Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Club: Beauty in the Word - Introduction (pt 2)

The seven liberal arts were in any case never intended to constitute the whole of education.  They were embedded in a broader tradition of paideia or human formation, which included 'gymnastics' for the education of the body and 'music' for the education of the soul ... The full range of subjects studied would include practical skills associated with the arts and crafts (techne) through to the highest reaches of wisdom (sophia) ... The ability to think critically and for oneself is a part of this tradition, but not in separation from the moral virtues. Conceptualand dialectical thought is not the highest activity of man, but gives way before contemplation and the development of the spirit through love. (pg 10)
I loved this.  It fits beautifully with what I've been reading in The Liberal Arts Tradition by Jain and Clark. I've pulled some quotes from that book (Fundamentally About Shaping Loves and Pious Life with Well-Ordered Habits) in the past. 

In the Jain and Clark book, they talk about the Liberal Arts being embedded within piety from which music and gymnastic naturally grow which then support the Liberal Arts and bear fruit in theology and philosophy: a tree planted by streams of living water. 

I really appreciate Caldecott's emphasis here on techne, though.  He says, "Today, those skills and associated abilities would include a facility with machines and computers."  But I think they also include woodworking, cookery, and sewing.

I appreciate that he roots all of this is faith or piety.  The section on the Catholic School didn't do a lot for me, although I did like this:
Revelation subtly alters the way every subject is taught as well as the relationships between them ... everything becomes interesting.  There are no 'boring' subjects-- nothing can be ugly or pointless unless we make it so, turning our backs on the Giver of Being.

I've been thinking about how everything does seem so much more interesting to me now than it did when I was a schoolchild.  About Andrew Kern's insistence that we are "all math people." About being created in the image of God, so what he cares about we should care about. 

Revelation changes things.

The triads he identifies in the last section are helpful too.  Be, Think, Speak. Each relying and interacting with the others. In fellowship together.

Martin Cothran talks about similar triads in his "How to Think" talk.  Cothran discusses How Roget's Thesaurus is (or was) organized on ideas ... True Good Beautiful.  Then he lists other groupings -
Logic, Rhetoric, Poetics
Faith, Charity, Hope
Knower Doer, Maker
Kant: Know? Should Do? Hope?
Jesus: Way, Truth, Life
Aquinas: Know (Apostle's Creed), Do (10 Commandments), Hope (Lord's Prayer) 
Roles: Prophet, Priest, King

Andrew Kern talks about how we can teach a fact, skill, or idea.  Does this fit the pattern too?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Club: Beauty in the Word - Introduction

Cindy is always coming up with good things for us to read.  I don't always follow through on reading what she does, but I like attending her classes for homeschoolers.  What a great mentor!

She's going to be reading Beauty in the Word this spring and I've decided to try again (follow her link, I love that she uses the proceeds for her grandchildren). 

If nothing else, I get the beginnings of the books read that way.  I think trying to sustain a single book over time is something I have a difficult time with -I tend to power through or stop books- but I'm going to try.

I also have the same caveat as Cindy; I read a lot of Roman Catholic education stuff - but am not Catholic - because they kept the Classical Education tradition a lot longer.  Caldecott writes from a decidedly Roman position; reader beware.

Anyway, I read the introduction this morning. Wow.

Caldecott is deeply concerned with the development of a person, a free person, a real person. "I wanted to emphasize the fact that we are discussing the fundamental skills of humanity itself." (pg 10, bold mine) He argues that only through the liberal arts can people realize their potential - a potential that is realized in the sacraments. Or, since I'm a good Reformed girl, I read it as "realized within the New Covenant. 

Because of this Introduction I've been thinking about what the "formation of souls" has to do with "humanity itself."  Being a "real person" within "humanity" certainly requires a relationship with our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer.  I believe man (in the inclusive sense) is incomplete without Christ Jesus and reliance upon him and his work. 

If we educators are engaging in the work of soul-formation, surely the highest goal is that we and our children know Christ and fellowship with him. There's a disconnect here, though. As educators, we can show, explain, teach, encourage, lead our children toward Christ.  We can reason and divulge, but we cannot change the heart. Sometimes the arrogance of what we think we can do apart from Christ to draw anyone to Christ is a jagged edge I get caught on in this endeavor.



We cannot push our children into the Covenant; that is the domain of the Holy Spirit.  Thankfully, He promises to work in generations; we are not left without hope, yet we do not presume.  Oh, we can (and should!) baptize them.  We should pray with and for them.  We should teach them when we rise up, walk along the path, and go to bed. We must be faithful with what the Lord has given us. We work at acting justly, showing mercy, and walking humbly with our God.  We abide in Christ while sojourning in this fallen world, but we must ultimately trust God for our children's souls. 

