Friday morning was exciting. Trish (my mother in law) made breakfast for us. Above and beyond!
The first session I went to was by Michael Clay Thompson from Royal Fireworks Press. He was speaking on Building Vocabulary. His talk discussed the importance of knowing roots and stems from Latin and Greek to growing the English vocabulary. He said that English is a Germanic language and not a Romantic language until one does academic writing. That is interesting to me, I'd never really considered differences between vernacular English and academic English. They really are different. Thompson also emphasized that there's no such thing as "grade level" vocabulary and that if a 3 year old can say "Tyrannosaurus Rex" he can certainly learn the word "serene." Using good vocabulary ought to be normal, not unusual. Vocabulary, Thompson argues, is inherently interdisciplinary. Finally, he says that reading is the vocabulary lesson. I think M-girl would love his vocabulary program, in particular, but I think it can wait, and since we're doing Latin (and dream of Greek) may never get folded in. And, we read.
Something new at the conference this year were two "Classical Ed Panels." Christopher Perrin (from Classical Academic Press), Martin Cothran (Memoria Press), Andrew Pudewa (Institute for Excellence in Writing), and Andrew Kern (CiRCE Institute) came together and discussed questions. I went to both. Shocking, I know. The first panel was about the "Worth of Classical Christian Ed." First, they defined CCE. Kern started with his "cultivating Wisdom and Virtue." The others joked with him about being succinct and expanded on his statement. I think Dr. Perrin said teaching how to speak and what to do and someone else said how to think and what to do. They compared liberal arts and servile arts. They discussed Trivium (think and speak well using words) and Quadrivium (tools by which to perceive reality). The talked about Arts as skills with an organized, systematized body of study and that an art is making something. Finally, and this was just a toss in, but helpful to *me*: "History isn't the study of the past but the eternal. The permanent things." I'm pretty sure the party was at the table and I wanted to hear their jibes at one another. That sounded fun. I hope they continue the panels.
I stayed there to listen to Dr. Carol Reynolds. Her session was "You are what you listen to." I wasn't expecting what we got, but I was thankful for it. This wasn't an argument for Christian music or Classical music only, rather the means by which we get our music. Are we overwhelmed by too many choices? She told a story of someone who showed her the first mp3 player she'd seen. "It has every note Beethoven composed." and she questioned, what are you going to do with all of Beethoven? Will you even listen to it? Will you learn to love any of it? She also questions the ubiquity of music and how much we tune out. Silence, she says, is a lost art. Does the music fit the space? Music, in the Quadrivium, includes recitation, dance, making music, lyrics, and poetry. She discussed five or six elements of music and how to listen. She's very upbeat and engaging to listen to. She gets so excited that sometimes she loses her place, but I love that she presents content at the conference. It isn't just Ed Philosophy or how to teach or why you should homeschool, but there's actual information that I can come home and incorporate into lessons on Monday morning. Love that.
Andrew Kern was up next. His talk was entitled "Teaching them the way they learn." Fantastic. I think this might be the most practical talk I've heard from Andrew Kern. I think this helped me consider using types and drawing from them. He explored what things we can teach, determining that we can teach skills, ideas, and information. These three things are subsets of Truth. He said that the objective of every lesson is that the students should be able to better perceive Truth because of the lesson. It's a both/and not either/or of Truth. They should understand both that 2+2=4 and about Jesus character because of the lesson. Then, he gave examples about how Truth is taught in the scriptures by using three stories: Nathan confronting David, Parable of the Lost Son, and Lev 2 about offerings and prayers. He used these examples to show Jesus teaching in parables (parabole~toss beside opposite of hyperbole~toss beyond), mimesis (attend, analogy, purpose), and types & rituals (prayers are like the incense burning on the offering). That we can understand how to teach by how God teaches. We teach by embodying story, ritual, authority, example, analogy. Kern says that story is powerful, and that when we create a picture we learn. If Truth is learned by incarnation, little truths are too. He says to present some embodiment of truth and to water with our prayers.
Then, I shopped. I bought four more of the Little Britches books. I tried to find Blaze and the Gray Spotted Pony (I failed). I walked through the other half of the Exhibit Hall and was thankful that I can rest and let my children rest, too. My SIL, Janie, and I bought some of Ed Zaccarro's math books. More type presenting. I bought some Jim Weiss CDs for fun. That and Thursday's purchases are it. Woo-hoo. I had stopped at the Memoria Press table because I saw their Grammar Stage Poetry program finalized. I bought it last year for M-girl and she has really enjoyed it. I was looking at the printed one and enjoying it when one of the MP people saw me and asked if I had questions. When she heard that I had bought it last year, she offered to give me the finalized edition with more poems than what I had. I'm so excited - and so is M-girl!
I was kind of wandering aimlessly, there weren't any talks I was overly intrigued by and I was done in the exhibit hall, so I slipped into Rebecca Keller's "Teaching the ABCs of Science by playing like Einstein" It was fine. She reminded us that all science begins with questions, so ask some questions. Then figure out how to study it. The example we used was "How do bugs fly?" So talk about the how: mechanics, process, physics, biology. Bugs: biology, entomology. Fly: more physics, aeronautics, etc. Start with a question, take it apart, introduce the sciences. I left when her laptop died and she started to take questions. I got coffee. Much needed coffee and food.
I had considered going to hear Dr. Reynolds again - "Where do the Classical Arts fit in Classical Education" I kind of wish I'd bought the CD, too. But I didn't. Instead, I went to meet with friends from the Hive. We had a great time visiting and chatting and it's always fun to put names to faces.
I wandered some more in the exhibit hall and we went home after one last talk. I probably should have gone back to Fairy Tales because Mr. Pudewa was giving that talk again, but it was good to relax and read from my book and start to ponder the day.