa Bob he is doomed/blessed to be a science geek and loves this time of reading and learning. He came in quite upset the other day, however, because the author expressed his belief that there would be no animals in heaven. Having sent quite a few cats, including Scout, from our first litter on our acreage, our handsome and loving tom (I'm sad thinking about it), on ahead and the experience of putting Brie (our wonderful old wizened horse) down this spring, and burying baby goats and older goats and being a big fan of Narnia and personally invested in seeing all of these dear pets again someday caused a mini-crisis for my tender hearted little Cub. Who knew (said tongue in cheek) that science and faith were so closely intertwined? This led to a couple of different discussions over the course of the week on the New Creation, what animals were created for and companionship in heaven. I'm banking on hanging with these dear old companions again. Sometimes I surprise myself. I am truly not an animal person.

Flower is beginning to sound out words she sees all around her all by herself. Teaching my kids to read has been one of the great joys in my life.

It was such a bumper crop this year that I am still dealing with apples! We've sauced and frozen a boatload so my new defense is oven drying them. Thin sliced, about 175 degrees, several hours. They are a great snack and worth the time!

College Woman gave her missions presentation. It's good. Go read it yourself at her blog Serving Him Blind (link in blogroll).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dreamin'

Highlands Latin School (www.thelatinschool.org/) is my dream school. Almost. I'd like to give it a University Model twist (www.naums.net/index2.html). Then you'd have my dream school. And I'd like to run it (tempted to post my resume here = ) becasue I'm a control-freak visionary like that. And I'd like lots of really great extra-curriculars like orchestra, choir, drum corps, Mock Trial, Model U.N. & Debate, athletics, protocol and community service because I'm really an advocate of the leadership models that focus on mental, physical, social and emotional learning/service/living. And I'd like my kids to go there because it's hard to do it all alone. Our pastor (http://www.churchatthegate.com/) has a saying that "we're not meant to go through life alone." And yet, when you do the radical thing it's so easy to be alone. People are interested, curious maybe, but not really all that invested in doing the radical thing with you.

My dd is just minutes away from Highlands- I'm so jealous. Maybe we could move and Viking Man could visit on holidays?

Until a door opens or there's a season change we will continue on, using the good stuff that Memoria Press (the publishing company of Highlands) puts forth to help those, such as myself, who aren't close enough to commute. I highly recommend the Latin programs: Prima Latina for the littles, Latina Christiana I & II as well as Lingua Angelica for the Middles, and for the stalwart and brave and upper level student, Henle Latin. If you get the videos (I recommend them) you'll find Leigh Lowe's accent fun and engaging. Having lived in eastern NM (on the Texas border) for 8 years Leigh sounds like "home" to us and reminds of our of good friend, Glenda. You never knew Latin could be so fun till ya hear it with a Texan accent!

We have also develed into Traditional Logic which is much more accessible than I thought it would be. After last years struggle with Intro and Intermedicate Logic (from Logos) I was dubious. The big diff is that Traditional Logic is a language arts program, whereas Intro and Intermediate Logic focuses on symbolic logic (math). Both have value, just different, and we are enjoying the ease of the program as well as the eye-brow theatrics of Professor Cothran!

Christian Studies is another winner that we are thouroughly enjoying this year. It is a great combo of skills and content (see my post, Education 101) and with the map-work, memory work and comprehensive Bible reading (instead of snippets) there is something for everyone.

We also use the Copywork books for Cub. Though he'd rather not write at all, the print is large enough and verses engaging enough that it's good enough.

The Famous Men series is worth every penny and as soon as I get more scrapped together we'll be purchasing the newly released, "Famous Men of Modern Times." I believe that these are reprints of the old Greenleaf Press series and the pictures are gorgeous! Get all of them! Each can be a course of study, use them with a time-line (Amy Pak's) or just read them out-loud. It's good stuff.

D'Aulaires Greek Myths is a must have for every library- sanitized mythology for those who want the contex without the smut. The pictures, in true D'Aulaire style, are what makes the book.

Also on my list of "to buy" by Christmas is "Rhetoric." KB is working through IEW's Progymnsata (which covers all 9 units of the IEW program at an upper level) which she is cruising through. I'd like her to do Rhetoric 2nd semester.

And of course, a FREE resource from the good folks at Memoria Press is their newsletter. It always has interesting and thougth provoking articles on classical ed and more. You can sign up for it here: http://www.memoriapress.com/newsletter/index.html

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Less is More

Why is education so important? Because by it we impart values, morays, ideals and vision. The culture of apathy has a strong foothold these days and I'd rather see my kids - and yours! - passionate about something REAL, vibrant and involved; colorful instead of drab, gray and lifeless. I'd like to see more creativity floating around, people willing to try - and fail if need be, singing loudly instead of people pleasing, stuffy little mumbles by kids who are too afraid or stupid, or dumbed down to think, feel and KNOW.

We studied the Bible today. I mean studied it at opposed to simply reading it. It is a life-changing, full colored, history of fallible beings who lie, cheat and steal, have sex inopportunely, love, laugh and sing outloud. My kids get it. They relate to the people. They wonder about why. They want more. They are hungry. This is the REAL thing.

The real thing. More mess. More effort. More demands. As well as a lot less. Less of what our culture has deemed that we are all entitled too- such as leisure, income, "time for ourselves." And yet, in the end, there will be more. More radical, sold-out. vibrant, passionate, singing-out-loud-world changers.

That's my vision. That's why we do what we do. That's why we give up, hold loosly, pray forward, seek truth. That's why we homeschool.