Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mt. Hope Academy @ The Live & Learn Studio ~ July 2013

Food For Thought

Here is a buffet for you—all sorts of good things to digest. Take your time.

::  I Wonder: Work, Art, and the Deeper Meaning of Life by Somer Salomon @ Transpositions:

“Wonder, however, acknowledges first that we exist in a created reality bigger than ourselves.  In this way, Pieper maintained that the proper beginning for both the arts and philosophy is an openness to this created reality – and the highest form of understanding is then received as a gift from the Creator.[3]  Pieper writes that art and philosophy “cannot be accomplished except with an attitude of receptive openness and attentive silence – which, indeed, is the exact opposite of the worker’s attitude of concentrated exertion.”

::  Artists: Don’t Just Work; Be at Leisure! by Somer Salomon @ Transpositions:

Instead, Pieper maintains that the arts are most definitely rooted in leisure. Pieper insists that we have forgotten the true meaning of leisure, from which springs richness, fullness of life, existential meaning, and happiness.  Leisure is not idleness or even relaxation (both of which Pieper ironically says are other forms of work).  Instead, leisure is the openness to the given world, an attitude of considering the things before us in a celebratory spirit.  Ultimately, Pieper maintains, leisure is rooted in the idea of festival!  Festival is humanity’s chance to rejoice in our being and offer thanks for our lives; it is the joyful homage we bring to the Creator for the harmony of his world and our place in it.

:: “If we knew that all our students wished to be corporate executives, would we train them to be good readers of memos, quarterly reports, and stock quotations, and not bother their heads with poetry, science, and history? I think not. Everyone who thinks, thinks not. Specialized competence can only come through a more generalized competence, which is to say that economic utility is a by-product of a good education. Any education that is mainly about economic utility is far too limited to be useful, and, in any case, so diminishes the world that it mocks one's humanity. At the very least, it diminishes the idea of what a good learner is."
-Neil Postman, The End of Education

::  Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part I of II) by Russell Kirk @ Crisis Magazine (Incredible article. Click on the link to read it in full. Here is a small taste.):

“Genuine relevance in literature, on the contrary, is relatedness to what Eliot described as “the permanent things”: to the splendor and tragedy of the human condition, to constant moral insights, to the spectacle of human history, to love of community and country, to the achievements of right reason. Such a literary relevance confers upon the rising generation a sense of what it is to be fully human, and a knowledge of what great men and women of imagination have imparted to our civilization over the centuries. Let us be relevant in our teaching of literature, by all means—but relevant to the genuine ends of the literary discipline, not relevant merely to what will be thoroughly irrelevant tomorrow.”

:: Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part II of II) (A proposed “humane letters” book list for high school students. I enjoyed this nugget.):

“Fiction is truer than fact: I mean that in great fiction we obtain the dis­tilled judgments of writers of remarkable perceptions—views of human nature and society which we could get, if unaided by books, only at the end of life, if then.”

::  On Teaching From a State of Rest @ Amongst Lovely Things:

“We homeschooling mothers worry over everything. We worry that we aren't doing a good enough job, that our kids aren't progressing, that they aren't reading as well as they should be. We worry that they won't develop the study skills they need, won't do enough science experiments, won't read enough Great Books, won't get good SAT scores, won't won't wont. We worry about who they are hanging out with and how well they are eating and if they are getting enough sleep. We worry that the curriculum we've chosen isn't a good fit, that it isn't challenging enough, or maybe that it's too challenging. We worry that we aren't teaching Latin and everybody else is teaching Latin, that our child is two math books behind the other homeschooled kids we know, that we haven't done enough poetry or nature study or grammar.”

::  A Game-Changing Education Book from England by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. @ Core Knowledge (Read the excellent preview of her book at Amazon using the “Look inside” feature: Seven Myths about Education):

The author gives evidence from her own experience of the ways in which potentially effective teachers have been made ineffective because they are dutifully following the ideas instilled in them by their training institutes. These colleges of education have not only perpetuated wrong ideas about skills and knowledge, but in their scorn for “mere facts” have also deprived these potentially good teachers of the knowledge they need to be effective teachers of subject matter. Teachers who are only moderately talented teacher can be highly effective if they follow sound teaching principles and a sound curriculum within a school environment where knowledge builds cumulatively from year to year.”

