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  1. Yesterday
  2. Dear Friends, I am wondering where you recommend buying a nice commonplace book for your students. I have found many cheap journals through the usual vendors, but are there retailers you recommend who make beautifully crafted commonplace books? I hear that some books can be crafted in a way where pages cab be added too. Any help or direction would be welcome! Thank you! In Christ, John
  3. Last week
  4. We have a few field trips that we do in middle and upper schools--often combined with grammar schools. When the students in grammar and logic are learning about the solar system, they take a trip together to the local planetarium. When the students in grammar and logic are learning about animal kingdoms, they take a trip together to the local zoo. We have a dedicated Marine Biology class for seniors, and they take a monthly trip to the bay to take samples. The Jrs. and Srs. take a trip to Washington D.C. and NYC in alternating years. The Srs. take a trip with the Kindergarteners to pick strawberries. There are a few others I'm probably missing as well. Pedagogically, I think the combined grammar/logic trips give the older students an opportunity to serve the smaller children and gain some experience with responsibility. I'm not sure how much they get academically. The Marine Biology trips are very good experience. The Jr./Sr. trips are very rewarding, but also require a lot of fundraising. The Sr./K5 trip is mostly just fun.
  5. Good thoughts on teacher development: John Mark N. Reynolds, "Some Strong Roots for Classical Education" (Patheos | March 21, 2019) https://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/2019/03/some-strong-roots-for-classical-education/.
  6. Stephen Shipp, "Today’s Schools Should Emulate The Education That Produced Abraham Lincoln" (The Federalist | March 14, 2019) https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/14/todays-schools-emulate-education-produced-abraham-lincoln/
  7. GREAT article: Mark Hemingway, "Do You Want Your Kids To Go To An Elite College Or Get An Education? They’re Not The Same Thing" (The Federalist | March 14, 2019) https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/14/do-you-want-your-kids-to-go-to-an-elite-college-or-get-an-education-theyre-not-the-same-thing/
  8. For some reason, at our school students go on a lot of field trips in grades K-5 but hardly any after they reach middle school. I don't think this is intentional, but I can think of a few reasons why this may be, and I suspect the same thing happens at a lot of schools. Do your middle or high schoolers go on any field trips? If so, where, and which have been the most successful?
  9. This is a great list..it reminds me of Anthony Esolen's really good book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (https://isibooks.org/ten-ways-to-destroy-the-imagination-of-your-child-2188.html).
  10. We discussed this topic recently and one of our teachers remarked something to the effect of, "A sense of wonder can usurp the lesson plan at any time in our classroom!" It was such a great way of putting it. We talked about this idea on our school's podcast a month or two ago using that idea as our starting point. Here's a link:
  11. Leland Ryken (of Wheaton College) has written some great books introducing various works of literature. I'd also recommend Invitation to the Classics by Os Guinness and Louise Cowan. In my own history classes, I draw a lot from my college-level humanities textbooks, Culture and Values and The Humanistic Tradition to put works of art and literature in historical and philosophical/theological context. (You can get older editions of these books for pretty cheap--mine are from almost 20 years ago.)
  12. Our high-schoolers take six 55-minute classes plus one 55-minute elective every day. We tried block scheduling with 90-minute periods a few years ago and it didn't go too well so we switched back. Some teachers liked it better and some didn't, but the main lesson I took away is that you probably have to stick with it for a few years to get it right. I do think it's easier to do in humanities classes than in science and language classes where daily practice is much more essential. Our curriculum is posted online if you want to see what our juniors take: https://www.carychristianschool.org/prospective-families/upper-school/ (link is toward the bottom of the page).
  13. Khan Academy has some great resources. From what I've seen it's better for teachers than to show to students, but I haven't watched that many. As far as other resources go, it was Francis Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live? book and video series that first got me interested in art and its connection to history. I still love the connections he makes between particular artists and works of art and the history of philosophy and theology, though I think a few of his specific interpretations are wrong. Some of my primary resources continue to be some of my college humanities textbooks, Culture and Values and The Humanistic Tradition in particular. They do a great job connecting the dots between art and ideas and historical events in a way similar to Schaeffer. For more detailed analysis of specific works, I've been enjoying using Art Explained, and I've also been enjoying 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. I also take my students on a field trip every year to the NC Museum of Art (we just went last Thursday) where they get to spend the day seeing a really great collection of works from the periods of history we've studied in class. The Rethinking Rhetoric panel sounds fascinating. As we're continuing to rethink our own thesis program, it looks like something I'll find very helpful.
