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  1. Yesterday
  2. JTB_5

    Can We Rehabilitate the Lecture?

    I've read both. Much of the difficulty (as seemed evident in both articles) consists of agreeing on a definition of "Socratic method." In a way this is odd because Socrates (in more than one place, I think) describes his dialectical method in Gorgias and Phaedrus when contrasting it with rhetorical method. I don't think many (if any) teachers mean what Socrates means, though, and fewer are equipped (or desirous) to practice the rigorous logical approach Socrates exhibits. So what it seems is that certain aspects of Socrates' exchanges within Plato's dialogues have been taken, adapted, and applied in classrooms with his name attached. Maybe there is some school of training behind one or another method (like Harkness), but I don't know how consistent is the outcome of such training. I think that Socrates (at least the Socrates of Plato's literary skill) knew where he was going in most of his conversations, because he has very specific questions and ready responses to answers, which he seems to have anticipated. In other words, in order to conduct the sort of inquiry Socrates conducts, one must have done a lot of preparatory thinking, whether on one's own or in a group of like-minded thinkers, before being prepared to engage with an opposing viewpoint as skillfully and consistently as he does.
  3. Cheryl Floyd

    Can We Rehabilitate the Lecture?

    Have you all read the article Josh Gibbs has posted at Circe on Socratic versus Lecture? https://www.circeinstitute.org/blog/harkness-cautions-you-need-sage-stage And the response article: https://www.circeinstitute.org/blog/sage-table-response-gibbs
  4. Cheryl Floyd

    Literature Teachers!

    I would be interested in some ideas of quick books or other short stories for a range of homeschool co-op kids that meet once a week for an hour. I think they want to be able to read the book in a week? That is why I thought of short stories. At this age, to use "quick books" I think of, would probably make them feel like they are reading "kiddie" books. So I am trying to think of meaty stories, but that are still quick to read?
  5. Cheryl Floyd

    Literature Teachers!

    To Kill a Mocking Bird is a great one. What about short-stories like Ransom of Red Chief?
  6. Last week
  7. I've just been asked to take the students at our co-op and offer them a literature class. What was written to me was "a book a week". But I don't know that that is wholly feasible without storming through them. We only meet once a week. The class time would be one hour. They have a separate writing class, so this would be strictly literature discussion. What would you suggest as 10-12 Great Books OR short stories to step off in the second semester with mostly girls, but some boys, 11-15 years old? I thought my first class we would read the account of Nathan using a story to convict King David of his sin. There is power when truths are clothed in story. then for homework I was going to have them read Tolkien's On Faery Stories. When they came back the next week, we'd review what we learned about stories from Nathan, then Tolkien, and then the last 10 minutes of class I'd start reading to them from The Ransom of Red Chief. Their homework would be to finish it. But I bet they could get through a book like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in a week without going so fast they fail to read "slowly". I'd like to teach them the art of reading slowly, that's why I don't think "a book a week" is a good idea. Since this isn't a school, or for a grade, but is in addition to what kids are already doing, I'm sure I was asked for a book a week as something easy-ish for them to go through. So thoughts? Suggestions? Should I have all the books "go together"? Is it ok for them to be more random?
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  9. megandunham

    Coming up for air

    Well, whew! Sometimes it's hard to get going again after an extended break and this one was even harder. My oldest daughter got married just before Thanksgiving. We plowed through to finish school before Christmas, then traveled over Christmas, then came back to start school only to have my youngest daughter need shoulder surgery on the second day back. I'm here to say - nothing questions my current role as a first grade teacher like one of my kids really needing me at home and I struggled last week. I am grateful to have two college-age daughters who pretty much cleared their schedules to help care for my youngest (who is 15) on the days I couldn't be with her during the day. But these are the times I really do miss homeschooling (but don't get me wrong - I'm grateful for the teachers they have for high school speaking into their lives alongside my husband and me). I just miss the single purpose of life it seemed I had then. Ahem. Guess this would be more appropriate for a random musings forum. All that to say that I've been a little MIA around here for a few weeks. Life is starting to return to a little more normalcy than it had before. Hope to see more of you around a little bit more now that we're back in the thick of things! Megan
  10. megandunham

    Shakespeare Festival Tomorrow

    Thanks for your gracious replies, both. It seemed worth posting at the beginning, but after I did I SERIOUSLY second guessed it and, well, there you have it. I'm glad that episode is over and I'll see how I do at talking my kids into some of the fairy roles next time... *grin*
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  12. kweitz

    What Topics Would You Like to See Addressed?

