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Everything posted by KarenG

  1. I thought someone else might have already started post like this one, and I popped in here to share, but it looks like I'm the first one. Too much partying and holidaying? Now that it's January 2, and all of 2018's reading is done and dusted, what are you planning to read first? I'm diving into three books, at least two of which will probably take most of the year to read. First is Loving to Know by Esther Meek. It's a nearly-500-pages book on epistemology, and if the title makes you think of Charlotte Mason's concept that "education is the science of relations," well, I think that, too. What could be more fun? Next up is Education in Plato's Republic by Bernard Bosanquet. I love it that Charlotte Mason assigned this book to her senior high school girls. And my third start, which won't take so long to get through, I don't think, is Josh Gibb's new book, How to be Unlucky. The last book I finished in 2018 was a Classical Academic Press title--Awakening Wonder by Stephen Turley. I really liked it, and will probably reread it soon. But there are twelve whole months in front of us to fill with reading...what will you pick up first? (Full disclosure: I'm totally hoping to glean some more ideas for my own to be read list!)
  2. I know it's a long shot, but has anyone read this book?
  3. KarenG

    Building up Math Ideas

    One thing that I learned pretty late in the game (too late to be of use to any of mine except my youngest) is that slowing down makes a huge difference in a child's attitude toward math. Early computation is so simple, we are quick to move on the next thing, and we have a tendency to assume that if a child can add 7+2, he is fully ready to understand 7-5, or 17+2. We also associate computational ability with understanding. What I learned to do, with my youngest, is slow down. In the not-so-distant past, it was not assumed that every student needed algebra, and whatever high school students did for math, only some of them did algebra. Now, we expect algebra to be done in grade 8, not 9 (when I was in those grades, advanced students did algebra in grade 8, all others in grade 9), so that the student has time to get to calculus while still in high school. I saw an article not long ago, in which college professors were asking high schools to stop teaching calculus, and to do a better job with with algebra and geometry, so that their students really understood those things and were ready for calculus, which they would prefer to teach themselves. The current STEM trend has us urging "more" instead of "better" on our students--not a classical approach, I don't think. Now, I never went that far in math myself, and it was a long time ago. But what I found, by slowing down so that my student never moved on until she found problems at the current level *easy* and *intuitive* (not just "doable"), was that she was already more than ready for the next level, and grasped it quickly. But more importantly, to me, was this: she is the first of all my students to ever say the words, "I love math." And if you believe, as I do, that education is the science of relations, of learning to love and care about knowledge, then this was more than a win--it was the only success I ever had. We are still in the midst--she's in 9th grade--but I decided to have the courage of my convictions. This year, we're finishing up arithmetic, and we going to start geometry with Euclid, and just begin pre-algebra. Next year, we'll work on geometry and algebra simultaneously, with geometry getting the lion's share of attention (I'm following the suggestion in A Liberal Arts Education by Clark and Jain, to let geometry come first). I'm pretty sure we'll finish (by the end of high school) geometry, and algebra I and II, and I'll probably have her do at least 1/2 of a consumer math course for practical knowledge. It's plenty for a high-school transcript, and if she finishes with her love of math intact, that matters to me more than credits on her transcript. She'll be well prepared for whatever higher math she wants to pursue, and there will be plenty of time for it. "Slow down" is now my biggest suggestion for math.
  4. KarenG

    Teaching History - Primary Sources

    Ha! That's great. And all too true. This is kind of veering off your main question, about history, but all discussion circles back to philosophy, doesn't it? One tension or point of discussion or area of thought, or whatever you want to call it, that I think needs to be a part of all discussions about classical education and K-12 is exactly how much of a classical education can we give our students? The full liberal arts (the seven liberal arts) course was a university course--not studies for children. So, what we do in K-12 cannot rightly be considered a fully-fledged "classical education" in that historical sense. On the other hand you can make progress and set a student's feet on that path. How far they go is ultimately up to them. I like David Hicks' focus on paideia--the idea of intellectual awakening and appreciation that allows a person to take responsibility for his own learning and conduct. That, I think is possible to achieve within our K-12 framework, and is more important than any specific content or books we have them read. She doesn't use the word, but this is Charlotte Mason's vision of paideia for young people, I think: It comes down to "ordering the affections," doesn't it?--learning to care about all the things it is possible to know. She thought it could be done by age 13 or 14--and when she wrote that, young people of that age were often full-time wage earners without the liberty of further formal education. We can surely do as much by 17 or 18. At any rate--that's what I like my use of primary sources to aim at--helping my student put himself in that time and place, and imagine reading it as if he lived then and it meant something immediate and powerful, rather than reading sources as historical artifacts.
  5. KarenG

