It's the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Answer the questions on your own blog then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to share answers with the rest of the world.
Sixteen years of Treehouse talk
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Yet another three-dollar thrifting trip, or six if you like sequins, I mean really really like sequins
Monday, September 28, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
"But to my mind the real joy of psalm 47 is not so much that he has gone up as that he has also come down. The great revelation here is that, though heaven is, in one sense, still to come, we can nevertheless begin rejoicing now because God has not abandoned us here on earth but has already come down to be our king and kindle our hope." (Malcolm Guite, "He Is The Great King: a response to Psalm 47")
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to share answers with the universe. Here we go-
Saturday, September 19, 2020
First posted January 2016
I'm fascinated by Annie Kate's review of Smart but Scattered Teens by Guare, Dawson, and Guare. Books like this say a huge amount about our culture, and the healing that parents may need to initiate if their teenage children have become infected with "do it for me" syndrome.Check out the list of "executive skills" that the authors feel teenagers may be lacking:
"working memory, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, metacognition, response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, goal-directed persistence, flexibility."Do you see a connection between those skills? Every single one is something that Charlotte Mason would say we must not do for children who are capable of taking it on for themselves. And yet, so often, we do...just because we do. We try so hard and worry so much, like Aunt Frances, when we should be letting them take the reins, like Uncle Henry.
The sad thing is that the teenage years may be almost too late to change some of those lifelong habits, although the point of the book is that there's still time. (I haven't read the book, just the review.) If you have younger children in your care, these are the things you should be doing, or rather, not doing. Letting them begin an activity and encouraging them to stick with it for a reasonable amount of time, to get some "goal-directed persistence" (see Charlotte Mason's "Inconstant Kitty"). Teaching them to be prompt and orderly (organization, time management). Using learning methods such as narration (working memory, sustained attention). Dealing with tantrums and other emotional disruptions (emotional control, response inhibition). I would add, seeing a situation from the other person's point of view and deciding to do what benefits another person, or the larger group or community, rather than yourself; developing empathy. As I've discussed here and elsewhere, I'm with those who believe that one of the best ways to gain empathy and flexibility in thinking is to have a very good store of stories.
That is what we can do for our children: give them that store, train them in habits, and allow them to develop their wills. What we can't or shouldn't do: think for them, remember for them, rob them of their initiative.
And since he has thirty years of classroom experience, and has written and lectured extensively on the problems of both teenagerhood and education, we assume that he does know what he's talking about. The tone of the editorial made me think at first that he was actually cheering the demise of English literature; but I think he sees the situation more as sad but true; lamentable, but inevitable.
His conclusion? "There are two ways to resolve this tension: Lower the standards in English class so the poor kid can go and make video games, or stop the mandatory study of English at, say, Grade 10. For many kids, the only thing they learn in Grade 11 or 12 English class is to hate it even more."
Those alternatives sound like the equivalent of "you don't get a real dinner tonight, but you can choose between fries, candy, and vitamin-mineral supplements." Or, more closely, since the diners refuse to eat "real" food, we will no longer bother to cook and serve it. Let them find their nourishment as best they can.
“But I’m going to be a video game designer!” protests one of my Grade 10 English students. “I don’t need to be able to read novels or write essays.” --Michael ReistNeed to be able to?
Would anyone dispute the idea that human bodies still need to eat? Public school lunches are all about enforced nutrition, these days. So don't human minds still need to think, and to know what has been thought?
Around here, school IS, largely, reading. If you search this blog for the word "subversive," you will find that every occurrence, with the single exception of a tuna recipe, has been in connection with books and reading. In our view, the immeasurable value of Real Books has not changed and will not change.
But in Michael Reist's opinion, the rest of the world has stopped caring, and there's no turning back. The occasional Matilda is simply an odd exception; the other "students" are shut out.
Prove him wrong.
"All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen. If only they would read a little Dickens or Kipling they would soon discover there was more to life than cheating people and watching television."--Roald Dahl, Matilda
Friday, September 18, 2020
Why a study guide for chapter 8, when I haven't posted any for the previous chapters? This is where we're at in our term's work, and it's an important chapter. Plus it shows you both why I both appreciate Uncle Eric (or Richard J. Maybury) and occasionally disagree with him--or at least want to raise a few questions about where he's coming from. Which just shows that I've read chapter 8.
