Saturday, April 13, 2013

2013 Cincinnati Homeschool Convention (Part 3)

It was even harder to get up Saturday morning.  We had breakfast again and headed out.  We got the parking spot I prefer and got to our sessions on time.

I went to five sessions on Saturday. 

The first session was Dr. Reynolds discussing Medieval Chant and the Roots of Christian Music.  She discussed cantus (L. to sing) and a capella (unaccompanied, with the head, the voice only).  Reynolds told us that initially these were single lines of music, monophonic or unison singing.  We discussed the "why" of singing; why worship in song? why is it fitting?  Pope Gregory I, for whom Gregorian Chant is named, is the one who codified church music and provided standards.  Before this codification, each congregation or group sang their own music.  There are two forms of chant: syllabic which is sung syllable by syllable and melismatic which is sung with more decoration.  Notation developed from ups and downs to the system we know today.  Rhythm of chant was based on the text.  A cool thing we learned was about Guido of Arezzo. His work eventually became the Do-Re-Mi system we use today.  We also learned about a nun who wrote many chants: Hildegard von Bingen. Dr. Reynolds has just finished a video curriculum on church music and if the clips we saw of it during the session are any indication, it will be phenomenal for the music alone.  She never did get to the connection with today's Christian music, but maybe that's OK.

The next session I went to was Andrew Kern's "Writing Road to Living."  It was so good.  I love how he just takes what is brought up in the session and runs with it.  There were those who didn't care for it (and left) but you couldn't pry me out of my seat.  He started his talk by saying, "Writing is NOT a subject.  Treating it like a subject undercuts it." Then he detailed that writing is the means by which we 1) learn to think, 2) learn to decide, 3) learn to communicate, and 4) learn to grow in grace before God.  Good input does not equal good output.  We are living souls and the goal of thinking is making decisions.  Then he asked how we make decisions and he riffed on prayer and how it helps the Christian by keeping us from stopping forgetting that we are Christ's and what we are to do.  We should think of writing in terms of weaving - it is work in a vocation and it is wisdom and entrepreneurial. 

Next, I tried a new speaker.  The first was Dr. Michael Platt from George Wyeth University.  He was talking about Shakespeare.  His speaking style is not the most engaging; he read a paper in a very quiet voice, but when he spoke extemporaneously about some point it was better.  But, I caught a vision from him, so it was worthwhile.  Someday, someday I hope to read Shakespeare in parts with groups. He said that if you trip up in the reading, push on. You can make corrections later.  Taking parts is reading parts of the truth.  He recommends using speeches as memory work, for their own sakes.  Analysis of Shakespeare's writing shows that the word "good" is by far the most used word and that positive terms great, fair, sweet, and true far outnumber negative words.   He said the comedies and histories are for high school and tragedies for college.  We shall see. 

I tried another new speaker, Janice Campbell.  She was speaking on "Teaching Worldview with Classic Literature."  It was good information, but it was warm and a second quiet voice and I was tired so I left part way through to find coffee.  The parts I heard were solid information: worldview as a lens to see philosophy and to understand and discern.  She suggested that it is important to recognize allusions in literature; that what the author has read and refers to makes a difference in what they write. I will try again another time.

Finally, I went to the second Classical Panel.  The same gentlemen were speaking, but Andrew Kern moderated.  The topic was "How do I give a Classical Education if I didn't have one."  Mr. Kern suggested two main topics 1) What do I (as the teacher) do now to learn? and 2) How do I pass it on?  Part 1, the speakers suggested we have to do some sort of self education.  Read some books.  Use time wisely.  Read slowly, dig deep wells, make haste slowly.  Read from the authority of a mentor- Martin Cothran directs Andrew Pudewa's reading.  Read books that are definitive on their subject: that which does not need to be written again.  Read material invested with meaning.  Read material that helps us understand reality with own minds.  Mr. Kern asked the panel for one book they would recommend: Mr. Pudewa suggested Chance or the Dance by Thomas Howard (Elisabeth Elliot's brother); Dr. Perrin and Mr. Cothran both recommend Chesterton's Orthodoxy; and Mr. Kern recommends Narnia.  Mr. Cothran suggested that one shouldn't start with Chesterton, but with a series of reading where Kreeft and Lewis are "Chesterton for Dummies." To that end: Peter Kreeft's Fundamentals of the Faith and Lewis' Mere Christianity.

Part 2 was about how to pass it on. According to Dr. Perrin, Sertillanges, in The Intellectual Life, says 'Study is a prayer to the truth.'  We pass it on by our efforts to "love the lovely."  Then they suggested a list of books, the usual suspects: Norms & Nobility, Poetic Knowledge, 7 Laws of Teaching, Climbing Parnassus, Wisdom & Eloquence, The Abolition of Man, Leisure the Basis of Culture.  As we desire to pass this on, we need to build a new paradigm - multum non multa, avoid age levelling, simplicitas, and rest & perceive truth.  Shall we have a game? Which speaker made which paradigm suggestion? LOL.  They closed by reading Luke 12: 27-32 and said 1) know where you're going 2) pay attention to the next steps 3) make mistakes and 4) think about and discuss books you read.

I forgot this part ... My one big quest for the conference was to find logic books for my kiddos.  That's what they asked for.  The first night, I did find several which I already detailed in an earlier post.  I don't remember when, but suspect it was Friday, when I asked Mr. Cothran and Dr. Perrin what they recommend for Grammar Stage Logic.  Mr. Cothran said, Latin and Math.  I knew that's what he'd say, but I wanted to ask.  When I asked Dr. Perrin, he said that letting them do the MindBenders was good and that Math and Latin were good but he made another interesting suggestion.  He suggested reading books then comparing & contrasting with the movie and/or watching commercials and talking about the logic (or lack thereof) in them.  I wish I had asked Mr. Kern, but never really caught him to talk.

What a great conference!

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