Children are born persons, I think some educator once said (wink).  The Catechism for Young Children asks, "Have you a soul as well as a body?" and answers, "I have a soul that can never die." If children are born persons with a soul that can never die, that soul is not but a lump of clay to be formed or molded by us. Ought we fit it into a mold of our choosing? Can we? Perhaps, instead, we should talk of nourishing or feeding the soul.  Just like our bodies grow from infancy with proper nutrients, can our souls mature with Liberal Arts?

These are all questions.  Maybe I don't understand the philosophical and theological underpinnings of the idea of 'soul formation.'  Let me know.  I love comments, correction, and discussion.

OK, that was a bit of a tangent. I really *do* like what Caldecott had to say.  I think, however that I'll wrap up here and say more later.

Wordless Wednesday: So Serious


Wordy Wednesday: The Horror of Holiness


I'm reading C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces.  More slowly than it deserves, because it is very good and engrossing when I get going.  It sat on my headboard for more than a year; I was quite scared of it.  I'm finding it very, very readable though.

Two short, yet loaded quotes I've been considering ...

"Our real enemy was not a mortal. The room was full of spirits, and the horror of holiness." pg 54

"Would you like to be Redival [your sister]? What? No? Then she's pitiable." pg 69

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Book Review: Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

Homeless BirdHomeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Library.

This was one of the only narratives set in India that I could find for my 9 year old reader.  I wanted to pre-read it because it was shelved in the YA section at the library (Yikes! She can't be that old!!  I'm not ready for that!)

This book is beautifully written, shows cultural differences, and will open some of the culture of India up to M-girl.

There is a lot of sadness in the book; immediately widowed, forcibly worked, and eventually abandoned, Koly's behavior, attitude, creativity, and diligent hard work are rewarded.  She avoids a terrible future (enslavement) with quick wits in a way that we can gently talk about evil in this world.

Recommended reading for older children. We'll see what M-girl thinks later. She started Ch 1 today.



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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: Open Hearth Glowing

I enjoyed reading That Hideous Strength.

The evil was really evil: 
The NICE was the first-fruits of that constructive fusion between the state and the laboratory on which so many thoughtful people base their hopes of a better world. It was to be free from almost all the tiresome restraints—“red tape” was the word its supporters used—which have hitherto hampered research in this country. It was also largely free from the restraints of economy, for, as it was argued, a nation which can spend so many millions a day on a war can surely afford a few millions a month on productive research in peacetime.

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This was the first thing Mark had been asked to do which he himself, before he did it, clearly knew to be criminal. But the moment of his consent almost escaped his notice; certainly, there was no struggle, no sense of turning a corner. There may have been a time in the world’s history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But, for him, it all slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men. A few moments later he was trotting upstairs with the Fairy. They passed Cosser on the way and Mark, talking busily to his companion, saw out of the corner of his eye that Cosser was watching them. To think that he had once been afraid of Cosser!
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The meaning of all the ups and downs he had experienced at Belbury now appeared to him perfectly plain. They were all his enemies, playing upon his hopes and fears to reduce him to complete servility, certain to kill him if he broke away, and certain to kill him in the long run when he had served the purpose for which they wanted him. It appeared to him astonishing that he could ever have thought otherwise. How could he have supposed that any real conciliation of these people could be achieved by anything he did?
 The good was really good:
  
“I often wonder,” said Dr. Dimble, “whether Merlin doesn’t represent the last trace of something the later tradition has quite forgotten about—something that became impossible when the only people in touch with the supernatural were either white or black, either priests or sorcerers.”
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She wanted to be with Nice people, away from Nasty people—that nursery distinction seeming at the moment more important than any later categories of Good and Bad or Friend and Enemy.
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She was really thinking simply of hugeness. Or rather, she was not thinking of it. She was, in some strange fashion, experiencing it. Something intolerably big, something from Brobdingnag was pressing on her, was approaching, was almost in the room. She felt herself shrinking, suffocated, emptied of all power and virtue. She darted a glance at the Director which was really a cry for help, and that glance, in some inexplicable way, revealed him as being, like herself, a very small object. The whole room was a tiny place, a mouse’s hole, and it seemed to her to be tilted aslant—as though the insupportable mass and splendor of this formless hugeness, in approaching, had knocked it askew.   
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A wide, open hearth glowing with burning wood lit up the comfortable form of Mrs. Dimble who was seated in a kitchen chair at one side of it, apparently, from the basin in her lap and other indications on a table beside her, engaged in preparing vegetables. Mrs. Maggs and Camilla were doing something at a stove—the hearth was apparently not used for cooking—and in a doorway which doubtless led to the scullery a tall grizzle-headed man who wore gumboots and seemed to have just come from the garden, was drying his hands.
Finally:

The Hideous Strength holds all this Earth in its fist to squeeze as it wishes. But for their one mistake, there would be no hope left. If of their own evil will they had not broken the frontier and let in the celestial Powers, this would be their moment of victory. Their own strength has betrayed them. They have gone to the gods who would not have come to them, and pulled down Deep Heaven on their heads. Therefore, they will die. For though you search every cranny to escape, now that you see all crannies closed, you will not disobey me.”