::  The End of the Matter! @ Odoro Amoris (Clearly coming from a place of mother-anguish.)

::  Nine Throw-Away Ideas With Which to Think by Andrew Kern @ CiRCE Institute

“When we listen to a song or composition, the composer creates a tension by creating a gap in the form that our very soul strives to fill. When he brings about the resolution, we feel joy. The same thing happens on a math equation.

“A poet will adopt a form and find that he needs more content to fill in a verse. This will generate ideas that would not otherwise have been discovered.”

::  English Metrical Law by Stratford Caldecott @ The Imaginative Conservative:

“[W]hat good prose has in common with good poetry is music, “harmonious numbers,” and specifically rhythm. (Flaubert is famously said to have worked out a rhythm for the final pages of Madame Bovary before coming up with the words.) Rhythm or metre is a mathematical structure, a structure of repetition and variation. It creates a shape in time, a dynamic flowing movement that carries the mind along with it. If prose lacks rhythm, it leaves us behind. Our attention is too easily diverted from the direction the author intends us to move.”


“[H]e also argues that the best poetry does not follow the rules tamely and as if mechanically, but will convey feeling by constant little tensions with the underlying structure, little departures from the standard pattern. (The same is true in music. It must constantly surprise us in little ways; which it can only do if the form to which it basically conforms creates a framework of expectation.) Thus “there seems to be a perpetual conflict between the law of the verse and freedom of the language, and each is incessantly, though insignificantly, violated for the purpose of giving effect to the other.”

::  The Three Rules of Work by Lisa Bailey @ Classical Conversations:

“However, when I read that Albert Einstein once posited that there were three rules of work, I had to pause to consider his position. As I pondered, I realized that the genius was right and that these rules for work might well be rules for homeschooling, too. The rules are elementary and surprisingly easy to remember: out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, and in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

::  5 things I hate about homeschooling (& how I deal with them) by Jamie Martin @ Simple Homeschool

“Fear of not enough time keeps many from considering home education. After all, how could someone possibly keep a clean home, educate multiple kids, work part-time, have a strong marriage, and stay sane at the same time?”

::  Coming Soon to Theaters near You! Saxon Advanced Math by Jennifer Greenholt @ Classical Conversations (so funny)

“Our Mother Tongue would be a heartwarming production co-written by Nicholas Sparks and Alex Kendrick, and starring Rachel McAdams and Kirk Cameron. The Smiths are just your average American family: Dad (a newspaper editor who works a bit too hard), Mom (a high school English teacher who worries about the future of her profession), and their children (tech-savvy teenagers who could not care less about the written word). Then, a devastating accident brought on by texting while driving threatens to destroy the family. Enter an inspiring therapist (Sean Connery), who uses sentence diagramming to restore the son’s fine motor and cognitive skills. As the Smith family works through classes of words and kinds of sentences, they rediscover their love for one other as well as the power of the English language.”

::  My Summer with Percy Jackson by Kathy Sheppard @ Classical Conversations:

“The fake “little g” gods of Percy Jackson provide a springboard to discussion concerning our God. Riordan does a wonderful job representing the “little g” gods in the way that the ancients portrayed them. They are always intervening and scheming, just like in the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid. They are anthropomorphic (i.e., they act exactly like humans) and have human imperfections such as greed, lying, selfishness, and extreme hatred. They are bumbling, always fighting, and have no foresight into the future of people. They were created instead of being a creator.”

:: 6 Homeschooling Misconceptions Erased @ Simple Homeschool (excellent article!):

“Like any other parent, I’m driven to provide my children with the essential ingredients that lead to lifelong happiness and success. Late at night, unable to sleep, I’ve entertained my share of doubts. What if homeschooling will limit their chances? I finally realized I was looking at it from too narrow a perspective.”

