“I wouldn’t mind it nearly as much if I didn’t feel like I was just part of a big corporate and political campaign,” said a third-grade teacher I know. She was talking about the Common Core Curriculum. Recently another friend pointed me to this article in Politico, which helps me to understand. Though it contains some encouraging news about resistance efforts that have gained some momentum, there is also material that concerned me very much. This, for instance: The proponents would appear to have all…Continue Reading “Follow the money to the Common Core”

…up until the last generation it was possible to be born, grow up, and spend a life in the United States without moving more than 50 miles from home, without ever confronting serious questions about one’s basic beliefs, and patterns of behavior. Indeed, without ever confronting serious challenges to anything one knew. Stability and consequent predictability — within “natural cycles” — was the characteristic mode. But now, in just the last minute, we’ve reached the stage where change occurs so rapidly that each of us…Continue Reading “Encyclopedia of Outdated Information”

Very few of us have contemplated more rigorously what is happening through media change than Jacques Ellul, who has sounded some chilling alarms. Without mass media, Ellul insists, there can be no propaganda. With them, there is almost nothing but. “Only through concentration of a large number of media in a few hands can one attain a true orchestration, a continuity, and an application of scientific methods of influencing individuals.” That such concentration is occurring daily, Ellul says, is an established fact, and its results…Continue Reading “Homogenization”

I’ve had some time to read today and find that I can’t really ingest any more of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction without pausing to reflect. This excerpt in particular, quoted from Charles Darwin, captures my attention: Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds… gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays… But now for many years I cannot endure to read a…Continue Reading “Grinding Machine”

This week, Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” was on my 6th grader’s reading list. She read it, then last night I read it aloud to both girls and basically we all registered our questions and observations; I was too tired to do any more than that. But this morning, I got up and started investigating in my old anthologies and online, and I found some great resources. This entry at “Shmoop” addressed most all of our concerns in a very direct way. And a google…Continue Reading “Lady of Shalott”

A week or two ago found me musing on my role in relation to my 6th grader’s classics reading list. I realized after writing the post that I failed to note the role of that list: a literature component in history, but neither the spine of her history study, nor the sole reading she does. I also realized that I actually have some established opinions on how I approach my role already, based on my years of teaching college English and my personal convictions about…Continue Reading “Cognitive Toolboxes”

My 6th grader has been following this reading list from The Well-Trained Mind. It corresponds to her history study this year — early moderns. A few of these have been abridgements or have been supplemented by audiobooks (as noted); it’s technically the 7th grade list, and I wasn’t sure she would have the wherewithall to wrestle through some of the more difficult books. She reads beyond her level with deep absorption if it’s a subject of interest, but not all of these books qualify that…Continue Reading “Reading, Teaching, and Wondering”

My pastor mentioned Outliers in a Sunday school class. He’d read part of it, and it sounded interesting. I picked up a copy at the library to read, but I wasn’t expecting it to provoke so much thought or to have such an impact. It’s really given me a lot to think about. “Outliers” are exceptional people — people who excel far beyond the norm in some way. Malcolm Gladwell takes a number of such figures — software gurus, pilots, hockey players, lawyers, geniuses —…Continue Reading “Outliers”

I thought I should record some of the tweaks I’ve made in materials this year, as well as a brief description of how a typical school day goes. I see these on other blogs from time to time, and even if it’s not of interest to anyone else, it will help me to remember what’s working and what’s not. Fifth grade: Math: Saxon 6/5. We’ve made our peace with Saxon by implementing a few simplifications to the potentially tedious routine of fact sheet, lesson practice,…Continue Reading “Homeschool days”

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School, published in 1984, represents an argument to rethink educational priorities in light of the ideas of British educator Charlotte Mason (1842-1923). Written by Susan Schaeffer Macauley, daughter of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, this book has two purposes: to provide an educational vision, and to re-introduce Charlotte Mason to a more modern age. In the homeschooling movement, Charlotte Mason’s ideas are probably more familiar now than they were when this book was written. I understand…Continue Reading “For the Children’s Sake: I am, I can, I ought, I will”