Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Lots of interesting saints coming up this week (well…there are always interesting saints coming up in our calendar, aren’t there?), among them Camillus de Lellis on July 14.

I wrote about him in The Loyola Kids’ Book of SaintsLoyola didn’t choose to excerpt from my book for the entry for their “Saints Stories for Kids” webpage, but you can read most of it at Google Books, here:

camillus de lellis

(Kateri Tekakwitha, whom we also remember on July 14, is also in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints, but the available excerpt on Google Books is pretty minimal, so…..)

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Still without internet here. Coming to you from Zaxby’s this time.  I thought we were okay, but then it went out again, so I’ve made the call, and will be switching providers at some point this week.

But until then a few notes on homeschooling stuff:

(Obviously no videos all week…too bad…there have been some good ones posted at The Kids Should See This …but they will still be there!)

*We’re almost finished with Getting Started with Latin. As I said before, we are supplementing it with Visual Latin, but the more I get into the latter (again – we did a lot of it with my older son), the weaker it seems. The videos are amusing, but the order and pace is just off – jumping in and discussing “feminine, masculine and neuter” nouns without reference to declensions, for example – instead of exploring the first declension thoroughly before moving on to the second, then the concept of gender when you hit the neuter second declension nouns.  Yes, it means you will probably have to delay discussing adjectives, but I think it’s better to get a deeper sense of the concept of declensions as the way we understand nouns along with verb conjugations.  So, no, I can’t recommend Visual Latin.   (Besides, if you are not Christian or religious in your worldview, his “reading” passages hit religious themes right off, and the thing is, they’re made up – they’re not classical or even deeply theologically based  That bothered me the first time around, and even more so this time.)

*Catholic schools, please get a clue and start teaching Latin again, across the board, to everyone, starting in elementary school.  Even aside from the, you know, Catholic aspect of teaching Latin, the habits in instills are so important:  it has prompted a curiosity about word origin in my son, to the point that it’s almost a reflex for him to pause upon hearing a new word, and reflect on where it came from (if that word is English)  or what it leads to (if it’s a Latin or Greek word).  In addition, the particular skills that are learned in Latin translation, it seems, are deeply related to problem-solving and logic in a way that translation of living languages is not.  As my son has interacted with longer and longer sentences involving various cases and conjugations, I can see his brain work:  Quickly scan the sentence, get a sense of the general structure, find your verb, find your subject, and then drill down into everything else. It teaches him to get a general sense of a problem or issue, and then carefully take it apart –  before tackling – and being overwhelmed – by a mass of particulars.

*I LOVE the Writing and Rhetoric series from Classical Academic Press.  Granted, we are only on the first volume (Fables, Grades 3-4), and I don’t know if the process will eventually get repetitive, but four chapters in, I am sold.  The way it works in this first volume is that a fable is presented as the centerpiece of each chapter.  The student reads the fable, then narrates it back to the teacher.  After that point, the fable is used as a basis for various exercises: summarization, amplification, writing in a copious manner, exploring synonyms and always some form of creative writing.  I’m particularly struck by the process of summarizing that is taught:  Find the main idea.  Circle it.  Underline any words that are essential to the main idea.  Cross out any words or sentences that are not essential.  Then write a summary.  It’s very methodical, but it seems it really teaches how to summarize.

*I think this, combined with the Brave Writer method of tapping the imagination and observational powers, will be the core of our writing program here for now.  I can stop searching for that Platonic ideal at least.

*As I said in the 7 Quick Takes, Beast Academy 4D is here.  It continues to impress, and it continues to entertain my son, since he has already grabbed and read the whole text (in comic book form) at this point.  Since 5A will probably not be out until mid-fall, I’m guessing, we will take our time with this one, with a lot of supplementation – some from the Challenge Math book, and some from various books I picked up (digitally) during one of Scholastic’s 1$ sales – a book on fractions for grades 6-8, Building Math Vocabulary, and Algebra Readiness Made Easy, as well as Evan-Moor daily Math problem books, both regular and word problems.  I’m finding that at this point of in Beast Academy 4 – about ¾ of the way – seems to place a student mid 5th grade in traditional American math.  I’d have to get a textbook to make sure of that, as well as actually finish BA 4, but from leafing through 5th grade supplements at the bookstore last night, it seems about right.