  14. I cannot speak to Latin *at all,* but I do have some thoughts about learning an inflected language when English is your first (only) language. I began learning a heavily inflected Slavic language (Polish) when I was 30 years old. (Full disclosure: In The Lost Tools of Learning, Dorothy Sayers suggests Russian as an alternative to Latin, and Polish is very similar to Russian--we have 7 cases--and I took that as "permission" to make Polish instead of Latin my family's language.) I am fluent in Polish (I've lived in Poland for over 20 years), and I know what it took to get here. English relies so heavily on word order for meaning that encountering an inflected language is like running straight into a wall. A high wall. I believe that very few people will ever make it over that wall without the help of a real, live person who knows the inflected language. Curriculum might give you some grammar or vocabulary, but it isn't going to give you a language. For a living language, I favor the active learning approach--hear and speak from the start. I'm not sure that's appropriate for Latin since the goal is never really to speak it, but to read it. I guess that needs to translate into reading and writing? I kind of feel like Comenius's Orbis Pictus had the right idea. But then, actual reading in Latin doesn't seem to be the goal for everyone, and it seems like your (anyone's) actual goal for Latin would influence the curriculum you choose. The dearth of actual Latin teachers is a real problem, because getting over that wall without a real teacher is nearly impossible, and no curriculum can make up for that.
  15. Here's a quick recap of the retreat. The full recordings will be coming soon at Classical U!
  16. Earlier
  17. A recent article in Forbes described the difficulty with which students today struggle to think for themselves, placing the blame on a culture of standardized testing and multiple-choice assessments. Peter Greene writes: Whatever has gone wrong in education can be attributed to much more than the advent of standardized testing, but I think the author is definitely onto something here. The way we construct our assessments has short-term and long-term consequences: 1) in the short-term: it communicates to our students the outcome we expect from their lessons, and 2) in the long-term: it cumulatively trains students specific ways of thinking and encountering the world. The difficulty, of course, is that the best assessments are typically the most difficult to grade. Even a computer can grade millions of multiple choice test without a problem, but it takes a skilled teacher to explain to a student how well he or she has expressed wisdom and virtue in a creative essay. It also takes a LOT more time, something teachers are typically running short on. The multiple-choice worldview is pervasive. When my kids were preschool-age they'd sometimes watch a somewhat-lame-but-not-too-terribly-awful PBS show called Super Why! which was supposed to promote reading (the kids/superheroes would travel into fairy tales to learn lessons that would solve problems they were having). Then, as they try to figure out what to do next, the viewer was given a multiple choice question to answer about something that was happening. Grownups can't get away from it either. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (which I just discovered, after a quick Google search, is still on TV and in its 19th season) revolves around winning a million dollars by succeeding on...a high-stakes multiple-choice test. As classical educators, how do we construct assessments for our students that help to train them to think? When are multiple-choice questions appropriate? (And how do those of us who teach a large number of students every day, or homeschooling moms with dozens of other responsibilities, find time to grade them?)
  18. I've not heard Grant Horner in person (I did watch a video of him leading a class in Socratic dialogue), but he seems like a man with a wealth of knowledge and with the clarity to convey it. I saw that you were presenting! I submitted something this year, but was not selected. However, just the other day I received an email to participate in a panel discussion on Rethinking Rhetoric (it is about "converting" the senior thesis project to be "ethics based"). Apparently they've added two more workshops on Thursday in conjunction with the panel, which will be at the end of the day. Scott Yenor will be presenting on an "ethical rather than science-based foundation" for schools, and Chris Schlect will be presenting on "declamation as capstone." I'm interested to hear what the other panelists have to say about what schools will be "converting" from, since I have been under the assumption that most ACCS schools have humanities topics more often than scientific research topics for their senior thesis. I'm also interested in what their take will be on the term "ethics based." I could see it going in at least three directions (I even contacted Christ Schlect yesterday to see what his thoughts were on the conversation). The panel is supposed to be about the practical side of implementing "ethics based" projects in the classroom, so I wonder if, as the only non-collegiate-level teacher on the panel I'll be having to bear the load of trying to apply Yenor and Schlect's ideas to high school classroom and scope & sequence constraints. Your topic sounds very interesting Patrick. I was just speaking with a Justin Hughes the other day about using more art in teaching history. He had been putting together a slideshow for his class and discovered Khan Academy's resources on art history and was lauding their quality and the easy interface. Do you have favorite resources that you'll be sharing during your workshop?
