Forgotten Treasures

But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

― C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

snowedinOf all the children’s picture books we have read or reviewed for our yearly  Best of the Best, none stands out more dearly to me this time of the year than a tale about a family in the early 20th century in the American Wild West. They settled in one of the most desolate regions of the West, the open, wind-swept prairies of Wyoming, and the story opens with their yearly ritual at the onset of winter: saying goodbye to their community schoolhouse, buying gobs of paper and pencils at the town store, and raiding the local library for pounds of books to last them through the isolating months ahead of closed roads and home-bound activity. Continue reading

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The Message and Method of Classical Education

I would like to dedicate our annual back-to-school post to our new community of Classical Conversations gathered in Newton, MA. Good strength and success to students and teachers everywhere, and may God grant us all a good and prosperous school year.

class-is-boring-1092x400“I mean, like, with culturally relevant teaching…[?]…” her high-pitched voice droned, lilting upwards at the end of the phrase as if everything said was more of a question than a statement. Was she really that unsure of what she was saying or was it a habit learned from an academy which no longer believed truth to be something definitive? I was sitting through yet another required teacher training seminar wondering if I was the only one in the room more interested in the message than in these interminable lectures on teaching methods. Yet this particular post-modern drill sergeant took the message/method dichotomy a step further than I had ever heard it taken. She delivered a conclusion to her talk that can only make sense to a brain thoroughly washed in ideology and completely abandoned by common sense: “It doesn’t matter what we teach our students…[?] as long as we teach them with the right method.” Continue reading

Learning Outside the Box

Earlier this month, the older members of our family screened the Boston premiere of the first feature-length documentary on homeschooling, Class Dismissed. I had high hopes that it would be at least as engaging and inspiring as all the recent films covering the charter school movement like Waiting for Superman and The Lottery. I am happy to report that this new film exceeded my expectations in multiple categories. Continue reading

Shut Up And Memorize It

For our annual back-to-school post, I would like to highlight a new homeschool program we have joined that has brought back great memories for me of learning things by heart when I was a young man. Congratulations to all students on the commencement of a new academic year, and kali dynami or good strength to all in your studies!

Finish this verse: “Watch that wobble, see that wiggle…”
“Cool and fruity, jello brand gellatin…”

If you could complete this little ditty or many others like it without even thinking about it, you have become an unconscious evangelist for a marketing campaign. And if we are so good at unconscious proselytizing for products, could we not consciously put to memory songs and words which ennoble our souls and not just fatten our bodies? Continue reading

The Spiritual Home of Ground Zero

My children first heard about The Little Chapel that Stood in our homeschool study of the last 500 years. Beginning with the present century, Ground Zero and St. Paul’s Chapel stands as one of the most significant places of modern pilgrimage and remembrance. So when my girls heard that we were going to the New York City area for a concert trip, they begged me to visit the chapel they had read about which had captured their hearts.

Continue reading