Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Thoughts

The world is so full of a number of things
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings. 
--Robert Louis Stevenson

In my early twenties, I worked at a dinner theater in Nashville.  All the actors worked the cash register, hostessed, waited and bussed tables.  As we did our restaurant diligence, we played characters in improv.  Once the guests were settled, our improv characters put on a show.  (We were actors playing improv characters playing other characters onstage.  It was soooo fun.)

My improv character was Polly Doodle, the hostess.  She was very cheerful.  After guests were seated, she went around to people that looked put out and told them each a happy thought.  (Thankfully, the management provided me with the book, 14000 Things to be Happy About.  I would have quickly exhausted my own powers of invention!)

I figured I would be rebuffed, but most people pleasantly accepted Polly's happy thoughts.  Apparently people do not want to stay in a bad mood.  At least people who go to dinner theaters do not.

It was fun.

This week I am reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is a serious look at joy in the midst of grief and pain.  Not that Polly Doodle was frivolous.  The task of encouraging others to embrace happiness is a serious thing, humor notwithstanding.  But Ann Voskamp takes it to a higher level, exhorting us to purposely recognize our blessings no matter what.

So I made a list of Happy Things.  (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)  In the interest of transparency I confess I got a very bad haircut yesterday, which did NOT make the list.  I'm still working on thankfulness in the midst of that one.  But I did list other things that at first glance might seem more like burdens and less like blessings.

1.  pale brown coffee
2.  dancing child early in the morning
3.  pain that says something needs to change
4.  full box of paperclips
5.  handmade quilt and afghan on my bed
6.  cobalt home-sewed dress for theater
7.  big clean towel and hot shower
8.  flawed people allowed in God's house
9.  patient waiting kitten
10.  cantabile piano floating out of the silence
11.  two weekdays (in a row) at home
12.  people that teach for free
13.  Sun rising in the east, shining through south windows
14.  pistachios during math
15.  pie charts and crayons
16.  knowing the difference between multiples and factors
17.  big and little containers
18.  using the cat for math
19.  a tall bed
20.  the possibility of a calm, gentle voice
21.  conflict... an opportunity to imitate Christ (I had to pray through this one)
22.  ninja kitty attacking vicious ice
23.  child pondering faith and salvation
24.  texting at lunch
25. vile, disgusting carpet that we are waiting to replace... waiting, I'm learning to wait...
26.  kids that clean messes
27.  Old Navy gift card (I purchased workout clothes)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ten Thousand Thousand Precious Gifts

I started reading One Thousand Gifts this weekend.  A stanza from the hymn, "Tender Care," sung by loved ones in my very first church, has echoed in my mind since yesterday evening.  I pray for that cheerful heart.

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise.

Thy Providence my life sustained,
And all my wants redressed,
While in the silent womb I lay,
And hung upon the breast.

To all my weak complaints and cries
Thy mercy lent an ear,
Ere yet my feeble thoughts had learned
To form themselves in prayer.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From Whom those comforts flowed.

When in the slippery paths of youth
With heedless steps I ran,
Thine arm unseen conveyed me safe,
And led me up to man.

Through hidden dangers, toils, and deaths,
It gently cleared my way;
And through the pleasing snares of vice,
More to be feared than they.

O how shall words with equal warmth
The gratitude declare,
That glows within my ravished heart?
But thou canst read it there.

Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
Hath made my cup run o’er;
And, in a kind and faithful Friend,
Hath doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the last a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.

When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.

Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

When nature fails, and day and night
Divide Thy works no more,
My ever grateful heart, O Lord,
Thy mercy shall adore.

Through all eternity to Thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For, oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all Thy praise!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Classical Composition

A couple of years ago at our church, my dad did a Bible study that dealt with the book of Proverbs.  As part of the study, he explained some of the literary devices used in the book.  It certainly elevated our understanding.  He has mentioned the literary devices in other books of the Bible too-- Revelations, for example, is written in apocalyptic style.  Knowing this fact can completely change the interpretation.

