Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Choosing Your Words Classically

Words are the foundation of any subject. As you move from grammar to rhetoric in the classical model, you become even more aware of the impact of word choice.

This week, our new president gave his first address to a joint session of Congress. 


As someone with a deep interest in rhetoric, I look at these speeches, and I ask, "What slogan are the speechwriters hoping will make headlines?" "Why choose the word 'crisis' and not 'challenge'?" and "What does the word 'we' or a colloquialism do to the audience?"

Today, I was excited to find a website called Speech Wars. The site allows you to search how often a given word has been used in presidential speeches (inaugural addresses and state of the union speeches) all the way back to 1790. 

Did you know...?
  • 'Government' has been used 7,036 times. It was in much higher demand in the 1800s, peaked around 1945, and then again around 1985. Since then, presidents are much less likely to use the word. 
  • 'Freedom' rose after 1942, went through a low point in the 70s, then swooped in the 1980s and again in the 2000s. Total: 695 usages.
  • The word 'job' was not used at all before 1900, and only five times before 1940.
  • 'Homeschool'? Never. 'Parent'? 29 times. 'School'? 252 times. 'Education'? 544 times.
  • 'Genocide' has been mentioned only three times: 1950, 2006, and 2008.
  • 'Abortion'? Five times. Not once since 1988.
  • 'Consumerism'? Zero.
  • Teddy Roosevelt used 'wrong,' 'moral,' and 'sin' more times than any other president. 'Sin' has not been mentioned since 1911.
Tells us something about our culture, doesn't it?

Each one of us is a rhetorician: a parent explaining faith to a child, a teacher guiding discussion of a controversial topic, a writer blogging about education, or a student voicing a contrary opinion in a class. 

I don't know about you, but sometimes I need a reminder that the words I choose to use, and not use, make a difference, whether I have an audience of a million or one. 

~Jen
Because everyday events can be classical opportunities too... 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 2-25-09

In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 2/25/09, "Leigh for Lunch! with Alan Schaeffer." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

  • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (March 4) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation. Leigh's guest will be announced later this week. 
  • The following week (March 11), Leigh will be talking to Dr. George Wiedmaier, the director of parenting outreach at Focus on the Family
  • It's time to register for end-of-year standardized testing! Click here to register.
  • For more information about Marshall Fritz and the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, visit their website. Also see the Advocates for Self-Government.
  • For more information about John Taylor Gatto and the book Dumbing Us Down, visit his website.

Don't Forget! Leigh and Alan Schaeffer

Don't forget to listen to Blog Talk Radio today (Wed, Feb. 25) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Alan Schaeffer. Click here to go directly to the show.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1 Smart Student: Cassie


This is from a student who has been in CC for 6 years and is with me in Challenge B. I love working with her each week, as does Jill Dejack. Please share similar encouraging stories.

My name is Cassie Lupkas; I am 13 and have worked with Ms. Jill since I was 6 years old.

Before I say anything else I want you to ask yourself a question. Do you have any struggles in your life? Do you struggle with your weight, caffeine or cigarette addiction or even not managing your money appropriately?

What I want you to realize is that everyone has to work on something. What I was lucky enough to learn and believe from when I was little is that I can accomplish my dreams with dedication and hard work.

My struggles are dyslexia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia. All three are related but not everyone has all three. My disabilities affected my life a lot when I was younger. When all of the other kids were getting ready for school my mom was realizing that Home school would be our Best Choice for supporting me. When I was five she called the local school and said that she thought that I needed testing because I learned differently than my sisters. She was told that the North Carolina law said that I had to be one full year behind before they would test me. I am not bragging but my mom realized I was smart and that could take several years-- we were not willing to wait to get started.

I went to psychologist who agreed that I was dyslexic. So now that my mom had a diagnosis we had to figure out what to do next. I started working with a speech therapist two times each week. My mom spent a lot of time reading with me but she quickly realized that she did not know how to teach reading to someone with dyslexia. It was a lot more than memorizing sight words it was a strategy.

