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Andrew Kern

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About Andrew Kern

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    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee
  • Birthday 11/04/1963

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  1. Keep it nice and simple. A human faculty is an ability that we have as humans: language, arithmetic, running, eating, etc. Some are uniquely human; others are shared with other creatures. But if it is a natural human faculty it is given to us by God to glorify Him and so we can know Him, therefore it is good and should be cultivated.
  2. i want to apologize to any of you who felt excluded by my comment. It was such an "American" thing to do, and as one who has lived outside of the States for a good decade I'm sorry to have fallen into that mistake. I believe that American education, which I know best is in deep crisis and having reflected on this for nearly 20 years I believe that the Home School mom really is our last best hope. Whether that applies to other countries as well I cannot say. What I meant to be praising, and being a man I stumbled over my missing chromosome, was the devotion of all of you mothers to your children. It is the love of a mother for her child that always "saves the world." Please forgive me for not being more considerate of all of you.
  3. two things that I hope will help: 1. Classical education is not rule based, but purpose driven. Classical education, historically, has been about becoming human (this goes back to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and continues through the church fathers, to the Renaissance and early modern world), which means virtue. It's inquiry driven, not methods driven. When your purpose is clear and you are driven by inquiry, you will find the tools and approaches you need. That is why for us as westerners we need, as a community, lots of Greek and Latin readers and writers: because if we lose the tradition we lose the old paths carved out for us by our ancestors. And our tradition is in Greek and Latin. But it's not about the methods or curriculum you use but the reason you use them. Concrete, real world virtues! 2. You teach science the same way, but it can be helpful to realize how science was regarded prior to the 18th century. Science, you may know, comes from the Latin word: scientia, which basically means "knowledge." In the 18th century the natural philosophers of France and England seem to have decided that they were the only ones who could give real knowledge, so they called themselves "scientists" as though those who had been studying ethics, politics, philosophy, and theology had nothing to contribute. It's important, therefore, to love science and exalt it to the right place, and in my opinion it would be easier to do that if we called it by the right name. We should either call it natural science or natural philosophy. Let me explain what I mean by teaching science the same way: Whether you are teaching math, literature, history, or chemistry, the person learning is still human. He will still be learning the way humans learn. And that means that he'll need new information connected to old information, he'll need it communicated in a language he can understand, and he'll need to see the truths you want him to learn in flesh and blood types (examples, illustrations, metaphors, analogies, etc.). The first step in teaching science, therefore, is specifying what kind of thing you are teaching in a given lesson. It could be one of three things: 1. Facts/information 2. Truths/ideas 3. Skills/arts/virtues Science, therefore, is just as dependent on our ability to use the tools of invention from rhetoric as any other subject. If you are going to teach information, the good news is, you can just tell them or show them. There are certainly ways to make it more interesting, but if it is facts you want them to learn it is facts that you should tell them. I always wanted my children, for example, to memorize that wonderful, gorgeous, mind-blowing table of the elements (I have a coffee cup with that table on it). They didn't, but that's an example of facts you could have them learn. If you want to teach them skills, which would seem to be important, that's a little harder. But if they are going to "do" science, they need to learn the skills required to do science. For example, you can't do science without attentiveness, recollection, careful note-taking, close observation, alert senses, math (for higher studies) etc. Therefore, to teach science they should learn how to draw close representations of things they are looking at so they can learn to see. They should cook, so they learn to attend to smells and mixes. They should be sing so they are taught to listen closely. They should garden so they can become familiar with the world as it is and note that you can't have your way with it. And so on. And of course there are some skills that are more uniquely scientific, such as design and implementation of experiments, advanced calculations, etc. Here they need coaches, which may come from your home or from a co-op you are a part of, or some other source. Finally, there are truths that science teaches or is based on. The latter include things like cause and effect, the law of non-contradiction, the law of identity, and other principles learned in logic/rhetoric. The former would include things like gravity, generation and destruction (things come into being and go out of being - are born, die; are built, broken, etc.), change, etc. Natural science has to do with things that are, how things are, and how things change in the material universe. It is totally dependent on truths drawn from metaphysics and it is totally responsible to truths drawn from ethics. It can't exist on its own. So the other thing students need to learn in natural science class is its place. In an ethical and sensible cosmos, its place is lofty: just below the ethical sciences. In a meaningless, material multiverse its place is nowhere: on top of all the meaninglessness it can't explain but enables us to use or adapt to. That gives you three practical "assignments": 1. Determine how you will structure the overall science program from childhood to graduation. I recommend identifying the big ideas and truths you want them to learn, the skills they'll need to master, and the main domains of information they'll need to know. One page for each should do, though you might want to break the domains of information into matter (chemistry), force (physics), and life (biology). 2. Break that into annual syllabi. 3. Identify specific lessons based on the facts, truths, or ideas you are teaching. This is the ongoing lesson preparation. Then get the program that helps you fulfill your objectives instead of implementing somebody else's curriculum. I'm sure that has answered every conceivable question about science, so I'll go away now. :auto:
  4. Hi Justamouse, Thanks for taking the trouble to represent what you listened to. You got it right with one little detail: the five stages you described are the stages of the mimetic sequence, which is to say, the stages a child must go through to learn a truth or apprehend an idea. the five topics of invention are questions that you can always have at hand no matter what you are studying, teaching, writing about, thinking about, or making a decision about. The are: definition: what do you mean/what is it/what kind of thing is it/what are its parts, etc. comparison: how is X like Y? different? Circumstance: What was happening at the time? relation: what caused X? What are the effects of X? etc. Authority: who saw it? Who is able to judge it? etc. Advantage and honor are additional topics that we introduce in higher levels of LTW, but that you think with anyway, so you might as well use them! So the distinction I'm making is between the order of teaching a lesson on the one hand and the questions you can use to think about anything on the other. They definitely interweave and LTW is about using both to teach thinking, writing, and teaching effectively. I hope that clarifies more than it confuses. Keep the two different purposes clear in your mind and that will help: On the one hand: thinking about something before you communicate it On the other: teaching something interactively to somebody else. Blessings!
  5. My soul is swelling so I have to post this: I believe our country is in great moral peril right now and that the moral peril is playing itself in and through our schools: public, private, and parochial. But I have come to believe that what you are doing as home school parents is the best thing that has ever happened to education in our country. EVER. Think of this simple fact: if our people are brought to a state of intellectual, artistic, cultural, and even spiritual flourishing it will because of one thing: The unspeakable love of hundreds of thousands of individual mothers for their own particular children (natal and adopted), and their refusal to conform to the ways of the world dying outside their doors. I cannot express strongly enough how grateful I am to you as a father, a grandfather, an American, a Christian, and a classical educator. May God bless and enrich every single one of you - and your children through you. THANK YOU!!
  6. This brings me to another application I want to offer you. How do you ensure that your students are engaged, that your curriculum is integrated, and that you are all actually learning and not just having either fun or misery? There's a natural course a child goes through to learn something (and for adults too). It applies to every lesson that is oriented to knowing a truth, from the simplest to the most complex. And it begins with you preparing them to receive it. A lesson will natural walk through five stages on the way to the truth. Those stages have been described by Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and even early proto-progressives like Herbert Spencer. If you teach successfully you will have gone through these stages, whether you knew it or not. Stage 1: Preparation of the student's mind. During this stage you raise to your child's mind as much as you judge beneficial of what they already know about the truth to be learned. For example, if you are about to teach them how to add two digit numbers together, let them enjoy how much they already know about one digit numbers, + signs, = signs, etc. If you are about to read a fable (Grasshopper and ants, say) ask them what they know about grasshoppers, ants, fiddles, etc. and ask them if they've ever had to work hard or if they've ever wanted to listen to music while they worked, etc. Stage 2: Present types (illustrations, examples, analogies, etc.) of the truth. These are specific embodiments of a truth to be learned. In math, you would present a few two column addition problems to them and work through them while they watch, gradually handing them over to the students. In the fable, you would read the story (which is a type of a truth). Stage 3: Compare types. In math, you'd ask your children: what did I do this time and this time and this time? What did I do differently this time compared to this time. etc. In a fable, you'd compare the grasshopper to the ants (how are they alike, how different? what did the g do? what did the ants do? what did each get? who would have been happier/wiser/etc. at the end?). Then you can compare stories. For example, you could compare this fable with one you've already read, or you could ask, does this remind you of any other stories or events from anything you've ever read or experienced? Stage 4: Student expresses the truth in her own words In math, ask: when I make you do 1000 of these tonight, how will you do it? In a fable ask: what is the point of this story? (I never tell students the moral). Stage 5: Student embodies the lesson learned in an artifact or action In math, give them 1000 problems to practice the lesson learned In the fable, tell them to apply the moral somehow in their own actions. Note: Do not ask them to write a fable after this lesson for the simple reason that you did not just teach them how to write a fable. That would be a good lesson, but it isn't the one I just described. This applies across the curriculum and is surprisingly easy to do once you get the hang of it. The benefits are endless, not least that you'll see how things fit together across subjects and kids love that. Plus you remember more because you are constantly reviewing everything you've ever taught. I'm off for Greenville tomorrow, so I probably won't be able to play with you ladies and gentlemen for a while, but thanks for letting me in this week. I hope it's had some value for you. Remember, as the one poster quoted Proverbs: Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore, get wisdom!
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