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Paul Dixon

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Paul Dixon last won the day on January 23

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  • Location
    Fletcher, NC
  • Favorite Authors
    William Faulkner
  • School Name
    Veritas Christian Academy

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  1. So, believe it or not, summer is just around the corner! I'm interested to hear about the various classical ed conferences that'll be held throughout the country. Which one(s) are you going to? Which speaker(s) are you looking forward to? Educators love to learn and conferences can be a great way to do that. What practical lessons have you picked up from other educators over the years, and did they work for you in your classroom?
  2. Yes, I believe this was the case with me in regards to inspiring wonder in my students. I constantly try to let my students know why a work of literature is wonderful and beautiful, and the novelty of America's revolution. I didn't realize this was a principle of classical pedagogy. It's important to help students to realize the beauty of what is in front of them.
  3. I think classically educated students should and could go anywhere and do anything. I see that as the benefit of classical education. Just as Cheryl and Karen already said, classical education makes a more virtuous, better human being. So, a student should be prepared to go to a secular university, a Christian university, or into the work force to learn a trade. What I don't like to see are students who give up the humanities altogether. Like Cheryl said, too many college programs cut out the humanities after the freshman year, which is tragic to say the least. I like to encourage students to keep taking literature or history courses even if they are going into a more technical field. Most colleges allow students to minor in something unrelated to their majors, so that's a good way to keep reading about being a human.
  4. We started our house system this year, and, from what I can tell, it seems to be going very well. We wanted to create something to improve our school's culture and to give the students something to rally around. We named our houses after the four major epic poets: Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton. We have a "house challenge" every two weeks or so during the lunch hour where the students work on some trivia questions (usually pertaining to something happening in the culture at large, i.e. MLB playoffs, March Madness, the Oscars, etc.) while they eat, then there is some kind of game to go along with it. We also have had some bigger events like a poetry recitation, talent show, and short film competition that we've introduced as competitions between the houses. I'd definitely recommend it to other schools. It's a lot of work and takes a lot of commitment from the teachers (you truly have to own the process), but in our short time with the houses, I think it's brought a lot of our students out of their shells and pushed them to take on leadership roles. I'm looking forward to see how our system progresses.
  5. I think the best answer here is that there is room for both. I've had a lot of success with round table discussions and I've also experienced some failure, and the failure usually comes when the students arrive ill-read or when I haven't prepared quite enough to answer every question thoroughly. Similarly, lectures can be a fantastic means of imparting information and, perhaps more importantly, a way for the teacher to share her passion for the subject. Or, lectures can be incredibly boring and push students away from the discipline. Both methods require the teacher to bring his best every day, and therein lies the struggle for most of us.
  6. Some of Edgar Allan Poe's stories are quick to read and provide some good opportunities for analysis. Anything by Flannery O'Connor would be relatively easy to grasp, and her stories can work on many levels. But, I'd love to hear from middle school teachers who think about these grade levels more often than I do.
  7. This is a great point. I love round-table discussions as much as anyone, but only when the students are well-prepared for them. I've found that these discussions work the best with a well-prepared leader (teacher or student) guiding the discussion without chasing any rabbits. I don't want to waste anyone's time, and, unfortunately, I've observed some round-tables that resulted in a whole lot of nothing being accomplished.
  8. While I don't teach literature for our Logic school, I am helping with an overhaul of our Logic literature curriculum. What books do you teach to your Logic School students? Right now we have staples like Lord of the Flies and Tom Sawyer that work well for this age group. What books have worked for you, and which ones haven't?
  9. Yes, I struggle as well. Our first week back is usually a little slower than normal, but I think it's good to get the students warmed up a bit before diving back in. That's some good advice about taking lots of breaks. I've tried that here and there this week and it seems to help them stay focused.
  10. Now that Christmas is past and you're getting back into your routines and thinking about the next semester, what are some ways that you approach the first day back from Christmas break? The beginning of the year normally holds its own kind of excitement that doesn't need any prompting and the day after spring break is seasoned with a certain amount of relief because the days are warming and the end of the year is in sight, but the first days of January are still cold and dark. How do you bring excitement to your classes so that the students feel energized and ready to tackle a new semester?
  11. I always reach for fiction before anything else, so I've picked up A Tale of Two Cities to read over the break. It's one I've not gotten around to over the years. I simply want my students to read something, anything over the break. I encourage them to read what is enjoyable to them. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a reading-for-pleasure amongst the students at my school, but I'm trying to change that.
  12. I try to incorporate both approaches to primary sources: short snippets and extended versions. Indeed, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" gives a poor picture of Edwards if you don't read it until the end. A couple of years ago, I assigned an excerpt of that sermon for homework. The next day, the students were horrified at the harshness until we read aloud the last page or so of the sermon. I used it as a lesson to urge my students to take the entirety of a source in context rather than in sound bites. That said, I've always struggled with finding the time to really dwell on a primary source. It always feels like I'm being pushed into the next event or era because there's so much that is important!
  13. This is my first year to use a catechism in my classes, and I've written one for 10th grade Western Literature and 11th grade American Literature. I have my students read the full catechism aloud and together three days a week, and they are not required to memorize it, nor will they be tested on it. Now that we're through the first half of the year, I can honestly say this is the best decision I've made as a teacher. I first learned of using a catechism from Joshua Gibbs's Great Books course on Classical U, and at first I was skeptical. But, it's rewarding to begin a unit on Transcendentalism and when I ask the class to define the literary movement, they can recite a brief definition listing the main characteristics of Transcendentalism without skipping a beat. I must say, I'm a believer in this pedagogical tool. To those of you who use catechisms, how successful are they for you and your classes?
  14. I used this resource recently when discussing the Stamp Act. I found it very helpful to have several relevant documents compiled along with the lesson plan on guiding the students. I think it aligns with our goals as classical educators because it encourages students to contextualize the documents and the authors. I'm constantly pushing my students to adopt a historical perspective so they can empathize with people in the past. Any resource that helps with this goal is useful.
  15. We discussed the banning of the book at the beginning, but they didn't seem too concerned with it after that. I completely agree that he was displaying racism in the book as a means of denouncing it. Huck's struggles with recognizing Jim as a human being are especially powerful. It's a beautiful work, and I enjoyed teaching it.
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