From: “Heather & Rusty”
Subject: delaying the instruction of mathematics
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000
I am writing to get some thoughts from you on the delaying of math instruction. I have your set of 8 pamphlets on the Trivium so you may even be able to direct to sections in the pamphlets. We are teaching 1st and 2nd grade girls and using Math U See curriculum and not meeting with much success. The older girl is very bright and verbal and finds herself getting very frustrated with math concepts even though on a day to day basis I know she has an ability to use math to deal with life! We were trying to introduce the concept of the unknown: 50 + N = 90. She got all upset because the day before it had been 50 + ___ = 90 and she wondered what on earth N was doing there. She has a very retentive mind and loves history, and science and reading especially and likes geography when it’s coming from books. My husband thinks our weakest areas in our homeschool are writing and math and I’m sure he’s right. We both were good at math so expect our kids might well be, too, but we’re wondering what to do. My husband would like to try a new math curriculum and see how they do. I am wondering if it’s time to bail for the rest of the year and try again next year when their little brains have grown and developed. Thoughts? Thanks for your help. Heather Young
>>>>I know she has an ability to use math to deal with life!<<<<
She is good at informal math, but not ready for formal math, which is how it often is with young children.
>>> 50 + N = 90<<<
These are algebraic concepts — logic, really. Your daughters are in the grammar stage and would not be ready for logic stage concepts.
A new math curricula probably will not change things. MUS is a fine curriculum — actually, there are numerous excellent math curricula available to homeschooling families today. Fortunately for us, giving your children a good Christian classical education is not dependent on which curriculum you use. You need to find the curriculum which fits the Mother’s and child’s learning style. I include Mother here because it is Mother who often is learning along with the child!
But the problem we see with the math curricula today is that they start too early.
Taken from: Palatine Anthology (epigrams which are algebraical problems, collected by Metrodorus, a grammarian who lived about A.D. 500) 14.126, The Greek Anthology, ed. Paton 5.92-93
“This tomb holds Diophantus. Ah, what a marvel! And the tomb tells scientifically the measure of his life. God vouchsafed that he should be a boy for the sixth part of his life; when a twelfth was added, his cheeks acquired a beard; He kindled for him the light of marriage after a seventh, and in the fifth year after his marriage He granted him a son. Alas! late-begotten and miserable child, when he had reached the measure of half his father’s life, the chill grave took him. After consoling his grief by this science of numbers for four years, he reached the end of his life.”
Can you solve this algebra problem? The first person to send us the correct solution to this problem will receive a (two dimensional) Homeschooling with the Trivium coffee mug.
If x was his age at death, then 1/6x + 1/12x + 1/7x + 5 + 1/2x + 4 = x
84 = x
Norton Programmed Texts in Music Theory
Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter by John Clough and Joyce Conley A Self-Instruction Program W.W. Norton and Company first published in 1962, revised in 1983
274 pages, paperback
“The reader is assumed to know the names of notes in the treble and bass clefs and the names of keys on the piano keyboard. Otherwise, no special knowledge or musical skill is assumed.
The earlier version of this book, Scales, Intervals, Keys, and Triads, dealt with the rudiments of pitch and provided a brief introduction to harmony. In the present book, all of the material on pitch has been retained (and revised where necessary) and the treatment of harmony has been expanded to include triad inversions, principles of voice leading, and connection of I, V, and V7. An introduction to rhythm and meter has also been added. A second programmed text by the same authors, Basic Harmonic Progressions, takes up the study of harmony where this book stops.
This program may be used for high school or college courses in elementary music theory. The average college class should be able to complete these two books in two semesters.”
Our daughter Ava studied through this book last year when she was 18, taking less than one semester to complete it. She said it was challenging, yet thoroughly self-teaching. We plan to purchase the next text in the series.
We just finished reading The Abbot by Sir Walter Scott. Scott is probably the finest historical fiction writer who ever lived. He is accurate and detailed and interesting at the same time, though he is a bit difficult to read aloud since his sentence construction is complex. This particular book concerns Mary Queen of Scots.
Also, this week we read Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop, illustrated by William Pene du Bois (Du Bois also wrote and illustrated Twenty-One Balloons). This is a cute short story about hiding Jewish children during WWII.
From: “Ginger Umstattd”
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
“Children of all ages should be encouraged to read about and study the ancient Greek myths.”
The above is, indeed, a dilemma we have faced in our own homeschool. We decided to introduce the children to the myths and their characters in late elementary years, when we were studying Greek history and beginning Latin. We prefaced this with a thorough study of Biblical Creation in Genesis. Then we compared and contrasted the two views of beginnings, and the nature of God/gods. Even so, my sensitive 12 yr. old daughter sometimes worried I was teaching her a false religion when we got into the myths. I backed off a bit, but explained that I wanted them to know how Greek gods had influenced our culture. Why is an atlas called an atlas? Where did the planets and months get their names (we studied both Greek and Roman names together)? Dis-astrous means “against the stars”. We did not go into the type of detail which Greenleaf offers. We kept it simple. My high school son read The Iliad this autumn in his worldview curriculum. He also studied Genesis and Francis Schaefer’s works on this topic. It allowed for many helpful family discussions about worldview and its consequences in culture. Teaching Greek myths is dealing with a hot potato. It must be done carefully, and with forethought. Familiarity with this topic helps the children see how Greece and Rome still influence our western culture today. It can also warn them about being taken in by false beliefs, which seem innocuous because most of the culture goes along with it.
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
Subject: teaching children Greek myths
<< We would like to hear your arguments on the affirmative side and on the negative side. Give us your plain from-the-heart ideas or your complex documented arguments. >>
I’ll have to do the plain from-the-heart method. 🙂 I am in favor of familiarizing children with Greek mythology…actually mythology from different cultures. My boys are 6, 9, and 11 and we’re studying Ancient Greece right now. We’re reading through the D’Aulaires book of Greek mythology, as well as other sources. Even in the grammar stage, discussing mythology helps children discern truth from non-truth. For instance, we’ve compared the flood stories from the Bible and the Greek myth of Deucalion, and the fact that cultures all over the world have some variety of flood stories because a worldwide flood was a reality and Noah’s family were the oral historians from the post-flood period, and from that one family came all the cultures in different parts of the world. Also, becoming familiar with the Greek (and Roman names too) mythical characters will give the students an advantage when those names come up in literature of all kinds. They’ll understand the reference, ie opening Pandora’s box. Another advantage is the opportunity to discuss character qualities (positive and negative) as we read these stories. Jealousy, honor, bravery, lying, familial love, justice, fear…to name a few. Children can begin to discern what is true heroism, what is just boasting, what is mis-use of power, etc. And finally, familiarization with mythology is integral to understanding the Greek culture of the classical period, which greatly influenced the later Roman culture, the time that Jesus was on earth and then the apostles establishing the early Christian church. Paul knew the importance of talking to people on their own level, referencing their established belief system. Having mentioned all these advantages, I would clarify that, especially with young children, there needs to be frequent and clear discussion on the difference of the truth of God’s word, the only true God, and these false gods that were the Greeks way of explaining some of the world around them because they didn’t know the true God.
Becki in CA
From: “Deveney Tucker”
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
I know that the Greek and Roman mythology is very entertaining and interesting, BUT, I felt very uneasy and thus stopped before we started. I felt that glorifying idols and false gods that our forefathers in the first century and before tried so hard to share the gospel for. It was these folks that killed so many of our past Christians. Idols are still worshipped today and it is in style in the US to study these idols in myth form so that the kids are “culturally educated” . I feel that the conviction I had was right and that allowing my son to elevate false gods, even in fiction was wrong. HOWEVER, in much of the Gk and Latin curriculums these are used in vocabulary and curriculum studies. Also, much of our literature used words that come from these “myths”. I just explained what the words meant and what they were describing and talked about God’s view of that. That way, they were not allowed to read and study it on their own, and did not get the full story. I know that my view is really “narrow”, but it IS scriptural. I guess the other side can also find scriptural reasons as well. I would not criticize someone for doing that, BUT I would make them aware of why I feel the way I do and leave it up to them to decide. God bless, Deveney Tucker in NY
From: “Bruce Oatman”
Subject: Greek myths
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001
We have been studying the ancient world this year. We are currently learning about Greece. My children are 10, 9, and 7. We have greatly enjoyed the Greek myths. We have read Rosemary Sutcliffe’s version of the Iliad, D’Aulaires Greek Myths, Children of the Fox, Theseus and the Minotaur and several others. Some people I know feel that you should never allow your children to read anything that couldn’t be true. This would include stories with talking animals, myths, fables, and fairy tales. I respect these parents right to educate their children as they see fit. However, I feel a lot of great literature is missed by this approach. My children and I have had many discussions regarding the obvious frailties of these “gods”. They can clearly see how great our God is and how obviously false Zeus and his crew are. We have also discussed the implications of these myths for Paul and other early Christians. We discussed the same thing last year when we studied Egypt. We learned how each of the plagues was an assault to a false god. I can’t say that all these stories would be appropriate for any age. A child that couldn’t clearly tell reality from fantasy might not be ready. Everybody knows their child best. We all must do what we feel the Lord would have us do in our teaching and our lives.
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
From: Michael Mc Daniel
Subject: Re:Children and Myths
I suspect I may be in the minority and that there will be many eloquent spokesmen for the other opinion. However, a discussion in which only one view is presented isn’t really much of a discussion, so I will offer a few thoughts. First, I espouse the notion that such decisions are not a “one size fits all” proposal. I am not attempting to convince anyone to adopt our practices, more just ‘fessing up that we have them. That is to say, I am currently reading our children myths in conjunction with our study of Greek history. These children are boys ages 7 and 8. The obvious question to be asked is, “Why?” Several reasons, really. The study of myths is set in the context of their knowledge of truth as revealed in Scripture and in the context of Greek history. These stories are a part of the history of the people whom we are studying. As such, they tell us something about the worldview of the Greek people. Some may object that such young boys are not capable of dealing with the concept of a worldview. We live in Bangladesh which has given the boys ample exposure to the religious practices of Hinduism and Islam. A natural part of our lives involves explaining these viewpoints to our children and helping them see the connection between belief and practice. (Incidentally we do that with our faith as well.) The boys seem quite able to handle the train of thought that begins, “So if the Greeks thought this…then what with regard to the way they lived?…” Furthermore, it helps them see by contrast the obvious superiority of our God. Similarly, in conjunction with our study of Egypt, we talked about their deities in relation to the plagues. The preeminence of Jehovah over and against pagan dieties is a theme throughout Scripture. Thirdly, the stories are part of our cultural heritage. For example, this week we have talked about Naricissus and the droopy-headed flowers by the same name. Christians often make the argument that non-believers cannot be truly culturally literate without knowing something of the Bible since so many references to its stories are a part of our cultural knowledge base. The same applies to the Greek and Roman myths. Finally, while innocence is commendable is regard to evil, head-in-the-sand ignorance is not. Proverbs bears witness that the naive often come to trouble. We are exhorted to know our enemy and his strategies and to beware. Given that their is nothing new under the sun, analyzing his past lies right back to the garden sharpens us to recognize some re-creation of them that we face in our day. This amounts to a sparring match as we train them for the real battle. Finally, they are interesting, well crafted stories. I can certainly understand and respect a family’s choosing not to study the myths, particularly at a young age. I think here it is important to recognize that each parent is charged with knowing his child’s frame. What may be appropriate for one child at a certain age may be wholly inappropriate for another. We need also to guard against creating improper or ungodly appetites in our children, but I have not seen this happening. And it should go without saying that a parent must omit anything profane or explicit. While I wouldn’t argue that all children regardless of background, maturity or circumstances should be encouraged to study mythology, in our home and context it has been enjoyable and I think worthwhile. Karen
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001
From: Leslie George
Since I have already done a Greek myth lesson with my kids, I thought I would give you my thoughts. First we read many different books about Greek mythology and learned both the Roman and Greek names for the different gods and goddesses. We also read a book about ancient Greek towns, that had more “facts” in it. After the kids had a familiarity with the subject, we read The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge. It is a book that essentially puts all the stories together into one epic. My children loved it. There is so much in literature that makes reference to something from the Greek myths, that a whole new understanding was gained by this lesson. After we finished all the books, I had the children make a long poster of the Trojan war, putting Helen in the center and dividing the Greeks from the Trojans. They listed which gods and goddesses were on which side, gave descriptions of all the major characters and drew pictures of each. As I said, so much is taken from myths, that an “Achilles heel”, “Trojan horse” and “the face that launched a thousand ships” all make sense to them now. I remember the day we read the myth about Hercules, we also were writing a poem about Columbus. When they got to the part about “the cliffs of Hercules”, my daughter was thrilled as we had just read about how he had made them. A connection! There were many other episodes like that as we read other books. It was also the basis for many discussions.
