Best of Homeschooling with the Trivium Newsletter Year 2003-Part 3

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Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003
From: Joan O. Ham

>>We have a rule in our home…if a game is all luck and no strategy, it doesn’t come home. As you can imagine, we own just a select few, high-quality games and we are in need of some variety without sacrificing quality. Boxcars and One-Eyed Jacks have been recommended to me as a source for math games, but I’m fishing for reviews or other suggestions for my kids who are first and second grade. Thanks in advance for any ideas!

My husband and I are avid game players. We are always on the lookout for good games to play with our older girls, who are 7 and almost 6. There are many games that combine luck and strategy and reinforce math skills. Some of our favorites are: Continuo (matching and addition), Set (set theory and pattern recognition), Number Lotto by Usborne (counting and number recognition), Yahtzee (NOT the children’s version, but the regular version, helps drill on addition and multiplication), Connect Four (pattern recognition and is all strategy), Memory (matching and memory skills), Mille Bornes (addition), Sorry (addition and subtraction), Presto Chang-o (money skills, addition and subtraction), and Senet (a popular game in ancient Egypt that reinforces addition and subtraction). Another easy game to teach counting is throwing and catching: players count the catches; when a child misses the count restarts at one. A fun game to play with Dominoes is Twenty. The object is to play Dominoes face-up, one at a time, until the numbers total 20. Play, either adding or discarding until someone reaches exactly 20. You can also do a treasure hunt for geometry and measurement: make a list including items such as an object that contains a triangle, an object that is 12.5 inches long, something that weighs more than 2 pounds and less than 3 pounds. Use your imagination.

Have fun! — Michael and Joannie Ham Knoxville, TN
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003
From: SC

I am a “technophobe” and thus hope I am able to do this right. My husband and I pulled our 2 of our 3 out of public school when they finished 5th and 3rd grades and for 4 years have been muddling and puddling our way through home schooling methods, hoping and praying that the Lord will honor our obedience to bring our children home and train them. Though we enjoy our being together and many of the public school weaknesses/bugs have been overcome, some still linger and haunt us, partly because we have not been able to decide/find a “method” that will work for us and have been hopping here and there from year to year.

There is so much out there, plus the fact that I feel I have the public system mentality and often want to school at home. We have come across Christian classical education and wonder whether there is hope for our children to become successful learners considering they are older. Is there a time when it’s too late to start? How we can jump start our three? Our going into 10th grade boy is an average reader but at times misreads words (and will keep on reading), is a poor speller and needs help with grammar and organizing his ideas when writing. Our going into 8th grade girl is an average student who has overcome her reading deficiency, enjoys reading but lags in math and writing and grammar. Our going into 3rd boy needs some support with phonics. I tried Writing Road to Reading (too intensive) and Pathways Phonics (not guided enough). Please advise as to how we can jump start all three into classical education, if it’s not too late for the older two.

Thank you so much to any and all suggestions. SC
No, it’s not too late.

Concerning phonics for your younger child, I suggest TATRAS ( It is based on Writing Road to Reading but easier to use. Perhaps your oldest would also benefit from going through TATRAS. Call the author Frank Rogers and ask him.

Many of the suggestions for the under age 10 children (see our article 10 Things to Do Before Age 10) would apply to all your children: parents reading aloud 2 hours a day; memorization; oral narration; etc. These activities will help develop language skills.

Concerning writing and grammar for the older two, I suggest starting at the beginning with a short period of time spent on copywork (perhaps a month or so), moving on to dictation, then on to letter writing and journal entries, and at some point starting outlining and more creative writing such as essays and book reviews. You might want to get yourself a good writing and/or grammar curriculum to help you with this process.

And remember that the trivium approach is not just adding to your curriculum more subjects or studying history chronologically. It’s a way of life. If your children are spending a couple hours a day with “pictures” (TV, videos, computer games, etc.) then they won’t have the time they need to develop good language skills and creative abilities.

From: Joseph Blanchard
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003


Don’t forget that good old fashioned, cheap playing cards can be a math game, too. My five year old could add anything up to twenty one as fast as his Grandad.

From: bgibson
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003


I’ve read the suggestions for math but I see mostly they are for younger children. I have a 15yr old who started Saxon Algebra 1 at the beginning of last year 1/2 way through the year, she was hating it, really struggling so we stopped and just did books from the library, this year she started again from the beginning and although is understanding it better and has a better attitude as she realizes if she wants to be a doctor (which she does) she needs to learn this stuff. I’m not happy that it’s the right program for her as she’s still going to take till the rest of the year to finish if she then goes on to do algebra 2, geometry, calculus and statistics it’ll take such a long time for her to learn everything she needs to before going to university, I feel sure there must be other programs she could work through faster but still learn all she needs. What do you think?
Math serves two purposes: 1) We learn a body of knowledge that is indispensable to our everyday functioning; 2) It is a mind exercise — stretching and sharpening our thinking processes. I suppose it wouldn’t take too many years to master all the operations and procedures that are involved in math, but it is the second purpose of math that keeps us studying it year after year or at least till the student is in his later teens.

If Saxon is not working for you, then you should switch to something different. At some point your daughter will take responsibility for her math education (especially since she wants to go into the medical field) and motivate herself to finish her course of study in a timely manner.

From: Don Potter
Subject: Ephesians 1 audio files published
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2003


I just managed to publish my English-Greek Audio files for Ephesians chapter 1. Initially I made wave files, but today I converted them to mp3 which upload and download faster. I pray that many of God’s children will be encouraged to memorize the book of Ephesians and enjoy the blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

Here is my Greek web page: The audio files are at the very bottom of the page.

Don Potter
Learning Classical Latin with Artes Latinae Frequently Asked Questions (v0.4)

1. What is Artes Latinae?
A. Artes Latinae is a complete Classical Latin program sold by Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers (

2. What makes Artes Latinae unique?
A. The Artes Latinae program is a programmed approach to Latin instruction. This means that Latin is taught bit-by-bit and practiced extensively by the student as he learns. The entire text is divided into brief frames of information. At almost every step the student is interacting with the text by answering questions for the particular frame of information.

3. What makes Artes Latinae particularly helpful to homeschoolers?
A. As a programmed text, the text itself becomes the teacher.  The authors of the text tested the materials to make sure that nothing outside of the text would be needed to proceed through the course.  Extensive help is provided at the beginning of the  program and then “vanished” as the student progresses so that he stands more and more on his own two feet in taking responsibility for understanding, remembering, and producing Latin.  The text itself alerts the student that this is happening and teaches the student what to do about it.

4. What about when the student has a question?
A. The programmed text teaches the student what do when they are asked a question or given an exercise that they do not know how to answer.  They are told to search the preceding frames of information for the answer to their question.

Some questions arise because of the curiosity of the student but are not directly related to making progress in the programmed text.  All such questions should be written down in his Reference Notebook.  Some of these will be answered later in the program while others may require doing research or asking someone who knows.

5. What about when the student starts to have a higher error rate?
A. The text also teaches the student that when they feel at the limits of their understanding that it is best for them to go back a unit or two in the materials and work through these again.  How far back the student goes is a judgment call but I suggest that he go back to the point where he felt he had a solid grasp of the materials.  The student will usually go more quickly through the materials the second time, but the extra drill and review causes the student to feel much more competent when he gets back to what was causing them difficulties.  In my own experience using these materials I went back two or three units on two occasions, took better notes, and found myself much more confident in what I understood when I reached my previous “high water mark” again.

6. What about the worldview of the text?
A. The Artes Latinae program is well suited for both Christian and non-Christian families who want to study Latin.  The Christian parent will want to be teaching his children antithetically about the Roman false gods as he teaches his children ancient history. This will provide the foundation for the child to understand and repudiate the ideas presented about the false gods of the Romans in the text. This is the approach taken in the Bible where the false gods are shown to be foolish compared to the one, true God whom we serve (e.g., see Psalm 115).  By studying Latin, the Christian child should come to a better understanding of how a Roman viewed the world and Artes Latinae will do that for him.  The parent should talk to their children occasionally (daily, weekly, or whatever) about the ideas of the Basic Sentences and what these say about the Roman beliefs.  These will all be written (with translations) in the child’s Reference Notebook for you to read and discuss.

7. Who recommends Artes Latinae?
A. This program is recommended by the following:
– The Bluedorns (
– The Well Trained Mind (
– Mary Pride says “Artes Latinae wins here, hands down.”

8. How are the materials divided and how long will it take to complete the program?
A. Artes Latinae is divided into two levels:  Level One and Level Two. Level One is divided into thirty units while Level Two is divided into twenty-four units.  The authors make the point that these are set up for self-paced instruction so you should not read this as two years of instruction. The material covered will correspond to the first two years of high school Latin or a one year college course.

9. What age should my children be before I start this program?
A. Let’s start by answering this question indirectly.  The key issue of using a programmed text like this is that the child must have the reading skills necessary to read each frame of information, understand and digest what is being taught, and then acting appropriately to what he finds.  Also important is the ability of the child to have the writing skills necessary to create a Reference Notebook summarizing the language.  A younger, less mature child will need more oversight from their parents.  It’s possible you could start these materials earlier than you would otherwise if the parent plans to sit with the child and learn the material with him.

The Bluedorns recommend that your child be 10 years old before beginning these materials.  You as the parent are best-suited to make the determination, but in my experience this is a good guideline.  In my experience with my own children we delayed one of our children a year after trying to begin these studies and realizing that she was not ready (she then started at eleven); another of our children began at age 10 and has cranked right through the materials without a problem while working on our own.  In my study classes for other homeschoolers I have students ranging from 10 to 17 years old who are all proceeding well through the materials.

10. How much should I expect to complete in a year if my child is 10-11 years old?
A. The first thing to point out is that this program is self-paced.  No two ten year olds will proceed at the same pace.  If you are doing this program with two children at the same time, you could let each go at their own pace or you could let the better child do additional work in the graded reader to keep the students at the same level.  This is up to you.  Here is a recommendation assuming that you will spend at least one hour per day on Latin studies:

a. Plan to complete the first 12 units in the Fall semester from September to December.  Plan that students will complete the first 4 units in the first two or three weeks.  Plan to have days or weeks which are left open so that the students (and teacher) feel comfortable with falling back and redoing a unit or two when that is needed.  I would plan three open weeks or 15 days where the student can rework a unit or two, get ahead, work in the reader, work on creating flash cards, or some combination of these.  You won’t need to plan an open week until you complete Unit 5 and some students won’t take advantage of this until as late as Unit 8 or 9.

Plan to cover through Unit 23 in the Spring semester from January to May.  Again, make sure that you leave days open as you did the first semester for the same purposes.

b. Introduce the Lectiones Primae graded reader after you complete Unit 4 or 5 doing only a couple sentences the first time and then add to that as you move along.  Remember that the material from the early part of the reader gets easier and easier the farther you get through the book and there is value in having some of the work a student does be from these previous units of the reader.  The purpose is to cement the students understanding of the grammar and to become exposed to additional vocabulary.  Some people try to do everything in the reader; don’t do this because you will get bogged down and make very slow progress.

Note that there are fun little stories beginning in Unit 11 that your children will enjoy.  Take the time to do these and to read and re-read them to cement what you learn in them.    As the parent you can talk to your child about how much is profitable to do and let them use their judgment as that makes sense.  [For what it’s worth, one thing we do in our home is to read the Latin stories to the younger children and provide the translation on the fly.  My 5 year old son loves for me to read the stories to him in Latin and each time I teach him a tidbit about Latin.  After a while he starts telling me what the Latin means.  Okay, every parent won’t be able to do this, but your older children might be able to do this with their younger siblings which will benefit both of them.  One of my students has taught all of his younger siblings how to count, say hello (“salve”), goodbye (“vale”), and say various other words and phrases in Latin.  He’s also found out that telemarketers are confused if you start talking to them in Latin:-)  Latin is fun, isn’t it?!?]

11. How is the material sequenced?
A. At a fairly high level Artes Latinae is sequenced as follows (with the level and Unit abbreviated):

***Level One***
Unit 1: The student learns how a programmed text works, what to do when they don’t know the answer to a frame, etc…. There is no test for this section.
Units 2-3: The student learns classical pronunciation with short vowels covered in Unit 2 and long vowels in Unit 3.  I recommend you buy the tapes for these units so that you can hear the sounds and learn to distinguish between long and short.  The tests for this section require that a parent understand the pronunciation of Latin.
Unit 4: The student learns about Latin word order and how to identify the subject, object, and verb in Latin sentences. This teaches the student a very important, fundamental difference between English and Latin.
Units 5-8: The student proceeds to learn nouns from each of the five Latin declensions (without being taught the term “declensions” yet). He is taught about adjectives (but not the concept of gender yet) and how you know which noun an adjective modifies. In addition the student learns how to ask and answer simple questions in Latin.
Unit 9: This unit teaches the ablative case. With this comes a number of concepts which are very important in Latin: declensions of nouns, paradigm of a particular noun, prepositional phrases, and the use of the ablative without a preposition.
Units 10-13: The student learns that there are two main kinds of adjectives (1st/2nd and 3rd declension). He also meets neuter nouns for the first time and learns about gender.
Units 14-16: The student learns the plurals of all declensions of nouns for the three cases he knows so far (nominative, accusative, ablative). He also learns how to deal with ambiguities that are starting to be more common in Latin sentences and how to figure out the role of each word. He now learns the third-person plural of both active and passive verb forms.
Unit 17-19: The student learns the fairly difficult subject-subject-est sentence structure. Then he learns about participles, adverbs, subordinate clauses, and a number of new prepositions.
Units 20-23: The student wraps up the Latin Noun System with each of the following being the focus of each unit: dative singular, dative plural, genitive singular, genitive plural.  As usual there is quite a bit of practice by the student to help understand these new cases. In addition the student can now see all of the ambiguities of the Latin noun system. Notice how so little of the verb system has been taught so that the student can focus on nouns and adjectives.
Units 24-30: Now we turn our attention to the verb system.  The first six tenses of the verb system are taught chapter by chapter. In these the student learns both the imperfective (incomplete action) and perfective (complete action) tenses. Toward the end of the text the student learns to understand 12 readings which by Roman authors.

***Level Two***
Units 1-12 The student learns the rest of the verb system in the first book of the second level. In this book the vocabulary expands greatly and the structures become more complex step by step.
Units 13-24 There are many readings including Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

12. What are Basic Sentences and what is the value of them?
A. One very strong feature of the Artes Latinae program is that the student thoroughly learns 141 Basic Sentences during Level One studies which capture all of the key grammar and syntax which he has learned. These are used extensively through the text and are captured in the students Reference Notebook for review. These provide the student in a very reduced space all the Latin he has learned.

12. What materials are available with the curriculum?
A. There are many materials with this curriculum to also consider. For prices you should see the Bolchazy-Carducci website or Trivium Pursuit.

a. Artes Latinae Level One Book One. This is the first text you will need and is the cornerstone of the curriculum. This contains Units 1-15. (Must Have)

b. Artes Latinae Level One Book Two. As you are nearing completion of the first text you will want to purchase this text if you haven’t already. This contains Units 16-30. (Must Have)

c. Student Test Book Level One.  This contains tests for each unit for each of the first 30 units. (Must Have)

d. Teachers Answers for the Tests.  (Must Have)

e. Tapes. There are tapes for the entire text, but these are expensive so think before you buy all of them. Only the first two tapes are required.  [Realize that if you don’t buy the tapes the student still needs to hear Latin.  Make sure your child is studying in a place where he can speak the Latin out loud to himself. This is strongly encouraged in the text and I have found this to be very important for myself and my students.]

f. Lectiones Primae. This is the graded reader which is very important in the learning process. After you complete Unit 4 or 5 in the programmed text (use your judgment) start doing some translation work every week.  This is a very important part of the learning process because it helps cement the grammar that has been learned and helps to expand the child’s vocabulary.  Do not try to do all of the graded reader because it is too much material to translate (especially for young children). (Must Have)

g. Lectiones Primae Teacher’s Guide. This contains answers for the previous.  Having this available to your children is important, but how they use this can very much affect how well they learn.  Encourage your children to do as much as they can in the translation process before they look at the answers.  Short of coming up with a complete translation, the child may be able to identify the subject, object, and verb in the sentence.  They may know possible meanings of the word but can’t tell which meaning makes sense in the context.  If at all possible they should try to give a translation to compare with the answer.  The more they do the more they will learn and be able to carry into the next translation they do.

