Wednesday, May 27, 2015

middle May

I've had these images sitting here waiting to get posted with a complete rundown of our days. And obviously that's not going to happen.
So picture me thrusting a bunch of photos into your hands and running away with my to-do list trailing behind me in the spring breeze, calling to you over my shoulder, Just look at those lilacs!
And look at those ferns, violets, and white bleeding hearts! And don't forget the green green grass! Just look! Has anything sprouted in the garden yet?
And where have those two girls run off now?! Girls!!!

Actually, that pretty much is a recent rundown of our days. That and answering a thousand questions about everything and nothing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

of funeral speeches and soul formation

It has finally sunk in. Education is the nurturing and training of a soul and mind to love what is right. It took a two minute conversation in our kitchen.

A classical education takes you through the texts and studies that writers down throughout history have written and studied as they considered what the soul and mind should love. A Christian uses this classical education differently than a non-Christian in that the texts and the studies are always being compared to the Law-Word of God.
We are currently reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Seth is memorizing Marc Antony's funeral speech for Caesar.
 In the first half, Marc Antony proclaims:
"Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
For Brutus is an honorable man:
So are they all, all honorable men."

As he finished reciting the portion he is working on, I asked him, "Was Marc Antony right? Were all the men who acted with Brutus, honorable men?"
And his answer came quite quickly.
Why not?
His answer.
Because on the morning of Caesar's death, many of them gathered in his home as friends and counseled him that he was foolish in his belief of his wife's foreboding dream. They intentionally misled him away from being wary. And because they spoke words that had double meanings that the reader is made aware of even if Caesar seems not to notice.

Now someone could certainly disagree with his answer and mount an argument that Caesar himself was not an honorable man and therefore was removed for his own dishonorable tendencies. But then perhaps the discussion needs to move a step back and define what is "honor". And that would be helpful. But only if the definition is being derived from the biblical idea of honor, otherwise it's all relative. Your idea of honor, my idea of honor, who is right? Education is not morally neutral, it involves discerning that which is right and holding it up as the ideal.

Books I use:
The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist
Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

books are great, except for when they aren't

I'm going out on a limb here and saying that now more than ever, we need to be super picky about the books we bring into our homes for our kids to read. You cannot trust the libraries and mainstream bookstores (Christian ones too) to have the best books for your readers.
Going through some books on our library's website, I saw some chapter books by an illustrator we previously had enjoyed. So I requested these to see what they were like. I brought them home from the library, two of them, apparently forming some sort of series. I put them with the rest of the library books and went on to something else.

Sometime in the next few days, my almost twelve year old was looking through the library book selection, found these two books and started reading the back of one of them. With a disappointed tone and look he said, "This one is about saving the environment," and the books went back on the shelf. I also was disappointed, but not surprised.
Now, my son loves the outdoors and is very conscious about not leaving messes, hurting insects or animals for his own entertainment. He understands and appreciates that this is God's creation given for us to enjoy and cultivate.
So to find a book that was advertising what it would be preaching to him was a turnoff. As it should be. And I know that Christian stories are often the biggest offenders.
In a lecture that Andrew Kern gave earlier this spring called How to Read A Great Book (And a Hard One) he mentioned this about stories.
"Every story is about something other than the story, because the story didn't really happen. Stories are always analogies. They are always pointing to something else."

Thinking about the stories and the ideas that they are conveying and looking for ideas that are feeding the soul that which is beautiful, true and right. That shortens the endless book lists to just a few great ones. Just a few...

Monday, May 18, 2015

May days

I would love to have some pithy and worthwhile musings to ponder on, but today I just have a collection of camera pixels. It's been hot, then cool, then rainy, then comfortable, then muggy, then breezy. You can imagine the state of the girls' closet and dresser after just 24 hours of this roller coaster weather that spring brings and now that we are more than three weeks into it, I still get overwhelmed by all the outfit decisions each weather change brings. And Kate changes multiple times no matter the weather. She has her own built-in weather vane which demands costume changes like a Paris runway model.
The weather has also been busy changing up the scenery outside with delicious greens that you can smell and flowers budding overnight. The other morning I walked outside our front door and almost fainted from the sheer goodness of the scents in the air. Oh my. It was ethereal. Really and truly transporting.
And of course there is the river, just doing it's thing. It speeds up and forms delicate ripples when the wind sails up and down its surface. And on the still days, it is a perfect mirror for the trees to behold themselves in their brand new leaves. How can they not just stand there and admire themselves for hours on end? The flowering trees must simply know that it is their time to shine. They have unfurled every last nook and cranny of bloom into the sunshine flagging down anyone in the area with a yoo-hoo, look at me.
Driving around the block, the village, or the city is almost torture. You don't want to be admiring from your car seat, you want to be hugging their trunks and burying your face in their branches.
Have I mentioned the lilacs yet?  No?
Next post.