I hope this helps anybody thinking of doing a study like this. My children are 8 and 11 and it was very enjoyable for them both. Leslie George Casa Grande, AZ
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001
From: Scott & Denise
“Children of all ages should be encouraged to read about and study the ancient Greek myths.”
I’m concerned that young children who cannot distinguish between fact and fantasy be taught the truth. There are so very many interesting biographies and other events of history (both Biblical and secular) that I strongly prefer to spend our limited time on them. For cultural literacy, we’ll deal with fairy tales/fantasies/myths when the children are old enough to be able to distinguish truth from fantasy. And then it won’t be for entertainment value, but for cultural analysis.
In our home, we don’t even spend time on standard American fairy tales when the children are young. If there’s a supernatural power in a story, and it’s not explicitly stated as our Lord Jesus, then just what *is* that supernatural power? Depending on how critically you want to view it, either it’s evil, or at best the story is a waste of time. So why should Greek fairy tales (myths) be viewed any differently? Like the old story about bank tellers spotting counterfeit bills by spending time with the real stuff, I strongly prefer to spend our valuable time with true stories when the children are young. Yours in Christ, Denise
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001
Subject: Why myths?
Okay, this is my plan reply…and it works for Greeks as well as Egyptian mythology.
Why would we teach myths? It is not my intent to teach myths as facts. If I did not explain the theological problems with the myths, then my children would be harmed by the exposure, at too young an age, to myths. I like myths, and other fantasy, because it contrasts so well with the Biblical world view that I hold dear.
For example, yesterday we were listening to a Jim Weiss tape on Egyptian myths. On part of the myth deals with a god (they have many, but there is only One True God) that dies. My 7 yod was listening with me. Here is an example of things I would say, “Wow! How would you like to have a god that can be killed by another god? Hmmm. Did our God die? How did He die? Jesus died willingly for our sins. No one could take His life, He gave it. What happened to the false Egyptian god? Yes, he was tricked by his wicked brother god. Can we trick our God? No, He knows everything. Could Jesus have been locked up in a truck and drowned in a river? No, He is all powerful. Did someone have to say magic words to raise Jesus from the dead? No, His Father raised Him up on the third day.”
You get the idea. Sometimes our children get so much Bible (Sunday school, videos, etc.) that they don’t realize that there are other so-called gods out there. Our God is so much better (we can’t even compare them) that I don’t fear risking the exposure to (and of) the false gods, even mythological gods that no one believes in anymore. (Another interesting thing to point out! When people make up myths, they will stop believing in them someday. Whether or not we believe in the One True God, He will always be there, because He is eternal.)
Did you pick up on the doctrines of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and the sacrificial offering of Jesus for our sins… and probably more, but I am just using this as a quick example of how to use myths to teach, and reinforce the teaching of Biblical doctrine. Audrey F.
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001
“Children of all ages should be encouraged to read about and study the ancient Greek myths.”
I am a 2-year veteran of homeschooling. My child is now 9. Our study of ancient Greek myths continues to be a valuable aspect of our schooling.
The books we used so far to study Greek myths are D’auliere’s Book of Greek Myths and The Children’s Homer by Padraic Colum.
I support the study of myth for a number of reasons.
Myths function like fairy tales, or any other well written children’s fiction, in that they help children think through life’s challenges, to face and consider ethical problems, to cheer for heroes and identify “bad guys” before they actually face these situations.
(My child is fully aware that the gods and goddesses in these myths are not real and that the worship of them is not consistent with our Christian worldview. But in no way does this lessen the power behind the stories to inform, enlighten, and add a richness to our ability to express ourselves and communicate.)
Further, so much of the literature of the Western world draws upon imagery from Greek myth. It was exciting to hear my son come running to me with a fiction book that contains a character named Janus, exclaiming, “It’s just like the Janus in our myth books. He has two faces and…….” My son understood much more about what the author intended this character to be than if he was not familiar with the mythical god Janus.
Even Christian writers make heavy use of the mythical characters. The most recent example for me was while reading Phantastes by George MacDonald. Familiarity with mythology made the reading much easier to comprehend and enjoy.
From: “The Woods Family”
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001
“Children of all ages should be encouraged to read about and study the ancient Greek myths.”
The myths of the ancient peoples of the Western Civilizations have become catchwords. They are integrated into our language. Think of Achilles Tendon, that tender part of the back of the ankle. Or Trojan Horse. Or Pandora’s box. Python. Typhoon. A Herculean task. Atlas. Olympics. Neptune. Pluto. Mars. Jupiter. Mercury. Cupid. Titans. Hades. Sirens. Circe. Medusa. Nymphs. The list goes on and on. The Greek myths were adopted and Latinized by the Romans who took in Greek slaves to teach their children. A firm understanding of the Greek and Roman myths helps provide a firm foundation in understanding the culture into which the early Christians were working. For example, when Paul wrote about how shameful it was for a woman to be shorn or shaven, he was referring to the fact that the priestesses of Diana were marked by having their heads shaven at the beginning of their term of service so that they were readily identifiable by sailors. (Diana was a fertility goddess as well as the goddess of the hunt- including fishing- and sailors worshipped her by having sexual relations with one of her priestesses in order to “secure” the fertility of the seas. So, naturally it was unseemly for decent women in that area to have short hair!) That doesn’t mean that these myths and legends should be taught as though they were true. They do however need to be taught in the context that at one time people knew God, then man fell and people retained some sense that there was some higher power than themselves. Having lost the true knowledge of God, man created legends and myths to explain creation and life. But God chose one people to manifest himself to, one people to be His, to spread the truth that God is One. From this people, He became Incarnate to live and give Himself as the one perfect offering that could restore man. But, you know the rest of that story. We must teach our children all of human history, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the events that were great triumphs, and the times of great disaster. Teaching the myths of the Western world (and the myths of other parts of the world as well), is part of that process of teaching history.
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001
From: James A Willcox
We appreciate the opportunity to pose questions on your loop. What we are looking for and really desiring to see are some “real life” testimonies regarding this concept of “delayed math.” We have heard your opinions on delayed math on your Trivium Tapes. We have also seen your scope and sequence of what a child should learn at what age. We have not read your eight pamphlets, as we were not aware of their existence. To be perfectly truthful, we have been “chicken” to try delayed math. Some of the questions that we pose to ourselves are: “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if we wait until age ten and our kids take 3 years to catch up?” “What if someone asks our kids a question and they do not know it (and either our kids feel dumb or people think that we are not educating our children properly)?? ” Our oldest child is in the fourth grade. She is doing Saxon 54. She is doing fine, but does not enjoy it–we believe based on her past experience with math. She is also doing Key To Fractions. She does not enjoy this very much. This child learned to read at a very early age and has since, become a voracious reader. She loves almost every part of school, except math. We have always considered her quite bright and we are concerned that math seems to come to her with more difficulty.
Our other school aged children are first grade and Kindergarten. They are doing Saxon One together. The Kindergartner mostly just listens and adds things as he understands. Our first grader likes all the math games (money, time, playing store, playing with pattern blocks, linking cubes, measuring and so on) but she does not care for math drill. She gets easily frustrated if she makes one mistake on her drill worksheet and then, for some reason–she continues to make the same mistake with other problems on the paper (even if she knows the answer for certain). At first, we thought that this was simply self control and a matter of disciplining herself to learn the facts. Dawn (the mom) spends over an hour teaching math to the younger kids each day and another 45-50, in helping the fourth grader. Every molecule in our bodies tell us that we just need to try harder and these kids will “get it”. However, we are in prayer and are looking for council from others who have been brave enough to actually practice “delayed math”. We know that some of you are simply saying, “Just stop. They will get it when they are older.” As both of us have higher degrees (as Harvey would say, “alphabet soup behind our last names”) we tend to be skeptical of something that could be depicted or have characteristics of “unschooling”. We respect the Bluedorns and the fruit of their efforts. In brief, it would be greatly appreciated if either Harvey or Laurie and ANYONE else who could describe one of their children’s “journey in math” using delayed mathematics (especially describing how they went from no math to Saxon 54–progress and acquiring concepts). Thanks in advance for any replies. Thanks also, for tolerating this lengthy request.
James and Dawn
Salt Lake City
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001
“Children of all ages should be encouraged to read about and study the ancient Greek myths.”
I agree with studying Greek and Roman mythology as an essential part of any true education. It is the “all ages” and “encouraged” conditions that beg caution. While I joyously marvel at the discernment God is giving our 6, 8, and 9 year-old boys, I would neither indulge an in depth study at this point nor encourage others to do so. A great gift God gives in parenting is in our knowing each child, and in His granting of wisdom in dealing with each one. I do think we are wise not to totally avoid the subject. We have approached this mythology much the same as with the mythology of evolution. These false teachings all influence our culture. We must live in our culture, as we are called to so do. We first lay the foundation of truth and teach our sons that the Scriptures are the source of truth and yardstick by which it is measured. (As was mentioned by another family, in their studying the Biblical accounts first.) So when we find “myth” like that in the national parks that would tell us we came after the dinosaurs, billions of years ago, we take our sons back to the scriptures that teach that death came after the Fall. We have also taught them that the names of the days of the week in Western languages come from the names of false gods worshiped by the Greeks and Romans. It has helped them see the connection among languages, cultures and historical events. This, too, is a truth. A testimony, in part, to the foolishness of man in seeking his own peace, safety and salvation through inventing gods. But it is man’s attempt at truth, rather than God’s revelation of truth. What a glorious picture of the contrast between man’s striving and God’s providing! And that IS for all ages, and to be encouraged. It is for the wise parent to lead and guide his child toward this, as God leads the parent. Therefore, we )in our family) step out in faith and courage, trusting that God will protect us and our children. We pray to not be foolish in either giving too much information too soon, nor in withholding information that would aid in their understanding of God and His fallen creation. Chester and Karen, Germany
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001
From: Daniel Kirk
Distinguo! Fiction, fairy tales, and false religion are not the same, and should be treated differently. I believe that fiction, carefully selected, is appropriate at any age. Fiction should be selected by the question, “Does it teach truth?” Jesus’ parables and Aesop’s fables are examples of good fiction put to good use. Pilgrim’s Progress, while fictional, fantastic, and bordering on magical, does. Horatio Hornblower (which I have not read) apparently does not. Of course, true stories (history, Scripture) are more important, and should be the center of a sound curriculum. Fairy tales (I include everything from C.S. Lewis to Jack and the Beanstalk.) should be selected by the same question, but only introduced when the child is able to distinguish them from reality. For example, my parents did not mention Santa Claus (vs. Saint Nicholas) until we had a good grasp on truth vs. fiction, and were thoroughly familiar with the story of Christ’s birth. I was 5; my sister was 4. Then, they explained that some people liked to pretend that Santa Claus came down the chimney on Christmas eve and put treats in children’s socks. After we had a good laugh at that, we read A Visit from Saint Nicholas, and decided to try pretending. We made a pretend fireplace out of a cardboard box, hung our real socks from the pretend mantel, and pretended that Santa Claus was coming. My mother put one or two pieces of hard candy in each sock, (I don’t remember if we saw her do it.) and that was the end of the game. We never had any interest in playing Santa Claus again. False religion should be handled the most carefully of all. Children should be firmly rooted in the truth before confronting error. The false gods should be justly condemned, not only for their falseness, but for every evil they do. Even then, much information should be kept on a need-to-know basis. When I read about Elijah to my four year old, pointing out that Baal was a false god, a statue people prayed to, is necessary. Going into the details of child sacrifice is not. While it is wrong to condemn something of which you are completely ignorant, it is also wrong to study wickedness in order to condemn it further. What then, of Greek and Roman (and Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu, etc.) myths? They seem to fall somewhere between the kind of fairy tales where magic happens, but God reigns supreme, or Christianity is at least assumed, and false religion. I believe that, once children know fact from fiction, biography from fairy tales, and truth from error, it is wise to give them some background in Greek (and other) myths and religion in the context of that culture’s history. When you get to the Greeks in your study of history, find a good book of Greek myths, read it together, pointing out errors and evils. (In the Logic stage, when most children will be ready for this, they will enjoy pointing out many of the errors themselves.) Then set the book aside as less important than great Christian books, or even good history and fiction. Your children will have all the benefit of the cultural references, but be in no danger of confusing false gods with the one true God, or of worshipping them.