This is why I am so excited about progym.  Last week I listened to a talk given by Jim Selby, author of Classical Composition.    He mentioned how some students in his school were able to identify the different figures in one of Paul's letters, and realized that he must have been educated using Aphthonius' progym.  Mr. Selby said the progym was pervasive, crossing both cultural and language lines in the ancient world, so it is very possible some New Testament authors were educated this way.

Wouldn't it be great to grasp the literary meaning of  "rest in Christ" and "we are no longer the servants of sin"?

I would really like to learn and teach something like that.

Update:  I did some more searching and came up with a 2002 discussion (authored by Karen Glass) of Charlotte Mason, narration and progymnasmata.  It is in a yahoo group, but it pulled up when I did a search, so here is the link.  BTW, the yahoo group contains ten issues of "Magnanimity", a newsletter put out by Karen "for those interested in the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason and classical education".  The messages can be read without joining the group.  

I am also reconsidering our grammar.  With my oldest, I used Winston Grammar in the elementary grades, with a chaser of Our Mother Tongue in junior high/high school, but my younger two seem to be stuck in Winston Basic.  I think it just doesn't have enough context for them.  So I have printed out the first Master Book of KISS grammar to see if it will be a fit for us.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Teaching Composition and Feeding Souls

I am still thinking about writing programs.  Some folks from the LTW mentor list have taken time to email privately, giving me tremendous help toward understanding progym-- what it is, what it is not, how it compares with other things.

I'm getting sort of geeked up about progym.  I do not like writing programs as a general rule, so this is different for me.  (LTW was the first exception.  I still like it a lot.  I just wonder if something beforehand mightn't be amiss.)  I think Charlotte's audience must have already known about teaching composition, so she didn't give a lot of details... the way she didn't say much about math...  I don't know.  I did a search through Volumes 3 and 6 to confirm that I wasn't missing anything... either I don't get it, or she didn't go much beyond narration, copywork and dictation.  I may not understand what she meant by those terms.  Or maybe as a teacher I get in the way.  Or maybe life holds too many distractions for my kids.  I don't know.  I have one that is a natural writer and still struggles with argument and form.  I can't teach that without a practical map.  As a writer, I was poorly educated, and I can't find a practical map for middle/high school level composition in the CM Volumes.  If I am missing it, someone please point it out.  (I already know about the writing handbooks recommended at AO.  I have all of them.  They didn't help as much as I would have liked.  It is possible I did not use them properly.)

Beneath the thrill of possibly finding the 'answer', quotes like these keep me cautious:

"...these men... can read and write, think perversely, and follow an argument, though they are unable to detect a fallacy...why do so many... seem incapable of generous impulse, of reasoned patriotism, of seeing beyond the circle of their own interests...? These are the marks of educated persons... Why then are not these persons educated, and what have we given them in lieu of education?”  (CM Vol. 6)

What is education?  What is knowledge?

"Knowledge... is passed, like the light of a torch, from mind to mind, and the flame can be kindled at original minds only. Thought, we know, breeds thought; it is as vital thought touches our minds that our ideas are vitalized, and out of our ideas comes our conduct of life." (CM Vol. 6)

It is about more than discipline, more than form.

"...let us be careful that our disciplinary devices, and our mechanical devices to secure and tabulate the substance of knowledge, do not come between the children and that which is the soul of the book, the living thought it contains."  (CM Vol. 3)

Oh, criminy.  I wish someone would just tell me what to do.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


: Hey, someone stole our dishes!
Happy: They ain't stole. They're hid in the cupboard.
Bashful: My cup's been washed. Sugar's gone.
Happy:  Something's cooking. Smells good.
Grumpy: Don't touch it, you fools! Might be poison. See? It's witch's brew.

--from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
I could never make chore schedules work at my house for more than a couple months.  I looked for a good schedule for years (wrote my own and also used others I found for free or in helpful household organizer books) before I defaulted to another way.  I no longer assign weekly chores.  The kids are responsible for their personal chores-- they do their own laundry and take care of their own rooms, and they take turns cleaning out the cat's litter box-- and then I expect them to pitch in for around thirty minutes per day when we are home.

