Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Saemenes Family

One more family (and friends) session to share. Jessye and I have become good friends over the past few years. She’s been roped into ChocLit Guild, homeschooling, and Classical Conversations. And now she lives just down the road from us and her kids attend AWANA with mine, as well. So she has to see a lot of me (poor thing). But her lovely family wins awards for being one of the easiest families I’ve ever photographed.

S FamilyS Family (2)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Memory and Writing [and some strong words about math]

Andrew Pudewa Writing Workshop

Andrew Pudewa blessed our socks off this past week. He was in town (in our little town!) for four days of writing workshops and parent seminars. Luke and Leif (and I) attended an introductory writing workshop and Levi attended an intermediate research writing workshop. I attended both evenings of parent seminars—4 Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing and Freedomship Education (you can find those talks in the IEW Resources). I had heard both talks years ago, but I needed, desperately needed, to hear them again. Andrew Pudewa is an entertaining and inspiring communicator. The boys were completely engaged at the workshops, even though they are not fond of writing.

Since we’re on the subject of writing and I’ve recently shared a couple posts about memorization, I thought it would be fun to revisit Levi’s little tirade about math from earlier this year (he had just turned 12). I shared this quote (and essay link) from Andrew Pudewa a couple weeks ago:

“One simple and immutable fact about the human brain is that you can’t get something out of it that isn’t there to start with. Supernatural inspiration notwithstanding, human beings in general—and children in particular—really can’t produce... thoughts or concepts that they haven’t first experienced and stored. In other words, we cannot think a thought we don’t have to begin with. Even the most unique, creative, and extraordinary ideas can only exist as a combination and permutation of previously learned bits of information.” ~Andrew Pudewa, 1 Myth, 2 Truths

Levi does not enjoy writing assignments of any sort because he does not process words and ideas well before he speaks or writes. The words come spontaneously and he processes after the fact. I have a feeling that the poetry and speech memorization we do as a family will have more impact on his future writing than anything else. The following was written spontaneously in his math workbook when he was supposed to be processing numbers instead of words, and I can see bits and pieces of his memory work (Shakespeare, John Donne, and more) sprinkled throughout. It is indeed a “permutation of previously learned bits of information.”

Musings of a Student

Math, be not proud. Thou art mean and base. Thou hath no royal luster in thy eyes. Give me those who art tired of thy blusters and brags. Send these to me. Math, thou shalt die. Thou shalt die a death so profound that none shall remember thee, or revive thee. Thy death shall be cause of rejoicin’. All the school masters shall be merry for math was a subject none would learn. The schoolboy would no longer creep like a snail, now he would run faster than a cheetah. A cheetah would wonder why he had been so challenged. One king will decree that addition symbols will be fed to his falcons. Ah, these simple musings do no good. I must be done, gentle listeners, for even papers have ears.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Poetry ~ A Thrill Like Music

Img2014-07-29_0012pm 

Please. If you read no other articles I link, read this one today, from beginning to end. I’ve been talking about memorization—learning by heart—as a way to form our children’s souls and our own souls.

::  The Joy of the Memorized Poem @ The Atlantic

I’ll share a couple quotes, but that doesn’t excuse you from reading the full article. [grin]

"But the very final pleasure is what I called “the pleasure of companionship”—and this was a way of talking about memorization. When you internalize a poem, it becomes something inside of you. You’re able to walk around with it. It becomes a companion. And so you become much less objective in your judgment of it. If anyone criticizes the poem, they’re criticizing something you take with you, all the time."

“I think that’s one reason I’ve always made my literature students choose a poem to memorize, even if it’s just something short—a little poem by, say, Emily Dickinson. They’re very resistant to it at first. There’s a collective groan when I tell them what they’re going to have to do.  I think it’s because memorization is hard. You can't fake it the way you might in responding to an essay question. Either you have it by heart, or you don’t. And yet once they do get a poem memorized, they can’t wait to come into my office to say it. I love watching that movement from thinking of memorization as a kind of drudgery, to seeing it as internalizing, claiming, owning a poem. It’s no longer just something in a textbook—it’s something that you’ve placed within yourself.”

"I think I read recently that we’re not suffering from an overflow of information—we’re suffering from an overflow of insignificance."

As soon as I read (and listened to!) the poem, I was transported to my own favorite place in the world—water sounds and all. And, today, my boys and I are shoving aside lesser things and spending time with this poem. Memorizing it. Placing it in our deep heart’s core. So that we, too, may hear the call of a safe and peaceful place when we need a minute or two (or hour or night) of escape.

 

Words Thrill

If you don’t know where to start for poetry memorization, may I make a couple recommendations?

We have many books of poetry (I particularly like the Poetry for Young People series), but my favorites are poetry recordings that we can listen to in the car or during quiet time. I’ve found that this is the best way to get the words and sounds of the poetry embedded in our minds.

My boys love A Child's Garden of Songs and Back to the Garden, Robert Louis Stevenson poetry set to music, as well as The Days Gone By: Songs of the American Poets. (You can hear excerpts of the songs if you click on the MP3 option.)

Poetry Speaks to Children is a book of child-friendly poetry that includes a CD of poetry readings—most by the poem authors themselves!

A Child's Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles, and Made Us Laugh and Cry is just that. Part 1 introduces different types of poetry, and Part 2 contains a chronological introduction to many famous poets. (The illustrations are quite entertaining.) The accompanying CD is a treasure. Many of the poetry selections are wonderfully spoken by two different narrators (a man and a woman, so the recording doesn’t feel monotonous).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Here and There: A Little Bit of Everything

Recess

 

"Language is not the lowborn, gawky servant of thought and feeling; it is need, thought, feeling, and perception itself. The shape of sentences, the song in its syllables, the rhythm of its movement, is the movement of the imagination." ~William H. Gass (HT: Write at Home)

 

"The great thing is to be always reading but not to get bored - treat it not like work, more as a vice! Your book bill ought to be your biggest extravagance." ~C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences

::  “…without literature pure theology cannot endure…” @ Story Warren

::  3 Questions With Gregory Wolfe @ Sojourn

"Bobby Gilles: How would you respond to Christians who say, “Why would I read or watch anything that isn’t true?” or “Why read anything but the Bible?”

