Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pray for the Sow a Seed family

Formerly known as Books and Bairns, Heather has been blogging this year under her own name at To Sow a Seed. Two months ago their family, after much, much anticipation and preparation, packed up and moved overseas, assuming it would be forever or at least for a long time. Suddenly they're on their way home again, not by choice. Please keep them in your prayers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Charlotte Mason quote for the day: Mrs. Dowson explains why discipline can be hard

"There are, of course, practical difficulties in leading young children, even after the earliest educational stages have been passed, along the road in which they may learn to bring the different items of their knowledge into recognized relation; but these difficulties are felt most severely by parents and teachers whose own thinking is disconnected and undisciplined."
(Ouch.)
"When knowledge has been organized, the connections between fact and fact are ready-made in the mind, and do not have to be hunted up on the spur of the moment as they are called for by the child; the different methods in which the plain man, the scientific student, and the deep thinker approach any given fact, are familiar; and the multitudinous parts of knowledge are already wrought together into a living fabric instead of being tied up in isolated packets with mental red-tape, and pigeon-holed in out-of-the-way departments of the Circumlocution Office of a mechanical brain.

"The difficulty of educating children in the organic way lies chiefly, I am sure, in finding teachers rightly prepared, teachers who have trodden that way themselves and gained in it what nothing else can give." ~~ From this Parents' Review Article:  The Discipline and Organization of the Mind. Pt II, By Mrs. Dowson, L.R.C.P & S., I., in the Parents Review Volume 11 1900, pages 137-148. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What's for supper? Pub Night

What's for supper? It's Mr. Fixit's Pub Night menu, what some people call Takeout Fakeout.

Frozen cheese pizza, with our own toppings added

Frozen chicken wings

Carrot fries

Chow mein noodles

Reheated rice and beans, with a bit of sliced sausage added.

Things for you to outclick on (Charlotte Mason and more), and a funny typo

Top of the list today: Some people go to the Lake District and photograph the scenery; Jeanne busied herself taking pictures of old notebooks.  Guess which one we're more grateful for?

Afterthoughts has put together a holiday wish list for CM/Classical mothers. What's on yours? (I am having trouble getting some of the images to load, but it may be just us.)

Budget101 is featuring Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea Mix, MYO Evaporated Milk, and flavoured Coffee Creamers (made from sweetened condensed milk).

Also on the Budget101 site, I saw the following hint by a commenter, which (no offense to the writer) is unintentionally funny, or maybe not so much so since we're currently under a blowing snow warning:  
If you don't have snow you can still make a really cute snowman out of white yard & a little bit of sugar! Blow up balloons that are round and follow the directions for the sugar spun easter baskets...
OK, well, the white yard, we got.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hey, I like these little pretzel trees

You want something cute for a cookie plate? You want something no-bake that you could (possibly) do with kids? Check out the Chocolate Covered Pretzel Christmas Trees at High Heels and Grills, linked from today's Handmade Holidays post at Sew Mama Sew.

What we had for supper: finish off those packages

Last night's dinner menu:

Ukrainian-style pork dumplings, which look like big tortellini. We got them frozen from the Eurofoods store.

Macaroni and cheese, made with very small farfalle (bowties) that we needed to use up.  I used The Boy's Smack 'n' Cheese recipe that I learned years ago from Coffeemamma, and let it sit to thicken towards the end rather than overcooking the small pasta.

A skillet vegetable mixture of (reheated) butternut squash, red pepper, and corn, heated with honey and water (that is, the end of a honey bottle swished out with water), salt, pepper, margarine, and nutmeg. I thought it would go well with the pork dumplings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A fun way to dress up no-flour peanut butter cookies

See, I told you that you miss out if you don't click on the Sew Mama Sew links because they don't apply to you (today's theme is Boys, and we don't have any except for Mr. Fixit). The recipe link today is for Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, which turns out to be the old standby sugar-egg-peanut butter recipe stacked with frosting.  It's obviously not something you can take to a nut-free classroom or church potluck, but if you don't have peanut problems it sounds like a winner.

