23 July 2014

Scholé Sisters: Ideas as Soul Formation

I think I mentioned on Friday that Scholé Sisters is finally rolled out! We're very excited, and also encouraged by all the comments you all have left over there. Today is my first post on that site, being part three of our You're More Classical Than You Think series.

Yesterday, Mystie talked about virtue being the goal of education. I piggybacked on that for my post, because what I'm saying is only true if virtue is actually the goal. I'm talking about one of my very favorite things: ideas. I called it Ideas as Soul Formation. Here's a taste:
It is ideas — as they are necessarily presented in the whole forms of things like story, myth, poems, or history tales — that form the soul. They do this first by raising the question of “ought.” No one is inspired to ask, “Ought Christopher Columbus to have sailed the ocean blue in 1492?” Facts in isolation don’t raise those sorts of questions. But many ought questions can be raised when reading a biography of Columbus.

So...click on over and read the whole thing. It's what I'm thinking about today.

22 July 2014

CM-ing the Progym: The Series {Apparently} Continues

I told you that I'd let you know when I had finally made a decision. I had kept the graphic up in the sidebar until I knew for sure what I intended to do. Most of you know what I'm talking about: I needed to decide what I was doing for my oldest's upcoming seventh grade year. Lost Tools of Writing? Or Classical Composition's Chreia/Maxim?

I'd like to say that I made this decision after doing a ton of research, but that's not really how it played out. In fact, I'd say that I just chose my default option.

This is about the best way I think I can manage my school budget, my time, my energy, and my various children.

As I pondered this year, I knew that my oldest is ready for LTW. I'm sure he is. That's never been a question in my mind; he's a natural writer.

But I have this problem: I have other children. Okay, maybe it's not fair to call it a problem, but the reality is that I'm not sure I can commit to LTW while simultaneously committing to the education of my other three children, who are still in the fairly high-maintenance stage when it comes to academics.

The truth is: I need to teach O-Age-Five to read this year. It just needs to be done. In the meantime, the girls still require a lot of reading aloud. I don't want to buy an expensive writing curriculum, and then ditch it because I don't really have the time to learn to use it.

Aye, there's the rub: LTW seems like a huge learning curve to me. Classical Composition has been very easy for me to read through, understand, and then adapt to make it more CM. It hasn't take a lot of time, energy, or brain power. I've been able to teach it fairly intuitively. LTW doesn't seem intuitive to me. It seems like something I'd need to learn to do.

It isn't that I'm not willing, but rather where I think my priorities ought to lie this coming year. I guess you could say it is about doing my duty to all of my children. If I only had one child, I'd jump on LTW now. It'd be good for him. But in light of all four children, Classical Composition seems like a better route.

I'm not saying that this is goodbye to the LTW idea forever. It's just that it's goodbye for now.

We'll kick off the year with our regular progym exercises. I'll read through the Chreia/Maxim Teacher Guide and do what I always do: do a few of the lessons myself. This is great, because I can always use some writing improvement, and also I find that first embodying the lesson is the quickest way for me to know how to teach it.

After that, I'll figure out how to CM this progym stage. Then I'll come back here and share what I'm doing. It'll be fun and, now that I've made a decision, I'm starting to look forward to this coming year of writing.

So all of this is really to say that I've made my choice. Have you? I know some of you were trying to make the same decision.

Click to return to the series index.

21 July 2014

On Mother Culture

This series wouldn't be complete without Mother Culture. After all, we've talked about Miss Mason's continuing self-education and how she educated her teachers, the Mothers' Education Course, and more! If we're going to be thorough, we simply must touch on Mother Culture.

So what is Mother Culture, exactly? Mother Culture is actually the title of an article that appeared in Miss Mason's Parents' Review magazine in Volume 3 -- that means 1892-1893! I've seen the term thrown around elsewhere, but for our purposes, we're going to take our description straight from the original article.

