Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesdays with Words: Vital Hold

You know how sometimes when you start considering an ideas, it starts to show up in all sorts of places.

What is the place of generalization as we educate our children in the 21st Century? What is the place of specialization? 

So many educators - of the homeschool and school variety - are enamored by the ideas of STEM. Focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. They are throwing their hand all-in with this focus.  Even they, though, are starting to see that some Art needs to be in the mix, so they've changed the acronym to STEAM in a welcome attempt to give students a creative, artistic piece of the pie. They've realized that STEM is often out of balance and needs the arts to give it life.

I'm not of the STEM persuasion (or STEAM for that matter). I'm a Christian Classical Educator (or trying to be!) and a CM educator. Because of this, the STEAM model, with it's lack of emphasis on words and communication is missing a huge piece of the equation for educating a child to be a fully-orbed individual. 

On Monday, I had my Charlotte Mason group meeting (Thanks, Anna!) and we were studying Charlotte Mason's 13th principle which states: 

In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered:
(a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.
(b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity)
(c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.

Not very STEM-y. Mason goes on to divide the kinds of knowledge into Knowledge of God, Knowledge of Man, and Knowledge of the Universe.

She argues for a general, non-utilitarian, overarching knowledge.
We labour under the mistake of supposing that there is no natural law or inherent principle according to which a child's course of studies should be regulated; so we teach him those things which, according to Locke, it is becoming for a 'gentelman' to know on the one hand, and, on the other, the arts of reading, writing and summing, that he may not grow up an illiterate citizen. In both cases the education we offer is too utilitarian,--an indirect training for the professions or for a craftsman's calling with efforts in the latter case to make a boy's education bear directly on his future work. (Mason, Vol 6, pg 156, emphasis mine) 
By setting a minimum knowledge base and educational course of study, we become utilitarian in our thinking ... we limit a child to knowing that which is known about certain endeavors, but we don't allow them to flourish with a vast array of knowledge which is enjoyable for its own sake.

In For The Children's Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay argues:
Art, mathematics, and so on--all are part of the whole life, reality. We can and should appreciate, execute, and learn about art, music, literature, history, math, science, philosophy, and so on--for their own sakes.

Often climbers are asked, "Why do you climb Mount Everest?" The answer comes quickly, "Because it is there." In the same way, the inquiry "hy do you study, or do math, art, etc.?" should be swiftly answered by "Because it is part of the whole which God has created." (Macaulay, For the Children's Sake, pg 99-100, emphasis hers)
So, in educating our children, in bringing them up in paideia, in the search for truth, goodness, and beauty
The days have gone by when the education befitting either a gentleman or an artisan was our aim. Now we must deal with a child of man, who has a natural desire to know the history of his race and of his nation, what men thought in the past and are thinking now; the best thoughts of the best minds taking form as literature, and at its highest as poetry, or, as poetry rendered in the plastic forms of art: as a child of God, whose supreme desire and glory it is to know about and to know his almighty Father: as a person of many parts and passions who must know how to use, care for, and discipline himself, body, mind and soul: as a person of many relationships,--to family, city, church, state, neighbouring states, the world at large: as the inhabitant of a world full of beauty and interest, the features off which he must recognize and know how to name, and a world too, and a universe, whose every function of every part is ordered by laws which he must begin to know. (Mason, Vol 6, pg 157)
This is no small task, this educating children! She details so many relationships above: relationships we have and relationships our children must gain. Relationships with nouns - persons, places, things, and ideas.
It is a wide programme founded on the educational rights of man; wide, but we may not say it is impossible nor may we pick and choose and educate him in this direction but not in that. We may not even make choice between science and the 'humanitites.' Our part it seems to me is to give a child a vital hold upon as many as possible of those wide relationships proper to him. Shelley offers us the key to education when he speaks of "understanding that grows bright gazing on many truths." (Mason, Vol 6, still 157, emphasis mine)

So, Mason seems right to me: a general education, a feast of ideas, a vital hold on relationships is necessary for even a student focused on mastering a specialized arena of thought.

I loved the term "vital hold." A living, clasping, ownership of relationships with ideas. That's what I want to give my children.

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Y Membership? Yes, please!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Simple Woman's Daybook for May 16, 2016

For Today...

Looking out my window ... the sun is brightly glowing through the blinds right into my eyes.

I am thinking ... about suffering graciously even when suffering needlessly and how that follows being mindful of, conscious of, our Lord's example. Thankful for 1 Peter's direction.

I am thankful ... excellent preaching and teaching on using our words and speech ... including in praise ... from yesterday.

One of my favorite things ... feeling accomplished when I get up and going. Laundry, dishes, devotions feel so much better at 8:30 than sitting and reading mindless fluff.

I am wearing ... jeans and my UUNET rainbow tie-dye shirt.

I am creating ... better habits. Again. I hope.

I am reading (read) /watching (watched) / listening to
... a new podcast, At Home 6. I've only listened to one episode, but I think it'll be worth continuing. I hope I can start to distinguish voices soon.

I am hoping ... in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness because I see more and more every day just how wickedly selfish and proud I am.

I am learning ... that it is easier to fall into bad patterns than good ones.

In my kitchen ... I washed some pots and pans and ran the first load of the dishwasher. I need to make a menu plan and grocery list next. Adulting. I hate that term.

In the school room ... we have a couple of weeks of hard work to do after a light, easy week and then a week of IOWA Testing (another light, easy week) Funny how the busier our days are the better they go, but the lighter our days the less I want to do.

Board room ... June will be here soon, the time to think about it is now:

Post Script

Mystie is doing another planningseminar this afternoon. Even if you can't watch it today, sign up so you can watch the replay!

Shared Quote ... last week's Wednesdays with Words linkup post:

A moment from my day ... our morning basket. It isn't always quite this tidy.

Closing Notes ...
I wrote this post about Attend! Serving Others then everything fell apart. I forget that attacks happen when you speak up. Now I need to get back to trusting God and resist the enemy because he will flee.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wednesdays with Words: Pass and Punt

I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

I started it Friday night after buying it on First Friday. I didn't get far, but I loved what I started and have been thinking about it.

Waiting for dinner, we all have new books ... 
The first paragraph spoke to me, from the rich language to the ideas contained:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn't have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.
Lee diagnosis so much of the American character in this very first paragraph. How many of our fears are assuaged so long as we can do the things what we want to. How the glory of football is central within the American mind. How self-consciousness can cripple more than the injury itself.

And while the push for glory is there, so is a slightly dismissive, negative connotation of ending it with "pass and punt." Derisively. As though our narrator wishes there was something different about Jem.

What a great start. Hoping for even more!

Wordless Wednesday: Kwame Alexander, Author Event