Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Mother of Learning Q & A

If you've read Golden Grasses for any length of time, you know that we do copious amounts of memory work. I’ve recently had some questions about how we approach memory work. I hope you find my answers helpful!
I see on your blog that you have science, history, math, etc. How did you arrive at those lists?
We first started hitting the Memory Work hard 6 years ago after I meet Leigh Bortiens (the founder of Classical Conversations) and Kim Cromer (who at that time was the CC State Co for IL.) Because of that "interview" we invested time, money and energy into creating a CC community where we lived. The lists shown here reflect the Foundations program lists.

Are you in a CC community?
Not anymore- 6 years ago we developed a CC community that included Foundations, Essentials and Challenges and deliberately tanked it after one year.

I don't feel like we NEED to buy a program to do this, but at the same time, I don't know how I'd ever compile these lists myself (lit, Bible, history - not a problem). In your opinion, is it worth paying for someone else to make your lists and put them to music?
It depends on your own personal discipline and starting point. We continue to do a lot of memory work without a CC community. My issue with the CC lists are that they are based on a 24 week school year, somewhat arbitrary, and often decontextualized. On the positive side, the CC program provides written guides, CD's and computer graphics. For what it is, it is fairly comprehensive.
That being said, I appreciate the work that Andrew Campbell has done in Living Memory- comprehensive, logical, sequential lists, based on what a classically trained eled student would work through throughout elementary school.
And, Memoria Press groupie that I am, it is tres facile to create memory work lists from the MP guides. In fact, they do it for you, so it's just a matter of writing the info on a white baord, or creating posters or flash cards (though you can purchase these from MP), or whatever method you use to work with your student. 

Also, do you begin this level of work with children this young?
We started CC when my now 9yo was almost 4. She worked on memorizing the VP cards with her siblings that year, along with Foundations Cycle II  and because she was a pre-reader, had to go by auditory memory, along with picture recognition. Our CC tutor for her age group was terrific and simplified the Foundations guide so that the littles could get a hold of it.
Because of Flower’s early training, and Cubs,  who was 6 at the time, they both have a vast amount of memorized information available to them. For instance,  they have a fairly comprehensive understanding of history. We read The History of the Medieval World last year as a read-aloud (they were in 3rd and 6th grade) and were completely comfortable with the level of information they were digesting, could talk about it, make connections, understood the map work. All 3 of our younger kids have a great capacity to memorize.
If you are following the Trivium, seeing the memory work of the Grammar Stage utilized in the Dialectic and Rheotric Stage is a beauitful thing!

 The school we are looking at using includes grammar, Latin, etc even for k. My concern is that we aren't covering that right now, so he'd be memorizing in isolation. You addressed this, I believe. Would you recommend trying to lightly cover the context of this work, or put those subjects' memory off until we enter them into our schedule?
What we do now is to incorporate the information that we are memorizing within the context of the content that we are learning. For instance, we are using Memoria Press's Christian Studies IV. Each book of the Bible has a complete sheet of information/facts to learn. We are learning each fact sheet as we read along in the Bible.
Some info is learned, such as the Grammar Catechism from Living Memory, as call and response.
Some info is learned via music, such as Pater Nostra, via Lingua Angelica.
Latin Phrases are written on chalk-boards and posters and gone over.

Since our house fire, I no longer have a large white-board on the wall (or really much of anything else on the walls as we are still in the midst of the never ending house rebuild - see the Tear Down to Build Up posts for the whole story). I do still have 1 1/2' x 3' white-boards that we utilize, and I make posters of  information, that I pull out and we go over.

We also read voraciously, both read-alouds and private reading. Literature is a great medium for contextualizing information, as are movies, games, nature, politics, the weather, etc. Creating a home that is educationally rich will provide ample opportunities to contextualize information.

One of the holes that I saw with those utilizing CC, is the copious amounts of memory work required, with little else as part of the program. Many do CC, or a CC knock-off  and claim to be classical educators. Au contraire. While I believe that memory work is incredibly useful, one of my main fall backs, and the mother of learning, it is not all of the educational process and to act as if it is will limit your student.


The Benson Family said...

I started a CC group last year and got out due to the pressure it put on my family. That being said, while I really enjoyed having all my memory work laid out, I didn't like it without context. So, we started up our studies this year and we are memorizing in the context of what we are learning. My problem is history in that it's been hard to bring a week's worth of learning down to one sentence. After trying to put the CC history memory passages into a sequential order, I realized how random they were. So, we are concentrating on poetry and Bible verse memorization along with a timeline. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on going. No, it's not the base of our homeschool or learning, but it's a really important addition.

LaughingLioness said...

Have you read TWTM? They are lists of information in there that could be foundational to history- but, my word, it is a LOT of information!
We concentrate on poetry and bible, too!! Have your read Andrew Pudewa's intro to Language Aquisition Through Poetry Memorization? A terrific apologetic for poetry memorization!! Love that you continue to utilize memory work. Hang in there!!! ; )

Anonymous said...

Yes- love TWTM (I take it with a HUGE grain of salt)- it's more of a reference/advice book. It's my go-to if I have a question I can't seem to answer on my own about classical education. I also own Andre Pudewa's Poetry program. That's what we use for poetry. My 5 and 7 year old are starting the program and my 12 year old is on level 2. He can really knock out a poem in no time. Brain training! My husband came up with our memory passages this year from a Derrick Prince teaching I believe. Our first passage is, "Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory." Then they memorize Heb 12:2. Every passage has what Jesus endured to give us life. I enjoy your blog only in that you say what I think in my head.