    Help with Spelling

    Are you familiar with Charlotte Mason's approach to spelling? I think your son's experience--memorizing words for a test but not really being able to use them in other contexts--is a common one. As with all things Charlotte Mason, it's not a quick fix--but beginning with transcription/copywork in the earliest grades, she teaches children to visualize a word in their minds before they write it--so that they copy word-by-word, not letter-by-letter. Later, about your son's age, the children do dictation (this is actually still a very common practice in European schools). The children look over a paragraph that is going to be dictated to them, and focus on visualizing whole words in their minds, then write it as it is dictated to them. When I do this with my (homeschool) students, I have them compare their own writing to the original passage, to find and correct their own errors. Over time, this is an effective practice--I know of nothing that works in the short term--but also, in my experience, the kids who are not natural spellers come into their own around age 12/13, and while they may never be great, their spelling becomes more generally correct. English spelling is incredibly difficult and irregular, and I think it just takes longer for some kids to develop the habit of seeing. My own son was an appalling speller--as a fluent reader who would never stumble over "of," he would still write "uv" (really) at 7 and 8. He followed the path I described--becoming a much better speller at age 13 or so--and as an adult, he's fine.
  6. Because I'm interested in classical education, I try not to let all my reading about education be from the 20th century or even more recent. It used to be really hard to find the old texts, but one of the wonderful things about the internet is the access we have to out-of- print texts. What pre-20th century classical educators have you read? Or do you want to read? Or are currently reading? (I'm really fishing for suggestions.) I'm currently wrestling with Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold. I actually have a special fondness for the wordy Victorians, but this is unusually dense. Just for fun, here is one sentence I marked: Anyone else want to share a bit from what you're reading?
  7. Oh, I agree--it's not a good thing. But it was a good word picture.
  8. KarenG

    Making Connections

    That made me smile. "Education is the science of relations" is not really my statement--it's one of Charlotte Mason's 20 principles of education, and, I think, one of the two most vital (the other vital one being "Children are born persons"). But your question about science is one that I've thought about extensively. Charlotte Mason does not define her term as she uses it here, and after years, I've concluded that she is just using a Victorian-era buzzword to make her point. Everything was a science for them--household science, moral science, etc, etc, because science was very new and exciting in their age. I think "science" is just an attention-getting word, and the important idea is really "relations." Because elsewhere, she says this: I think it's an interesting line of inquiry, to consider both "education is the science of relations" and "wisdom is the recognition of relations." But it's definitely underscored for me that the relations are the main point. I do know that Charlotte Mason considered wonder to be the foundation of science, and she did not think it should be divorced (because separation is the opposite of relations) from the humanities. Sorry for the long quotes! I've added Barfield's book about Coleridge to my "want to read" list.
  9. KarenG

    Classical Education = Critical Thinking?

    Have you read Charlotte Mason's thoughts on Euthyphro? It's actually a rather hilarious chapter entitled "Better-Than-My-Neighbour" in Formation of Character (vol. 5 of her series, which is rarely read).
  10. KarenG

    Reading Recharge

    I just finished Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin and Daniel DeRonda by George Eliot as an audio book, apart from my steady diet of nonfiction. I also attended the funeral of a staunch atheist this week, and I am desperate for some light, escapist reading. I will probably reread one of Elizabeth George's Lynley mysteries, also sometime entirely frivolous and escapist, and maybe something by Jane Austen. I'll be posting a "what I've read this year" post on my blog before the end of December, and I think it's going to make me cringe.
  11. KarenG

    Teaching History - Primary Sources

    I've used Charlotte Mason's method of narration with all my students, and it is very effective. I've found, though, with primary sources, one of the ways to give my students a better sense of what the documents meant in their context was to imagine themselves a contemporary reader of the material, and to write about it in that persona--maybe drafting an opinion letter to the newspaper, or writing a letter to a friend to send along with the pamphlet "Common Sense" for example, either recommending it or objecting to it. It doesn't work for every primary source, but it's one engaging way.
  12. KarenG

