Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy @ The Live and Learn Studio ~ November 2011

greater glory of God

I wish that I had more time (and more brain space and ability) to be able to express my thoughts more completely and more eloquently. This may be a long and disjointed post. (Char, if you’re working tonight, this one’s for you. Grin.)

I’ve been thinking so much this past month on how God’s creation speaks to His nature. How man is made in His image. How He pursues us. And how our purpose is to reflect and glorify Him.

Classical Conversations states that our purpose is ‘To know God and to make Him Known.’

The Circe Institute states that ‘Christian education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences so that, in Christ, the student is enabled to better know, glorify, and enjoy God.’ And then, ‘St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is the man fully alive.”’

In so many ways, I have discovered that the fullest education (and life) reflects both ORDER and ARTISTRY. That there is beauty in truth. And that when there is a balance and harmony to these two seemingly opposite sides, it can result in great joy and delight.

Charlotte Mason speaks of ‘living books.’ defines living books in this way: ‘Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.”’

Passion, Pleasure and Delight, and Profound Skill, Knowledge and Wisdom

These are qualities that create amazing learning experiences. The perfect synthesis of order and artistry is manifest in such areas as classical music, but previously I have expected it less in areas such as grammar or math. And then—along came Michael Clay Thompson:

"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.......

Another way to think about why grammar is fun is to ask, what is not fun? The feeling of not fun. The off-center feeling of struggling with one’s own ignorance to accomplish just an ordinary thing is not fun. The private knowledge that you don’t even know which pronoun to use in your own language, this is not fun. The low self-esteem of guessing your way through commas, and spattering words around like a wordy Jackson Pollack, not really controlling where they will land or why, this is not fun. It is not fun to have a peer correct your usage, make your verb plural, shift your wrong pronoun to the object case where it belongs, or gently remind you that your sentence is a fragment."

I don’t know when I’ve read anything with such a passion for both perfect order and astounding artistry as Michael Clay Thompson’s rigorous language arts series for elementary students. His writing screams ‘delight!’

Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, along came Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D.:  Passion, profound skill and knowledge, CREATIVITY, and sheer joy in a math book. From 5+2 to calculus, statistics, and linear algebra—in narrative form. Yeah, baby. If given a chance, all three boys would read Life of Fred for hours.

I cozied up on the couch to read Life of Fred with the boys (incidentally, both Michael Clay Thompson language arts books and Life of Fred math books are ‘snuggle up on the couch to read and discuss’ sort of books) and opened up the first book. On the dedication page (of each book) Stan writes ‘for Goodness’ sake, or as J.S. Bach—who was never noted for his plain English—often expressed it: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (to the greater glory of God).’ Delightful math, glorifying God, Bach, Latin. Perfect synchronicity. (Not to mention the boys just watched a wonderful movie about Bach…)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(to the greater glory of God)

Wait, there’s more. After all of this, I read another article by Tucker Teague. (This guy is on a roll.) 
Incarnational’ Homeschooling @ Classical Conversations:

We live in a world created by God. We are creatures of God’s imagination. Our rationality comes from God. The longings of our hearts are put there by God. Both our desires and our capabilities to teach and to be taught originate from God. And yet, God is a mystery. We cannot know God unless He reveals Himself to us, and even then, we will always remain incapable of knowing God in His essence. He is wonderful and good, He is faithful and sovereign, but He is also transcendent and we are not. Still, God has made us to know Him and to enjoy Him. Praise be to God that in poignant and substantial ways He has made Himself known to us. To know and enjoy God is, or should be, our foundation as educators.

And then I came across this TED video:

And this quote:

"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
~Albert Einstein

With all the thoughts of God’s creation, order and artistry, swirling around in my head, Fibonacci numbers fit right in. The boys read Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D’Agnese.

My book club, ChocLit Guild, read Perelandra by C.S. Lewis this past month. We had an amazing conversation about the fact that we can’t separate knowledge (and education) from God, because all truth is His and all knowledge, and He is reflected in all of creation.

After our Book Detectives meeting was over, the moms had a fabulous discussion about using the story chart with the Bible to see the ‘big picture’ of God’s story, where we stand in time, and our purpose as God’s creation.

Then we started The Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader. Order, artistry, passion, goodness, truth, beauty.

I’m telling you, it has been a month of big thoughts. But I need to get back to parenting, so, without further ado, here is our basic educational outline for the month of November:

Classical Conversations
Weeks 9-12 (now halfway through and on a long Christmas break!!): Memory work in science, history, history timeline, geography, math, English grammar, and Latin. Weekly presentations (public speaking), science experiments/projects, fine arts unit studies, and gym/social time.

