Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lydia's Grade Eight: Homeschooling in December, and the questions I ask myself

Some homeschool families take December off, or do Christmas unit studies. We did some of that when the girls were younger. But the trouble with trying to squeeze about 39 planned-out weeks of school between Labour Day and the end of June, and include March Break and a few other days off (planned and unplanned), is that you can't really do all that and not do at least some school work in December. So we will get started this Tuesday with Term Two of Year Eight, then take our two weeks of holidays with the public schoolers. (Monday is going to be a finish-exams day.)

I'm thinking...I'm always thinking about this, but I have varying degrees of can I take this list of mostly readings, and make it more of An Atmosphere, A Discipline, A Life? And still be a little bit relaxed, because it's December after all?  If I were doing Charlotte Mason consulting for some other family, what would I add or scrub? Where is Mrs. Dowson's unity of thought? Where is the thing that engages attention? How do we encourage delight? Where is Lydia the person, and Mama Squirrel the teacher, and Mr. Fixit the principal, and the rest of the family, and the community and the world (physical) and the universe (spiritual) she lives in? What relationships are we building?

And how does one do this most effectively with just one eighth grader who enjoys doing most of her work independently?

Some ideas, things we might do: Re-emphasize a certain kind of routine or "horarium," one that offers both discipline and atmosphere--for instance, having readaloud times in front of the fireplace upstairs, instead of shivering in the basement. (It's only an electric fire, but we like it.) But also maintain quiet, non-distracting spaces where a person can focus on math and grammar. Make things graphic where that helps (using notebooks, visual organizers). Give her enough opportunities to use her power of choosing.

School goals for December (three weeks' work):

Read The Bible Through the Ages, begin the section on the New Testament
o 10 pages/wk, starting at page 132: The World of Jesus; Life and Ministry of Jesus; Spreading the Good News
o 10 pages/wk: Apostle to the Gentile World; Letter writing; Thessalonians, Galatians; Corinthians, Philippians

Bible Study
o 2 Samuel 10-13:20; Matt 17:19-18:14; Psalm 119:123-136; Proverbs 10:12-21
o 2 Samuel 13:21-15; Matt 18:15-19:15; Psalm 119:137-155; Proverbs 10:22-32

Celebrating the Christian Year
o  Look ahead to Epiphany on January 6th.

December hymns and carols: "Wake, Awake" (Nicolai); "All My Heart This Night Rejoices" (Gerhardt)

Donatello, Madonna Pazzi
Art History / Christian Studies
Read Seeing the Mystery: Exploring the Christian faith through the eyes of artists
o  Preface: What do artists really show us?
o  Chapter 1: The great paradox, pages 13-26.  Works featured in this chapter: paintings from the Roman catacombs; Correggio, Adoration of the (Christ) Child (1520); Madonna and Child on a Curved Throne (Byzantine icon); Donatello, Madonna Pazzi; Caroline Hamilton, "Mary and Baby Jesus"; Inuit carving, "Mary and Jesus"; Gentile de Fabriano, The Adoration of the Wise Men (Magi); El Greco, Christ Driving the Money Changers; James Ensor, Ecce Homo (Christ and the Critics); Christ Pantocrator (icon).

A little more Picture Study:
o  Introduction to Albrecht Dürer (see references at the end of the Renaissance book from last term)
o  Dürer's woodcuts for Martin Luther's Christmas Book

Composer Study: Jean Sibelius - Finlandia. (Chapter in Modern Composers for Young People, by Gladys Burch.) From Wikipedia:  Finlandia, Op. 26 is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history. A typical performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.

The Twelve Teas of Friendship
o  Read pages 88-89, Gifts of Friendship.

Handicrafts / practical skills
o  Make something decorative or useful for the holidays.
o  Help with holiday baking!
o  Make notes in your Enquire Within notebook.

Outside classes: weekly drama class.

Keep a calendar of current events in the back of your BoC.

Read Whatever Happened to Justice
o chapter 16, Political Law.  "It is made up law, created out of nothing."
o chapter 17, Discovery vs. Enactment

Read Ourselves Book II, Part II, THE WILL.
o  page 137-middle of 138,  Chapter III, "Will Not Moral or Immoral." Before reading, review the idea of putting a "dividing line" between people who have acted with Will, and those who have acted with Wilfulness. "The wilful person is at the mercy of his appetites and his chance desires...without power or desire to control the lead of his nature..." But Will "implies impersonal aims...[it means] the power to project himself beyond himself and shape his life upon a purpose." There are also those who do not call upon Will, who "think as other people think, act as others act, feel what is commonly felt, and never fall back upon their true selves, wherein Will must act...Life is to such persons a series of casualties..."