*Books that have impressed this week:  As we have been deep into avian life, we’ve checked out several books (and will be "amy welborn"investing in a couple of birds of Alabama- type books), but one that is particularly lovely is the National Wildlife Federation-published World of BirdsIt features drawings and paintings rather than photographs, and it’s lovely, engaging and full of good information.  (And of course, if you are going to tackle birds, you will book mark the Cornell Orthinological site).

I love maps.  I think historical maps are such a great way of exploring history and geography and, as an implied side effect, the nature of human knowledge and understanding, which is never complete, and always changes and develops.  In short: don’t be arrogant,  human race.  What you think you know? That will change.

Great Maps is a new, big, fat, solid book that presents historical maps from all cultures with a great format:  One spread discusses the map in general, and then the next highlights certain intriguing or important features.  It’s really good, worth checking out and maybe even worth purchasing if that is your interest…okay…time’s up!

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A few years back, I had whipped up a graphic using this, one of my favorite Benedict quotes, but I couldn’t find the one I was thinking of.  I did find this one, though, which isn’t super pretty, but seems to me especially appropriate for this, his 88th birthday.

"pope Benedict XVI"

Stay united to one another, help one another to live and to increase in faith and in Christian life to be daring witnesses of the Lord. Be united but not closed. Be humble but not fearful. Be simple but non ingenuous. Be thoughtful but not complicated. Enter into dialogue with all, but be yourselves.

-Meeting with young people in Genoa, 2008.

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a homeschool post, so here goes, based mostly on just what we did today.  Today:

  • Every day begins with prayer, which is a mash-up of the daily Mass readings and Morning prayer, based on Universalis    or Magnificat if I can find it. So….Thomas Aquinas today. Talking about the saint of the day also gives an opportunity to briefly and painlessly review bits of geography (we generally look at a map to see where the saint was from and traveled to), chronology (for example, practicing understanding the concept of centuries…born in 1225…what century is that?) and art. (We use this book(wonderful!) and this one – when the saint of the day is featured.  Also these to illuminate the Scripture readings.)  Much of the time, when we read the Gospel, we also pull out the Bible atlas and review where Jesus lived and walked.  (Next year, I think we will focus a lot on the Old Testament. as well).  This week, as we discussed the Conversion of Paul (in retrospect!) , we talked, of course, about Paul, his life, and used the actual real Bible to review the contents of the New Testament, what epistles are, and so on.  He practices looking passages up in the Bible and understanding Book, Chapter: Verse notation. Did the same for the feastday of Timothy and Titus.
  • And do you know what?  That is the core of religious education here.  In addition, when various seasons approach we do activities related to that. He, with his brother, regularly serves at the Casa Maria retreat house. This means that in the training to serve, he’s received an superb education in the basics of the Mass, and as he serves Masses that are celebrated by the priests who have led that weekend’s retreat, he gets an opportunity to hear generally above-average preaching. (And he is a kid who pays attention – and given where he has to sit – a couple of feet away from the ambo – it would be hard not  to listen.)  Finally, he’s part of the children’s schola at the Cathedral, where they are using the Words with Wings curriculum and he’s learning a lot through that.   So no, I’m not pushing any particular catechism on him.  He might start something like that next year, but given our household – and the mom who is insanely focused on TEACHABLE MOMENTS – I think we’re good for now. He’s 10.
  • Copywork this week has consisted of: 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (on his feast); “A Word is Dead” by Emily D (with discussion of its meaning) and this quote from Benjamin F: Never confuse motion with action. Again, with discussion of its meaning.  I think tomorrow he’ll do a bit of Bill S’s Sonnet 116 because he’s starting to memorize it. (more on that in a bit).
  • Cursive practice from this book.  I don’t buy them. Don’t spend a dime, because we have them already.  These are the books Joseph used in that grade in brick n’ mortar school that were never finished.  Apparently – as I learned at some point – the practice in class was to distribute the cursive practice books at the beginning of the year and then give them goals for finishing them, goals which were then never followed up on.  So.  There are plenty of usable pages left. Yeah.
  • Since the math that he’s doing at the moment is logic (more in a minute), he does a set of math review problems – 5 minutes’ worth – just to keep his skilz sharp.
  • Spelling – he’s in “4th grade” and a good speller but to allay his anxiety about keeping up with those in brick n’ mortar school, I have him do spelling – from a 5th grade book.  The routine?  I read him the words.  He spells all but maybe one correctly.  He shakes his head and says, “Oh, that’s right. I forgot. I’ve got it now.” Spelling done for the week, and he feels better.
  • (All of this up to this point (after prayer)  takes maybe 15-20 minutes)
  • Math:  He’s on Beast Academy 4B.  The last chapter has been on logic, and it’s stretched both of us.  A lot of puzzles, of course, and I’ve had to regularly explain to him the purpose, as I understand it:  to teach him how to view a problem, how to discern what is important and what is not and to sort out how parts relate to a whole.  I admit, it’s not my favorite. I mean….