Education is a Discipline: Mrs. Dowson Follows Up (Part One)

Abridged and adapted from this Parents' Review Article:  The Discipline and Organization of the Mind. Pt II, By Mrs. Dowson, L.R.C.P & S., I., in the Parents Review Volume 11 1900, pages 137-148. Mrs. Dowson is having a conversation with "Uncle Eric" (Richard J. Maybury) and anyone else who wanders by.
And then, of course, there is “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” Today, Y&R joins UNCF in celebrating its 40th anniversary -- 40 years and still going strong. The line, as you know, has seeped into our culture’s vernacular. It’s been appropriated, copied, parodied and mangled in the retelling. Who of a certain time and place can forget former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle’s tongue-tied tripping over the line, which he recalled as “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind”? The real line was so ubiquitous and so beloved, that his faux pas was banner news that day and struck a note of blasphemy that was heard around the world. ~~ David Sable in Advertising Age, March 3 2011 
Uncle Eric: Sometimes I think the connection between law and economics was better understood two hundred years ago than it is today. An economy is en ecological system every bit as much as an ocean or a rainforest. (Quote from Whatever Happened to Justice?)

Mrs. Dowson We are so accustomed to scrap knowledge, to mental powers wasted for want of discipline and organization, that it takes time for us ordinary parents and teachers to see the crying need for a better intellectual economy.

M.S.: What do you mean by intellectual economy?

Mrs. Dowson:  Economy in the sense of not misspending our intellectual resources, or wasting the opportunities we have. There are wise people who tell us that not only in the higher forms of higher schools, as in Italy, but all through the process of education after the primary state is passed, children should be taught about thinking and reasoning, about knowing and not knowing, and even something concerning the deep problems of existence.

M.S.: Are you talking about philosophy? That's not something we study systematically in our curriculum; we are not directly studying Aristotle, for instance.

Mrs. Dowson: But you are teaching them, through their other studies, to think and reason, and that they can know, that it is possible to know.

M.S.: Yes, we were talking about that yesterday.  How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig uses an analogy of finding the right key that unlocks a door to truth, and I said that in today's culture it's more common to question not only the existence of the key but of the door as well.

Mrs. Dowson: Learning to "think" is not a separate subject. The children should be led... into the art of organization, the art of bringing all they learn, science, letters and what not, into some approach to a unified, inter-related whole. If we can effect this, we shall be able to put into the hands of a child an instrument of moral as well as of mental discipline, and a piece of work to do that nobody else, great or small, has done or ever can do for him.

Charlotte Mason: We begin to see light. No one knoweth the things of a man but the spirit of a man which is in him; therefore, there is no education but self-education, and as soon as a young child begins his education he does so as a student. (source)

Mrs. Dowson: However wide may be the territory of knowledge over which, by grace of other men, he wanders, a child who has acquired power to do this organizing work will not be likely to become an intellectual tramp or to fancy himself a king. However carefully he may have learnt to observe and to define, it will not be the fault of his education if, in after life, he loses sight of the many considerations that qualify the value of his results, and limit the scope of his operations.  He at least will not be likely to make the mistake so frequently made by men one would expect to know better, the mistake of regarding a simplicity of method in study for a simplicity of the one subject of all study, human experience.

Virtual (book) flea market?

Mr. Fixit makes regular trips to the antique barn, looking for cameras and radios to fix. Sometimes I go with him and look for interesting books.

If you're snowed in or don't have an antique barn, this vintage-books page is almost as good. Oldsters like me: did you read any of these when you were little?

Around the blog world, things you can make

The Handmade Holidays posts at SewMamaSew are in full swing, and there are some great ideas even for those of us whose skills are just average.  Recent themes include Gifts for College Kids, Winter Warmth (not part of the HH series but still interesting),  Eco-Friendly Gifts and Wrap, and Gifts for Teachers. The thing you might miss about those posts is that each one not only has links to themed tutorials, but also to printable gift cards and food gifts, not always directly related to the theme. So you might skip over the Quilts day, but then you'd miss the link to Healthy Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bars. And that would be sad.  Plus you can win things; I won a book in the first week, just for leaving a comment.

The Prudent Homemaker is blogging her way through her Gift a  Day projects.

For those of you who read Dewey's Treehouse through a reader and don't see the headers, you might miss this year's Christmas crafting page. Family keep out.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quick, easy, cheap, low-sugar dessert

Tonight's dessert: a variation on James Barber's mother's Steamed Pudding, from his book The Urban Peasant.

Baked Applesauce Pudding

In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. sugar.  Mix in 1 or 2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk "to make a  lumpy batter."