From: “Boyd M. Hutchins”
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Reply to delayed math:
The only Math we taught our boys was out of the Ray’s arithmetic we got with our Mcguffey’s Readers set. Very basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We started our 10 and 11 year old boys in Saxon 54 this year and both took off with flying colors. Our oldest was absolutely terrible at math, great at reading. He is learning now with no problems at all. Before math seemed like a foreign language he couldn’t grasp. It is WELL worth the wait. If I had it all to do over again I would have done less math and not more! Patt Hutchins
Reply to abbreviated Classics:
We also had the complete set of abbreviated Classics, but our boys wound up reading the real ones after they read the short versions. Ours are very voracious readers though! We all fight over who gets to read the cereal box at breakfast! 🙂 The Three Musketeers are not good role models even in the real version. I don’t think any of Duma’s characters are, I may be wrong though as I’ve only read a couple of his books. We picked up the Masterplots books this summer at a library book sale. Think that’s the same type thing as your’s. I agree not all classics are worth reading! Patt Hutchins
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
From: Larry Foster
This is in reply to the folks wanting ‘real-life’ testimonials regarding delayed math. We were not familiar with the trivium approach until about a year or so ago. However when we first began thinking about homeschooling I subscribed in the Moore method of ‘better late than early’. For math we never had any sort of curriculum. We played games with flash cards when the children wanted to and we had a couple of computer games which dealt with mathematical concepts (particularly geometry). I attempted to introduce Saxon 54 in the two previous years and met with tears and misunderstanding on my son’s part so after only a few lessons each attempt I would put it away for awhile. My reasoning behind this was: I never pushed him to read, I never ‘taught’ him to read. He read when he was ready. He read ‘The Yearling’ at age 7-8 and understood and enjoyed it. In fact I have trouble finding enough appropriate reading material for him. Back to the math topic: This year I skipped over Saxon 54 and delved right in to 65. It is a whole new ball game. It has been so amazing to have been able to see the light come on. Now he sits there grinning as he does his math lessons and is able to understand the concepts. Before it was crying and ‘I just don’t get it!’ I will have more to report in a few years as my 7yod moves into the later grammar stage. But I am not even going to attempt 54 with her at all. I’ll be able to put all this together with number 4 (due in Sept) in about 10 years! I know this is not very technical but it is what I have seen with my eyes and my mother’s heart.
From: “Anne Calvert”
Subject: delayed math
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
I will tell you about my experiences with delayed math and I hope you will find them helpful. I started working with my daughter doing kindergarten and 1st grade math using the Saxon curriculum. It was time consuming and kept us from spending as much time reading. Also it was frustrating for me because I knew that she didn’t understand the concepts and was just memorizing facts (which is fine after they understand what it is they’re memorizing). Because of my frustration I switched over to Developmental Mathematics which spends a lot of time teaching addition/subtraction concepts (after all if you can’t add you can’t do anything). These books use pictures as concrete examples to show concepts and shows them how to write it in number sentences. This worked really well until we got to book 5 and then the books changed. Well, about this time I ran across a Trivium Pursuit catalog and ordered some tapes. When I heard that a 10 year old child could go right into and 6th grade math book with no prior booklearning it really made me feel relieved. She was 9 years old at the time, and I had to do something to show to our teacher evaluator, which was required by law, so I continued at a slow pace in Developmental Mathematics and did homemade math/art projects at home which illustrated math concepts. When she was ten I started her in the Saxon 65 book and found that she understood the concepts just fine until we got to place value, which she had difficulty with. About that time I read something that was written by Mike and Debi Pearl about how someone they knew took $1000 dollars in different denominations of bills and coins out of the bank and spent their evenings with the child teaching them how to count. I thought that might be a good idea, so I took a few hundred dollars out of the bank, and instead of buying math books I just put it in a box and kept it home for us to count. I showed her how to take the pennies and nickels and put them in piles of 10 cents each. Then we would move these piles over to the 10 pile. When pile, and when we had 10 dollars we would move it over to the next pile, and so on. We had all different denominations of coins and bills. Then we would count how many cents we had in that pile and write it down ” 9 in the ones column, 5 in the tens column”, then the dollars etc. We did this all summer (just a game that we played) and at the end of the summer my daughter who hated math said “math is kind of fun, it’s just figuring out how many of different things”. She really understands place value now, and her attitude has changed. This fall I started her on Saxon Math 65 again and she did really well. The mistake I made though was that I followed the Robinson curriculum recommendation of 2 hours of math daily done first thing in the morning, and she got burned out. I wondered what I was doing wrong and then I went to the Moore Foundation’s website to try and find answers. On the Question and Answer page I found out that she was spending too much time doing math, 15 problems a day was their recommendation, done as quickly as possible. Their page also answered a lot of my other questions. The other problem that I encountered was that because she had not been drilled in addition/subtraction and multiplication/division facts it really slowed her down doing her bookwork, which made it discouraging. The Moore Foundation had the answer to that problem too. I just got MATHIT which consists of 3 games ADDIT, DUBBLIT, and TIMZIT which show them how to add, double and halve, and multiply numbers quickly and easily. It has always been advertised as a game which complements any math program, so previously I thought $55 dollars was too much to spend. But really you can use this as a perfect complete math curriculum for ages K-8th grade. This could be done very informally starting at age 9 or so. It comes with 2 books, one for the child to read which tells the story of how another boy learned to play the games, and teaches them at the same time. The other book is a guide which tells a parent which concepts to teach at different levels, and offers suggestions for teaching them. You could teach those concepts somewhat earlier in a very informal manner using money or other manipulatives. Also they recommend that you find some math worksheets from anywhere for your children to practice what they are learning in MATHIT.
My math curriculum now consists of MATHIT for my two oldest kids, ages11 and 9, (which they should finish quite soon) and then going straight into SAXON 65 doing about 15 problems per day or more if they seem to enjoy it, doing it as quickly as possible. For my 6 year old I draw 2 circles on a piece of paper (I do this while we are working on phonics) and put one penny in one circle and two pennies in the other circle. Then I show my son how to write addition and subtraction sentences about the pennies. (I do the facts family method ; i.e. 2+1=3, 1+2=3, 3-1=2, 3-2=1) I don’t spend a lot of time doing this, because I am not drilling math facts, just teaching the concepts. He thinks it is a fun game. Also this teaches him how to write the numerals which he had learned earlier playing with a deck of cards teaching only one numeral at a time. The game was a variation of war, but only the twos had any value and always won all the cards that had been played. Then we added the threes and it became more interesting, and so on. I have other homemade games that I use to teach multiplication concepts and other things. I have found that my younger children learn so much more when the work is done informally, and my experience with book curriculum and young children is that it frustrates the child and makes them hate math, plus they don’t learn as well. I know there are exceptions to this rule. A friend of mine has a 9 year old boy who loves math and could do math out of a workbook all day long. So far my children have not been like this. Maybe they are spoiled with doing real life math. Also, I am teaching my daughter to balance our checkbook and pay all of our bills, which she understands is real, and all of a sudden she understands why math is important. Soon I will be able to just turn it all over to her and that will be one less chore for me to worry about. I would recommend any book that is written by Ray and Dorothy Moore. I have just read “Minding your own Business” and am looking at different ways to start a family b children’s education, teaching my children to work and keep the books etc. In my opinion real life is the best teacher, in math and any other subject. I hope this is helpful to you and I am looking forward to reading what others may have to say about this subject. By the way, I grew up in Salt Lake City, so you all are living in my home town. God bless you all.
From: “Scott family”
Subject: re: only children
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
Your message struck a chord with me because we were in almost the identical situation 4 years ago, homeschooling an only child in first grade. We prayed for 7 years for a second child. It was an extremely difficult, emotional time. We just kept bringing it before the Lord and giving our dream for more children back to him, desiring His will for our family. Our second child is 3 now. God is faithful. In regards to socializing your daughter. My experience is – don’t. Today my one-time only child is 10 and in many ways she is more innocent, less worldly, than her peers for which I am grateful. She is also much more compassionate with others, more loving with her new brother, and has a better than average relationship with her parents, just to name a few of the benefits. By keeping our daughter separated I believe we have given her a chance to grow in confidence, think for herself, and recognize the importance of family instead of following a peer group. That’s not to say she doesn’t go anywhere, she takes piano and horse back riding lessons, and volunteers in a nursing home. She just isn’t hanging around other 10 year olds unsupervised. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you’re going to gain something and lose out on something else. The question what is most important at this stage of your daughter’s life? How exactly would she benefit from being with other kids? Does the good outweigh the potential bad? The older our daughter gets, the more I believe home with family is still the best place to be (especially if a TV doesn’t live with you!). You’re doing the right thing, keep following your instinct to wait on the Lord. Sue
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
<< We appreciate the opportunity to pose questions on your loop. What we are looking for and really desiring to see are some “real life” testimonies regarding this concept of “delayed math.”