    Teaching History - Primary Sources

    I tend to agree with you about the primary sources. You can't read all of everything, but making sure students can understand...oh, maybe The Federalist Papers or The English Constitution, or Democracy in America or The Law or Common Sense means that they have a much stronger sense of the author and full argument. I also think it's a mistake to make them feel like they have the full picture because they've bits and pieces of everything. It's a much better posture for long-term learning to be aware that you *haven't* read something, than to feel that you "already know it" because you read a few paragraphs or highlights--a real danger sometimes. I was doing a podcast with a friend on history some time ago, and she shared that her teenage son (about 15 at the time, I think) told her that the more history he read, the more history he realized he didn't know. Which I thought meant she was definitely doing something right.
  13. I was reading something this week that reminded me of this discussion, so I dredged it up to add a quote from Charlotte Mason. She is talking about the burden of responsibility we feel when know something. Now that we know, there is a certain pressure to act upon what we know, and it can be a bit overwhelming. So she wrote: The context is a little different, but I think it applies here. First, you learn and know as much as you can about the way education and the mind works, and the things that the mind needs, etc...but simply to know is a good beginning, and out of that knowledge we will act without constant effort and labor. Set things going, and they go...which is rather encouraging.
  14. Okay, first...It's not Jo's Boys but Little Men that has the educational ideas. Jo's Boy's is a sequel to that, less about education. (Sorry about that--but I got Jack and Jill right!). I'm planning to read Jaeger, too! After some thinking, I got Early Christianity and Greek Paideia instead of the three-volume work. It's the condensed version, so to speak, of the longer work, based on a series of lectures, but it's supposed to summarize all the main ideas in less space. I haven't read it yet, though--just heard good things about Jaeger. And lastly, Cheryl, I love your word picture--that our truths are dressed for war.
  15. KarenG

    Classical Education = Critical Thinking?

    This reminds me of David Hicks' argument for dogma, in Norms and Nobility. I don't have my copy handy to quote from, but he makes this same point--that the starting place for learning to think and argue is acceptance or belief in something. I think the underlying nugget of truth behind the idea might be that by believing something, we are giving intellectual assent at a deep level to the idea that there is Truth at all. In general, our culture rejects the idea of absolute truth--it's all relative. There's "your truth" and "my truth," but nothing solid and universally True, and this idea of little-t "truths" which don't apply to everyone gives young people the hopelessness which arises when there is no Truth (even when they don't or can't express it clearly). By embracing a dogma--even if it has to be corrected and refined by questioning or further learning--you are actually embracing the idea that capital-t Truth exists, and that makes an enormous difference in intellectual and spiritual growth. I believe it was in my recent reading of The Liberal Arts Tradition that I was struck by something quoted about grammar... Okay, I found it on my blog--forgive me for quoting a bit of my blog post here: It would be so, so easy to gloss over that while reading this book, but you shouldn't. You really shouldn't. Without reading a word further, you should stop right there and think for a while about why that would be so. Why would "believing" in grammar support a belief in God---make it difficult to "get rid" of God? Just working out a hypothesis for that yourself will alter your perspective of grammar forever, I think. ... Speaking of grammar, Charlotte Mason wrote: It requires some effort of abstraction for a child to perceive that when we speak, we speak about something and say something about it; and he has learned nearly all the grammar that is necessary when he knows that when we speak we use sentences and that a sentence makes sense; that we can put words together so as to make utter nonsense, as,--- "Tom immediately candlestick uproarious nevertheless"---a string of words making perfect nonsense and therefore not a sentence. If we use words in such a way as to make sense we get a sentence; "John goes to school" is a sentence. (Philosophy of Education, p. 209) Why do you suppose Charlotte Mason says that is "nearly all the grammar that is necessary"? (In practice, her students learned more detail than that!) I think it is because it cuts to the heart of language and reveals the inherent structure of language, without which there could be no communication at all, no sense. It is the very logos of language, not of English alone, but all language. And that is why Nietzsche fretted about grammar making it difficult to dispense with God, who alone could create such an order, such a law, like the law of gravity, which no one can break. There are different types of grammar, but they share certain inherent properties, for which I refer you to Augustine. A noun is a noun in any language, and it may be that the contemplation of noun-ness rather than memorizing a definition and identifying random nouns is what makes grammar a university-level art. I quote all of that just to underscore my agreement with the idea that teaching the liberal arts as arts is the best foundation for thinking, and "critical thinking" is probably a misnomer.
  16. My personal feeling is that you would be best served by reading The Liberal Arts Tradition six more times. 🙂 I read and blogged through it earlier this year, and I'll probably read through it again soon...and I did understand (most) of it. It's really that good. I actually think it's really easy to want to jump to the "how to" of things, but the "why to" is really going to get you what you want sooner. Educational practices can take more than one form to accomplish the same end, just as there is more than one route you can take, usually, to reach a given destination. Knowing exactly where you want to go is more important than having a set of instructions to follow. A clear vision of what the liberal arts is, or what a Christian classical education is, will help you achieve it, or approach it, better than any version of practices. If you teach younger children (not sure I'm remembering correctly), you could focus on the piety, music, and gymnastic chapters and just read those six times. :-). There is a paragraph on page 28 really speaks to me: And then, in the next paragraph, he says, that a musical education considers all these subjects "from the perspective of forming the heart, the sense of wonder, and the affections." To me, that's another way of saying what Charlotte Mason says--"Education is the science of relations." If you invest some time in thinking about how to encourage your students to form relationships, and develop awe and wonder, any trial-and-error methods you use will probably give you better results than following a prescribed plan, because there aren't many pedagogies out there that are based on these objectives. But Charlotte Mason's are, so you could also try those.
  17. So, I haven't taken the class that this forum refers to, but classical pedagogy seemed like the best place to put this question. Not long ago, I was introduced for the first time to the word "diagesis" (I think I was familiar with the concept before). I've never heard this word used in the discussion of classical pedagogy, but it seems as vital as mimesis, especially since they are paired in Plato's Republic. Since I've never heard this word before, I'm guessing it will be as new to most of us as it was to me, but I'd love to talk about it, especially with anyone who is familiar with it. If not--if it's as new to others as to me--do you think it it worth as exploring as a neglected aspect of classical pedagogy, or is it less about pedagogy and more about something else? Anyone want to read the following article and start thinking about this with me? http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/article/diegesis-–-mimesis
  18. So, I'm kind of bumping this one up. Since there were no takers, I'm guessing it is as new to most of you as it is to me. And of course, I misspelled it--it's diegesis, not diagesis. Still hoping, though, that someone might like to explore this with me, I'm going to quote the first paragraph. Classical educators, how can you resist the enticement of such a beginning as that? 😉 Okay, I know it's thick. But because of my interest in narration (ala Charlotte Mason), this really caught my attention when it was shared with me. I hear all the time that the two pedagogical methods of classical education are mimesis and Socratic teaching. I really want to explore how this idea of diegesis, which is tied closely to mimesis fits into this. Is there a pedagogy here? Is this another word for Socratic teaching? (I don't think that's quite it.) If you read the article, you'll find that this is also linked to the discussion of myth...
  19. KarenG