Bible Memory: 
A New Commandment (CD)
Independent Bible reading:
Levi: The Day by Day Bible
Luke: The Action Bible
Leif: The Jesus Storybook Bible
Telling God's Story
Hymns For a Kid's Heart (Vol. 1, 2)

(Luke and Levi: weekly hymns on piano)
(weekly patriotic hymns/songs)

Teaching Textbooks daily (Leif:3, Luke: 3/4, Levi: 4)
The Critical Thinking Co. math workbooks
Life of Fred elementary series
CC weekly memory work (skip counting)

DK First Human Body Encyclopedia
The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body (Eyewitness)
My Body (human body project @ CC)
What’s Science All About? (biology, chemistry, physics by Usborne) (The boys LOVED this book!!)
CC weekly science memory work (human body)

Swim Team (Levi), Swim Lessons (Luke)
(mini trampoline and outdoor play)

Fine Arts:
CC tin whistle/music theory
Monthly Fine Arts Study (Robert Louis Stevenson, N. C. Wyeth, Edvard Grieg)
Beethoven’s Wig 2
Piano lessons (Luke)
Bach’s Fight for Freedom (DVD)

Language Arts:
IEW Writing (Luke: Primary Arts of Language Writing, Levi: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons)
IEW Poetry Memorization
MCT Grammar and Vocabulary (Town level)
Writing With Ease
Sentence diagramming
CC English grammar memory work
All About Spelling Level 2 (Steps 11-14)
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks
Copy work using custom handwriting worksheets
(I shared more details about our Language Arts line-up at this link.)

I’ve been trying to diagram our history sentences. It is a great challenge for me, and I always learn something new. I got the appositive wrong on this one. The ‘the’ should have be on a slanted line under ‘(Fugitive Slave Act)’ I think.

grammar love

Prima Latina (review: DVD lessons ?-16)
CC Latin memory work 

CC U.S. geography (states, capitals, and more)
Drawing the U.S. (outline) free-hand
Place the State online game

The Story of the World: Early Modern Times (ch. 17-21)
CC weekly history memory work (American history)
DK Eyewitness: Russia
Peter the Great by Diane Stanley
Ten Kings and the Worlds They Ruled by Milton Meltzer (Louis XIV and Peter the Great)
Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins
I-Know-Not-What, I-Know-Not-Where: A Russian Tale adapted by Eric A. Kimmel
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale retold by Arthur Ransome
Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave as told by Marianna Mayer
The Pearl by Nan Richardson (a true Cinderella story, set in 18th-century Russia) (gorgeous picture book!)
The Spider’s Gift: A Ukrainian Christmas Story retold by Eric A. Kimmel
The Sea King’s Daughter: A Russian Legend by Aaron Shepard
The Language of Birds by Rafe Martin
The Khan’s Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale by Laurence Yep
All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale From Tibet by Barbara Helen Berger
Tikki Tikki Tembo and more stories to celebrate Asian heritage (6 stories, Storybook Treasures DVD)
Cowboy on the Steppes by Song Nan Zhang
Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley (George Washington during French and Indian War, Levi-IR)
Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian Wars, 1689-1763 by Betsy Maestro
Mystery History of a Pirate Galleon by Fred Finney
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Levi and Luke-IR)
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (Luke)
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (Levi)
DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History
CC Veritas History Timeline Cards (memorizing)
Liberty’s Kids (Netflix streaming), Schoolhouse Rock America, and This is America, Charlie Brown (DVDs)

Literature Study:
Book Detectives
Once Upon a Time: A Story of the Brothers Grimm by Robert Quackenbush
Ever After (DVD)
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (Levi and Luke-IR)
The War of the Worlds (Classic Starts, retold from the H.G. Wells original, Luke-IR
The Time Machine (Classic Starts, retold from the H.G. Wells original, Luke-IR

Other Reading:
Miscellaneous library books
Thanksgiving book collection

Luke’s Free Reading:
Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues (and others?) by Donald J. Sobol
Magic By the Lake (and others?) by Edward Eager
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Classic Starts: Greek Myths (retold from the classic originals)
A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne
Pilgrims (Magic Tree House Research Guide) by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, and Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
and others

Levi’s Free Reading:
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt! by Jean Fritz
Blue Willow by Doris Gatesz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Lots of library books about dragons (bleh) and lots of re-reading of books at home


Ariana Rose said...

