Archive for the ‘Amy Welborn’ Category

All Saints’ Day is coming up..

(Whether it’s a Holy Day of Obligation or not!)

So..as a reminder, here are saints-related books that you might be interested in.  Just a note:  consider purchasing these as resources for your Catholic school or parish religious education program.

The Loyola KIds Book of Saints:

Good for read-alouds from about age 5 on, independent reading (depending on child) from about 8 on. The emphasis is on helping children see the connection between their own journey to holiness and the saints’.  Sample sections and chapters, with a complete list here:

Saints Are People Who Create
St. Hildegard of Bingen,Blessed Fra Angelico,St. John of the Cross,Blessed Miguel Pro

Saints Are People Who Teach Us New Ways to Pray
St. Benedict,St. Do"amy welborn"minic de Guzman,St. Teresa of Avila,St. Louis de Monfort

Saints Are People Who See Beyond the Everyday
St. Juan Diego, St. Frances of Rome, St. Bernadette Soubirous, Blessed Padre Pio

Saints Are People Who Travel From Home
St. Boniface, St. Peter Claver, St. Francis Xavier, St. Francis Solano, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

Saints Are People Who Are Strong Leaders
St. Helena, St. Leo the Great, St. Wenceslaus, St. John Neumann

Saints Are People Who Tell The Truth
St. Polycarp, St. Thomas Becket, St. Thomas More, Blessed Titus Brandsma

 Published by Loyola Press. 

And then..the exciting sequel!

This book evolved.  Loyola originally wanted this – a book of “heroes” , but I adjusted the concept a bit.  I really need a strong concept in order to write – once I come up with the concept it flows pretty well.  So for this book I decided to organize it according to the virtues, and include in each section a originating narrative from Scripture, a historical event or movement and then a collection of saints who personify that virtue.  For some reason, this book sold particularly well this past spring (Or “First Communion” season. )  I’m not sure why.

Also published by Loyola.

  1. Introduction: Jesus Teaches
  2. Pentecost: Heroes on Fire with Hope
  3. Paul: A Hero"amy welborn" Changes and Finds Hope
  4. St. Patrick and St. Columba: Heroes Bring Hope into Darkness
  5. St. Jane de Chantal: Heroes Hope through Loss
  6. St. Mary Faustina Kowalska: A Hero Finds Hope in Mercy


  1. Introduction: Jesus Works Miracles
  2. Peter and John: Heroes are Known by their Love
  3. St. Genevieve: A City is Saved by a Hero’s Charity
  4. St. Meinrad and St. Edmund Campion: Heroes love their Enemies
  5. Venerable Pierre Toussaint: A Hero Lives a Life of Charity
  6. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop: A Hero Cares for Those Who Need it Most
  7. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: A Hero Lives Charity with the Dying


  1. Introduction: Jesus Strikes a Balance
  2. Peter and Cornelius: Heroes Love Their Neighbors
  3. Charlemagne and Alcuin: Heroes Use their Talents for Good
  4. St. Francis: A Hero Appreciates Creation
  5. Venerable Matt Talbot: Heroes Can Let Go
  6. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: A Hero Enjoys the Gift of Life

After Friendship with Jesus was published by the Catholic Truth Society, Pope Benedict visited England.  During that visit, he gave a talk to school children at an event called “The Big Assembly,” and like all of the talks and homilies he gave at such events,  it was rich and so expressive of his skillful way of teaching, which is profound, yet simple..and yet again, not watered down…so…26811_W

Another book!

Again, CTS was a joy to work with.  In structuring this book, we combined the pope’s words with quotations from various saints.  The images are mostly of contemporary children engaged in activities that illustrate the call of Pope Benedict and the saints to follow Christ.  Here’s the text of the entire talk. Some images:

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Finally, of course, the most recent book, Adventures in Assisi:

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Adventures in Assisi is the fruit of my interest in St. Francis as well as trips both Ann and I have taken to the town.  Ann has been twice, and I traveled there two years ago with my two youngest, on our epic 3-month stay in Europe.

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(Click for full size)

Here’s an interview about the book with both of us.