Mother Culture is, simply put, an act of the mother in which she continues her own education throughout her mothering years. Its purpose seems to be to prevent burnout:
There is no sadder sight in life than a mother, who has so used herself up in her children's childhood, that she has nothing to give them in their youth.

When the mother keeps growing, then she continually has something to offer to her children:
[T]hough she may do much for her children, she cannot do all she might, if she, as they, were growing!

The article leaves no room for a mother who says that she is just oh so busy that she does not have time for reading and learning:
They not only starve their minds, but they do it deliberately, and with a sense of self-sacrifice which seems to supply ample justification.

So how much time should be devoted to Mother Culture? The article suggests thirty minutes out of every twenty-four hours:
Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we "cannot" get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for "Mother Culture?"--one half-hour in which we can read, think, or "remember."

Does Mother Culture have a curriculum? Here is a take on it I'm sure you will all find pleasant and welcome:
The wisest woman I ever knew--the best wife, the best mother, the best mistress, the best friend--told me once, when I asked her how, with her weak health and many calls upon her time, she managed to read so much, "I always keep three books going--a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel, and I always take up the one I feel fit for!"

Some of you look at the Mother's Education Course and you can't wait for something like that. But I know that others of you look at it and it's just another insurmountable thing you Can't Do. I've been in both camps.

I didn't read anything other than my Bible the first year that I was a mother. I was just so overwhelmed and lonely. By the end of that year, I knew it'd be the death of me if I continued that behavior, and so I started to read again.

When I had lots of really young children, the MEC would have overwhelmed me, too. But I had a stack of books -- usually around seven because I tend to be overboard with the book stack -- and I did what this article advised. I picked up what I felt I was able to read. I read while nursing or rocking a baby -- basically whenever I was able. I read when I had time alone. It helped. I was me again. And I had thoughts in my brain that were bigger than diapering and feeding and changing and all the minutia of daily life with babies that we can lose ourselves in. The higher thoughts were a lever that lifted me up.

Now, my children are older. A curriculum has been good for me. I've read through all of the first six years of Ambleside Online with my oldest, and it has been an absolute joy. It's been amazing.

What I've learned is that there is a time for reading a lot, and a time for reading a little, and though we should never stop learning and growing, it takes wisdom to know how much is appropriate.

Next time, we'll discuss the role of magazines in continuing education. This one should be interesting!

Click to return to the series index.