This is the whole section to read:
To 'Will' is not to 'be Good'––Perhaps what has already been said about Will may lend itself to the children's definition of 'being good,' and our imaginary dividing line may appear to have all the good people on the one side, and all the not good on the other. But the man of will may act from mixed motives, and employ mixed means. Louis XI., for example, in all he did, intended France; he was loyal to his own notion of his kingly office; but, because he was a mean man, he employed low means, and his immediate motives were low and poor. An anarchist, a rebel, may propose things outside of himself, and steadfastly will himself to their accomplishment. The means he uses are immoral and often criminal, but he is not the less a man of steadfast will. Nay, there are persons whose business in life it is to further a propaganda designed to do away with social restraints and moral convictions. They deliberately purpose harm to society; but they call it good; liberty to do as he chooses is, they say, the best that can befall a man; and this object they further with a certain degree of self-less zeal. It is the fact of an aim outside of themselves which wins followers for such men; the looker-on confuses force of will with virtue, and becomes an easy convert to any and every development of 'free-thought.'
It is therefore well we should know that, while the turbulent, headstrong person is not ruled by will at all,––but by impulse, the movement of his passions or desires,––yet it is possible to have a constant will with unworthy and even evil ends. More, it is even possible to have a steady will towards a good end, and to compass that end by unworthy means. Rebecca had no desire but that the will of God should be done; indeed, she set herself to bring it about; the younger, the chosen son, should certainly inherit the blessing as God had appointed; and she sets herself to scheme the accomplishment of that which she is assured is good. What a type she offers of every age, especially of our own!
The simple, rectified Will, what our Lord calls 'the single eye,' would appear to be the one thing needful for straight living and serviceableness.
Shakespeare: begin The Merchant of Venice (you have already read about this play in History of English Literature, Chapter 47).  A thought for this play: can we decide which characters have Will, and which ones are just Wilful?

Read Mythology by Edith Hamilton, ten pages/week.  Alternatively, read Till We Have Faces.

Read Part One of Don Quixote, John Ormsby translation, adapted for schools by Mabel Wheaton (we have a copy of Ormsby, which I've edited temporarily using a pile of Post-It Notes).  This will probably be a readaloud for us, at least until Christmas.
o  Mabel's introduction
o  Chapters 1-5 (pages 1-18 in our copy)
o  Chapters 6-10 (pages 18-54, following the Post-It Note skips)
o  Chapters 11-15 (pages 54-92)
(Homework over the break: finish Part One, chp. 16-19, pages 104-199 in our copy, with omissions)

Read History of English Literature
o  chapter 52 Bacon--New Ways of Wisdom.  "'I have read in books,' he wrote, that it is accounted a great bliss to have Leisure with Honour. That was never my fortune. For time was I had Honour without Leisure; and now I have Leisure without Honour. But my desire is now to have Leisure without Loitering.'"
o  chapter 53 Bacon--The Happy Island. (About Atlantis)

Read Rawley's Life of Francis Bacon (printout) (read this after the History of English Literature chapters)

Poetry:  Read Fierce Wars & Faithful Loves (Spenser's Faerie Queene Book I with contemporary explanations and footnotes)
o Read the Introduction and "Beginning"; then read Cantos 1, 2, and 3.  I would say let's read it aloud, but there are so many notes and things that it seems to make more sense to read it to yourself.

Fun Christmas readaloud, maybe: Dorothy L. Sayers, "The Necklace of Pearls"

Read Journey to The Source of the Nile, by Sir Christopher Ondaatje
o  Prologue: A Song of Africa.
o  Read pages 27-49 (Chapter One).  What led up to this (1996) journey to the source of the Nile? Compare with the reasons for beginning the Kon Tiki expedition. What did Ondaatje hope to achieve?

