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ElizaG

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ElizaG last won the day on February 24 2014

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About ElizaG

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  1. I agree, but can't figure out how to explain it in any effective way. I think I'll just take it as a sign that this person, for whatever reason, isn't really open to the advice. Which is too bad, because this is one of a vanishingly small number of homeschoolers I've found IRL who are somewhat open to discussion of vintage educational writings. Most just glaze over when they realize that this will involve reading the book and thinking it through for themselves. This is giving me a little insight into how EFL must have felt when she was rejected by the Catholics, and had to take her message to the Quakers.
  2. Will look at the Amy Chua book as well. I feel as if there are still some gaps in my understanding of this. It’s even starting to seem that my practical and intuitive ability to raise children has become *greater* than my theoretical grasp of the subject. I realize that this is very normal and good, but it’s also unfamiliar and unsettling, LOL. More seriously, it means that I’m not able to communicate about it very well to other parents, even if our circumstances are similar. For instance, I recently gave someone a copy of “The Renegade Home.” This person has taken EFL to be saying that, since our children’s faults mainly come from imitating us, we shouldn’t presume to correct them (especially the older ones), but rather just accept that it’s our fault and keep “working on ourselves.” This interpretation seems to go against both Scripture and common sense, but I don’t know how to argue against it. I suspect that this line of thinking is precisely how “permissive parenting” got its first toehold. Any thoughts?
  3. In trying to talk to fellow homeschoolers about Model English and so on, I've noticed a pattern. "It's based on imitation." "Hey, so is IEW!" "It emphasizes style, not just structure." "So does IEW! Have you tried it? I can lend you some materials! My kids are learning it in a co-op; would you like to join?!" <hauls out binders> "..." :leaving: ;) In our area at least, IEW seems to have become the default writing curriculum for academically serious homeschoolers -- i.e., the ones who might otherwise be interested in Fr. Donnelly's books. I'm going to have to come up with a not-too-wordy, not-too-polemical description of the differences between them. I've looked at some of the materials in the past, but there are so many bits that I always felt I was missing the big picture. Just came away with a general sense that it A) wasn't classical, and B) wasn't what I was looking for. Can anyone help me out?
  4. Getting back to this... when something is categorized as a "logical fallacy," this doesn't mean that it's false. It just isn't necessarily a strong basis for a logical proof. If we only wrote in strict logical terms, though, we'd more or less be writing computer programs. In traditional classical education (both ancient and post-Renaissance), rhetoric is the use of all the available means of persuasion. This requires some understanding of human nature in general, and of oneself and one's audience in particular. We can see this in the classical secondary curriculum, which used letters and speeches. Today, by contrast, we see an emphasis on academic forms of writing that are supposed to present evidence with a neutral tone. This is somewhat analogous to the medieval situation in which humanistic studies went into decline, and dialectical disputation took over the curriculum. (Ref.: Bruce Kimball's Orators and Philosophers, as well as McLuhan's much denser The Classical Trivium.) In everyday life, though, practical rhetoric is still everywhere, e.g. in the way friends encourage one another, and the ways parents teach and guide their children. Even though Christians are rightly concerned about potential abuses of the more deliberate sorts of persuasive speech, most have historically valued the formal study of rhetoric. As St. Augustine says, it would be foolish for defenders of the truth to ignore this art, when the opponents of the truth are making full use of it. (Ref.: "On Christian Doctrine," Book IV.) As a discipline, though, it isn't suited to everyone, and the rules have only ever been taught to a minority of young people. In our time, I don't see much risk of sincere Christians giving too much thought to rhetoric. It tends to be treated as an afterthought even in the most self-consciously "traditional" high school and college curricula. Meanwhile, it's being heavily used in new media by those who would manipulate us, whether to sell products or for some other reason. It seems to me that the questions are: how might we restore access to such a frankly elite curriculum, in the context of universal, mostly-standardized secondary education? And at the same time, how do we make some of the benefits available to everyone? To answer the second question, maybe we need a course in the defensive study of rhetoric. This would involve much more than just detecting "logical fallacies." In any case, the trend of sprinkling the curriculum with disconnected exercises in the three trivium branches isn't going to achieve much, if our core approach to the study of classic texts is unbalanced. This is what strikes me about Angelicum. And Kolbe. I can see they're really trying to improve, but it looks as if they're just piling more on top, when they had plenty (of what they had) in the first place. Ack, it's March already. I need a plan for the fall! :svengo: :nopity:
  5. Physical Education here, too. PE-related driving also has the greatest impact on my time and energy (as I realized when we took a break over the holidays). And my children are only doing a few activities, all close to home, and none of them at a competitive level. "Backyard PE" is free, but it requires even more of my attention. Otherwise, it tends to result in expensive doctor visits. :tongue_smilie:
  6. BTW, last December 5th, Pope Francis gave a message to the Pontifical Academies that's quite eloquent in encouraging the study of Latin authors for Christian humanistic purposes. He describes such studies as a way to reflect on our interiority, which seems like a precise remedy for the "James Dean Syndrome" that hit American youth in the 1950s, as well as for many of the difficulties facing young people today. You can find the text on the Vatican web site under "Pontifical Messages." It's not available in English, but I ran the Italian through Google Translate and it's understandable enough. :001_smile:
  7. I'm not sure about other countries, but the US Jesuits changed their seminary curriculum in the late 1950s. Ignatius Press published a book about this, if anyone is interested. According to this and other sources I've read, the seminary leaders didn't want to drop the classical humanistic studies, but their new recruits were a rebellious bunch who insisted on changes. They were also noted to be emotionally and socially immature. This would have been the cohort born in the late 30s/early 40s, whose secular peers went on to take a leading role in the 1960s and 70s counterculture, so it seems as if much damage had already been done on a societal level. This is very interesting in itself, but the relevant aspect here is that the superiors had to work with the young men who were available. Something else to note is that the major seminary only taught Latin and Greek for a year or two, in the early stages of formation. In the 19th century, this would have capped off several years of humanistic studies in a classical college or minor seminary. In other words, there was some continuity in the curriculum. By contrast, the 20th century novices often had little knowledge of Latin and Greek, and wouldn't have been taught them with traditional methods in any case. I dare say this old curriculum seemed new and strange to them. Not too surprising that, with respect for authority weakening, they just started refusing to do it. On the up side, the Ignatian charism (as distinct from historic Jesuit education) isn't doing too badly. The seem to be turning out some solid young priests these days. Probably not much hope that they'll go back to their classical roots, though. They only got into that line of work because it was the standard form of education at the time. Hmm, maybe they will go back if we make it mainstream again. Hey, we can dream! :laugh:
  8. Thanks for posting the link. Have you read Fr. Schall's book, Another Sort of Learning, and the web page that goes with it? It seems to me that he's very much on board with the "Great Books + Christianity" approach. He has some lovely things to say, both in the book and in the interview, but I can't get past the sense that he views culture as being at the service of politics, rather than vice versa. He also fits with the typical GB pattern in not including rhetoric. Other than some excerpts from Aristotle in the context of political philosophy, I can't see it anywhere in his recommendations. This seems especially strange given the Jesuits' history with the subject. This is the first I've seen of the Cana Academy. They also have a very appealing presentation, but at this point, I'm not seeing what's substantially different in their curriculum or pedagogy in comparison to other current "classical education" organizations. It will be interesting to see what their future publications look like. On their resources page, they have a link to an essay on rhetoric by Churchill, which I hadn't seen before. It's reminding me of the unfortunate Father Feeney, one of the most gifted poets and orators of the 20th century, who went off the rails in a very public way. I've read fairly extensively about him, trying to figure out what happened, and the general consensus among those who knew him is that he was led astray by unreliable friends who convinced him of the validity of their theories in philosophy and theology. I've found it hard to imagine this pushing him as far as it did, but it fits exactly with what Churchill says about the temperament of the born orator. So, to go with Fr. Schall's observation that an excessive reliance on Great Books discussions can lead to skepticism (perils of unbounded dialectica), we have Churchill's observation that a gifted orator is himself likely to be overemotional and easily led (too much rhetorica). This goes along with Marshall McLuhan's claim that too much reliance on the poetic use of analogical thinking can lead to kookery and paranoia (too much grammatica). ETA, from Churchill: "So powerful indeed is the fascination of correct expression that it not only influences the audience, but sometimes even induces the orator, without prejudice to his sincerity, to adapt his principles to his phrases." Re-integrate the Trivium, and solve our mental health crisis! (I am not entirely joking. Who knows how deep this stuff goes? :001_unsure:)
  9. Just noticed that this was never answered. As I understand it, the "art" is the doing of an embodied skill, which is learned mainly through observation and imitative practice. The "science" is the theory and terminology that enables us to talk abstractly about the art. Fr. Donnelly goes with the definition of rhetoric as "the art of using all the available means of persuasion." Thus, the study of rhetoric as an art could include the reading, hearing, and imitative practice of well-constructed examples of persuasion. Reading and hearing take place in the traditional grammar course, and also in the student's social and media environment. Imitation is practiced in the progym exercises, which were given by the rhetorician as a preliminary to the formal rhetoric course. This also fits with his statement that the formal study of rhetoric isn't necessary, if the student reads widely and well enough. As the old saying goes, "All the rhetorician's rules / Teach nothing but to name his tools." Fr. Schwickerath -- or was it Fr. McGucken? -- pointed out that the Grammar course also included practical logic, via the study of classical languages. Thus, it helped to prepare the student for the study of logic as a science, which took place in the "invention" stage of the Rhetoric course (as well as in the Philosophy course that followed, for the minority of students who kept going that far). Hope that helps a bit. And this is casting some new light on my recent question about formal grammar, in the current EFL thread. Still not clear on that one, though!
