Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Dabney asked if a scientist can give the “genesis of earth and man without indicating whether Moses or Huxley was his prophet?” Our thoughts come from somewhere. We can think like other men, or we can try to capture our thoughts unto Christ. Jesus declared that we are either for Him or against Him. We might as well tie a stone around our neck and drown ourselves if we tell our little ones anything else.
Friday, June 26, 2009
- Action Movie Produced by Two Home-School Families Wins Awards
- Pendragon wins Best of Show at the Indie Film Festival.
- God's Will and Your Job, part 1, 2, and 3
By R.C. Sproul
- United Nations childrens treaty jeopardizes parental rights and homeschooling
- Apsethus the god
A funny story about 1 Smart Old Parrot from Peter Leithart.
- Governor Sanford and the Public Grovel
Commentary from Susan Wise Bauer
- 10 [Crazy] Ways to Save Education
Originally from The Atlantic. Thoughts? What would you add?
- An Argument for Cultural Literacy
Knowledge about history may be especially important in the job market.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Hosea 14:9 (NIV) reminds us that “the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” God trusts us to raise transform tiny babies into eternal heirs reigning with His Son. Surely He will not abandon us to complete the task alone. Do we really believe the Holy Spirit exists to equip us? And are we really alone if our church is helping us to remain steadfast in our duties?
Unfortunately, the church is quick to give parents excuses. It is a rare church school that offers parents classes on teaching their children to savor every gift of God and to study the Word and His World as a family. Even the most successful of Christian head masters often choose secular curriculum because they reason it is what the local schools use, and their students may switch schools, and they don’t want to be embarrassed by their students’ inability to fit in.
Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) instructs parents to “Train up a child in the way they should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The way they should go is described as growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18, NASB).
Mathew 7:24-26 (NIV) says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Curiosity took an odd turn last week. At one point I went outside to see what my boys were doing. They were sitting in the car sweating to death. In a bit of shock, I asked what they were doing and were they stupid or what? William wanted to know if he looked good all sweaty and David informed me that they were going to open the doors if they thought they were going to pass out.
After telling them never to do that again, I thought of all the dangerous things scientists do when curious. The boys weren't in nearly the same danger as Sally Ride or Chuck Yeager since they could open the door whenever they wanted to. The test had no long lasting effects like Marie Curie's uranium studies. So, in a way, it was a fairly safe thing for curious boys to do.
Later, David melted butter as an ingredient to the brownies he made. He could have burnt himself if the pot turned over or as he pulled the brownie pan out of the oven. There's risk in just eating dessert that is too hot, but smells too good to wait to eat. He also grilled his own hot dog. I often burn myself when I'm too lazy to grab a fork after I microwave or heat up a small meal.
That night, we watched a video on the Federal Reserve System and then read a book on money as a commodity. Cooking brownies, cooking boys, cooking books...There just seems to always be science going on at this house.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Most of Timothy deals with studying for God’s glory in order to disciple our families to capture all thoughts to Christ. Titus 1 admonishes fathers to care for their families in a manner similar to Timothy. Both letters instruct that we cannot be church leaders when we can’t even teach our own children to live for God’s glory.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV) explains to the church, “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is qualified in Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) as, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
1 Kings 12:26-30 (NIV) relates Jeroboam’s efforts to rewrite history so the chosen people would be faithful to him instead of to God:
“Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.’ After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.”
Sunday, June 21, 2009
As homeschooling moms it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day lists that we loose sight of the fact that our husbands work very hard so we can teach our children at home. I am so very grateful to my hubby.I have seen him sacrifice so much just so his kids could get what they needed. This weekend is a time to celebrate all those dads that give so much. Thanks!
Friday, June 19, 2009
- Honoring Homeschool Dads
Remember all the ways he makes homeschooling happen.
- Father's Day Traditions
From Jen at Balancing Beauty & Bedlam. Ways to show the man in your family he's appreciated.
- Why We Need Nietzsche
Peter J. Leithart's take on the role of the great classic nihilist.
- How Does Our Language Shape the Way We Think
Another reason we have something to learn from foreign languages.
- ...Neither Group Especially Skilled in Reasoning
College freshmen in the US and China can memorize, but can they think?