Everyone that is home helps.  I tell the kids what I need done and either assign or let them pick the task  they will do.  I only list what needs doing right then.  (I do have a sort-of system for what to clean when:  if I can't stand it anymore, it takes priority.  If everything is in relatively good condition, I check with Flylady to see what Zone she is on this week.)  If someone is not home, they do not have to do the half-hour of chores.  They are already working, either at a class or at a job.

My kids are age 11 and up.  I have more free time than they do in the mornings.  They have constant schoolwork while I have free moments in between them needing my help.  A little over a year ago I realized the landscape of our day had changed. It seemed silly not to dust or tidy the bathroom because that was So-and-so's chore.  I was available to do it and they were working on schoolwork.  I didn't want to give them the idea that it is okay to neglect a needful task if it's 'not my job'.

Sometimes I am otherwise engaged in the late afternoon.  If that happens, I have one of the girls make dinner.  After dinner, whoever does not have an activity does the dishes.  If we are all home, I ask the person that seems to have had the easiest day to do the dishes, and usually I help.  I generally don't take no for an answer.  I do listen respectfully to appeals, but unless the kid really has a point, I say thanks for the input and please do the chore.  You eat, you work.

Some weeks this means we don't get much beyond dishes, bathrooms, laundry and basic vacuuming.  I'm okay with that.  Other weeks we get plenty of detailed cleaning done, which is good.  Those are my favorite weeks.

The biggest drawback to this way is that I have to keep asking for help.  Some day I hope we will all do what needs doing when it needs doing without being asked.  I'm still figuring out whether this method encourages that.

Housework is never-ending, especially since we are in our house all the time.  We eat and sleep here, we do school here, I teach other students here.  There is always some project.  I want our house to be clean, but I want it to be relaxed too.  If you come to visit, you will probably find dusty picture frames, although not this week.  (I dusted them while watching Inception on Friday night.)  Things will not be perfectly clean, but hopefully we will be able to fully engage in your visit.  I would like to honor our guests with a company-ready house, and do so as often as I can.  Our whole family enjoys a clean house, too.  But sometimes we just can't manage it and still be civil.  Sometimes the most important thing is playing Monopoly and forgetting about the dishes in the sink.

I daresay we could play Monopoly after everyone pitches in and does the dishes.  That would be the best solution, but I'm not there yet.  Hopefully soon.  I want to keep my home tidy and welcoming.  I also want to teach my daughters the hidden art of making a warm, inviting home.  Throwing away the chore chart and going with something more dynamic appears to be one step (hopefully not the only one) in the transition.  It may be a normal transition in a home with tweens and teens.  That's where we are right now.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to Secure Students' Attention

(Taken from the introduction to Volume 6)  This is mostly for my own benefit.

First, what not to do:

1.  Don't depend on personal magnetism, force of influence, etc.  Yes, this works at the time, but it does little to develop the long-term habit of attention.  Your sparkling personality is simply the shiny thing of the moment.  When someone flashier comes along (say, a comical classmate or charismatic politician), the student's attention will stray.

2.  Don't depend on interest.  The student can go down rabbit trails in his spare time.  Knowledge gotten in lessons ought to be consecutive.

2.  Don't talk so much.  Who is learning if the teacher is narrating?  (My children have confessed that sometimes when they don't feel like narrating, they ask questions that they think will lead me to narrate myself.  According to them, I usually fall for it.  Oh yes.  My honest, wicked children and my naive, foolish self.)

3.  Don't ask many questions.  The only questions should be Socratic "for the purpose of moral conviction."

4.  Don't encourage competition or approval-seeking.  This chokes the child's innate desire for knowledge.  "It seemed to me that we teachers had unconsciously elaborated a system which should secure the discipline of the schools and the eagerness of the scholars,––by means of marks, prizes, and the like,––and yet eliminate that knowledge-hunger, itself the quite sufficient incentive to education."