One other failing I have seen with my students is that they succumb too easily to the pressure of the answer key.  They may have a translation which is perfectly valid but differs from the answer key.  My suggestion is that the student always keep his own answer (no erasing) and write the answer key answer below his own.  I have received translations from my students which match the answer key exactly word for word and comma for comma when other variations would have been valid.  Be strong and courageous!

h. Teacher’s Manual. I think this is fairly useful. It has summaries of all units, a dictionary of all words in Level One, a list of all of the Basic Sentences and their translations, and more. This is not written to the student but there are parts of this book which your children will find useful in making flash cards and the like. (Should Have)

i. Reference Notebook. This refers to the pre-packaged reference notebook from the publisher.  This may be used, but I think it would be better if each child would create his own notebook rather than using this fill in the blank workbook. (Not Needed)

j. CD-ROM. This has the programmed text and pronunciations only in CD-ROM format. I think this is too expensive for the value.  I have tried this with my girls and I don’t think they learned as well or as quickly as with the textbook. The advantage of the CD-ROM is that you do get the pronunciation of all the Basic Sentences. There are probably other advantages too but I don’t recommend this. (Don’t Need)

13. How do I create a Latin Reference Notebook?
A. The Bluedorns make recommendations about how you should structure your Latin Reference Notebook. I have reordered and redefined what they recommend to make more sense to me.  I would suggest you read what the Bluedorns recommend too and then do what seems best to you.

Each student should create a Reference Notebook as they study Latin using Artes Latinae.  I recommend a 2-3″ D-Ring Binder with tabs for each of the following sections.  Note that the binder will fill up slowly at first so if you want to go with a smaller binder this should suffice for quite some time.

a. Notes
This section will contain all of your notes as you read the text book.  You should write down all the facts about Latin in this section of the Reference Notebook.  In addition, you should write down those things you want to remember in the future from each section so that you can review these periodically.

b. Basic Text
This section contains all 141 Basic Sentences and 12 Readings and their translations from Level 1.

c. Tests
This section will contain all of your tests both from the Level 1 Test Book and those given in class.  If you take a test multiple times you may want to discard the old test, but this is up to you.

d. Translations
This section will contain all of your translation work from Lectiones Primae.

e. Nouns
This section will contain example nouns you need to summarize the noun system.  Latin has five declensions of nouns with some variations within declensions.  As you learn and see a noun which doesn’t follow the pattern of the other ones you have learned, add this to this section.  In addition to the nouns of the five declensions, you will also have a handful of irregular nouns which should be captured in this section with all of their forms.  [This is one of the places I vary from the Bluedorns so consider what they have to say.  What they recommend may very well be better for your child.]

f. Adjectives
This section will contain example adjective paradigms.  Latin has two different kinds of adjectives plus some irregular adjectives.  Capture examples of each kind in this section.

g. Pronouns
This section will contain examples of the Latin pronouns.  These will come later in Level One so this section will be empty for quite a while.

h. Verbs
At first you will only learn a few forms of the verbs as you study Latin Level One.  Until Unit 24 you should capture the verbs and think about which ones are similar and which are different.  After Unit 24 you will be taught the four conjugations of verbs and a number of irregular verbs.  Examples of each should be captured.

i. Noninflected Words
Latin has many types of non-inflected words.  It would be overkill to have a section for each of these.  This section will have a sheet or two for each type of non-inflected word.  Create a sheet for each of the following which is clearly labeled and placed in alphabetical order as follows:

* Adjectivals
* Adverbs
* Coordinating Conjunctions
* Intensifiers
* Interjections
* Interrogators
* Negators
* Noun Substitutors
* Prepositions
* Qualifiers
* Sentence Connectors
* Subordinating Conjunctions

j. Numerals
This section will have everything associated with numbers in Latin including ordinal numbers, cardinal numbers, and Roman Numerals.

k. Handouts (Optional)
This is a miscellaneous section but it should contain all handouts you find as you study the class.  If you look on the web you will find many interesting tidbits which you may want to print, three-hole punch and add to this section.

After the last section you should have ruled paper for use in the previous sections as needed.

14. Where do I begin?
A. The very first thing to do is to start the Level One Book One programmed text with the first tape in the tape recorder and a couple index cards handy to use as masks. You should have a pen and notepad in addition to your Reference Notebook. Open the programmed text and have your child start to read the text from the beginning with you there and work through what it says to do. It’s not hard at all. This time is a good time to validate your assumption that your child has the reading ability required to follow the directions of the text and to answer the questions so don’t help him too much. I suggest a parent stay with their child at least through Unit 3 because the tests require that the parent verbally test the child.  If the child is able, the parent can let the child proceed on his own after this.

15. I’ve heard some people say negative things about Artes Latinae, could you respond to these?
A. Here are the negative statements I’ve heard about the program, but you should know that in the process of finding these I found many favorable comments too.  The source of all of these comments is from internet articles and bulletin board postings.  If you want me to include other negative comments in this list, please forward them to me.

a. “Artes Latinae is expensive.”  I think the CD-ROM is too expensive to justify it, but this comment was also made about the print version so I’ll address this.  In looking at the Trivium Pursuit website I believe we are talking about $125 for Level One and an additional $145 for Level Two.  I have assumed that only the first two tapes will be purchased because I don’t think the others are required.  Two levels of Artes Latinae should be about 2-3 years of material.  The comparison of the cost and value of this program to others is left as an exercise for the reader. 🙂

b. “Artes Latinae is boring.”  This was asserted by two different homeschool families who bought the materials, started to use them, but then discarded them to use something else.  There are two sides to this coin:  one side says AL starts too slowly and is boring.  Others say (and I agree with these) that AL starting slowly is a blessing because it doesn’t overwhelm the student in starting the program.  One reviewer made the comment that much of the first unit could be skipped because its not essential to learning Latin.  As an adult learner I learned the entire first four units in two days and did not find it tedious at all.  As a teacher I have had 10 students proceed through the first four units in about two weeks (some even faster than this).  None of them have complained about the program being  tedious.

c. “Artes Latinae takes a parts-to-whole approach.”  First, you need to understand that no Latin program teaches all of Latin in the first chapter.  However, I would agree that Artes Latinae takes a more incremental approach.  It could be argued that the Artes Latinae text is not a good reference for the Latin language, but the child should be creating a reference notebook which summarizes the Latin language.  I view this as one of the strongest features of the program, not a weakness.

d. “Artes Latinae is too structured.”  It is true that Artes Latinae starts out very structured and gradually teaches the student to stand on their own two feet.  By the time the student starts the verb system they are given less and less help and are expected to spend time working on the conjugations of the verb system on their own.

e. “Artes Latinae doesn’t require enough memory work.”  Having gone through the program, I find this assertion to lack credibility.  The program encourages students to spend time mastering the noun and verb system through reciting the forms aloud, writing them down, and creating a reference notebook.  I am sorry but this objection leaves me scratching my head.  Next objection….

f. . “Artes Latinae is at the bottom in the opinion of Latin teachers.”  Latin teachers don’t like Artes Latinae because it does all of the teaching work for them.  If I was a Latin teacher in a conventional classroom I might not like this either.  Most Latin programs require a teacher to help the student make sense out of what is in the text because so much information is thrown at the student all at once (see Wheelock’s Chapter 1).  I like Artes Latinae because it puts the ability in the hands of the child to learn Latin incrementally without the need for a Latin instructor.  Too bad I can’t do a study to determine if Artes Latinae is at the top in the opinion of homeschool parents, but having looked at many Latin programs it is at the top of the list for my family (and students).

16. Who is the author of this FAQ?
A. Don Cassidy, the instructor at Long’s Peak Classical Instruction, wrote this FAQ to help other homeschoolers. He is the husband of Suzanne and has five children who have been homeschooled since birth.  Don’s interest in teaching began over 20 years ago in college where he tutored a number of his fellow students. His interest in Latin arose because he wanted his children to have a good foundation in language, logic, and rhetoric consistent with the classical education model.  He became interested in helping other homeschoolers after meeting a number of parents who wanted their children to have a Latin education but who did not feel they had the wherewithal to do this without the help of an instructor.  If you have questions, he’d be glad to help you (whether or not you are interested in joining one of his classes).

Don Cassidy
Long’s Peak Classical Instruction
Fort Collins, Colorado
Meredith Beatty
Subject: how to read aloud to young ones
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2003

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,

I love reading aloud to our six year old and he sits still and is intent on the stories we read. However, how do you train younger ones to stay still. I so desire to have a read aloud time with all of them but when I try the two younger ones, 3 ½ and 2, will argue or play or run around. The 3 ½ year old would sit down and listen if his sister wouldn’t bother him. Should I explain to them what I expect and discipline them until they’re trained to sit still? Or should I just keep reading and let them do whatever they want. I really don’t want to keep interrupting the story just to remind them to be quiet or to stop arguing. Any thoughts I’m sure would be helpful.

Thank you, Mrs. Meredith Beatty Marietta, GA
I think read-aloud times are of the most benefit to children who are at least 3 years old. Children under age 3 should perhaps have their own read-aloud times, and should be included in the general read-aloud times only on occasion and as a training session in how to be quiet and listen. To include an under 3 year old in every general read-aloud session is enough to try anyone’s patience — older children and parent.

From: Clint Stark
Subject: dictation, copywork, narration, memorization
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003

Dear Bluedorns,

We have been doing narration and copywork regularly throughout our school year and for this year I am trying to fine tune a bit and make sure I understand better what I am doing. I have a few questions and am also curious as to what others are doing.  Our daughter is soon to be eight years old.  1. When doing narration, should I be writing down what my child narrates every time? Up to this point I have been writing down narrations about once a week or so although I try to have her narrate something daily, even if only a short section of reading. I will just pause in our reading, sometimes reading back to her a few sentences or a paragraph and then have her tell me, as best she can, what I read to her. I then resume reading and I don’t document the narration.  2. Dictation. I am not sure I have been doing this properly and for some reason I’m feeling as if I do not understand yet how to effectively incorporate this into our schooling. I understand dictation to be the, word for word, writing down of what someone is dictating to you. With an early grammar child what should I be dictating at this point? I have given some very basic spelling tests based on our Alpha Phonics lessons and have also had her write down some very easy sentences. Am I on the right track? Should I be helping her with the spelling of the words I’m dictating to her at this point?  3. Copywork. Our daughter is very resistant to copywork. We have used a Reason for Writing for penmanship and they incorporate scripture verses each week into their lessons. She copies a few words a day, i.e.. writing each word over two or three times, and then copies the entire verse on the last day of the week. I will also have her copy a sentence of a narration I have written down for her or sometimes a sentence from a poem or story. It sometimes takes her 15 minutes to write down a sentence although they are not terribly long. Is this enough? Too much?  4. Memory work. How much is enough at this age (7-8)? Last year we memorized some poetry, Spanish numbers, songs and, on average, a scripture verse a week. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not keeping record of all dd memorized, and, horrors of horrors, I actually forgot much of it! (perhaps I need to work on improving my memory…) I often learn the hard way. This summer I spent time going through the trivium email newsletter archives and gleaned a few ideas such as 3×5 card box or a section in the notebook with what has been memorized filed away for later review. This year we will also be working on the Greek and Hebrew Alphabet in our memory work.  Would anyone be able to share what they are doing or give any feedback/correction etc.?  I have read and reread sections of TTT as well as traveled through the archives and I think I have the basic idea but I just want to make sure we are moving in the right direction.  Thank you very much ahead of time to anyone who may be able to give input!

Blessings, Rhonda Stark, Palmer, Alaska
1. Oral Narration: Here are some reasons why a parent would want to write down (document) the child’s oral narrations: 1) The parent needs to practice his handwriting skills; 2) The parent is bored and doesn’t have enough work to do. If you fall into one of these two categories then you might want to pursue this exercise.
2. Dictation: Dictation is a bit harder than simple copywork (copywork is when a child takes paper and pencil and reproduces the text of what he sees on a piece of paper). In dictation the child takes paper and pencil, but he must now reproduce on the paper what he hears the parent say (dictate). Some children can easily take dictation at age 6, but it seems to me that most children are closer to age 10 before they can confidently perform this exercise. Beginning dictation can include simple words, phrases, and simple sentences. Use words you know they can spell or tell them how to spell the words you are dictating. Use dictation as a teaching session, instructing them in punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, rather than as a testing session. As the child becomes more proficient at dictation you can include more lengthy sentences and eventually advance to paragraphs.
3. Resistance to copywork: Perhaps you could have the child pick out the sentences or passages to copy. Buy her some fancy paper to write on with some special markers or pencils or pens, and then she can turn her copywork into booklets to publish. Use wallpaper sample books to get pretty paper to make covers for her booklets. You could even have her booklets bound at Kinkos. These booklets could then be given away as gifts. These booklets could be about different subjects such as cats or ballerinas or trees, and the copywork would be poetry or short sentences about these different subjects.
4. It’s been so long since I’ve had a 7 year old in our house that I’m not sure what they’re capable of, but it seems to me that a 7 year old could memorize a couple of Bible verses (or something comparable) a week. Let’s see what others on this list have to say.

I am looking for a good Bible in an accurate translation. I have heard good things about the ESV (English Standard Version) and wonder how this compares with the NASB and the NKJV. What is your opinion of this version? Also, I did not understand the statement in the book which read: The NASB version has a poor textual base. What does that mean? I want to buy the Bible on tape to listen to in the car, as well as find the perfect translation for my family to use and memorize out of, and really would like to be happy with my decision.

The ESV is an evangelical revision of the RSV, basically attempting to clean up some of the liberal theology expressed in the RSV — a product of the World Council of Churches. It is easy enough to read, and it is more literal than many of the modern versions, such as the NIV, the TEV, or the NLT, but in my opinion it has a defective textual base and the translation is not literal enough to satisfy me.

