Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

an amazing amazon album deal... and thoughts on opera

I just bought this album, and though I have not listened to it yet, I can't see that I could have gone too wrong... It's 12 CDs worth of music for less than $10! Not only does it have TONS of famous classical music, but it includes several of the AO selections for this year's term 3, as well as from other years' selections! As per the AO composer study rotation, until the end of the school year, we'll be listening to opera.

Yep, you read that right... opera.

I never thought I'd see the day.

I can't say I'm overly excited about it either, even if it IS one of my dad's favorites. I remember opera performances oftentimes constituting his television programming of choice when I was little. I was never quite equally convinced of it's pleasure viewing value. Of course, over the years I've often been surprised at how much my kids and I end up enjoying the various AO composer selections. So, we'll see. If it weren't for this aspect of homeschooling, just think how seriously uncultured we'd be!

If you too decide to buy the album based on my recommendation, please use the following link so that we both benefit! (I earn a tiny commission off every purchase made... even a little bit helps!)

A 12 CD Set Of Romantic Classics For Every Month Of The Year

On that note, have I mentioned lately that I am SUPER thankful for everyone who uses my blog(s) to link through to make their purchases?! Well, I AM! Thanks to you folks, we've seen a small dent in our homeschool purchases! Those affiliate earnings, as a result of your linking, especially help to offset the cost of transporting things internationally! We regularly spend more than $250 a year in shipping for books, at least that much, and your linkage earned us $104.59 over the last 3 months!

Thank you!

So, as I could hardly bring myself to buy an album entirely composed of opera, this other album was also a great find for me! The operas are all sung in ENGLISH. Oh yeah. While I'm sure the opera elite would grimace, as for me and my house, we're thankful for these 'baby steps' kinds of offerings. :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nature Study Monday... Rocks!

We went out on Saturday this week to San Pedro de Cumbaza, in order to scope out yesterday's baptism spot (more on that soon, at the tuttle tribe, and probably a pilgrim's project as well since this time some of my offspring went under the spring). :)

I had in mind to suggest looking at tree bark because of something I'd read lately, and because on the way I was aroused by several trees with blatant orange bark, which took first prize over those with very round white spots, a close second.

Having arrived at the first potential site, while everybody was off doing their own thing, I embarked with full intention of looking at trees, but I couldn't help noticing the nice round rocks, some with pink twinges and well, I do love rocks. I was once again completely taken in. Have I ever mentioned my favorite color is grey? And I have a soft-spot for heart shaped rocks? Nevertheless, I quickly succumbed. [I'm pretty sure succumbed is the weirdest word I've seen today, just sayin']

I'm not sure that anyone else present particularly noticed the rocks, though certainly, you couldn't avoid seeing at them, stepping/tripping on them, etc. They didn't receive even one special mention. But you may be sure, we'll be going back to that spot. The rocks are calling me. I can hear them now... oh wait, maybe that's my bed.

It is getting late. I almost didn't make it in time for nature study monday this week. Last week was a complete fail. I can't remember if we had an out of the ordinary walk, or just a backyard browse, but either way, I posted nothing. I wonder if anyone noticed? Of course you can link up any day you please, but the fact that it's called nature study monday gives me a deadline. I need that sometimes. :)

Feel free to link up to your February nature studies in the comments of this post
It's fun to share. :)

Link up and find more nature study links for February by clicking HERE.

thoughts on authority and docility

As for authority, people nowadays don't really like the terms authority and discipline. Equality and freedom are generally more to their liking. How 'bout you? I admit, I felt a subtle twinge of revolt upon utterance of the former two terms and an immediate corresponding sense of relief at mention of the latter. As progeny of Eden, it comes naturally I guess. I wonder though, if we can't come to terms with both and perhaps even work out some synergy between the two apparently opposite values?
Here's the beginning of wisdom...
(I am assuming that everyone entrusted with the bringing up of children recognizes the supreme Authority to Whom we are subject; without this recognition I do not see how it is possible to establish the nice relation which should exist between teacher and taught.) [*]
~ She is Charlotte Mason, who in this parenthesis, pretty much says
all that needs be said.
Need I say more? Seriously.
Alas, it is my intention to post my thoughts, so I guess I will try to say something else.
Even if it's all going to sound somewhat similar; about the parts I understand, that is. heheh. ;)
Oh. there is that one little thing I don't agree about...
The bit about the American physiologist who says it might be possible to live for 1,000 years.

