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20 July 2018

Hymns for 2018-2019

We'll be continuing to use the By Study and Faith hymn rotation this year, and one of the things I always find useful is to have a playlist. I try to have at least a couple days where we sit down at the piano and work on explicitly learning the words, but a lot of our hymn learning is informal, just listening to the playlist, and as we go along, I try to keep the current hymn right at the top of the list, so that when we turn it on, and we're paying the most attention, it's the new song that we're currently working on. This doesn't get us to a place where we all know 100% of the words 100% of the time, but it does get must of us to knowing most of the words. And my kids will sing their old hymns off and on, and that's success to me.

When I make these playlists, I do have some ideas in mind for how I'm choosing which videos go in my playlist. One thing you'll notice is that I avoid the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: I'm a bit of an aberration, I guess, because I just don't love the Choir. But also, I want the music to encourage my kids to feel comfortable with making their own music, and not being hung up on it being "perfect", so I make a point of including a good collection of home-grown videos when I can find ones that I enjoy listening to. I also enjoy folk instruments. Not only do I like that style, but my kids are learning violin, including folk songs, and I want them to look at the music and think, "I could learn to do that" so that they see themselves as potentially being the artist: it's too easy to leave music making to "professionals" and fall into the trap of not realizing that professional musicians are as retouched as professional models are Photoshopped, and try to hold yourself to an impossible standard that they used computers to retouch and remix and play with. There's a place for that music; much of it is extremely lovely. But I want my kids to know that regular music played by regular people is also good, so I include them when I can.

So here's my playlist for the year:  

03 July 2018

Commonplace Book: June

A sample from my commonplace book, and brief instructions for how to keep one.

A commonplace is a traditional self-education tool: as you read, grab a notebook. Write down things that embody Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Write down notable quotes, with or without your own thoughts about them. Write down the questions you have as a result of the text you are reading. You will find the book becomes a record of your own growth, and it becomes a touchstone for memory of things you have studied in the past. This is what Mother Culture is all about: self-directed, conscious self-education.

23 June 2018

On Classical Education: Embodied Learning (part 1)

Discussing the principles of Embodied Education in the context of a Classical / Charlotte Mason education in an LDS homeschool.

This post is part of a series:

Character is the True Aim
Cultivation of Godly Character
What is a Student? 
Make Haste Slowly
Much Not Many
Ordered Affections
Repetition is the Mother of Memory
Repetition and the Habit of Attention
Embodied Learning (part 1) {This Post}
Embodied Learning (part 2)
Songs Chants and Jingles
Wonder and Curiosity
Educational Virtues
By Teaching We Learn
Classical Education is Like a Table

Dr. Perrin, in his Embodied Education lecture, starts out by talking about how education is more than just what happens in the mind: education involves our whole being, and the senses are how we take in our experiences. It is more dimensional than the "rational enterprise" that we think of,  because we are more dimensional than that: we are rational, thinking being, certainly, but we are more than just minds. Knowing that education is primarily about character, and about how we go about bridling our passions and ordering our affections, Dr. Perrin asks about environment:

Think about our classrooms. Think about your university education, you high school education: what were the hallways like? How were the windows? Did you enjoy your desks? They were "great". How about the parking lot? The whole design of our educational institutions, without us even being aware of it, are shaping our expectations, our hopes, and our ideals. Our affections. 
-Dr. Christopher Perrin, Embodied Education

That's pretty intense. What did your school experience teach you about the way that the world is supposed to work? When he asked about "my" desk, one of the things that I remembered is that I really didn't even have a desk that was mine: I sat in a different desk every hour, and each teacher changed the seating chart whenever they wanted, often without warning. It wasn't malicious; it was just the way things were; part of the mechanics of classroom management. The desks weren't designed to belong to anyone anyway: there was no storage, no way to personalize them short of defacing them, no privacy, no security. They were just hard plastic chairs, screwed into the frame that held up the writing surface, with a little wire frame underneath in case we had "extra" books. Although I have never known a single person who liked those desks well enough to put one in their home, I remember being excited when I was finally "old enough" to use that kind of desk: it was something of a milestone because only the high school students had them.

