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Everything posted by JTB_5

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Our school is taking the teachers and some parents to the ACCS Conference (Association of Classical and Christian Schools). It has been a couple of years since I've attended an ACCS conference, but I always try to see Christopher Schlect's lectures. Recently he has been doing more on lesson planning and class lecturing/discussion/exercises. He is a masterful teacher, and is able to communicate both the big idea/theory and its application clearly. He's a must see. I've used some of his lesson planning strategies, as well as (unsuccessfully in too many cases) his maxim to punctuate lessons by having something for the first five minutes to get students engaged, and the last five minutes to either wrap things up, or leave a question for continued consideration. I also try to see Steve Turley at ACCS. He's usually got a good bit of research behind his talks, and puts things in ways that aren't obvious. His lectures tend to get me to think about what I'm doing differently, rather than change a practice. Josh Gibbs is also phenomenal. He usually balances between saying things in a way that is surprising, but also having something to implement immediately or over time. I've only been to one SCL Conference (Society for Classical Learning), but I found the atmosphere to be more intimate and relaxed (in a good way) than ACCS. I had more time to sit down and talk with people at SCL. SCL seemed to cater more to teachers as teachers, whereas ACCS seemed to aim at parents and teachers as members of the Classical Education movement. It is tough to compare because I've only been to one SCL conference, whereas I've been to four or five ACCS conferences (and they've grown bigger each year). What about you, Paul?
  4. Athenaze is Attic Greek. I don't know the value of choosing one over the other in general, but if the goal of studying is to eventually read, then the difference will be whether you want the reading of Scripture in the original Greek or the reading of Classical Greek Literature is your priority (or, perhaps whether the student will be going on to a Bible program in college where Koine will be better, or a Classics program where Attic will be better).
  5. I don't know if it would work for homeschool, but we use Athenaze I and II in our Greek classes.
  6. I've had the chance to review (but not use) both of the Rhetoric Alive! books and I think they would work quite well for homeschool education (or schoolhouse education).
  7. Hope your trip goes well, Karen! (I won't be at the meeting, by the way)
  8. That's a good idea! I hadn't planned on researching (he probably won't have time before the assessment to find them all), but doing place settings each night would be fun (probably have to do multiple names per setting in order to get them all in on time).
  9. Maybe I can have him make place cards for an imaginary dinner where all 45 Presidents are invited? The combination of artistry and occasion may make it both more fun and more conducive to memory. What do you think?
  10. Just an update. My son has been (mostly) diligent using a different method of saying the word list aloud while looking at it, then writing it from memory, having me check it for mistakes, and then repeating as necessary. He has a new assessment coming up soon, which requires him to write out all 45 U.S. Presidents. He's already memorized most of them from a jingle he learned a few years back, but the jingle doesn't include the spellings, so we've been working on that part together. I'm going to try to dictation method Karen mentioned above, and we'll see whether that helps him. I can definitely see where sometimes his spelling is flawed because he is saying the name wrong in his mind ("James Garthfield" or "Miller Fillmore"), whereas others are just a product of not having memorized the name ("Haze" rather than "Hayes"; or "Lincon" rather than Lincoln).
  11. One of my colleagues has given a talk about Classical and Christian education a few times, and for both Classical and Christian he distinguishes between content and method. I think answering the question you pose above could be done using my colleagues distinction. It is possible for a student who only takes a dip in Classical education to gain the method while only getting a smattering of the content, but it is also possible for a student who has been in Classical education for a long time to get a good amount of content without really having received the method. For example, a student might come for a couple of years in high school, really take to the method, and leave a hungry and capable learner who has only read a little bit of classical literature, (e.g. Iliad, Confessions, Divine Comedy) and maybe a little (or none) of the classical languages. Or perhaps a student has read a large portion of classical literature, but doesn't believe the classical method is worthy of attention, spurning it for grade-seeking or other mammon-gathering modern approaches.