[ahem. right. moving on...]

:: Spoiler Alert ::
If you don't like to know how the story ends, skip the paragraph immediately following.
Important words from the chapter:
docility = teachableness; acceptance of authority
hortatory = tending or aiming to exhort, ie, lecturing (which I don't use in this post for reasons that should be obvious)
deputed = appointed to perform a task for which another is responsible
arbitrary = random or based on whim
Important correlations:
teacher :: authority (… & docility)
taught :: docility (… & authority)
Important points:
Those in authority must govern as those also under authority... this fact should be discernible. [*]
A child does in fact have authority... over himself; to make himself attend, to make himself to know.
Oh and if you find that you forget what docility means, refer to your dictionary or resort back to the spoiler right above here.

Thoughts on Docility & Obedience:
It is heroism, that makes our hearts swell, produces a lump in the throat, even prompts tears, that we read about in a man who obeys orders (authority), at peril of his own life, to save friend, family or sovereign. 'Proud subjection and dignified obedience' is that which distinguishes great men and noble citizens. The higher the authority, the greater distinction in obedience.

EveryONE must practice docility in life:
All under God...
government/elected official/citizen

We are all constituents under one authority structure or another (postmodernism doesn't like the sound of that). Even so, there are learning grounds when it comes to any given system... in the case of the education these are:
Home & School.
Once we acknowledge that we are subject to a system (and we would be fools to think otherwise), we must admit that obedience or subjection to authority is a crucial lesson for members such as we are of the Establishment. [*] Therefore students learn a critical life lesson – obedience – by learning subjection to authority (docility) in the classroom. [*]

Children must be subject to authority, but they also exercise authority. They exercise authority over themselves. They are the only ones that can make themselves learn. They exercise authority by choosing if and when they learn and subsequently what they will do with their knowledge.

Thoughts on Authority:
It will almost never be the case of ONE teacher; knowing all, teaching all, and the lot of learners subservient. Though these do exist, having earned a right to lecture through a lifetime of learning...

When it comes to us normal people though...
Authority is proper to office, without it society would cease to cohere [*]. Parents and teachers have inherent authority and therefore should be careful with it. All proper docility & obedience may be secured under two conditions:
1. Authority must operate as also under authority, as deputy (representative of a Supreme Authority – he too must do the things he ought). It must not be arbitrary (ie, regulations subject to convenience).
2. Docility requires a sense of freedom (there is a choice, to know or not to know), [*] which necessitates self-government. Each individual must choose to learn, [*] will choose how they respond to what they've learned.
Authority is not as needful for activities such handicraft, drama, poetry, dance, etc., unless to limit these (though having a place, they shouldn't receive undue attention). In other words, a student does not need to be told to do the things he is naturally inclined to learn, but must by means of authority, be brought to discover relations he might not ordinarily seek out, which though requiring effort, may prove to be sources of real satisfaction and delight.

Authority in education comes into play not in pointing one toward where one already has a tendency to go, but in helping to see where freedom is to be had, in fields one might not otherwise choose to look.