  10. I was looking for Lenten advice on forming good habits, and came across some 1820s "how to homeschool" books by the English author Elizabeth Appleton. As with similar US books from that era, they seem strangely more current than late Victorian ones. What I've read so far is compatible with EFL, but much more detailed. For instance, there are two full pages of advice about reading books to sensitive children, all of which I found sensible and helpful. The books are on archive.org, and you can find them by searching for "Appleton" and "Private Education" or "Early Education." The first book deals mostly with the needs of older girls, and the second one mostly with younger children, though there's some overlap. She's big on reading lists, which is unusual in older authors. I don't want to get distracted hunting down her recommendations, but maybe I'll look for a few of the best-known ones to give to the children at Easter. (Likely only dodgy-looking reprints available; will have to cover them with pretty fabric or something. Could be a good craft project to do with eldest DD. :001_smile: )
  11. My children are about the same ages and spread as the OP's, minus her eldest ones. (Similar to maize's. Her signature always makes me want to say :seeya:.) I really like your advice. Just wanted to add a few more thoughts on this. I think it's inevitable that homeschooling families generate more chores, because we're using our houses more, and in more varied ways, during the hours that people are awake. Mom doesn't just have to be the teacher and principal -- she also has to be the school janitor, secretary, yard monitor, cafeteria staff, etc. (This is backed up by my conversations with mothers of larger families who have tried both school and homeschooling. The mess was the #1 difference they talked about. "My house was never clean.") And I think it's very reasonable to expect the children to help with this. Especially as they're still likely to have significantly more time to pursue their interests than children who are in school. Family size is a trickier one. Large homeschooling families do have more helpers, but I think there might be more mess created per person, especially once you reach a tipping point (you know, the point where the jar of paint inevitably tips off the table :laugh:). This is mainly a result of having different age groups, with different needs and materials, playing and working in the same area. The smaller siblings get into the big ones' stuff. Things go missing, or get stepped on, more often. I was just looking at photos from the years when we only had babies and toddlers. In hindsight, we had far more "kid stuff" than we needed, but at least we could keep it confined to a couple of areas of the house. And the children could clean up, because there were fewer types of stuff to sort through. Compare to today. If a little one goes on a spree, not only the amount of mess, but its complexity, can be disheartening even for me. Which leads to another factor: in larger families, the younger children often aren't disciplined as carefully, or supervised as closely, as the older children were. So they can be much quicker to get into trouble, and slower to learn to do chores themselves. I was aware of this pattern, and felt sure it wouldn't happen in my family, but it did anyway. The traditional answer -- and perhaps the only one, short of hiring a team of nannies -- is to give the older children some authority over the younger ones. Not just responsibility, but actual delegated authority. I grew up in a small family, though, so I don't know what this is supposed to look like, and like many traditions, I've found it nearly impossible to learn about today. Depending on the person I've spoken to, it's either 1) a dreadfully backward practice that can't even be considered or discussed, or 2) such a normal part of family life that they don't know how to explain it. We have a book on large family life by a Catholic physician and father of 12+, and he mentions it offhand -- in the context of saying that much present-day advice on discipline was developed for small families, and is completely unsuited to large ones -- but doesn't give any advice on the subject himself. Well, thanks! :huh: On top of that, even if I had a stronger sense of how this was supposed to work, it might be difficult to introduce, as we've been doing things otherwise for so long. But it's something I'm thinking hard about, especially when I'm around families for whom it seems to come naturally. Sorry, not much help to the OP here, but it might be an interesting line of thought, at least. So getting back to chores, here's where my thinking is now. If the tasks in question really are just an inevitable part of life for the sort of family that we (the parents) have consciously chosen to have, then we should just divvy them up and get on with it, without hand-wringing. "This is what needs to be done; everyone helps out." Same as if we had consciously chosen to live on a boat, or in Botswana. On the other hand, if we realize that we have large amounts of chores that are being caused by our ongoing failure to do what we know we should do -- e.g., in my case, to plan ahead each day, to limit possessions, and to discipline carefully every time -- then we shouldn't just dump them on our children. We should think hard, and make changes where needed. For everyone's sake. Hmm, that last bit sounds just like good management in general! Funny how it takes me so long to figure this stuff out!