What to do:

1.  Regulate the lessons as carefully as you do your kids' nutrition (which is actually not very careful at our house right now, but I'm working on it... ). Lessons should be evaluated for literary quality, beauty, and generous variety.

  2.  Be brief.  Introduce the lesson if you must, READ the passage (this should be the longest part of the lesson), have the kids narrate, then briefly offer one or two points if you must.  (If you have a lot to say, then write something.  Make sure it is clear, succinct and literary.  Then let your kids read it when they are ready.  If you don't have time to write something worth reading, you probably shouldn't lecture during lessons either.)

3.  Avoid monotony by reading the passage only once.  This also ensures enough time to read the large number of books Charlotte recommended.

4.  Require narration at the end of the reading.  Knowing they are required to narrate afterward (and that the teacher will not be narrating for them in her misguided attempt at elucidation) will help students pay attention in the first place.  (Aravis says the exception is when the student had a rough morning, ie., overslept, rushed, got in trouble, etc.  It is difficult to pay attention when you feel guilty and tired.  Which leads us to practical habit training, but that is another subject.  Sort of.)

5.  Respect the student's desire for knowledge, however hidden it might be.  "Poetry, history, romance, geography, travel, biography, science and sums are all moral foods, and must be presented to children without predigestion by the teacher."  For no reason may we limit the child's proper curriculum.  

6.  Teach students about their abilities.  Each one of us is capable of self-direction, and also has some capacity to relate intellectually, imaginatively and morally to the things and ideas we find in this world.  It is our duty to USE our abilities.  It is not okay to drift through life entertaining ourselves.  Ourselves is a great resource for this fortifying of the will.  Also Proverbs provides warnings and explains where to look for help.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Still trying to figure it out...

I am taking the kids ice skating today.  While they skate, I am going to go through materials on writing, including progym and LTW, and compare them with CM's volumes and some great articles on how CM *is* classical education.  Oh yes, I am so excited.  :DDD

I got discouraged this week considering basic composition programs that are mostly based on progym.  I was recalled to sanity by a couple of posts by Cindy of Ordo Amoris.  When will I learn that much teaching is liable to kill learning?  I mean, I need to internalize this!  I must not have it if I still need reminders.

Here are the resources I plan to peruse.  (I probably will not get to all of them.)

"To divorce a subject from its meaning was the error of modernity, a mad quest to produce more in less time. The classical authors and educators from antiquity until now were not searching for efficiency and it is puzzling that modern classical educators have missed this point."  --Cindy

"Education is the Science of Relations; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of 'Those first-born affinities/That fit our new existence to existing things.'" --Charlotte Mason

"There is a way to have both rigor and meaning but we must not take shortcuts through the avenue of too many subjects."  --Cindy

"The more important a 'subject' the greater danger we are in of over-teaching it."  --Cindy

"She was seeking a classical education that would serve the needs of the general population, but founded in principles that had weathered well."  --Karen Glass

Since I don't know a whole lot about Classical Ed, I want to limit myself to teachers that have CM's principles at the heart of their teaching while also understanding Classical Ed.  I feel more certain of this with Andrew Kern than I do James Selby, but I really like Selby's presentation of the progym so far.

This was the article that really scared me.  I am going to read it again, writing comments and questions in the margins.

I also have some materials from Kern's Lost Tools of Writing, Selby's Classical Composition program and the Classical Writing  program (by different authors).

Why am I doing this to myself?  Because I need to have a foundation of understanding.  When I work with my kids on their writing, I want it to be in a way that respects the nature of the student.  But I lack knowledge.  I have little understanding of the nature of writing!  I intuitively get some things but do not see the path on which to lead others.  I NEED this.  How can I teach otherwise?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Magnetic Poems

For Christmas, the Warrior Poet gave me Magnetic Poetry and a new copy of The Princess Bride.  He makes me so happy.