I feel like I need to bow down to you and your homeschooling. I'm blown away when you post about it. I don't know how you do it all with four children! Three rambunctious boys and a toddler and all of that! HOW? Do you also cook from scratch and keep your house decently clean? HOW?! lol. I couldn't get even half that stuff done. I really couldn't!

Christa said...

Your book lists are beautiful. :)

I think your diagram is wrong, though. The subject of the sentence is a series of three things (1. the Compromise of 1850; 2. the Fugitive Slave Act; 3. the Dred Scott Decision). So, there should be three subject lines (each with a "the" coming down from it) that all go to the verb "preceded."

But I am not an Essentials tutor, so I may very well be wrong.

We just finished up our CC term, too. We are slowing down for the break - lots of reading and some math.

Heidi said...

Ariana~ You're so funny. It looks so much better in list form than in real life. :) The boys do tons of independent reading, which helps a lot. They do their math mostly on the computer. Latin is on DVD right now. And, no, I don't cook well, nor is my house clean (except for a couple hours on the days my house-cleaner comes to clean it :)). We also don't do very many crafts or games (like, none)-- which makes your school days look so fabulous to me. Isn't it crazy how everything looks greener on the other side of the fence? ;-P

Christa~ Ahhh. I thought the Fugitive Slave Act was the *name* of the compromise of 1850. When I looked it up just now (rather belated on my part, huh?), the Fugitive Slave Act was only *part* of the Compromise of 1850. So I guess the Fugitive Slave Act would be part of the compound subject rather than an appositive (which is what I thought it was). See, I learn something new every day. Thanks for setting me straight. :) (We aren't studying history on the same schedule as our memory sentences, so we haven't gotten there yet. We're only at the Revolutionary War...)

Christa said...

The only reason I knew off the top of my head that those were, indeed, three different things is that I am on my third trip through The Patriot's History of the United States. We just finished the Civil War in the Challenge III class that I tutor.

Your diagramming was great! And now your history knowledge is too. :)

Life is Fred is very popular here - the kindergartener prefers it as his bedtime story. If it is similar to MCT, I might have to look into MCT grammar.

Anonymous said...

Grandpa just said to tell you he really enjoys your blogs, including all the pictures. For me, I too, like Ariana said, you blow me away. I had to read some of your sentences more than once to really understand all your thoughts. Really great and profound stuff!! You are doing a great job, Heidi God has given you a tremendous mind and it's so good to see you using it to good advantage in your own life and the life of your kids. Grandma

Anonymous said...

Heidi, Why virtually every time I try to write a comment the words do not come up for me to copy for "word verification" so I just write any old few letters and then when it rejects my "choices" a word comes up for me to write in. Almost every time I write it happens. Grandma

Heidi said...

Thank you, Grandma. You might have had to read my sentences twice because they were incoherent. I'm really tired tonight. Now even *I* can't read them. ;-P I don't know why Blogger is difficult about the comments. Sometimes it won't let me comment at all. Sorry you've had trouble!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for this post. I glean something from you everytime I read!
The Advent Family this the first year you have used it? I have been wanting to do something like this, but have not known which resource to use. Would you recommend this one, or is the verdict still out?

Joseph D'Agnese said...

Thanks for sharing my math book, Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci with your children! All best,
Joe D'Agnese

Heidi said...

Julie~ This is our second (third?) time through the Handel's Messiah Advent Reader. We LOVE it!!

Anonymous said...

It is $50 on Amazon. Am I missing a more economical place to buy this, or is about what you paid for it?
Thanks again!!

Heidi said...

Oh, no! I did get it on Amazon, but I certainly didn't pay $50 for it! Drat!

If you are looking for a great Advent book/activity and don't want to pay $50 (I don't think I would), you could try the free Jesse Tree Advent Devotional Book from A Holy Experience. It looks wonderful, it's free, and you could get it right away. We'll probably use it next year.

Jessica Stock said...

I always love what I find here and you just keep inspiring me to homeschool my kids . .. I only hope I can maintain my enthusiasm for learning like you do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Heidi. We have been doing Ann's Jesse Tree for the last 5 years, and we LOVE It. This would be in addition to that. I went ahead and ordered it anyway...we will have it for years...some things are worth splurging on!

Susan said...

Hi Heidi -- I am new to homeschooling this year (I've got three boys, but only the oldest is really doing school. He is in second grade, and the others are ages 4 and 2.) I am astounded by your reading lists, and wonder if you read all those books cover to cover or just choose parts from them. I'm looking at your History/Literature list specifically. How do you go about choosing them? How do you keep track of everything?

Your blog is always inspiring -- I think I found it through a CC friend over here in Bend.