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In fighting those who serve devils one always has this on one’s side; their Masters hate them as much as they hate us. The moment we disable the human pawns enough to make them useless to Hell, their own Masters finish the work for us. They break their tools.”
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Wordless Wednesday: First Friday Crowns



Monday, March 10, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook for March 10, 2014

FOR TODAY
 
Outside my window...it's dark.  Maybe a bit warmer, though.


Praising God...for a fun trip to the zoo with my children.

I am thinking... about books on India.  Do you have any suggestions for narratives set in India for a strong 9 year old reader who is interested in the country because of reading Amy Carmichael biographies? She wants to learn more about the culture, people, and land.

I am thankful... for my wonderful husband.  He works so hard and does so much for our family.
 
In the kitchen... the groceries are unpacked and coffee is ready for the morning.

I am wearing...jeans and a new print top.

I am creating... plans for craft night with my sisters-in-law on Saturday.  Need to come up with some tapas and wine ...

I am going...to bed soon.  It's late and I should get up early.

I am wondering... how tomorrow is going to go.  We did a slightly lighter day today - all work together - after a big weekend with late nights and the time change.  Still had some melt-downs, but the zoo was good.

I am reading...Till We Have Faces and should work on some of those other ones on my list ...

I am hoping... tomorrow goes well.

I am looking forward to... my nephew's birthday party.  He's going to be 7!

I am learning... about first declension nouns in Latin. Fun.
 
Around the house...my family would appreciate some clean laundry. I need to figure out how to accomplish that while doing school.  I struggle.

I am pondering... well, now, laundry.

A favorite quote for today..."Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." Ephesians 5:1

One of my favorite things... visits to my in-laws'. They are so wonderful and welcoming and we have so much fun there.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Titus 2 meeting, school, piano. Craft night!
 
A peek into my day... 
Manatees! 
 Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Book Review: That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength (Space Trilogy, #3)That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I read this on Kindle.

I really enjoyed this book. There was so much that Lewis had to say and show. 

The evil was really evil, and the layers were peeled back slowly, slowly to the final climax.  The evil is so evil it doesn't seem possible to defeat.

The good was really good. Waiting, abiding, sojourning, trusting God.  That's generally a good plan.

I love, love, love that Lewis solves SciFi problems grounded in history.  In Out of the Silent Planet he used Classical Astronomy.  Here we see historical characters and a historical train of thought.  We see mythological representations of Mars, Venus, and the other planets. We see that God's creation waits the freeing of Tellus.

I was left wanting more tying up of loose ends.  (view spoiler)

I'm glad I finally tried out the series this year.  It was worth the time investment.  I think reading an annotated version of this and some of Lewis' backing ideas and allusions would be fascinating.


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Friday, March 07, 2014

Weekly Report: March 3-7, 2014


It feels like I just did this. Oh, I didSadly, this week was not as good as last week.  It was still pretty good, though, in the grand scheme of things.  The issue was more the way things done rather than getting them done ... because they were generally accomplished.  This was one of our "B" weeks, so we had four days of school with Thursday mostly off.  We had a great trip to the library that day, though.

We did Circle Time three days this week. We are learning 'O Worship the King' and worked on the first three verses this week.  We just about have Colossians 3:12-17 memorized.  R-girl is starting the Catechism questions on prayer ... and everyone else is reviewing. We are almost done with Covenantal Catechism Book 2.  I do love this curriculum.  I don't think we've gotten as far in our poetry memory as I generally prefer; we're working on "The Captain's Daughter."  We've been enjoying Mathematicians are People Too.  

We finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this week! All three children enjoyed reading this so much.  I'm thrilled the children are enjoying this as literature. For writing we did copywork, narrations, and dictations from the chapters.  They want to make a presentation for our church's Homeschool Showcase about the Narnia book(s) we'll have read by then. We also finished Lesson 2 of Writing and Rhetoric. I like the way it teaches summary and amplification, but I'm certain not all of my children did.  We will need to work on these ideas, and typing will become more and more important.  Their writing stamina is not increasing as much as I'd like - I thought the copywork exercises would help, but it doesn't seem to be as much.  