Dollygirl and I last read chapter 5 of this book, and discussed why the storytelling model is an effective one, especially for children (it's something our minds can more easily grasp than a list of rules).
We will skip chapters 6 and 7 for now--they're important in Uncle Eric's overall plan, but they don't make especially compelling reading at this point, at least for a sixth grader.
Chapter 8 is "A Model for Selecting Models."
"How do we know we have a good model?" Uncle Eric asks.
What are some ways you can make up your mind about which belief (about a given problem) makes more sense? Flip a coin? Ask a celebrity (the "prestige" model)?
Ask a specialist? Uncle Eric points out that this is at least better than asking someone famous who doesn't specialize in that area, but, on the other hand, some specialists may be reluctant to give up their own accepted models, even if new evidence brings what they believe into question. For example, read about Ignaz Semmelweis (we like the chapter in Exploring the History of Medicine). Uncle Eric also uses Galileo as an example.
Sidewinding questions: Does the Bible teach that the earth is the center of all God's creation? Uncle Eric says that today we honour Galileo and regard his opponents as "closed-minded tyrants." Are things different for scientists today? What about Christian scientists?
Back to the main issue: what is the final problem with the "prestige" model, that Uncle Eric points out at the top of page 52?
A third method of choosing which model is true: do your own research. What are the pros and cons of this?
Why does Uncle Eric say that if "everybody" believes something, then, mathematically speaking, there's a good chance that they're wrong? Do you agree with this?
What is the scientific method? What is a working hypothesis? Watch this excellent, if somewhat silly, demonstration of the scientific method at work:
On page 54, Uncle Eric explains his beliefs about certainty/uncertainty. Why does he feel it is safer to stay "uncertain" about many things? Is there anything we can be certain of? See Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 33:6; Matthew 27:54; Matthew 28:20; Romans 6:5; Hebrews 6:13. Does that certainty contradict the point that Uncle Eric is making?
For further thought: does science also demand an element of faith, or does that contradict the definition of science? "In science, one must commit oneself to the belief that the world we see and touch is real, that nature is uniform, and that it operates according to the principle of cause-and-effect. Without these prior 'leaps of faith,' reasonable though they are, one cannot undertake science."----What Does the Bible Say About...The Ultimate A to Z Resource
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Still here, Hodgepodging on Wednesdays. This week's questions are below. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond to add your link to the party.
1. What's one thing you learned at the ripe old age of whatever age you are now?
2. I read here a list of foods that can help you look younger-
extra virgin olive oil, green tea, fatty fish, dark chocolate, vegetables, flaxseeds, pomegranates, avocados, tomatoes, spices, bone broth
How many of the foods listed have you tried? How many do you eat regularly? Your favorite from the list?
3. Something you miss from the 'good old days'? When were the good old days anyway?
4. What are two or three of the most rewarding things to be found in growing older?
5. What's your favorite part of your life right now?
6. Insert your own random thought here.
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
I thought, "I could do something pretty close to that." Maybe a bit more casual.
So here's my story. It's made-up too, in case you wondered.
Her first word, according to her parents, was "plug-in." And she grew up to be an electrician.
While she and her partner haven't completely been staring at four walls this year, they're feeling way overdue for a short change of scenery. But what would even be available right now?
Then the email comes. Their friends' cottage has been having some electrical issues over the summer, and while they won't be up there much this fall themselves, they'd like to get it taken care of before winter. They know her spouse is also quite handy at gardening. Could they be talked into checking out the situation and maybe doing some small repairs and cleanup, in exchange for a week's free rental? Oh, could they...
When she looks at the Vivienne Files wardrobe, she's struck by that blue turtleneck sweater. She has a thrifted cotton sweater dress that she has been intending to shorten into something she can wear with pants, and this is her motivation to get it out, chop off the bottom, and sew a new hem. (She's versatile like that.) And while the sewing machine is out, she might as well make a couple extra of those things she'll need when they go into town to buy coffee or parts. Right.