The New Testament was originally written by the Apostles in the Greek language. Common sense would tell us that the oldest surviving handwritten copies of the Greek New Testament would be the closest to the original and would therefore contain the fewest errors and would therefore be the purest and most correct wording. Therefore we should determine which manuscripts are the oldest, and follow them. Right? Wrong! Modern translations such as the ASV, RSV, NASB, NRSV, ESV, NIV, TEV, NLT, are based upon the supposed oldest manuscripts. What they don’t tell us is that those manuscripts come from the fourth century, and by the fourth century, the very worst of manuscript corruption had already occurred. They also don’t tell us that these manuscripts have neither ancestors nor descendants — there is no evidence for them for three centuries before, and there is no evidence for them for fifteen centuries afterward. They also don’t tell us that all of these manuscripts were found in one localized area near Alexandria. They also don’t tell us that there are only a handful of such manuscripts and none of them are complete. They also don’t tell us that these manuscripts greatly disagree among themselves. They also don’t tell us that scholars decide which readings are best based upon the criteria which they have developed for correcting ancient manuscripts of pagan authors where all they have to work with are only a handful of surviving manuscripts and these manuscripts greatly disagree among themselves. But when it comes to the New Testament, that’s not all they have to work with. There are over 5,000 surviving manuscripts, and they have chosen to work with basically a handful of manuscripts, supplemented by fragments. Translations such as the Tyndale Bible, Geneva Bible, King James Version, Modern KJV, KJ21, NKJV, Young’s Literal, Green’s Literal, are based upon supposed later and therefore less reliable manuscripts. Well, it’s true enough that the manuscripts themselves are probably not as old. However, it has been demonstrated from quotations of the Scriptures in ancient writings that these older manuscripts represent a continuous stream of manuscripts which stretches from the invention of printing all the way back into the first century. And, as a matter of fact, they have found early fragments of the Scriptures from the second and possibly the first century which agree with these manuscripts. Furthermore, we’re talking about over 5,000 manuscripts, most of them complete, which stretch out in time over a millennium, which stretch out in space over all of Europe and western Asia and northern Africa, and which have negligible differences between them. But these manuscripts are virtually ignored by most of modern scholarship. I believe on the basis of the Biblical rules for evidence that those allegedly early manuscripts should be thrown out, for they are witnesses which disagree with each other more than they each disagree with the overwhelming majority of over 5,000 witnesses, and there is no evidence that they represent any tradition at all — they have no ancestors and no descendants, but are found in one localized area from one period of time. Furthermore, I believe a careful examination of their contents reveals their obvious doctrinal corruption.  Some say the actual differences between the handful minority of manuscripts and the overwhelming majority of manuscripts amounts to very little in actual translation. I invite anyone to examine the differences. They may add up to a small percentage of words, but let me change or interpret just a few words in a last will and testament and I can change enough of the document that I’ll end up with most of the estate — just like a lawyer.

We have made the practical decision to go with the NKJV. In our opinion it has a good textual base, it has a good translation method, and it is not burdened down with the many archaisms of vocabulary and grammar that you find in the KJV. However, the NKJV is lacking in literary quality, and it has been revised at least twice since it first came out and each time they dumbed down the vocabulary more. But it’s better than most other choices, and many new study aids are based on it. I happen to be working on a literary quality translation, but it won’t be ready for many years.

From: (Mrs. Sarah L. Stewart)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003
city: Puyallup
state: Washington

You have a great web site. I hope you all consider writing more articles and adding them to your web site. Your family’s experience in homeschooling is valuable, especially considering the testimony of your children.  I do plan on buying your books, and was pleased to find the hard to find documents, such as The Mayflower Compact, as I am related to William White, a Mayflower passenger.  I may sound overly eager, but I am coming off a two day high. My husband has decided officially to pull our 7 year old from public school within days of the first day of school. Chloe would have entered the 2nd grade. This will be our first homeschool year. I had always felt deep inside sending her away was wrong. We also have a 22 month old daughter. I am so grateful I have resources such as your web site and products to help me.  This is the most important thing God has done for our family. I can truly see good things happening and homeschooling is going to be so great for our family unity.  I do have small pangs of guilt that I am depriving my daughter of having a normal childhood, but I realize these are based in my own secular public school education.  The public school failed my husband and me, and rightfully so, it is a bankrupt institution. I am the product of a divorced parental unit who each in turn married individuals who didn’t want children. I didn’t finish school, and married at 16. A wonderful blessing this young marriage turned out to be. I am just so pleased to have the fortitude to go with what we know is right, homeschooling our daughters.  Your article on buying from non a Christian business was great. Completely changed my Amazon-like behavior.  Thank you so much.

Sincerely, Mrs. Sarah L. Stewart
Age 24, Puyallup, WA
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2003
From: Swerens

Linda, I know the feeling. My husband and I have been exploring home schooling since our first child was 18 months old–that son is now soon to be 13 years old and has 3 siblings, yet I still feel that way. But here is how I cope. You see, I went through the public school system and came out just as dumb as everyone else, and got a degree in college and am still feeling rather dopey. But God is not expecting you or me to recreate who we are and what we have learned in a matter of a few years, or even over a lifetime. We have to start where we are. This is what God has given us to work with, so don’t fret. Just work hard, study as you are able, and don’t worry. God is in charge of this and has given you the background you have. You can’t be someone else with someone else’s education, right? God knew that when he called you to home school your children. So if you work hard at learning along with your kids, you will all be fine. I figure that I will attempt to give my children a classical education and learn along with them. I study the evening before every school day so I will be able to teach the next day confidently. I know a lot of people don’t put that much time into preparation, but I do because I know my own educational history. My kids will certainly not get a full-fledged classical education from me because I cannot undo or redo 12 years of education from public school, but they will have a great head start for teaching their own children someday! Look ahead! See how what you do now will be multiplied in the generations ahead. Each generation will get a more thorough and detailed classical education. I am not short-changing my kids by thinking this way. I am merely working with the reality of what God has given me. I pray all the time for my kids and for my teaching. And you know, if your kids can read, they will be ahead of you on many things because they have more time to read, most generally. My 12yos knows more about world history that I ever will because he reads faster than I do and gets through a G.A. Henty historical novel in 2 or 3 days and has a great memory. My second son, who is 10 (will be 11 soon) is a good reader, too, although not as fast, but is still passing me up. And that’s OK. I will work to catch up to them so they learn dates and things, too, but the fact is that when children are home schooled and love learning, they do much of it on their own, especially after the age of 10! There are nights I lie awake and worry about what I have not taught my children, but then I want to kick myself because even though my kids have had hardly any formal schooling, they are bright. They can carry on intelligent conversations with their parents and with other adults and children. We talk about space, history, science, etc., and I can see how much they know. That is from their own reading, cool stuff online, and from my reading daily to them. The older kids read to the younger ones, too. If you love and care about your kids, you will take every opportunity to teach them things, right? When they have questions, answer with as much detail as you can. Teach the homemaking arts, as well. Get books about things they ask about that you have little knowledge of yourself. You will be amazed at how well your kids will do and how much they know. Read, read, read to them. You can’t teach them everything there is to know, so don’t try. Teach as the Lord presents it to you. Follow a classical curriculum as well as you are able, teaching the kids as you learn, too. Right now, I learn Spanish in the evening (online and from a text book), then teach it to my kids the next day. I add on everyday. One child said recently, I didn’t know you knew Spanish, Mama! Little do they know… Try not to think of where you aren’t. Think of where you are and the things ahead that you want to do. Then get started. Laurie’s reply was great. I needed to hear that myself. If it is stressful, I adjust my method or the amount I am trying to do. You could hardly do worse than the best public school, you know. Feel free to contact me off list, if you’d like to talk more and in specifics. 🙂

We’re in this together. Mary Swerens
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: Jennifer Gehman
Subject: Re: Mom Feeling Inadequate and Learning to Draw

>After reading your article Trivium in a Capsule, I know why I have never >considered using your teaching materials…I feel totally inadequate! I see my >own lack of understanding and knowledge and can’t possibly see how I could >teach my own children these things! I have always said I am a mom not a >teacher!  Sincerely, Linda Adair

Personally Linda, I have been learning as I go. I didn’t know phonics at all, now I do (well mostly, I still need to look at the flash cards!) And since my children are all under 10, we do mostly reading – lots and lots of it. I made it a rule that every time we went to the library, for every fiction book they took, they had to take a non-fiction book. I recently started this rule for me as well. We have learned about bugs and space and plants and animals and history and folk tales and nursery rhymes. Occasionally as we work on history books, I do a little research just for myself because I can’t quite put things together in my head. We purchased a Timeline of the Bible and World History which has been awesome. Sometimes I fall on the couch for a break and just pour over it.  I have also gathered together a list of books for my education – books that are often recommended for junior and high school students, books that I have never read. I put aside about 20 minutes every evening to read from this list. It includes both fiction and non-fiction so that I can read something I will enjoy.  I think what is most important is not that *you* have all the answers and bestow them onto your children – that’s what public school is like. What is most important is that your children see your willingness to discover how God’s world works. If you’re willing to learn new things, they will too. If you haven’t got the foggiest idea then tell them that, but then try to find the answer either for them (and then tell how you found it) or, even better, with them. We’re just about to start learning our Greek alphabet. I don’t know any of it at all. But I intend to learn right along side them. If they catch on faster than me, they’ll have to move on by themselves, or wait for me to catch up. Either way they are learning a valuable lesson – independent learning or patience and submission to another. I figure I can’t loose either way. 🙂  I can do all things through Christ, and a cheerful heart is good medicine! I maintain perspective on the awesome task by recalling these two things!

>Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about teaching children to >draw? Blessings, Kathryn in Ontario, Canada

Kathryn, we have been using the I can Do all Things art program by Barry Stebbing. My children really enjoy it. Even my youngest son will try the skill of the day! Although he’ll only sit for a few moments. I know he has other programs as well, for younger or older children. At first I thought the program looked kind of simplistic, but it really does seem to provide some solid basics. We often do it as a family on Sabbath. I also second what Laurie said about copying the Masters. My 7yo has done some amazing work just by copying other pictures. The Nature magazine has a monthly sketching page and Jim Arnosky’s books are excellent. He has one for each season that we get from the library – Sketching Outdoors in _______ We often copy his sketches and then go outside to find our own subjects.

Hope these have been helpful, Jennifer Gehman
From: Hazel Burke
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003

This is in response to the mom who feels inadequate:  You are not alone! 🙂  We all feel moments of that from time to time, some of the moments lasting seasons, some truly only moments. Although my children are fairly young (10yo son, 7yo son, and 3yo daughter), I know there will come a day when I am searching for answers as diligently as they, rather than just knowing the answers to their academic questions.  My oldest is a voracious reader, and my free time (such as it is) is spent pre-reading books in order to be assured he is reading quality literature and not trash. However, this has opened up a whole new world to me: historical fiction, wonderful novels, biographies, etc. — books I never would have found on my own, during a search for casual reading material. I have learned more about history in the past six years of homeschooling than I ever learned in all my years of formal schooling. And I actually remember it now! I don’t know if this is because I am (at 38yo) finally (!) ready to learn and absorb it all, or because I am not being forced to read disjointed snippets from a text book, only memorizing the basics for a test.   In six short years I have grown to love the sciences, history, art and more. Even math has found its place in my heart, as I see God’s absolute order of things in the universe, right down to the consistent formation of crystals or the number of petals on flowers. Perhaps I am rambling now, but this is meant to encourage you…if the Lord called you to homeschool, He will be faithful to complete that good work, teaching you everything you need to know and more. And you will love it!

Happy journeying,  Lynda Dietz
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003
From: Marita Green

I live in South Africa and would like to purchase your book Teaching the Trivium.

I would like to take the opportunity to let you know how much I appreciate and have enjoyed reading all the information on your site.  The information posted on your site has encouraged me tremendously (and most others I have shared it with).  I have researched homeschooling on & off now for about 2 years and it was only recently that I have discovered your site. It is really encouraging to see that we are not alone in our thinking pattern.  I still have a lot to learn, and it is really exciting times that are lying ahead for us. Thank you for taking the initiative in writing and sharing little bits of your book Teaching the Trivium. I am convinced that buying and reading your book will only be a blessing.

Regards, Marita
From:(Christopher Bebout)
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2003
city: Sunland
state: CA

Couple brief things:
1. Got your book, Homeschooling with the Trivium, and appreciate it – and your approach to doing business. What a blessing.  The book and your work are worth their weight in gold, at least.
2. Spoke to Laurie by phone somewhat, a while back, during book ordering.  Also a blessing.  I appreciate so much your warm, familiar, trusting manner and genuine concern for people and their children.
3. Any general thoughts on teaching music to early Knowledge stage kids?  Reading/writing music, as well as particular instruments (piano, violin).

God’s blessings be upon you,
When our children were small we liked to introduce them to a variety of instruments — autoharp, flute, guitar, mandolin, piano, banjo, harmonica, dulcimer, and recorder. No one took formal lessons till age 11(we go along with Raymond Moore on waiting until age 11 for formal music lessons), but Harvey and I played instruments together often, and the children “played” around on some of the instruments imitating us. The autoharp is pretty easy for a young child to learn without having to read music. We often took the flute and autoharp to the nursing home to perform for the residents.


From: “Vyckie Bennett”
Subject: Adult daughters living at home doing “nothing”
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2003

I’m feeling incredibly exasperated lately due to the constant “peer pressure” regarding our oldest daughter who will be 18 in November.  Because Angel is “graduating” this year we are constantly being asked, “What are her plans?”  Well … she’s still praying about the long term, but for now she’s committed to staying at home and helping with our family business and homeschooling the younger ones.  No – this is not her first choice of what she’d like to do – she’d like to go to Ben Speer’s singing school in Tennessee, or maybe attend BJU, or get a job outside the home so she’d have more spending money, or a thousand other possibilities!  BUT after prayerful consideration Angel feels that *for now* she has an obligation to help her family.

And we certainly do need her help 😉  Dh is blind, and, although he does remarkably well – helping out in any area that he is able, there are a lot of things around here that he cannot do: driving is a big one, plus, we have a home business which the Lord has used to provide for our family of 9 – a monthly pro-life, pro-family paper – Warren takes care of sales and distribution, but the editing and publishing falls to me which leaves less time for me to spend homeschooling the children.  After Angel, the next oldest is 12 followed by a 10 year old – both of these girls are not particularly academically inclined so homeschooling them takes more time and effort than was ever required for Angel who is exceptionally bright and for the most part is self-taught.  Next, we have a 7 yod, a 5 yos, and a 3 yod – all of whom are fairly quick learners – but they are also of the age that they need constant supervision and a great deal of individual instruction.  Then there is the baby – Wesley is 5 months old – a perfect angel, but also quite a handful at this age where he’s still breastfeeding exclusively, no longer sleeps all day long and is starting to be mobile.

All of our children are required to pitch in and help with whatever they are able to do – there is no end to the work that needs to be done around here – laundry, dishes, cooking meals, yardwork, etc.  When I am pregnant, I have major health issues that keep me nearly bedridden and then I have c-section deliveries which wipes me out for another month or two.  Three of the children have a genetic bone condition which requires numerous trips to Minneapolis (a 9 hour drive) each year and usually at least one will have surgery every year (this year all three will be having surgery).  The 12 and 10 year olds are very diligent workers – but still, Angel can accomplish in one hour what takes the younger two all morning to complete.  I just can’t imagine how I’d get anything done without her – okay – I know we could do it – but it would be hard 😉

The Lord has recently given our family a vision for a new business which would involve the whole family and we’re pretty excited about it.  Since starting a business requires money and we’re committed to not go into debt – we will need to earn the extra money (on top of our monthly budget) so that just adds to our workload around here 😉

Angel is a very sweet, godly young woman – she has prayerfully come to the decision to stay at home and help with the business, homeschool, housework, etc. for as long as she feels the Lord is leading her.  Angel, Dh, and I all believe that the Lord has given her family as her ministry and that she is serving Him by serving at home.  The problem is – friends from church have been constantly pressuring us – some directly but mostly indirectly – we hear rumors about how the youth leaders feel sorry for Angel because she’s always declining opportunities to do “fun” things – she is bombarded with youth activities – trips, projects, parties, etc.  She has never participated in youth group and does not now consider herself a “teen” – she feels that she is an adult and wants to participate in the adult activities – but these people don’t get it – they just feel sorry for her.

So far, when we’ve been asked about her future plans we’ve been pretty vague and mostly tried to change the subject – but now that she’s graduating it’s getting a bit tougher to beat around the bush 😉  Recently, I just came right out and told someone that Angel was going to stay home and help out – this person then waited for an opportune moment to take Angel aside privately and ask her if she really truly wanted this or was she just feeling obligated since her dad is blind?  Angel responded that the Lord has given her this “ministry” and she accepts it willingly – but she told us later that she really felt like this person was trying to “rescue” her from the “trap” of her family.  He kept asking, “but what do YOU want, what are YOUR aspirations?”