:: From Brave Writer on Facebook. (If you haven’t liked her page, do it. Her thoughts and posts are intelligent and encouraging.):

"We are the lucky ones. We have work, love in our lives, and the personalities to not settle. We look for ways to grow, improve, and become people who make contributions that last and matter.

"We don't give in to the status quo. We aren't content to do 'what we've always done' just because we've always done it.

"We aren't afraid to take risks, even though sometimes we feel afraid. We aren't worried that others 'won't understand' so much so, that we stay in situations that aren't healthy or good for us, or our loved ones.

"We are willing to try hard and harder, and we are willing to rest when we need a rest. We make changes when they need to be made.

"We have friendships and optimism and hope for the future and our good health. We are the lucky ones."

::  Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Being Able to Sit Still at School @ The Atlantic:

“A study released last year in the Journal of Human Resources confirms my suspicions. It seems that behavior plays a significant role in teachers' grading practices, and consequently, boys receive lower grades from their teachers than testing would have predicted. The authors of this study conclude that teacher bias regarding behavior, rather than academic performance, penalizes boys as early as kindergarten. On average, boys receive lower behavioral assessment scores from teachers, and those scores affect teachers' overall perceptions of boys' intelligence and achievement.”

::  Pleasure and Practice in the Literature Classroom @ The Art of Poetry:

“I start every class having students recite either a poem or a prose passage–they do this 3-4 times in a semester.  This gives them a direct intimacy with the language and it gives the listeners a certain relation to the language as well–receiving it as a gift from another human being.  IT also starts our class on the right foot–a liturgy of beginning, if you will, we we are reminding ourself of the importance of the words of these beloved writers, taking them in, making them part of our meanings.”

::  Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills @ NPR:

“It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.”

::  Meaning Is Healthier Than Happiness @ The Atlantic:

“Cole and Fredrickson found that people who are happy but have little to no sense of meaning in their lives — proverbially, simply here for the party — have the same gene expression patterns as people who are responding to and enduring chronic adversity. That is, the bodies of these happy people are preparing them for bacterial threats by activating the pro-inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is, of course, associated with major illnesses like heart disease and various cancers.”

::  The Right Kind of Happy @ The Economist (same song, different hymnal as my friend Pam says)

“THE Greek founders of philosophy constantly debated how best to live the good life. Some contended that personal pleasure is the key. Others pointed out that serving society and finding purpose is vital. Socrates was in the latter camp, fiercely arguing that an unvirtuous person could not be happy, and that a virtuous person could not fail to be happy.”

::  16 Fancy Literary Techniques Explained By Disney @ BuzzFeed (Actually quite helpful!!)

Definition: A character who illuminates the qualities of another character by means of contrast.
Example: Gaston’s combination of good looks and terrible personality emphasizes Beast’s tragic situation. The former is a monster trapped inside a man; the latter a man trapped inside a monster.


Lists and Lessons

It was a busy month, and I tried my best to keep track of our reading lists at least. (The boys did a little math here and there, as well.)