Well, 4C is on the way, so next week, we’ll be all about normal things like fractions….

(and for the record I love this curriculum and, as a non-math person, am a huge fan of everything Art of Problem Solving does.  Joseph said to me once, “Mom, do you sometimes watch Richard’s videos when we’re not here?” Er, no. What ever made you think that? Adjust volume.)

  • Then Latin.  As I said before, we’re taking it slowly, using this. Today he covered 2nd and 3rd person singular of "amy welborn"spectare. We also took a slight detour to the Gloria as I reminded him of what the -mus ending would be about. (glorificamus te, adoramus te…etc) He said, “We are moose. That’s how I’ll remember it.”  Whatever works.
  • A bit of geography.  He did a few of the daily geo problems from this book – reinforcing latitude and longitude.  We also use Evan-Moor, but have gone through them up through grade 6. Yesterday he learned about legends and scale by first measuring his own foot with a ruler, then pacing out the dimensions of the dining room, then drawing a map complete with the proper number of feet, then working out the scale (1 Michael Foot = 8 inches), then working out the dimensions of the room in feet and inches.
  • Science: Again, to alleviate his fears about “keeping up,” I purchased the science textbook they use in his old school.  We follow it in a general way with a lot of supplementation.  Last week, we were very science-heavy, and did quite a few demonstrations about heat transfer.  Today, he read and reviewed and went over the chapter-end test. We’ll pick up sound & light next week. I need prisms. PRISMS.
  • Watched this video, and a few related.
  • Independent reading time, reading from the mostly animal-related books he’d checked out of the library. This one is quite amywelborn8interesting and well-done.
  • History: reading the historical fiction, Michael and the Invasion of France. Discussing related issues, looking at a map of how France was divided after the Nazi invasion.
  • We had checked out two children’s books from the Eats, Shoots, Leaves crew and read them earlier in the week, and today, he played this online game. 
  • As I mentioned last year, I discovered this neat-o free poetry memorization curriculum from Mensa.  We did “No Man is an Island” before Christmas, and it’s taken us this long to get back to it.  (And when I say, “we,” I mean it.  I’m memorizing them, too.) The second poem is Sonnet 116, so we (finally)  started that today.  We talked about what a sonnet is, read it, discussed its meaning, then watched a couple of videos of recitations of the poem in both modern English pronunciation and (presumed) original pronunciation.  Then, just because, watched a video of David Tennant declaiming 18.  (There’s a Sonnet app that looks really good, but I haven’t yet invested in it).
  • Read a chapter from Alice in Wonderland and looked at this post about interesting and varied illustrations of the book and talked about how they were the same as or different from what he had envisioned as we read.
  • Then, art!  First, a quick and easy project – this one, from my favorite, That Artist Woman.  It’s a project she did with kindergartners, but that’s okay. He enjoyed it, it took 15 minutes, and the result was very nice, plus we repurposed some of the fruit of last week’s printmaking for the trees.
  • Then we started on….a salt dough map of Guatemala.  Yes!  I had seen this post and thought it was a great idea (we’d done salt dough ornaments at Christmas).  So I told him last week that I wanted him to think of what country he’d like to do, and although I thought he’d go for Mexico, I’m not shocked that Guatemala was the choice.  If told the kid tomorrow that we were going to Tikal, he would probably levitate.