Now my fridge is a poetry workshop.  Folks come from all corners of the house to compose their thoughts.  Sadly, two of LittleLa's inventions were lost the other day in an incident involving a broken solenoid and an impromptu waterfall.  So I am recording the family's poetry here to prevent further losses.  These are from all five of us, and I mostly cannot remember who wrote what.  The poems are all lower-case without punctuation because they are magnetic poems. :)

she is a summer night


savoring the universe through garlic butter

make like a free-range chicken and wander


a season 
for the elephant 
thick with memory

kiss that magic monkey ghost

a woman at home eats prosciutto
sings of sausage
shares vegetables

morning music
prairie born
lonely murmur


follow me
my brother
we will ride
every noble horse

silly vinaigrette
bloomed in spring


a bug
strange with sacred life
falls through tendrils of fragrant grass
withered in winter's wild frost
a tiny animal soul becomes cold and quiet
its cycle made full

be as pure rain in summer

Updated to add one I missed and one new poem:

then they walked around it
and followed in passion this tomato

but between that wind and I
there is only sunlight
and clear bright sky  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sandwiches are Beautiful

"I have to leave the house at six o'clock tomorrow morning."


I hoped the Warrior Poet wouldn't mention sandwiches.  I get to sleep until 6:30 every morning.  His schedule is more erratic.  Some days he leaves early, some days he leaves late.  But he usually needs a sack lunch, and for some reason it is very important to him that I make his sandwiches.

That was last night.  He did not bring up the topic of sandwiches.  This morning I heard him moving around.  "I should really get up and just make them," I thought.  But, yuck.  I didn't have to get out of bed yet.


Suddenly the bed moved.  A furry animal was shoved in my face.  "Hey," said WP.  "Skittles wanted to say good morning to you."

Skittles leaped off the bed and went to inspect the bathroom sink.

"He doesn't love me," I said.  "He's a naughty cat."

Obviously, the WP was getting ready to leave.  I must be in the clear.

"Sorry about the sandwiches," I said, snuggling further into the covers.

"Oh, I was actually coming in to let you know I still have a few minutes.  You have time to make them!"  He smiled as if he were giving me a gift.


"Mmm... Or you could make them yourself.  Then I could stay in bed."

"Oh... okay."  He left the room.

I suspect some of you are thinking how horrid I am for not getting up and ironing his shirt, making him a big breakfast and sending him off with a gourmet sack lunch.  (He is totally worth that much effort, btw.)

Others are probably thinking, "What's the big deal about sandwiches.  Does he not know how to make a sandwich?"

That was my line of thinking as I argued with my conscience.

"But, Lord, it's just a sandwich.  Really?  He needs me to make his sandwich?"

He LIKES you to make his sandwich.  It makes him happy to know you made it.

"But I want to stay in bed!  I still have time to sleep..."

But he needs a sandwich made with love when he goes out in the world to slay dragons...

"No.  I am not getting out of this bed to make a sandwich."

Hmm... will you be able to live with that decision later?

Argh.  I got out of bed and went to the kitchen.  WP stood in front of the refrigerator tapping on his phone.  "Oh, hi," he said sheepishly.  "This is as far as I got.  But you still have time."

Haha.  I made him his sandwiches-with-love.  My knight went off to battle, sandwiches safely stowed in his lunchbox.  I had a cup of coffee, wondered at the blessing of sandwiches, and felt happy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Family

My brother took this remarkable picture...

...and Mariel got a picture of him taking pictures of us!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


This week, the word "progym" kept coming up in a thread on the LTW board.  It appeared to be a classical plan for teaching basic composition.  As I read digest this morning I thought, "I am going to have to ask about that, because I keep wanting to start LittleLa (5th grade) in LTW, but something is holding me back.  Maybe she needs progym...?"  Then another member of the group asked the question first.  Yay!  Other members explained and gave a link.

I am enjoying my foray into the classical education world.  I'm sure it is because I am following the excellent folks at the Circe Institute.  I appreciate their care and respect for children, as well as their commitment to virtuous ideas and careful habits.  I am just wading in the shallow end of the pool curently, but that is my impression.

I also enjoy the classical education discussions because of the words they use-- words like "exordium" and "trope" and "nominalization".  I relish five-dollar words.  Jargon can be fun.  It feels like secret code.  I am slowly learning these terms and will soon have enough to participate in the conversation.