Never before in history have young girls been in such a position – to be pushed towards “independence” and “personal fulfillment” – ugh!  The possibilities are unlimited – and this is supposed to be a good thing?!  In times past, a young woman staying at home to help her family would not have drawn any attention whatsoever.  Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were both living at home in their 50s. So many of Angel’s friends are doing all sorts of adventurous things – she has a 16 year old friend who has already been to China twice, an 18 year old friend who toured Europe with the Continental Singers, a 14 year old friend who recently went to Brazil, if they’re not globe-trotting, they have jobs, or they’re going to all the activities, doing sports, etc.  They appear to be having a great time while “poor Angel” stays at home to care for her siblings.  I’m afraid it doesn’t come across as such a good witness for our QuiverFull convictions as from the outside looking in it appears that Angel is being condemned to a dull existence because her parents chose to have so many children.

Any suggestions?  How do we handle the questions, the rumors, the “rescuers”?  It gets to the point where we wish we could move out to the desert where nobody would notice us and we could follow our convictions without having to constantly explain and justify ourselves.  It doesn’t help that, because of the paper that we publish, we’re a fairly “high-profile” family in our small-ish community.  Plus, it’s rather difficult to not attract attention when you’ve got a blind dad with 7 children 😉

I know there are other families who have adult daughters living at home doing “nothing.”  Please identify yourselves!  Maybe there is an email list for these young women to communicate, or if not, we could start one – 😉  We could really use some support right now 😉

God bless!
Right now, Angel’s father is her lawful covering. Of course, the world says she is her own covering, and must act independently of her father. And who would her father appoint as her covering if she remained unmarried and she moved away? That’s not to say that emergency situations may require emergency measures, but is this an emergency?��

We are to encourage — kindly pressure — one another toward good works. Good works can sometimes be fun things. But we are not to go racing after the worldly standard of “fun” and self-indulgence. We should feel sorry for those who run as a herd after the “youth group” experience, and pray that the Lord would grant them a different heart.

Presuming that there is nothing to rescue your daughter from, is there something wrong if your daughter did feel some obligation because of the special needs of her father and her family? Perhaps she should instead leave her father, go to college, get a degree in caring for the needy, then go help someone else’s family instead of her own. It would appear that this person who questioned your daughter measures what he sees by the world’s standards, and those standards require that Angel be independent of her father and family and go out and make her independent way in the world, putting her own personal desires and ambitions above those of others, and especially above her family’s needs.

How do we handle the “rescuers”? Probably the best policy is to ignore them, and ask the Lord to renew you before they wear you down, as surely they will without His refreshing.

Feel free to communicate to people what you know in your heart you want for your daughter. Tell interested people that, until the Lord directs otherwise, she will continue to live at home learning to serve her father and mother and brothers and sisters. Not only will this be the best preparation for marriage, but it will also provide opportunity, unhindered by the responsibility of having to earn her own living, to continue her self-education. She will be free to study those subjects which will help her to teach her own children at home. This is the perfect time for your daughter to broaden her skills at keeping a house in addition to broadening her education.

One other note — make sure you give her time and opportunity to pursue some of her personal interests. In our own family, those interests have been of the 2 and 4-footed variety. A little background is in order here: I (Laurie) am definitely not an animal lover. I don’t like dogs getting slobber all over my face, I don’t like to pet cats and listen to them purr, I am deathly afraid of horses, and the parrots seem to love to hear me scream. The cows are OK by me since they give us ice cream. But because we have five kids who love animals, I have had to become an animal lover. I willingly pay for the fencing, the hay and grain, the pasture rental and seed, the fencing, the vet bills, the authentic Pat Parelli halters, and, did I say, fencing.

Harvey and Laurie
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003

Good Morning, Laurie,

We spoke briefly last night at Barnes & Nobles. I did purchase the book, The Fallacy Detective, and look forward to working through it WITH my children.

It is sooooo hard to overcome that public school mentality; your philosophy resonates with my spirit, but because it was foreign to me and I was not willing to trust, I have wasted most of my schooling years with my own children wavering somewhere between the two systems. Though, as they have grown and demonstrated learning, even when we were ‘outside the box’, I have become more confident and committed to ideas that are contrary to the ps mentality. Your whole family is evidence that what you say can work! So now, I mentor all new homeschoolers who cross my path to check you out, trust and try. Marilyn Howshall, Barbara Shelton, and the Bluedorns have been my mentors through the years. Here is a quote I first saw in Marilyn Howshall’s writings that you may appreciate: “…the author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance.”  Oswald Chambers. This is what you have done for me, and what I’m sure you do for others.

Praise God and thank you for what you have allowed God to do through you! Until our paths cross again…
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003
From: Andrew C Thomas

My review column of The Fallacy Detective appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Tech. Enclosed is a link to the story.

Andrew Thomas
Opinion Editor for The Tech, the M.I.T. student newspaper

On Logic and Christianity
Andrew C. Thomas

I’m always delighted when two sides that seem mutually opposed come together in harmonious agreement. I’m even more delighted when I’ve taken one of those sides.

In this case, I write of the efforts of Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn, brothers from Iowa who advocate homeschooling and create educational materials from a Christian worldview. The fruit of the latest Bluedorn effort is a short text, The Fallacy Detective, designed to be a primer in logic for older children –specifically, homeschooled Christian children, though the book is intended for anyone who wants to explore the subject. As something of a downside, the book is marketed on the conservative Web site TownHall. It shares pages with the extremist works of Ann Coulter, among others, but certainly belongs in better suited company.

Since the focus of the book is the detection of logical fallacies as a first step in the study of logic, judgments made by the authors are at a minimum and, thankfully, backed up well. As good Christians, they have faith in the Bible, but are not afraid to analyze its meanings and questions through logic. At worst, they point out that the question Who made God? is loaded against Christian dogma. That the brothers begin the book by firmly establishing their beliefs is comforting, and do not attempt to fight any further ideological battles over whether their beliefs are correct.

Well, for the most part. There was one thing I didn’t like, buried near the end. The book teaches its reader to recognize propaganda techniques and distinguish them from logical tactics, and at one point they explicitly state that the claim there is no God is a lie. It’s only fair to apply the books lessons to itself for consistency, and in this one case, I must disagree. After all, as much as a person can use the Bible as a factual authority, I could claim that an equally valid world viewpoint comes from the Quran, or from secularists. From this complaint alone, I emphasize that an open mind is critical to appreciating this book from a non-Christian standpoint.

The brothers Bluedorn believe that logic is the language of God — an explanation I agree with entirely, as long as it is interpreted with an open mind. They also claim that studies in logic will strengthen the beliefs of Christians. I also agree with this. However, I find it hard to stomach their insinuations that all other religions are illogical, and that logic is to be used as a combative weapon. After all, all beliefs rest mightily on a floor of assumption; it would be unfair to judge Hinduism or Buddhism purely on Christian terms and make use of that as a logical counterargument. (In fairness, these claims were made in an accompanying text, A Christians Guide to Learning Logic at Home.)

I often think back to Monty Pythons Life of Brian, where Graham Chapmans title character, meant to parallel Jesus, tells a large crowd how important independent thought is for the management of their own lives. As they respond in unison, Yes! We will think for ourselves! The audience becomes acutely aware of this kind of sheep mentality. I find it wonderful that the Bluedorns, among others, are actively reinvigorating the religious world with a healthy dose of independent thought, at a time when idolatrous worship of high-profile figures like Justice Roy Moore, and the resulting secular backlash, threatens to destroy whatever fragile relationship remains between these two sides that seek to push each other away. Teaching people to ask these kinds of questions can only be beneficial, both from my point of view and that of the brothers Bluedorn. This attitude directly confronts both those extremists who believe in blind faith without knowledge, and those who have no appreciation for the root and meaning of logic. There is far more common ground to be found here than many will realize. The Fallacy Detective, and other works like it, can be read and appreciated by people of all beliefs as long as they are all taken in the proper context.

After all, logics beauty is, to a point, its self-consistency. I believe in logic because it works within itself and when applied to the world around us. Obviously, the beliefs of no two Christians are exactly alike, but we still share enough common ground to make the debate worthwhile. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for secular interpretations and appreciations of faith to hit the bookstands.

This story was published on Tuesday, September 9, 2003.
Volume 123, Number 38
Ancient History from Primary Sources:
A Literary Timeline–CD-ROM Set
by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

Review by Martha Robinson

Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. Paperback book with 2 CD-ROMs. Minimum system requirements: Pentium 200 Mhz with 32 MB memory, Internet browser, Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, Windows 95, Linux, or MacOS. Recommended for ages 12 and up. $59.

Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, veterans in the world of Christian Trivium homeschooling, wrote Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline as a history supplement to help anyone to study history from the real sources of history — the ancient writings themselves. As in all of their materials, the Bluedorns emphasize the Christian perspective of how to read ancient literature and caution parents to determine the appropriateness of specific writing based upon family beliefs.

After an introduction citing how to use the book/CD, using primary and principal sources for history study is discussed. In order to get the most accurate view of events of the past, one must get as close as possible to an eyewitness account, or primary source. Frequently, primary sources are not available, so secondary sources, documents written by people who spoke to others who witnessed the events, may be used. If the secondary source is the only record of the event that has survived, it is called the principal source. The Bluedorns offer logical questions for the student to ask about the accuracy and biases of sources.

The next section of the book has a timeline from creation (c. 3958 B.C.) to the fall of Rome (476 A.D.) Broken into columns for Hebrew and Christian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman civilizations, the timeline includes major events and suggestions for ancient writings that apply to each time period.

The Author and Primary Source Index follows. Using the same civilization categories as the timeline, this section describes the primary literature for each civilization with the Holy Bible getting a section of its own. A brief biography of each author is given along with a list of works included on the CD-ROM. The final section of the book consists of six appendices. Four of them have the Bluedorns arguments on particular subjects: how to approach the study of ancient literature through secular, religious, or distinctly Christian methods; the inability to have neutrality in the world; Paul’s background as a scholar; and chronology of events in the Bible. The other two appendices list a bibliography and a list of curricula with which this supplement might be used.

Primary Literary Sources for Ancient History CD-ROM set

Included in the Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline package is a two CD set published by The over 1,200 works from eighty authors are viewed using either a web browser or Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Recommendation: Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline is a useful supplement for dialectic and rhetoric aged students and for the motivated parent. It offers the balance of Christian commentary with ancient Pagan writings that will make the most concerned Christian parent comfortable. The timeline section makes it particularly easy to select a work that is applicable to current studies.

The CD-ROM worked well on my computer, a pleasant surprise for a Macintosh and Safari browser user. The fonts are easy to read, and the menus are simple though switching between disks is necessary. Many, if not all of the works, are available on the Internet, but those without high speed access will find it very handy to have this many works at their fingertips.

All in all, Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline is a great addition to the classical homeschooling market where little time has been devoted to helping Christian parents use ancient literature.
From: Steve Beck
Subject: Scripture memory for 7yo
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003


My youngest is 10 years old and has been memorizing Scripture since he was 3.  Scripture memory has been fairly easy for all 3 of my kids because it has always been a part of their lives.  All of my kids learn verses on their own.  If I remember correctly, I would say that 2-3 new verses a week would be plenty for a 7 year old. One thing I have learned as my kids memorize Scripture or poetry or the Greek alphabet is that they do much better and review more frequently if I memorize together.  Yes, I really said that I am memorizing with them and it is not always easy.  (I like it when they are memorizing something I already know like the Greek alphabet).  My brain seems to be much fuller than theirs and it takes me much longer to memorize anything.  Well, this fall we are memorizing James 1 since we are studying it in our family Sunday School (about 3 verses a week with discussion).  I figured we could easily memorize 3 verses a week. . . even I can do that.  Since my husband & I are memorizing with the kids, it is a much easier task.  We can practice our verses in the car, at the lunch table or waiting for piano lessons.  When it is time to learn a new verse, we take a few minutes to practice it right before we read aloud in the morning.  If I plan it into our schedule, it is more likely to happen.

One last thought about memory work.  If you can memorize to a tune, it might be quite helpful.  I have all sorts of tapes we listen to in the car. We have learned historical events in chronological order, multiplication facts, geography/grammar concepts and much more just by listening to tapes. There are some Scripture Memory songs from Twin Sisters that might be helpful.

From: Hazel Burke
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003

Regarding the letter about memorization questions for a 7-8 yo child:

>> Memory work. How much is enough at this age (7-8)? >>It’s been so long since I’ve had a 7 year old in our house that I’m not >>sure what they’re capable of, but it seems to me that a 7 year old could >>memorize a couple of Bible verses (or something comparable) a week.

Our children memorize many verses each week for their Awana Club booklets, and our 7-year-old son (turning 8 next month) seems to have no problem learning 5-8 verses any given week.  We read them aloud to him and he repeats them back, once or twice, and we do this each day.  By the third day he is jumping in and completing the verse before I’m done reading it. Amazing, coming from the child who “can’t remember” to brush his teeth when he wakes up, even though this particular item does not change from day to day.  🙂
From: (Rosanne Conner)
Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2003
city: Stouffville
state: ON
country: Canada

I just wanted to let you know how much my thirteen year old son and I are enjoying The Fallacy Detective! It’s the first book that he reaches for each school day. It has been particularly relevant as we just had a provincial election. There were plenty of opportunities to identify Red Herrings, Ad Hominem attacks, and more, during the election campaign. It is a delight to see my son apply his new-found knowledge to real life situations.
Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.

This resource is still warm from the press — a frivolous claim since the contents are thousands of years old. Ever wonder what was rejected as divinely inspired by Protestant church fathers? Could you explain the derivation of Pi as well as Archimedes? Just what did those ancient writings contain anyway?  Even if you wanted to read them, and you should read some of them, where would you go to find what you wanted? You don’t need to wonder any longer. Your journey to find the writings has been considerably shortened.

The Bluedorns have put together a study guide with accompanying CDs of ancient literature that, were you to buy, the actual cost would choke you, not to mention the tonnage that would bury even the most dedicated bibliophile. What was inaccessible or, at the least, difficult to acquire cohesively (and forget chronologically) is now at your fingertips.

“Here in one place, you will find listed in chronological order all of the major primary literary resources for the events of ancient history.”

Never have there been truer, more aptly written words.

As is the Bluedorn custom, included are precise guidelines for determining what is an ancient primary source, why one should read the ancients, and how to do so with the filter of the Bible in place.  A primary source is information from a person who was an eyewitness or participant, knew someone who was there, or lived around the time in question. Primary sources could be written, or even carved in stone, on a monument. The best that we have is, obviously, the Bible. The next best are those preserved through the ages that have been corroborated with other primary sources.  The best comparison I  know, though not ancient, is if you have read the written prayers and war diaries of  George Washington. Once you have read his spiritual record, you truly know him and something of the era. Therefore, a complete history study will necessarily include primary sources in addition to the typical text or biography.

Do not mistake the guide for a curriculum.  This is to be used alongside a text.  In the back of the book is a list of history courses that this guide would work well with.  It includes, but is not limited to, Greenleaf Ancient Men of Greece and Rome, KONOS-Ancient World, the Principle Approach: Universal History Vol. 1, Truth Quest History, Streams of Civilization, and Tapestry of Grace.

The Hebraic writings cited are not included on the CDs but are accessed by websites listed in the guide (Laurie tells me that an additional CD would be necessary).

Listed as only one of the extras and on the CDs are full texts of Guides to the Egyptian and Babylonian Rooms of the British Museum by E. A. Wallis Budge (c.1910).  You can page through this interesting discourse and discover an obelisk of King of Assyria B.C. 859-824 on which the scene illustrates the text ‘and among the vanquished princes is “Jehu, son of Omri.” ’ Also you can see casts of doorposts of Darius and Artaxerxes with descriptions of prisoners who had ropes around their necks.  You can see the letterings of Nebuchadnezzar’s time with the English underneath it.  You can see the Coptic letterings that appear as golf tees (no indication of par). You can see the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet and read the names of the Pharaohs.  Herein are the extraneous records, the proof outside the Bible that supports the truths we know and trust.