Teachers depreciate children, therefore discrediting their own authority in education by:
  • regarding children as inferior, themselves as superior beings, by not recognizing the potency of the children's minds [*]
  • taking for granted the children's quickness of apprehension, over-explaining and paraphrasing [*], convinced that they cannot understand a literary vocabulary.
  • disregarding the nature and power of attention – that it is not to be cultivated, wooed by persuasion, or pictures and illustrative objects – that it IS a very Niagra of force, [*] an appetite fed with books and knowledge.
  • depreciating knowledge. Failing to realize, children revel in knowledge. A child will educate him/herself [*].
: : 
“To return to our method of employing attention; it is not a casual matter, a convenient, almost miraculous way of covering the ground, of getting children to know certainly and lastingly a surprising amount; all this is to the good, but it is something more, a root principle vital to education. In this way of learning the child comes into his own, he makes use of the authority which is in him in its highest function as a self-commanding, self-compelling power. It is delightful to use any power that is in us... but to make yourself attend, make yourself know, this indeed is to come into a king – all the more satisfying to children because they are so made that they revel in knowledge.” v6 p77-78
: : 

In summary, if you've followed this line of thinking, both authority and docility play a significant role in education. We may all exercise authority, if only in discipline of ourselves AND we are all subject to authority, if only under God. On the other hand, docility is necessary to all. In this, adults and children are all equal, and there is MUCH freedom in the acquisition of knowledge; here we find ourselves in a wide room full of life and interest, where each is at liberty to engage one's self unreservedly.

Quotes referred to above or otherwise especially interesting:
[*] The teacher, or other head may not be arbitrary but must act so evidently as one under authority that the children, quick to discern, see that he too must do the things he ought; and therefore that regulations are not made for his convenience. (I am assuming that everyone entrusted with the bringing up of children recognizes the supreme Authority to Whom we are subject; without this recognition I do not see how it is possible to establish the nice relation which should exist between teacher and taught.) p74

[*] Every king and commander, every mother, elder sister, school prefect, every foreman of works and captain of games, finds that within himself which secures faithful obedience, not for the sake of his merits but because authority is proper to his office. Without this principle society would cease to cohere. p70

[*] Order is the outcome of authority. p70

[*] That subservience should take the place of docility is the last calamity for nation, family or school. Docility implies equality; there is no great gulf fixed between teacher and taught; both are pursuing the same ends, engaged on, the same theme, enriched by mutual interests; and probably the quite delightful pursuit of knowledge affords the only intrinsic liberty for both teacher and taught. “He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,” and this freedom the steady pursuit and delighful aquirement of knowledge afford to us day by day. p72

[*]...once children are allowed a due share in their own education, not a benefit for us to confer but rather a provision for them to take.

[*] The sense of must should be present with children; our mistake is to act in such a way that they, only, seem to be law-compelled while their elders do as they please. p74

[*] But the principle of authority, as well as that of docility, is inherent in children and it is only as the tact and judgment of the teacher make opportunity for its free play that they are prepared for the duties of life as citizens and members of a family. p75

[*] They do choose and are happy in their work, so there is little opportunity for coercion or for deadening, hortatory talk. p75

[*] To allow repetition of a lesson is to shift the responsibility for it from the shoulders of the pupil to those of the teacher who says, in effect, – “I'll see that you know it,” so his pupils make no effort of attention. Thus the same stale stuff is repeated again and again and the children get bored and restive, ready for pranks by way of a change. p76

[*] But if they recognized that the potency of children's minds is as great or greater than that of their own, they would not conceive that spoon-feeeding was their mission... p76

[*] We depreciate children in another way. We are convinced that they cannot understand a literary vocabulary so we explain and paraphrase to our own heart's content but not to theirs. p76

[*] Another misapprehension which makes for disorder is our way of regarding attention. We believe that it is to be cultivated, nursed, coddled, wooed by persuasion, by dramatic presentation, by pictures and illustrative objects... Attention, we know, is not a 'faculty' nor a definable power of mind but is the ability to turn on every such power, to concentrate, as we say... There it is in every child in full measure, a very Niagara of force, ready to be turned on in obedience to the child's own authority and capable of infinite resistance to authority imposed from without. p76

[*] Our part is to regard attention, too, as an appetite and to feed it with the best we have in books and in all knowledge. p77

There are few who do not know the mischievous and baffling effects of inattention and forgetfulness on the part of subordinates... p78

We may not pose before children, nor pride ourselves on dutiful getting up of knowledge in order to deliver it as emanating from ourselves. p78