"Gregory Wolfe: You want me to answer these questions in how many words? If the Bible is a closed feedback loop – read me but read nothing else – then sign me up for another religion. I think it’s saying the opposite: read me faithfully and you will be equipped to read everything. If scripture doesn’t send you out into the world with curiosity and compassion, then it’s not from God. Also, since scripture itself warns us about reading the “letter” while missing the “spirit,” we have a perfect rationale for the truth that can be found in “fiction.” Great fiction enables us to encounter the spirit (which is truth) through artfully arranged letters."

::  This is your brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford researchers are taking notes @ Stanford

"In an innovative interdisciplinary study, neurobiological experts, radiologists and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention and distraction – by reading Jane Austen."

::  **OREGON FRIENDS!** Andrew Kern (of CiRCE Institute) is coming to Eugene in a couple weeks and speaking all day along with Tim McIntosh of Guttenberg College. I’d love to see you there! Let me know if you’re planning to attend so that I can say hello! (They will also be in Seattle the day before.)

 

“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.” ~Charlotte M. Mason

::  I shared the trailer for the documentary The Address by Ken Burns over a week ago. A friend was asking how she could access the documentary, and I wanted to mention here also that it is currently available on both Netflix and Amazon streaming!

And then I came across this fabulous article:

::  Four score and seven reasons memorization is important @ WORLD Magazine. [I hope you can read it. I was able to read the whole article when I first clicked on it, but now it says I must be a member.]

::  Self Education @ Journey and Destination

"I believe that pure thinking will do more to educate a man than any other activity he can engage in. To afford sympathetic entertainment to abstract ideas, to let one idea beget another, and that another, till the mind teems with them; to compare one idea with others, to weigh, to consider, evaluate, approve, reject, correct, refine; to join thought with thought like an architect till a noble edifice has been created within the mind..." ~Tozer

::  A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned @ Granted, and… 

::  Why Kids Should Learn Cursive (and Math Facts and Word Roots) @ TIME

::  It’s Columbus Day. Let’s talk about geography (and Ebola). @ The Washington Post

"Students usually come to college knowing American geography well, but few have ever been required to memorize a map of Africa. We require that students memorize the map because, when studying African politics, it essential that our students know where events happened and how they relate to one another."

Speaking of geography, how about:

::  States by Capital Quiz @ Mental Floss

::  The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See—Made by one guy in Oregon. @ Slate [6,000 hours. That’s serious passion.]

 

 

 

::  Undefended: Best Films For Children Age 5 to 8 @ Film Fisher

Some of our own favorites:

  1. The Black Stallion
  2. Misty [of Chincoteague]
  3. The Sound of Music
  4. Mary Poppins
  5. Nanny McPhee
  6. The Secret of Kells
  7. Babe [should be first on the list]
  8. Nim's Island

What’s on your favorite children’s movies list?

Speaking of movies:

::  Looking Closer at Left Behind – The Movie! by Jeffrey Overstreet @ Patheos

And art:

 

::  Virtuoso has grand plan to soothe the city streets @ The Age. Read. This. Story. 

::  Lecrae: 'Christians Have Prostituted Art to Give Answers' @ The Atlantic 

"We’ve limited Christianity to salvation and sanctification," he said. "Christianity is the truth about everything. If you say you have a Christian worldview, that means you see the world through that lens—not just how people get saved and what to stay away from."

 

::  Many of us are a little bit crazy, and hardly anyone is perfectly normal by Sally Clarkson. [LOVE]

Speaking of personalities:

::  Free Personality Test (Myers-Briggs). I scored ISFJ. As usual.

“The ISFJ personality type is quite unique, as many of their qualities defy the definition of their individual traits. Though possessing the Feeling (F) trait, ISFJs have excellent analytical abilities; though Introverted (I), they have well-developed people skills and robust social relationships; and though they are a Judging (J) type, ISFJs are often receptive to change and new ideas.”

Well, I’m not sure about the change and new ideas, but the rest sounds flattering good to me. I’ve had people tell me (particularly after meeting me in a place where I’m comfortable) that they would have never guessed that I was an introvert. (Hint: I talk. A lot.) I’ve also had people assume that I’m an extrovert and my husband is an introvert—even when the opposite is true. (Hint: He’s not much of a small-talk kind of guy). And I do think my concrete-sequential nature (the S and J) balances out my strong emotions (the F). I’d also like to think that my husband’s polar opposite personality (ENTP) helps us be a balanced couple, but sometimes it’s not quite so glamorous as all that. [ha!]

And speaking of a little bit crazy:

Levi [as he comes through the front door dressed in black from head to toe]: "I'm dark and mysterious, unlike a polar bear who is white and mysterious."

:: Top 15 Things Your Middle School Kid Wishes You Knew @ Huffington Post. [Read this one, too.]

grammar quiz love note

[Ignore Lola’s added signature.] Leif gave me a love note I will cherish forever: a grammar quiz. He marked the present participle and the past participle, but who can guess the third? [grin] [It’s a good thing he can be so adorable sometimes, because he makes wild pendulum swings to the obstinate side of things. Like at the mock swim meet last weekend when he was given the choice of diving off the blocks or starting in the water. He wanted to dive off the edge. So he hid under the bleachers and refused to swim any of his races. Fun stuff.]