And here’s a great video feature Ann in her Long Island home/studio.

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That was this morning’s activity – a fossil hunt organized by a great local group called Fresh Air Family. 

We met at a Wal-Mart parking lot, handed in our waivers, and then caravaned to the site, which is a now-unused strip mine.

All the coal that could be profitably taken had been, and reclamation was about to begin when the owner’s grandson found a fossil…and it was discovered that this patch was a treasure trove of fossil remains – mostly reptile, amphibian and insect tracks, as well as vegetation.  The requirement to reclaim the land was lifted, and in the years since, it has been a fruitful area for study. More about it here. 

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Getting some orientation and instruction beforehand.

Fresh Air Family takes groups out there twice a year.

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The stripped area.

We searched for a little over two hours, armed with our hammers and screw drivers, searching, digging, and splitting promising-looking slabs of shale.  We didn’t find any tracks, unfortunately but we did find plenty of evidence of hundreds-of-millions of years-old plant life.  Pretty amazing.

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A local dog made everyone’s acquaintance. He was a very sweet dog – with one blue eye and one brown.

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Stems of some sort

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Closer look at some stems

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The haul.

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Today (Friday the 17th) is the feastday of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  I hope you’ll take some time to read a bit of the letters of the martyr-bishop who was fed to the beasts in the early 2nd century.   He wrote several, to the communities through which he passed as he was being taken in chains from Antioch to Rome.

The letters center on a few themes:  the unity of the Church, the role of the bishop, the Eucharist, warning against heresies, and, of course, martyrdom. It’s good, vivid, bracing stuff.

I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.
  No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.
  The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathise with me because you will know what urges me on.

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From Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s General Audience talk on Ignatius, several years ago:

Overall, it is possible to grasp in the Letters of Ignatius a sort of constant and fruitful dialectic between two characteristic aspects of Christian life: on the one hand, the hierarchical structure of the Ecclesial Community, and on the other, the fundamental unity that binds all the faithful in Christ.
Consequently, their roles cannot be opposed to one another. On the contrary, the insistence on communion among believers and of believers with their Pastors was constantly reformulated in eloquent images and analogies: the harp, strings, intonation, the concert, the symphony. The special responsibility of Bishops, priests and deacons in building the community is clear.

This applies first of all to their invitation to love and unity. “Be one”, Ignatius wrote to the Magnesians, echoing the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper: “one supplication, one mind, one hope in love…. Therefore, all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one” (7: 1-2).

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The rest of this post will be super short and random.  Sorry about that. Maybe I’ll have more substance next week.

So..this was an interesting article – from the coming Sunday’s NYTimes magazine: it’s about the practice of begging in the predominantly Orthodox Jewish town of Lakewood, New Jersey. 

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More New York stuff.  This was an  hilarious article in The New Yorker  by a writer attempting to see how outrageously she could game the “emotional support animal” world. Turtle? Alpaca? Not even kidding.  

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Remember, since it’s October, that  means it’s Rosary month.  Perhaps you’d like a free e-book on Mary?

Well…here you go!

And for a not-free book on a saint…don’t forget this one…

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I’ll have a couple of interviews on it over the next couple of weeks – I’ll let you know when they come on.

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No field trips this week.  However, this weekend, the older boy is going on a scout thing to Mammoth Cave. Michael and I will be staying around here, but we will be going on a jaunt….fossil hunting!  We are to take hammers, screwdrivers and a box for our finds….this is serious, I guess…..

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Synod? Well, sure I have…thoughts.  After it’s over, I’ll jot some of them down.  I mean, honestly, why waste time with pronouncements today when everything is going to change tomorrow…or during the next hour?  Sheesh, what a circus.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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What a saint!

You can, of course, read her major works online here, as well as in many other places online.

For an introduction, let’s turn to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Back in 2011, as part of his series of General Audience talks on great figures in the Church (beginning with the Apostles), he turned to Teresa.  It’s a wonderful introduction to her life.  After outlining her biography and achievements, he turns to the impact of her life and work:

In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and "teresa of avila"human life and in particular, detachment from possessions, that is, evangelical poverty, and this concerns all of us; love for one another as an essential element of community and social life; humility as love for the truth; determination as a fruit of Christian daring; theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water.