We are filled with compassion when we detect the lifeless hand or leg, the artificial nose or jaw, that many a man has brought home as a consequence of the War. But many of our young men and women go about more seriously maimed than these. They are devoid of intellectual interests, history and poetry are without charm for them, the scientific work of the day is only slightly interesting, their 'job' and the social amenities they can secure are all that their life has for them.
The maimed existence in which a man goes on from day to day without either nourishing or using his intellect, is causing anxiety to those interested in education, who know that after religion it is our chief concern, is, indeed, the necessary handmaid of religion. p80

This has been an especially LONG post containing my thoughts out loud over chapter 4 of volume six of Charlotte Mason's Homeschooling Series, you can read the chapter in its entirety for yourself right here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

MEP Y9 Maths without a printer? {well, almost}

While it is possible to teach MEP maths without a printer, I must admit that, doing it completely without a printer is ever so slightly challenging. Technically however, it can be done. I'm going to show how we prefer to do it, with only a minimum of printing, and how we could almost do without.

What we do:
Though at first it seemed to me that I was skimping on MEP by only printing out SOME of the materials; I got over it. Quick. And now that I've adjusted, I have seen that MEP is none the worse for almost entirely electronic implementation. AND I'm SUPER glad that I've saved myself (and the environment!) over the years from using SO much ink & paper! For every MEP year, I print* the Student Practice Books. I look at my kindle* or computer screen for the Teacher's Lesson Plans & other files. {If I had been certain that I was going to use MEP with ALL my kids EVERY year, maybe I would have gone and printed them all...? Probably not. I AM skimpy with my printer ink and paper and I don't like having TONS of printed off materials to try and keep track of with lots of kids doing lots of years. AND it would have been REALLY expensive if I'd taken ALL those files to the printer.} 

If you do NOT have a printer, the practice book is really the ONLY thing you MUST print if you also own a kindle/iPad or computer. This could be sent to the print shoppe.
Obviously, if you LOVE paper and have unlimited ink and such, or hate electronics in general... you could print it ALL. 
In which case, you should STOP reading this post.

What you need for MEP - Year 9:
Note: The upper years of MEP, beginning in y7, are a little different than the lower years in that, the curriculum is arranged topically (seems a little more mastery-ish than the previous spiral-ish approach). It may seem like it is more printing, but if it is more, I think it's only slightly more.
Also, there are three tracks in the upper years, Standard, Academic and Express. Each track increases in the amount/difficulty of the student's work, which also translates to the amount of problems and pages finished per lesson/booklet.

1 Practice Book per student (PRINT!* technically, students could do this off of a kindle screen, writing out all of their work and answers in their exercise books, though imo, this would be rather difficult, and unnecessarily exasperating...) For us in y9, this turns out to be, one little mini-booklet over a week or two*, for a grand total of 18 books per year. When printing booklet style, each practice book is only about 6-8 double sided sheets of paper.
1 Exercise Book per student (purchase whichever size notebook, preferably with graph paper)

Teacher Lesson Plan/LP** (Kindle/iPad or Computer or PRINT!* - I print this & write planning notes, I ONLY print the Academic pages, as that's the track we're using)
Overhead Sheets/OS** (Kindle/iPad or Computer, IF you use these)
Activity Sheets/Answers/ACT1,2** (Kindle/iPad or Computer, IF you use these)
Practice Book Answers/PBA** (Kindle/iPad or Computer)
Mental Practice/MT** (Kindle/iPad or Computer)
Revision Test/REV** (you could have students copy down the questions, OR do them orally OR PRINT! - if you use them as traditional tests)
Extra Exercises/EX** (I don't use these, but you could do the same as above)
Teacher's Notes/TN** (I look this over at the beginning of a new math section, there'd be no reason to print, imo)
For the younger years: 
Copy Masters/CM** (Kindle/iPad or Computer or PRINT if you don't have a dry erase board, these work really well for working out the problems with the students.)

