Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Outings


Our Thanksgiving morning hike is becoming a beloved tradition. This year Mr. Edwards, our kids and their cousins, aunt and uncle, and grandparents hiked about two and a half miles through a woodsy nature trail park. The highlight of the chilly walk was seeing four deer bounding across the field. Mr. Edwards was able to snap a picture.


We spent the Friday after Thanksgiving taking a day trip to Abilene, Kansas. We toured the Eisenhower Boyhood Home, Presidential Library and Museum. After studying Eisenhower's presidency last year in our survey of 20th century, the kids were able to appreciate most of the exhibits. It was a good time for a refresher since Hope and Sydney are in the middle of working on a Kansas state notebook project. They will write a report about Eisenhower and a couple of other famous Kansans.




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Reflections

The first time I remember reading the Wall Street Journal's annual Thanksgiving editorials was about eighteen years ago. I was spending my Thanksgiving break from college with relatives and distinctly remember sitting in my aunt's dining room on Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal spread out before me, and reading this pair of articles. It seems that in every year since then the articles have become more meaningful and rich. It is I who have changed.

The first, "The Desolate Wilderness," begins,
Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits. (Continue reading.)

"And the Fair Land," an editorial written in 1961 by then-editor Vermont Royster:
Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America... (Continue reading.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sidebar Update

I finally updated my sidebars! In case you're interested in our reading and listening and movie viewing...

Fall Football

Mr. Edwards and I have always enjoyed watching football together, but this fall was the first football season that Lane truly joined in the fun. His loyalty to "our" teams deepened as he began to understand the plays and follow the games' action more closely. The highlight of the college season, however, was actually getting to go to the game with Grandpa.

Although K-State ended the season without winning the the North division of Big 12 football, Lane and Grandpa saw them play Colorado and win.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Ancient Greek History


One evening during our two-week study of early Greek history, I read aloud to the family the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. Sprawled out on the rug, everyone listened intently to the story of the brave Theseus who vowed to put a stop to the regular kidnapping of Greek youths by the Minoans. He hitched a ride with the kidnappers, told King Minos he wanted in the famous labyrinth to have a chance to fight the evil Minotaur--half-man and half-bull. Following the secret advice of the king's daughter, Theseus trailed a thread behind him throughout the corridors of the twisting maze, and after bravely killing the Minotaur with his dagger, he found his way out by re-tracing his path of thread. Theseus prevailed and King Minos put an end to the kidnapping.

As soon as I finished reading, Toby asked to hear it again. "The one about the dagger."

Watching our students, first and fourth graders, take in early Greek history (the Minoans at Crete, the Mycenaeans, and the legends of Homer) reminds me why studying history can be so thrilling for kids. Except that for most kids it isn't. It is a rare child in traditional school that cites social studies as a favorite subject.

Why the difference?

I can recall studying Greek city-states as a third-grader in Miss Newkirk's class. It was social studies, after all, so the focus was on the political and community organizing methods of the ancients, rather than the palace art at Knossos, the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, Jason and the Argonauts, or the Trojan War. In fact, I lacked a foundational understanding of this history and mythology, so when I encountered Homer's Odyssey as a high schooler, I was flummoxed.

But my own experience is irrelevant; what are the state standards today? A quick look at the social studies standards for my state confirms my memory. Social studies is not a synonym for history, after all, but is a study of the development of society. In the younger grades, my state expects kids to learn about citizenship, their own communities (the fire station, city hall, etc.), and finally their own state government. It isn't until fourth grade that the student studies his own state's history, then in fifth his nation's history, and finally in sixth grade the world's history. Five years of school pass before teachers give kids an understanding of ancient history.

Even worse, so many things are presented out of context to the social studies student. Understanding the progression of time is a difficult concept, but without learning things in order it is even more confusing. Second graders are taught about transportation and inventions--but completely isolated from the context in which those inventions were made. The Wright brothers invented the airplane. The ancient Chinese developed irrigation. The Incas connected their communities with highways. What second grader can sort this information out and even care about it?

The social studies methods of traditional schools are so deeply entrenched that one doubts the study of history for America's children will ever improve. Meanwhile, our Edwards Academy approach is entirely different, inspired by classical methods and committed to studying history chronologically.

Each week we put our studies in the proper chronology with cut-and-paste timeline images (thanks to Homeschool in the Woods) then delve into whatever history resources we have available on the topic. We combine this with related picture books and literature selections, along with a look at the art of the period. We color maps of the places we are studying and look up history-related vocabulary words. For our two weeks in early Greek history, we drew heavily upon various children's versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, as well as wonderful picture books about the Greek gods and goddesses.

Imaginations are sparked. Curiosity is aroused. Playtime is enriched.

Image from Wikipedia. Minotaur locked in battle with Theseus. Bronze by Antoine-Louis Barye (Louvre)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eleven-Eleven

Before it was Veteran's Day, it was Armistice Day. On November 11, 1918 the Great War came to an end with the signing of the Armistice. At the time, my great-uncle Hayes was serving in France. He had fought in the Argonne-Meuse offensive that September and was pulled back from the line and billeted in Vignot, across the Meuse River from Commercy.

The good news of the Armistice was completely overshadowed by some bad news from home, news that Hayes received by letter just three days after the Armistice but nearly a month after it actually happened. As Hayes was fighting in the Argonne, his father back in the States unexpectedly and suddenly died. Hayes heard the news first from a sympathy letter he received from a friend. On November 25, he wrote to his sister,
"When the terrible news first came I was coming in from drill, feeling so happy and light hearted because the Armistice had been signed, then a letter was handed me from Ruth L. [a friend]; when I felt it was so thin I was afraid to open the envelope. I felt sure it was bad news of some kind but I had no idea it would be such terrible news. Hazel, if it had happened a year ago I don't think I could have stood it, but I have seen so much, so awfully much suffering since I have been here I think it made it easier for me....
It is so hard to realize that Papa is really gone, and I had so many things I wanted to tell him...
I came over here several months ago to do a "little job." Now that job is finished but I have a bigger one ahead of me and I want to be the one to do it. It wont be long until I will be back, and how I long to see you all and be with all of you..."
Hayes remained in Europe until the spring and was finally demobilized in May, 1919, upon which he returned home to help provide for his mother and sisters.

***

This Veteran's Day our brother-in-law is serving in Afghanistan. We pray for him daily and are thankful for his service to our nation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Off-Label Imaginations, Part III

Lane came walking into the living room, grinning.

His pants were flapping and I realized that in addition to the pants he was wearing, he had looped through with his belt another pair of chinos. The second pair of pants hung from his waist like an apron. But I knew he was aiming for a different look.

"Are those your chaps?" I asked.

"Yup!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More About Testing

Here's an interesting article from ABC News about the drop in Down Syndrome births coupled with the rise in Down Syndrome terminations. Titled, "Down Syndrome Births Are Down in U.S." and subtitled, "More than 90 Percent of Women Carrying a Child With Down Syndrome Choose to End Their Pregnancies, but Parents Raising These Kids Say They're a 'Gift'', it is worth reading.
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