Archimedes and the Door of Science

August 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

517SvkV79rL.jpgTitle: Archimedes and the Door of Science

Author: Jeanne Bendick

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Genre: Children’s Biography

I love these Living History Library books and Jeanne Bendick has a wonderful way of introducing great people in history and what they did/discovered on a child’s level without truly “dumbing” anything down. These books should be a part of any child’s library, and for sure any homeschoolers’ library.  My kid’s eyes have been opened to so many ideas because of this book.  At age 5, she’s already been checking out levers and experimenting with density while playing in the bathtub, she showed me how her ball has a pattern of concentric circles on it and informed me that it was three dimensional… These aren’t things that would be in her vocabulary without me reading this book out loud to her this month.

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February Reads

March 5, 2015 at 6:32 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

One of my literary counterparts, Neon Gods, posted a “February Reads” article.  In general, she’s more organized, I think, in her reading ventures.  We’ve kept track of each other’s reading habits for years, having met on Shelfari about 5 or 6 years ago.  Despite my aversion to meeting people on the internet, she has been a pretty stellar internet friend.  I’ve never met her in person, and yet she has influenced me – my reading life, atlas – greatly.

My reviews these last few months have felt less consistent than usual, so  I thought I’d take a page from her book and do a monthly summary.  At least for this last month anyway.

UnknownWe wrapped up January with One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. 5962aa9fa44e441668ea01c6c249b2b1 The original, not these new media tie ins you’ll find with the Glenn Close movie cover on them.  For once I can actually say, No, it’s not the same book!  Typically you can tell book buyers that it was just a marketing tactic.  They put a movie cover on an old manuscript and sold the same book again.  That is not the case with One Hundred and One Dalmatians.  Pay attention when you purchase.   Also… now that we’ve read the original, I’ve discovered that there was a sequel.  Of course, now me must find it and read it too.  (Until then, we are tackling The Wind in the Willows as our evening family chapter book.)

As previously mentioned, I read Guide to Wild Foods & Useful Plants by Nyerges.  But I also read through A Game of Thrones last month. (And caught up on the tv show.)  There’s a reason the masses are in love with George R.R. Martin’s world.  It’s impressive.  It’s grossly human.  It’s epic fantasy.  The prude in me would like a little less nudity and sex out of the show – the books are far less detailed in that regard – but from a cinematic point of view, I’m blown away.  The sets, the actors, the crew, everyone just seems to have nailed the feel for the world.  Clearly, I’m very late to this party – as usual – but I love it.  Obviously, it brought a whole new appreciation to this moment from Comicpalooza in 2013:

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Yes, that would be me, braiding the hair of the Father of Dragons. I knew what I was doing, knew what we were emulating, but I didn’t really have a full appreciation for it all until now.

Then, I kind of went all self improvement in my reading.  I read through The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and The Homeschool Life by Andrea Schwartz.  I don’t particularly care for self-help books, but I do manage to keep them in my life via my “read for every discipline” mentality.  No section of a bookstore is left untouched by the end of the year, if it’s a good year.

I also read through Garden Crafts for Kidsby Diane Rhodes.  Unfortunately, this was a library book and I had to turn it back in, but we’ll be purchasing it as soon as possible, because it’s such a great homesteading resource for a homeschooled kid.  I love it and can’t wait to dive into all the projects with my kiddo.

Finally, I finished The Gardener’s Bed Book by Richard Wright.  I’m not going to touch too heavily on the book here, because honestly, I have far more than an online book review in mind for my experiences while reading it.  My favorite thing about a reader’s life are the books written in response to other books.  They are like love letters through time and space to people you’ll never meet or know, but feel more akin to than any other humans on the planet.  I feel like Melanie Kerr’s Follies Past was her love letter to Jane Austen.  I have projects in mind that will be odes to Madeleine L’Engle and Richard Wright.  They have moved me so completely and become a part of who I am, it’s only right they are responded to with ink and paper.

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Homeschooling Agendas

April 18, 2013 at 10:11 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Lessons LearnedTitle: Lessons Learned

Author: Andrea Schwartz

Genre: Homeschooling, Education, Christianity

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand everything she said I agree with.  On the other hand, the way she said it often made me cringe and think of severely right-winged “Jesus-freaks.”  The DC Talk fan in me thinks Andrea Schwartz shouldn’t and wouldn’t mind being called that.  The fellow Christian in me tells me it’s a little unfair to call her that when I agree with her points and conclusions.  The public-school educated child wants to scratch my eyes out and scream, “Really!? Did you have to use the phrase God-hater that way?”