Secondly, St Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical figures and eager listening to the word of God. She feels above all closely in tune with the Bride in the Song of Songs and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with Christ in the Passion and with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Saint then stresses how essential prayer is. Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5).


Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.


Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.


Dear brothers and sisters, St Teresa of Jesus is a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time. In our society, which all too often lacks spiritual values, St Teresa teaches us to be unflagging witnesses of God, of his presence and of his action. She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends.

This is the friendship we all need that we must seek anew, day after day. May the example of this Saint, profoundly contemplative and effectively active, spur us too every day to dedicate the right time to prayer, to this openness to God, to this journey, in order to seek God, to see him, to discover his friendship and so to find true life; indeed many of us should truly say: “I am not alive, I am not truly alive because I do not live the essence of my life”.

Therefore time devoted to prayer is not time wasted, it is time in which the path of life unfolds, the path unfolds to learning from God an ardent love for him, for his Church, and practical charity for our brothers and sisters. Many thanks.

Then, in 2012, Benedict sent a letter to the Bishop of Avila on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the beginning of Teresa’s reform. It’s really a wonderful letter:

By distancing herself from the Mitigated Rule in order to further a radical return to the primitive Rule, St Teresa de Jesús wished to encourage a form of life that would favour the personal encounter with the Lord, for which “we have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon him present within us. Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest” (Camino de perfección [the Way of Perfection] 28, 2). The Monastery of San José came into being precisely in order that all its daughters might have the best possible conditions for speaking to God and establishing a profound and intimate relationship with him.


Teresa of Avila’s example is a great help to us in this exciting task. We can say that in her time the Saint evangelized without mincing her words, with unfailing ardour, with methods foreign to inertia and with expressions haloed with light. Her example keeps all its freshness at the crossroads of our time. It is here that we feel the urgent need for the baptized to renew their hearts through personal prayer which, in accordance with the dictates of the Mystic of Avila, is also centred on contemplation of the Most Holy Humanity of Christ as the only way on which to find God’s glory (cf. Libro de la Vida, 22, 1; Las Moradas [Interior Castle] 6, 7). Thus they will be able to form authentic families which discover in the Gospel the fire of their hearths; lively and united Christian communities, cemented on Christ as their corner-stone and which thirst after a life of generous and brotherly service. It should also be hoped that ceaseless prayer will foster priority attention to the vocations ministry, emphasizing in particular the beauty of the consecrated life which, as a treasure of the Church and an outpouring of graces, must be duly accompanied in both its active and contemplative dimensions.

The power of Christ will likewise lead to the multiplication of projects to enable the People of God to recover its strength in the only possible way: by making room within us for the sentiments of the Lord Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5), seeking in every circumstance a radical experience of his Gospel. This means, first of all, allowing the Holy Spirit to make us friends of the Teacher and to conform us to him.


Today, this most illustrious daughter of the Diocese of Avila invites us to this radicalism and faithfulness. Accepting her beautiful legacy at this moment in history, the Pope asks all the members of this particular Church, and especially youth, to take seriously the common vocation to holiness. Following in the footsteps of Teresa of Jesus, allow me to say to all who have their future before them: may you too, aspire to belong totally to Jesus, only to Jesus and always to Jesus. Do not be afraid to say to Our Lord, as she did, “I am yours; I was born for you, what do you want to do with me?” (Poem 2).

I do think here that you can really see the particular way of expression that Benedict used again and again: the journey of the Christian is to be conformed to Christ. (Very Pauline, yes?)  Not merely to imitate, but to be conformed.  This suggests a deep level of engagement, a degree of surrender and understanding of the dynamic and purpose of human life that is far different that simply “trying to be like.”

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I am finally getting myself together here for Melanie Bettinelli’s linkup on “Learning Notes.”  Melanie is a homeschooling mother of many who writes a very fine blog. Check out the series she’s doing on Shakespeare with kids, for example.   There are innumerable ways and styles of homeschooling, and if you are curious about this growing phenomenon and want to understand its appeal to families, I think Melanie’s blog is a great place to start.  Conversations, creating, exploring with people who love you? …the best kind of education, for sure.