To James and Dawn,
I have only a little experience in this, but I waited to do formal math with my oldest until he was about 11 and he went right into Saxon 65 without any problem. I struggled w/ the waiting time, and what people thought and when he was second grade age I looked thru a kindergarten or 1st grade math program with him and he knew it all, without the “benefit” of having to waste a year of both of our time doing “math”. In fact, somewhere about that time, this son had to fill out a form for Sunday school that listed some of his favorite things. I happened to see his posted on the wall and under his favorite subject in school he put MATH! I really broke up and asked him later why he put math since we didn’t do math. He said “What do you mean, Mom? We talk about numbers all the time.” So for most kids, spending time with you around the house, in the kitchen, with dad in the garage, they will pick this up. My son is probably of average intelligence, and I did not see anything that would have indicated to me that he was having any special learning problems. I have a now nine year old daughter, however, who displayed some serious learning problems early on, and had some testing done on her, and she does have some definite learning difficulties. She is having some special educational therapy and tutoring done, and math is among the things that she just doesn’t “get”. I really wonder sometimes, however, if some of her problems would improve with age and it would be easier for her to “get it” when she was over 10. For now, she is doing the tutoring, and we just have to pray we are doing what is best for her. Each of our kids will pose their own unique situations for us to deal with. While I believe in the delayed academics, I do also believe that some kids may need earlier intervention. And of course, I don’t think any child needs to be kept from learning when they are interested, just that the formal, sit down, text book style of learning is probably not the best thing for our young children to be subjected to. And I praise God that I live in a place where I have the choice to keep them from that. God Bless Your Day, juli c. pealstrom
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001
I have a question for the Trivium Loop. I agree with the “better late than early” (Moores) and delayed math concept. But how can that be practical when the children will be tested in math skills? If you don’t do some math with them how can they pass the tests? Concerned Mom in OR
I would avoid testing young children at all costs. There are only a few states where testing young children cannot be avoided, and if you live in one of those states you might have to be satisfied with lower test scores in math during the younger years. Actually, everywhere we have traveled and discussed this topic we have heard plenty of evidence that children DO do well on math tests even though they are following the so-called “delayed formal academics” approach. Laurie
We just finished a couple of books I thought you might be interested in. One is a Recorded Books version of The King’s Shadow by Elizabeth Alder. Usually we don’t bother with new books since our experience has been that the newer books tend to have too much political correctness and other clutter, but this book, published in 1995, is an exception. It is a great piece of historical fiction set in England in 1066, following the story of King Harold and the Battle of Hastings. And the narrator is our favorite — Ron Keith.
The other book is one by Rosemary Sutcliff called Dawn Wind. I have been hearing her name mentioned here and there but had never seen any of her books till this year. We searched through three different libraries and found several that looked interesting. The first one we tried didn’t interest us, but the second, Dawn Wind, was a little more interesting so we read it to the end. It turned out to be a rather mediocre book. It is historical fiction set in fifth century England. The plot and history are interesting, but the writing style doesn’t keep the reader’s interest. I’m sure there must be other Sutcliff books that are better. Can you send me your recommendations.
Johannah found us another Allen French book to read, called The Story of Grettir the Strong. We started reading it but soon stopped. It is a piece of Icelandic mythology, and not something we are much interested in. Others may find it valuable, though, so don’t take this as a rejection of the book.
We are also about half way through The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is Doyle’s “other novel” and is not at all like his mysteries. It is extremely dry and hard to read aloud with all his French expressions and old English phrases. It is historical fiction, though more fiction than history.
Famous Quote Contest
Who said this? The first person to email us with the correct answer wins the Homeschooling with the Trivium coffee mug.
“Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth — or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! Back where I come from we have universities, seats of great learning — where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts — and with no more brains than you have…. But! They have one thing you haven’t got! A diploma! Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeeatum e plurbis unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D. Dr. of Thinkology!”
From: “Anne Calvert”
Subject: early learners
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001
<<<<I think that i would have done MUCH better with the late learner than the other way around. I guess I just wanted to give another perspective, and the nice thing about homeschooling, the CHILD’s learning abilities and gifts determine the pace of school, NOT the teacher. God bless, I would like to hear from others who may have had the same experiences. >>>>>>
I think that is a good point. When I first started reading Ray and Dorothy Moore’s books I mistakenly thought they meant no teaching at all in the early years, which made me critical of their position. When it became evident that my daughter would be a late reader however I took another look and realized that they can learn all kinds of things on an informal level without having to be able to read. Then my son, who has the same parents as my daughter came along. I was prepared to wait with him as well, but he was very curious about phonics and reading at the age of 5. I worked with him on some consonants and short vowel sounds and the next thing I knew he was reading everything. I think in general the important thing is to expose them to a wide range of experiences and to read and talk to them a lot. If you have an early learner they will let you know, if you are paying attention. It looks like my next son will be reading at about the average age, 7 years old. They are all different. The difficulty I have now is convincing my daughter that she is not “stupid” because her brother learns things at a much earlier age than she did (I thought the girls were usually the early learners!) I really have to keep telling her how bright she is, or she becomes discouraged. It helps that she is understanding her math so well. Yesterday she gave her brother a good trouncing in a math game, which little brother found a little hard to swallow. He hasn’t caught up to her in math yet!
From: “Johan Schoonraad”
Subject: some questions on English grammar & independent child
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001
It is good to know that there are experienced people around us with whom we can confer (I should rather say, counsel ) – thank you! (1) I started implementing your ideas on “English Language Notebook & the use of Webster’s Elementary Speller” with our Grade 6 (11 yo) son. He has previously finished A Beka Language A, B and is halfway through Book C. Starting to write down rules, eg. as we go along , he will say that he knows them (and he does). He is not fond of writing down rules, or things he already knows. He has a very creative mind and writes beautiful, funny letters and stories (when he wants to); he also loves books. My question: do you know what part of the English Grammar A Beka covers in Books A, B, C? Is it necessary for me to let him write down all the things he already knows? Or can I go with the flow and ask questions – let him answer questions and write down the ones he doesn’t know, etc… (I guess, I might be answering my own questions). Or might there be a discipline in writing it down again & again. Did you start each (graded) year afresh or did you just continue where you have left off? Did you use the English handbook also as a guideline as to what work needs to be covered? (Or am I now much too influenced by the graded curriculum books where everything is neatly laid out?!) With this son I really would have longed to wait with formal academics (but we didn’t know about it). Is there any way we can go back? He needs constant motivation to do seat work. What he loves ( he’ll sit as close to me as possible) is our reading together time (I follow your suggested schedule). After reading time, we do formal academics for not even 2 hours per day! I use the reading time now as motivation so that he’ll finish his academics. But, I don’t want to be like a sergeant-major: “if you don’t do this… I won’t read!” Am I being to strict with him? I don’t want to install a pattern of laziness, not doing work, leaving it for tomorrow, etc. (wishful thinking – “I wish…” – how do one answer that constant “I wish”?). I hope I make myself clear – a challenge to express myself in a language that’s not my own! (2) On the other side of the scale – we have a daughter 9 yo, grade 5. I am not allowed to help her with anything. She’ll come and ask me for help. In what way can I leave her? I still check her work – she’ll even do that and just tell me where she did not understand something – because she thinks the book is wrong! For such a child, will books (math, grammar, etc. ) that lean on self-studying be a better option to look at? She is very diligent and disciplined, but does not like it a bit if she’s wrong and made mistakes. She’s still very young for her grade level. Can I leave her to sort everything and just guide her in the ” how to” ? When I want to help her with maths, for example, I’ll get a look (and the actual words) that says – ” mom, I can carry on, you don’t have to help me.” Laurie, I really appreciate that I’m allowed to ask these questions – I appreciate your answers! ps. We’ve started with our Greek alphabet lessons last week – everybody, including me, is enjoying it – When the book & tape arrived the previous week, the kids grabbed it, ran to their room, listened to the whole tape, wrote down all the letters while mimicking Harvey’s(?) voice. When we started with the formal lessons – I was amazed to hear how much they’d remembered: we were starting with the “dzeta” sound for the day when our daughter said: ” remember to add the “d” sound to the “z” sound! Well, the tape is a good teacher! Have a lovely day. Greetings from South Africa, Sonja
Concerning the English Notebook:
I see the function of the English Notebook to be a sort of repository for all that a child learns about the English language — phonics, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, etc. There are no rules governing how to form this notebook, but it will be as simple or as complex as the parent and child desire it to be. Some will put a lot of effort into the project and others will put less effort. My girls’ notebooks were neat, orderly productions complete with calligraphy and dividers and such. My boys’ notebooks were….. well, their strengths lay in other areas.
I suggest that you help out your son now by doing some of the writing for him. As long as he is spending some time each day with the pencil in hand (copywork, dictation, etc) you can help him along with the more tedious writing such as writing down rules in his notebook. I would not start afresh each year, but make the notebook one continuous project. That’s my opinion, anyway.
Yes, I used the Bob Jones English Handbook (or you can use any English handbook) as a guide to help me remember what all had to be covered in grammar. Actually, what the child is doing in making his English Notebook is making his own English handbook, similar to Bob Jones.
Of course, I don’t know your exact situation, but it doesn’t seem you are being too strict with him. He sounds just like our middle son. The promise of being read to sounds like a fine motivation for finishing the academics.
Concerning you daughter:
Are you satisfied with her attitude concerning not wanting help? I don’t know your exact situation, but it is one thing to sincerely and innocently say, “Mom, I don’t need any help with this today, but thanks anyway,” but quite another to say in an independent and proud manner, “Motherrrrr, please, I am quite capable of doing this on my own.” One is an honest statement and the other is the statement of someone who prefers to maintain control.
Assuming your daughter is one who sincerely doesn’t need much supervision, then, yes, self-teaching materials will benefit her. But I think at age nine she still needs more supervision from you. I would continue to check her work for at least another year. Perhaps someone has more to add on this topic.
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001
Subject: RE:How parents are helping their children study college at home
From: Purdom Family
This is my first time to post. By way of background and intro, I have 8 children 19 yods to 2 mods. I have home schooled for 11 plus years. Our 19yods is pursuing an accounting degree at home. He is taking mostly correspondence courses and taking CLEP test for as many courses as is possible. He should be able to complete his degree totally by this method. We are using Upper Iowa University. It is about the same tuition wise as the local university but we avoid the influence and assorted other undesirable influences present on a university campus. He is able to stay at home and pursue other interests and continue to be a part of our family and still get his degree. His CPA dad has been helping with the teaching of the accounting and finance courses. This is our way of helping him study college at home. It is rather interesting at times in our home school. Here I am teaching phonics, multiplication tables, logic and a college level speech course! At the same time!! There is never a dull moment and no wonder I am bushed by the end of the day!!!
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2001
From: Ray Van Neste
Organization: University of Aberdeen
Subject: Snowy Scotland
Hello Again from Bonnie Scotland!
I hope your ministry continues to flourish. We have had blizzard conditions here in North East Scotland, which, despite its hazards, is quite beautiful. My point, however, is to ask if you are familiar with a certain author: R. M. Ballantyne. I have been seeing a lot of his books around here and they seem to be adventure stories with a young courageous hero- something like the Henty model. In looking him up on the net I found he was Scottish and wrote in the last half of the 19th century. One person practically apologized for his straightjacketed Puritanism’ and noted that this sort of thing was normal in his day! That made me more interested in him. 🙂 I just wondered if you had come across his work.
Ray Van Neste
Subject: Artes Latinae
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2001
I have a question regarding this program (Artes Latinae) that perhaps you can answer for me. The publisher claims, “Conventional techniques of Latin-to-English and English-to-Latin are used sparingly. Memorization of rules is minimized. In place of this there is a mass of drill materials including both paradigms and, more important, pattern practices which teach the structure in such varied ways that the learning seems effortless.” It is my understanding that the study of Latin including translations is meant to be somewhat difficult as a mental exercise. I also thought rules, memorizations and chants were the focal point of Latin study in the grammar stage. Can you help clarify this for me and share the strengths of the program as you have used it? Blessings, Laura R (FL)
>>”Conventional techniques of Latin-to-English and English-to-Latin are used sparingly. Memorization of rules is >>minimized. In place of this there is a mass of drill materials including both paradigms and, more important, pattern >>practices which teach the structure in such varied ways that the learning seems effortless.”