- Taking a field trip into literature: The real 'Make Way for Ducklings'
Bringing Robert McCloskey's children's book to life.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The ideal role of families in teaching and mentoring is a command and a promise in Scripture. Robert Lewis Dabney wrote this:
Malachi, in his last chapter, prepares the people for [the] long silence of revelation by two works, of which one is a promise, and the other a precept. The command is (Malachi 4:4) to walk by the law of Moses, God’s servant, and to keep the statutes and judgments given, through him, for all Israel. The promise is, that in due time the Messiah’s forerunner, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, shall usher in the solemn, yet glorious day of Christ, by his preparatory ministry. This was to be, therefore, the next prophet whom the church should expect. But his work was to be prominently a revival of parental fidelity and domestic piety. ‘He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.’(1)The Jewish family, who dwelled with Emmanuel, was expected to faithfully teach the next generation, preserving God’s word for the world. Dabney continues:
The next recorded message from the heavenly skies is that of the Angel Gabriel to Zacharias, given in Luke 1:11-20. The heavenly herald begins just where the earthly prophet had ended, with the promise and work of the forerunner, who was to be Zacharias’s son. “And he shall go before him [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (v. 17). That this work upon fathers and children was to be far more than the removal of domestic alienations; that it was to include this, but also to embrace a salvation of their children, and the docile seeking and reception of parental instruction by the children. […] This is the connecting link between both; it is the hinge in which they meet and combine with each other.(2)Matthew 10:24-25 (NIV) describes the role of a student and teacher, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” (Also see Luke 6:4). But continue reading verse 25: “If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!” Our children will follow their teacher. We are warned to be very cautious about teachers.
(1) Douglas W. Phillips, ed., Robert Lewis Dabney: The Prophet Speaks (San Antonio, TX: The Vision Forum, 2003), 27.
(2) Phillips, Robert Lewis Dabney: The Prophet Speaks, 27-28.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"It’s no secret that America’s educational system doesn’t stack up well with the rest of the world. What’s not as front and center is that this underachieving has a dramatic economic toll, too."
"...international test scores for the top 10% of American 15-year-olds are far below those of the top 10% in other rich countries such as Finland and Switzerland."
"Economists know from years of analysis that people who do better on standardized tests grow up to be more productive workers."
"...if U.S. children did as well as students from nations such as Finland, our economy would be 9%-16% larger."Assuming the numbers are sound, what does that mean?"...our schools are costing us $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion every year. Just for comparison's sake, as of late May, economists thought the recession would shave 3.7% from our economy."Ms. Vanderkam suggests that what we really need is a more challenging education - even, or maybe especially, for the brightest students. She reminds us that achievement needs to mean something, or that diploma will be nothing more than a piece of paper.I don't want to dwell on the negative, though. To all of you who work hard with your children toward excellence, keep up the good work! What this article says to me is that what your families and my family are doing is very important. So hang in there! You can do it!
A smart mama at a Parent Practicum asked a similar question that I didn’t answer very well, as it caught me off guard. I should have responded with a quote we had just gone over in the Practicum from G.K. Chesterton. "We are perishing from want of wonder, not want of wonders."
With my penchant for naming things, I take for granted that others may struggle with studying the natural world. I forget that my boys can identify birds, fish, mammals, constellations, and weather patterns because their parents can identify those same things. I will argue to the bitter end that it is more spiritually satisfying to be able to say, "Look at that heron trying to swallow that bass," than "Look at that bird try to swallow that fish."
As a classical educator, I reject studying science solely by doing. Naming and doing go together. I can either contrive lessons that explain the natural world by using a lab described in a textbook or we can actually just go outside, open our eyes, and explore. My family is fortunate to live on a lake with lots of woods around. A fox visiting our dog food bowl is normal. Fishing and birding are regular activities. Even when we lived in a suburban yard, we still took walks on golf courses and parks, so experiential science, enjoying the wonders of creation, is just what we do when we are outside.
Today, the dog jumped into the lake intending to swim across to greet some people on the other bank. He is too friendly. I was in the kayak, so I started to chase after him. William ran along the bank to see if he could help me, while the David was swimming his usual laps to the dam and back. I caught up with Ranger, grabbed the dog’s collar and hoisted him onto my kayak.
The fish won, well kind of. He died while being unsuccessfully gulped. The heron coyly ate a few greens and flew off without apologizing for his greedy behavior. An hour later, the dead fish floated on the current past our dock. David commented, "There’s the bass our heron killed."
Earlier in the day, David and I visited some older neighbors who are really into gardening. They took the time to give us lemonade and cookies while we walked around the yard naming and smelling and touching perennials. A rose may be as sweet by any other name, but if you want to buy one to plant in your own garden, it helps to tell the horticulturist what you are looking for.
Now how do you bring dogs, herons, fish, currents, kayaks, gardeners, backyards, perennials, and boys into the school lab?
A Major Force in Education -- Homeschooling in America
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 at 5:16 am ET
The U.S. Department of Education has released its periodic review of schooling in America, and it offers a revealing look at the growth of homeschooling. The picture of contemporary homeschooling offers some real surprises and raises some new questions.