My first foray into this linkup isn’t going to be a day-by-day account this time because I’ve got math on the mind these days.

For a non-mathematician, I think a lot about math, and this blog post has finally spurred me to put down some thoughts on it.


I come from an academic, humanties-centered household.  There was no mathiness or science or business-type activity to speak of in my parents’ lives or in their parents’ lives. My mother  joked about her wildly contrasting verbal and math scores on the GRE. I did fine in math in high school, took the minimum I needed to in college, and that was it.  I had no opinion of it one way or the other.  I certainly had to work hard and think things through in the higher math (the highest I got was what they called “Advanced Math” in the day – maybe there was a bit of Pre-Calculus in it, and a little trig, but I never even attempted calculus.  I don’t think the school offered it, come to think of it.), but I often had the weird experience of hitting a wall at night when I was doing my homework, then waking up the next morning, saying “Ah-ha!” – my brain evidently having worked it all out when I was sleeping.

As a parent, I’ve had one older kid who needed help in math, but the other two breezed through on their own, doing very well. My second son never studied in high school and made straight A’s, even in Calculus.  Daughter had to study, but still did well, and liked it – “Math is like a puzzle to me, and I love puzzles” is what she’s always said.  And now she’s studying for the LSAT which she was emboldened to do, not just because she took a Civil Rights/Liberties class and really enjoyed doing case analyses, but also because she looked into what the LSAT is and joyfully discovered, “It’s LOGIC!” So.

And then, for the others…. it was time to homeschool.

Math is something that some non-mathy homeschooling parents dread, but I never have, mostly because I picked a program that I found easy and even interesting to work with – from The Art of Problem Solving.  I’ve written about this program before, so I won’t repeat myself.  I’ll just say that Joseph worked through the Pre-Algebra text last year and is making “A’s” in Algebra in 8th grade right now.  He never minded it too much, and neither did I – in fact, in many ways, I found it illuminating.  Plus I love the videos.  There, I admitted it.

Now, I have a theory about teaching.  I actually think that people who are a “natural” at a subject don’t necessarily make the best teachers of that subject.  Think about it – if you have an intuitive grasp of a topic or skill, it might be a challenge for you to communicate the process to someone who doesn’t have a clue.  On the other hand, if you’ve had to work through a process step-by-step and have actually struggled with various aspects of it…you might just be a really effective teacher to the equally clueless.

All that is to not to say that I’m a fabulous math teacher.  But it is to say that I’m not a bad one – at least to my own children –  and I think it’s because I understand their lack of understanding.

Anyway, math is not only on my mind these days, it’s on the mind of many because of Common Core-related issues.  I’ll say straight up that I’m (not surprisingly) opposed to Common Core simply because I’m opposed to all federal standards in educational content, period, without exception and also because I believe that the push for Common Core is primarily profit-driven.  As I’ve said before, no one makes money when teachers are using five-year old textbooks using methods they’re familiar with.  People make money when new textbooks must be written and printed, when workshops on new pedagogies must be paid for, when consultants must be consulted and when – above all – children must be tested.

But what has gotten folks riled up above all is the content of the standards, especially in math.  I saw a bit of this in the text Joseph was using in his old school, and which we used in the first year of homeschooling (because at that point we weren’t sure if he would be returning to school after our fall in Europe…just in case he was, he needed to be on track.) I rather liked the text because it invited the student to look at problems in a number of different ways and introduced various problem-solving strategies, but I could see how it could be confusing.

(My problem, though, with how this is shaking out in schools is this: I think the various strategies should be introduced.  What I don’t think is right is then tying “success” of a child – and by extension, a teacher and a school – to that child’s mastery of all of the strategies.  It’s terribly confusing and really confounds the purpose of introducing various strategies, doesn’t it?)

So now, to the present. With the Art of Problem Solving and the curriculum which my younger son is using from the same group, Beast Academywe are encountering “new” strategies. That is, they are new to us, all of us having been taught more or less “traditional” math, even if it has been 40-45 years apart.

