Reading Reconsidered In the Homeschool—Chapter 1

This chapter is about text selection, something near and dear to the homeschool community. The authors begin with “The Decline of the Canon.” First, let me say that as a fan of Susan Wise Bauer’s work, I subscribe to her idea that no list of the Great Books is canonical. I also am sympathetic to the idea that there are lesser-known works by authors who were not in positions of power that have been overlooked as possible candidates for inclusion. After positing that there are “universal and fungible [reading] skills, applicable and applied to almost any text,” Lemov nods to the idea that “reading … depends heavily on knowledge.” So far, so good. Perfectly compatible with Bauer’s idea that: a classical education follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of those facts and images, and finally equipped to express conclusions reading has two parts: ongoing

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Reading Reconsidered in the Homeschool — Intro

Reading Reconsidered is not aimed at homeschoolers, but I think it contains some useful information that classical homeschoolers might want to consider. First, an introduction to who and what this book is about. Reading Reconsidered’s subtitle is “A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction.” Those of you who wince at the word “rigorous” might remember the Common Core wars and make no mistake, Lemov is all in on the Common Core. In fact, Lemov got his Edu-Professional-Consultant start under the NCLB regime, called in to turn around schools unable to meet the NCLB standardized testing requirements. In response to the unpredictable quality of the average classroom teacher, he made a virtue of Taylorization in the classroom, complete with video monitoring. While it’s true that factories are more efficient since Taylor and his stopwatch, applying those values to the classroom understandably had serious push back, including accusations of racist practices. Lemov went on to lead the Uncommon Schools charter network in

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I think my homeschooled child might be gifted. Now what?

One common misconception is that gifted kids don’t need extra care, because they’re gifted. Obviously they’re more capable, right? Well, yes and no. There are ups and downs to giftedness, and some of those downs can be quite marked. Having a gifted child is not all sunshine and roses. For example, gifted children are often asynchronous: they can intellectually understand something that they’re not emotionally able to handle, like a disaster on the evening news. One preschool child I knew had a full-scale meltdown and nightmares for months after she realized that the dinosaurs had been wiped out, because she was afraid that it could happen to humans. Asynchrony works in other ways too–a gifted child might be hugely passionate about an intellectual pursuit that other children their age are uninterested in, like special relativity. Other children would want to play tag, but they want to play up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top quark. Plus, other children aren’t going

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Why Classical Education? (redux)

One of the most common questions I get from parents thinking about classical home education is “Why this? Why classical education versus what my children are already doing? How can you possibly do it, when you haven’t done it yourself?” Last part first. I read books.  No, seriously, I read widely and deeply. For example, when I assigned my eldest child The Odyssey, I read Wilson’s translation. I also read about education and classical education. Finally ready for a deeper dive, I read Norms & Nobility last winter. Wisdom Reading comprehension is essentially a background knowledge test Classical education (AKA, a knowledge-rich curriculum) offers the most background knowledge. It’s the reason why studies show that the only curriculum shown to make a difference in test scores, all other variables held constant, is that at private order religious schools (not Catholic parish schools). Religious order schools offer a classical education, right down to classics departments that teach Latin and Greek. Classical education

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A utilitarian view of classical education

Classical education is distinctive in part because it has a prescribed path of study. Different classical educators have different paths, but I plan our program of instruction using the scope and sequence of the curricula mapped in the  Well-Trained Mind.  This systematic approach is anathema to many public schoolers using weak standards, eclectic homeschoolers who just study whatever the parent deems important, and unschooling types who feel that dictating an area of study is doing violence upon their child, but I disagree for several reasons. Unknown Unknowns There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. — Donald Rumsfeld I believe that there are “unknown unknowns,” and that children, with their limited experience in the world naturally have a significantly higher number of unknown unknowns.

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Yes, we use the Well-Trained Mind, but …

People tend to forget that it’s a plan, not a prison. Yes, I peruse it every spring, but my children are not theoretical constructs. I customize it. For example, next year will be the 6th grade for my eldest child. So, I flipped open my Kindle copy of the most recent edition, clicked on Part II. The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade through Eighth Grade, skipped the introduction (I’ve already been convinced!), and re-read the How to Teach. I noted the “if she can support her points with the facts” and reminded myself that I’d like to use the exercises from The Writing Revolution with Gwen next year. “Language, mathematics, logic, history, and science are staples of the logic stage; art and music should be pursued if possible.” (Location 5986 in The Well-Trained Mind) Step 1: Logic. Last year, my eldest child attempted The Art of Argument, but I didn’t have time to devote to going through it with her, and

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