Once we met Ms. Jill she helped us start a plan, first she suggested occupational therapy to work on my motor skills. Now I play soccer, basketball, enjoy rock climbing and I run half marathons. Learning to ride a bike was really tough. Even if I could ride it one day I would forget and lose my balance easily. Now I ride my bike everywhere I can. I can’t imagine how my life would be if people did not encourage me to try things that were hard.

Reading was horrible when I was little, it still is not easy to read out loud but I am at grade level and according to tests my comprehension is excellent. Miss Jill has taught me so many strategies and practiced and practiced with me. My home school group supported me. These friends are now like my family. I used to be very shy but part of my school work was presenting a paper to my class each week. No one ever forced me but my class made it comfortable for me to be who I was. One day I got up and did a presentation when no one expected it. Everyone was so nice that I realized that I had nothing to fear. Even though my speech was not always clear I was understood. And it was getting better. This past year I spoke to the Board of County Commissioners about a law that I wanted them to pass. The Pilot wrote an article and highlighted how convincing I was. Me, a 13 year old girl with reading, writing and speech issues was convincing to local lawmakers. The law did pass.

What I want you to all hear from me are that if your kids struggle in school see it as a gift-- life won’t be easy, ever. My mom has told me that if someone told you that life would be easy, they lied. You have an opportunity to teach your children to believe in themselves.

The way to do that is easy-- you believe in them and circle them with people who won’t judge them but will support them. Teach them to accept themselves instead of wishing that they were some else. You could focus on their weaknesses or build them up. I know that if I want to achieve any goal I set I can do it; it is only about finding the path that will help guide me to my goal.

I am grateful that God put me in a situation where I got to have a supportive family who would not settle for just enough- they believed I could be more and found me Ms. Jill, speech therapists, and supportive friends to learn with. It isn’t easy because they keep raising the bar but I have no doubt that I will reach it.

I can’t imagine my life if I did not meet Ms. Jill. She taught me so many skills so that my dyslexia would not hold me back. My life could have been so different- what choices will you make for the struggles in your kid’s lives. Remember they are counting on you.

New Down Syndrome Test



I was really concerned about the lack of outrage over the ability to abort babies even younger as inconclusive downs tests are promoted by scaring moms into thinking their "deformed" baby will be too hard to raise. Read the beginning of the article and then look at the range of comments from the Washington Post.

By Rob Stein Washington Post

updated 2:55 a.m. ET, Tues., Feb. 24, 2009
A handful of biotech companies are racing to market a new generation of tests for Down syndrome, a development that promises a safer way to spot the most common genetic cause of mental retardation early in pregnancy even as it weaves a thicket of moral, medical, political and regulatory concerns. (Click here or on the blog title to read whole article)

BLOGGER ONE:
I agree. I think prenatal testing is excellent and allows parents to make informed decisions about the children they may or may not bring into the world. Having a child with DS is a huge responsibility and knowing this in advance will allow parents to determine if this is something they can deal with. All the right-to-life people - this is a quality of life issue, not quantity of life issue and it is important.

BLOGGER TWO: My Mom left her Doctors office in a stream of tears after being told that the child in her womb (my sister Kim) had DS. For the record, Kim does not have DS... it was a mistake and an error on the testing/doctor/whatever's part. I will never forget the pain and anguish that the incorrect result caused my Mom to go through. Hopefully this test will prevent such situations from happening.
What do you think? When will early detection coincide with immediate conception and make birth control and abortion equivalent? Are they already? Where will we go from here?

Alan Schaeffer and the School Mess

It's hard to turn on the news these days without hearing something about the separation of church and state. But what about the separation of school and state? 

That's a question Alan Schaeffer asks Americans to consider.

Mr. Schaeffer majored in philosophy at Gordon College, and he now works for the Alliance for Separation of School and State. Being both a mechanic and philosopher, he has a passion to understand how things work, or don't work and why. Alan found that just selecting an educational alternative is not enough. Without understanding the causes of the school mess, people are still victims of it.