  19. I'll be attending the ACCS conference this summer (I think it will be my 4th or 5th?), and I'll heartily second that about Schlect, Turley, and Gibbs. Their talks are always very thought-provoking. I also love hearing from Grant Horner, though he isn't speaking this year. I am actually on the ACCS speaker list this year, and I'll be giving a talk on "Teaching History Through Masterpieces of Art." (Unfortunately, they've scheduled me for the same time as one of Chris Schlect's talks, so I'll have to listen to the recording of that one since I can't be at two places at once. Actually, most of the time at ACCS conferences I wish I had the ability to be at four places at once, since there are so many great topics and speakers.) I'd love to attend a SCL conference at some point, but have not had the opportunity.
  20. Great article! This is such an important question...I thought I'd put in a link to the good discussion we had a few months ago in another corner of the Forum:
  21. I like both of these distinctions, Karen and JTB...."receiving a classical education" vs. "being educated in the classical tradition" vs. "classical scholarship" and "content" vs. "method." I'm seeing just how inseparable my question is from the question of what the ultimate goal of K-12 classical education should be, which is really about what a human being should be in light of who a person is capable of becoming by the time he or she is 18. If an intellectual awakening has occurred that sparks the desire for further learning, and if he or she has been prepared to profitably pursue that learning for years to come, then I agree that something has gone very right.
  22. I can't speak from the perspective of homeschooling specifically, but I can say that at our school the senior thesis project is one of the highlights of the year, and that a great deal of the value of a thesis project could definitely translate into a homeschool setting. We emphasize that the thesis is an unprecedented opportunity for students to explore and research topics in which they are interested in great depth. Once the thesis has been written and an oral presentation has been prepared, the senior thesis then becomes a contribution to the intellectual life of the school when it is presented and discussed before classmates, teachers, family, and friends at the thesis defense. As to its origin, I suspect a lot of classical schools started it simply because Dorothy Sayers wrote about it in "The Lost Tools of Learning." Here's an article I just wrote last month on the senior thesis for our school's blog (it includes a lot of quotes from students on what they got out of the project): https://www.carychristianschool.org/learning-how-to-learn-the-senior-thesis/
  23. This was alluded to earlier in this thread: theses seem to be more appropriate at the master's degree level. The seven liberal arts themselves are broad by nature. My understanding is we ought to not use them to explore a plethora of content, but to go deeper with specific content areas. I wonder if a seventeen or eighteen year-old is actually ready to express a thesis of his or her education broadly or narrowly, and do so well. And how do we actually equip them to attain such a level of expression? Why is it needed when it isn't even required of BA graduates? Just some thoughts I am considering. I thought it was strange when it started becoming a standard for high school graduates.
  24. I know there are plenty of you out there who probably have strong opinions one way or another. I would love to hear your arguments! What are the pros and cons of an "active learning" approach (like Oerberg's Lingua Latina) vs. "grammatical-translation" approach (like CAP's Latin Alive or Wheelock's)?
  25. @Cheryl Floyd Good question! I've been immersed in C. S. Lewis lately, and I in mind had his words in Surprised by Joy about how too many subjects can actually destroy a student's standards. Dr. Perrin also referred to this in a recent article at Inside Classical Ed: https://insideclassicaled.com/1461-2/ So, I would say, yes, in my understanding, mastery in certain limited disciplines is indicative of a classical approach. Focusing on one question/discipline in a thesis will offer students a significant move towards mastery in the particular question or topic related to that discipline (not in an entire discipline — I should have been more specific). That has been a major purpose of the thesis I just finished for my master's degree. But of course, there could be other thesis questions that more broadly span disciplines. So I suppose it depends on the question that the thesis is designed to answer.
  26. We are God-given the faculty of memorization. It has a place and a purpose within the education of the young. Memorization creates a foundation for later critical thinking as you say. It is so helpful to already know a "name, date, and place" when considering history later. To have several events memorized in chronological order frees up "thinking" space in the mind and the heart to contemplate should questions, cause and effect, comparisons and contrasts, and finally critiques. Catechisms have been a part of Christendom and Judaism since their inceptions. Priests memorized the canon of the Psalms and I think the first five books of the Old Testament. We memorize scripture so that it comes back to us when we need encouragement, hope, guidance, resistance to temptation. This is true of science, history, math, and english foundational facts that will assist us in later stages of learning. I am not an "ages and stages" classical educator, so that is not the definition I am using when I say "stage". But "precept upon precept" is a biblical concept because it is a human way of learning. So is memorizing. Certainly it can be overdone, or cut short by leaning on it alone without developing the ideas associated with the information. These are not reasons to abandon the great aid memorizing can bring to one's education.
  27. That would be a lovely event to attend, but sadly not me either. Let us know all the great things you glean when you get a chance!
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