Sunday, December 31, 2017

Back to the Classics 2018

I love this time of year with everyone talking about their favorite books of the year and what they're looking forward to reading for the coming year.  This year I'm going to attempt one challenge:  the Back to the Classics Challenge.  Here are my tentative picks:

1.  A 19th century classic:  Great Expectations by Dickens (1860-61)

2.  A 20th century classic:  Howard's End by Forster (1910); I am determined to read at least one book with the Close Reads podcast this year.

3.  A classic by a woman author:  Little Women by Alcott (never read!)

4.  A classic in translation:  The Cross by Undset; this is the third book of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy.  I read the first two in 2016.

5.  A children's classic:  The Jungle Book by Kipling; I have lots of options here.  We'll read aloud many children's classics throughout the year.

6.  A classic crime story, fiction or nonfiction:  The Hound of Baskervilles by Doyle

7.  A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or nonfiction:  Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Lansing

8.  A classic with a single-word title:  Emma by Austen

9.  A classic with a color in the title:  The Woman in White by Collins

10.  A classic by an author that's new to you:  Wuthering Heights by Bronte

11.  A classic that scares you:  The Odyssey by Homer

12.  Re-read a favorite classic:  Till We Have Faces or The Great Divorce by Lewis

Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Food for the Mind {The Liberal Arts Tradition}

" the body requires wholesome food and cannot nourish itself upon any substance so the mind too requires meat after its kind."  {Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education}

I am slowly making my way through The Liberal Arts Tradition by Clark and Jain, and am learning so much about the Christian Classical educational tradition (say that five times fast).  Along with Andrew Kern's podcast, the pieces are beginning to come together in my mind.

I thought I would share some of the quotes I've highlighted so far.  I'm not going to provide commentary; I'll let you chew on the ideas :)

(*all emphases are added)

"Since human beings are more than just intellects...the curriculum must develop more than just intellectual virtue.  Creatures formed in God's image must be cultivated in body and soul -- mind, will, and affections."

"This full-orbed education aims at cultivating fully integrated human beings, whose bodies, hearts, and minds are formed respectively by gymnastic, music, and the liberal arts; whose relationships with God, neighbor, and community are marked by piety; whose knowledge of the world, man, and God fit harmoniously within a distinctly Christian philosophy; and whose lives are informed and governed by a theology forged from the revelation of God in Christ Jesus as it has been handed down in historic Christianity."

"Grounded in piety, Christian classical education cultivates the virtue of the student in body, heart, and mind, while nurturing a love for wisdom under the lordship of Christ."

"The foundational distinction between traditional education and modern education is that the ancients believed that education was fundamentally about shaping loves...It was an education in love.  Personal values were not simply explored or discovered on one's own but were passed down and lived out.  This required trust and commitment, and thus piety, the proper love and fear of God and man, was the critical virtue.  It aligned one's will with the family, society, and God, and expected the young pupils' desires, beliefs, and habits to be shaped over years in the process of incarnating them."

"...the metaphysical and theological beliefs passed down through the culture, church, and universities truly governed the forms and content of the curriculum as the faculties of universities sought to understand the ways of God at work in the world...Education in this manner, coupled with the grace of Christ, was not a matter of indoctrination, but about bringing each nature to its fullest potential in a living and vibrant community."

Until next time!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What we read in September

Here's what we finished in September!



**** I was pleasantly surprised with The Great Gatsby.  I expected it to be a slog; maybe I have some unconscious memory of reading it in high school and not liking it, probably because I would have been too young to appreciate it.  Instead, I found this book to be very readable and engaging.  Beyond the big idea about how "the love of money is the root of all evil," this story made me think about the foolishness of the world and how blind we can be when we build our lives on worldly things.  These characters either didn't see, or refused to see, how meaningless their lives really were.


*** I had no idea what this book was about when I started it and I think that adds to the experience.  I thought it was brilliantly written.  The interconnectedness of the narrator's memories and how she slowly learns the truth about her life and the lives of her friends was so well done.  However, the overall story was just not my cup of tea.  I don't want to give anything away, and I do think it's worth reading.  There were many layers and themes - destiny, ethics, relationships, education - that are worth thinking about.


***** We should never stop sharing about God's grace working in the life of a believer.  That's what Miller does in this book - she forsakes her vulnerability and shares the deep, selfish workings in her heart that kept her from truly understanding and living with freeedom in God's love.  She tells the story of how God worked in her life to bring her to her knees and finally accept His grace.  Miller's story is our story - we all, like Job, must be brought to a place of humility so that we can let go of our self-centered ideas about God, and our self-righteous attempts at earning His merit, and finally begin to build our lives on what Jesus did on the cross.  It's not a one time thing; it's an ongoing journey.  And it's all such a beautiful paradox - we fight for control to be free from others, when what we really need is freedom from ourselves.  Freedom can only come when we let go of ourselves and our desires and allow God to carry us along.



**** The girls loved this book.  I found it easy and delightful to read aloud.  The story was interesting and fun and emphasized the importance of respect for persons.  There were a few instances of light swearing (is there such a thing as "light" swearing?  The *f* word to me is hard swearing, I guess.), which I nonchalantly skipped over.  I understood the purpose of the swearing, but still, it's a children's story.  When we finished the book we watched the movie and I was a little disappointed (the girls were, too).  They changed quite a bit (which movies usually do), and included more swearing, plus a scene in which the boys were watching something inappropriate on TV.  Why?  Why include that in a children's movie?  I don't get it.  Be forewarned.


**** Another fun read-aloud, although Mary Poppins was not what I expected.  She wasn't the nicest nanny, and was quite vain.  But the children in the story loved her as their nanny, and my girls loved her, too!  They said it was because she was magical, and opened up an enchanting world to the children.  I thought it was just pure, imaginative fun.


Izzy loves fantasy, and that is what her free reading has mostly consisted of.  Somewhere in the homeschool world some moms were talking about how wonderful Enid Blyton's fantasy books were.  Our library didn't have any of them (I don't think she's well known in America), so I promptly bought her Wishing-Chair books and Faraway Tree books when an online bookseller was having a sale.  And Izzy is loving them!  She finished all three Wishing-Chair books, and she finished the last two books in The Littles series (which she loved as well).

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What are you reading?