In a small greased casserole that has a lid, spread a cupful or more of applesauce.  If it is unsweetened, you can add a little sugar (I used brown sugar) and cinnamon. Spread batter on applesauce, cover and bake at 350 degrees until set and turning brown; it should look like a big pancake.  Be careful taking the lid off, because of the steam.  Actually when I took this one out, the lid was on so tightly that it was a few minutes before I could do anything at all with it.  Then I slipped the edge of a dinner knife under the lid, and the seal popped.

Good with yogurt.

(Steamed Pudding can also be made with other fruit or with jam, and can be made on the stovetop.)

Quote for the day: on words and writing

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." -- Mark Twain.

Lydia's Grade Eight: Last week of Term One

Quote for the day:  "The danger today is that we who believe in the God of the Bible often go on living like everybody else....We should be bold enough to say, 'If the Bible is true, then I can act on what it says.'" ~~ Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig
Things to finish up this week before exams:

How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig, last chapter. "What is human life all about? Can we find the key to its meaning? What is there that makes life worth living?"

The Golden Book of the Renaissance. "[Wealthy merchants and lawyers] were the new men, and it was they, rather than the nobility, who were important in English society....The times were dangerous, and a man needed a fierce spirit to rise in the world."

Westward Ho!  "''But, master Yeo, a sudden death?' 'And why not a sudden death, Sir John? Even fools long for a short life and a merry one, and shall not the Lord's people pray for a short death and a merry one?'"

Exploring Creation Through Physical Science, review questions for Module 3.

Kon Tiki.  "Good day, Terai Mateata and your men, who have come across the sea on a pae-pae to us on Raroia; yes, good day, may you remain long among us and share memories with us so that we can always be together, even when you go away to a far land. Good day."

Plutarch's Life of Marcus Crassus, last two lessons.

Composer studies: Wagner

Artist studies: Titian

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Another lunchbag scrapbook

The first scrapbook I made is here.

I made this one from Debbie Mumm's "Spring" book/kit (bought at a rummage sale for a dollar), a few folded lunch bags, and a lot of Elmer's Glue.  I did the folding a bit differently on this one, and I like it better (more pockets, no thick flaps).

Front cover
Back cover.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's for supper? Italian this and that

Tonight's dinner menu:

Cannelloni (a frozen package)
Carrots, spinach, and chickpeas, stir-fried with garlic and flavoured with marjoram and thyme
Garlic toast

Stovetop fruit crisp, and yesterday's muffins

Sometimes I make other things: A paper-lunchbag memory book

Last summer I went to a rummage sale and picked up a couple of like-new Debbie Mumm scrapbooking sets: books of page backgrounds, stickers, and diecuts.
Today I cut one of them up to make a paper-lunchbag mini memory book. (Something like this tutorial.)
The front cover
The first set of inside pages (the one on the left is a pocket)
Another set of inside pages
A pocket page where I slipped in the leftover stickers
The back cover
An inside page that uses the bag openings as a pocket for more pullouts
View that shows the bottom edge (I trimmed that bit of white after I took the photos)
My favourite page again, the one with the egg-shaped pocket
The side edge.  I glued down the side of the front cover a little better after I took the photo.
(I am not a scrapbooker. I don't have the right adhesives or paper cutters. I just used scissors and glue, and yes, I know it shows. On the other hand, to paraphrase Pigpen, I didn't know it would turn out as well as it did!)

Education is a discipline: Mrs. Dowson and the great realities (Part Three)

Part One is here.  Part Two is here.

Abridged and slightly adapted from "The Discipline and Organization of the Mind,"  by Mrs. Dowson, L.R.C.P & S.,I. (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland), in The Parents' Review, Volume 11, 1900, pgs. 83-92

Mama Squirrel: You said that we are standing in peril if we either believe "excessively" everything we see, or if we disbelieve everything we don't see; that in fact "overbelieving" is a kind of superstition. Do you mean that we are trying to say that there is no meaning beyond the bare facts? How is it too much to believe in what you do see?
Professor Hinkle: You silly children believe everything you see. When you grow up, you'll realize that snowmen can't come to life.
Karen: But we...
Professor Hinkle: Silly, silly, silly!

Mrs. Dowson: It can get out of focus, out of right proportion. We need to offer science that includes the truths of experience as a whole...yes, they do need to be using their intellectual powers to be able to describe a thing with precision and with clearness, to say all that needs to be said about it and no more, to seize its characteristic differentia from similar things, and the essential points of its likeness to them, and to express the whole notion about it in just the right words. This too, like the power to observe accurately, is an accomplishment and will reveal, in its use, a pedant or a prig.