His questions led him to the first Alliance conference in 1984. He, his wife, and their five home-educated children now live in California, where he has put his passion to work by helping parents understand their vocation as parents. He has re-designed the approach the Alliance takes to help more people come to know what they can do about the school mess.

Join me tomorrow on my usual show, Leigh! for Lunch, as I talk to Mr. Schaeffer about the "school mess" and the effect of the government's role in education. 
Education... has become in most countries at the present day a national concern. The state receives, and often takes, the child from the arms of the mother to hand it over to official agents; the state undertakes to train the heart and to instruct the mind of each generation. Uniformity prevails in the courses of public instruction as in everything else; diversity as well as freedom is disappearing day by day.
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Tune in to Blog Talk Radio tomorrow (Feb. 25) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Alan Schaeffer. Click here to go directly to the show.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Sometimes the news gives us perspective. Sometimes it keeps us informed. And sometimes it just asks those hard questions that we don't want to think about. 

Now it's your turn - tell me what you think!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting Classically Lost

Hi! My name is Jen, and I often get lost when driving in new or unfamiliar areas. 

If you're wondering if you clicked on the wrong blog, it may help to know that I'm also a graduate of Classical Conversations (in 2004) and a recent college grad. One of the things I'm doing with my "gap year" before graduate school is writing and editing for CC, including moderating and helping with the general upkeep of Leigh's blog. Today, that includes writing this post and having a little fun with my own propensity for getting lost.

Although I read and edit a lot of documents about the classical model, I sometimes have trouble wrapping my brain around what it looks like in everyday life.

Then I went for a drive downtown. 

I needed to turn left to get to my destination. Unfortunately, the street was a one-way, and it was going the other direction. So I did what every smart driver does: I kept going. Three turns later, voila! I was lost.

I noticed something. After twenty minutes of making random turns and passing the same intersections, I started to recognize the road names. I could predict that Second Street would always be a one-way east, and Main Street and Broad Street would travel parallel to each other. So, I reasoned, if Second Street crosses Main Street, it probably also crosses Broad Street. A few more times around the block and a few experiments later, I arrived at my destination. A week later, I met a friend downtown, and I was able to give her directions, even when she got lost. 

The next time I was reading about the classical model, I realized I had been practicing it inadvertently. 

First, I had to learn the basic grammar of the downtown area. I did that by driving around (repetition) until I memorized the names and directional orientation of the streets. 

Next, I had to logically (or dialectically) connect the facts... "If this street goes west, then it will connect with this street"... I practiced manipulating the facts I had memorized to create different patterns and conclusions.

Finally, I had to use my knowledge (using rhetoric). I got to my destination, and then gave someone else directions so they could do the same. 

If you are like me, you may not be conscious of learning new things every day. Taking a step back to notice how much information your brain is absorbing is a great reminder that everyday events can be classical opportunities too. 

From time to time, I'll drop back in at 1 Smart Mama to share the classical moments in my everyday life. I'd love it if you would share your stories as well! 

~Jen

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 2-18-09

In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 2/18/09, "Leigh for Lunch! with Mark Bauerlein." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

  • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (Feb. 25) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Alan Schaeffer. Alan Schaeffer works for the Alliance for Separation of School and State. Being both a mechanic and philosopher, he has a passion to understand how things work, or don't work and why. Alan found that just selecting an educational alternative is not enough. Without understanding the causes of the school mess, people are still victims of it. 