(**denotes the abbreviations used in actual .pdf file names downloaded from MEP website)

Here's how I do MEP maths EVER-SO-EASILY-Electronically!!
On our computer, I keep a file on the desktop called >> MEP. There I have >> Y2 – LP & CM files, >> Y3 LP & CM files and >> a folder for Y9 materials, which contains >> LP, OS, ACT, PBA**, etc. .pdf files for the Y9 book we're in. 
Note: That will make a LOT more sense to those of you who have already looked over the MEP materials or have previously worked through one of the upper years of MEP.

At math time, I open up the MEP folder on my computer, and open ALL the files in it. LPs & CMs for y2 & y3, and ALL those files in the y9 folder (listed above). If everyone does math, there are about 12 .pdfs open on my computer at the beginning of math time. I follow the lesson plan for the given child's year, and as I finish using each .pdf resource listed in the lesson, I close it. When everything is closed, we're done! :)

Previously, I kept a dry erase board handy or a notepad to work out the example problems. But we discovered something recently that we're having a LOT of fun with... We write right onto the screen of my laptop when using the overhead sheets and the activities!! :) We use fine tipped wet-erase markers that wipe right off with a wet tissue when we're finished! Saves even more paper! And it's fun. ;) The kindle fire screen is also glass, so the same could be done there! 

Computer/kindle screens made with permeable materials will STAIN!! 
Please check your device BEFORE writing on it!!

* MEP maths is a complete curriculum available online for free. It has been implemented in schools in Europe and many homeschoolers have successfully adapted it for use with their students.
* When printing materials, I find it WAY more economical - and only slightly if ever annoying to the student when doing measuring exercises - to print them booklet style as opposed to the full sheet size (which prints 2 pages per sheet of printer paper, in order to fold the pages that can be then opened/read as a booklet, not to be confused with multiple pages option which just prints 2 consecutive pages side by side, per sheet of paper).
* Transfer the .pdf files to your kindle via USB.  ** See above for the key to abbreviations of specific files.

Helpful Links:
MEP - Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching website
Queen of getting started with MEP for homeschool, imo: Jeanne @ A Peaceful Day!
MEP thread on the AmblesideOnline forum (must be a member to read & post)

Monday, February 4, 2013

thoughts on mind...

Imagination, Reason, Conscience, etc., are all present in even the very young child.
How do you measure those? How do you measure the mind?

One of the scariest things when I first started teaching my own kids was, the realization that I can't see what they've learned. I can't measure it. Have you ever noticed that and felt a little nervous? I'm pretty sure that's why tests were ever invented in the first place; because some well meaning teacher got a little nervous, started wondering if the kids had been listening, and just for good measure started asking questions. Enter big schools, and tests came to serve as, not the measure of, as that is impossible, but an indicator of learning. Administrators (government?) want to know whether large numbers of children have memorized what the teachers said, and whether or not teachers have covered the material intended for consumption by the masses. Of course, as would be the case, teachers couldn't help trying to secure their students' success (and theirs) by skipping right to the point and teaching them just what would be on the test. Yes, we've come a long way, baby! If this is even a little like what has happened, one might begin to question whether or not tests really are all that necessary. Has all that come as a result of feeling a little bit nervous because we can't see or measure a mind? Hmmmm...

We can't see the mind, either. We can't see what's happening inside the mind; which obviously includes the interior of the minds of children we are hoping to see educated. And last time I checked, neither can we see ideas. And though we can't see which ideas are causing a spark, which are making connections, which fall flat or those which are basically running wild causing unchecked mind development in our kids, there may be certain clues. We might head in several directions to try and find evidence of the education by idea.

We could test for it. And we might fail the test - both we and our students.
Or, we could believe it's inevitably taking place, and foster it further by providing the things necessary: atmosphere, good books, short lessons, variety of material, good books, healthy habits, opportunity to tell back, interesting ideas, good books, discussion, encouragement, did I mention, good books?

