Pages

Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Common Topics Go to the Beach

5 Common Topics ~ Ocean @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

There is no limit to the places and times one can use the 5 Common Topics to contemplate ideas or to have discussions with anyone about anything! If you’re new to the 5 Common Topics, it might be easiest to start with a single, concrete noun. We were at the beach last week, so let’s start there.

:: Definition

What is an ocean?

A large body of salt water.

To what broad category does ocean belong?

Body of water. Biome. Geographical feature.

:: Comparison

What is another body of water? (Or biome. Or geographical feature. Or something else. Compare any number of things.)

River

How are an ocean and a river similar?

They are bodies of water. They have currents. They are geographical features on earth. Plants and animals live in them. They are part of the water cycle, and smaller bodies of water feed into them. They are used for transportation. Civilizations have grown up near them. They are often used as recreational areas.

How are they different?

Oceans are made of salt water. Rivers are fresh water. Rivers can irrigate crops and water livestock.

Oceans are much larger than rivers. Different plants and animals live in them.

Oceans have tides and are affected by the moon. Rivers flow continuously in one direction.

:: Relationship

How are a river and an ocean related? (Or any other two things. Antecedent/consequence and cause/effect.)

Rivers flow into oceans (oceans do not flow into rivers). Water cycle.

:: Circumstance

(When and where questions work well here--geographical and historical context, specific or general.)

Where are the oceans? How many are there? What are they named?

What has happened on the oceans and when? Who has used them for what?

Exploration. Transportation. Wars. Commerce. Scientific research and discovery.

Magellan’s crew circumnavigated the world via oceans in the 1500s…

When were they discovered/identified/defined/mapped?

When were they created and how?

:: Testimony

Who or what has something to say about oceans?

Science? The Bible? Literature? Explorers? Quotes or Proverbs? Poets? Deep-sea divers or treasure hunters? Laws of nature?

[authorities, testimonials, statistics, laws, maxims, precedents…]

Are these reliable authorities? Why or why not?

 

[Clearly, the further you move down the list of topics, the more in-depth (and endless) the conversation can become. I shared a few specific questions and even fewer answers just as examples. You may want to argue with some of my examples. Feel free. That’s part of the discussion! Or come up with your own questions and answers.]

 

If you are interested in reading more posts about the 5 Common Topics, give these a try:

If you want to learn more about the history of the 5 Common Topics and how to integrate them across subjects within the curriculum, I highly recommend reading The Question by Leigh Bortins.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Language Love, Part II ~ Logos

[Read Part I here.]

Language Love ~ Logos @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

In my first post in this language series, I explored the idea that language is a cosmos, an orderly and beautiful form with which we think and communicate.

Today, I would like to contemplate the word logos.

Logos is defined asreason, thought of as constituting the controlling principle of the universe and as being manifested by speech. In Christian theology it is the eternal thought or word of God, made incarnate in Jesus Christ.”

Merriam-Webster defines logos as the divine wisdom manifest in the creation, government, and redemption of the world.

Logos comes from an original Greek word meaning “a word, saying, speech, discourse, thought, proportion, ratio, reckoning.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the incarnate Logos, the Living Word, through which all things are made.

We’re starting at the very beginning again.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

John 1:14 The Word (Logos) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word (Logos) of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

“In Greek philosophy and theology, [Logos is] the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning.”

Consider the Cosmos (order and ornament) of creation, which God spoke into being in Genesis 1.

Psalm 33:6 By the word (Logos) of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word (Logos) of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

A.W. Tozer writes:

One of the greatest realities with which we have to deal is the Voice of God in His world. The briefest and only satisfying cosmogony is this: ‘He spake and it was done.’ The why of natural law is the living Voice of God immanent in His creation. And this word of God which brought all worlds into being cannot be understood to mean the Bible, for it is not a written or printed word at all, but the expression of the will of God spoken into the structure of all things.”

Language is a universal human structure, given to us by God, in whose image we are created.

Exodus 3:13-14 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

The name God gives Himself in Exodus 3, “I am,” is structured. It is a predicated noun, name and being.

The structure, the very fabric, of human language is the subject and predicate.