And here’s the thing.

They’re so much better. 

They make sense.  They are, as far as I can tell from my limited perspective, truer reflections of what is going on with the numbers with more explanatory power than anything I was taught, which was mostly about learning rules and formulas and plugging in the numbers and doing the computations, period.

I’m going to start with a simple example.

(Caveat – I’m only going to say this once, but it applies to every example.  You may have learned this stuff during math.  Maybe I was taught it, too.  But I don’t think I was, and if I was, it didn’t stick.)

When my older son started PreAlgebra with AOPS, he re-learned a lot about basic arithmetic operations.  It seemed, at first glance, kind of silly, but it wasn’t because, as we soon discovered, it really helps to understand exactly what these basic operations are.  So take division.  What is division?  Well, division is a few things, I suppose, but one of the things division is is simply multiplying by the reciprocal of a number.   So…20 divided by five is also 20 times one-fifth.  Right? So there’s your definition of division:  Multiplying by the reciprocal.

Now. Flash back to..I don’t know.  Fourth, fifth grade math.  When you were taught how to multiply and divide fractions.  Multiplying: easy.   Just multiply straight across.  But dividing?  Ooooh…tricky.  You had to remember that weird thing you had to do – you had to flip the divisor and multiply by the resulting reciprocal.  I don’t know about you, but I never understood why you did that.  Why do we have to do that?  Who knows? It’s a rule!

But hey….isn’t that what division is? Isn’t that the definition?

"beast academy"So when you have to divide fractions, you multiply by the reciprocal…because that’s what division is.

My point is – this was taught to me as a rule with no theoretical foundation.  I probably would have had an easier time remembering it if I’d been taught the reasoning behind it in this really very simple way.

Properties were another thing.  Every year we’d be taught those blasted properties, and never did any of them except the Commutative (because that’s easy) make sense to me.  I had to relearn it every year, and barely did so, because the properties were presented as one little section in one chapter and then essentially neglected, probably until Algebra.

In these AOPS books, students are taught the properties early on, and they use them..constantly.  Multiplication and Division are taught within the framework of the Distributive property – basically, they are taught to break the numbers apart in order to both more easily mentally compute, but also to understand, once again, the operations from the ground up.  And really, this is something a lot of us do anyway, right?  I know I do, and always have – if I have to compute, say, 78 times 6 in my head, I do so by breaking it up into 70 times 6 plus 8 times 6.  It’s just that I never knew what I was doing.

SO.  Finally.  Back to this blog post – in which the author says that the way kids are taught to do multiplication  – the algorithm (or system) – undercuts their understanding of place value. 

If you want kids who get right answers without thinking, then go ahead and keep focusing on those steps. Griffin gets right answer with the lattice algorithm, and I have every confidence that I can train him to get right answers with the standard algorithm too.

But we should not kid ourselves that we are teaching mathematical thinking along the way. Griffin turned off part of his brain (the part that gets 37 times 2 quickly) in order to follow a set of steps that didn’t make sense to him.

Ding-ding-ding.  As a non-mathematician, I am in total agreement.

So now back to my issue.  Have you ever tried to explain 2 and 3 (and more) digit multiplication to a kid?  And what “carrying the ones” means?  And keep any sense of place value?  I mean..try it.  Right now.   Explain why you do those things to an imaginary (or real) nine year old.

It works, sure. You get the right answer.  And there’s a reason it works.  But now….let me tell you about how Michael is learning multiplication of 2, 3 and more digit numbers..  It may not be new or radical to you…perhaps it’s being incorporated in some of the other new math materials out there.   But it’s new to me, and I’ll admit when he first started, I got nervous.  I was thinking, “Wait. This isn’t the way I was taught.  I mean, I don’t really understand the way I was taught..but this is different! I don’t think it’s what they’re doing in regular school.  WILL HE BE AN OUTCAST?”

Well, not really on that last part. So let’s go to the photos:

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That’s how I learned it.  You, too, probably.  Again, imagine explaining to a kid why you carry the 1 and then the 3 and why you put a zero in the units place on that second line. Try.

