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Everything posted by KarenG

  1. 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.
  2. I've already been a little out of pocket, but I wanted to say it's because I'm away from home for a couple of weeks. I'll be speaking at the AmblesideOnline Camp Meeting this--is anyone from this forum going to be there?
  3. I think this is an interesting question, but I am going to be highly skeptical of any attempt to answer it in a concrete way. I think there are different levels of classical education--at the high end, you've got the full Greek/Latin language scholars who are reading ancient texts in the originals, and that's great, but that's never going to be the object for everyone. Classical education is subject to criticism for being "elite"--and at this level, it has to be. I tend to think of this as "classical scholarship," and it's not happening in K-12. I suppose you might also consider a deliberate in-depth study of the 7 liberal arts to be the definition of classical education, but again, you're not going to finish that in a K-12 program. "Introduction to the 7 liberal arts" is probably as far as it goes. But then, there's the whole mythos/logos/dialectic/paideia (ala Norms and Nobility) that would have us reading for meaning and taking instruction for the sake of our characters--in an effort to be a more virtuous person. This is what I think can happen during the K-12 years, and I would not call it "receiving a classical education;" I would call it "being educated in the classical tradition." I think I don't like any terms that make it seem like it's a finished business, but rather part of an on-going process. (In Plato's Republic, his full educational plan takes 50 years!) I really like the stuff about paideia in N&N. To me, that's an intellectual awakening--an awareness of the intellectual life, an interest in at least some aspect of it, and the ability to read and learn for oneself, accompanied by the desire to do that. Once you get a person to that point, they can, indeed, do anything. Charlotte Mason thought it could pretty well be achieved by age 13 or 14. It's not a "complete" classical education, but it gets you to a place where you could continue it *on your own* if you wanted to. I'm not sure you can do that by 13 or 14 in our current climate, but surely you can by 17 or 18, at the end of K-12. I'm just enough of a pragmatist to prefer that we focus on what I think is possible, and that is "educating in the classical tradition." If we graduate our students and they never pick up a book again, we probably haven't accomplished it.
  4. I think "making honey" is a little bit like what I call "synthetic thinking"--bringing all the ideas together, making connections. That's excellent. The actual pedagogical method that I use (ala Charlotte Mason, don't be surprised!) is narration. Just for fun, I'm going to see how it lines up with Dr. Hess's summary. Here is my summary: A teacher skilled in the pedagogy of wonder would... Recognize the wonder that is inherent in their students--the act of asking a student for a narration is a tacit acknowledgment of and respect for his mind and his ability to comprehend and communicate material. Ask questions that cultivate wonder while avoiding questions that impede wonder--The underlying question that is narration is" "What can you tell me about ______?" It's not the only question that cultivates wonder, but it requires the student to ask himself, "Okay, what CAN I tell?"--and asking yourself questions is at least one aspect of wonder. Facilitate respectful, dialogical, classroom conversations--Narration is so dynamic in a classroom, and for a group of students who practice it together year after the year together, it builds strong relationships that provoke stunning classroom discussion. (I interviewed several teachers who practiced narration in the classroom, and it was amazing.) Consider context and think rhetorically--narration is the magic path to making this happen organically. 🙂 Allow sufficient opportunity for wonder to do its work and then assess their students accordingly--I love the idea of allowing time. The primary purpose of narration is not for assessment, but a teacher can use narration to assess what a student has learned and understood. It's like an essay test, really, and used correctly, it allows a student to tell you what they know, rather than being a vehicle for discovering what they don't know. As we've talked through all of this, I've been wondering (ha!) if narration was the answer, and if it's not "the" answer to what a pedagogy rooted in wonder looks like, it's certainly pretty close. We all know I'm a Charlotte Mason fan, but the reason I'm a fan is that she really did come up with the most effective effective pedagogy to accomplish classical objectives that I have ever seen.
  5. Sorry about that. I think I did get a little lost in this discussion. I ended up going pretty far back to reexamine the original questions. We were wondering what a pedagogy rooted in wonder would look like, and Dr. Hess suggested that it would be a pedagogy of questioning, which naturally gave rise to a lot more questions. I think having a solid grasp of the mythos, as well as the logos, of what we want to teach might keep us from losing wonder. That's the thing that educators really need to nail down, to start with, I think. We are educating children who have a natural sense of wonder, and we want to cultivate that so that it can be a force in their pursuit of knowledge. Way too many pedagogical methods kill wonder. I have literally illustrated for hundreds of people what that might look like, and in fact, it was asking the wrong kind of question. The kinds of questions we ask children in their lessons lay the groundwork for the mental habits they will form. From a pedagogical standpoint, do you think our hyper-focus on assessment is a help or a hindrance? Jesus was content to let that young man go away and wonder until it might make a difference to him. Can we leave our students alone long enough for wonder to do its work?