Andrew Kern writes:

Grammar is where God, man, the soul, thinking, knowledge, and the cosmos all come together.

Grammar is based on the link between something that exists and something that applies to something that exists. God "exists." He called Himself, "I Am." He made us, putting us in the garden to steward it. As stewards, we need to know what we are stewarding, so he made us able to know the world we live in. The world around us exists as things that act or are acted on and have properties or qualities. In other words, the world is full of subjects with predicates. To know the world around us we must think it. When we think something, we always think something about it. In other words, the mind thinks subjects and predicates. Predicate comes from the Latin and means "to say about." All thought and all existence revolve around the relation between subjects and predicates (substances and properties if you like).

On the brilliant simplicity of subjects and predicates, Michael Clay Thompson writes:

Why is grammar fun and valuable? Grammar reveals to us the beauty and power of our own minds. With only eight kinds of words and two sides (subject and predicate) of each idea, we can make the plays of Shakespeare, or the novels of Toni Morrison, or the poems of Elizabeth Bishop. No system, so gorgeously elegant, could be expected to make such a language. Through grammar we see the simple form of our binary minds; in all of our sentences, however elaborate, we are making a predicate about a subject, and this reveals the meaning of clarity. For each sentence or idea, I must know both of these two things: what you are talking about, and what you are saying about it. For each paragraph of sentences, I must know what the paragraph is about, and what you are saying about it. For each essay of paragraphs, I must know what the essay is about, and what you are saying about it. A sentence, with its two sides, is a model of the mind.

We’ll be spending more time with sentences later in this series.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Language Love, Part I ~ Cosmos

The Cosmos of Language @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[I’ll be exploring the concept of language in this five-part series as I am preparing to tutor an Essentials class (English grammar and writing) with our Classical Conversations community this coming year (year six!).]

We use language to think about and communicate ideas.

We use grammar to think about and communicate ideas about language.

Grammar is a form or cosmos.

Let’s start our exploration of language with the word cosmos.

A cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. The word derives from the Greek term κόσμος (kosmos), meaning literally "order" or "ornament" and metaphorically "world,” and is diametrically opposed to the concept of chaos.

[Explore cosmos in depth here.]

While we’re at it, let’s look up the definition of ornament: (Merriam-Webster)
2a. something that lends grace or beauty
3: one whose virtues or graces add luster to a place or society

Order. (Form. Structure. Truth.) Ornament. (Beauty. Harmony. Grace. Virtue.)

Order + Beauty (literally) = World (metaphorically)

Let’s go to the very beginning.

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Formless. And what did God do? Created form: separated light and darkness, waters and sky, land and seas.

Empty. Once the form was established, God filled the place with beauty: plants, stars, birds, sea creatures, animals, man.

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

(Words matter!)

Array: verb (used with object):
1. to place in proper or desired order
2. to clothe with garments, especially of an ornamental kind; dress up; deck out.

And, as Leigh Bortins says, that’s how you teach everything to everybody. Figure out what the form is, and then you have all the content in the world to make it creative, beautiful!

Sentence forms
Latin ending forms
Math formulas
The structure of a story
Poetry forms

You can put in whatever content you wish once you know the form. The content is what makes it unique and interesting.

When we learn the grammar of language, we are learning form so that we have the tools to communicate truth, goodness, and beauty.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rest

Rest is not ease @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Rest.

So often it feels elusive.

Difficult to define, more difficult to realize.

In my weak human-ness, I wish for ease.

Balance.

I’ve always struggled with it. I can be honest: I’m a pendulum swinger.

Negligence? Check. Anxiety? Check.

You?

Maybe I’m not alone.

.

It was a rough month.

The indecision. The inability to control or enjoy. The little things in the way. And just plain stuff in the way.

.

But little arrows.

Here and there, pointing the way.

A blog post or two or three. A workshop. A book. A few literary quotes.

Decisions made.

A little peace. A little breathing room.

Inspiration, finally.

A little excitement.

.

Vacation.

Where one goes and her faults follow. Along with all the little (and big) quirks of humanity to whom she has given birth.

Moments of loveliness. Moments of feeling like a scrag of a tree on a weather-beaten rock.