"The Condition of Education 2009" is produced by the National Center for Education Statistics, and it contains a wealth of statistical data. [...]
Homeschooling was the choice of families for 2.9 percent of all school-age children in the United States in 2007, involving 1.5 million students.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Abraham covenant required individuals to know their commitment and duties to God (through the covenant), their nation (Israel), and the world (blessings to the world). Abraham’s faithful instruction to his family is reflected in the elderly Joseph’s ability to say, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Gen 50:24, NIV).
During the fifth century B.C., things changed. The synagogue became a fixed location for teaching Hebrew theology, and scribes like Ezra and Nehemiah began special houses of learning for adults.
As a reaction to Greek paganism, “houses of the book” were opened for younger children. According to Robert Ulich, “The old custom of teaching children within the family seems to have degenerated” during the Second Commonwealth (515 B.C.-70 A.D.).(2)
(1) Kenneth O. Gangel, “Toward a Biblical Theology of Marriage and Family,” Journal of Psychology and Theology 5 (winter 1977): 60.
(2) Robert Ulich, A History of Religious Education (New York: New York University, 1968), 13.
Friday, June 12, 2009
- How Christians Can Approach Classical Literature
From Jacque-Benigne Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, via Andrew Kern
- Upcoming Events
Homeschool, classical school, and Christian events, from American Vision
- The Cairo Speech
Links to the text of President Obama's speech to the Muslim world; also commentaries.
- Telling the Truth
No one has to teach children how to lie...
- Why We Continue to Homeschool - by Mrs. G.
Via Pioneer Woman, keeping perspective.
- Foxhole Faith
God in the Foxhole by Charles Sasser describes faith on the frontlines of American conflicts.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
For over two centuries, Americans began and ended their day with family devotions. That meant that someone in the family knew how to read, so someone was capable of teaching the rest of the family how to read the Bible.
The famous Lincoln-Douglass debates were seven hours long. Can you imagine your congregation standing for seven hours, munching on sandwiches and sipping tea, while Lincoln debated Douglass or your pastor taught? Are we even physically or mentally capable of doing so? The average American family watches an average of five hours of screens a day, so apparently we have time to worship and pray and study; we just choose not to.
Less than 15 percent of Americans home school or enroll their children in Christian schools (13), yet more than 70 percent claim to be Christians (14). Our great Christian universities are rarely any different than their state counterparts. Christians often campaign to have prayer in school, but then they will not say to which god they would have the children pray. They seem to be encouraging state-led idolatry.
We say we would die for Christ, but then we are not willing to sacrifice to raise children for Christ or to sacrifice time and money for Christian schools. Christian leaders are eager, yet frustrated in their efforts to instruct parents so they can successfully recover a Christian worldview for their children. God is ready to equip us with solutions, but we are so immersed in our culture that we miss what He is saying to us.
(13) Office of Innovation and Improvement, Statistics About Non-Public Education in the United States, U.S. Department of Education, 2008, (accessed 12 January 2009).
(14) Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar, American Religious Identification Survey, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2001, (accessed 12 January 2009).
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
It discourages me when folks with like missions don’t even know one another, and I am even more discouraged when they do know one another and won’t get together unless everyone has the same qualifications for worship. I wanted to use this event not only to tell potential new friends about Classical Conversations, but also to reassure them that I can work with them even if we don’t have the same vision for completing the mission.
Our association that weekend was more beneficial than I even knew to ask for in prayer. Besides sharing their organizations’ strengths, the presenters all demonstrated through their intellectual and ethical integrity why they are leaders. One of my staff quipped that hanging out with them was like being allowed to play basketball with the pros. We all left knowing more of the richness and mystery of God’s Word and eager to think closely about how families work.
I can’t describe the delight I felt in being able to discuss family, church, and government roles and responsibilities with so many people who spend the greater part of their day thinking about effecting change in education. We by no means agreed on everything, but we were all challenged to broaden and deepen our search for Truth.
We ended the Summit committed to work with one another, and we are beginning to explore ways to do that. Most of the organizations have materials that Classical Conversations will promote, and they in turn will let their constituencies know about Classical Conversations. Also, I have been invited to policy events and to speak to much broader audiences than home schooling parents.
My goal since I began Classical Conversations has been to broaden beyond committed Christians the excellent education the classical model promotes. Those committed to parent-driven education are looking for more options. I believe that the classical model can be recovered in private schools and that parents can be integrated into and respected by institutions if both are given a vision for academic excellence.
