Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 19

Luke and Daddy Working

I have more food for thought today. This is such an interesting article for me to read, especially having three boys with very different personalities and strengths.

Mike Rowe's Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
May 11, 2011 @ The Discovery Channel

In general, we're surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We've pretty much guaranteed it.

In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We've elevated the importance of "higher education" to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled "alternative." Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as "vocational consolation prizes," best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of "shovel ready" jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel.

In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a "good job" into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber—if  you can find one—is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we'll all be in need of both.

[Emphasis mine.]

In my constant attention to the education I want to provide for my children, I’m reminded of this quote from The Core by Leigh Bortins:

Classical education encourages us that we are capable of becoming an Oxford don who builds bicycles, or a plumber who reads Milton, or a business owner who spouts theology. The classically educated are not defined by their occupation so much as by their breadth of knowledge and understanding.

She also writes:

When you ask someone, “What do you do?” do you really mean, “What’s your job?” Can you imagine asking George Washington what he did for a living? He would have answered that he was a farmer. He worked at home, except when he wasn’t at home. His role in history reveals that he could have responded, “I’m a farmer, a citizen, a stepfather, an army officer, the president, Martha’s husband, etc.” Even a craftsman such as a cooper or a goldsmith in colonial Boston would have farmed and constructed and participated in church and community government.


I have such a heart full of gratitude for the family surrounding us! My father built my childhood home (where he and my mom still live), and I spent hours in the wood shop with him as a child. My mother tackled projects such as refinishing furniture. My brother-in-law, Casey, is a skilled machinist. My brother-in-law, Ben, is skilled at construction. He is currently in the middle of a big project. My nephew has been spending time working with him. The morning I read this article, my skilled plumber uncle was there working with them. My husband’s skills amaze me. He will tackle almost anything and figure it out as he goes. My father-in-law often helps Russ with projects, such as refinishing the upstairs room for Lola.

Today, Russ is repairing his car with the help of Luke. The boys always get on their ‘dirty jobs’ clothes to help Daddy with projects. I think we’ll be watching more Mike Rowe this next week…


We got a new mini trampoline. The boys take turn jumping while reciting memory work. Two birds with one stone.

Bible Memory:
Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed verses)
Levi: Day by Day Kid's Bible
Hymns For a Kid's Heart (Praise to the Lord, The Almighty)
(Luke: weekly hymns on piano)
[patriotic hymns/songs (CDs)]

Teaching Textbooks or  Singapore workbooks daily
CC weekly memory work (focus on skip counting the 15s)

CC Memory work review
Bill Nye: The Sun (DVD)
Bill Nye: The Planets (DVD)

Mini trampoline
Outside play

Fine Arts:
Piano lessons (Luke)
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Mary Cassatt (DVD)
(The Artists’ Specials) Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist (fabulous full-length movie also ‘starring’ Louisa May Alcott and Edgar Degas)
Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Mary Cassatt) by Kathleen Krull

Language Arts:
IEW Poetry Memorization (poems #11,12)
IEW PAL story sequence/narration
All About Spelling Level 2 (step 6)
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks

Song School Latin (review @ Headventure Land)

Spanish Words and Phrases Flashcards (Usborne)

Drawing/”blobbing” continents "Blobbing" the Continents

CC Veritas History Timeline Cards (solidifying memorization, Creation-Pompeii)
Reviewed CC history memory work from Cycle 2

The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (Levi)
The Complete Fairy Tales of George MacDonald (Levi)
The Literary Adventures of Washington Irving, American Storyteller by Cheryl Harness (biography)
Rip Van Winkle picture book retelling by Kay Brown
Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving (complete and unabridged) (Levi)
Oliver Twist (animated DVD)
Rabbit Ears Storybook Collection (DVDs): Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Peachboy, Puss in Boots, Rumpelstiltskin, Stormalong

Boys Reading

Additional Reading:
Old Mother West Wind by Thornton W. Burgess
About TEN Magic Tree House books!
The Big Kerplop! The Original Adventure of the Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
The Big Chunk of Ice: The Last Known Adventure of The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
And lots more…


Megan @ Faith Like Mustard said...

Thank you for sharing this article. I am contemplating making the switch to classical education and--I've got to tell you--after reading WTM and others, I have struggled most with the question of whether or not classical ed elevates intellectual pursuits over all else. I firmly believe that our society has promoted higher ed to the point where it's losing it's value (but I still believe in it) and, like the article mentioned, vocational training is frowned upon (it's a necessity!). Thanks for reminding me that classical ed is not just about academia.

aly in va said...

I've seen a lot of research that talks about how kids retain/focus better when they are moving and this was especially seen among boys. Hoping you're seeing the same effects with that new trampoline! Looks like a lot of fun.

Heidi said...

Megan~ I think the key here is that *skilled* labor is hard to come by. We, as a society, have put thinking and labor in two separate categories. That is what is so damaging. I want my boys to have a strong grasp of language and communication skills, an insatiable curiosity, a love of reading, strong understanding in math and science, and a view of history from beginning to the present NO MATTER WHAT profession they choose. I want them to be able to think for themselves, participate in their community and government, be able to handle their own finances (possibly their own business finances even if they become plumbers), enjoy well-rounded conversations and friendships, have communication skills to be exercised in any profession they find themselves in, be prepared for learning anything--including a trade, be able to handle unexpected changes that life might throw at them, and in short--think life is interesting! Each of my boys will choose their own life, but I certainly will do whatever it takes to make sure they have the brain skills to meet it head-on. :) With 8-10 years of solid classical education under their belts, I would have no problem with my boys spending a few years even before high school graduation learning a trade or pursuing a focused interest if they are so inclined. The problem with our modern educational system is that students often *are not* getting that strong foundation in the early years, so by high school it ends up having to be a choice. Either they learn a trade, or they take academic classes. And we've associated (and delegated) physical work and trades with the 'uneducated.' We have also raised a whole generation of kids who haven't had to work, and don't know how. They don't have to contribute to the family farm or to the family finances, often not even to household chores.

Okay, rant over. I'm going to send my boys out to dig ditches after Latin today. :)