  6. I don't think formal rhetoric techniques, led by the teacher, is what happens with wonder. I sort of feel like the root question in wonder is "what does it mean?" Nobody is going to give you a pat answer for that, so you have to explore side-questions to see meaning (what could it mean? does it mean this? does it mean anything to something else?...no end of possibilities--where that imagination comes in, maybe?), but wonder grows, I think, out of an inherent sense that it does mean something, and we care enough to give it our attention and ask, even if our asking doesn't find specific answers. We ask because we care, and our asking becomes a desire to know, seeking for knowledge. But I see this happening at a very foundational level--2 year olds wonder (and ask "why" endlessly because they are sure that everything means something)--and not something that is the domain of polished rhetoricians. I do agree that the art of questioning is the art of rhetoric, but I don't think wonder fits that paradigm.
  7. Ooooh, Cheryl. You have a point. I have this whole exercise/illustration I do in a particular talk, to demonstrate how the kinds of questions we ask children shape their thinking for the future, whether we realize it or not. Now, all of a sudden, I want to reread the whole Bible and look at the questions--who is asking? who is being asked? do they care about the answer or is it a trick? ("Hey, Jesus, should we be paying taxes to Rome?") This makes me think that the questioning is the out-working of something else, an internal "posture," so to speak. I think the act of wonder, on the inside, is a little bit like getting on your knees. But this is also why I think we have to keep asking questions and not being satisfied with partial answers.
  8. What if education doesn't really look anything like we think it does? What if we cut away all the baggage that educational practices have accumulated, blew off all the cobwebs, and dust out every corner so light could shine on what was left. What is education, really, if it has nothing to do with tests and schools and assessments and parameters? You have a mind, and you have knowledge--what is their relationship to each other, and how that can relationship best be developed? What should the outcome look like? You can tell I think questions might be better than answers in an elevator ride, because classical education is way too much to condense or convey that briefly. But if it begins in wonder, I want my listener to start wondering.
  9. It's a no here--not something we did (or will do, with my youngest). I have had my seniors do a senior project, which we tailored to their talents and interests. For example, one daughter kept a January-December nature diary, writing an essay for each month and painting/drawing to illustrate. Another daughter had to write a *non-fiction* book on a topic of her choice. She chose the 20th century space race (something that fascinated her, and happened before her lifetime, so it felt like history to her). She had to choose ages 4-8 or 8-12, and write to that audience. (Mine also did one research paper, on a smaller scale, just so they'd be aware of what the process entailed when they headed off to college.) My purpose with these projects was to give my students a chance to use the talents they have to produce something worthwhile, perhaps to spark ideas for future possibilities for them. The idea of a "senior thesis"--high school seniors, ages 17 or 18?--seems a bit premature to me. I've never looked into it (maybe it means something else than I think it does), but I associate the idea of a "thesis" with a master's or doctoral degree.
  10. I've been pondering again on the concept of "wonder." Do you think "intuition coupled with imagination" is at least a partial way of describing that state of mind? I am not remotely "connected" to all the pulses beating in the educational community, but I have been "hearing," more and more frequently, an acknowledgement that "wonder" is where we must begin. I'm quite sure Clark and Jain state this plainly in The Liberal Arts Tradition, but I've bumped into it elsewhere. But I feel that this recognition is still in a stage of infancy. We're grasping at the concept and realizing, "Yes, this right. Wonder." But, our educational pedagogy does not adequately reflect that, so we end up giving lip-service to wonder and employing wonder-deadening methods in our home and school classrooms. What would a pedagogy rooted in wonder look like? What needs to accompany wonder?
  11. Cheryl, I think the whole concept of poetic knowledge is a recognition that there are things that can be known--a kind of knowing--that is not subject to the limitations of scientific demonstration. I'm working on another book, and recently wrote this sentence: Because we cannot dissect a person, remove the mind, and examine it under a microscope, nor subject it to analysis by x-ray or MRI or any other device we possess, we must fall back on analogies to help us understand what a mind is, and what a person of mind needs. **** Your point reminded me of it--what we can observe with our physical senses is not all that there is. I'm reading that book on epistemology (Loving to Know by Esther Meeks), and she addresses the same questions we're discussing here. I think we need some twenty-first century books written with a pre-enlightenment mindset, but I'm not sure that's possible.
  12. So, idle curiosity then. Are you in Pensacola? I know that's where Josh used to my. My son and daughter in law live there (as did I, for 13 years, up to 1997), and we'll probably be visiting the area during the next few months (travel plans still unformed).