So….a start.  Tomorrow, I plunge in and make my hands think I hate them as I immerse them in salt (although..hmmm…he should probably do his fair share…yeah….) and flour, and we’ll talk about “topography” and such and he’ll make his map. Then it will dry for a couple of days and he’ll paint it.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • Lunch!  (Yes, all this before lunch….) I just discovered that Fantasia is on Netflix, so that was lunchtime viewing while I chopped carrots and onions for Italian Wedding Soup.
  • Practice piano. Bach Invention #1 and this Beethoven (not played at even close to that tempo yet).  Agony because the (excellent) piano instructor changed up the Bach fingering on him.  But…onward!
  • And….we’re done.
  • Wednesday and Thursdays are our only really “full” days of “school.” (and once the weather warms up…see below)  Mondays, he has piano for an hour mid-day, and Tuesdays he either has his homeschool boxing sessions in the afternoons or (once a month) 2-hour science center homeschool class. Fridays are also short-ish because brother gets out of school at 2 on Fridays.
  • But today: Full day, then pick up brother at 3, they shoot hoops for a few minutes here, then take him (Michael) to schola downtown, then back to eat that soup, then out to brother’s Scout meeting where one of Michael’s friends who also has a Scout sibling will be hanging out as well – and they and another child will play outside on the grounds and inside on the basketball court for a good 90 minutes.
  • Home. Shower, then settle down in his room to read – mostly Percy Jackson, with detours to Asterix, Lucky Luke and TinTin, probably until 11 or so. He doesn’t have a “bedtime”  – as long as he’s reading, he can stay up for as long as he likes.
  • So unsocialized! So overprotected and sheltered!

That’s today.  Tomorrow:  More Shakespeare, work on Guatemala in salt dough. Etc. Basketball practice.

"amy welborn"

Once the weather warms up (which will probably be next week.  Sorry, Minnesota!) we’ll venture out for hikes and walks and field trips and such.  I just have no tolerance for sub-50 degree weather. I mean…none. I just sit inside and fume until God cooperates and raises the temperature.

Also, I am trying to settle on a spring break destination.  It’s dependent on airfare.  Once I do that, we’ll shift gears a bit and start preparing for that through reading in geography, history and so on.

Teachable Moments!

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— 1 —

Slow progress on the whole broken-roof thing.  Adjustor came, finished his work, and that check’s in the mail. Now I’m just waiting to hear from the roofer to schedule.

I say it once a month:  I like my house a lot, and love my neighborhood, but after this, I’m done with home ownership. After these boys are up and out, it will be time to pack it in and become a renter again – wherever. Homeownership is vastly overrated, especially if you’re not handy and don’t have a maintenance staff at the ready.

— 2 —

Speaking of home and homes, please check out Emily Stimpson’s new blog on The Catholic Table. It looks wonderful and will be, I can already tell, a wonderful spot to read and reflect about food and Christian values of friendship and hospitality that are applicable to everyone  in any stage of life.

For me and for the friends who sit around my table, food does what it’s supposed to do: It creates family. And it does that not because I’m some Cordon Bleu trained chef. I’m not. I’m just a woman who wants people to know how precious they are—to me and to God. Because God shows us that truth every day by feeding us with his Body and Blood, I do the same by feeding everyone who walks through my door.