M.S. I have heard that somewhere else recently.

Mrs. Dowson:  We do need analysis, yes! It has its proper uses. It is only by a process of abstraction, by taking a thing out of its full context in the universe of things to which it is related, by cutting the bonds that tie it to all else and to its true meaning in relation to all else, that we are able to give it precise definition at all. But Nature--our experience of reality--defies our exactness and makes a mock of our descriptions; and unless we know she does our power to impose definitions upon the superficial bits of her that we gaze at in the contracted field of scientific sight must give us a false conception both of her and of ourselves and of our intellectual gains. The great realities of human life, moral and spiritual facts, are entirely beyond the reach of any such precise definition.
M.S.: So there is a danger of concentrating too much on only what is right in front of us?

Mrs. Dowson: There are also things that have their very being through mutual inclusion; and thus, they limit their mental field of view by an artificial horizon shutting out the most precious truths in the possession of mankind. But even greater than this danger is the rather lofty idea that our science-centred students will achieve the the splendid mental qualities developed, for example, in Darwin and Newton.

M.S.:  Isn't that a good goal to have?

Mrs. Dowson:. But the fine qualities displayed by Darwin and Newton are no more to the point in this matter than is the greatness of Caesar or of Wellington in connection with the educational value of learning the date of Waterloo or the successive stages of the Gallic War. Students do not acquire Wellington's powers of generalship by having a school acquaintance with his campaigns, or even by 'getting-up' his admirable Despatches; nor are they in the least degree more likely to gain the power of mental concentration and selection, and the sound judgment and untiring intellectual patience of Newton or of Darwin, through learning physics and biology even by a better method than that in vogue at the present time.

M.S.: You've named several points of both of character and of intellect: courage and wisdom; then sound judgment, intellectual patience and power. But as you say, knowing the facts of science does not give one the qualities of a scientist. So, that makes me think...are we being presumptuous when we encourage young children, or teenagers, to think of themselves as writers, or artists, or scientists? Doesn't that just give them a sense that their own thoughts and ideas are valuable? And isn't it good that the ground has already been so much broken for us?

Mrs. Dowson: On the contrary, the very fact of being able to roam over vast territories in the kingdom of science conquered and opened up by other men not rarely turns the weak heads of those who follow, and makes them, like lunatics at large, think themselves potentates when they are only tramps.
M.S.: So is it humility that we're lacking?

Mrs.. Dowson: Perhaps humanity. If we were tied down to a choice between science and letters, in the name of all that is human and living and universal, we should choose letters....those great organizers of our chaotic democracy of knowledge--the subjects which treat of the mind of man, of his knowing, feeling and acting, and of cause and purpose and meaning in the great whole of things.

M.S. But we don't have to choose between science and humanities.

Mrs. Dowson: No, we may safely make use of both, if we employ, as a necessary corrective to their separateness and their peculiar limitations, those subjects by means of which alone we can shew their fundamental relations.

This is the end of Mrs. Dowson's Part One; but she wrote a Part Two, still to come.

All illustrations from Rankin-Bass, Frosty the Snowman.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Use-it-up Cranberry Blueberry Bran Flake Muffins

Use-it-up Sweet and Crunchy Cranberry Blueberry Bran Flake Muffins

Dry ingredients:
A lot of crumbly bran flakes from the bottom of the box (at least a cupful)
Enough flour to bring the total up to 2 to 2 1/2 cups of cereal and flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

Wet ingredients:
1 cup of homemade cranberry sauce that also had some blueberries stirred into it
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk, or enough to moisten

Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine gently. Don't mash the fruit too hard. Don't worry if the batter starts to get that strange greyish-purple blueberry tinge, it will mostly bake out. Bake in sprayed or lined muffin tins, at 375 degrees F or whatever your preferred muffin temperature is. Makes 1 dozen regular or 2 dozen mini muffins.

Education is a discipline: Mrs. Dowson and Synthetic Thinking (Part Two)

Part One is here.

Abridged and slightly adapted from "The Discipline and Organization of the Mind,"  by Mrs. Dowson, L.R.C.P & S.,I. (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland), in The Parents' Review, Volume 11, 1900, pgs. 83-92

M.S.: How would you describe a good school environment?