My guess is that this was written (in the 60’s) in response to the dominance of the deductive materials which most schools used back then. Dr. Sweet wanted to write something different, using a different approach, and he wrote this intro to let people know his book wasn’t like the traditional deductive approach. But the problem is, he is wrong. There are plenty of Latin-to-English and English-to-Latin exercises in the text and in the graded reader. A student could, if he wanted to, spend as much time in the reader as in the textbook. It is my opinion, and I’ve got on my bookshelf (or at least seen) nearly every Latin text available, that the amount of memorization required from AL students is equal to the memorization required of any other Latin student.
I suppose he uses the term “effortless” simply as a selling point. My kids will tell you it isn’t effortless. Latin is hard work, no matter which curriculum you use. In fact, it is my opinion that you can learn Latin, and learn it well, from nearly any Latin curriculum you might care to use. All the deductive materials are wonderful and very useful. The difference lies in the process of getting the Latin information into those little heads full of mush (as one person once said). The deductive materials will require more work from the parent than does AL. The deductive materials introduce a concept in one large chunk, expecting the teacher to help the child digest it. AL introduces concepts slowly over a period of time, and the book itself helps the child digest the material. In fact, for many families, AL can be learned without a parent involved at all. Deductive materials can rarely be used without involvement of the parent.
Really, what it all boils down to is the motivation level of the parent and the student. If you have a poorly motivated family, there is no Latin curriculum which will work. If you have a highly motivated family, then most any Latin curriculum will work. What I love about AL is that I, a plain average Mom who knew nothing about Latin, was able to learn Latin right along with our children. It was never effortless, but, on the other hand, neither was it overwhelming. I never had to consider giving up. We learned the grammar little by little, with the textbook acting as our teacher. Laurie
Subject: Detective/Mystery Books
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001
I would like suggestions for books of a mystery/detective nature that would be suitable for 4th-6th grade level readers. I would like to introduce this type of literature to my son and daughter and frankly, don’t know where to begin. Perhaps one of you might save me some time searching…. Many thanks, Heather Goodwin
My all time favorite is Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is suitable for any age. Laurie
By the way,
This is what Baum said about the same subject in the original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900.
“Can’t you give me brains?”, asked the Scarecrow.
“You don’t need them. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on Earth the more experience you are sure to get.”
“That may be true, ” said the Scarecrow, “but I shall be very unhappy unless you give me brains.”
The false Wizard looked at him carefully.
“Well,” he said with a sigh, “I’m not much of a magician, as I said; but if you will come to me tomorrow morning, I will stuff your head with brains. I cannot tell you how to use them, however; you must find that out for yourself.”
Isn’t it interesting how the cultural perspective changed so dramatically from a “experience/wisdom guided” to a “university documented” learning experience in only 40 years? And we thought we were the only generation suffering from “cultural shift”!
To find out how the Wizard gave the Scarecrow a lot of bran-new brains, read the chapter entitled The Magic Art of the Great Humbug in the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
By His grace, Gail Efting
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001
From: Daniel Kirk
Reading abridged classics or Cliff’s Notes serves the same purpose as scanning the dust jacket or table of contents: it’s a way of finding out what the book is about, so you can decide if it’s worth reading. It is not a substitute for reading the book. (Assuming the book is worth reading.) I would never have wasted my time with The Decameron if I’d known what it was about. In a Christian school, we were told in history class that it was a Great Book. (Obviously the teacher had never read it.) It turned out to be a collection of mostly smutty stories. Being wise as serpents and harmless as doves is not easy. Every Christian should read Robinson Crusoe unabridged. I would rank it alongside Pilgrim’s Progress. The book is about a young man who, like Jonah, tried to run from God. It is only incidentally about his physical survival on a deserted island. Every abridgement I’ve seen completely expurgates his relationship with God. For historical background on Alexander Selkirk, on whose adventure Robinson Crusoe was based, I recommend The Man who Saved Robinson Crusoe by James Poling.
From: “Joanna Dunken”
Subject: The Family Reading Circle…keeps going?
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001
< Johannah found us another Allen French book to read, called The Story of Grettir the Strong. We started reading it but soon stopped >
Do you still read books aloud as a family? Do the kids take turns as well, or do you do the reading? Let me know how this works with adult “children.” I’m curious-thanks. 🙂 Joanna in northern Ca.
Yes, we still have read aloud time. I typically read (when we aren’t traveling) 1 hour during the afternoons, and Harvey reads 1 hour in the evening after our family worship time. Right now I’m reading a book by R.D. Blackmore called Kit and Kitty, and Harvey is reading to us Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. For the past year or two our two boys haven’t sat in on my reading time, but they do listen in when Harvey reads. The girls are always eager to listen to whoever reads. In fact, they often read aloud to each other books which I don’t like and won’t read, such as C.S.Lewis, Tolkien, and Chesterton.
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001
This year, I began slowly shifting over to using the classical method, but am interested in finding reading materials suitable for 2nd and 3rd grade. My son will be in 3rd grade next year. Please give me any suggestions you might have. Thank you, Julie, CA
How about these: Shasta of the Wolves by Olaf Baker; Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett; The Terrible Wave by Marden Dahlstedt; The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds; books by Marquerite Henry; or The Borrowers by Mary Norton.
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001
Subject: about to give up on Ben Hur
From: Julie Anne M Edwards
My kids are 13, 11, 8, 6, 5, 3, 2, & 8mos….and I dropped Ben Hur back off at the Library. We made it through two chapters and failed. It’s not that the children complained or anything… it was me! I don’t know…It’s a bit more difficult to follow than what we’ve been reading (ie The Yearling), and all that stopping and starting was driving me batty. Please tell me that it’s okay, that I can pick this up again next year, that I’m not failing my children! Sincere Regards, Julie Anne in CT
I have not read Ben Hur, but my daughter Johannah has, so I asked her opinion. She said it is a slow starting book, similar to Sir Walter Scott. It is also rather difficult reading, so you might want to wait a couple years to start it again. There have been many books I put aside and then picked up again when the children were older. Blackmore is one of those authors. His books start out very slow and tedious and if the children are too young, they loose interest. I almost stopped reading the Blackmore book we’re on now, Kit and Kitty, as the first 3 or 4 chapters were very hard to understand, but I kept on (or, I should say, the girls made me keep going) and now find the book delightful. Our only problem is that the book is on interlibrary loan and due on Saturday!
From: “julie cochran”
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001
I enjoy getting the loop. I can see the “classics” discussion is very heated. I had no idea. Yes, all that “Sinful, human condition” stuff is in the Old Testament, but not in “novel” form, with pages and pages of it! It is mentioned, in say a verse or two of the Old Testament, and we are on to the next thing! Not chapters and chapters of titillating sin! All the emotion and drama. Crazy! Especially for children whom we would not let see an R movie…or even a PG-13. I am not a prude by any means…just wanting to truly reform my mind and all of life to the scripture as the standard….humbly seeking him and his ways…not mine.. sincerely, Julie Cochran “Whatsoever things are good, noble, pure, lovely, etc. think on these things….” Philippians 4….
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 01
From: Barry White
When I was in graduate school, my lab partners in gross anatomy and I dissected a ninety-two year-old woman until there was nothing left. When we were done, we knew more about the way she was put together than she had. I often thought, though, of what we didn’t know and never would. Who was she? What had she been like? What had she learned in her ninety-two years on earth?
Perhaps it is an extreme comparison, but that cadaver is what came to mind when several letters to this e-mail loop brought up the question of abridged versus unabridged classic literature. To me the term “abridged classic” is an oxymoron. These books do indeed contain the structure of the original, just as the cadaver was indeed the structure of that elderly lady. What is missing, however, is the breath of life. All that makes the work “classic” is removed. The masterwork is eviscerated, leaving a plot that may or may not make for a good story on its own. Let me get off my hobby horse and let a living classic and its “cadaver” speak for themselves.
“Jo devoted herself to Beth day and night; not a hard task, for Beth was very patient, and bore her pain uncomplainingly as long as she could control herself. But there came a time when during the fever fits she began to talk in a hoarse, broken voice, to play on the coverlet, as if on her beloved little piano, and try to sing with a throat so swollen that there was no music left; a time when she did not know the familiar faces round her, but addressed them by wrong names, and called imploringly for her mother…
“How dark the days seemed now, how sad and lonely the house, and how heavy were the hearts of the sisters as they worked and waited, while the shadow of death hovered over the once happy home! Then it was that Margaret, sitting alone with tears dropping often on her work, felt how rich she had been in things more precious than any luxuries money could buy – in love, protection, peace, and health, the real blessings of life. Then it was that Jo, living in the darkened room, with that suffering little sister always before her eyes, and that pathetic voice sounding in her ears, learned to see the beauty and the sweetness of Beth’s nature, to feel how deep and tender a place she filled in all hearts, and to acknowledge the worth of Beth’s unselfish ambition to live for others, and make home happy by the exercise of those simple virtues which all may possess, and which all should love and value more than talent, wealth, or beauty. And Amy, in her exile, longed eagerly to be at home, that she might work for Beth, feeling now that no service would be hard or irksome, and remembering, with regretful grief, how many neglected tasks those willing hands had done for her. Laurie haunted the house like a restless ghost, and Mr. Lawrence locked the grand piano, because he could not bear to be reminded of the young neighbor who used to make the twilight pleasant for him. Everyone missed Beth….” _Little Women_, by Louisa May Alcott (Chapter 18)
And now, almost the same passage from _Little Women, Illustrated Classic Editions_, by Louisa May Alcott, adapted by Lucia Monfried.
“Still Mrs. March was not told. Jo devoted herself to Beth night and day. Laurie haunted the house like a ghost.”
Which would you want your children to read? Is there anything in the bare plot alone that gives their souls noble ideas to feed upon and grow on? From which book will they absorb an essence of style and enjoy the beauty of words that will improve their own writing? Which one allows the reader to share in the discoveries of characters he has come to know and feel for through the author’s careful development?
I suppose someone might still be tempted to ask, “O.K., but what’s the harm in their reading abridged classics as long as they’re reading?” First of all, if vapid prose is all you want, there’s plenty at the library not pretending to be something uplifting and worthwhile, but I wouldn’t expect either those books or the abridgements to encourage your child’s love of reading. Secondly,let me share one more personal experience.
Somehow, even though I went through prep school and seven and a half years of higher education, I was spared the “summaries” (Cliff Notes, etc.) of Dickens work. Amazingly, in my late thirties I was able to pick up _A Tale of Two Cities_ having no more familiarity with it than having memorized a few lines, the context of which was a mystery to me. In other words, I was able to read the book as the author originally intended. He had the freedom to take me, and I had the freedom to go along, on a journey of his crafting, one that opened to me the mind of a great writer as well as giving me several new insights of spirituality and human nature. How thankful I am for the experience. How grateful that no one ungraciously “slipped me the punchline” and ruined the climax. I know that it is possible that my children may not be so blessed, but I certainly will not be the one to steal such a treasure from them. At the little mission library that I borrowed the “Little Women” abridgement from, there is a whole shelf of “abridged classics,” sent by well-meaning people and kept by missionaries that have a hard time throwing anything away. Still, the shelf is labeled, “Worthless Books.”
Love to you all because of Him Who first loved us, Katherine in Cambodia
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001
From: Scott & Denise
> others benefited, as well. Now that we opened the “can of worms” on > the “delayed math” debate–we are hoping to hear opinions on SPELLING.