Now here how Michael’s learning.

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Do you see? It’s the Distributive property, in action.

In case you  don’t – it’s (3X5) + (3X40) + (70 X 5) + (70 X 40). It’s an accurate, clearly laid-out expression of what is happening in the act of “multiplying” these numbers.

The beauty of it is that if you can do part of it your head –  if you know that 45 X 3 is 135 right off the bat – feel free to just put it down that way. Doesn’t mess anything up.

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This makes so much more sense.  To me, a non-math person. Yes, it takes up a bit more space on the paper, but it preserves the sense of what the numbers are and what is going on in the act of multiplication.  In other words, it’s not just a “rule” but a clear process.

Has this been the dullest blog post ever on my blog(s)?  Probably.  But at least I got it out of my system.

The examples of “Common Core” math that I have seen do, indeed seem unnecessarily complicated and frankly convoluted.  I think the intention is to encourage a deeper “number sense,” but they end up confusing instead.  My point is that what I have encountered in the AOPS programs has certainly been new to me, but as not-mathy person I haven’t found them confusing at all,but rather illuminating and quite interesting.  There is a way of teaching a way of doing math that is a more accurate expression of what is going on and which doesn’t seem so random, especially to the non-mathy person. The tragedy is that a worthy end is being massively screwed up and, as a consequence, raising suspicions against any attempt to develop better ways to teach our children math, better ways that are out there and that are not crazy or needlessly confusing – in fact, are the opposite.

Below are some of 9-year old Michael’s math pages from last week. You’ll probably have to click on them to get a better view.

"amy welborn"This was the first workbook page on which he had to work with this new algorithm.  Robots optional.

DSCN4447On this page, he was given just a few numbers of each problem and had to work out the rest.  So, for example in #144, he would have to work out what do you multiply 6 by that gives you a number with 8 in the units digit..well, it could be 3 or it could be 8..so you have to go from there and figure it out.  We left the last one to do as review later.

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He started exponents late last week.  On this page he had to work out where to put parentheses so the equation would work.  If it worked without parentheses, circle it.  (Obviously it was also an exercise in understanding Order of Operations.)

The way that Beast Academy is planned (they haven’t finished all the books yet…) the student will be ready for Pre-Algebra after competing level 5 (this is 4C, with one more to go in the 4th level) – I had my doubts when I heard that, but as we go on…I can see it.  Michael is going to have a completely different, deeper understanding of math than any of his siblings..and it will be better, I have no doubt.

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…….in case you missed it…

Ann Engelhart did an interview with the Brooklyn Diocese television network – it’s a great introduction to the book, with a peak into her studio.

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Jan Hooks died! Sad!

Some of you might remember Jan from SNL or Designing Women or Third Rock from the Sun   As for me and mine, I remember her from way back, even before that, back to the earliest days of WTBS.

Those of you who care or pay attention know that WTBS out of Atlanta was Ted Turner’s first station, the origins of an empire which led to TNT, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies…etc.

But before any of that was WTCG – channel 17 –  an independent station that showed reruns, the Atlanta Braves and featured one Bill Tush as new anchor and entertainment impresario.

I am not sure how – I’m assuming the earliest stages of cable – WTCG reached our house in Knoxville.  When I was in high school, Bill Tush had a very strange, wild, late night news show.

A couple of years after that, he had a sketch comedy show called, appropriately, “Tush,” featuring a merry band of comedic actors and writers, including Ed and Bonnie Turner, and …Jan Hooks.

— 3 —

When the news came across the wire (okay..Twitter) today than Jan Hooks had passed away, I was shocked, not only that she had died, but that the headlines reported that she was 57 years old.  Wait, what? I’m 54.  No way she was only 3 years older than I am….I mean…wasn’t I a teenager when I became a fan, and didn’t I at the time peg her has about ten years older?

I don’t know. I guess I got confused, thinking that “Tush” was what I’d watched in high school…but no. It must have been just Bill Tush’s crazy late-night news antics then. “Tush” was a few years later and now, re watching what’s available – sad YouTube renditions – geez, you’d think that someone would get us a decent set – I can see how young she was.