Mrs. Dowson:  Is provision made there for giving a child's mind the discipline it needs to enable him to overcome the difficulties of the general distracting intellectual disorganization? Is the need, not only for giving him knowledge, but for giving him the chance to organize it as it comes, practically recognized? Do his teachers always recognize that, only if he has this chance and acts upon it, will he be in a position to overcome the troubles that are sure to come upon him in consequence of the prevailing specialism and the lack of unified knowledge in those with whom he will have to deal?
M.S.: Have you found this to be true of many schools?

Mrs. Dowson: We shall hardly go too far if we say that most teachers and most students are sadly wanting in this respect. We may even venture to say that many teachers would be hard put to it to tell us how the fullest possible organization of mental powers and mental possessions can be effected; and what form the necessary discipline should take.

M.S.: Why is this so?

Mrs. Dowson: The art of education lags behind the science; and the science is not listened to, nor heeded when it cries aloud.  The leaders in educational science are applying the lessons of personal experience, and they are telling us how we may bring its benefits to bear in the mental discipline of our children; but, unless I am doing them a grave injustice, the practical teachers of England remain, for the most part, either opposed or unconvinced.

M.S.: So you're saying that the evidence is out there, but it's not acted upon?

Mrs. Dowd: In some places it is. We hear that in Italy young people in the highest classes of the Lyceums are taught about their own minds and the way they work, are shewn how to reason well and find out when reasoning goes ill; they are led on to know when they do not know, and to discern the difficulties of knowing at all and of knowing what knowing means; they are made aware of the oneness of things in their apparent diversity and of the steps men take in trying to get at the heart of the simplest of those things and of the whole.

M.S.: Let me see if I understand this: bringing the "scraps of knowledge" together is like synthetic thinking. There needs to be more unity of thought in education, some way of organizing knowledge. Is this the only approach that seems to work?

Mrs. Dowson: It is true that there are other instruments of discipline--a good piece of Latin prose is one; but I doubt whether there is any other way, except one which is outside the range of 'practical politics,' by which knowledge can be redeemed from the evils of specialism.
M.S.: What about science? Wouldn't it work to emphasize scientific training, teach the students to approach any question with the scientific method?

Mrs. Dowd: The cyclone of science with its practical application sweeps regularly over and through the midst of us, right into our mental lungs....but for the most part, what is taught in schools in the name of science is the thing aptly called 'the brute scientific fact.'

M.S.: What do you mean by "brute fact?"

Mrs. Dowd: The brute scientific fact is of little more educational value than the equally brute historic date, or king, or battle, in which our grandmothers took pride. Botany, for example, is usually taught in schools just as the lists of kings and queens and ware were taught to our grandmothers: it is taught as a more or less cooked-up arrangement of brute facts about plants, their characters, their structure and their functions, served with a sauce of scientific moralizing about heredity and environment and the like. Its chief advantage over the strings of royal names and the glib questions and answers of a Child's Guide, accompanied by historical platitudes about the 'greatness' of one person and the 'cruelty' of another, lies in the fact that the plants are not dead and buried out of sight like the kings, but are alive and may be looked for, and picked, and brought into the schoolroom. Botany may be taught in a way to train the mind to accuracy of observation, a power the value of which, for the wise person, it is difficult to over-estimate. This is one of its advantages; but even the advantage brings a danger.

M.S.: What sort of danger?

Mrs. Dowd: I repeat with some emphasis that, for the wise person, or for the child whom his teachers are seriously and intelligently trying to develop into a wise person, the power of observing accurately is of enormous value, but for the foolish person and for the child taught by foolish persons of a certain type, there comes with it a grave intellectual peril, never more perilous, perhaps, than at the present time--the peril in which a man stands who has the essentially superstitious habit of believing excessively what he sees, and either disbelieving, or posing to himself and other people as disbelieving, everything he does not see.
(To be continued tomorrow, and I promise it is going to be very interesting.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Education is a discipline: Mrs. Dowson weighs in (Part One)

Abridged and slightly adapted from "The Discipline and Organization of the Mind,"  by Mrs. Dowson, L.R.C.P & S.,I. (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland), in The Parents' Review, Volume 11, 1900, pgs. 83-92

M.S.: What is the immediate purpose of discipline?