Read the story of an explorer who upon seeing a 3’ X 2’ X14” stone in the tent of a friendly sheikh immediately tried to purchase it for Germany.  But  “as soon as the natives learned that the infidels were in search of the monument, they began to interest all persons to get a hold of it.”  You will have to read for yourself to find out how the Moabite Stone became amulets and charms.

Compare the code of King Hammurabi that is, not surprisingly, similar to the Ten Commandments and other Hebraic law.

View a map of Sennacherib’s palace that was in Nineveh. He, or most likely his scribe, does not parse words when describing the decimation of Jerusalem and how he received tribute from Israel.

And. . . well, there is so much history here.

The guide and CDs together would serve any student well, but there is more.  You must not miss the appendices which are really logic lessons from the Bluedorns. There are four:  Four Approaches to the Study of Ancient Literature;  Nothing is Neutral (worthy of the pulpit); Was Paul a Classical Greek Scholar? (a hint: consider the proportion of references to Greek culture to the balance of his work);  and The Bible Chronology Puzzle.

I shouldn’t tell them, but it is unavoidable.  The Bluedorns should probably charge $5 extra just for the bibliography.

The entire product is unmatched in its scholarship, organization and sheer volume of information. It is another jewel in the crown of the Trivium people. As homeschoolers, we have opportunities to put before our children resources that add color and dimension, scent and sound to the panorama of history.

From Debra Laughlin, Kansas homeschool mom extraordinaire and confessed bibliophile.
From: “Hazel Burke”
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2003

In response to the family whose daughter is staying at home until the Lord leads otherwise:

My children are all still young, but when the time comes for them to “graduate” or move to the next phase in life, I would certainly hope they put prayer as their priority in helping them decide the what’s and where’s and when’s.  It sounds as if Angel is mature enough to stand up to those who are trying to conform her to the world’s standards, or she wouldn’t be telling you about the secret “rescuers.”

When I graduated high school, I was not yet a Christian, and really did not want to begin college right away, even though academically I was right on schedule.  My parents basically insisted I go, because they felt I would do “nothing” while waiting, even if I got a job for a year and went later.  What ended up happening was that I went when all my friends went, according to my parents’ plan, according to what is “usually” done, and I absolutely hated it.  I did very poorly the first few years, intent only on enjoying the freedom of living away from home and doing all the social things that were available.  I only did well after maturing a few more years, meeting the man who was to become my husband, and taking school seriously.  In the meantime, I wasted my parents’ money for the first two to three years of my five years of college.  I also wasted my own money with loans that needed to be repaid for classes I failed or never finished.  I wish not only that I had already known the Lord at the time, but also that I had been firm about not starting college right away, when deep down I knew it was the right thing to wait.

Jesus himself criticized those who took care of other things before taking care of their own families, whether monetarily or in deed.  A ministry within one’s own family is a wonderful blessing as well as an opportunity not many people will recognize or accept.  If you have prayed about it, then consider God’s word as the final one, and be strong in His power.

Lynda Dietz
From: “Frank Rogers”
Subject: Italic Handwriting
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2003

If you are interested in information that might help you select the type of handwriting program that you will be using for your beginning reader, you might look at the several research papers at the following site.

TATRAS materials teach vertical (non-italic) writing styles for beginning readers.  The only exception might be that if your child will be entering a public or parochial school you might determine before hand what format that school will be using and work with that style at home, along with your TATRAS phonics materials, prior to the start of the school year.

TATRAS fully concurs with the Zaner-Bloser research review.

This same site offers information for parents of left-handed children.

R’spy, Frank Rogers, TATRAS
From: A4MOM
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2003

>>How do feel about the “Italic Handwriting Program?”

When I first started to homeschool I love the idea behind the “Italic Handwriting Program”. It was so appealing.  Only after a little while did I realize that if my children were never taught “cursive writing” they would not be able to READ cursive writing.  It is hard learn to read letters written in a style they never were taught.  The skill of reading cursive is something I believe everyone needs to know!

The other part of the question had to with helping a 5 year old learn to write.  “Handwriting Without Tears” is an excellent program.  For the beginning writers, they have produced a set of wooden shapes that the child can place on top of paper to make all the uppercase letters.  There is a complete and easy to follow instruction manual for the parent/teacher.  After making the letters, then child then writes them in chalk on a little chalkboard.  The process is simple and well researched, being based on occupational therapy.

Some of the most common problems children have when writing can be eliminated from the beginning with this system.  For example, reversal of the letter d and b and the making of an s much too big for the other letters on the page.  I have been using this system for several years and have been very happy with it, for all the age levels.  My 14 yos needed ‘remedial’ handwriting and I found that the approach used by HWT to be excellent.

From the website:  Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) is the easy way to teach pre-printing, printing and cursive!  It was developed by Jan Z. Olsen, OTR, an occupational therapist and handwriting specialist. She has more than 25 years of experience helping children and training teachers and therapists. HWT is an inclusive method for teaching children of ALL ability levels. Children love it. Also, it doesn’t take any special training to teach the Handwriting Without Tears method. Parents and new teachers enjoy the simple and clear directions that make it easy to help children. Experienced teachers appreciate the innovative techniques and limited preparation needed to have great success with the entire class. More information about the program can be found in the “HWT Method.”
From: “Al and Carol Bianco”
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2003

Dear Vyckie,

I am anxious to respond to your family situation concerning your daughter, Angel.

First of all, Praise God for parents like you who stand against the world. May you be encouraged, dear sister, that you are doing the right thing for Angel. It does break my heart to hear of professing Christians pressuring you in such ways. But remember, Christ’s worst enemies were people in the so-called “church” of his day. Your friends’ responses to Angel simply show how the modern church has totally acculturated itself to the world!  You are doing the right thing by explaining your convictions.

We are blessed with 6 children, and our oldest is 13. She, like Angel, is a godly young girl who is a joy and balm to my soul. She recently asked me, “Mommy, would it be ok with you and Daddy if I lived here with you until I get married, no matter how old I get”? My daughter gave me the greatest gift I could ask for. For her to love her family in such a way, I say let the world and the modern church continue in their convoluted ways. What a blessing to see the fruit of convictions lived out and taught. Continue standing firm.

I would lastly make one further suggestion. If at all possible, consider leaving your church for a family-oriented, covenantal based assembly. Even consider moving if one does not exist in your area. I believe it is that important. You must be surrounded by believers who hold your same convictions. We worship at such a church in SC. What a blessing to go each Sabbath and be built up in your lifestyle and convictions. There are people who believe as you do, you just need to seek them out. Doug Phillip’s ministry, The Vision Forum, has a web site with a nationwide church directory of family-based churches.

You are a testimony to many and I hope this may encourage you in some way.

In Christ, Carol Bianco
From: “Clint Stark”
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003

Thank you for the great input and ideas for memorization, narration and copywork!   I am feeling much better equipped!  This e-newsletter has been a wonderful blessing.

I now have a suggestion to contribute concerning long term memorization.  Our daughter has been doing well memorizing but I have been concerned about how best to insure she keeps those memories 🙂 . I cannot recall where I got this idea but it may have been from reviewing the TTT newsletter achieves.  I’ve taken a 4 x 6 card file box and placed dividers into to separate out different subjects of memorization such as Bible verses, Foreign Language (ie. Greek Alphabet), Poetry, Science or History Facts etc.   Then for each thing she has memorized or is working on I write it out on a 4 x 6 card and keep it in the box.  I can then pull out the card for review and/or copywork and it also is a record of what she has memorized.    Prior to this I had been finding dd was forgetting much of her past memorization and that I was forgetting what she had memorized…. Oh dear.  Now I’m keeping better track and we are reviewing.   If there are any other ideas out there along this line I would love to hear them.

Thanks again!
From: “Sutherland”
Subject: My Mommy, My Teacher
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003

Dear Johannah,

I thought you’d like to know that your sweet little book has found a special place in the heart of Emma, our three year old.  She has claimed it as her own.  When she asks me to read ‘her’ book, I know it is yours I must read.  It has surpassed even ‘Peter Rabbit’ in her affections.  Today I am ordering “The Lord Builds the House” for her … I know we will enjoy cuddling up with it in the months ahead as we await the birth of our fifth little blessing.  Thank you for enriching our family.

May God richly bless you,
Lisa Sutherland
From: “Julie Cochran”
Subject: Benjamin Franklin type essays
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003

Hi all….another request!  urgent! smile.

I am having a hard time finding essays that are well written for my students to “practice” the Benjamin Franklin method of reading, outlining, and rewriting from outline.  i know i read good articles out there but for some reason my mind goes blank?  any suggestions that are online and easy to do today!!!?  thanks so much.

note:  in reading the WORD I am noticing that God doesn’t write with a theme, three points, and a conclusion.  hmmmmm……  trying to use the method with scripture isn’t working either. my students are getting discouraged.  i need an example.  i am sure there must be a curriculum out there with such. please send. smile.
There are several books of essays in the Harvard Classics set. Also, McGuffey’s Sixth Eclectic Reader has several short and fairly easy to read essays. Probably any of the old readers will contain essays.
After five years of work, Larry and Marion Pierce (authors of the Online Bible) and publisher Master Books have released one of the most important history books ever to be written.

In 1654 Archbishop James Ussher finished researching and writing The Annals of the World, a comprehensive history of the world covering every major event from creation up to AD 70. In writing this history, Ussher read everything about ancient history that existed in the 17th century (many of these works have been lost to time or are no longer available for study), and his work is extensively footnoted with thousands of references to ancient writers. This work is actually a summary of what the ancients wrote. The book was written first in Latin, and then in 1658 translated into English. Today, the Pierces have revised, updated, and translated The Annals into modern English. All the footnotes have been updated to reference works in the Loeb Classical Library, and all Ussher’s original citations have been checked against the latest textual scholarship.

This book will prove to be the most valuable source of all time for the study of ancient history and chronology.

You can buy The Annals of the World from Answers in Genesis (800-778-3390). $70
From: “Jason and Sandra”
Subject: I need help
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003

I am a home schooling mother of 5 children.  My oldest two are in Kindergarten and grade 1.  I would like to check into a classical approach but, I am apprehensive.  We are currently using ABEKA material.  Schooling is going alright but I think it could be a little more interesting.  I think my boys would enjoy the books you suggest. Is there any way I can receive a list of books to read aloud to my children?  I fear that I am using my television too much with my younger children to occupy their time while I try to finish school.  What did you do when your children were younger?  The first 2 hours are great but the last hour is a little more chaotic–interruptions with my 4, 2, and 6 month old.  I often feel bewildered and discouraged– “the blind leading the blind” and I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have on home education since my husband and I are relatively new at this.

Best regards,
Sandra Keck
We have two booklets — Hand That Rocks the Cradle (a list of fiction) and Lives In Print (biographies).
From:  <s>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003


I loved your book and wondered if you answer questions via email?

I have one daughter in 4th grade, age 9.5.  An only child.

We began her in a small Christian school.  After I spent too much time there volunteering for everything but spending no time with my child, and after 3rd grade showed her grades decreasing and homework increasing, I pulled her out to home school. (Last January)

We floundered a bit the rest of 3rd grade, but were overall positive and committed to continuing.  I felt myself drawn toward classical curriculum, but overwhelmed by some courses of study….. For 4th grade I settled on Abeka Language, Writing Strands, Spelling Power, Saxon Math (we are still in 3rd because I restarted her halfway through last year) and we never make it to our History and Science, let alone reading out loud or reading history biographies etc…  She has a plethora of grandparents near by we don’t see because the afternoon crowds in on us and we do regular home things, as well as several afternoon enrichment activities for homeschoolers (PE, Art, Drama).  She goes to AWANA and loves that.

Her favorite school subjects are recess and lunch, and she fights me all the way through Math, because 1: she is board, and 2: she doesn’t like memorizing facts.  Math takes us an hour at least.  Plus I don’t like her much when we are done.  She is smart, fast, and active, all over the place with her thoughts and ideas.  She is also always wanted to know what we are “doing” next.  What is the next activity, who can she play with, what is there to “do”.  We are not Big TV watchers, but have been more in the past.  We let her have friends several times a week, because of her only child status. She is very creative.   I feel like I am not much fun for her.

1)  In light of your suggestions, I want to drop all math, and use the time to read good books with her.  I need reassurance. Should I start her at 6th grade Saxon right away in 5th, or give her more of a break?

2)  I feel bad we oriented out time the way we have with her to this point.  Her dislike of school I am sure comes from the Christian school.  What can I do to counteract the affects?

3)  Should I also drop the Abeka Language for 4th grade?  and if so, should I start her at a 5th grade ABeka next year? ( I am not good with grammar, I HAVE forgotten much of what I learned in school)

4) We have a neighbor who has a Masters in Linguistics, and studied Spanish.  She is giving Hana free Spanish lessons.  This seems to good an offer to pass up.  Should we, or how should we, introduce her to Latin this year in light of that?

5)  My husband is a Christian man, but not a big leader.  He is not very interested in opening the Bible, sees it as studying, and that is not his thing.  He was kicked out of public school, school was awful for him.  He went on to own two businesses, now he is managing over 270 properties, and owning many.  We are doing very well.  Somehow studying in school and studying the Bible have become mixed in his brain.  He is very auditory.  He goes to church, takes us to small church groups, and supports me teaching anything Bible. Will she be alright?  She is just like him!  Is all I can do pray?

Thank you for receiving my email, I understand if it is too much for you to answer. It is good for me to voice my questions either way!
S… called me and we discussed her questions, but I thought I would post this for others to respond to.
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003
From: Steven R EmR Emerson


I have been using the Ancient History from Primary Sources this year and have really enjoyed it.  The side by side timeline has been so helpful in visualizing the sequence of events.  I have been frustrated, however, with some of the dates on the Egyptian Pharaohs.  I understand that there is no absolute dating for these ancient events, but some of the dates were off about 300 years, according to at least 3 other sources. These other sources agreed within about 10 years and were both Christian and non-Christian.   I am wondering what sources you used to determine these dates?  Is it possible that more recent excavation and findings give more accurate dates than Botsford and Breasted?

Other than this little problem – I have found the book to be extremely helpful and the CD has been great.


Krysti Emerson
Good question! On pages 203-213 of Ancient History From Primary Sources you will find an article entitled The Bible Chronology Puzzle. This will give you a simple introduction to the chronology problem. Then on pages 218-220 we list all the chronology resources we consulted in writing the book. You will note that we adopted the “New Chronology” as outlined by David Rohl in his book Pharaohs and Kings. We first become interested in this new approach to chronology after hearing Rob Shearer (of Greenleaf Press) speak favorably of Rohl, and have since found that numerous well-known Bible chronologists also lean toward this approach. Ruth Beechick addresses the issue in a chapter of her book The Language Wars.

Rohl is an Egyptologist and ancient historian who, though not a Christian, believes that the Bible should be valued just like any other historical document — not rejected, as do most secular historians. His New Chronology provides the archaeological evidence for the existence of many Old Testament characters, and re-dates Egyptian history. He places Dudimose as the pharaoh of the Exodus, and dates the Exodus at 1447 BC. There is a Yahoo Group that discusses the New Chronology:

Botsford and Breasted hold to the standard chronology.

From: “Terri Mazzo”
Subject: Our phone conversation and questions about books
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003

Dear Bluedorns,

Several weeks ago I called to place an order for your book Teaching the Trivium and Ancient History from Primary Sources.  I have read through the Trivium book and have implemented much of the “Ten Things to do with Children before Age 10” with my two sons, ages (soon to be) 8 and 9.  The copy work is going along nicely and they enjoy The Greek Alphabetarion very much.  They have also delighted in hearing me read aloud and my oldest son is so excited that we will be reading Treasure Island next.

