I don't remember how the idea occurred to me, perhaps it was my January reading of Karen Glass' Charlotte Mason book, Consider This which is quite likely.Whatever it was, I realized that I had to do better keeping up with Seth's reading and making notes for myself to keep it all organized in my head. I do try to read many of the books I give to him each week for his free reads, but the books I ask for narrations from often fall by the wayside.
So I started with the book that he was reading, Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy and started reading it myself.
But before I even got past the first wonderfully illustrated page, I decided I need a map. A map of the Mediterranean, with notes for which King and his people lived where. I got out an atlas. I researched the likely location of Troy and clicked links to other helpful material. I erased my lines and corrected the shapes of islands, peninsulas and coasts. None of this took me too long, but as I drew and wrote, my mind grabbed hold of this work and made it mine.
I took the book to bed and scratched out "should" questions and "why" statements after my readings. I enjoyed myself.
I brought the book to our next Morning Time and asked Seth if we could start over, reading the book aloud together at times. We took turns reading and then I asked if he had any "should" questions. We talked.
Later, he wrote questions instead of giving narrations and we talked about some of those too.
I showed him my notebook and asked him if he wanted to make his own map. He went further and made a chart of the characters and whose side they were on. We finished the book, both at different times, but with much more understanding of the story than before. And now I found a second hand copy of Sutcliff's other companion book, The Wanderings of Odysseus with the same full page illustrations by Alan Lee which we will start later this month.
In the meantime, those lovely, but conniving people at Romans Road Media issued a Great Books Challenge to parents to purchase the The Aeneid and complete the dvd study by mid-May to earn another curriculum package for free. How could I resist?
I am currently almost halfway through the lecture and reading series and loving it. I take notes on Mr. Wesley Callihan's dvd lecture, I do the readings, I take notes on my readings, write myself narrations, and loosely follow Kathy Weitz's literature study technique of Reflection, Connections and Commonplace in my notebook. Then I read her posts and see how far I have yet to come in my connections. But it's all good and others are posting about the challenge too, so I can read their thoughts as well. Plus if I have a question, I can post it on Kathy Weitz's Facebook page, Cottage Press and she and others will answer. I have shared some of the insights about Roman ideas with Shane, my husband, which reinforces the notes I've scribbled down.
I have always kept lined spiral notebooks, I don't know when I started, but this is the first time I have used blank pages which has given me space and freedom to draw, paste and scribble notes wherever I please. And best of all, when I want to reference something, I flip back and there it is. My questions and connections may be made by others, mine are not original, but they are mine in the sense that I have studied, read and thought about the material.
I came across these quotes from Italian author Umberto Eco last week and I saved them because they reminded me of why I read and study without being told to unlike my days of formal schooling.
"An illiterate person who dies, let us say at my age, has lived one life, whereas I have lived the lives of Napoleon, Caesar, d’Artagnan. So I always encourage young people to read books, because it’s an ideal way to develop a great memory and a ravenous multiple personality. And then at the end of your life you have lived countless lives, which is a fabulous privilege."
"I like the notion of stubborn incuriosity. To cultivate a stubborn incuriosity, you have to limit yourself to certain areas of knowledge. You cannot be totally greedy. You have to oblige yourself not to learn everything. Or else you will learn nothing. Culture in this sense is about knowing how to forget. Otherwise, one indeed becomes like Funes, who remembers all the leaves of the tree he saw thirty years ago. Discriminating what you want to learn and remember is critical from a cognitive standpoint."
~ Umberto Eco