20 July 2014

Stupendous Selections on Sunday

  • Does anyone else notice the irony involved in the "buy local" sign? That they shut down a place one could actually do that? This sort of thing raises my blood pressure.
    • Notable backers include left-leaning philanthropies such as the Tides Foundation ($155,000 since 2000) and the Surdna Foundation ($150,000 since 2002), as well as environmental donors such as the Agua Fund ($1,777,000 since 2003) and the Mars Foundation ($500,000 since 2004).”
    • the PEC has declined to turn over documents she requested as part of the discovery process
    • Conservation easements initially were set up to benefit financially distressed landowners who received tax credits in exchange for agreeing to preclude future development on their property.
    • Zoning Board administrator Kim Johnson claims Boneta sold fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and homemade handicrafts out of her on-site farm store in violation of the modified zoning rules. Boneta told The Signal she had a retail farm store business license that “grandfathered” her into any zoning changes that were made. Nevertheless, she shut down the store.
    • Piedmont Environmental Council is the poster child for banning conservation easements
    • just weeks before the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the citations against Liberty Farm, Boneta received an IRS notice informing her that she is the subject of an audit covering the 2010 and 2011 tax periods, which coincide with her legal disputes. Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, a board member of the PEC, who served as the IRS chief under President Clinton, has said in media interviews that Boneta’s audit is probably a “coincidence.”
  • LA's water nanny.
    • We’re upping our enforcement. We’re getting more staff. And we’re going to start issuing more tickets.
    • Restaurants also must ask diners if they want water before offering them a glass — a rule that is frequently violated.
    • The El Niño condition expected to bring rain this fall has weakened — which could mean a fourth year of lingering drought, forecasters say.
    • the wealthier communities look like “rainforests,”
    • Even with the price (of water) going up, the wealthy along the coast will continue to use it.
    • Public shaming through old-time whistle-blowing and social media must come into play.
  • Government does so much damage. Imagine if supposedly concerned neighbors decided to HELP instead of calling the cops on a young widow!
    • I was widowed at 35 with four children.
    • A friend suggested that my kids, all school-aged, might be safer staying in their own home for a few hours while I attended classes than in the care of adult strangers.
    • My decision to allow my kids to stay home for a few hours while I went to school for several hours, a mile away, turned out to be the most catastrophically life-altering decision I've ever made. A neighbor noticed me walking to school without the kids and called the police. 
    • Over the two years during which the case dragged on, my kids were subjected to, according to them, sexual molestation (which was never investigated) and physical abuse within the foster care system. They were separated from each other many times, moved around frequently, and attended multiple schools. This, of course, was all in the name of protection.
    • My parents witnessed how this system was not about protection, but power.
    • Kids are held in de facto hostage as arbitrary demands are made.
    • Rather than being innocent until proven guilty, parents are presumed guilty until they have passed a rigorous and unforgiving character-assassination attempt.
    • In criminalizing previously culturally normal activities, such as an unaccompanied child playing at a public park, we open the door for any unorthodox parental decision to be subjected to similar unfavorable scrutiny.
  • This is just excellent. I'm going to use a lot of her tips for my own scheduling this year, and some of this is what I already do -- as in what I often say "combine everything that can be combined." She takes that to more of an extreme than I do, so I look forward to her future posts on how she pulls that off!
    • This video will take you through the entire process that I use.
  • The state of my state.
    • This year California farmers have seen little to no rain and many, like the Yuroseks, have received zero water from the state.
    • many farmers and even Tulare County residents, like Richard Gaylord, are desperate for water but simply have to wait
    • It’s going to get to a point where we may have to decide whether we need to continue to live here or move and if we move and we drop the house it’s not worth anything. No water, no value
    • some farmers worry that the ground water is being used faster than it can replenish
    • drilling companies need to make sure they don’t drill too many wells in one area
  • Your religious freedom? It's really just a "cloak of bigotry." Ahem. In my opinion, the mistake is thinking we need to ask the President's permission in the first place. As if he were Emperor or something.
    • The school’s accrediting agency has announced its intention to investigate whether Gordon College meets requirements for diversity and non-discrimination. The mayor of Salem has terminated a contract with Gordon College now that the college “advocates for discrimination against the LGBT community” (see video below).
    • Gordon simply wishes to continue its long-standing Christian behavioral standards, which forbid sexual relations outside of marriage and homosexual practice.
    • Nevermind that religious liberty is the first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights.
  • I'd wear it.
    • To stare at the "super black" coating made of carbon nanotubes – each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – is an odd experience. It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing.
    • The nanotube material, named Vantablack, has been grown on sheets of aluminium foil by the Newhaven-based company.
    • These are so tiny that light particles cannot get into them, although they can pass into the gaps between. Once there, however, all but a tiny remnant of the light bounces around until it is absorbed.
  • The early church didn't allow pastors to shop around for a bigger "better" church? Fascinating.
    • The Early Church addressed this issue, and made provisions against the practice of pastors carelessly and selfishly hopping from one church to another. 
    • Not only pastors, but also Christ's sheep may be damaged by unwise, careless "processes" where "pastoral calls" have more in common with high-school dating - apologies to home-schoolers who can't relate - than with biblical principles. 
  • I have a small collection of Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics myself. You?
    • Dover Thrift Editions win the prize for lowest cover price, ranging from just $1.50 to $5. Naturally this means they are going to be low quality with virtually no commentary. Basically, they’re great for a one time read, but not something you want to keep on your shelf.