We delayed spelling. Our sophisticated reasons? We just didn’t get around to it <g>. Last summer a friend recommended and lent me a copy of Spelling Power and I was impressed, but had to wait until last month for the money to buy it. We had consistently said that our children were ‘behind’ (whatever that means) in spelling. We didn’t emphasize writing, and when they did write, we were disappointed at the very elementary spelling mistakes they made, hence our conclusion that they were behind. Spelling Power contains diagnostic tests to correctly place the student within the huge curriculum. The diagnostic tests are roughly keyed to grade level lists currently used. I was VERY, VERY surprised to find my 10 yo girl scoring about 1/2 way through 5th grade and my 8 yo about at the beginning of 5th grade. Conclusions: 1) Current ‘grade level’ spelling lists are more simplistic than I had thought. 2) The girls really did absorb a lot from phonics instruction and their constant reading. 3) We did ok. Perhaps better than ok, as we avoided a lot of possible drudgery, and they’re now interested in the subject. After using Spelling Power for a few weeks, I’d highly recommend it. Yours in Christ, Denise
From: “Jeff and Lisa Langford”
Subject: RE: books suitable for second and third grade
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001
I have two sons that will be in third grade next year. We, too, have been searching for suitable literature for both of them since they are avid readers. We have found the following books at the library: Robert Lawson’s books “Ben and Me” and “Mr. Revere and I,” E.B. White’s “Stuart Little”, for fun the “Warton and Morton” books (these are faster reading, a step up from Frog and Toad!), the D’Aulaire books “Benjamin Franklin” and “Abraham Lincoln”. We have purchased Diane Stanley’s “Joan of Arc”, Michael Harrison’s retelling of “Don Quixote”, as well as a Dover published “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at third/fourth grade reading level, and several Bullseye Step into Classics. My son Steven is enjoying “Les Miserables”, a Bullseye book that is about the same time period we are covering in history, and recently finished Wilder’s “Farmer Boy”. I’ve only listed books they were truly interested in, I hope this helps.
wife of Jeff and mother of three sons ages 2, 7, 7 and one daughter age 13
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001
Subject: “abridged classics”
From: Bill Gretchen McPherson
I very much appreciated Katherine’s letter about the oxymoron of “abridged classics.” In answer to the question of, “O.K., but what’s the harm in their reading abridged classics as long as they’re reading?” I will make another point: Not only will the abridged version give away the plot and spoil the reading of the real thing, but I think that having read the abridged, one is unlikely to *want* to read the real thing. For me at least, it is not the bare plot, but what Katherine calls the masterful qualities that make me want to read a book again and again. If one has read the pared-down version with its flat taste, it might spoil the appetite for the truly delicious and nourishing complete version, and not motivate the reader to take the time necessary to enter into it. John Holt, whose ideas are generally not worthy of pursuing, did say one thing with which I agree: “It is not good methods but good books that make good readers.” His idea was that if the average child wants what books have, he will be greatly motivated and that motivation will help him overcome any lack in the method used. I have seen some of the wretched stuff that the public schools give early readers, completely lacking any “breath of life,” and it is no surprise to me that many of these children have no desire to read on their own.
From: “Anne Calvert”
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001
> others benefited, as well. Now that we opened the “can of worms” on > the “delayed math” debate–we are hoping to hear opinions on SPELLING.
I just thought I’d throw my two cents into this conversation. I have tried several workbook type spelling programs and they were all very disappointing to me. So I just took Ruth Beechick’s advice and just worked on spelling whenever a problem came up with it in the children’s writing. I would also make them write other words from the same word family, i.e. eight, freight, weight etc… Sometimes we take words out of their reading, for example we have been studying the Old Testament, and the vowel combination eu comes up several times. Now my children can spell Deuteronomy, Pentateuch, Reuben, Reuel, and Reu. All from just discussing those words and that vowel combination and scribbling on a piece of scratch paper. They remember them too. Also, sometimes when we are driving somewhere in the car we will play games like thinking of words that end with a double consonant. (egg, puff, gruff, ) They think of words like that and then spell them out loud. Not very scientific perhaps, but lots of fun! One thing I have noticed causing a lot of problems in spelling for children who have learned to read phonetically is that darn schwa. It sounds a little like a short e sound or a short u sound and in the dictionary is represented by an upside down e. Words like again are misspelled “u-gen” by young children, just the way they sound. I just teach them to pronounce the words more literally, “ay-gain”. My daughter thinks this is great and loved to say these words the “proper way” in her everyday conversation. It has helped with her spelling too. Personally, I think it is good to do spelling on an informal basis like this for the earlier years, but I am still looking for a program for them now that they are getting older. I was very glad to hear that my children are not “behind” in spelling as they still make many elementary spelling errors. The Spelling Power sounded great, but I am also considering the program that is offered by the Moore Foundation, Spellbound. Has anybody used this program that could tell me what it is like even better. I would appreciate any information you could give me. In Christ, Anne
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
From: David and Jeannette Tulis
Subject: Re: Spelling
James and Dawn,
About spelling, I was not planning to address this formally until age 10. However when dd was 8, she was the youngest in her Sunday School class (we go to a very small church) and was required to write some answers on paper. She begged me to teach her spelling as she was embarrassed at her lack of skills. In fact she sort of accused me of neglecting this area in her studies! Last year we started using Natural Speller just 10 minutes or so a day working on the given spelling lists. This is now one of her favorite daily lessons as I believe she is seeing improvement and feeling less ashamed with her Sunday School friends. My dd, now 9, was not an early reader. In fact, she still does not read much for pleasure, just for information. I am not sure if reading early has a favorable impact on spelling skills. I was an early reader and an excellent speller. Jeannette in TN
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
From: David and Jeannette Tulis
Subject: Re: suggestions for mystery books
I just checked my favorite resource, IN REVIEW. They had an entire issue on Mysteries.I’ll post their recommendations for 4th-6th grade level. I will also include the suggestions for older grades as the one tiny beef I have with this publication is that I don’t agree with their suggested grade level assignations. I often find that books they suggest for 6th grade are entirely appropriate for my 3rd grader. They may be using reading level as their benchmark which might explain it. We always read aloud to our children on a much higher level than they can read on their own. That said, I do so appreciate the folks at Bethlehem Books who put this out. >From volume I No.3 Summer 1994 The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton (Miss Blyton wrote over 400 books for children but all of these have “Adventure” in the title. I have several of her books for very young children and we have found them delightful for the most part. Since I have not read any of these which I am posting, I urge you to scan these first. All were written in the 40’s and 50’s. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton; The Adventurous Four series also by Blyton; The Secret Seven series also by Blyton books by Jean Louise Curry The Cameron series by Jane Duncan The Gone Away Lake books by Elizabeth Enright books by Sid Fleischman books by Eloise Jarvis McGraw books by Winifred Mantle books by Geoffrey Trease (historical fiction with a mystery) There are also pages of reviews of single titles arranged by author. Some notable ones are The Green Ginger Jar by Clara Ingram Judson The Railway Children by E. Nesbit–one of my favorite books!
Secret Agents Four by Donald Sobol (of Encyclopedia Brown fame) Hope this helps, Jeannette in TN
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001
To the Bluedorns:
I am interested in purchasing the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, and went to read what Amazon.com had to say about it. I wanted to share this review with you, and see what your opinion is. Thank you for your time. Suzanne Kersey
Bad textual choice, bad introduction, March 13, 2001 Reviewer: A reader from Seattle. This interlinear has a nice format that proves helpful in study, but there are two big problems that stop me from giving it a positive review:
1. It does not use any known or accepted Greek text as the basis. Instead, it uses a marginal scholar’s attempt to reconstruct the Textus Receptus based on the King James Bible. In other words, it takes the English translation and works backwards. (It differs from the actual Stephanus TR in more than 250 places, to boot, so fans of the KJV will find no solace here.)
2. It reproduces that same scholar’s vitriolic and immensely wrong attack on Westcott and Hort in the introduction. It asserts – without any shred of evidence, historical or theological – that God used the Greek Orthodox Church to safeguard the scriptures in their pure form, and that future discoveries will prove the Alexandrian Text to be a perversion. What a laugh! Numerous discoveries of fragments and Uncial manuscripts since the time this was written have shown that the Alexandrian Text, especially Codex B, IS the very words of the New Testament, with a continuous scribal tradition from the earliest days of the church. The bitterness and spite F.A. Scrivner shovels out in his introduction should be enough to steer anyone away from this tome, except perhaps those that want it for historical reference of the Alexandrain vs. Majority Text debates.
This interlinear is only good for people who want to study what the KJV would read like in Greek. It does not give you a pure, historical, and doctrinally-superior text to work from. This perpetuates the worst of the KJV’s blunders, such as omitting the deity of our Lord in numerous passages – John 1:18, Col. 1:19, Jude 4, etc., and teaching salvation by works in Rev. 22:14.
I recommend an interlinear that uses the NA text, which underlies superior translations like the NASB-95 and NIV. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Dear Suzanne Kersey,
You will find my comments placed within your letter.
>Bad textual choice, bad introduction, March 13, 2001 Reviewer: A reader >from Seattle. >This interlinear has a nice format that proves helpful in study, but >there are two big problems that stop me from giving it a positive >review:
>1. It does not use any known or accepted Greek text as the basis.
>Instead, it uses a marginal scholar’s attempt to reconstruct the Textus >Receptus based on the King James Bible.
F.H.A. Scrivener was considered one of the foremost Biblical textual scholars of his day. He was a very fair minded man and well balanced in his presentation of matters. Nobody doubted his credentials, and he was very highly respected in the academic community. Among his many scholarly accomplishments, he was commissioned by Cambridge University to reconstruct the Greek text underlying both the new Revised Version (1881) and the old Authorized (King James) Version (1611). (There was no published Greek text from which either translation was made. The Revised Version translators did leave some textual notes, but the Greek text underlying the Authorized (King James) Version had to be reconstructed from scratch, based upon what manuscripts it was thought were available to the translators.) Mr. Scrivener was instructed to first reconstruct the 1611 Greek text, then to show in the margin where the reconstructed 1881 Greek text differed. The reason for reconstructing the Greek texts behind both versions was to display the Greek textual differences underlying the differences between the two translations. Mr. Scrivener was one of the foremost textual scholars of his day, and no one — regardless of his persuasion — would have called him a “marginal scholar.” Even James R. White — who is no friend of the traditional texts or translation methods — in his book “The King James Only Controversy,” on page 91, names F.H.A. Scrivener among “true scholars of the first rank.”
> In other words, it takes the English translation and works backwards.
The Greek text used in Green’s Interlinear was from the Trinitarian Bible Societies 1976 edition of Scrivener’s original 1881 edition of the text underlying the KJV 1611 and the RV 1881. Scrivener’s original edition of 1881 had copious textual notes. (I own a copy.) The Trinitarian Bible Society stripped these notes out. Mr. Scrivener simply set out upon the scholarly task of attempting to reconstruct — from among the texts which apparently were available to the 1611 translators — what textual readings they must have followed. He even added an appendix which listed where he believed the King James translators actually followed the Latin text over the Greek. He was not trying to create a new critical text based on the KJV. He was simply trying to create a base for comparing the 1611 version with the 1881 version.
>(It differs from >the actual Stephanus TR in more than 250 places, to boot, so fans of >the KJV will find no solace here.)
When Mr. Green constructed his interlinear, he had to use a Greek computer text available to him which had accents and breathers and punctuation and other diacritical marks. The only such text available at the time which was of the majority text tradition was the one produced by the Trinitarian Bible Society. To date, there is still no other such computer text available.