  • For more information about Mark Bauerlein and The Dumbest Generation, visit Mr. Bauerlein's website. You can buy the book from the CC bookstore.
  • A great big THANK YOU to everyone who helped with the CC Art Auction. Stay tuned on 1 Smart Mama for information about the auction's results.
  • Limited spaces are still available for the Jane Austen CC retreat starting Feb. 27. Click here to register today!
  • Mr. Bauerlein mentioned an article in the Boston Globe about home schoolers welcomed at Harvard. Click here to read the full article.
  • For research and statistics on home schooling, visit the National Home Education Research Institute or the Home School Legal Defense Association.
  • For more information about the man who first called the school system "the blob," visit this page on William Bennett.
  • Mr. Bauerlein and Leigh suggest that all Americans should be able to join in the Great Conversations. Here is a list of "Great Books" based on Mortimer Adler's methodology.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't Forget! Leigh and Mike Bauerlein

Don't forget to listen to Leigh! for Lunch tomorrow (Wed., Feb. 18, noon EST). Leigh will be talking to author and speaker Mark Bauerlein.

Mr. Bauerlein earned his doctorate in English at UCLA in 1988. He has taught at Emory since 1989. His latest book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30, was published in May 2008. 

Bauerlein tells us that Young American have more schooling, more money, more leisure time, more news and information and they spend their time downloading, uploading, IMing, posting, chatting, networking, watching TV and playing video games. Do you know what they DON'T do? Young America doesn't read, follow politics, maintain a brisk work ethic, or vote regularly!! 

Please join Leigh and Mark Bauerlein as they discuss what is jeopardizing our children's future!

Call in or log on to join the conversation on Blog Talk Radio! Register as a "friend" of 1 Smart Mama on Blog Talk Radio to be eligible for prizes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Presidents' Day

Happy Presidents' Day!!

Test your knowledge...

Quick! without looking it up, who was the 24th president of the U.S.? 
Bonus question: who was his vice president?

Leave a comment if you know the answer.  Also, how did you figure it out? Count on your fingers? Have certain "milestone" presidents you knew were a certain number? 

For more fun presidential trivia, check out this website.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Don't forget to keep bidding on the CC Art Auction! Last day!

Sometimes the news gives us perspective. Sometimes it keeps us informed. And sometimes it just asks those hard questions that we don't want to think about. This week, I want to challenge you to think about the hard questions posed by these news stories. 

Now it's your turn - tell me what you think! 

  • Bill Clinton: Financial Crisis is 'Cramping' Charity
     Whose money is it, and why do we trust Him with it only when there's plenty?
  • The Point Radio: Family Unfriendly
    How do we show that we value children? 
    How can we help our culture value them?
  • Advocates Push for Better Foster Parent Training
    Why do children suffer when the economy suffers?
    Who do we let down when times get difficult?
  • School Shooting Survivor: 'I Choose to be Happy'
    Do you choose to be happy in spite of trials in your life?
    If not, why not?
  • Readers' Mixed Feelings About Germany's Homeschooling Ban
    How do you start a dialogue with someone whose view is totally opposite to yours?
  • Dharmpur Kindergarten India


    These precious children attend school in Dharmphur, India.






    The money raised by our Art Auction for India will go to buy more uniforms, food, electricity, furniture, and school supplies.







    Even though it is called a kindergarten, you can see a wide range of ages attend this one room school house.



    Here is a picture of their teacher, Mrs. Poonam Chouhan













    And here is a picture of the pastor, the teacher's husband, who tells the villagers about the school and raises money to support the school.
























    My goal is to support as many of these house schools as possible by donating $1000 a year. Please join me by being 1 Smart Giver!





    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 2-11-09

    In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 2/11/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Keith Denton." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

    • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (Feb. 18) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Mark Bauerlein. Mr. Bauerlein is the author of The Dumbest Generation, a book about the effects of the digital age and technology on the minds of American children and young adults. For more information, visit Mr. Bauerlein's website.

    • For more information about Classical Conversations testing, or to register, visit the CC bookstore. Now accepting applications for test site coordinators. 
    • The Art Auction to benefit house schools in India is currently going on. We need your help! Visit Ebay to bid on these items.  Please tell your friends!!
    • Families involved in the auction will be on BlogTalkRadio on Friday from 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. EST to talk about the auction.
    • To purchase Spectrum test prep and test practice books, visit the CC bookstore.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Don't Forget! Leigh and Keith Denton discuss Testing

    Don't forget to listen to Leigh! for Lunch today (Wed., Feb. 11, noon EST).