Classical Conversations will remain strong in its sole mission: to enable students to know God and to make Him known in all their endeavors. On the other hand, I am a bridge builder and am very comfortable working with anyone who will challenge the status quo. Those pursuing truth easily engage in conversations about Truth. Pray for me that I will represent Him well, and thank Him for the folks that attended. We are already planning next year’s Summit.
- Kris Alan Mauren ∙ Acton Institute
- Andrew Pudewa ∙ Institute for Excellence in Writing
- Pam Cooper ∙ Economic Thinking
- Greg Rehmke ∙ Foundation for Economic Education/Economic Thinking
- Andrew Kern ∙ CiRCE Institute
- Andrew Seeley ∙ The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
- Becky Norton Dunlop ∙ The Heritage Foundation
- Adam Andrews ∙ The Center for Literary Education
- Karen Y. Palasek ∙ John Locke Foundation
- Martin Cothran ∙ Memoria Press
- Jenna Ashley Robinson ∙ The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
- Alan Schaeffer ∙ The Alliance for Free Families
- Leigh Bortins, Heather Shirley, Keith Denton, Chris Sanford, Karen Hubbard, Denise Moore ∙ Classical Conversations
Monday, June 8, 2009
The church is responsible for equipping families to cultivate Christian culture.
In 2 Corinthians 10:2-5 (NIV), Paul says this:
I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.This verse makes me ask certain questions as an educator. If we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ, how does this translate into Christian education? What does the Bible have to say about education? Is there such a thing as non-Christian education? What form does the Bible use to instruct? Who instructs whom? How do they teach, and what do they teach? How do today’s Christians educate biblically?
The Bible tells believers that we have been commissioned to complete an important task – to reconcile the world to Christ. We do so be acknowledging that He died for us, that He wants to dwell with us, and that He will return for us. He is even named Emmanuel – God with us. So how does the Bible instruct us to fulfill this great commission of discipling, teaching, mentoring others? What is Truth education and how extensive is it? Does it only require a good Bible study?
In this paper, education is examined through three major premises: the biblical understanding of family as primary educational institution; the holistic view of education as knowledge, understanding, and wisdom; and the idea of theology as habitus, an integration of all of learning with theology as its formative mistress.
Friday, June 5, 2009
- Tiananmen Leaders Issue Declaration of Repentance and Reconciliation on 20th Anniversary
Chinese Christians respond to Tiananmen Square history.
- Transcript: Obama Seeks 'New Beginning' in Cairo
Today's history and government lesson, with an exercise in analyzing rhetoric.
- Do You Homeschool in the Summer?
Ideas for incorporating summer into your home school
- Homeschooling and the Public Library, part 2
Welcome to the Dewey Decimal System
- A Well-Rounded Curriculum, a More Competitive Nation?
Do you ever just get the feeling they're trying too hard?
- Up, Up, and Away
A hat tip for summer moviegoers and families.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?"(6)
"Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am'" (9).
Parents of elite private school students may conclude that my thesis does not apply to their children. My response is that their standards of literacy are too low. For example, read the following paragraph from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense:
Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.(4)This pamphlet was written to be readable for the average twelve-year-old in Colonial America, since they were comparable in responsibility to today’s college student. An interesting aside is that over half the people who purchased Thomas Paine’s Common Sense were either indentured servants or African slaves.(5) Few modern adults, let alone a sixth grader, can read this document well enough to explain its arguments and conclusions.
Before the 1900s, American teenagers taught children of all ages in one-room school houses (after their parents had taught them to read) and raised the most literate culture ever seen on the face of the earth. They used very inexpensive and highly effective techniques.
(2) Charles Davenport, Jr., The Greensboro News-Record, 2007.
(3) Linda Cannell, Ed.D., “Global Church-based Theological Education,” (Boston: Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, 10 March 2006).
(4) Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776, (accessed 4 June 2008).
(5) John Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Public Schooling (Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada: New Society Publishers, 1992), 13.
Monday, June 1, 2009
He proceeds to give details of the American Lyceum movement throughout the 1800s, on which Alfred Bunn, a visiting Englishman, remarked, “It is a matter of wonderment…to witness the youthful workmen, the over-tired artisan, the worn-out factory girl…rushing…after the toil of the day is over, into the hot atmosphere of the over-crowded lecture room” to hear intellectuals speak for hours.(2)
Postman goes on to explain how the age of show business has made banning books completely pointless – no one even wants to read books anymore. He believed that our love for the “technologies that undue our capacity to think” would make us into a culture that would lose its intellectual appetite and subsequently its ability to process difficult ideas or large quantities of information.
(1) Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin, 2005), 31.