That relates to my question about two of your publications.  I have been interested in purchasing your booklets, Lives in Print and Hand that Rocks the Cradle.  My problem is I’m a book-aholic.  I love to buy and collect books.  Especially books you can not find at the library.  My husband, on the other hand believes we have too many books already and is a great advocate in using the library.  Since my desire is to please him I will soon begin trying to weed out non-essential books and make better use of our library card.  I wanted to know if Lives in Print and Hand that Rocks the Cradle has books listed that you can normally find at the library, or if they contain many books that are out of print or “Christian” and hard to find at libraries.  I have been wary of using the library and would delight in a booklist of acceptable reading material.

The second thing I wanted to share is an update to what I spoke to Laurie about on the phone.  She was very gracious and asked all the right questions and gave good advice and guidance.  One of the issues we discussed was the fact that my husband was allowing our daughter to spend several days and nights per week with another family in an apprenticeship type situation. Laurie impressed upon me the need for prayer that the Lord would intervene. I am shocked to be sharing this so soon after our conversation, but at this point my daughter has not been to this family’s home in 3 weeks and there is serious discussion about whether or not she will go back!  I am not good on remembering dates and times, but I know that it can not have been more than a month or so since we spoke about this.  Laurie said that you all would pray about this matter, and I can only assume that you did at that and the Lord has already begun answering!  This has been a wonderful testimony to me of the power of prayer and I have begun taking her advice on praying for my husband that he would take seriously his role as spiritual leader of our family (and not that he would “find a church”).

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me and give counsel.  I know that you are busy and probably spend a lot of time doing just that.  It is much appreciated and the Lord is using your ministry greatly!  If you would like to share my story with the email list please feel free to do so. I have been telling all of my friends about how God has worked in this situation as a witness to the power of prayer.

Terri Mazzo
Most of the books listed in Hand That Rocks the Cradle can be found in the library or through your inter-library loan program. Most of the books listed in Lives in Print cannot be found in any library. Laurie


Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003
From: (Robert Bigelow)
Subject: Homeschool Greek

We are currently going through Homeschool Greek, Vol. 1. But we have had Jehovah’s Witnesses tell us that John 8:58, ego eimi, should be translated in the perfect tense (I have been.) after the aorist infinitive clause, prin Abraam genesthai. Is that valid anywhere in Greek grammar? At the same time, if you would, comment on the JW’s indefinite article in John 1:1. And thank you.
8:58 eipen autoij o Ihsouj, amhn amhn legw umin, prin Abraam genesqai, egw eimi.

Jesus told them, Truly, truly, I tell you, Before Abraham began to come into existence, I Myself eternally am.

John wrote in Greek. Jesus may have spoken these words in Greek, but it is more likely that He spoke these words in Aramaic. The Holy Spirit guided John to convey in Greek the meaning of Jesus’ words. If the Holy Spirit meant merely to say that Jesus existed before Abraham, He could have used the past-imperfect hmhn (I was). There might be a reason to translate the Greek past-imperfect hmhn (I was) by the English perfect I have been, but there is no precedent for translating the Greek present eimi (I am) by the English perfect tense. Perhaps this is what the JW’s wish Jesus had said. The Greek verb eimi does not have a perfect tense form. The Holy Spirit chose the present tense, and He added the emphatic personal pronoun — I Myself am. This can be taken in no other way than the Jews whom He was addressing took it, for they picked up stones to stone Him for what they thought to be blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16), first, for uttering the ineffable name of God in some form (Exodus 3:14), and second, for claiming that name for Himself personally. Jesus was plainly contrasting His ever present eternality with Abraham’s ephemeral existence on earth.

If the JW’s view of John 1:1 was even among the possibilities, I’d concede that it was one of many possibilities and I’d move on to some other point. But there is really no such possibility. The words in question are   Qeoj hn o logoj 4God 3was 1the 2word The word order is important. The Greek verb hn (was) can take both a subject and a subject complement — both in the Nominative case. Both Qeoj (God) and logoj (word) are in the Nominative case, so either word could be the subject or the subject complement. However, the Greek article o (the) modifies logos (word), and this is the regular way to indicate the subject in a Greek construction like this. You might ask, If the Holy Spirit meant logoj (word) to be the subject, why didn’t He just put that first? Because the Holy Spirit was not writing in English, where the subject normally comes first. He was writing in Greek, where, not the word-order, but the inflection and the context play the primary role in determining the subject. The JW’s say that a Greek noun without a definite article may have the indefinite article a supplied in translation, so the correct translation should be, The Word was -A- god, as if the Word was one of many gods, even as men and angels are called gods sometimes in Scripture (John 10:34,35; Exodus 4:16; 7:1; Psalm 82:6; also in Hebrew Exodus 21:6; 22:9,28; Psalm 82:1). It is certainly true that the indefinite article a may be supplied in translation if the text warrants an indefinite sense. That’s not what’s operating here. Observe that if the text had used the definite article o (the) with Qeoj (God), then it would say that the person of the Word was the God — the only God, and it would deny that there were any other persons in the Godhead. John couldn’t say that. But John also couldn’t say that the Word was a god — one of many gods. That’s why he put the word Qeoj (God) first in the sentence without an article, in order to say emphatically that the Word was God in nature and essence, quality and character. Greek text:
1:1 en arch hn o logoj, kai o logoj hn proj ton Qeon, kai Qeoj hn o logoj. 1:2 outoj hn en arch proj ton Qeon. Literary translation: In the beginning was the Word, and this Word was with God, and this Word was God. This same Person was in the beginning with God. Enhanced translation: At the very beginning [of created time], the Word was already in existence, and so this Word did already exist at face to face level with God, and so this Word did already exist as God. This very person the Word did already exist at the very beginning [of created time], at face to face level with God. Alternative translation: The Word was already there at the origin of all things, so the Word was already there with God, and so the Word was already there as God. This Person was already there with God. John 1:1,2 is a logical deduction. If the Word existed before the beginning of created time, and the Word existed face to face with God, then we cannot escape the conclusion that this Word existed as God. The logic is impeccable. If John had said God was the Word, he would have said too much, for God was more persons than just the Word. If John had said The word was divine, he would have said too little, for the Word was more than just divine as if He was just a part of God, or God was just a part of Him. John’s redundancy in verse 2 clarifies and emphasizes the personal distinctness of the Word. This Person the Word eternally exists as God, yet He also eternally exists with God. Hence He is one in Being with the Godhead, yet He is distinct in Person from other Persons of the Godhead. The place to freeze the JW’s is John 12:41. These things Isaiah said when he saw His [Jesus’] glory and spoke of Him [Jesus]. This verse refers to the words in the verse immediately preceding. 12:39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These words are quoted from Isaiah 6. Read Isaiah 6, particularly 6:5

6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy , holy, is the LORD [Jehovah] of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 6:4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke . 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD [Jehovah] of hosts. 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 6:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Isaiah declares that he saw Jehovah in His glory. John declares that Isaiah saw Jesus in His glory. Therefore, Isaiah saw Jesus as Jehovah. You can show a JW this out of his own translation. Jehovah means I am that I am, in other words, I am eternally self-existent.

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003
From: Krysten Moon

Reply to William, Why Homeschooling?

I have a family member who has recently obtained her teaching license, and often hear how I am not qualified to teach my five children. Furthermore, she has really bought the concept that I was taught back when I was pursuing my teaching license… that homeschooling is an alternative for kids who can’t make it in public school. It’s frustrating, but I remind myself that I am accountable to the Lord, not my sister in law. 🙂 And, of course, I remind her (gently!) that she did manage to potty train all of her children without a degree in the subject. Of course we can teach our children the things that we know! The best part of homeschooling is that I, as a parent, keep growing and learning. Then each new thing I learn, my children also learn. And some things we learn together, at the same time… so what? Of course, they’d never stand for that in public school, or, unfortunately, in most Christian schools either.  That’s why their learning atmosphere becomes stagnant, while we grow to love school more each day. As for being social… consider this: when else, in your entire life, are people separated by age? In the years that I worked outside the home, I was never placed within an age category at the workplace. Hopefully our churches are not segregating adults by age, either. Furthermore, students in school are constantly being told to be quiet. How social can they be in an atmosphere where they get in trouble for speaking? A friend who is a public school teacher told me last week that she had to stand with her class in the hallway for twenty minutes before they would finally be quiet. At home, we could’ve read a difficult chapter in that time.  The Bluedorn’s book (Teaching the Trivium) has an excellent chapter on why the home atmosphere is preferable to the classroom setting. If you are looking for good arguments that have been written for you, I would start there. I would also recommend Home Schooling: The Right Choice by Chris Klicka and Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto, the New York State Teacher of the Year who shocked a room full of people at the award ceremony when he gave a breakdown of the problems with what he was required to teach. It’s ironically an easy read, but worth an hour of your time. Finally, I would point out that although times have changed, neither God, nor His Word, ever changes. Biblical mandates are still commands for today, and whatever changes have been made in the workplace are not reasons to disregard scripture. The Biblical reasons for teaching our children are not for their future career advantages, although that may happen along the way. We teach them in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not stray from it.  I teach them at home because I have learned that to obey is better than to sacrifice. May God richly bless you as you strive for obedience in this area of educating your children.

Krysten Moon
From: hsmama
Subject: I got my book!!
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003

Thank you so much for sending me the beautiful book with Johannah’s paintings! The idea of a contest was great. After we saw the book my daughter (10) was inspired to paint a bit. I posted the painting on my weblog, along with a bit about y’all.

How did Johannah go about becoming self taught in art? I know my daughter would like to develop more in this area. Did Johannah just draw from life, or are there any books that she recommends? Also, does she use a liquid ink and dip pen for the black outlines in the drawings? If so, why doesn’t it run? Also, did you use a book to teach her the lovely penmanship with which she signed the book? Anyway, thanks again for all you do and have done! It is a blessing to so many of us out here!

Yes, Johannah, along with Nathaniel and Helena, would be considered self-taught in art. I purchased an art curriculum for them about 15 years ago, but it went over like a lead balloon, and we got rid of it. I hired an art teacher for them once, but that only lasted for 3 weeks. They seemed to like to do things their own way, learning by copying the masters and experimenting with different media. Johannah used to do a lot with colored pencils, but now she uses mostly pen and ink, watercolors and oils. Nathaniel used pen and ink mostly, and Helena uses mostly watercolors. Over the years we probably tried every type of art tool and media that exists. Potters clay was the worst! But that was long ago on a summer’s day, and I just took them outside and washed everyone down with the hose. What a mess. I encouraged them to make greeting cards and booklets to send away to friends and relatives. You can make some nice cards with wallpaper sample books, scissors, and colored pencils. 4-H was very useful to us in that it provided an outlet for art projects. The children would work on their projects all winter and then show them at the fair in the spring. Civil War reenactments got us into sewing and costuming. And I would always try to frame or matte their drawings and hang them on the walls so we could all enjoy them. Johannah and Helena learned calligraphy when they were little, probably around age 10 or 11 — don’t remember which books they used. I’m sure there are several to choose from. They use some rather expensive pens rather than the bottles of ink and dip pens.

From: Julie Cochran
Subject: microscope query
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003

Has anyone actually purchased the microscope that Dr. Wile sells in his biology book and is it any good? It seems too good to be true. I really want to order right away so please respond ASAP. Thanks. And if you have done this curriculum (or are further ahead than me this year!) how can I make sure the field trip to the pond to get specimens goes well. If I remember my own biology class in high school, these sorts of things were always pretty disappointing. (i.e. finding your own specimens…and seeing them well under the public school scopes.) Anything special I should do?

Thanks. Julie Cochran
You don’t have to go to a pond — any water that has been standing on the ground for a few days will be full of specimens. You can also take old straw, add water, let it sit for a few days, and you will have some juicy bugs to view. I’ve also purchased protozoa from one of the biological catalogs. They’re rather expensive and don’t live long, but you can get a wide variety of specimens to observe. If you feed them properly, you can get them to live a few weeks.

From: Anne Mommy
Subject: Why I homeschool
Date: Sat, 08 Nov 2003

When my sister first obtained her Masters Degree in Education, my oldest child was 3, and I was first considering homeschooling. She, too, was convinced that I was incapable of teaching my own children because I was not properly trained. Here is what I’ve learned in the three years since: I came from a family full of teachers. From them I learned that teachers are wonderful people with a deep desire to educate children in a positive way. Very often, even the best teachers are stifled by the constraints of our public education system. I learned that new teachers are often changed by the reality of their work. Just like how we imagined parenting would be, the day to day of it is often not what we thought. My sister now admits that she wouldn’t send kids to the school she teaches at. Her teacher friends applaud me when they find that I’m homeschooling. And she has finally decided that I’m doing just fine. The longer teachers have been in the system, the more they appreciate people who are taking an interest in their own children. My children get out all the time. They socialize in all kinds of places. They have karate, nature classes, play group, co-op, church, and more! They get along with people of all ages. My children are polite. My children are learning the Word of God, and the beliefs of the church in every subject. My children belong to God first and their family second. They don’t belong to cliques and I sincerely doubt they’ll ever belong to gangs. My children are getting a top notch education. My brother in-law (also a teacher) noticed that my son does nicer work than children several years older. And he’s learned all of this from me. The untrained teacher. I get to see the light bulb moments when my children understand something for the first time. I get to see when my son notices God in a place that I wouldn’t have thought to point Him out. I learn everyday from the simplicity of my children. Some days my lesson is in patience, other days it’s how to model a Christ-like life. I get to truly parent my children. And I’m grateful that the Lord has given me such an opportunity. That’s why I homeschool. And maybe some people won’t understand. I’m really okay with that. They don’t have to. I know I’m doing the right thing. As my children play happily behind me, with love and laughter, I know that I’m creating a happy home and wonderful childhoods that they will have to base the rest of their lives on.

Anne Basso
From: Don Potter
Subject: Hebrew Bible
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003

Here is a very nice oral (chant) rendition of the Hebrew Bible. It should prove very helpful to language learners.

Don Potter
From: Sharon Ericson
Subject: RE: Learning to Sew
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003

>>My 5 year old daughter really wants to learn how to sew…..I want to get together a box of beginning sewing projects for her.  Any suggestions?

Dear Becca,

My 7-yo daughter attended a sewing “camp” last summer.  The instructor emphasized the importance of not focusing on the “projects”, but rather on learning, practicing and mastering basic foundational hand-stitches, placing the emphasis on each and every stitch rather than the final end result. I found this to be extremely fruitful and wise.  I’ll try to summarize her approach and pray that it inspires and helps in your construction of a kit.

Day One was spent measuring out a proper length of thread, threading a needle, the care and use of sewing scissors, and the basics/practice of a running stitch.  She provided the girls with a 12-inch square of felt onto which they applied rows of running stitches, 1-inch apart.  The teacher emphasized the importance of maintaining a straight row and equal stitch length, encouraging the girls to take measurements every 4-5 stitches.  My daughter’s goal-oriented mentality of, “let’s get this done and use 3-inch stitches because that is faster than 1/4-inch stitches!” quickly changed to taking pleasure in slowing down and learning to see consistency and quality in her stitching.

Day Two’s project – another 12-inch felt square and more running stitch practice, but instead of parallel rows, the girls created a square “snail” pattern.  Beginning in one outer corner, 1/2-inch in from the edge, they stitched to the other corner, and then rotated the felt 45-degrees, stitching to the next corner, continuing until reaching the original corner, stopping 1 1/2-inch from the corner.  Again, rotating the felt 45-degrees, the same pattern of stitching and rotating 45-degrees is followed, with 1-inch spacing between stitched rows.  The end-result is a concentric pattern ending with one final stitch in the center.