She pulls together an outfit for the drive up: grey jeans (technically they're black); grey fleece cardigan, pink long-sleeved top, pink earrings, a scarf, a bag, and her Allbirds Mizzles. Since she doesn't have pink shoes like the Vivienne Files wardrobe, she lets her bag have some colour instead.
Wednesday, September 09, 2020
Monday, September 07, 2020
Towards the end of Dr. Fried's book, he points out that there are good schools that are very "resource-focused," and there are those that are "responsibility-focused" (where the onus is on the kids to knuckle down and do their homework); and that there are great educators who are "progressive/child centered" and those who are "traditionalist/authoritarian." (Not to the point of being destructive, either one; he means those that take their educational philosophy and use it to teach in a productive way.) And, although he puts himself at particular points along both of those lines, he points out that you can really have any combination of those and still be successful, still turn out passionate learners.
We might be inspired to plot Charlotte Mason on Dr. Fried's grid--was she more "child centered" or more "authoritarian?" (What she really said, I mean, not how other homeschoolers have labelled her methods.) Was she more "resource-focused" or more "responsibility-focused?" Or did she come out right in the middle? Something to think about.
Anyway, back to Dr. Fried's book. How can you not like someone who writes, "In the best of circumstances, teacher, parent, and student will share the vision of the child as a self-initiating seeker of truth and power through knowledge and skills development. The teacher will, in most cases, take the lead in creating such a vision, but the student and parent must understand and interpret 'excellence' in ways that make sense to them." "Quality learning requires the parent to be both patient and supportive, holding in check the voices that want to push the child toward short-term, less-authentic rewards, and keeping in one's mind a vision of the child as a lifelong learner." "Quality learning has a lot to do with taking what's given--an assignment from the teacher--and figuring out how to make it correspond to the child's idea of a quality experience, how to find an angle on the assignment that the child can be enthusiastic about (or at least help the child not feel insulted or overwhelmed by the assignment." (all on page 229)
Some of Dr. Fried's most interesting ideas come from the university classes he teaches in children's literature and in curriculum. One workshop exercise he does with teachers is have them draw a pie graph of the major concepts or skills they want students to take away from a particular course--particular big ideas, ways that they relate material to their own lives, and so on. Then he also has them graph their grading scheme for a course--15% for term tests, 10% for homework and so on. Their conceptual goals for the course often conflict with the way the students are being marked; the ideas they say are important get less weight than things like attendance and homework. We may or may not be grading our homeschoolers' work, but it's still something to think about, maybe in terms of time spent instead of grades given. If we say, just for example, that a goal in history is to see how God deals with nations and individuals, do we actually spend much time discussing that, or is it all about memorizing dates on a timeline?
What happens in the workshop, then, is that they take the two pie charts, and try to rewrite the grading-scheme chart to better reflect the important ideas of the course. Maybe there will be a larger, self-designed project on a major person or event in a period of history, something that allows the student to ask and answer his own questions. (Like a science fair project.) Maybe there will be no quizzes, but there will be one short-answer test just to make sure they haven't missed the basics. This is something that we can apply in home schools, no matter what curriculum we're using: we definitely have the freedom to structure or restructure a course to focus on what's most important. And then--I found this interesting--the teachers are challenged to take the major concepts they used for the first pie graph, and make them super-clear and intelligible, something that they could hand to the students (or the parents) to explain what they're supposed to be learning, and why they're learning it.
Because if you're the teacher and you don't know that yourself, you're going to be stuck with "open your books and read the next chapter," and that's not very passionate.
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
1. The Hodgepodge lands on the second day of a brand new month. Tell us one thing you're looking forward to in September.
Small things, weather changes, fall sweaters, apples.
2. Do you enjoy browsing second-hand shops? Last thing you bought or 'inherited' second hand?
3. Something you had second thoughts about after committing to, purchasing, or posting/commenting online?
An interesting question, and I could probably say "yes" to that about a lot of things, some little and some very big. But it's often the third thoughts that matter most.
Idaho brand instant mashed potatoes, unflavoured. Tastes like potatoes.
5. Something you do so often or that comes so naturally to you it's second nature?
Good habits or bad ones?
Reading...using a keyboard (although I had to retrain myself not to leave two spaces after periods)...thinking "cooking rice, water's twice" (but I have better luck with "water's one-and-a-half")...praying when stuff happens.