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Tuesday, March 08, 2005


The last few days I have been on a Mortimer J. Adler kick -- consider me properly addled -- first finishing The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus, and now digging into that old classic, How to Read a Book. Someone who saw me toting How to Read a Book actually asked me what it was about. What is this world coming to? Continuing in that vein, I will eventually get around to How to Speak, How to Listen, another book taking up some prime real estate on my bedside table. At least fifty percent of that last book will be wasted on me, for in the interests of public safety I plan to severely limit my speaking engagements.

The Paideia Program was most helpful in explaining how to conduct seminars, or Socratic dialogues, with your students. This was something I have been searching for specifics on and am happy to say that now I get it. His three columned categories of learning: acquisition of organized knowledge by didactic instruction; development of intellectual skills by coaching; and enlarged understanding of ideas and values by Socratic questioning; parallel the stages of the trivium. Material to be covered and goals are referenced by subject. The one aspect I think the book fell short on was regarding the study of history. The focus was primarily on American history. Great for starters, but the idea of studying history chronologically and more comprehensively makes more sense. Later on European history is added, but only in the context of further explaining American history. Social Studies as a specific study of various cultures is encouraged, with the explanation that studying only Western civilizations is most provincial. They may have that backward - focusing on American history seems most provincial to me. Of course learning about other cultures is important, but not so as to need be a separate subject; life is a social study. I have a sneaking suspicion Western Civ carries a little more weight with Mr. “Great Books” Adler. He includes a disclaimer in the intro that this publication was a joint effort and not all contributors agreed on every detail. I hear you, Mort.

In keeping with the recommendation from A Thomas Jefferson Education that mentors read the same material as their students, I finally got around to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Another movie-inspiring children'’s book making the rounds in our house is, Because of Winn-Dixie, which left me teary-eyed, a sign of a possible hormone imbalance, and eager to see it on the big screen.

I downloaded the Homeschool Tracker program and spent one whole day last week entering in all our resources used this past year and the major items for next year. It sure makes for an impressive list. I had my own lists compiled in various documents, Word and Excel, but this keeps it all in one place and makes creating and maintaining transcripts simple. History reading for next year was not included yet because I am still undecided. On order from Great Books Academy is the study guide for the Greek year (Freshman,) first semester. After I review that I will have a better idea of whether I start with their reading list and bring it down a little, or use more of Greenleaf’'s book recommendations and ratchet it up a notch.

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