If I were creating my own project gift kit, I would measure and pencil “guidelines” onto the felt.  I felt there was a bit too much early emphasis on measuring, rather than focusing on consistent stitch length.  Guidelines would remove the measuring variable until stitch skill is mastered.

Day Three’s project – buttons!  Another 12-inch felt square and a wonderful assortment of buttons, chosen from a delicious pile heaped in the middle of the table evoked such delight in the girls that it brought tears to my eyes.

It’s darling to see little hands sorting through a wide assortment of button gems.  They learned to attach shanked and unshanked buttons, turning their plain felt piece into a work of art.

Day Four – using another 12-inch felt piece, more stitches were learned and practiced.  The teacher didn’t provide a stitch chart, but I think it would be a nice addition to a sewing kit.  Here’s an example of one:

Day Five – a button tree!  This was a darling project.  The teacher drew a bare-branched tree, using a black permanent marker, onto 6×8 piece of muslin, keeping the tree within a 5×7 boundary.

The girls once again were given the fun of digging through the teacher’s immense button collection, finding their 10-12 favorite buttons.  They used Day Three’s button-sewing skills, attaching the buttons to the tree branches.  The teacher had them date and sign their “button trees”, mounting them in a frame.  It has the look and feel of an old-time sampler, and hangs on display in our living room.

Day Six – quilting!  The teacher presented each girl with their own 18-inch cotton fabric square printed with a revolutionary American eagle theme.  A layer of batting was applied, as well as a backing; the girls used their basting skills to secure all 3 layers.  Once the layers were secured, they spent the next 3 days hand-quilting the outer edges of the eagle and the American flag.  It was a beautiful project.

Final Day – The teacher gave the girls a little “purse kit” containing 2 6×8 pieces of felt along with a wide variety of small geometric felt shapes and, yes, a handful of beautiful buttons.   The small felt pieces were used as decoration on the “right sides” of the 6×8 inch pieces, applied with a variety of hand stitches.  Once decorated, the two 6×8 pieces were attached, wrong-sides together, using a blanket stitch and contrasting-color yarn.  A color-coordinated “cord” (left-over piece of upholstery cording) was attached as a “handle”.

My husband now joyfully gives my daughter his popped-off buttons and she gleefully sews them back onto his shirts.  We’ve continued to work on hand-sewing techniques, as well as Colonial “redwork” embroidery.  I’ve found it offers great practice using various stitches, results in a beautiful piece, and allows the child (and mother) to work at perfecting stitches, rather than the skill-set of working with a variety of colors.  An example can be seen at:

I dare say I may have to ask forgiveness for the length of this letter. This is a subject near and dear to our hearts and one in which there is so much beauty, I tend to be a bit overly enthusiastic.  I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a snow, cold afternoon then sitting side-by-side practicing handwork, occasionally taking a sip of hot tea, and enjoying one another’s company.

From: Renee’ Nolan

Hi, Harvey & Laurie!

Thank you for blessing us with your ministry.  We have so enjoyed your materials.

We’re researching Bible translations to select one for each family member for this Christmas.  Please share with us:

1. What is Jay Green’s background that qualified him to produce his interlinear bibles?  There is no info’ about him personally in his website.

2. What is your opinion of his Modern KJV, Nelson’s New KJV, & the Crossway English Standard Version?

3. From reading JP Green’s website, it appears that the 4 volume set is currently being revised…with the 4th vol. (New Test.) revision already completed.  What is your understanding about this?

4. JP Green’s single vol. would be most convenient, but we are concerned about print size, newest revisions, & having complete text of the 4-volume one.  Would you please give us feedback?

5. What do you find preferable about JP Green’s interlinear over other publishers?

Any additional feedback is heartily welcomed!

Blessings!  Dennis & Renee’ Nolan
Most of the following biographical information is taken from English Language Bible Translations, by William E. Paul (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., Inc., Publishers, 2002) pp 98-99.

Jay Patrick Green was educated at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri (1934), LaSalle University, Philadelphia (1936-1938), Toronto Baptist Seminary (1955-56), and Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis (1958)

In 1957-1958 Green translated the King James Version New Testament from Elizabethan English into Modern English to help his children understand.
In 1958 Green published The Clarified King James Version.
In 1960, Green self-published The Children’s King James Bible, New Testament, republished by Harper Brothers in 1961 and McGraw-Hill in 1962.
In 1962, McGraw-Hill published three more of Green’s versions, The Children’s Version, The Teen-Age Version, and The Modern King James Version.
In 1966, Green published The Living Scriptures: A Translation in the King James Tradition.
In 1970, Green published The King James Version II, New Testament.
In 1971, Green published The King James Version II, entire Bible, which he has revised several times.
In 1972, Green published Twentieth Century Edition KJV, and The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, which he has revised several times.
In 1976-1979, Green published The Interlinear Bible, which he has revised several times.
In 1986, Green published The Interlinear Hebrew, Greek, English Bible, and A Literal Translation of the Bible, which he has revised several times.
In 1990, Green published a second edition of The Modern King James Version.

Mr. Green will turn 85 years old on December 1, 2003.

Both The Modern KJV (on the internet at and The New KJV are literal translations which have modernized the vocabulary. The New KJV has gone through at least three revisions, and each time it has dumbed down the vocabulary. Both the MKJV and the NKJV could be grammatically improved. They both are based upon the same Greek text that the KJV was based upon. Many editions of the NKJV have textual notes which give, in English translation, many of the differences in the Greek text — both from the point of view of the eclectic minority revisions to the Greek text (followed by the NASB, NIV, TEV, and almost all modern translations), and from the point of view of the traditional majority revisions to the Greek text (followed by no translation to date, but used in Farstad and Hodges’ Interlinear).

The English Standard Version is a revision of the Revised Standard Version. It is not as literal as the MKJV or the NKJV. It uses the modern eclectic Greek text as a textual base. It implements a light form of political correctness. Its literary quality is not much better than the MKJV or the NKJV.

>>3. From reading JP Green’s website, it appears that the 4 volume set is currently being revised…with the 4th vol. (New Test.) revision already completed.  What is your understanding about this?

They are revising both the old and new testaments again.

>>4. JP Green’s single vol. would be most convenient, but we are concerned about print size, newest revisions, & having complete text of the 4-volume one.  Would you please give us feedback?

The print is very small, but readable. I would have picked a more readable font typeface. It measures 8.75 X 11.25 X 2.25 and weighs 6.5 pounds. That’s portable, but a bit bulky.

>>5. What do you find preferable about JP Green’s interlinear over other publishers?

Several interlinears are based upon an eclectic text. The only ones of which I am aware which follow a more traditional majority text are:

Berry’s interlinear — based upon the Stephanus Greek text of 1550, with Strong’s numbers, and the KJV in the margin Green’s interlinear — based upon Scrivener’s reconstruction of the Greek text underlying the KJV, Strong’s numbers, and both the KJV and the Literal Translation in the margin Farstad, Hodges interlinear (and others) — based upon their own Majority Greek text, no Strong’s numbers, the NKJV in the margin, but some textual notes and many word studies.

Though they do not differ that greatly in the Greek text, I still prefer Berry’s interlinear Greek text, then Green’s, last Farstad and Hodges. Though they all have a literal interlinear English translation, I prefer the interlinear English translation in Farstad and Hodges, then Berry’s, then Green’s.

For quality of paper and binding, Green’s is by far the best, Farstad and Hodges by far the worst. For typeface, Farstad and Hodges is by far the best, Green and Berry are tolerable.

We prefer to sell Green’s because, other things cancelling each other out, it has the best quality of paper and binding, and comes in a leather bound edition — which is what we sell.

From: Tracy Dushaj
Subject: Beginning With Older Children

Hello, I am a homeschool mom of 7 children, with a babe on the way. My oldest is 12 and in 7th grade. I also have children aged 9, 8, 7, 5, 3, and 2 years old. I looked into and actually tried to switch over to the Trivium method two years ago, but ended up chickening out because I was too dependent on the Scope and Sequence, a.k.a. fill the bucket, method. I am truly past all of that now; I think trying to fill 7 buckets at once taught me a lesson in futility!!  My younger children are all going with the flow. They are ecstatic that they don’t have to do Math for another year or two. It is my oldest that I have some apprehensions about. She is 12, bright for her age (relatively speaking, of course), reads voraciously, and is very stuck on the text book/workbook method. She has never been thoroughly taught all aspects of Grammar because we would get started in a workbook and I get so disgusted at the fill-in-the-blanks tediousness of it that we would quit. She writes well, despite not being schooled in proper grammar. She has your typical math anxiety. She doesn’t hate it, but doesn’t like it. Math is one area I truly wish I would have known about backing off of seven years ago. She used to despise it, but I switched from Saxon to Bob Jones, and she likes it much better this year. She uses BJU texts and workbook for History, which she loves. I just need some helpful hints in how to implement the Trivium-style into her curriculum. I truly believe it is the best, and I feel so terrible because I feel as if I’ve short changed her by not starting earlier. Now she seems set in her ways, but I truly want her to know HOW to think, not just to be a walking mini-encyclopedia.  I think I have my own doubts about being able to pull this off, too. I sometime think it is impossible to give everyone everything they need, on their own individual level. Any tips??

In Christ, by Whom all good things are given, Tracy Dushaj
Here are some of the suggestions I shared with Tracy in our phone conversation: 1. The Mystery of History is, in my opinion, a good history curriculum for busy moms with several young children. There are tests and other worksheets for those who need that sort of thing, or they can be left out if you don’t like them. For those who want to put to use what they have learned, there are different levels of projects (easy, moderately hard, and difficult) after each lesson. There is also plenty of timeline and geography work. 2. Projects are a good way of leading the student out of the box of a workbook/textbook mode of learning. Start with a project that is especially interesting to the student, and walk him through the whole process of finding a topic and developing the project, if needed. Students who only feel comfortable doing school by using fill-in-the-blank workbooks and resist any other method of learning will need help developing their creativity. You will need to prime the pump and temporarily do the thinking for them in some cases.  3. The Fallacy Detective will help ease you into the study of logic and help wean the student away from exclusively textbook type learning
From: Nathaniel Bluedorn
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003


Irving Copi has a good glossary of logic terms at the back of Introduction to Logic. I don’t believe there is a dictionary of specifically logic terms. There is a book I bought titled Thinking from A to Z which is a popular book on logic. A dictionary of logic terms would be more of an encyclopedia than a dictionary. It would take several paragraphs to define some logic terms.
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003
From: Becca Beard
Subject: Greek Interlinear

Hello! I have a burning question. Forgive my ignorance, and chalk it up to a newbie thing. My 8 year old son and I just spent the last year learning the Greek alphabet. We learned how to write, pronounce, and also what sounds each letter makes. Since it’s all new to me at this point, I am very nervous about jumping from that to an Interlinear Bible. We ordered some workbooks from My question is this: My entire life, I’ve heard pastors say, In the original Greek, this word really means… Are we truly learning what the original meaning is by reading the Greek Interlinear Bible? Seems it’s just another translation? My deeper question…how do we get to those deeper nuances of the Greek language, so that when we are reading the Bible in Greek, we are truly understanding what the original meaning is? I hope this makes sense!

God bless you,
Flower Mound, TX
Many people try to learn Greek grammar at the same time they are learning to read Greek. But these are two entirely different skills which operate in entirely different spheres of the brain. Everyone grows up learning first to hear and understand, then to speak, then to read and write their own native language. Later, they study the grammar of the language. Granted, with Greek we cannot exactly duplicate this same progression which we experienced with English, but we can move in this direction. Our development of grammar skill is completely dependent upon our development of reading skill. If we practice reading, then we’ll become familiar with the language. Then when the time comes to study the grammar, we won’t have to be learning two completely different skills at the very same time. An interlinear Bible provides a good way to practice reading.

Of course the English part of the interlinear is a translation. But it’s not just another translation. Because it is linked to the Greek words, it is forced to conform more strictly to the original Greek. Most of our modern versions of the Bible (such as the NIV) are, in many places, actually interpretive paraphrases, not translations in any proper sense of the term. They may read more smoothly and thus tickle our ears, but that’s because they’re telling us what they think we are more pleased to hear in the way they think we are more pleased to hear it. The value of the interlinear in this regard is that anyone can look in the interlinear English, find what word someone is talking about, see what the Greek word is, then look up the Greek word in a Greek Lexicon. Of course that doesn’t qualify someone to write a doctoral dissertation on the meaning and usage of the word, but it does help an individual to understand a little better and to keep other people honest.

Some people say a little knowledge of Greek is dangerous. I completely disagree. It is not the little knowledge which is dangerous. It is the proud and speculative heart which inflates its little knowledge into authoritative proportions. A good heart will put everything within its perspective and will not boast beyond its boundaries.

It’s the same with any language — read, read, read. In order to become familiar with the language you must become familiar with the literature. There is no other way. Grammar books do not teach you to read, they only help to explain what you are already reading.

I hope what I’ve written here is helpful.
From: Johnny
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2003

This is to the writer about teaching art and the Bluedorn children. We also use the wallpaper sample books to make cards and they are the most beautiful you have ever seen! Interior decorators and such throw out the old to update and that is how we got ours–out of the dumpster!

I had called and talked to Johannah about books to get and she recommended calligraphy books by Margaret Shepherd. The children have not been able to use the book I found by Miss Shephard entitled Learn Calligraphy, as I am saving it for Christmas but it looks wonderful and she has many more books by different tittles. We wanted to thank you Johannah for your help, and thought this was perfect timing!

From: Palexdillon
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2003

Dear Kim,

You sound so much like me. Last year I wrote an e-mail to Laurie Bluedorn about the very same issues. She offered her advice, but I never responded to her. Well praise the Lord for being so wonderful. He sees your struggle and I am going through the same thing. Now, my children are 9, 6, 5 and one due in December. The 6 year old will be 7 three days before baby is due. My personal advice is to throw out the curriculum. Use it as a resource but not a plan. It will burn you out and enhance the comfort of your bed until 3 pm! For a schedule (which is not cast in stone) I use the Bluedorn’s suggested schedule for family’s under 10 in their book Teaching the Trivium. I made a few variations to fit my family’s needs. But the most important thing that I am learning to do and finding success and great personal pleasure from is talking to my Lord 1st thing, each day before performing lessons. I sometimes wake late so I have trained my 9 year old to cook and clean. That way, if I wake late and the children are scattered and the house is a mess (not ideal but more frequent than i care to admit), at least they are happy and I have time to ask my Father, what today, Lord? It’s amazing how he has been ministering to me thus allowing me to minister to my children and others. Do not get stumped by academics. The most important part of your every day is the Lord’s touch, how you speak to your children, that they know they are loved. If you went to public or even private school as a child this will be difficult to grasp. But your life and the lives of your children will be much more joyful if you let go and let God. I know that is cliché, but it is true. He really will meet your family’s personal needs if you let him. He is, after all your shepherd.

May the Lord bless you and your family.
From: Barbara Forney
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003

Hi Laurie,

I’m replying to Michelle’s situation about early math.