>2. It reproduces that same scholar’s vitrolic and immensely wrong
>attack on Westcott and Hort in the introduction.
Mr. Green wrote the preface, and he can certainly express himself in an animated fashion. Mr. Scrivener was not so animated — at least not in anything which I have read by him. But Mr. Green’s criticism of Westcott and Hort is not “immensely wrong.” Many of Westcott and Hort’s errors are frankly admitted by textual scholars of all persuasions. But the final evaluation of Westcott and Hort must, I believe, be made on the basis of actual evidence and clear reasoning from Biblical principles. On this consideration, I believe Mr. Green comes down mostly on the right side of things, despite his animated rhetoric which tends to detract from his argument. But the animated rhetoric of this person from Seattle seems to detract from his argument as well. What do you think?
> It asserts – without >any shred of evidence, historical or theological – that God used the >Greek Orthodox Church to safeguard the scriptures in their pure form, >and that future discoveries will prove the Alexandrian Text to be a >perversion. What a laugh! Numerous discoveries of fragments and Uncial >manuscripts since the time this was written have shown that the >Alexandrian Text, especially Codex B, IS the very words of the New >Testament, with a continuous scribal tradition from the earliest days >of the church.
No modern textual scholar of which I am aware, of whatever persuasion, makes such assertions as this person from Seattle. I don’t have the time to rehearse the whole textual controversy — many volumes have been written on the matter, and the subject can become bogged down in many minute details. Suffice it to say that this person from Seattle reveals his general ignorance of the subject. It is like the man who roots for his own team in an exaggerated way, and tears down the other team with caricatures, but he actually knows little about either team. This person from Seattle displays a general ignorance of both sides of the textual controversy. He’s just rooting for one side.
> The bitterness and spite F.A. Scrivner shovels out in his introduction >should be enough to steer anyone away from this tome, except perhaps >those that want it for historical reference of the Alexandrain vs. >Majority Text debates.
Mr. Green wrote the introduction, not F.H.A. Scrivener. From this person from Seattle’s choice of words, I think we can safely judge that he was not in a very good mood when he wrote this. Perhaps it is a carnal reaction to Mr. Green’s brief but animated introduction. We all, at times, get excited and carried away by what we think. Our excitement sometimes generates an excited reaction in those of an opposing persuasion. At any rate, I don’t think anyone’s opinion of Mr. Green’s very brief introduction should steer them away from what is a very useful book.
>This interlinear is only good for people who want to study what the KJV >would read like in Greek. It does not give you a pure, historical, and >doctrinally-superior text to work from. This perpetuates the worst of >the KJV’s blunders, such as omitting the deity of our Lord in numerous >passages – John 1:18, Col. 1:19, Jude 4, etc., and teaching salvation >by works in Rev. 22:14.
It is plain that textual issues are foremost in this person’s mind. I do believe the textual issue is important. I do happen to believe that the Greek Textus Receptus comes from among the textual tradition which has the most credible witnesses according to Biblical standards for witnesses. But I would not defend it in every detail, as some have done. (There are some who almost worship the KJV or the Greek Textus Receptus, and they have defended these texts like enthusiastic cheerleaders.) I would apply Biblical standards in correcting it. I have read many persons of an opposite persuasion who have an understanding of the issues and who can argue their case intelligently. This person from Seattle is not among them.
>I recommend an interlinear that uses the NA text, which underlies
>superior translations like the NASB-95 and NIV.
Here, the person from Seattle raises a separate issue — translations. And he calls the NASB and the NIV superior. How he can classify them both together, I cannot reason. If one is superior, then the other cannot be. In my opinion, the NASB is a fairly literal translation, but is based upon a poor Greek text. If we ignored the textual issue, the NASB would be a more literal translation — not the most literal, but more literal. But the NIV is a very different sort of animal. While the NASB tries to tell you what is said in the Greek, the NIV “translators” try to determine for themselves what they think the Biblical author meant by what he said in the Greek, then they try to tell you what they think you need to hear in the way they think you need to hear it.
A literal translation moves from
1) what it says in the Greek text, to
2) saying the same thing in English — as close as possible or reasonable.
Sure there’s some interpretation. Sure there’s some thought as to how to say it so the reader will understand. But the focus is upon conveying what the Greek text actually says.
The Scriptures are a legal document, not a fiction novel. In translating a novel, you would take liberties to convey your own understanding and feelings in a way which moves the reader as if it were written in English. In a legal document, you must focus on what is actually said. Interpretation is the work of the reader with the help of your footnotes.
A dynamic equivalence translation (like the NIV) moves from
1) what it says in the Greek text, to
2) what the translator thinks the author of the Greek text meant by what it says, to
3) what the translator thinks you need to know about what he thinks the author of the Greek text meant by what it says, to
4) how the translator thinks you need to hear what the translator thinks you need to know about what he thinks the author of the Greek text meant by what it says.
I have represented this much more simply than it actually is. Certain elements of transformational grammar introduced into the English grammar of the NIV are very subtle, yet very powerful — and very dangerous, in my opinion.
In some places, the NIV takes enormous liberties in interpreting the Greek text. There are places where I can read the Greek text which the person from Seattle favors — the NA (= Nestle-Aland, which is the same as the UBS = United Bible Societies text), then read the corresponding translation in the NIV, and I can find little correspondence between the two. I am not at all talking about Greek textual issues here, but only about issues of translation.
The reason we sell this interlinear is because, from among all of the interlinears available, we judge this one to be of the highest quality in printing, most durable binding, and most usable format. There is nothing else like it. We might wish for something even better, but until that happens to come along, we’re quite satisfied with this one.
From: “david&betsy mcpeak”
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001
I need some good advice. I have a 16 year old son who is a deep thinker – very logical and philosophical. But he is a terrible speller. He spells completely phonetically. If you have read the original journals of Lewis and Clark, he spells like Lewis. You can read it fine, because it is phonetic, but the words are not correct. I have handled spelling the way Ruth Beechick recommends (combination of common word lists, personal mistakes, spelling rules), and my 14 year old son spells very well. When I tested them in Spelling Power, the 14 yos tested at the top, and it recommended he spend his time on something else. The 16 yos tested around Level C. But the program didn’t seem to help. Memorizing lists just doesn’t go into his long term memory. Plus if he learns a rule, he can’t remember the exceptions. He learned to read with Alphaphonics, which is word family oriented. But he just can’t remember what word goes into what word family. His father and grandfather both struggle with spelling, too. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks, Betsy
Several years ago I read an article in Readers Digest about a great brain surgeon. He was considered to be quite brilliant. But he had one problem — he couldn’t spell.
My husband Harvey can spell any and every word. It’s comes naturally to him. Yet, when he was growing up he seldom read anything beyond what was necessary for school. It was only after high school that he started reading for pleasure. As for me, I read constantly from the time I was 5 or 6, yet I’m a poor speller. Our three girls have no problem spelling, while the two boys…….well, the less said, the better.
I’m of the opinion that good spellers are born that way. Does anyone have more to contribute to this subject? Laurie
From: “Cathy Duffy”
Subject: review of your book
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001
Dear Harvey and Laurie,
You’ve done a good job of presenting both philosophy and how-tos in your book. Below is the review I’ve written up. I plan to post it up on my website fairly soon.
Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style By Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
The Bluedorns are true pioneers in classical Christian education. For years, they’ve been sharing what they’ve learned through their research as well as through their experience teaching their own children, and through interaction with thousands of other parents across the country.
They share a growing enthusiasm for classical education, but they temper their enthusiasm with cautions about pagan content. Rather than buying into the _Great Books_ model of classical education, the Bluedorns apply the methodology while carefully selecting resources that support a biblical Christian worldview. Some of those resources are among the Great Books while others are not.
The Bluedorn’s philosophy of education is presented at length in the first part of their new book, Teaching the Trivium. However, they also address broader issues such as government control of education and its conflict with biblical principles, problems with classroom-style schooling, arguments for teaching Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (as well as some _how-to_ information), charts showing _classical_ sources for teaching ancient history for each time period, and discussion of various homeschooling methods and how they can be adapted (or not) to classical education. This is one of the rare places where the contrasting ideas of Dorothy Sayers and Charlotte Mason for elementary education are addressed. All through this section, I especially appreciate the Bluedorn’s flexibility; they suggest numerous ideas for content, presentation, and timing but leave it to parents to decide what makes sense for their own children.
Chapters eleven through fifteen get into very specific suggestions for teaching the various subjects at different age levels. Also, flip back to the last forty pages of the appendix for extensive resource lists that identify curriculum and resources that fit the Bluedorn’s methodology. In addition to resources lists, the Appendix features sixteen articles that address more specialized topics such as Dorothy Sayers_ _The Lost Tools of Learning,_ _Ancient Education: Hebrew, Greek, and Roman,_ and _The Trivium in Scripture._
Teaching the Trivium is a valuable contribution to the discussion regarding classical Christian education. The Bluedorns have been writing, speaking, and sharing online for years, but it is wonderful to have so much accumulated wisdom finally collected in one volume. This is an opinionated book, reflecting the strong convictions the Bluedorns have developed over the years. They approach their subject from a serious Reformed perspective, relying on Scripture as the ultimate authority. Even those Christians who might not share the Bluedorn_s theological perspective should find this book helpful if their goal is to use the classical model of education by drawing from it that which is worthy, while staying true to biblical principles.
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001
From: (Dorene Bankester)
Thank you so much for all you do, have done, and are doing to educate us on the Christian Classical Approach to Homeschooling. I am enjoying your new book and the changes we are making. We have known what we wanted our home to look like, in reference to the education of our children, but were not completely sure how to obtain it. Your book is giving us a fresh new look at what education is, while we pray about what it is that God wants us to do specifically. I also believe that God will use this new book to encourage and assist many homeschoolers who want to do what is best, but who are unsure about what that all means. There are so many “voices” out there trying to tell us what we need, based on their products. We truly need principles to guide us.
I have a friend who was going to send her boys to a co-op setting for school next year because she has a number of children and was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. I am not sure how I did it, but I parted with my new book for a few days and loaned it to her so she could see if she wanted to purchase it. She not only wants a copy of your new book, but she decided to keep her boys at home. I am so thankful to the Lord and His work in our lives through various means.
Well, I have rambled on long enough. Thank you again. I am so grateful and hope to be able to see you in person at a conference sometime. Only by His grace, Dorene
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001
From: (Maureen Arnold)
Greetings, Harvey and Laurie! It was a great pleasure having you in our home during the San Antonio Book Fair. Actually, I didn’t realize how great a pleasure it was, or could have been, until I read your book. I hope you don’t mind if I give a testimonial about it here–I will try to make it brief.
Initially I merely skimmed the book, concentrating on the how-to sections (my perfectionist tendencies strive ever for ascendancy). But the Lord would not leave me in peace until I’d submitted to reading the whole book, start to finish. But where to find the time? Bless His Name, He arranged for Elizabeth, our ten-year old, to share a weekend of camping with another homeschooling family. Then He sent Larry and our 3 sons (images of Fred McMurray) off on a rock-climbing adventure. I stayed home, parked myself in my favorite chair, and with highlighter in hand, enjoyed your book. There were many times I laughed out loud, read sections aloud to Larry, wrote “amens” in the margin, or stopped to let something soak in. The section “The Education Commandment” (pg. 50) was particularly profound.
Besides confirming our thoughts on the role of the family, your book also churned up my principles, values, and goals for our home school. I’ve read, nay verily memorized, a different book on classical education and used it as the framework for our school this year. But as I planned for next year, adding in our 6-year old’s academics, I was decidedly overwhelmed. There was no time left over for life! Now, thanks to the Lord’s mercy in leading me to your book, I can begin praying for direction instead of just the strength to get through.