We enjoyed poetry today.  R-girl continued learning about how different letter sounds and personification can affect a poem.  N-boy continued working on poetic feet and began learning about stanzas and poetic forms like Sonnets and Ballads.  M-girl studied a poem about Christopher Columbus from the MP Poetry program. I was surprised she skipped over "The Lady of Shallot", thinking it was too long.  For grammar, we continued with prepositions for R-girl.  N-boy completed the Dictionary Skills lessons.  M-girl is working on verbs, objects, sentences and how to diagram all of them.

We finished Chapter 3 in Latin today with a quiz.  The children all did well on the quiz, although R-girl needed some help thinking through the whole thing. 


In Science, we've been studying the periodic table.  The kids were intrigued by the story of Mendeleyev and how he organized the periodic table.  I'm liking this curriculum so far.
Our History this week was a little less organized than I'd like; M-girl and R-girl both were reading about the Spanish settlement into South America - which we studied several chapters ago and N-boy read about Athanasius, which was from the last book! Our library, though, is sadly less filled with books related to this era.  N-boy and M-girl are almost done with their States and Capitals books in Geography. They should finish them next week.  I did purchase the mp3 download of the States and Capitals songs because I don't think they learned as much from the MP book as I had hoped.  R-girl is working on an earlier part of the book.  All three children worked on blobbing, too.  N-boy has said he'd like to learn about China and M-girl would like to learn about India for geography when they finish States and Capitals.

Math went well this week.  We did three days of MEP and one of Primary Challenge Math.
In PCM today, N-boy and R-girl both worked on making change.  M-girl worked on multiplication beyond what she's learned in MEP.  I like seeing that challenge for her.  N-boy and M-girl finished the second Detectives Club book, so they won't have more logic for a while.  They really like logic - and R-girl has been asking for some - so I should find them something, but I'd rather re-vamp our writing. 
Primary Challenge Math ... multiplication!

Their piano lessons went very well this week.  They're beginning to prepare pieces for a possible recital and our church's Homeschool Showcase. 

We enjoyed being home most days this week with nothing on the schedule Monday through Wednesday.  The children enjoyed playing more in the afternoons.  We should have one more relatively quiet week, maybe hear about soccer teams next week. Hope it doesn't snow when practices start ...

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: Encounter Him

I've been reading The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings by Nancy Leigh DeMoss most days this year.  I was able to put it on my Kindle for free last October.  It has been an encouraging devotional - and one that I've actually stayed with for the year.  (I've missed a few days, I usually read it in the evening, but it's easy to catch up). Good things to think about, she closes with a questions or two at the end of each day toconsider.

A couple of weeks ago, I read this encouraging and convicting statement and wanted to share it.

God, you see, is the ultimate Homemaker. If you are His child, He is right now preparing “a place” for you to live forever with Him (John 14:2). In the meantime, our homes here on earth can provide a foretaste of that heavenly Home. He wants your home and mine to reflect His heart and grace. To be a place where the reality and presence of Christ are felt. A place where His Word is honored. A place where the atmosphere is one of authentic love, kindness, and truth. A place where both those who live there and those who visit encounter Him.
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Wordless Wednesday: Crayon Art




Monday, March 03, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook for March 3, 2014

FOR TODAY
Outside my window...it's a dark and snowy night.

Praising God...for the opportunity to eat with our church family yesterday.

I am thinking...about changing our writing around a bit. I'd like to be using Writing and Rhetoric more regularly because it is really good and we're going to be working on this level forever if we don't work more consistently. 

I am thankful...that we got to spend the whole day with Jason on Saturday - basketball games and family time.  Yay.
 
In the kitchen...we had Mediterranean Chicken for dinner. We haven't had it for a while, it was delicious.

I am wearing...my OBX sweatshirt.

I am creating...entries in my new commonplace book.

I am going...nowhere any evening this week. Wahoo!

I am wondering...what's going to happen in That Hideous Strength. I'm enjoying it a lot.

I am reading...That Hideous Strength. I'm also working on The Liberal Arts Tradition.  In LAT, the authors deal with some ideas from Lewis' Abolition of Man which are then pictured for the reader in That Hideous Strength.  It's a crazy, but fascinating circle.

I am hoping...to have better days the rest of the week.  Today was rough.

I am looking forward to...seeing my in-laws on Saturday - I hope!

I am learning...how to live in a fallen world. Great sermon yesterday.
 
Around the house...I worked on cleaning up the kids' school stuff and reorganizing a bit.

I am pondering...Ecclesiastes 3.

A favorite quote for today..."I hear the comforting, inhabited, friendly silence of a house full of books." Susan Hill

One of my favorite things...my new alarm clock.  I can set the time, the the battery door stays on, and it is digital so it holds a radio signal.  I really like it and am thankful for it.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Piano lessons. School. Bible Study.  So relaxing.
 
A peek into my day... no pics this week ...