Science and Nature Readings
Keeping a Nature Journal
o  pages 90-91, seasonal changes in winter
o  page 92, "Seeing Signs of Winter"
o  page 97, "Combining observation and research"
o Spend time outdoors and make entries (written, drawn, lists) in your nature journal

Ecology and Nature Study: Read Exploring the World Around You
o Chapter 7, Food. "Hydrogen atoms [are] neither created nor destroyed [in photosynthesis], but just rearranged. That's an expression of one of the most fundamental laws of science, the law of conservation of matter."

Human Physiology and Health: Read Exploring the History of Medicine
o  Chapter 1, The First Physicians
o  Chapter 2, Medicine Goes Wrong. "If the corpse and the book don't agree, the error is in the corpse!"
o  Chapter 3: Fabric of the Body,  Andreas Vesalius
o  Chapter 4: Father of Modern Surgery, Ambroise Paré.  "I treated him. God healed him."
o  Chapter 5: The Living River (William Harvey). Supplement: "William Harvey and the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood," by Thomas Henry Huxley (printout).
o  Chapter 6: The Invisible Kingdom (the microscope)

History Readings
Keep a Book of Centuries with all history studied (Bible, English, Canadian, etc.)

Read The Story of Mankind
o 13. Meawhile the Indo-European tribe of the Hellenes...
o 14. The Greek cities that were really states

Read Canada: A New Land
o England on the Atlantic Coast (spread over two weeks), pages 160-178
o The Dutch Claimed the Hudson River District, pages 179-183

Read Churchill's The New World
o Chapter 11, pages 115-124, to "...Spanish match." (Guy Fawkes, James I, Charles, 1605)
o  pages 124-130, beginning 'In the midst of these turmoils,' ending with 'London greatly aided them in this.' (Mayflower; James's children betrothed; Jacobean Charles I crowned)
o  pages 130-138: last half of chapter 12.

French and Latin
o  Unit 7: The Party.  Demonstrative adjectives.
o  Unit 8: Where, when, how?

Latin: catch up on the lessons we had started earlier.

Reading and Writing Stuff
Commonplace Books, Copywork, and Recitations (Memory Work)
o  Copy passages from poetry, plays, and the other books read
o  Practice Scripture passage(s): (choose which you will memorize)
o  Practice poem(s):
o  Other memory work:

Narration (all subjects)
o  Oral narrations of readings
o  Reader's Journal: one page, twice a week, on any of your readings (choose which you will write about)
o  Keep Book of Centuries and/or other notebooks handy as you read or listen; make entries at the end
o Other kinds of narrations: dramatic, musical, artistic...

Easy Grammar Plus (workbook), pages 188-205

Write with the Best Vol. II
o  Unit 4: Persuasive Essays.  Day 1 (read "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine), 2 (look at definitions of essay, thesis statement)
o  Day 3 (reread Common Sense and look for arguments, main point, conclusion), Day 4 (consider topic and thesis statement for a persuasive essay)
o  Day 5 (5 Objectives), Day 6 (Begin writing essay)
Homework over Christmas break: continue working on your essay.  Look at Day 7, 8 etc. for guidance.

Read How to Read a Book, Chapter 10, Criticizing a Book Fairly (this is the point where the reader gets to talk back)
o  Teachability as a virtue, pages 137-140.
o   Read The Role of Rhetoric, pages 140-141.(Note: this is a short section, but I think we might need to explain about the Trivium a little more than Adler does here)
o   Read The Importance of Suspending Judgment, pages 142-145

Mathematics:  Mathematics: A Human Endeavor.  Chapter Three, Functions and Their Graphs

Lesson Three
o  Introductory problems
o  Functions with Line Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-23 (workbook)
o  Functions with Line Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-21 (workbook)

Lesson Four
o  Introductory problems
o  Functions with Parabolic Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-18 (workbook)
o  Functions with Parabolic Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-16 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III: the price of a pizza

Lesson Five
o  Introductory problems
o  More Functions with Curved Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-16 (workbook)
o  More Functions with Curved Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-14 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III

Lesson Six
o  Introductory problems
o  Interpolation and Extrapolation: Guessing Between and Beyond, Set I, Questions 1-13 (workbook)
o  Interpolation and Extrapolation: Guessing Between and Beyond,  Set II, Questions 1-15 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III: racecars
o  Summary and Review, Set I, Questions 1-15 (workbook)
o  Summary and Review,  Set II, Questions 1-14 (workbook)
o  Further exploration, as time permits

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