Today I learned what I think must be the fanciest word in the classical lexicon:  progymnasmata.

It sounds like gymnastics, but from what I can tell, it means learning the basics of writing in a classical way. Lost Tools of Writing appears to be the next step after progym.  (They call it "progym" for short.  Like a nickname.  I suspect few people can actually spell the entire word without looking it up, lol.)  You can read more about it at the link above.

Anyway, I found the scope and sequence for the different parts of the progym, and guess what?  It looks a lot like what we do in our CM language arts studies!  (Go Charlotte...)  I won't detail the similarities here.  You can see those at the links.  The differences include:

1.  Classical folks use translations of ancient Greek and Roman texts to teach reading and writing, and, while CM advocated the teaching and reading of Latin for other reasons, she strongly argued for the use of texts originally written in English in order to broaden the base of ideas we may share with others regarding character and conduct.  It has to do with making education/discussion of ideas available to everyone rather than an elite few.  I don't explain it very well.  See CM Volume 6 Page 265 for more insight.  I suspect the folks at Circe already get this.  In LTW, the example issue is a book originally written in English.  The progym is from a group called "Classical Writing", which may or may not be affiliated with Circe, and all the texts they use were originally written in Latin or Greek.  The classical education world is a maze to "wonder" through...

2.  Although we do narration, copywork, and dictation, including specific narrations in which I ask the children to write a poem, compare and contrast two things, condemn or praise a character, etc.-- all things included in the progym-- I have NOT been satisfied with my efforts in this direction.  I get CM's ideas, but have a hard time putting shoes on them and walking them down the street.  I cannot believe my lack of skill in teaching writing.  My oldest is a junior in high school and a very talented writer, but needs more help with formatting, argument, style.  That's why we purchased LTW.  I need advice on how to structure the teaching.  I suspect that in Charlotte's day, most educated people had more basic knowledge of writing than me, so she didn't need to give detailed how-to instructions.  Sad to say, I cannot call myself educated in this area, although I do a pretty good imitation of a person educated in writing.

Because of these two differences, I plan to use Classical Writing's scope and sequence the rest of this year to analyze my teaching.  I want to see how far I have gotten in teaching the progym using just my own knowledge and CM's principles, where I disagree with Classical Writing's ideas, and where exactly I lack practical knowledge, before I decide to purchase something.  Then next year I will purchase exactly what I need.

Also, please note that although I am not satisfied with my efforts to teach writing, BOTH my middle school and high school children are thriving with LTW.  It is a challenge, but not to the point of discouragement.  So.  I couldn't have gone far wrong.  It's just that LittleLa wanders around the house needing something to do.  She is very quick to finish her schoolwork and wants to have the subjects her sisters have.  So I want to give her more writing assignments.

This rambling post has been brought to you by Pooh's Thotful Spot, lol.  Thanks for bearing with me as I figure things out.

LTW Lesson 5 Arrangement: Division

We are currently in Lesson 5, just beginning the section on Division.  Once the issue has been separated  into "affirmative" and "negative" sides, and you have chosen your side, you divide the other side more finely into the parts you agree with and the part you don't agree with.

This makes me happy.  Imagine the discussions we can have if we take a moment to walk to the other person's side and say, "here is where I agree with you".  And if we listen when another person divides his or her argument.  Proactively eliminating straw men.  Clearing the stubble so we can gather the wheat.

The only problem I can see with division is that people sometimes don't realize there IS a point of disagreement when you first give them the ways in which you agree.  People have short attention spans nowadays.  They don't always stick around to hear the end of the argument. ;o)

For instance...

Question/Issue:  "Is Kindergarten the best training ground for a child?" (from Charlotte Mason's Volume 1)

Affirmative:  Young children should attend Kindergarten.
Negative:  Young children should not attend Kindergarten.