  13. fwiw, I think your approach to the humanities in your co-op makes sense, especially if you meet once per week. Math needs more input than that, and homeschooling parents need to keep an eye on their own students' progress and needs. I think it's a good idea for today's classical educators to remember that the formal study of the seven liberal arts was a university course. Have you read The Liberal Arts Tradition by Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark? I really like their reminder that "Music (ie, the humanities) and Gymnastic" (ala Plato) are the starting places for a classical education. That said, I also think a humanistic approach to science (rather than a technical or analytic one) can be accomplished at this level--an approach to scientific ideas as a matter of wonder and delight, rather than gathering evidence, trial and error, etc. So, you could plant seeds, go on nature walks--that sort of thing--in your co-op as well, if you had the time.
  14. Not my idea--I heard it at a CiRCE conference (A Contemplation of Home, 2016)--but "leaving home on a journey and seeking a way back again" started with Adam. So, I don't know that I'd call the Odyssey, "the" original, but I think it's archetypal. You can have more than one archetype.
  15. I think they should do...whatever they want to do. Classical education prepared men to be warriors, so joining the military is a perfectly legitimate option. Charlotte Mason believed that a person who had a humanistic (in the good sense) education would be a better farmer or laborer, or anything he did. I think we do a great disservice to the fundamental values of a classical education if we assume it must produce scholars and nothing else. Classical education should produce good men (and women) who will live out virtue in any area of life. My own little homeschooled cadre of classically educated (ala Charlotte Mason) scholars have done wildly different things: 1) Son went to Bible college, joined the Marines (he's still in the reserves), and became a Sheriff's deputy. He considers it his calling to defend victims against violence. 2) Daughter got a degree in Graphic Design and Advertising (dean's list and debt-free) and is a stay-at-home mom to my darling granddaughter. 3) Daughter declined college, took a job teaching in a bi-lingual preschool (she is bilingual), got married young, became interested in pet rescue and rehabilitation, and is still exploring options. 4) Daughter still at home, a work in progress. (9th grade) What matters to me is that they are virtuous people, lights in the world, and the world needs light everywhere. I think classically educated students should be prepared to go to college if that's what they want to do, but I think the whole wide world is also an option, and college is not the only valid way to further education (because I think we should all be lifelong learners).
  16. I don't know enough about bees and honey-making to extend that analogy, but I do know that learning in community has been important for me. I do a lot of solitary reading (gathering pollen?), but when I talk about what I'm reading and get input from other thinkers and readers, things begin to gel. I think that "education = relationship" is another way of expressing ordo amoris--education is the ordering of the affections. And suddenly I remembered that the Bible often uses honey as an analogy of the sweetness of wisdom and scripture. Hmmm. Now I want to go look up all the honey references. As I read, it has often seemed to me that the books are talking to one another, but I like the idea of being a reader who attempts to reconcile author ideas with one another, rather than pitting them against one another. They do disagree sometimes, but one of the things that wearies me to death in modern discourse is the tendency to cast everything into a dichotomy: this or that. Only two choices, and never a compromise or even a third alternative. The sweetness of honey is the synthesis of all the gathered things (nectar, pollen, and ???), and if I'm not mistaken, it's been digested by something as well (but, as I said, I'm kind of fuzzy on the exact process...).
  17. Charlotte Mason speaks to this quite a lot. I just finished a joint blog series in which my friend and I were going over her most neglected volume, Formation of Character. The primary piece of advice she has is to let the story/book/painting/musical piece do the forming. If you "point the moral" in everything, it becomes tedious and children tend to reject that kind of didactic approach. So our part is to choose the material well, and then to join our children in appreciating and learning to love knowledge. She admits it's a risk (some kids might prefer to emulate the 'bad guys'), but she also points out that this is the way the Bible is written--the stories are given to us straight, without direct teaching and application. Healthy servings of wholesome reading we offer up like healthy meals, but the children have to taste, chew, swallow, and digest, and no one can do that for them. It's like sitting at the table and visibly enjoying the vegetables, and hoping they catch the hint (vegetables can be delicious). One might argue that forcing them to swallow a few mouthfuls will provide the nutrition, and they don't have to like it, but if you set up a lifelong antipathy to that food (I myself despise peas to this day), they will miss out on the goodness that food has all their lives. So we don't want to create a distaste for literature, art, music, etc, with the pedagogical methods we use. I think Augustine's concept of "ordering our affections"--learning to love what it good, and despise what is despicable--is the right approach (CM version: Education is the science of relations). It's similar to the principle behind "give a man a fish and feed him for day; teach him to fish and feed him for life." If we are heavy handed and didactic about the "moral" behind what is good, and true, and beautiful, we might influence the outward conduct of our children for a proverbial day, but if we want to shape their character--their internal moral compass--for life, we need a different approach. And wisdom begins in wonder, as you suggested. In practice, we read and narrate great books. And sometimes moves and TV shows.