Language Arts: 
All About Spelling
Penpal Letters

History/Literature/Historical Fiction:
The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages (Ch 3-10) 
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (Levi, assigned pages)
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (Luke, assigned pages)
Hostage Lands by Douglas Bond (historical fiction, Roman Britain 3rd century A.D., 228 pp, Levi-IR)
Augustine, the Farmers Boy of Tagaste (Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.)
Against the World: The Odyssey of Athanasius (373 A.D.) 
Beowulf: Dragonslayer retold by Rosemary Sutcliff
Across a Dark and Wild Sea (Ireland in 521 A.D., Columcille, writing books by hand) (library) 
The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin
The Secret of Kells (DVD, Netflix and Amazon streaming)
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane (historical fiction, monasteries, making colored ink) 
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola (library)
The Story of Saint Patrick (400s)
Patrick: Saint of Ireland
Saint Patrick: Pioneer Missionary to Ireland
The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare
Saint Ciaran: The Tale of a Saint of Ireland 
Augustine Came to Kent (historical fiction, Augustine of Canterbury, 597 A.D., 179 pp, Levi-IR) 
Fin M'coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill (Irish legend, literature) 
Scottish Fairy Tales
The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica (480-547 A.D.)
Who in the World Was The Acrobatic Empress?: The Story of Theodora
How the Monastery Came to Be on the Top of the Mountain (Romanian oral tradition)
Byzantine Empire (Explore Ancient Worlds) (library)
The Byzantine Empire (Exploring the Ancient World) (library)
The Real Santa Claus by Marianna Mayer
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights retold by Geraldine McCaughrean (literature)
The Story of Sinbad the Sailor and Other Tales
Science in Early Islamic Cultures
Empress of China, Wu Ze Tian: Written by Jiang Cheng an ; Illustrated by Xu De Yuan
The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History 
Ancient China (See Through History) (library)
Through Time: Beijing (library)
Maples in the Mist: Poems for Children from the Tang Dynasty (library)
Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China (Magic School Bus) (library)
We're Riding on a Caravan: An Adventure on the Silk Road (library)
The Crane Wife (Japanese Folktale) (library)
Little Oh (Japanese Folktale) (library)
Cool Melons-Turn to Frogs!: The Life and Poems of Issa (Japan) (library) 
Chieko and the Pine - A Japanese Folktale (DVD) (library)
The Boy Who Drew Cats adapted by Margaret Hodges (Japanese Folktale) (library)
The Pumpkin Runner (Australia) (library)
The Story of Rosy Dock (Australia) (library)
Through Time: London (library)

Literature Study:
Book Detectives literary analysis book club: The Raft
The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius (adapted from the Latin original and appropriately retold for younger audiences)


Levi’s Free Reading:
Re-read the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull (4 books) (library)
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) (library)
Seeds of Rebellion (Beyonders) (library)
100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1) (library)
Dandelion Fire: Book 2 of the 100 Cupboards (library)
The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboards (library)
The Dragon's Tooth (Ashtown Burials #1) (library)
The Drowned Vault (Ashtown Burials #2) (library)
(Here is an interesting article about 100 Cupboards and N.D. Wilson at The Rabbit Room. I’ve used many of their book selections for Levi this month.)
Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread Series #1) (library)
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (library)
Reread first three books in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
(Note: If anyone uses Levi’s book list as a reference, Temeraire is not a children’s/young adult series. I am merely listing the books he reads, not wholeheartedly endorsing them for all children/teens.)
Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, Book 4) (library)
Victory of Eagles (Temeraire, Book 5) (library)
Tongues of Serpents (Temeraire, Book 6) (library)
Crucible of Gold (Temeraire, Book 7) (library)
The Bark Of The Bog Owl (The Wilderking Trilogy) (library)
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (library)
The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 1 by John Flanagan (author of Ranger’s Apprentice series) (library)
The Invaders: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 2 (library)
Pages of History, Volume Two: Blazing New Trails (historical fiction from Veritas Press, 1500s to the present)

Luke’s Free Reading:
100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1) (library)
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (library)
Pages of History, Volume Two: Blazing New Trails (historical fiction from Veritas Press, 1500s to the present)
The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull (library)

Leif’s Free Reading:
More progress!!
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi in the South Seas
Pippi on the Run
Dominic by William Steig
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (library)
(Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Tree House…

My Reading!:
His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (library)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (library)
Birds by Aristophanes
100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson (library)
The Duel by Anton Chekhov
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

Miscellaneous Lovely Picture Books:

Diogenes' Lantern (The Greek philosopher)
Diogenes (The Greek philosopher…as a dog)
Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates (library)
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein (library)
The Treasure by Uri Shulevitz (library)
Picture books by William Steig

A full day of science camp (including shark dissection) (Luke and Levi)
Three days of logic camp using The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning (Levi-3 days, Luke-1) 
Star-gazing with Great-Grandpa (and time spend with both Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma)
Weekly+ get-togethers (potluck, volleyball) in the garden with family and friends
Monday evening concerts in the park
A week of VBS for the boys (Levi volunteering)
(Russ out of state for two weeks!)
A day in the mountains, a day on the water
Play dates with friends, birthday party, swim practice
All sorts of good stuff…

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