Charlotte took the negative on this issue, but first she delineated all the ways she agreed with the Kindergarten movement.  Here is one example:

...in the Kindergarten the child's senses are carefully and progressively trained: he looks, listens, learns by touch; gets ideas of size, colour, form, number; is taught to copy faithfully, express exactly. And in this training of the senses, the child is made to pursue the method the infant shapes for himself in his early studies of ring or ball.

But it is possible that the child's marvellous power of obtaining knowledge by means of his senses may be undervalued; that the field may be too circumscribed; and that, during the first six or seven years in which he might have become intimately acquainted with the properties and history of every natural object within his reach, he has obtained,exact ideas, it is true––can distinguish a rhomboid from a pentagon, a primary from a secondary colour, has learned to see so truly that he can copy what he sees in folded paper or woven straw,––but this at the expense of much of that real knowledge of the external world which at no time of his life will he be so fitted to acquire. Therefore, while the exact nicely graduated training of the Kindergarten may be of value, the mother will endeavour to give it by the way, and will by no means let it stand for that wider training of the senses, to secure which for her children is a primary duty.
(Emphasis mine.)

See it?  First, she affirms the good of the Kindergarten movement ("the child's senses are carefully and progressively trained").  Then she offers her disagreement ("the field may be too circumscribed").  Then comes the division ("he has obtained exact ideas, it is true... but at the expensive of much real knowledge").  She says in some ways Kindergarten is an excellent idea, it fits a child with exact habits of observation and execution... BUT... what about real knowledge (by which she meant knowledge obtained by children at liberty in the open air, through exercise and investigation, albeit with some direction from mother).

(Note:  This also seems to contain antithesis.  Now I wonder what are the similarities and differences between antithesis and division...)

And this is just one point in her Kindergarten argument.  She did this with each single principle she felt was vital in the education of young children.  Yet I have had conversations with people who thought Charlotte was squarely in Froebel's camp.

btw, the Apostle Paul used division too.  Think about that the next time you discuss the book of Romans.

So. Division.  Excellent tool.  If we learn to use it, perhaps we will also learn to recognize it.  ;o)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


"All God’s revelations are sealed to us until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. Let God’s truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it. Obey God in the thing He is at present showing you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. We read tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit when…five minutes of drastic obedience would make things clear as a sunbeam. We say, I suppose I shall understand these things some day. You can understand them now: it is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens up and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself till you obey what you know already."  (Oswald Chambers)

(As quoted in this blog post.)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Christmas Highlights

LittleLa got to meet her favorite radio personality

Caroling at the Adolphus

Ladies about Town
We thought TX had big ornaments... but they had these in CA too

Favors for Christmas-light-night

On BART in NoCal going to the Nutcracker

Auntie La (and Aunt Li) took us for tea at this charming shop!

Christmas tea (the blue sign says "Keep Calm and Carry On")

We were very pleased to see this little cutie and her brother!

At GG Dad's house

We had very nice weather (that's my dad on the left)

She's got her own kind of style

The Warrior Poet rushing to gather with family

This one has a sort of Norman Rockwell feel...

The biggest blessing of the year...
Christmas with my grandparents.


But where shall wisdom be found?
and where is the place of understanding?

Man knoweth not the price thereof;
neither is it found in the land of the living.

The depth saith, 
It is not in me:
And the sea saith, 
It is not with me.

It cannot be gotten for gold,
neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.

It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,
with the precious onyx,
or the sapphire.

The gold and the crystal cannot equal it:
and the exchange of it
shall not be
for jewels of fine gold.

No mention shall be made of coral
or of pearls:

for the price of wisdom is above rubies.

The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,
neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Whence then cometh wisdom?
and where is the place of understanding?

Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living,
and kept close from the fowls of the air.

Destruction and death say,
We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

God understandeth the way thereof, 
and he knoweth the place thereof.
For he looketh to the ends of the earth,
and seeth under the whole heaven:
to make the weight for the winds;
and he weigheth the waters by measure.

When he made a decree for the rain,
 and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
Then did he see it, and declare it;
he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

And unto man he said,

Behold, the fear of the Lord,
that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil 
is understanding.

(Job 28:12-28)