What kind of values do our educational institutions embody?
What are the values embodied in our homes?
How do the values differ?

22 June 2018

Dealing With Prereading

This past year has been the first year where my oldest had significant quantities of reading in books that I assigned based on the curriculum we're using (Ambleside Online) but that he read independently in a book that I had not previously read, or that I'd read so long ago that I couldn't remember what happened. In the not-too-distant future, I'm going to have three kids reading challenging books, and I'm going to need to be able to have intelligent conversations about these books, and also keep the household running.

My strategy is to keep a prereading notebook. It's just a regular composition notebook, which I covered first with scrapbook paper and then with contact paper. That's what I do with most of my notebooks, and they are practically indestructible: my scripture journal has been with me for five years, most weeks drug to church and back in my backpack, and it's still beautiful. Which means that I can count on this notebook, which will see lighter use, lasting nicely as well and plan on it not falling apart before my youngest is reading these same books. Also, being pretty helps me to like it, and want to use it, and that helps me to get the job done. It's remarkable how much difference it makes to have an attractive notebook, even if it's just a composition book that I got for $.50 in back to school sales at the end of summer.

27 May 2018

Using a Concordance: What is an Oracle?


I love the notes on the Hebrew and Greek roots of words you sometimes see in the footnotes of the LDS edition of the Bible. Where those have been included, they almost always add clarity to the meaning of a difficult passage, and I often wished there was more of them.

Then I discovered Strong's Concordance.

What they've done with Strong's Concordance is made an index. Of every single word in the entire Bible. And then cross-referenced each and every word with the Greek or Hebrew word it was translated from. So any word that puzzles you, you can trace back into Hebrew for the Old Testament, or Greek for the New Testament, look at its definition and entomology, and see what else it was translated as, and where else it was used.

My oldest and I are reading through a chronological edition of the King James (another magical invention - I'm absolutely loving having it arranged chronologically, rather than the traditional order) and recently we were reading the 28th Psalm:

18 May 2018

It's Working: Foreign Language Learning the Charlotte Mason Way

I've put a lot of time and effort in the past month or two into studying the method that Francois Gouin developed for studying foreign languages, and about 2 or 3 weeks ago, I started putting some of what I learned into practice in our home. Oh wow, guys, this is amazing. I am learning so much! And my kids are learning quite a bit! This is definitely something that we're going to continue to do.

Our first efforts have been in learning what I think of as my "Applesauce Series": we're learning to talk about what happens as you make applesauce. These are our main props (the bowl was handy, and it's pretending to be a pot today)

A progress report our efforts to use a Charlotte Mason approach to foreign language learning: it's working!

17 May 2018

Words of Christ: Suffer It To Be So

President Nelson gave us a lot to think about this last Conference! I suspect that people are going to be chewing on the things he said and did for quite some time to come. Looking over his Saturday morning talk, Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into our Lives, he gave us a concrete thing to do:

"...consecrate a portion of [our] time each week to study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works... let the scriptural citations about Jesus Christ in the Topical Guide become [our] personal core curriculum."

I was half toying with adding a red letter Bible to my collection, but then it occurred to me: I can do the same thing with my pen, little by little, in the time he's asking for each week, and turn my regular scriptures into a red letter Bible, and by searching out and pondering the things that He says, I'll get a lot more out of it than I would by just buying a book that someone else has already pre-marked. So I started in Matthew.

15 May 2018

Latin Resources for Your Homeschool

We're learning Latin. I suppose this this shouldn't surprise me, but it kind of does. Still. Six months after we started: I hadn't planned to have the kids do Latin, much less to do it myself. God had other plans, so here we are.

Turns out, there's lots of resources out there.

The kids are using Latina Christiana I, which I still like.

I decided that I need to know a little more than they do, so I picked myself up a copy of Wheelock's Latin, which I also like. It's got a bit of a learning curve on it: Latin has a lot of grammar. A lot a lot. But I'm getting it figured out, and I think I'm going to really enjoy this, oddly enough. I'm looking forward to reading Horace, someday. That's where I want to go with this, now that I'm doing it.


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