    Lynn, this is a great topic! I have copied it over to the Scholé Directors Forum for a wider range of responses:
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  15. JTB_5

    Technology for children

    I don't use commonplace books, but at least two of our other teachers do or have done before. I even make it a point to grade their handwriting specifically on assignments, and I have them pay attention to the details of size, slant, ball letter formation, placement on the line, etc. Like Latin grammar does for the eye and mind, cursive handwriting trains the eye and hand to pay attention to multiple aspects at once until it becomes second nature.
  16. Cheryl Floyd

    Technology for children

    I like this a lot. We don't have to train children how to use technology in the same way we did in the 80's and 90's when it was rare. Now we have to train how "not" to use it. "Laying hands" on your work is sacramental. There is something "more" and not just laboriousness, to w r i t i n g your thoughts and expressing yourself poetically through pen and paper. Common place journaling could be another opportunity. But yes, when someone else needs to read it, a uniformed, word-processor paper is a better artifact.
  17. Jennifer Dow

    What will you read in 2019?

    Thank you @Patrick Halbrook !
  18. I downloaded Culture and Anarchy from Gutenberg and did a search of the phrase "sweetness and light". It appears several times in the book. In light of Karen's observation that this phrase was also employed by Charlotte Mason and Jonathan Swift, I wonder if it is an (archaic) English idiom that may have been used in contexts other than education. That said, let's explore this idiom by asking others to think of examples of something that they would describe as "sweetness and light". It might be a good starting question for your next table conversation.
  19. Patrick Halbrook

    What will you read in 2019?

    I was immediately hooked after reading this book review: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/10/29/the-year-of-our-lord-1943-book-review/
  20. Jennifer Dow

    What will you read in 2019?

    I have not heard of that book before. I have recently become highly fascinated with everything related to Christian Humanism. Would love to hear what you end up thinking about it.
  21. JTB_5

    Technology for children

    I have also used my phone when I thought I ought to be reading in the midst of my own noisy house (five kids, aged 2-11). I do think that it is an easier thing to pick up and concentrate on than a book, but I have also found that become less attentive to what is happening with the children than if I had a book. That could be my own problem, but it makes sense to me that a more stimulating medium like a phone absorbs attention more than a less stimulating (and by stimulating here, I mean the physiological effects) medium like a book. I have found that I can read and still get much out of the reading (provided it isn't a complicated argument) despite distractions. Plus, I'm happier with myself for reading rather than using the phone. This may be true, but I also think that children today, because they have been saturated in phone-mediated experience, are less capable of escaping because of how dependent our culture has become on their use. I find that many of my students "study" while texting one another with questions (or other things). So, instead of going to study together at one's house or at a coffee shop, they mediate their experience through the very inefficient method of texting. I cannot imagine productive work done under such conditions (although I have known a student who "studied" while watching Netflix--imagine how well that could go!). I don't see how we can avoid teaching children to use technology, since it is much more difficult to navigate today's world without knowledge of it. I think the key is building into them a sense of independence by teaching them low-tech or non-tech alternatives--I know how to use technology, but in many cases I don't because I prefer to use a different method that I also know how to use. For example, I will still make my students compose essays or poetry in long hand rather than allow them a computer word processing program. They get familiar with the difference, and I get the opportunity to try to show them the benefits of both (better thinking and editing with long hand, but better speed and uniformity of appearance with word processor).
  22. Patrick Halbrook

    "Why do you read all these books by pagans?"

    (...and it just so happens that there's a reference to this passage from Basil in yesterday's Classical Academic Press email, which I just now got around to reading!) https://classicalacademicpress.com/saint-basil-and-his-bees-in-orvieto/
  23. Patrick Halbrook

    What will you read in 2019?

    I'm still deciding which old books to read this year. As far as newer ones go, Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism and Alan Jacobs's The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis are on my list. With my kids, I'm reading The Wind in the Willows, which I somehow never got around to reading during my own childhood. I also recently picked up a copy of Consider This, which I'm looking forward to 🙂.
  24. Patrick Halbrook