Homeschooling for many is merely an educational choice… the public school system is broken and parents no longer feel comfortable counting on the state to properly equip their child with the realities of the world.  Children are being herded from class to class like cattle.  Fine teachers are being stretched too thin and don’t have the time, energy, or resources to give each student the educational nurturing they deserve.  Everything has become about teaching a test, obeying dress codes, and keeping everyone happy and supposedly safe, rather than about creating an environment of true scholarship.

For others, and possibly what it is misguidedly known for… it’s for freaks who don’t get along with the rest of society.  Potential crazies, kids that don’t groom properly, weirdos… I hope that stigma can be put to rest as I found just as many people who fit this description in public school as I did outside of it.  If your parents are socially awkward you will probably have a lot of socially awkward tendencies whether you spend 8 hours a day with them or without them.  I went to public school my whole life and I will totally admit to being a little bit strange.  I live inside my head a lot, and there are plenty of social cues that I completely miss.  Some kids I’ve seen were far more socially awkward under the pressures of a school environment where they are forced to try to fit in with a thousand people their own age, when in the real world they get along better in a more diverse setting where they are not expected to be like everyone else.

Then, there’s the other group, the Religious group… For many parents, choosing to homeschool your child is a calling from God.  We have been given this precious child to train up in the ways they should go and we want to ensure that we do that the best we can every step of the way.  Submitting them to 8 hours of frustration, government indoctrination, and poor education is not high on the list of things we believe God wants for our children.

In our household, we’re one and three.  Yes, I believe passionately about being good stewards of our minds.  I desire to eagerly pursue all the most riveting aspects of educating my daughter that I can.  I am completely caught up in the idea of combining a classical styled education with a tiny twinge of unschooling so that my kid gets the most thorough and engaging education available… custom tailored to her little brain and the way it works.  I want to give her the education I didn’t get.  I want her start out ahead in life, prepared for anything!  But I also believe this passion for education was given to me by God.  I believe that it is God who calls us to be good stewards of our minds.  I believe that having the freedom to not be politically correct in our studies and studying from the Bible throughout our day will only prepare her more, provide her with a firmer foundation.

Andrea Schwartz comes off as believing God first and education second.  I believe that to be an honorable and good philosophy.  But I believe that by putting God first, your education will be enhanced, not placed on the back burner as some would suppose.  How fascinating will it be to read the Bible, Augustine’s Confessions, and Homer during our Ancient History studies… I can’t wait.

Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer explain this all best in The Well Trained Mind:

“People of faith have influenced history at every turn. Until the student is willing to examine honestly and soberly the claims of relivion in the history of mankind, this study will be incomplete.

In the effort to offend none, the public schools have managed to offend practically everyone – either by leaving religion and ethics out of curricula altogether or by teaching them in a way that satisfies neither believers nor skeptics.  In sympathy, we’ll say that the public schools are in an impossible situation.  They are legally bound to avoid the appearance of promoting one religion over another.  And in a mixed classroom, how can you take one religion seriously without antagonizing those who don’t share it? […]

When you’re instructing your own child, you have two tasks with regard to religion: to teach your own convictions with honesty and diligence, and to study the ways in which other faiths have changed the human landscape.”

Susan Wise Bauer and her mother then spell out very elegantly how to do this: including religious works in the study of primary sources, researching the beliefs of all the major faiths, seek out biographies of those who have changed others’ belief systems, and keep a watchful eye for any logical fallacies, chronological snobbery, and so on.

I am a huge Susan Wise Bauer fan, her books are what I am using to map my own child’s education.  I recommend Susan Wise Bauer for any homeschooling parent of any religion.

As for Andrea Schwartz… her stuff is really great if you are a Christian parent who homeschools or is thinking of homeschooling.  I have a huge problem with her description of her son’s experiences in community college, they seem unusually extreme.  But then again, I live in Texas and they are in California, a lot changes culturally from state to state.  Regardless of the fact that her complaints about public school differ from my own, Schwartz reminds you to stay the course and remember the number one goal of making a disciple of your child, a well-educated disciple, but a disciple none-the-less.  We are not just teaching our children their math, science, and history.  We are not just teaching our children the pleasure of research and reading.  We are not just teaching our children how to learn.  We are teaching our children how to live, how to walk wisely, and how to make logical choices while still keeping the faith.

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