Monday, April 30, 2012

A Principle of Science

In science we must be cautious and modest, and ready to alter our minds whenever we learn fresh facts; only keeping sure of one thing, that the truth, when we find it out, will be far more wonderful than any notions of ours.

--Charles Kingsley, Madam How and Lady Why

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Appreciating Shakespeare

Today we had the Shakespeare class over to watch a movie version of the play we just finished reading.  We watched "As You Like It" (1936) with Lawrence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner.

I think the kids enjoyed the movie.  They seemed to like the actor's portrayal of Touchstone, thought Duke Senior was a little overdressed for the forest, and wondered whether "our" Corin should have a beard.  They were disappointed at some of the cuts.  They went for more snacks during the "Seven Ages of Man" monologue.  They looked at me knowingly when Audrey sang the right tune to "It was a Lover and His Lass".  They thought Rosalind was cute, although she whacked people too much with her stick.

Our class' favorite scene is when Orlando says he "can live no longer by thinking" and Silvius explains what it means to love (Act V Scene II).  The scene is cut short in the 1936 version.  This raised an outcry.  They wanted ALL the now-familiar lines.

In our class reading of "As You Like It", that scene had been a sort of tipping-point.  It was then that I knew for sure all of us were on the same page.  At the end of the reading, the kids had burst out laughing, then talked excitedly.  They wanted THIS scene for Family Night.  The other teacher and I had already cobbled together a script of short scenes for the end-of-year program, but I want you to know we took it apart and redid it.

Many times, especially at the beginning, students told me, "I don't get it."  Some of them had never read a real Shakespeare play.  I gave background, but tried not to explain too much.  I told them Shakespeare wrote for regular (16th Century) people.  I told them to grasp what they could and leave the rest, to listen to the rhythm if they couldn't catch the sense, to focus on the subject and verb in the sentence because the rest was decoration.  We paraphrased a scene into postmodern English.  We paraphrased in our narrations.  We made an ANI chart on the issue of whether Rosalind should have deceived Orlando.  One by one, week by week, students engaged, and by the day we read Act V Scene II... the last act, although not the last scene... all of us together appreciated Shakespeare.  "As You Like It" is now our play.

Next year I want to read Hamlet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Encyclopedia of Children

Our book club is currently reading Chapter 4 6 of Charlotte Mason's third volume, School Education.  I found a helpful website:  Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society.  I haven't explored it too much yet, but the writing seems to be straightforward.  (It is an encyclopedia, after all.)  It is part of

Brief biography of Pestalozzi

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Narration: Economics in One Lesson

By Aravis

There is a curious proposal known as “buying back the product” which unions and “amateur economists” (Hazlitt’s words, not mine) like to wave around.

The idea is that the workers in each industry should be paid enough to buy the products they are making. But then the people who make Fords will not be paid as much as the people who make Cadillacs, and the unions won’t have that. (This is a special case of the “purchasing power” fallacy, which we have looked at before. In order to give the employees 30% more purchasing power, the employers raise wages by 30%. But now there is a discrepancy in their bookkeeping, so they raise prices by 30% and the employees have just the same purchasing power as before.)

The biggest issue with this is that the employers do not fund the product. All the people who buy the product fund it, and all the people who contribute towards its creation: the people who make the supplies, the gas stations that fuel its transport, the automotive technicians who make the trucks to carry it, and the architects who design the stores to sell it. So any price-fixing must be done by all who have contributed – not by the employer alone. This is clearly an impossible task, which is why it is best to leave the economy alone.

“If we try to run the economy for the benefit of a single group or class, we shall injure or destroy all groups, including the members of the very class for whose benefit we have been trying to run it. We must run the economy for everybody.”  --Henry Hazlitt

Narration: Bacon's Essay, "Of Studies"

By Mariel

Books are a gift; when you study books are using that gift; so if you love to study books and ponder them in your heart, you love to use this wonderful gift. Study is a delightful thing to do. When you are bored on long car trips and everyone is being very loud, you can take out your history and literature tomes and say, “SHH! I’m studying!” and the car will instantly become quiet.  It causes you to have something to say when you are in a group discussion of Churchill’s The English-Speaking People. But just remember, you are a true scholar when you can be like this man:

Once there was a man who loved to study. He had a wife with a huge social life who loved her husband, but quite frankly, didn’t think that her husband would ever amount to anything. He was so quiet!

One night when they came back from a fancy formal dinner party, the wife started berating her husband. 

“When we were talking about drills, you didn’t say a word! You know tons about drills! Why didn’t you speak up!?”

The husband answered quietly, “I already know what I know, but by keeping quiet, I can learn what others know too.”

You don’t learn to show off, you don’t learn to make money, you learn to glorify God.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

What did the English Civil War and the French Revolution have in common?

A narration by Mariel from The New World:

The English Rebellion of the 1600's and the French Rebellion of the 1700's are very similar. Battles, failed flights from the country, imprisoned royalty, decapitated monarches, a new tyrant who is in charge of the 'Republic', even the son of the dead monarch becoming king after the Republic failed. The same things happened. The kings were imprisoned and killed for treason and stupidity. Only Louis XVI did not have the courtesy of a trial. England, and the new Republic are headed for ruin. Cromwell will be Lord Protector. But what is a Lord Protector? I have heard that term so many times that it has lost the meaning. The internet defines it as the head of the Commonwealth of England, Ireland and Scotland. Watch out, UK! You've killed a tyrant—and invited another one in. The sad thing is is that Cromwell is so convinced that he is doing the right thing. You know what? Charles thought he was doing the right thing also, and look where he is. Barely cold in his grave. Look out, Cromwell. Soon Charles II will hide in an oak.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Kipling, Physics and Economics

 The final paragraph of a narration by Aravis from Six Easy Pieces

Although there is always the same amount of energy in the universe, it is not always available. For example, the sea has a certain amount of energy, because it is always a certain temperature; however, it may take more energy than it is worth to collect all the sea’s energy in one place so that we can use it (meaning that we may expend more energy than we collect). While the sun has a tremendous amount of energy, only one-two-billionth of it falls on the earth (the rest falls on stars, Mercury, Pluto and the rest). If we could harness all the sun’s power, we would have an incredible supply of energy – however, we could easily destroy something necessary out in space by depriving it of energy. And here, O Best Beloved, is where physics intersects with the science of economics.