  12. No need to apologize! Diverging paths often make up part of a good conversation. I'll admit that I still often struggle to evoke wonder in the classes I teach (with ages ranging from 13-18). Often it is the questions I ask, and sometimes, even with a good question, it is a failure to set up the context in which the question will flourish. Speaking of good questions, that's one! Assessment is one of those words that means so many different things, and the meanings are not all equal, or all good. I'll elaborate below, but my short answer is that most activities need a form of assessment, but the form must match the purpose of the activity. I am reminded of an anecdote from David I. Smith's lecture on Teaching and Christian Practices, where he talks about his son's theology assessment. The unit was something like the ten most important theological words in the New Testament. David was asking his son questions like, "What does Justification mean? How is it different from Sanctification?" and his son, after growing frustrated, exclaimed, "but we don't have to know it that deeply, we just need to be able to match them" (or something to that effect). A matching list for an assessment obviously retards wonder or contemplation by its very nature--Smith even showed how you could change the font to Wingdings, memorize the patterns, and still score perfectly on a matching assessment. Assessment like that certainly impedes wonder. On the other hand, I think that a certain kind of assessment gets naturally evoked from the right line of questioning. In the same lecture, Smith talks about a lecture he used to give to his German language classes about German culture. If I recall correctly, what caused him to formulate the lecture was his frustration with German language textbooks, which used phrases and situations that were mainly consumerist and tourist in nature. They did not invite the students to understand the German people through their language, and thereby have a chance to love their neighbor in any particular way. So he had the students come into class silently, with some quiet music playing (I think) and, in a darkened room, spend a few minutes looking at a picture of several people projected on the board. He then began to ask them questions about what they saw. When they would get hasty, he would slow them down and cause them to think again. By having them attend carefully to the picture, he allowed their curiosity to build so that they became naturally interested in what was going on, who the people were, and so on. He then told them something about the people, who turned out to be German students who had formed a resistance against the Nazi party in Germany during WWII. I think that sort of lecture invites self-reflection (a kind of assessment) that can then be returned to in a more formal way (a reflection paper, a journal entry, a research project, etc.) that goes deeper into that original experience of reflection and can be assessed both in terms of the skill (writing, research, etc.) and the virtue (growth in perspective/charity toward others).
  13. You misunderstand me. Invoking Socrates as an example of using rhetoric isn't an advocation for employing rhetorical techniques or becoming polished rhetoricians. Insofar as Socrates understood the souls of his interlocutors, the difficulties of the subject of inquiry, and the context of the exchange--to that extent he is understanding rhetorically by his own definition (enchanting the soul by means of words). The question I was responding to, as I understood it, was what sort of questioning can provoke wonder rather than create defensiveness or fear. Your response to me identifies something else, which is what sort of questions that wondering asks--this is different! Cheryl's conundrum with her friend illustrates the problem I was trying to address--Cheryl was pursuing questions that characterize wonder (your response to me), but her friend took it as suspicious interrogation. How does one use questions that inspire wonder rather than defensiveness/fear? To that I still maintain that thinking rhetorically is helpful, because it accepts the possibility that a soul may need something other than "the questions wonder asks" in order to be provoked to wonder. Sometimes a display of wonder in one persons sparks it in another. Sometimes a rebuke can spark wonder (I can imagine this as the response of the Rich Young Ruler to Jesus's line of inquiry--he goes away sad, but perhaps wondering about himself as he has never done). And the difference between sparking wonder in a 2-year-old and a 45-year-old will look very different.
  14. Questioning is rhetorical, and being rhetorical, questioning is particular, and being particular questioning requires a context. The context for questioning will either be assumed by the audience/interlocutor (which could be quite different than what the rhetor desires!) or orchestrated by the rhetor who carefully sets the context before the audience/interlocutor, or given by the occasion (e.g. interrogation in a court of law). The rhetor has to two-fold task: to analyze the audience/interlocutor in order to understand their frame of reference, their prejudices, their purposes, etc. and to craft an audience/interlocutor that is not necessarily the original, but which he hopes the original will aspire to identify with and/or imitate. If the rhetor wants to cultivate wonder in the audience/interlocutor, then she must take the subject matter, the context, and the audience into consideration in what kinds of questions to ask, when, and in what relation to other forms of address may be necessary in addition to questions (such as clarifying examples). There are a couple of Platonic dialogues that I've used with students to illustrate the differences in the way Socrates uses dialectic with different interlocutors. In The Gorgias, Socrates interacts with three different interlocutors: Gorgias, the Sophist; Polus, his young apprentice; and Callicles, a politician. Socrates says his main reason for coming to the house of Callicles is to question Gorgias about his profession (what is rhetoric?). He wants to have a philosophical discussion about Gorgias's expertise. His discourse is noticeably more courteous with Gorgias when compared to his exchange with Polus and Callicles--Polus shows himself an ignorant and an impatient thinker, while Callicles shows himself a man who puts his passions above reason. Then, compare Socrates's seemingly harsh treatment of Polus and Callicles with his statements about the soul in the myth of the charioteer in The Phaedrus: the Charioteer must curb the appetites of the bad steed and direct the good steed (the thumos or will) by the severest methods--perhaps the very same methods Socrates uses with Polus and Callicles, whose souls are more given to the appetite that to reason? Whether or not we want to treat people the way Socrates does, he illustrates the attentiveness the rhetor must have to his audience if he wishes to move the audience's soul in some direction. I could go on about how Socrates creates a context for his questioning in The Phaedrus, but I've already gone on too long in this response. To summarize: the art of questioning is part of rhetoric, which requires the questioner to be aware of the subject matter, audience, and context of the questions in order to bring about the desired result.
