Monday, May 16, 2016

Walking the Walk

When you walk with someone you embark on a journey together. 
The Question: Teaching Your Child the Essentials of Classical Education by Leigh Bortins

Seven years ago we embarked on a journey. It proved to be one that would lead us beside refreshing streams, rocky paths, breathtaking mountaintops, deep dark valleys, and yes...even a tsunami or two; always changing, always an adventure. We call this journey homeschooling. 

I'm reflecting on this past year because I'm compiling our girls' yearly portfolios. This has caused me stop and give our 2015-2016 school year a little more thought. What really was accomplished? What skills are stronger? What ones are lacking? Are our children equipped to move on to more complex tasks and ideas?

Beginning in mid-August, I will be the lead learner of a group of students ranging from ages 13-15. We will be developing the skills necessary to learn Algebra, Formal Logic, Persuasive Writing, Debate, Latin, and Science. My daughter is one of these students.

We've had a difficult year. My daughter insisted on enrolling in an online school and leaving our beloved Classical Conversations community. Since I was caring for my 95 year old father, I thought maybe this was an answer to my question: "How am I going to keep up with her studies?" To make a long story short, in February we returned to CC to join her friends in Challenge A.

But is she ready to move on the Challenge B? She missed all the information covered in the 1st semester. She can't draw the world map from memory. She didn't write all the Lost Tools of Writing papers. She didn't do the biology research.

Yet I'm looking at what she did do and I see that she may not have all the subject matter internalized, but she does have the skills necessary to move on. What she missed is way less important than what lies ahead.

The goal of education is to teach children to become adults who can handle complex ideas, in uncertain situations, with confidence.
The Question by Leigh Bortins

12 year old daughter
ISTJ personality - (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)
Nurture by Nature


Memorize Vocabulary and Rules:
Why? ... It strengthens the student's brain by straining it a little more each day. The student takes in quality content that informs an educated person. It tickles our senses with delightful and meaningful words. The Question - Leigh Bortins
  • Memorize math facts, symbols, formulas and laws. - Saxon Algebra 1/2, Kahn Academy
  • Memorize fallacies of logic. - The Fallacy Detective
  • Continue to learn the rules and vocabulary of English Grammar. - Veritas Press English Grammar, Our Mother Tongue, Veritas Press Latin Transition, Henle Latin
  • Memorize Latin declensions, conjugations, and vocabulary. - Veritas Press online Latin Transition, Henle Latin
  • Memorize the vocabulary of exposition and composition which includes the Three Canons of Classical Composition and the Five Common Topics of Invention. - Lost Tools of Writing
  • Read quality literature with unfamiliar vocabulary and make it familiar. These books include Murder on the Orient Express, Born Again, To Kill a Mockingbird, Johnny Tremain, The Light in the Forest, A Door in the Wall, A Gathering of Days, The Bronze Bow, and The Hiding Place.
  • Memorize the vocabulary of human anatomy. - Human Anatomy for Kids
  • Memorize a timeline of history. - Veritas Press online History Transition
  • Memorize the countries and capitals of Asia, Africa, South America, and Oceania. - Compact Atlas of the World


Process new concepts logically:
How? ... by fostering conversation; by utilizing people rather than machines; by tickling our senses with curiosity. The Question - Leigh Bortins
  • Use memorized math facts, formulas, and laws to manipulate and solve mathematical equations and word problems by asking and answering questions. - Saxon Algebra 1/2
  • Practice critical thinking techniques. - Mind Benders
  • Use the fallacies memorized to identify faulty logic. - Fallacy Detective
  • Parse and diagram sentences. Identify proper English in conversation.  - Veritas Press, Our Mother Tongue
  • Parse, diagram, and translate Latin text. - Veritas Press, Henle Latin
  • Construct a thesis statement. - Lost Tools of Writing
  • Read and analyze quality literature. - Words Aptly Spoken Children's Literature
  • Practice invention and arrangement in persuasive writing. - Lost Tools of Writing
  • Diagram the human body and its systems. Write a paragraph about a disorder unique to each system. - The Human Body for Kids
  • Draw continents and their countries appropriately on a world map grid. - Compact Atlas of the World


Clearly explain the grammar and dialectic to others:
What? ... These skills are practiced by leading discussions. They allow group discussions to remain focused. They succeed when applied to a reasoned argument. The Question - Leigh Bortins
  • Explain math problems to teacher (me) and to peers (Challenge A class). - Challenge A
  • Listen carefully and critically to conversions at home, with friends, and in the media in order to discern their logic (or lack of).
  • Write five paragraph expository essays based on literature. - Veritas Press Literature Transition
  • Write basic persuasive essays arguing a thesis statement. - Lost Tools of Writing
  • Use public speaking skills to present these papers in front of peers. - Challenge A
  • Prepare a powerpoint highlighting important events throughout history and the effect they had on our culture. - Veritas Press History Transition.
  • Take part in various organ dissections. - Challenge A
  • Contribute to a devotional study of Proverbs. - Challenge classes

In The Question, Leigh Bortins beautifully states that the purposes of Classical Education are to know whose you are and where you are going. This year I'm learning that in order for my children to realize these purposes, I can't just "talk the talk" but rather I must also "walk the walk" right along beside them.  We're ready to stroll, jog, and occasionally run down life's long learning trail, anxious to see where we'll find ourselves this time next year.

Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24