Some learners provide more evidence to the interior work of idea than others. Possible clues of an idea at work might be: a wrinkled brow, staring out the window, irritability, incessant talking around a given subject, hand cramps, towering piles of notes, etc. ;)
“Brain is the instrument of mind, as piano is an instrument of music." "Education, like faith, is the evidence of things not seen.”
The invisible yet recognizable by those who've experienced the process of mind feeding on idea is thus:
“we hear of... a new thought of some poet... we take in, accept, the idea and for days after every book we read, every person we talk with brings food to the newly entertained notion.” v6p40
I cannot even tell how many times I have been inspired, carried away or even tortured by idea. It happens ALL the time. I love it. The feeling of making connection upon connection to flesh out a concept, is an intellectual thrill almost unequaled. It seems like it could be almost as addictive to the mind as some drugs are to the body, though I wouldn't know from personal experience. At any rate, it certainly gives the mind an exhilerating charge. Conversely, there are no negative effects, only stimulation and growth. Unfortunately, the process cannot be forced. I can't will my mind to connect things, it just happens by giving time and letting it happen. By feeding on lots of different idea sources, some stick, some propagate, some lie fallow for a time. But inevitably, the work of mind is done.

I figure, that it's disrespectful of the mind of a person to bore them with over explanation, or to force a person to listen to something they are completely not interested in. But presenting interesting ideas especially clothed in story, sparing stacks of facts, giving just enough to properly inform, leaving them hungry for more (or not, as the case may be); this is education that respects the person. {That is not to say that children (or adults) will always consciously WANT to hear the book, look at the pictures, that is in essence; to learn. But when treated respectfully, I'm pretty sure they'll come around. eventually.}

In any given subject, with language well expressed, give the child some details, and he will fill in the outline with his own imagination in perfect color. Mind speaks to mind by means of idea, NOT through play, environment, much talk, models, graphs or charts, as good as though those things may be at times.
“History must afford its pageants, science its wonders, literature its intimacies, philosophy its speculations, religion its assurances to every man, and his education must have prepared him for wanderings in these realms of gold.” v6P????
On the reverse side, a child should not be misled out of the joy of learning to know, by encouragement toward greed (wanting to be the best) or emulation (to be the best talked about or thought of), since delight comes naturally when he finds through carefully subtle guidance and wisely chosen books, that he is already in a large and richly decorated room, with many other rooms only waiting to be discovered.

We ought to be awed by the minds of children... and in so doing, we might be at once 'better prepared to consider how and upon what children should be educated'.

Children, students or not, are engaged in Self-Education; ideally, alongside of wise teachers and parent guides. We must respect the minds of children if we want to secure their well placed interest.
"It is the ideas we must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur, and must leave the child to deal with these as he chooses." v6p40
My kids do amaze me. While I can't measure their minds. Often, I am blown away at how well they listen to stories, catch the important underlying concepts, as well as many ancillary details, and can accurately tell back what they've heard. But quite apart from school, their minds always seem to be working, as evidenced by their incessant questions and persistent returns to the same subject matter, among other clues. It is truly shocking... unless of course you are constantly aware of how amazing their Creator really is, and that He made them like that on purpose. In that case, they are just doing what they are made to do, as a matter of course.

This has been a reflection on Charlotte Mason's Homeschooling Series, Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education, Chapter 2.
You can read it here.

Nature Study Monday: February {link-up}

In my journal...
It rained today. I'm really glad, because I think we've had what might prove to be the hottest days of the year this last week. The rain started at 7 am and continued until around lunch time, leaving everything rinsed and damp.

Today's nature study was that simple. 
Getting out to look at the effects the rain had on different plants and things. :)
Boy, was it refreshing.


Nature Study Mondays are a regular feature here at Fisher Academy. They exist to help me keep motivated and on track with our nature study and to provide a friendly place to share our nature studies. I'd love it if it were helpful to keep you on track too. Feel free to link up your blog posts, or just visit regularly and report about your nature study in the comments. ;)

Feel free to link up your nature studies posted in the month of February. I'd love to see! 
Just leave your link in the comments, and snag a button if you'd like! :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Blog Archive