  15. That's Milton, not Donne. With whom did you study the poem?
  16. Yes, the school I teach at is in Pensacola. I've been here since the 2010-2011 school year (I think Josh started there in 2008-2009?). If you want to drop in for a chat and see the school, look us up! Trinitas Christian School.
  17. I had the privilege of teaching alongside Josh during the four years we were at the same school. Observing him teach revealed a unique and hard to replicate aspect of his skill: he has a profound ability to do two things--first, to place a book into the story of its author's life, which then, second, becomes a story within the intellectual and social climate of the author's time. Josh's ability to tell stories means that he is able to take very few, but rich secondary sources and from them craft his own narrative for the book he is teaching. Instead of being encyclopedic (lots of historical and cultural background, which can then be "spotted" and "analyzed" when the book is read), Josh's approach immerses the students the way a movie does: through a series of scenes (complete with setting, characters, and their interactions) that can then be understood as a whole rather than analyzed in pieces. I don't know if that makes much sense without watching him do it. I know it is even harder to replicate than to talk about. On the other hand, I've seen other teachers who use sources very differently than Josh and with excellent results. The key seems to be combining quality teacher resources (primary and secondary sources) with the teacher's immersion in them (study) and then embodying the knowledge gained in a way suited to the teacher's gifts (preparation, reflection, revision).
  18. I've been blazing my way through Alan Jacobs' book, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds and have found it both pleasant and insightful. I think Jacobs chooses his examples very wisely in making his points, and he relies upon a variety of evidence. If I have the time, I'll post an independent thread for reviewing and discussing the book, but I wanted to mention it here and see if anyone else has read it. Anyone read (or planning to read) Jacobs' book?
  19. You might want to check again. I found an import copy for in very good condition for under $10 and ordered it. There were others in the same condition at approximately the same price.
  20. I've only read Teaching and Christian Practices and another one he's edited called Teaching and Christian Imagination, which is also helpful.
  21. I have Marrou's book and I've read sections of it when wanting to know more about a particular aspect of the periods about which he writes. It is very thorough, and has a good perspective from what I can tell.
  22. We have Adler's book on our shelves where I teach, but I've not read it.
  23. David I. Smith, during a lecture he did for the Alcuin retreat a few years back on Teaching and Christian Practices (he has a book by that name, but I don't recall the actual title of the lecture), mentioned that rooms have a "power spot" that teachers often use (consciously or unconsciously) to gain authority over a room of students. He talks about how one day a teacher was absent and another person (a teacher?) came into the room and it wasn't until the person stood at the head of the room that students quieted down and asked if the person was the substitute. I don't know if that fits with your children, but it speaks to the embodied nature of all learning activities.
  24. I don't have either or these, nor have I heard of them. I do have an book similar to the first that I bought over a year ago that I haven't gotten to yet, Killing the Spirit, by Page Smith. It is dated (1990) in dealing with contemporary developments in Higher Ed, but I think it was an early warning shot across the bow. I'm also currently reading a couple of books that pertain to education: The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey, and Cicero, by Anthony Everett. Lahey is an educator who had to learn as both parent and educator how to allow children to grow confident and competent through responding to failures and learning from them. Overprotective or hasty parenting (doing it for the kids) causes children to think themselves incompetent or controlled (there is more, of course). It is a good book for parents and educators like me, who aren't patient and have a sinful fear of failure. The Cicero biography is a very accessible book so far, and I have been wanting to learn more about Cicero since I teach Rhetoric.
  25. This is a good word, Patrick. I especially think showing curiosity and humility are weighty. The couple of times I've been asked to teach a great books type course the students typically want to draw a conclusion or judgment about the good/bad or useful/worthless nature of something the book discusses (or the book itself). If a teacher doesn't handle those reactions carefully, we encourage students to stand in condemnation of what they study, rather than try to understand and learn from it (even if it is deeply flawed).
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