  12. Well, now this is interesting. I've happened upon a piece of circumstantial evidence for the compatibility of linguistic methods with EFL's thinking. The previous EFL thread has a bit about Richard Mott Gummere (pronounced GUM-er-ee), a Quaker and classicist who served as the headmaster of William Penn Charter School, a Latin teacher at Haverford College, and the Dean of Admissions at Harvard. He wrote a textbook (Junior Latin) that EFL recommended in her column, and he also sent his own children to her school. John Flagg Gummere also taught at Haverford, and was the headmaster of William Penn Charter School from 1941 to 1968. The NYT published his obituary on January 28, 1988. He was evidently a relative of Richard Mott Gummere, though perhaps not a close one. The family has had many noted scholars. In 1946, Waldo Sweet was hired to teach Latin at Penn Charter, and John F. Gummere introduced him to new ideas in linguistics. Sweet originally "bristled" at Bloomfield's criticism of standard ways of language teaching, then got to work on seeing what could be done. The first textbook he developed was specifically intended to cover the first year's work at Penn Charter. This is described in "The Continued Development of the Structural Approach," 1969, at eric.ed.gov. Really interesting stuff. For instance, he didn't start out intending to use real Latin literature; the sententiae were just added in to fill up empty space at the ends of chapters. They turned out to be so popular that he decided to base the course around these and other readings. Later, in the early 1970s, Penn Charter was a demonstration school for Artes Latinae (source: "New Approaches to the Teaching of Classics," eric.ed.gov). Again, this is circumstantial, but it's bolstering my sense that AL is a respectable option, and the best choice for our family right now. In fact, I'm going to try to make time to go through it myself, so that I can help my SN child in particular. After a few years, maybe I'll be semi-competent. Then I can teach the little ones "properly," using the Fr. Stephenson books, and the materials that LostCove is preparing in her copious spare time. ;) While I'm at it, maybe I should try to encourage my eldest to attend CUA, as that's starting to seem like the only way I'll get a chance to look at the Orbis Vivus. :D ETA: While I'm feeling all right about the linguistic approach of AL's lessons, the format -- "programmed instruction" inspired by Skinner -- isn't EFL-friendly at all, and it's always bothered me. But it's just for one part of our homeschool day. Once it's done, my little pigeons can exit their boxes and do more normal things.
  13. Some related questions: How many "mind-training" subjects do we need, at the secondary level? It's my understanding that algebra, natural sciences, and English grammar were all added to the curriculum for their perceived mental disciplinary value (not their practical value). English grammar and science were emphasized for students who weren't taking Latin and Greek. In other words, they generally weren't all taught at the same time. Given that college prep students have to do so much math and science these days, is it okay to just consider those to be the formal "mental discipline" subjects, and take more of a culturally focused or eclectic approach to language and literature studies? Or is this going to mess our students up somehow? In general, what were EFL's ideas about "mind-training," and how did she differ from others on this subject?
  14. What do you think of formal grammar in an EFL context? (sorry, that posted too soon - this computer is quite aggravating!) She writes that "technical grammar" is a fine subject for "mind-training," but not suitable before age 10. TBH, I'm thinking about limiting it for some of my children, even in middle and high school. We might use a few books that have more of a linguistic approach to understanding language. If we were doing traditional Latin grammar, I'd feel as if we were better placed to minimize traditional English grammar, but we're still doing Artes Latinae, which is based on structural linguistics to start with. If you have a guess as to what either EFL or Maria Montessori might think of the linguistic methods, please share!
  15. What do you think of formal grammar in an EFL context?
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