    Technology for children

    I'm reading this post over a cup of coffee at Panera Bread, and just a few minutes ago I overheard a conversation involving a young couple eating breakfast with their boy, who was playing games on a tablet, and a lady sitting next to them: "We bought him this when he was five. He's seven now, and it's his most prized possession!" I cringed a little bit, thinking about how Steve Jobs apparently did not allow his own children to use the very iPads that he designed. There's so much to say about technology...I'm just going to throw out a few semi-related thoughts on how I have tried to work through these issues: There's debate over what exactly "classical" education is. However one defines it, one of its chief (and best) characteristics is that there is, at its heart, an instinct to resist modern educational fads, most of which revolve around overblown promises about technology. Right now we're in the midst of a crisis over contemporary technology. Many generations have gone through similar crises. Neil Postman wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business and Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology before the age of the internet, but they are as relevant today as ever. For a fun take on how people dealt with the technological developments of the past, see William Powers's book Hamlet's Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. I'm in the midst of studying the Industrial Revolution with my history students...now there is a period in which it took a long time for people to work through how to use technology in way that produced human flourishing rather than suffering. One of the best thinkers out there right now, in my opinion, is Cal Newport. He has a great blog you can subscribe to, and a book coming out next month called Digital Minimalism (his book Deep Work is also great). He has so many good ideas I'm not even going to try to summarize any of them here. Some evenings I spend more time than I should on my phone browsing through Facebook or news sites when I feel like I should be reading books. I realized recently that this is partly because I have a pretty noisy house (four kids, aged 2-11); when I'm not directly interacting with them, trying to read a book that takes real concentration is pretty difficult, and I get irritated at being interrupted. If I'm doing something not so important (being on my phone), I don't mind all the interruptions. So my being on my phone may be, psychologically, a logical response to the situation. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it sparks the thought that when we're thinking about wanting our kids to spend time in activities that require concentration, how do we best create a home environment in which that is possible? (Having the TV on a lot isn't going to help.) As a teacher, I find myself thinking quite a bit about my use of screens in class. If I'm giving a lecture, should I have a slideshow with lots of visuals, since that will help keep the students' attention? Or is this merely reinforcing their dependence upon screens? There must be a good balance here. From my own informal observations, having taught high school for over a decade, my students today seem to be simultaneously 1) more dependent upon their phones, and 2) more aware of their phones' dangers, and less likely to be wrapped up in the novelty of having one. Ten years ago, a student sneaking his phone out was probably having fun playing Angry Birds; today, he is probably keeping up with an ongoing group chat with his friends that feels (but actually isn't) very important. This year I have two students who chose to write their senior theses on the dangers of technology for young people. I think that's a good sign. (On the other hand, I hear Literature teachers questioning whether students are able to read as much or as deeply as they could before smartphones.) When I was a kid, from an early age, my dad frequently took me to the shooting range and taught me how to handle and safely use firearms. A gun is a powerful piece of technology, but growing up being trained to use one safely is, I think, better than simply avoiding them altogether if someone is going to be able to use them responsibly as an adult. (Europeans might make the same argument about consuming alcohol...but that's another story.) Maybe this is a good way to think about technology with our kids. My own kids have the privilege of spending time on screens on a regular basis, but my always insisting on specific limits to how much they can watch shows or play video games, they're being trained in the habit of having to be aware of how much they are doing--a skill they wouldn't develop if we banned screens altogether.
  25. Patrick Halbrook

    "Why do you read all these books by pagans?"

    Here's another take on this question, from John Calvin's commentary on Titus 1:12 (which you can find in Richard Gamble's The Great Conversation): (Titus 1:12 is, of course, the passage where Paul writes, "One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said..." and quotes from him approvingly.) Basil's work to which Calvin refers (also included in The Great Tradition) uses various arguments, including an analogy involving bees, to describe how Christians ought to approach pagan writings. He says:
  26. How does your school run your senior thesis defense? We've always done things the same way, but I am looking for some new ideas. Our biggest challenge is that we are a rather large classical school, with 63 seniors this year. We typically spend two weeks doing thesis defense for about three hours a day, with 5-8 minute presentations followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A from three faculty members. I'd like to make it into a bigger event--perhaps bringing in other people from outside the school to ask questions, and to lengthen the time of the questioning--but that's difficult with so many students. My main idea right now is to select 3-4 of our top students to present on an evening or weekend so that more people can come, and perhaps we can make that portion of it into a bigger event. I'd love to know how other schools do it, even down to the nitty gritty details. I'm in my second year of running the senior thesis class, and would love to improve how we do things. Thanks for your input! (If you don't have time to go into detail here, maybe we can chat over the phone.)
  27. Patrick Halbrook

    How to jump start your classes after a break

    I'd add that re-establishing expectations of students is key as well. It may not be something that directly makes them feel "excited" to be back, but they (and we as well!) need a bit of help just getting back into the academic routine of working and thinking for so many hours a day. I've found that during the first week back from a break, student behavior is noticeably better than usual or worse than usual (sometimes you see both). In the younger grades, actually taking time to review rules and expectations may be appropriate. For older students, that's probably not necessary, but reviewing high expectations in the form of something like a pep talk, and reminding them of why they're there and what the purpose is behind what they're doing in a particular class, can help move them back into the right mindset. (For that matter, finding ways of helping them recall why they are there and getting them to see the high purpose behind their academic vocation throughout the entire year isn't a bad idea.)
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