    Rhetoric Resources

    Agree with you about the integrated rhetoric. But these sorts of discussions always leave me with more questions than answers. For example, the 14-15 year olds beginning rhetoric studies in the classical world were destined to be public speakers of a sort--play a role in the public life of the city, more or less. But, the more narrowly defined seven liberal arts were a university course, and that was often begun at age 18 (sometimes earlier, yes, but not always). And how does our more universal approach to education fit into this? Everyone goes to jr. high/high school, but not everyone is going to take on a university level study of the seven liberal arts. In the ancient world, study with a rhetorician wasn't a universal form of education. How do we remain faithful to the classical tradition when we are dealing with pre-university level students? With the need for a universal education? I don't have answers to all this--mostly just questions.
  20. Even though they might appear contradictory on the surface, I don't think the two ideas have to be. I think most people would agree that behaviorism and mere outward conformity to rules is not the goal of education. But, at the same time, lawlessness is no object, either. Charlotte Mason's ideas about habits sometimes seem to me to lean closer to behaviorism than I'm comfortable with, but at the same time, she is aware of their limitations. I encountered the exact same idea in Comenius's Great Didactic--the idea that until a child has both the desire and the strength of will to choose to do good, habits are the means of keeping on the desired path, even if you haven't "arrived" yet. It's not so much that the ideas are contradictory, I don't think, as that the speakers were discussing/emphasizing one part of a greater whole.
  21. I looked into educational degree programs and came to the conclusion that an Ed.D, for example, wasn't at all going to give me what I wanted. Since I'm not looking to enhance my professional standing, I just want to learn, I ended up deciding that self-education was the best option for me. But I would love to be a part of a group delving into the theory of classical education and universal educational principles. The University of Dallas seems to be stepping up their game for this--they are even hiring a Charlotte Mason consultant to work with their professors to learn her methods!
  22. KarenG

    Rhetoric Resources

    I homeschool, so I consider my teaching on rhetoric to be integrated across the curriculum, rather than a discrete class. But, as a matter of interest, how far do you think the classical content of rhetoric (as opposed to just practicing/imitating it as a beginner level) is appropriate for high school students? I feel like most 17/18 year olds are only going to be able to get the rudiments of rhetoric, and that they should be aware of that--be aware that there is still a lot to learn. When it comes to the liberal arts, I'm always mindful that they formed the substance of a university course--which is why more than just a sampling of Aristotle's Rhetoric is more than they are ready for.
  23. Jo's Boys has a lot of explicit ideas about education, and Alcott's lesser-known Jack and Jill has even more.
  24. KarenG

    Starting strong finishing...

    Not for nothing do I call myself the "queen of typos." I wish the ability to edit these posts lasted a little bit longer! In any event, my apologies for the typos.
  25. KarenG

    Starting strong finishing...

    ...and then I went off to do some of my current reading, and ran across this passage in Charlotte Mason's Philosophy of Education (vol. 6):