.

But grace is a fact.

Grace is a fact @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Celebrate

Deepwood Estate @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I can't help myself. I must post more of this gorgeous wedding. [Check out more photographs here and here.] Isn’t it a dreamy location?

Bridesmaid and Groomsman @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

My friends Jessye (above) and Tinsa (below). (They are both in my ChocLit Guild book club along with the bride and her mother.)

Procession @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After the kiss. (I love Daphne’s smile.)

Married @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Reception tables. (Again, décor and flower arrangements by my sister Shannon.)

Cloche @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Reception Tables @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBuffet @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBride and Groom @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesRoasted Veggies @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesReception Guests @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesWedding Dinner @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

My lovely parents.

Mom and Dad @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesIn Costume @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesWine @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Jessye (again) and my friend Danielle.

Jessye and Danielle @ Mt. Hope Chronicles Cake and Music @ Mt. Hope Chronicles Wedding Cake @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesRilla @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Rilla (above) and (Aunt) Holly with baby Sweden (below).

Holly and Sweden @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesReception Dancing @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Still more to come…]

The Bible and Shakespeare

Hamlet and Hosea ~ Discussing Hamlet using the 5 common topics @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

"Jean Louise grinned. Her father said it took at least five years to learn law after one left law school: one practiced economy for two years, learned Alabama Pleading for two more, reread the Bible and Shakespeare for the fifth. Then one was fully equipped to hold on under any conditions."

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

“Mother, I am young. Mother, I am just eighteen. I am strong. I will work hard, Mother. But I do not want this child to grow up just to work hard. What must I do, Mother, what must I do to make a different world for her? How do I start?”

“The secret lies in the reading and the writing. You are able to read. Every day you must read one page from some good book to your child. Every day this must be until the child learns to read. Then she must read every day, I know this is the secret.”

“I will read,” promised Katie. “What is a good book?”

“There are two great books. Shakespeare is a great book. I have heard tell that all the wonder of life is in that book; all that man has learned of beauty, all that he may know of wisdom and living are on those pages. It is said that these stories are plays to be acted out on the stage. I have never spoken to anyone who has seen this great thing. But I heard the lord of our land back in Austria say that some of the pages sing themselves like songs.”

… “And what is the other great book?”

… Mary looked around the room furtively. “It is not fitting for a good Catholic to say so but I believe that the Protestant Bible contains more of the loveliness of the greatest story on this earth and beyond it…

“That is the book, then, and the book of Shakespeare. And every day you must read a page of each to your child—even though you yourself do not understand what is written down and cannot sound the words properly. You must do this that the child will grow up knowing of what is great—knowing that these tenements of Williamsburg are not the whole world.

… “And you must tell the child the legends I told you—as my mother told them to me and her mother to her. You must tell the fairy tales of the old country. You must tell of those not of the earth who live forever in the hearts of people—fairies, elves, dwarfs, and such…”

“Why?…”

“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were…”

Food for Thought ~ Encouragement, Science, Imagination, and More

Food for Thought @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Again, so much in one post. Help yourself to the buffet. Remember that you can always receive the links spread out over many courses by following my Facebook page.]

Encouragement

:: Compared to... @ Seth Godin

"Just because a thing can be noticed, or compared, or fretted over doesn't mean it's important, or even relevant. Better, I think, to decide what's important, what needs to change, what's worth accomplishing. And then ignore all comparisons that don't relate. The most important comparison, in fact, is comparing your work to what you're capable of. Sure, compare. But compare the things that matter to the journey you're on. The rest is noise."

:: I Am Not an Airplane @ Amongst Lovely Things

What if I treated my time like a budget?

What if I started our homeschool year, remembering that I’m a human person, not an airplane with the sky as the limit.