Mrs. Dowson:  It is, in every case, that process by which, in the opinion of those who apply it, a given material may be induced to take a certain form and display certain qualities and powers. 

M.S.: So, something like a dancer who builds up certain muscles?
Mrs. Dowson:  Whatever our material may be, success depends upon our following its laws. We choose one element to be repressed and another to be encouraged and brought out in form and in function; but if, instead of obeying laws and trying to work with them, we employ, as our ordinary method, arbitrary dominance and ill-considered force, we must always fail in the long run, if not in the short. 

M.S.: So it doesn't work if we try to fight nature; it works better if we co-operate with it.
Mrs. Dowson: The material with which we deal has laws of its own, powers and qualities, springs of activity, which we cannot do without if our end is to be attained, and which, in the case of a human being, assert themselves sooner or later in their native independence, frustrating any purpose their owner has not been led on to share. In other words, it is a necessary and a good thing that we cannot force nature, human nature or whatever other nature, to do whatever we like with it! It is only frustrating when we try to work against the laws of nature.

M. S.: What does this have to do, exactly, with the education of children?

Mrs. Dowson: We have to consider, some time or other, as everybody does who is in earnest with the matter, what we think a child is really meant to be, whether, in fact, we have found out, or are taking due pains to find out, not what we ourselves admire and wish, but the real truth about the chief end and good of man. Without full knowledge, all our discipline may be wrongly directed, all the pains and trouble may be worse than wasted, all our children's education may be drawing them along the way in which they should not go.

M.S.: How do we avoid wasting this time and causing this trouble?

Mrs. Dowson: The specialism of modern intellectual life, of scientific research and social and political inquiry, the diversity and incoherence of the claims upon our attention and the attention of our children, cut up the field of mental activity into isolated bits, and draw lines between one kind of knowledge and another that do not correspond with any real division between the corresponding kinds of things. Nature is a whole; we are obliged to cut the whole into parts for purposes of examination and study in detail, and for economy of our mental powers; but we do it, even when it is done most wisely and most carefully, at a certain loss.

M.S.: What sort of loss?

Mrs. Dowson:  There is a danger of loss of grip over the problem of the whole, and of mental confusion due to our acquaintance with a multitude of facts without an acquaintance with the rational links between them; and there is the very serious danger of mistaking a descriptive and abstract knowledge of one or more subjects for a knowledge of their true meaning in connection with the great problems that most vitally and permanently concern mankind.

M.S.: So they can have information, but without meaning.

Mrs. Dowson: The necessary imperfection of our knowledge brings with it, and always must bring with it, its own consequences; but the artificial divisions between one branch of study and another bring dangers against which educational discipline might protect us, and which it might do much towards removing altogether. Unnecessary mental confusion, mistakes and misunderstandings, might be removed if the unitary parts of our knowledge were brought into relation one with another in the course of our education.

M.S.: If we understood better about the science of relations?

Mrs. Dowson:  Our mental powers and the contents of our mind are both too often like an unorganized democratic people, free and independent indeed, but not interlocked together, nor disciplined to act efficiently as a coherent whole and to be treated as a whole.

(To be continued tomorrow.)

All Arthur illustrations from the PBS Kids website.

Quote for the day, by William Dean Howells

 "In school there was as little literature then as there is now, and I cannot say anything worse of our school reading; but I was not really very much in school, and so I got small harm from it. The printing-office was my school from a very early date. My father thoroughly believed in it, and he had his beliefs as to work, which he illustrated as soon as we were old enough to learn the trade he followed. We could go to school and study, or we could go into the printing-office and work, with an equal chance of learning, but we could not be idle; we must do something, for our souls' sake, though he was willing enough we should play, and he liked himself to go into the woods with us, and to enjoy the pleasures that manhood can share with childhood." ~~ William Dean Howells (1837-1920), My Literary Passions
Photo of the Nauvoo (Illinois) Printing Office (1840's) found here.

Lydia's Grade Eight: Wednesday Morning

Some things to do for school today:

Out of the Silent Planet, chapter 20.

Math.

Science.

French.

History.

Writing.

That enough for you?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Education is a discipline: Aspects, not subjects?