    Leigh will be discussing TESTING with Keith Denton, Executive Director of Business Operations for Classical Conversations. Keith has worked for Classical Conversations for two years. His wife, Julie, is the South Carolina State Manager for CC. He and Julie have three beautiful children and have been participating in CC for six years now.


    We are sorry that Nedra Pickler is not available for this show, but we are trying to reschedule for another time.


    Call in or log on to join the conversation on Blog Talk Radio! Register as a "friend" of 1 Smart Mama on Blog Talk Radio to be eligible for prizes.


    Click here for the direct link to the show.

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Nedra Pickler and Obama

    *To listen to this show, tune in to Blog Talk Radio Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 12 noon EST.

    We are sorry but we are having to reschedule our talk with Nedra Pickler, an AP reporter who gets assigned by the Associate Press to cover world changing events.

    Leigh! will be discussing Testing of homeschoolers with Keith Denton, Executive Director of Business Operations for Classical Conversations.

    Listen to her interview as we find out all you need to know about testing!!

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    Limericks

    One night Rob and I made up limericks about current events. We're not very good poets, but we thought you might enjoy trying to finish these poems.

    There once was a swimmer so strong,
    He won and he won with strokes very long.
    Then someone printed a photo,
    which made Michael say, "OH NO!"
    And his public say, Look, it's a _________!"

    There once were nominees with tax hassles,
    Cause whistleblowers said they owed a passles.
    Now Republicans are giddy,
    As Democrats leave the city,
    The latest farewells go to ____ ______.

    To his campaign millions of fems had flocked,
    Then when he ignored their agenda they were shocked.
    But in the course of a week,
    Gal received the appointments they seek.
    Now MS. magazine's cover flaunts ___________.

    Okay, I told you they weren't very good, but at least they make sense.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (Feb. 11) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Nedra Pickler. Ms. Pickler is a national political reporter for the Associated Press. Join Leigh and Ms. Pickler to talk about the influence of the media and ways to help your family get involved through journalism.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    The Preventive Power of Moms

    It's that time of year again...

    With a lot of families passing around a heaping serving of germ, this can be a rough time for moms (and dads) trying to keep everyone healthy.  

    Although on some fronts the role of parents is getting less and less attention, in health, the power of mothers is getting a well-earned appreciative nod. 

    The latest issue of U.S. News and World Report is all about health. Surprise, surprise, one of the featured columns, by Bernadine Healy (M.D.) is called "Enlisting an Army of Mothers."  She says,
    What's missing, I think, is an all-out effort to mobilize moms. Mothers--not doctors or public-health experts--are the nexus of prevention. However weighty a burden this may seem, mom is the figure, everywhere in the world, best positioned to influence the behavior of those she loves, and that's the influence we need to reverse the dismal trend in America's health status.
    (You can read the full article here.)  So hang in there! Get out those tissues, arm yourselves with hand sanitizer, and when you start feeling overwhelmed, think about this:
    As preventive medicine has emerged as well-care for grown-ups and is now viewed as critical to our nation's health, mom, indomitable, can still be a force at the center.
    Way to go!

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    FYI from Leigh! for Lunch 2-4-09

    In case you are interested in topics that came up during this week's show, here are a few links and tips from Leigh! for Lunch on Blog Talk Radio 2/4/09, "Leigh for Lunch with Andrew Pudewa." (Click on the title to listen to the show archive now).

    • Tune in to Blog Talk Radio next Wednesday (Feb. 11) at 12 noon EST to join the conversation with Leigh and Nedra Pickler. Ms. Pickler is a reporter for the Associated Press. At President Obama's first press conference on Nov. 7, she was chosen to ask the very first question. Join Leigh and Ms. Pickler to talk about the influence of the media and ways to help your family get involved through journalism. 