  18. Oh, I have a copy. It's just difficult to recommend widely when it's hard to find and/or expensive. But I'm happy there are still used copies out there. There is this logic book I like--published only in library binding (hardcover) in 1971, and probably only ever purchased by school libraries. (I've never seen a copy that wasn't ex-library.) I found a copy of this logic book "by accident" in a Goodwill store, long ago, and it is extraordinary. I've done everything in my power to locate the current copyright holder, but it appears to be an orphan work. Anyway, I sometimes share the title, which is of particular interest to Charlotte Mason educators because it lines up with CM's view of reason, and then, that's it--affordable copies gone. I just ran a check--there is one copy available for under $20 (good deal, anyone should grab it), then jumps to $75 to multiple hundreds of dollars. It's very good, but not THAT good, and it is dated. (One of the included activities explains how to make your own computer using cards punched with holes. Please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers those cards?) AO has grown enough that we've learned to take care not to require an out of print, inaccessible book, or the price becomes insane. I fear that for The Bible and Task of Teaching, but if there is a newer book by David I. Smith in print, I definitely want to check that out and see if it has the same valuable ideas.
  19. I'm glad you mentioned this! I have his book (co-authored with someone I can't recall at the moment) The Bible and the Task of Teaching, which was fascinating. It's very hard to find now, and at first I thought this might be the same book with a new title, but the Amazon "Look Inside" seems to show that it's a different book, which makes me happy. This one's going on my wish list for my next trip to the US. Have you read this one, then? Correction: Amazon says you can order a copy of The Bible and the Task of Teaching, but it's priced like Norms and Nobility (not quite, but almost). It's so frustrating. It's a great book for teachers to read, and by teachers, I mean homeschoolers, too, and when a book costs that much, it just doesn't get read widely. Sigh.
  20. The one book on the history of education that I've had (gathering dust sometimes) for years and meant to read (for years) is H.I. Marrou's History of Education in Antiquity. It's really long, and I have a paperback with microscopic text and no margins to speak of, so I've never gotten very far with it (and will certainly have to start over the next time I attempt it)--but that's the one I really want to read. Anyone read it? (In whole or part?) I think David Hicks draws on it for the context of his discussion in Norms and Nobility.
  21. Just out of curiosity...do any of you use Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book? I use AmblesideOnline (well, I also helped write it), and we start this book with year 7 (12-14 year olds), and read through it slowly across several years, and then have our year 12 students read through it again during their last year of school. He talks about reading well--I don't think he uses the current trendy term "close reading," but that's what he describes at one level of reading. I think he helps students begin to get a grasp of the relationship between the reader and the author, and the proper attitude of the reader who wants to get the most from a book. I often say " a book will teach you how to read it," and I have this idea that the concept came from this book, although I can't pinpoint a quote. But what is implied there is that the book is the teacher, teaching not only its content, but the manner in which you have to approach it. What does this book say? What is it saying to me? I've learned to be okay with kids only skimming the surface of a book at the beginning, and not understanding everything. It's one of the most important things I've learned in the past few years, I think--that it's okay if a student doesn't understand everything. Maintaining their sense of wonder and interest and desire to learn is so much more important.
  22. In spite of the clumsy acronym, I think it's an excellent step to moving classical education forward. I think a lot of this book--I read it last year (blogged through it, too), and it really resonated with me because...Charlotte Mason. Honestly, adopting CM methods for the lower school ticks every box. The "what if" page in which they envision musical education across the curriculum sounds like an exact description of a CM education. How I wish I could convince everyone! 🙂
  23. Dante's seven circles---hahaha I saw the Alexandria picture, too. My daughter and I have been reading Plutarch's life of Julius Caesar this term, and it mentions this fire, so I had to discuss it with her. It's hard for kids today, with everything all digital and ubiquitous, to imagine one fire destroying a manuscript forever. Of course it makes you want to burst into tears!
  24. That's a good point--reading aloud. Many works of literature were intended to be shared orally anyway, and speaking the words adds another dimension to the way we experience them. Rhyme and rhythm, and thinks like assonance or sibilance (why does my software say that is misspelled???) can only be appreciated that way.
  25. Sometimes you just need a few fun threads. Finish the sentence! You know you're a classical educator when you tell your 14-yo-daughter that Plato doesn't think anyone should laugh like that. Yeah, I really did say that. She looked puzzled. Really, though, it's just "men of importance" and the gods who weren't supposed to lose their dignity by laughing: "They ought not to be fond of laughter. For it is pretty much the case that when anyone gives way to violent laughter, it demands a violent reaction."
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