That’s really all I do. I love, so I cook. And it works. In a world wracked by loneliness, where more than half of all Americans claim to have no close friends, a little love and a lot of cooking go a long way.

— 3 —

Today was fire day here at the home school.  No, don’t call Allstate again. We have been following a basic 4th grade science curriculum, so the past weeks it’s been all about matter – first what it is, then states of matter and now the difference between "amy welborn"physical and chemical changes.  What better chemical change than fire?  Did lots of demonstrations, some of which we’d done a couple of years ago with brother, but they were worth repeating.  If you’re interested:

Jumping flames

Fruit fireballs  – my favorite – had never done this one before.

Lowering a sieve low enough so metal conducts the heat away and the flame appears hollow.

Fireproof balloon

Interesting, simple demonstration in which you lower a glass over a lit candle sitting in water. Of course, the flame goes out, but then the water level rises. Why? Well go see. 

One of the things I like about the Naked Scientists site is that the explanations of the demonstrations come with diagrams, which is quite helpful, and not something you see very often.

as well as the see-how-CO2-puts-out-a-candle thing.

(Also watched this video on the nature of a flame and read about the chemistry of matches. I’m so stupid. I didn’t know that the strip on safety match boxes was actually a chemical needed to ignite, hence the “safety” designation (since it won’t combust just by striking on anything.))

— 4 —

We’ve settled into a habit of daily watching of videos from one or most of the following:

Science Dump (be careful here, because they do have videos on sex-related matters – I’m saying, it’s not a site in which a  kid should roam freely)

The Kids Should See This

Smarter Every Day (guy lives in Huntsville, right up the road)

And then the various divergent paths on which these particular links lead us.

The Bearing Blogger recommended these videos on the brain – we’ll be watching those, probably with the 8th grader.  They are the 2011 Christmas Lectures of the Royal Academy.

Which then, of course, led me to explore the whole history of the Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institute- 

There had been afternoon lecture courses for adults at the Ri since 1800 and probably some people brought their children along, but in 1825 someone had the idea of putting on lectures during the holiday breaks aimed at ‘ a juvenile auditory’ to introduce a young audience to a subject through spectacular demonstrations

and then Michael Faraday’s in particular, since we were all about fire this week, anyway.

You can read his Christmas lectures – on the candle – here. 

— 5 —

Random school-related stuff:

  • Satisfied with knowing the Greek alphabet, and having applied it to various Christian-related minutiae (chi-rho, Alpha Omega) and some scientific applications, we’re onto Latin now.  We’re starting with this, and then once he gets some basic grammar, we’ll go into Visual Latin – we already have it from the 8th grader, so why not use it?
  • Finally finished Archimedes and the Door of Science.  We used it as an inspiration for some science work, some history, and, using Brave Writer, copywork and dictation. It took a long time..why? Partly because we’d stop and do activities related to the material in the book, but it wasn’t that simple because I never had the proper materials, and it would take me days of remembering and forgetting to finally gather them, and then it was Christmas…etc. I have Galen and the Gateway to Medicine, so we’ll do that next. 
  • One more chapter in Beast Academy 4B and it’s a doozy – logic.  It’s not super hard, but every section is, per usual, a bit of a challenge at first.  What’s fascinating to me is that despite initial protests, he pretty much gets it within seconds.  He was doing these Minesweeper puzzles and got to the point at which he could look at the most challenging ones for maybe ten seconds and then fill it in properly, while I’m still staring dumbly at it.
  • Well, I never said I was logical.
  • Learned about the Dewey Decimal System.  Here’s a good quick review game.
  • We do a lot of science and engineering-related stuff. We were somewhat obsessed with DaveHax over the past couple of weeks.
  • Together, we are reading Alice in Wonderland. Revisiting this book is worth a separate blog post.  You should take a look at the book again, if you have a chance. I probably should go read some analysis, but boy, it’s trippy. An almost uncomfortably accurate expression of the subconscious and dreaming – all about anxiety and feeling out of control.
  • Michael finds it weird and amusing and we do things like pick out subjects, verbs and direct objects from the sentences.
  • Spent some time this week with All the World’s a Stage.” We read it, listened to readings of it (Morgan Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch were handy online), discussed it, looked up unfamiliar vocabulary (quite a bit!), he memorized a couple of lines and did some of it for copywork.
  • Talked about limericks, read a lot, and he wrote a few.
  • (Other poetry – we have plenty of poetry books, but I checked this one out from the library, and like the selections.  They are different.)
  • No travels this week. We’re still adjusting to the basketball schedule and the 2-hour art class which was supposed to be on Mondays got moved to Thursdays, but then they called and said they might not have enough to run the class, so just sit tight until next week, at which point I’m thinking..you had enough when it was on Monday, right? So that messed us up as I set aside not just one, but two afternoons for that, only to see it cancelled.
  • We did a bit of art ourselves this week – played around with rubbings over various textures  with various media.  (The best texture was the underside of an unused tile, which has a raised honeycomb texture).  Then I pulled out this plastic zip bag I have with dozens of random words I’d cut out from magazines, and he used the rubbings as background for some found poetry.
  • I tried to do this type of found poetry with him – to circle words on the page of an old book.  I just liked the idea.  It didn’t work out very well, though, perhaps because he’s a little young and thinks rather literally, but also perhaps (I thought later) because the only book worn out enough to use up on this was a Beverly Clearly Ramona paperback that was falling apart.  As I looked back at the pages he’d tried to use, I saw the the language was so basic and flat (although entertaining!) – not a lot more than names with “said” or “asked” and various  nouns..it was probably not the best choice for that kind of exercise.
  • Oh, there was the Science Center class this week – topic: geology. Core samples taken from cupcakes, I understand.
  • Reading of library books on animals, Honduras…other topics that strike his fancy.
  • This is very, very good: Nix the Tricks.  Take a look, and forward to people who need it.

— 5.5 —

I don’t watch Downton Abbey. Sorry. I’ve got nothing on that score.

— 6 —

I was talking to yet another person considering homeschooling the other day, and I said, rather forcefully, I’m afraid, something like this:

The caricature is that homeschoolers do this in order to protect children from the world, to insulate and live within a bubble.  Perhaps that is the case for some – but who of us does not seek to create some sort of bubble for our children?  The bubble of privilege, the bubble of the Road to College and Success, the bubble of materialism.  Bubbles.

But my motivation was the opposite.  I was frustrating with the way that institutional schools contract the world.  It didn’t matter that the worldview of the schools my children have attended  – a Catholic one – is one that I share.  A Catholic worldview should actually be diverse and vibrant and alive with culture, so that’s not the issue.

The short version:  I didn’t take up homeschooling because I wanted my children to see less of the world. No, I did so because I wanted to help them encounter and engage with more.

And I have the means, the time, these are my last two – and my conscience finally wouldn’t let me say no any longer.

— 7 —


Get your resources here!!


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum

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I haven’t done a school post in a while,so here’s a quick one:

  • Remember, 13-year old is back in “regular” school for 8th grade, so it’s me and the very self-directed 10 year old.
  • Who is busy.  This fall, on a weekly basis, he’s had: piano lesson, musicianship class, schola at the Cathedral, boxing, 1 2-hour art class, another 1-hour art class, and monthly science center classes.  Plus Cub Scouts. And outside play and herpetology. And Legos.
  • What we do at home is sort of directed by his interests and sort of by what I want him to learn.  It’s pretty loose, and also directed by current events, including those in our own family (so, for example, European and German history and geography dominated November.)
  • Every day begins with prayer (some mash-up of the daily Mass readings and Morning Prayer, along with discussion of the saint of the day); cursive practice and copywork.
  • Math is still Beast Academy.  He’s on 4B, and the chapter on Counting almost did us in, but we survived and even learned.
  • Almost done with the Greek alphabet book – he wants to continue with learning actual Greek and asked about Latin, so in January, we’ll start that, in a low-key fashion, using stuff we already have here – Visual Latin and some other easy curriculum I have sitting around here somewhere.  (To reinforce the Greek letters, we used a couple of apps and online games as well)
  • For English grammar mechanics, I use a variety of online resources as well as Scholastic and Evan-Moor workbooks, Language Mechanic and Editor-in-Chief.  For the record, I’m not thrilled with these last two resources(which had looked good to me online) – they can’t stand alone, although they are decent supplements. The copywork and exercises I make up myself based on whatever he’s reading reinforces all of these.
  • We do a lot of geography.  Again, I use the Scholastic and Evan-Moor resources, as well as various online games – the Sheppard Software site has a lot of good stuff, and we recently started with this – Mapping the World with Art – which is challenging for a just-10 year old, but excellent.
  • We do poetry all the time, but considering I know nothing about poetry, I’ve been thinking…we should be using resources from people who do know.  And then I found this – from Mensa For Kids, which sounds sort of revolting, but it’s an excellent resources…and free!  We’ve just started…so…no man is an island, you know?
    • Various science things …various art things…more on that next week, because I’m getting tired here.  Well, there’s these, which don’t look that impressive, but were instructive and enjoyable(and quick)  – all about negative space. (Projects here)

"amy welborn"


We read this one today, and it was surprising how artfully Benet condenses the experience of settling the southern colonies.

And…we’ve seen two productions of Macbeth, a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, gone to a lecture on the use of satellite technology in archaeology….so, yes, life and education goes on, although I’m feeling that we need to get more intentional about some things…but then every time I feel that, he comes and stands in the kitchen and gives me a lecture about the Phoenicians, which I didn’t even know he knew anything about, so who knows….

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"amy welborn"

Yes, this still exists and is in use.

It was sighted yesterday at an open house for a school we’re considering for next year’s high schooler.

And honestly, even though the librarian said they’re in the process of switching over to a computer based system, the fact that in 2014, they still used a card catalog was almost enough to tip my vote.  Almost.  

Isn’t that strange? Because aren’t we supposed to be attracted by the New Shiny Tech that will assure us that our kids are Ready for the Global Challenges of the 21st Century?

For me, not really.  As much as I appreciate Computer Things, I’m a Luddite when it comes to classroom tech.  I am not impressed by boasts that “we have an Ipad for every kid!” and fundraisers for yet more classroom tech that will be obsolete in two years.

There was a woman at this open house who had come from another state with her child looking for an alternative school because her daughter’s school had gone to all Ipad for textbooks.  No actual books.  Just swiping on screens.

I have always suspected that our retention of material read on screens is poorer than that read in print on pages we turn while holding a book.  How many times have you recalled a quote or passage and were helped in that memory by the fact that you could remember where the passage lay on the page or how the book felt or smelled?

As an person who has been observing education from various perspectives for about 30 years now, I can say that one of the things that has puzzled me is this:

Over the past decades, we have been constantly reminded that people have different learning styles.  Teachers have been exhausted by workshops outlining all the different ways in which they are expected to meet the needs of different learning styles while teaching what a noun is or how to add fractions:  visual, auditory, tactile, kinetic..etc…..

So isn’t it strange and counterproductive that as awareness of these different learning styles has grown, we have slowly but surely stripped education of all but the visual?  Actually, physically writing things down helps retention – but let’s just type instead.   Sitting with a book leads to better retention than swiping screens..but..let’s pulp the books and hand every kid an Ipad instead.

So sure, computer-based cataloging system is far more flexible and less time-consuming and efficient.  But isn’t it funny how when an institution isn’t in such a rush to keep up with this ever-changing world, it’s set apart..and inspires a closer look and the intrigued question of why? …instead simply swiping to the next screen?


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