I'm going to send you over to JavaMom's blog today for a back-a-few-years post. Check out the vintage Parents' Review ads! But this is the part that I really liked.
... I'll share a quote by Monk Gibbon from the Parents' Review magazine that I've shown you today, which puts my thoughts on this matter into a nutshell.
He says, "Literature is not a 'subject.' Music is not a 'subject.' Drawing is not a 'subject.' Religion is not a 'subject.' Rather, are they all activities of the spirit, valid in themselves. And yet, they become 'subjects in the hands of the pedants."
pedant - a person who pays more attention to formal rules and book learning than they merit. 
1. One who pays undue attention to book learning and formal rules.
2. One who exhibits one's learning or scholarship ostentatiously.
3. Obsolete A schoolmaster.
Ouch! (for some). Sorry about that. Well, not really. My whole point of home educating (and guiding our children to self-educate) was to get off the track of "standardized education" and allow them the time to truly learn; to form relationships with great minds and with real things, FIRST hand, to seek wisdom, be led by the Holy Spirit, and to value learning. I'll stop there for now, or I may become preachy.
Thank you, JavaMom (and Mr. Gibbon)!

A nice freebie: Joyous Home Fall Issue

Downloaded through Homeschool Freebie of the Day: the fall 2011 issue of Joyous Home, free this week. If you like teatimes and embroidery and other fall / Thanksgiving pretty stuff, don't miss this one.

I made up some of the the "snickerdoodle coffee" mix under "Mixes to Make," because I had all the ingredients and thought it sounded interesting.  I dumped everything into a bowl and then ran it through the food processor to powder it up a bit more (a blender would also work).  You taste the cocoa more than you do the coffee, and there's just a hint of spice from the allspice; so I would maybe call it more "mocha-spice" than "snickerdoodle," but either way it's quite nice.

What's for supper? Still a great stew recipe

Mr. Fixit makes good beef stew, I was going to say out of his head but that sounds strange; without a recipe, anyway.  But when I make stew, which isn't very often since Mr. Fixit likes to make the stew, I use the recipe from the booklet that came with our Rival Crockpot when we were married.  The same recipe is posted here. 

You can change things around as you like.  I didn't have any broth, so I used water, and  less onion, and I have never used the 2 optional teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet.  It's still a good recipe.

Dessert was leftover gingerbread with blueberries, or one of the sugar cookies that Lydia made this afternoon.

Lydia's Grade Eight: On Remembrance Day

Some things to do for school today:

Read chapter 11, How to Be Your Own Selfiish Pig.  Susan Schaeffer Macaulay includes a quote from C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity: "Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him."

Poem: Shakespeare, Sonnet LXIV

WHEN I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d
The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-raz’d,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain         5
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;  10
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate—
That Time will come and take my love away.
  This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
  But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

Picture Talk: Titian, The Three Ages of Man

French lesson, including our song for the week, Que sont devenues les fleurs (Where have all the flowers gone)

Nature notebooks

Read from Out of the Silent Planet.
"'And now,' said Oyarsa, when silence was restored, 'let us honour my dead hnau.'
At his words ten of the hrossa grouped themselves about the biers. Lifting their heads, and with no signal given as far as Ransom could see, they began to sing.... its rhythms were based on a different blood from ours, on a heart that beat more quickly, and a fiercer internal heat."

"Through his knowledge of the creatures and his love for them he began, ever so little, to hear it with their ears.  A sense of great masses moving at visionary speeds, of giants dancing, of eternal sorrows eternally consoled, of he knew not what and yet what he had always known, awoke in him with the very first bars of the deep-mouthed dirge, and bowed down his spirit as if the gate of heaven had opened before him." ~~ Out of the Silent Planet
Watch the national Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa, as we usually do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Education is a discipline: how little can you pack?


A Yahoo video popped up the other day, showing how you can fit shoes, socks, t-shirts, pajamas, and a man's suit and shirts into a very small suitcase. It's all in the way you stuff and fold.

In the comments, people complained and asked why you would want t-shirts rolled up into (possibly) smelly shoes, and why you would want those dirty shoe soles touching all your other clothes. Someone else asked, what if you want to bring something back with you? My own question was, where are the other things like toothpaste? But the idea of "packing tight" is attractive. It implies order, discipline, economy. It makes some of us envious.
"For his trip to England, he dressed in his most comfortable suit. One suit is plenty, he counseled in his guidebooks, if you take along some travel-size packets of spot remover. (Macon knew every item that came in travel-size packets, from deodorant to shoe polish.) The suit should be a medium gray. Gray not only hides the dirt; it’s handy for sudden funerals and other formal events. At the same time, it isn’t too somber for everyday. He packed a minimum of clothes and a shaving kit. A copy of his most recent guide to England. A novel to read on the plane. Bring only what fits in a carry-on bag. Checking your luggage is asking for trouble. Add several travel-size packets of detergent so you won’t fall into the hands of foreign laundries." ~~ Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist
And yet even Macon is eventually forced to abandon his medium-gray world of caution and control and things tightly fitting in, for a less predictable but more human life.