I trust that God being rich in lovingkindness will grant me another opportunity to extend hospitality to you.
Harvey, do you have favorite Hebrew study resources? Lexicons, interlinears, etc.? My husband is in the middle of another analysis/dissection/meditation on Genesis and would like some helps. I gave him the Theological Dictionary of the OT for Christmas (he thought it was a very romantic gift), but it is not as useful to him as he thought it would be. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you again for your book, your faithfulness to serve the Lord, and your ministry to families. May the Almighty Father increase your joy in glorifying Him.
By God’s grace,
I’m not up to date on the very latest, but here is a bibliography of useful Hebrew materials — some of it out of print. I’ve asterisked the in-print item in each category which I’d get first.
*Biblical Hebrew Step by Step, by Menahem Mansoor, 2nd Ed., Baker Book House, 1980. (reprinted) Beginners’ Hebrew Grammar, by Harold L. Creager and Herbert C. Alleman, D.C. Heath and Company, 1927. (out of print) (This old grammar has some of the best explanations I’ve seen.)
Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, edited by E. Kautzsch, revised by A.E. Cowley, Oxford, 1910. (reprinted) *A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew, by J. Weingreen, Oxford, 1939. (reprinted) A Grammar of the Hebrew Language, by William Henry Green, New York: John Wiley, 1865. (out of print) (This old grammar is much more thorough than the modern grammars.)
Hebrew Syntax: An Outline, by Ronald J. Williams, U. of Toronto Press, 1967. (out of print) *Hebrew Syntax, by A.B. Davidson, T. & T. Clark, 3rd Edition, 1901. (reprinted) A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew, by S.R. Driver, Wm B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1892 / 1998.
Sermons in Syntax, by John Adams, T. & T. Clark, 1908. (out of print)
Hebrew and English Lexicon, by Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1907. (reprinted) (This is the older standard in lexicons.) *A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, edited by William L. Holladay, Wm B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971 (reprinted) (This is a useful condensation of the much larger Koehler-Baumgartner Lexicon of 1953.) Langenscheidt Pocket Hebrew Dictionary to the Old Testament, by Karl Geyerabend, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1969. (Very brief but reliable.) Hebrew Honey, by Al Novak, Houston, Texas: J. Countryman Publishers, 1987. (Word studies.) Synonyms of the Old Testament, by Robert B. Girdlestone, Wm B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1897 / 1973 (Word studies.) Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, Benjamin Davidson, n.d.
A Concise Lexicon to the Biblical Languages, Jay Green and Maurice A. Robinson, 1987, Sovereign Grace Publishers, Lafayette, Indiana. (Very brief, but handy — coded to Strong’s numbers.)
Lexicon and Concordance:
Old Testament Word Studies, by William Wilson, London: Macmillan, 1870, Kregel Publications (reprinted) This is combined selective concordance and helpful word studies.) Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance, by George V. Wigram, London, 1843. (reprinted) *The Online Bible (or some other computer Bible with the Hebrew Old Testament and search program.)
Hebrew-English Tanakh, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 2000. (Has Hebrew text in right column, English translation in left column.) Interlinear Old Testament, by Jay Green, Sovereign Grace Publishers, Lafayette, Indiana. (Each word is coded to Strong’s.) Analytical Key to the Old Testament, by John Joseph Owens, Baker Book House, 1990. (This goes phrase by phrase through the Old Testament, gives the grammatical analysis, and translates into English.)
If you’re not too familiar with Hebrew, probably Green’s Interlinear and Owens’ Analytical Key will prove handy.
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001
Subject: Thank you!
Dear Harvey, Laurie and Family,
Hello, I hope you arrived home or at your next stop well and rested. I am continually thanking the LORD for running across Trivium Pursuit and getting to speak with your family at the F.P.E.A. convention in Florida. I am encouraged to continue with what I feel the LORD would have me teach and not what the state thinks. My 7 year old was becoming very frustrated and belligerent when we would work in math which was very uncharacteristic of him.
May GOD continue to bless you and more abundantly!
From: “H. Dennis Davis”
Subject: order for your new book
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001
hiddy folks!!! I saw a copy of the book last week-end and I am so excited about it for myself, my friends, and particularly for you because I think the book is beautiful and will impart much to the world through your faithfulness to enlarge God’s kingdom here on earth. I will encourage you to understand how wonderful this book will be for many who will read it. The family that has obtained their copy that I viewed has been richly blessed by the dad coming to understand the importance of homeschooling after only reading the first portion of your book (he understands outcome based education for the first time and ranted about how well you had made this point for him to understand). He was so delighted and you could just see how excited his wife was for him to be so deeply convicted. Blessings dear Christians – to you and to us all !! Susan Davis
Date: Thu, 24 May 2001
From: Gail Potter
Harvey and Laurie,
I wrote you a long letter which vaporized into thin air when I had to leave to attend to my grandson. This will, of necessity, be much shorter. Oh well, computer problems teach the imperfections of all man made things.
I got you book and read Chapter 1. It is good. Rhetoric at its best. Clear as a cool mountain stream. I love the beautiful, inviting cover; and the sketches at the beginning of each chapter.
I am not a fan of Ayn Rand, but have read most of her books. I like the sentence from the mouth of John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged, “Sweep aside those parasites of subsidized classrooms, who live on the profits of the mind of others, and proclaim that man needs no morality, no values, no code of behavior.”
TATRAS exceeded all my expectations. All but four of my second grade bilingual students can read ALL eight TATRAS words groups. My students are reading from place in (i.e.. instructional level) middle third grade all the way to seventh grade on my reading inventories, and these are Spanish speaking students with limited oral English. The students know the phonograms so well and have established the phonics habit to the point that they can read practically any word they encounter. The amazing part thing about the program is that because of its simplicity and transparent logic the top students not only learned to read; but before the end of the year, they became accomplished teachers themselves, tutoring the slower students. Next year (and for the rest of their lives) they will be an invaluable resource for all teachers needing help with struggling readers. They each have their own TATRAS Manual (and my supplemental materials). Frank’s Phonogram Sequence Wall Chart was the centerpiece of the program. It allowed me to daily drill the Phonograms the students need to decode the words. I taught six words each day using cursive handwriting (An idea I got from Sam Blumenfeld). Parents who follow your recommendation to use TATRAS will NOT be disappointed.
I found a new method for teach foreign language vocabulary published by Word Mate. The inventor, L. Aarons, calls it the Bilingual-Dichotic Method. Ted Wade reviewed it in his 1999 Home School Manual. I would like to try and see if I can figure out how to use it to teach NT Greek Vocabulary. The Spanish version is called “Say Hello.”
May God bless your new book with a wide and active readership.
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001
From: “the Canadian Boswell’s”
Subject: Question from Canada
Thank you so much for your very informative website. It has answered many questions and provided helpful insights. We home school our three boys in northern Alberta and are expecting another baby in August. The boys are 6, 3, and 18mos. We made the decision to homeschool a year or two ago but never did buy into the “school at home” concept, probably because I never did like school and was continually frustrated that the teachers did not have time to answer all my questions. Public school up here is not any better than what we hear of in the States. My husband and I have always read extensively to our kid’s and talk with them as people and individuals who are valuable contributors despite their ages. People are continuously rolling their eyes in our direction when they hear the vocabulary our entire family uses.
Your web page put concrete methods and reason to much of what we were all ready doing in our home and enabled us to see the direction in which we had begun heading naturally. My question arises from reading some of the recommended literature that is on your web page. Specifically, the study of ancient civilizations. We took out a few of these books from the library to see what we thought before adding them to our personal library and making them a part of our “curriculum”. My kid’s love them but have more follow up questions which the books leave us hanging with. They are written in an encyclopedia style and I find them hard to sit down and read. My oldest is just learning to read and the three year old is reading (don’t ask me how) and so we do phonics drills and such but memorizing the history facts that we are finding in these books seems irrelevant. We memorize bible but that is about it for now and as I understand, if I wish to make the most of these “grammar stage” years we should memorize all subject areas. How do I do this without the facts being meaningless? History isn’t the only subject I find difficult to teach. Should we memorize in every subject. Or should we memorize based on literature we read? We just read Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Would it be appropriate to now memorize dates of settlement establishment or should the memory work be that of the trades of the day. It seems the kid’s pick up on those things as we read, are drills of this kind necessary?
In other words, what kind of drills are appropriate for each subject? We are using the “Phonics Game” and I have had the kids say the rules as we play. I doubt this is what you refer to as “intensive phonics.” Can I work with what I have or should I start a search for a program that comes with specific drills?
Your new book on teaching the trivium looks like a must read.
Thank you again; you have been a wonderful resource.
Memorization is important and should be started when the child is young–maybe 2 or 3–and continued on throughout life (it’s good for us old folks, too). Time should be spent everyday reciting memory work. Memorization builds and strengthens the mind. We suggest having the child memorize passages of literature such as the Bible, essays, fiction, speeches or poetry. Perhaps the child could memorize passages of the Bible in Greek or Latin, and the same passages in English, in order to give them a feel for those languages. Memorizing passages of literature prepares the child for the study of formal grammar at age 10. He gets a feel for the way sentences are put together and builds his vocabulary. It also prepares the child to be a good writer. What goes into a child’s head as a little one will come out later as he writes.
Others would say the time should be spent memorizing facts–dates, Latin verb endings, geographical data, etc. I would just like to make two points. 1)There is only so much time in the day, so we as the parent need to determine what is the best use of that time; and 2)The beauty of homeschooling is that you as the parent (not a newly-graduated-from-college young person teaching in a private or government school) are in charge of deciding what the child should be memorizing. If it is important to you that the child have all the states and capitals memorized by age 10 then by all means do it. I would suggest that both parents sit down and write out a list of those things they think are important for their children to memorize adding to this list as different ideas come and go.
Because of the way the brain is structured, memorizing passages in the language would be much more effective than memorizing deductive paradigms in the language. The time for formal grammar — paradigms and such — is at age ten or after. Jane Healy goes into a detailed explanation of the difficulties which arise from stuffing formal grammar into a head at too early of an age.
Let me say one thing concerning the memorization of dates. We would recommend your family make a time line. Get a very long piece of computer paper, draw a line down the middle, mark if off in 50 year or so increments, tape it to your living room wall and leave it there for the next 20 years. Every time you read something historical mark it on your time line. The children could even illustrate the time line. Some put their time lines in 3 ring binders. That works well also. A time line, especially if it is in full view of the children all the time, gives them a continual view of the continuity of history. This will make it easier for you to memorize dates, if that is important to you. But most importantly, it gives the child an idea of what happened when, in relationship to other events. Hey, Daddy was in college when they landed a man on the moon!
Concerning intensive phonics:
Many years ago there was an organization called The Reading Reform Foundation. I believe now it has changed its name to the National Right to Read Foundation. Their goal was, and still is, to restore the teaching of intensive phonics to today’s schools. The term “intensive phonics” was coined to distinguish the genuine, systematic teaching of phonics from the phony phonics taught in public schools. Public schools will say they teach phonics, but actually it is phony phonics. You could email them and ask if your “Phonics Game” is recommended. Laurie
From: “Jay Green, Jr.”
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001
Dear brother, it is an excellent book. I am reading it. I will give it a full-page review in our next magazine. This book needs wider distribution. Congratulation on the wonderful blessing you have in your children, for I see by your brochure that they are participating by writing.
I will call you later.
Love in Christ,
Jay P. Green, Sr.
Christian Literature World