    • Click here to learn more about the Art Auction to help Christian house schools in India. You can still contribute, but you need to send Leigh your art projects within the next 48 hours. The bidding will start next week, Feb. 13. More information is available at ClassicalConversations.com or Ebay.com. Stay tuned for updates later this week.
    • For more information about Andrew Pudewa and the Institute for Excellence in Writing, visit their website.
    • One of our callers mentioned the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. To find out more, visit their website.
    • To download audio files for Mr. Pudewa's talks "Nurturing Competent Communicators," and "Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day," click here (only $3 each).
    • For more information about seminars and conferences featuring Mr. Pudewa, click here.
    • Want to become a registered instructor through IEW? Find the teacher training course here.
    • Not sure how to add Leigh as a friend on Blog Talk Radio? Want to be eligible for the weekly prize drawing? Click here

    Don't Forget! Leigh and Andrew Pudewa

    Don't forget to listen to Leigh! for Lunch tomorrow today (Wed., Feb. 4, noon EST), for Leigh's interview with Institute for Excellence in Writing founder Andrew Pudewa.

    Call in or log on to join the conversation on Blog Talk Radio! Register as a "friend" of 1 Smart Mama on Blog Talk Radio to be eligible for prizes.

    Click here for the direct link to the show. 

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    1 Smart Mama is a Centenarian!

    This week at 1 Smart Mama we passed the 100-post mark!  That means the blog is officially a centenarian! (or would that be centepostian?) 

    Help us celebrate! Do you have a favorite post from 1 Smart Mama, something that made you laugh out loud or think about something in a new way?  Send an email or post a comment to let us know what you enjoyed reading!  

    And a special Thank You! to all the readers who have joined us on the roller-coaster journey of learning and loving life.

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    IEW and CC

    The Institute for Excellence in Writing and Classical Conversations equip parents to teach their students the grammar of writing. The classical model of writing was described in an essay by Benjamin Franklin. He explained how he taught himself to write by outlining and rewriting other well written essays until his was better than the original.


    We are not initially interested in teaching our children creative writing or journaling their own opinions. If they are naturally interested in those activities, great! But as Andrew Pudewa, founder of IEW, is so fond of saying, most children, especially boys, would rather build forts than sit still long enough to write an articulate essay. So we need to make every teachable moment count.

    The grammar of writing includes ideas like titles, closing paragraphs, clinchers, outlines, keywords, themes, and dress-ups for boring sentences. Classical educators endorse teaching structural skills for writing while waiting for the child's creativity to bloom through lots of reading and real life experiences. In other words, rather than wait for them to have something interesting to say and for them to enjoy writing, let's teach the basic structures and styles in short easy lessons.

    Think of all the mechanics - punctuation, spelling, sentence structures, paragraph structures, penmanship, and parts of speech - that make it possible even to write a creative or informative article or story. The classical approach includes practicing the mechanics while engaging the student in lots of verbal conversations. Eventually, the two will catch up, and when we have something in our minds to write, the mechanics won't hinder us. On the other hand, without a decent grasp of the mechanics, no one else will want to read what the author has to say.

    We need both - interesting ideas and clear mechanics to write well. In Classical Conversations, we use IEW materials for 4 years. Our 4th to 6th graders work on weekly IEW assignments in our Essentials program. Then they have a year to polish their skills with IEW in our Challenge A program. After that, our Tutors are all familiar with the IEW structures and styles and begin to challenge the students to express coherent, descriptive ideas while using the IEW structure.

    We continue to offer 1-day Student Practicums for high school students who may have missed the IEW of children, and we also offer 3-day IEW Student Practicums in the summer for all ages of students to give them a head start for the school year.



    Listen to Mr. Pudewa and me as we discuss his important contributions to helping us teach our children to write well at blogtalkradio.com/1smartmama, Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 12 noon EST or listen to the archive anytime afterwards.