Charlotte Mason wrote about the extremes of the educational spectrum.  She talked about what happens if you focus only on "atmosphere" and miss out on "discipline" and "life."  Or vice versa. Obviously, they need to be balanced, maybe like the three sides or three points of a triangle.  And integrated with each other: the atmosphere includes discipline, the discipline gives life.

It's when we try to pack education too tightly that we don't welcome surprises, exceptions, questions, subjects, and people that don't fit our lesson plan. For some reason I'm thinking of the time that Mr. Fixit and I toured a middle school with Ponytails, and I asked the teacher/tour guide a couple of innocent questions about things like which students got to write math competitions. I expected the answer to be "anyone who wants to!" Instead I got something more like "we choose a few of the best students." So much for participation and opportunity. When did the students get to do art and music? Well, each one of those but for only half the year. And so on. We ended up homeschooling through middle school, and Ponytails wrote math contests, and did art and music whenever she wanted, and learned some Latin and economics, and took photographs, and made crepes.

It's when we pack too tightly that we miss certain common-sense facts of life. Yes, as someone says, it fits, but do you want to wear those shirts now that they've spent the night inhaling the shoes? You may have a math program that worked fine for one child, but that misses the mark with the next one. Or, as we did, a math program that one hated, and then when we recycled it for the next one, she hated it too.

In a way, Charlotte Mason says, her philosophy of education does demonstrate economy and lack of clutter. As a travelling missionary once explained on a message board, it really is possible to stuff a year's curriculum into a diaper bag, if you choose carefully.  But as Ruth Beechick said, we teach the child, not the curriculum.  It's more important that we use and teach what is important, than that it all fit into the suitcase.

And don't forget space for souvenirs.

Cute dog photo found at TheTravelDude.net.
Praying mantis ootheca courtesy of L'Harmas 2014.

TIMELY P.S.: The HeadGirl, now mom to three, posts about how they all spent an inefficient but enjoyable afternoon experiencing pumpkins. My point exactly.

Lydia's Grade Eight: Some things to do on a Monday

A change of pace for hymns:  Come People of the Risen King, by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend.



Read Theodore Roethke's poem "The Waking"

Plutarch's Life of Crassus, Lesson 10 (see previous post about that), and read the Scripture about King David in similar circumstances

French lesson.

Read some of Out of the Silent Planet.
"These things are not strange, Small One, though they are beyond our senses. But it is strange that the eldila never visit Thulcandra." 
"Of that I am not certain," said Ransom. It had dawned on him that the recurrent human tradition of bright, elusive people sometimes appearing on the Earth - albs, devas and the like -might after all have another explanation than the anthropologists had yet given. True, it would turn the universe rather oddly inside out; but his experiences in the space-ship had prepared him for some such operation.
"Why does Oyarsa send for me?" he asked. 
"Oyarsa has not told me," said the sorn. "But doubtless he would want to see any stranger from another handra." 
"We have no Oyarsa in my world," said Ransom. 
"That is another proof," said the sorn, "that you come from Thulcandra, the silent planet." ~~ C.S. Lewis

On notebooks and poetry: Theodore Roethke

"Along with these influences, the source of much of Roethke’s poetry was the notebooks he dutifully kept throughout his life. A measure of the devotion given to his craft can be found in his statement “I’m always working,” and indeed his pockets were seemingly always filled with jottings of striking thoughts and conversations. His less spontaneous reflections found a place in the workbench of his poetry—his notebooks. Though Roethke is not generally considered a prolific writer, a more accurate account of the time and effort spent developing his verse is apparent in this extensive accumulation of criticism (of himself and others), abstract thoughts, reflections on childhood, and, of course, poetry. In his biography of Roethke, The Glass House, Allan Seager estimated that only three percent of the lines of poetry in the more than two hundred notebooks was ever published. "  (biographical article of Theodore Roethke at The Poetry Foundation)
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