Rest in peace.  What a talent.

(The oddest thing about revisiting these Tush sketches today was how familiar they were.  I must have VCR’d them back in the day because today, 30+ years later, I could almost recite some of them…)

— 4 —

Michael and I took a field trip this week on our only available day – Wednesday.  We (I) drove about an hour to Oneonta, to Palisades Park, which provided us with a decent little woodsy hike and some views, and then to a couple of covered bridges.  Blount County, Alabama boasts of three covered bridges.  We’d been to one a couple of years ago, so today, we crossed off the other two  One was small and nothing to brage about, but the other – Horton Mill Bridge – was quite impressive.

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

— 5 —

It’s the highest covered bridge in the United States – 70+ feet above the waters of the Warrior River.

What was even more impressive was the approach.  I drove north of Oneonata on 231….putter, putter…and saw the sign.  It pointed left and said, “covered bridge.”  I turned, expecting to drive a bit more before I hit it. Nope!  It was RIGHT THERE!  Still in use, not two hundred feet from the state highway.  Well.

— 6 —

Michael and I attended a short presentation on a cultural/historical matter at a local cultural institution this week.  In the midst of the very mediocre presentation, the presenter referred to Michael and said, “I know you must be bored…”

…when in fact, what I’m sure he was thinking, “I’m nine and I know more about this than you do lady, so yeah, maybe I AM bored..”

— 7 —

Oh, people, I was a Junior Brown fan long before this.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Today is the memorial of St. Denis, bishop and martyr.  You can read about him here:

Missionary to Paris, France. First Bishop of Paris. His success roused the ire of local pagans, and he was imprisoned by Roman governor. Martyred in the persecutions of Valerius with Saint Rusticus and Saint Eleutherius. Legends have grown up around his torture and death, including one that has his body carrying his severed head some distance from his execution site. Saint Genevieve built a basilica over his grave. His feast was added to the Roman Calendar in 1568 by Pope Saint Pius V, though it had been celebrated since 800.

So that legend is why he is often portrayed holding his head, as in the Paris subway near the Basilica of St. Denis, here:

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

The Basilica of St. Denis stands outside the usual tourist track in Paris, but was really one of the most memorable sites we visited in our month there.  So absolutely worth the metro ride. It’s of great historical importance, first because it represents one of the first (if not the first) major expression of Gothic architecture, and secondly because of its role as the last resting place of the French monarchy.  

The Abbey of Saint Denis was the burial site of the kings of France for centuries and has thus been referred to as the “royal necropolis of France.” All but three of the monarchs of France from the 10th century until 1789 have their remains here. The abbey church contains some fine examples of cadaver tombs.

The effigies of many of the kings and queens are on their tombs, but during the French Revolution, these tombs were opened by workers under orders from revolutionary officials. The bodies were removed and dumped in two large pits nearby.

Archaeologist Alexandre Lenoir saved many of the monuments from the same revolutionary officials by claiming them as artworks for his Museum of French Monuments.

Napoleon Bonaparte reopened the church in 1806, but the royal remains were left in their mass graves. Following Napoleon’s first exile to Elba, the Bourbons briefly returned to power. They ordered a search for the corpses of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, which were found on January 21, 1815 and brought to St. Denis and buried in the crypt.

So the Basilica today is repository of funerary imagery….Pepin the Short, the Bourbons….everyone.  It’s fascinating.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

The absolutely most intriguing statuary to me were the two or three sets of married monarchs whose monuments had two elements: the king and queen in full worldy regalia, and then, the two of them represented laid out completely nude…as they came into the world, and as they went back into the earth:

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn""amy welborn"

I wrote a Living Faith devotion about it, here:

Louis XII and Anne of Brittany’s tomb is topped by images of them kneeling in prayer, fully dressed, but in a space below, we see them again, lying as in death, completely nude. It is a startling, sobering sight.

It’s also a sight that reminded me that living under the robes of any worldly honor, power or possession is a creature just like me. Only one king–gracefully born into that mortal flesh but wearing the crown of glory forever–deserves my worship, only one is truly Lord of my life now and for eternity.

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