Teaching and Raising Children

:: When Success Leads to Failure: The pressure to achieve academically is a crime against learning @ The Atlantic

The truth—for this parent and so many others—is this: Her child has sacrificed her natural curiosity and love of learning at the altar of achievement, and it’s our fault. Marianna’s parents, her teachers, society at large—we are all implicated in this crime against learning. From her first day of school, we pointed her toward that altar and trained her to measure her progress by means of points, scores, and awards. We taught Marianna that her potential is tied to her intellect, and that her intellect is more important than her character. We taught her to come home proudly bearing As, championship trophies, and college acceptances, and we inadvertently taught her that we don’t really care how she obtains them. We taught her to protect her academic and extracurricular perfection at all costs and that it’s better to quit when things get challenging rather than risk marring that perfect record. Above all else, we taught her to fear failure. That fear is what has destroyed her love of learning.

:: The Difference Between Good Boys and Nice Boys in “Tom Sawyer” @ The Imaginative Conservative

"Goodness, then, demands integrity, honor, courage, and sacrifice—the manly, knightly virtues that Tom and his spirited friends practice in their boyish love of fun and adventure. The nice boys, on the other hand, do not take risks, venture beyond safe limits, or question the rules—even though some are silly and senseless. They like prizes, recognition, applause, and adulation. They do the minimum, they act their part, and they know how to curry favor. They show no life, no passion, no pluck. They act primarily on the basis of self-interest."

Science

:: 5 Reasons the Church Should Embrace Science @ Relevant

Science needs all kinds of people. The task of science is seeking truth, and truth-seeking requires we put aside some of our assumptions. Ironically, this is one of the biggest reasons some see Christians as unfit to pursue science, but in reality, people of all faiths (or no faith) all bring assumptions. We simply can’t get rid of them.

But one way to combat our assumptions is to approach problems from a variety of angles. Collaborating with others who do not share our assumptions (whether directly on a project or more generally within the field) places checks on our assumptions. In addition, having a variety of points of view approaching a problem offers additional opportunities for problem-solving and new breakthroughs.

:: A world-famous chemist tells the truth: there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution @ Uncommon Descent [I spent a very long time bending my brain to the content in this article and in the comments. I understand a minute fraction more than before.]

:: The Microscopic Structures of Dried Human Tears @ Smithsonian [This is an older article, but so fascinating!]

The Brain

:: How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain @ New York Times

:: Cognitive benefits of being a musician @ Pianodao

Words

:: Harnessing the Power of Latin and Greek for Early Readers @ IMSE Journal

I love the image accompanying this article. Many of our ordinary, everyday words come from the Anglo-Saxon, but many of our intellectual, sophisticated words are Latin-based and our specialized words are often Greek-based.

“…upwards of ninety percent of our academic words in English…are derived from Latin and Greek.”

:: Ticket to Write, Part 1: A Crush on Words @ Story Warren [We are definitely going to be making word tickets!]

First, get out your scissors and sit down right in front of that stack of magazines and cut-up-able stuff. You’re going on a treasure hunt for words. Search for interesting, juicy, energetic, vivid words, cut them out, and tape or glue them to the blank side of the tickets. There are no rules about what words to include or not to include in your collection. Find words you like, words that are fun to say out loud, nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, words you don’t know that you have to look up in the dictionary, and phrases that are unusual or funny or beautiful…

:: Ticket to Write, Part 2: Painting with Words @ Story Warren

Using your markers or crayons or colored pencils, write the words you’ve gathered all over your picture. Write them in colors that fit the different parts of the photo—blues for the sky, greens and browns for the trees. Write them big or little or curvy or sideways. Be as artistic as you want.

When you’ve finished writing all of the words from your pile of word tickets, use your own imagination to add more words. Your photograph has no color, but imagine what colors the things in the photo might be, and write color words in those places. Think about all five senses and write sound words, smell words, taste words, and touch words as well as words that describe the things you see. Fill every space.

Handwriting

:: Cheating Calligraphy Tutorial @ The Postman’s Knock

 

 

Wise Imagination

"Properly taught, and learned—acquired—a liberal education awakens and keeps alive the imagination. By the imagination, I don’t mean fanciful things, but I mean the capacity to see beyond the end of your nose and beyond the object in front you. That is to see its implications, its origins, its potential, its danger, its charm. All the things that enable one to navigate in this difficult and complex world with a modicum of wisdom, with calm, not be alarmed with every little thing that happens and with resources that in moments of stress, and after retirement, in illness, and loneliness keep one’s soul and body alive. ~ Jacque Barzun, cultural historian and education philosopher." [HT: Paideia Fellowship]

“I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting... It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand. '...a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.' So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to, or draw down to, children." -- Barbara Cooney [HT: A Mighty Girl]

:: Story Warren On World Radio: Fireballs, Fables, and Allies in Imagination [audio]

:: Landscapes with Dragons and Angels: Finding the Wise Imagination in Children’s Literature by Stratford Caldecott [This is a great essay about wise discernment of fantasy literature with several examples.] 

:: Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp: An Essay on Myth &“Real Life” by Stratford Caldecott @ Touchstone [Go read the whole article!]

Why are such tales so endlessly fascinating, so universally told? Perhaps because it is just such a journey that gives meaning to our own existence. We read or listen to the storyteller in order to orient ourselves within—to learn how to behave in order to get where we are going. Each of us knows that our life is not merely a mechanical progress from cradle to grave; it is a search, a quest, even a pilgrimage. There is some elusive goal that motivates us in our work and our play.

:: The Classical Reader [What a fantastic resource!]

“When you are choosing what books your children or students will read, the stakes are especially high. That is why we have put years of research into The Classical Reader and this companion website, collecting and analyzing the K–12 reading recommendations of classical educators from around the country and seeking those readings that have been important and pleasurable to generations of students. It is an invaluable resource for every school and homeschool family for everything from book reports to reading for pleasure.”

Good Stuff

:: Boy Who Couldn’t Afford Books Asks Mailman For Junk Mail To Read; Mailman Responds Spectacularly @ Huff Post

:: Iowa barber gives haircuts to children in exchange for them reading stories to him @ Globe Gazette

:: The Secret to Love is Just Kindness @ The Atlantic

"130 newlywed couples were invited to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study — one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Best of Mt. Hope Chronicles ~ Living Lovely

The Best of

This was originally a guest post on another blog (no longer published) back in August 2009. It was the beginning of my Living. Lovely. series

Lovely @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Living Lovely

Recently, after an emotionally rough few months this past year, I became inspired and empowered to change my outlook on life. It all began with this video by Amy Krouse Rosenthal: The Beckoning of Lovely. It spoke to me loud and clear.

Lovely became my theme word for the year, and doubtless it will stay with me, even when this year is long gone.

When I looked up the meaning of lovely in the dictionary, these two definitions jumped off the page:

2. delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace

4. eliciting love by moral or ideal worth

The first definition spoke to me in two ways:

1) I need to look around me and notice the beautiful things in my life. They are very rarely big things, such as a vacation to the Bahamas. But every day, all day long (even on the rough days) there are little beautiful things in my life, if I will only take the time to see and acknowledge them.

Sometimes lovely is so small, we have to stop what we are doing to notice it. Sometimes lovely is disguised in the quotidian, and we must step outside of our normal point of view to recognize it.

A sticky kiss from the 2 year old covered in maple syrup. A cherry tree, just beginning to bloom. A husband wrestling on the living room floor with his three sons. A phone call from a friend.

2) I can create lovely in my life. Amy’s list is a tremendous place to start.

Make a grand entrance. Make do with what you have. Make a splash! Make it up as you go. Make out. Make a friend. Kiss and make up. Make someone's day. Make something pretty. Make music. Make peace.

The second definition was an overwhelming reminder that God has created each and every person in this world with moral and ideal worth. Do I treat my children, my husband, the grocery clerk, or the person who cut me off in traffic as if they possessed moral or ideal worth? Do I make them feel lovely? How can I project God’s love and grace to those I come in contact with throughout my day, or even in my thoughts as I go through life?

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." ~Mathew 22:37-40

With God’s help, we all have the power to live lovely in our own lives. It doesn't matter how old you are, your gender, your financial bracket, or your political party. You don't need to be artistic or have a green thumb. You don't need 10 extra hours in your day. It doesn't matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, have a thriving career, or feel down-and-out. It isn't about perfection. It doesn't matter if your home is 8,000 square feet or 800.

Every one of us can make something.

We can make the most of our time here.

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true,

whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable

—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—

think about such things.

~Philippians 4:8