Again with the Daily Homeschool Report thing – and the short Wednesday & Thursday report. It will be brief….not much memorable happened, what with all the interruptions, and what was probably most memorable I wasn’t present for.
Ash Wednesday and Lent were the center of prayer. We went to Mass on Wednesday at the Cathedral, with the Bishop celebrating. Full church, naturally, including many fellow homeschool friends. We’ve also read – along with brother when he gets home – from that 7th grade vintage Catholic text I’ve been posting about. The tone and message are just right.
No copywork today, but yesterday was this poem by Christian Rossetti:
It is good to be last not first,
Pending the present distress;
It is good to hunger and thirst,
So it be for righteousness.
It is good to spend and be spent,
It is good to watch and to pray:
Life and Death make a goodly Lent
So it leads us to Easter Day.
Latin review, a bit of writing in Writing and Rhetoric. A bit of Beast Academy,but not too much since we finished one unit and the next one calls for a lot of reading and some careful thinking. Instead, we did review word problems from grade 6 Evan-Moor and will start the new section on Tuesday. (Monday – brother has no school so we won’t either, I suppose!)
He continued his reading in Farenheit 451. For leisure, he read this and this over the past couple of days and is also reading The Fellowship of the Ring. The new Pseudonymous Bosch book is out and the library has it on the shelf (as of tonight), so we’ll go fetch that tomorrow.
Rabbit hole: Him holding one of the zillion chargers that fill our house. “How does something get charged? I mean…what happens?”
Given that electricity is one of those things that I keep learning and relearning and have a terrible time conceptualizing, that’s a hard one for me to answer. We were short on time, but we took some time to try to find some answers in a couple of books – The Way Things Work and the Usborne book on physics, and it was vaguely satisfying.
This morning was taken up with homeschool classes at the cathedral – drama class (taught by a theater major mom) and history of science, which focused on Mendel. Lots of conversation about traits later on.
Tomorrow is an actual full day, but it would probably be more art-y and writer-y than anything else. We’ll see. Next week will be…full. Maybe one “full” day without any activities? Maybe? Glad we got that crayfish dissected on Monday, because there sure wasn’t any other time to get to it this week. Although I do want to find a squid – I’ve read that the best is to find whole frozen squid. My older son said that when his homeschool science class at the science museum dissected a squid, the instructor said “you could eat this if you wanted to” – so I’m trusting that since she made that observation, they weren’t dealing with preserved animals. Maybe we’ll try to hit a couple of the Asian groceries to see what we can find.
And I just remembered something else going on next week that will take out most of another day. Oy.
You need to read this Atlantic article on “The Math Revolution.” It’s about the explosion in problem-solving based extracurricular math and the impact it’s having on American students in general and their competitiveness in the global math scene specifically. The programs we use – Beast Academy right now and the higher math in the past (and future) – are from one of the groups mentioned, The Art of Problem Solving.
…You wouldn’t see it in most classrooms, you wouldn’t know it by looking at slumping national test-score averages, but a cadre of American teenagers are reaching world-class heights in math—more of them, more regularly, than ever before. The phenomenon extends well beyond the handful of hopefuls for the Math Olympiad. The students are being produced by a new pedagogical ecosystem—almost entirely extracurricular—that has developed online and in the country’s rich coastal cities and tech meccas. In these places, accelerated students are learning more and learning faster than they were 10 years ago—tackling more-complex material than many people in the advanced-math community had thought possible. “The bench of American teens who can do world-class math,” says Po-Shen Loh, the head coach of the U.S. team, “is significantly wider and stronger than it used to be.”
Rifkin trains her teachers to expect challenging questions from students at every level, even from pupils as young as 5, so lessons toggle back and forth between the obvious and the mind-bendingly abstract. “The youngest ones, very naturally, their minds see math differently,” she told me. “It is common that they can ask simple questions and then, in the next minute, a very complicated one. But if the teacher doesn’t know enough mathematics, she will answer the simple question and shut down the other, more difficult one. We want children to ask difficult questions, to engage so it is not boring, to be able to do algebra at an early age, sure, but also to see it for what it is: a tool for critical thinking. If their teachers can’t help them do this, well—” Rifkin searched for the word that expressed her level of dismay. “It is a betrayal.”
Now, here’s the problem. The normal course of events upon the explosion of a phenomenon like this is for education reformers to step up and say, “Oh, this is so great…let’s mandate this paradigm for all math teachers everywhere at every level, rewrite all the texts and ask Bill Gates to fund a new nation of workshops. Everyone should do this now.”
Well, no. While I think the problem-solving angle is helpful and fundamentally worthwhile (I say that as a non-math person, too), I also don’t think it’s necessary for every student to buy into it or become experts in this way of doing math. What should happen? More support of these kinds of efforts in all sorts of communities for more students and the freedom for schools, teachers and communities that want to make this a part of their offering without worrying about how it fits into federal or state standards.
In other words, facilitate the flourishing, but for heaven’s sake don’t mandate it. Just stop mandating educational things and you will be amazed how much matters will improve.
Last week, with a break in the weather, I got outside for a walk and listened to the In Our Time podcast (the best) on Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, appropriate considering all of our American Revolution -study. A typically excellent program offering really interesting context for Paine, and, related to the education issue, one more illustration of how “school” does not equal “education.” Paine, like so many of his peers, had only the most basic school-based education and learned everything else in the context of apprenticeships, intense discussion and study circles and self-study.
For something completely different – if you are a Cracker Barrel fan (I’m not) you might be interested in this new fast-casual concept under construction that I drive by at least twice a day – they are debuting it right here in Birmingham, and it’s called Holler & Dash. Not many details, but from what I can pick up, it seems like a pretty smart concept. You can follow the progress on the new place on Facebook, and when they make it to your neighborhood, know we had it here first.
Commentary from the back seat in the – not kidding – twelve minutes it takes to drive home from basketball practice with an 11-year old.
- Recounts the course of practice. Then…
- “What’s that song….when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…???”
- (I answer. That’s Amore.)
- “That book…Anna and the King of Siam….is it in third person?”
- (Me telling him yes, that Anna had written a first-person account, but this was a third-person, slightly fictionalized account, and the musical was based on that.)
- (I have no idea where that came from. We have neither seen nor talked about it recently.)
- Recites haiku he wrote yesterday.
- “I would hate to be an amphibian. Your skin would be so wet and slimy all the time.”
- (Me making the counterargument that it would be all you know, so no matter. He had a counterargument, but I don’t recall the details.)
- Car stopped in front of Orthodox church, with large icon on the side. Pause.
- “The proportions on that icon are wrong.”
- (Me explaining that it was just like all icons, and proper proportions weren’t the point.)
- And, home.
It’s Friday. Stations day.
A Biblical Way of the Cross for everyone:
For Ave Maria press, we wrote John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross. The current edition is illustrated with paintings by Michael O’Brien.
Reconciled to God – a daily devotional. Also available in an e-book format. Still time! Only .99.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!