I have 4 children, boys 9&7 and girls 5&2. I started Saxon math with the oldest when he was 4. I was one of those who wanted to do classical education and wanted a school. Because I felt so inadequate, I wanted to start early. Thank goodness a wonderful woman showed me your book before I totally went crazy! Now, we are still doing math. The 9 yos has not been damaged–he is very bright and we are doing Saxon5/4. The 7yos is doing Saxon 2, and loves it! My state requires math for homeschool students and I enjoy Saxon. I would certainly recommend submitting to your husband and that you can do relaxed math. Saxon does a lot of activities with the geoboards, pattern blocks, making fun tables and graphs and charts, checking the weather, recipes, etc, and you don’t have to do everything, everyday. I pushed my first son very hard, and it is true, it made him start to hate math. We have recovered. My second son loves math. He thinks it is fun! So don’t despair–if you are relaxed about your approach, I feel you can satisfy your husband and not do damage to your child. I would recommend considering starting with Saxon 1 in kindergarten and taking your time going through it. I would also recommend just spending 30 minutes per day with it. Perhaps only 20. I feel with the information I learned from the Bluedorn’s, I don’t have to worry about math–I can have fun with it and know that the light bulb will click on later if it isn’t just yet. I hope this is helpful! One more thought, as much as I appreciate the Bluedorn’s, I think they would agree, you will find that in homeschooling, you will never follow someone else’s ideas or curriculum exactly. No assembly-line products here, as they would say. You will find a philosophy-like the Bluedorn’s-and then with ideas from your husband and others, you will adapt and develop what works for you in your situation. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of your husband’s wisdom in your decisions. He will be the one who gives an account to the Lord for your children, not Harvey and Laurie.

From: Barbara Forney
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003

Hi Laurie,

I don’t know if you get tired of hearing it, but your ministry is invaluable! I wanted to let you know of a book I’m reading called Day Care Deception–What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us. I heard about it in World magazine. I think most moms instinctively know these things, but it could be encouraging for those moms who have negative family (lots of career women in their families that have lots of money, big homes, exotic vacations, and whatever toys money can buy and feel they have to justify it when they are around simple folks like us who cook our own meals and actually eat together, homeschool, wear hand-me-downs, etc.). Can you tell I do? Anyway, it may be helpful for those feeling pressure to not stay home as well. Just an FYI!

The first two persons to correctly answer this quiz will win a copy of a reproduction of the little pamphlet The Soldier’s Pocket Bible, containing the most (if not all) of those places contained in Holy Scriptures, which do show the qualifications of his inner man that is a fit soldier to fight the Lord’s battles… This little Bible was distributed to soldiers during the Civil War.

Here’s the quiz: We all know that agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces and that claustrophobia is a fear of close places and that arachnophobia is a fear of spiders. So, what are these phobias:
Here are the answers to the quiz:
acrophobia: dread of high places
athazagoraphobia: fear of being forgotten
brontophobia: fear of thunder
ergasiophobia: fear of work
hellenologophobia: fear Greek/Latin words or of complex scientific or pseudoscientific terminology
philophobia: fear of love
pogonophobia: fear of beards
rupophobia: fear of dirt
sociophobia: fear of society or people
triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13
xanthophobia: fear of yellow

Additional phobias emailed to us:
Kakorrhaphiophobia- the fear of failure or defeat, I hesitate to admit it, but it is almost paralyzing for me.
Dystychiphobia- the fear of accidents, again I hate to admit it, fear and worry consume too much of my time.
Charlie Brown’s Pantophobia – the fear of EVERYTHING!
aibohpphobia—the fear of palindromes (just a joke!)
From: Palexdillon
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003
Subject: Re: handy craft kit for boys

Hello Ann,

I bought my son, age 9, a woodcarving tool set which he loves. I keep it in the basket with our knitting and doll making materials. It’s a set of different shaped carving tools to give your wood different textures. You use them just like crayons and paper only it’s carving tools on wood pieces.  I gave him a wooden block and he promptly carved a one dimensional alligator – or is that a crocodile? Yes, he has cut himself. But I try to reinforce the use of his wrists instead of using too much pressure. I give him the same freedom to experiment with these tools as I did crayons. He doesn’t have to make anything; he can just see what shapes he gets from different tools. I found them at my local community college book store. For Christmas I am ordering the carving bear kit for him from Hearthsong. They have a catalog and lots of different stuff for boys – girls too. In fact, I just might call the toys theirs on Christmas Day and reclaim them for myself the next day because they have such wonderful toys.
From: Tim Nichols
Subject: classical ed for any kid?
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003

Greetings.  My new wife and I do not yet have children, but we plan to in the next few years. I have begun research into home schooling as a matter of preparation for our future, and I have a question about the classical method. It seems to me that in theory as well as practice, the classical method aims to produce a self-teacher, a pupil that knows how to learn and is capable of teaching himself (although expert guidance can certainly be helpful). My questions are as follows: 1. Is my assessment of classical education correct? 2. Is every child capable of developing into a self-teacher?  Thank you for your help.

Tim Nichols
Teaching Assistant, Chafer Theological Seminary
Assistant Pastor, Grace Chapel, Orange, CA
I think your assessment of classical education is pretty accurate. Can anyone think of a case where a child would not be capable of developing into a self-teacher?

Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003
Subject: Contest answers

Dear Bluedorns,

We don’t have those listed phobias. But I have an interesting anecdote about PHOBOS. Our family attended a seminar held by the NASA folks at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. It was mainly for 7th to 12th graders, as part of a program to expose children to NASA and sciences (it is called the SEMAA program, which is nationwide, I believe). It was a presentation and display of the actual MARS Rover which will be launched in 2004. Our son, Brandon, has always wanted to design robots for Mars Exploration, forever, and has already promised me a trip to the moon in a space shuttle ever since he was a tot (well, people have private jets today, so you never know what the future holds, perhaps there’ll be private shuttles!). We were blessed that he was able to get permission to attend although he’s in 5th grade. Another blessing occurred when I went to drop him off at the lecture room — our 6-year-old daughter by mistake dutifully took a seat with her brother when we arrived. She sat so primly, and since no one seemed to object, it seemed less disruptive to simply allow her to sit rather than to go retrieve her from a few rows down. I waited, thinking that she would soon realize and get a bit bored, since it would be a two hour presentation. To my utter surprise, she quietly listened, watched the video clips, absorbed what was going on, examined the samples being passed around, and participated well in general. To tell you the truth, the scientists were young, energetic and wonderfully entertaining, so she was captivated. Satisfied that all was well, I took our toddler outside to the refreshments area, and waited while he examined the MARS displays. When they were done, I learned that our 6 year old had not only behaved well, but she had even asked a very good question, about how many moons Mars had! She remembered the answer and recited patiently that Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, and further that Mars is Latin, and that Phobos and Deimos are Greek for Fear and Panic. I was stunned that she remembered that so well, but I suppose it fits in well with the Poll Parrot age of the Trivium. She just turned six in September, and the NASA people and the administrators at Medgar Evers were very impressed as well! The college has been developing NASA programs for local homeschoolers, and this enhanced their regard for the good results of homeschooling, I suppose! I thought it quite serendipitous that this contest regarded PHOBIAS. My son was tickled and we quite enjoyed working at the contest.

Sincerely, Judith Conley
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003

Latin question!! I started my son in Matin Latin in second grade, and he’d finished books 1 & 2 by the end of 3rd grade. Following nicely with the grammar pattern, he is fantastic at memorizing chants vocab. and all of the grammar exercises. But the translating was a nightmare. He never looks at the endings and on his scratch paper would always write the infinitive, and ignore which person, which gender, which tense. This year I decided to bring him backwards and gave him Latina Christiana, with really no translating at all. Of course he loves it and whizzes through. But now he’s in 4th grade and I want him to go back to translation. Is this the right stage for it? Or should I wait until his new curriculum leads him to it? I don’t know when LC does this, but I do know 1.5 hours on 5 sentences is much too long. His memory is a steel trap, but he doesn’t put things together in his head. Typical grammar stage stuff? I have read before about translating too early, I guess I just need reinforcement.

Thanks! Audrey Hussey
Memorizing vocabulary, word endings, sentences, and other facts is a grammar level exercise. Translating sentences from one language to another is a logic level exercise. Composing sentences in another language is a rhetoric level exercise. If your son is in the 4th grade, I assume he is about 9 years old. Perhaps you could continue with memorizing for another year or two. Instead of just memorizing words and phrases in Latin, he could memorize longer passages in Latin and the same passages in English to get a feel for how the two languages compare. Now would also be a good time to learn the Greek alphabet.

From: Stephen Beck
Subject: Craft-Skills for Boys
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003

One of our best sellers at conventions is Backyard Ballistics. It gives instructions on how to build a variety of projects (potato cannon, tennis ball mortars, Cincinnati fire kite…) and the safety, physics and history behind that project. My son and husband made the potato cannon last Thanksgiving and now it is a hit at our holiday gatherings. In fact, we carried it to my parent’s farm last week so all the kids could fire off the potatoes. Some tried catching the potatoes as well. There next project is to begin selling kits to make projects in Backyard Ballistics. Of course this is not your typical craft book, but it is definitely a manly type of book. We have lots of dads wander into our booth just to buy this book. Some day we hope to offer a camp for boys to let them build some of the projects and teach the project’s science history.
The entire Bible in Greek (Greek Orthodox OT and NT), Greek-English Interlinear with Strong’s Numbers, pdf format at
From: Nathaniel Bluedorn
Subject: Why People Believe Weird Things
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2003

Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer reviewed by Nathaniel Bluedorn

I just finished the book Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer, director of the Skeptics Society. Shermer was once a fundamentalist Christian, became heavily involved in alternative medicine, believed he was abducted by aliens, and through some difficult events, including becoming violently ill from a particularly radical alternative medical treatment, he became a skeptic and an atheist.  In this book, Shermer covers alien abductions, psychic readings, Afrocentrism, repressed memory therapy, creationism, holocaust deniers, and other weird beliefs. Of course, I happen to think his chapters against creationism contradicted what he said in his other chapters, but those other chapters were good.

According to Shermer, the number one reason why people believe weird things is because they’re smart – they have a high IQ or they have an exceptionally creative intellect. Because he can rationalize away evidence, an intelligent person is better able to defend weird ideas to himself. The last chapter of this book outlined why smart people believe weird things including the (1) Attribution Bias, and the (2) Confirmation Bias.  When someone attributes good reasoning to his own beliefs, but bad reasoning to other people’s beliefs, he is guilty of the Attribution Bias. According to some studies, most people said that they believed in God because the evidence supports their belief. However, when these same people were asked why others believed in God, they said that other people believe because they were raised with that belief, or religion offers comfort when they get old. In other words, people like to think of themselves as very logical, but like to think of their neighbors as less logical.  When someone subconsciously filters evidence to support his established beliefs, he is guilty of the Confirmation Bias. According to some studies, we pay more attention to evidence that confirms what we believe, while we tend to ignore evidence which might ask us to reevaluate what we believe. When we hear a new piece of evidence, most of us simply find a way to fit that evidence into our already established beliefs.

Intelligent people are better equipped to deceive themselves because they imagine that they are objective and open to new ideas, when they are simply rationalizing to reaffirm their old opinions. This applies to atheists as well as to Christians. I may be the most illogical person I know.  Here are some of Shermer’s points that I thought were especially useful: 1. Science is not a subject, it is a method. In the same way, skepticism isn’t a position; it’s an approach to claims. Skeptics must create a balance between cynicism and credulity by exercising a critical yet inquiring mind. It is important to be open-minded enough to be interested in alternative ideas, but only accept new ideas if they have very strong supporting evidence. 2. Some people believe that science is the ultimate discoverer of objective truth; while others believe that science is a modern mythology that cannot escape from its own cultural paradigm. Both are right in different ways. Science can never be truly objective, but at times science has escaped from its cultural paradigm. 3. One of the distinguishing characteristics of pseudoscience is that it fails to distinguish between theories that are possibly true, and theories that are probably true. Believers in pseudoscience accept the possibility that their theory may be true, and ignore the probability that it is false. Their presuppositions force this interpretive framework. 4. Pseudoscience does not value objectivity. True science would value objectivity by (a) being self-critical, (b) wanting to hear the opinions of other scientists in the field, (c) not relying on unverifiable evidence, (d) admitting its limitations and errors without trying to explain them away. 5. David Hume said, A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. The more extraordinary a scientific claim is, the more extraordinarily well tested the evidence must be. 6. A person’s presuppositions determine how he interprets the evidence. Christopher Columbus thought he had landed in India or China, so he concluded that he had found many Asian plants and animals that Marco Polo had written about. The human mind naturally tries to find connections between things, even when there is no necessary connection. 7. Just because someone shows that an established scientific theory has some problems does not mean we should abandon it for a new theory. It is not good enough simply to give evidence to disprove the opposition; a new theory needs to accumulate much supporting evidence before we should put confidence in it. 8. As a pseudoscience or pseudohistorical idea makes the rounds in a community, it develops a feedback loop. As more and more people hear the rumor, they begin to believe it more and more, and soon it becomes common knowledge – everyone believes it and assumes everyone else must have a good reason for doing so too. Soon a person can be rejected by the community if he dares to question the idea. This happens because no one wants to be challenged to actually to explain what the evidence is for the theory. 9. Intelligent people are better able to defend ideas that they may have arrived at for unintelligent reasons. In other words, though they may have adopted a belief without thinking, they are able to use their superior mind to justify that belief. Intelligent people are better equipped to see biases in other people, but they can justify their own biases. Intelligent people make better hypocrites. When there are gaps in evidence, intelligent minds are better at filling those gaps with their imagination. Some people can actually create reasons for why there should be no evidence for a theory, and then use the very lack of evidence to support their theory.  You may be convinced from reading this review that I have become a skeptic and an atheist. Don’t worry. I haven’t. I would not give Why People Believe Weird Things to someone who was not well founded in the Christian faith. Shermer uses some very sophisticated and potentially powerful methods to discredit Christianity. Nevertheless, I am thankful to God for giving Christians like me intelligent atheists like Michael Shermer who can challenge us in our lazy reasoning, and startle our minds into being more alert.
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 2003
From: Derek Greer
Subject: Greek homeschooling

Mr. Bluedorn,

What pronunciation style do you follow in your materials? I’ve decided to add Greek to my children’s home schooling curriculum, but would like to use materials which follow the same pronunciation style as other materials my wife and I use (one being Essentials of New Testament Greek by Summers). I’m not sure what to call the exact pronunciation style I’m use to, but all of my materials pronounce the letter pi as pea instead of pie, and have the letter omicron pronounced as the o in omelet rather than the o in obey.

Thanks. Derek Greer
The Greek language was pronounced in different ways at different places and different times. From among all historical pronunciations, I have constructed a consistent system which is thoroughly phonetical.

I have examined well over a hundred (I lost count) Greek grammars, and the only thing I found consistent about their pronunciation systems is that there is no consistency in their pronunciation systems. I do not know if new editions of Summers has revised their pronunciation system, but my system would disagree with the original Summers on the pronunciation of short alpha (long alphas as in father, short alpha as in yacht), omicron (as in oh, omega as in owe), short upsilon (long upsilon as in unity, short upsilon as in put — Summers doesn’t phonetically acknowledge short upsilon), and chi (as in loch).

Pi is pronounced as pea.

The difference between the short and the long of the vowels is properly one of length, not of articulation. The omega (owe, own, groan) should be double the length of omicron (oh, oat, goat). In later Greek, the vowel began to move. The o in omelet is the same as the sound of short alpha in yacht, which is confusing.

Date: Tue, 09 Dec 2003
From: Kevin Shull

Reading the article about how medical terminology is formed reminded me of something that might be of encouragement to many of you in the pursuit of Latin and Greek learning with your children. This experience has enabled me to endure with good cheer my daughter’s unenthusiastic, plodding Latin studies. When I was in 11th grade, I took an advanced level Anatomy course at my large public high school (we could get college credit for the classroom portion). The teacher was wonderful and it was the most challenging course I ever took and it taught me how to study for the first time. College felt very comfortable after this class. The most beneficial part of the course for me, however, was the extra credit opportunity that he offered us. We were allowed to get ten extra credit points (yes, only ten points but, Oh, how we needed every point we could get) for memorizing the 400 Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes (and their English meanings) that he had selected. It was very hard work for an under used part of my brain. I was so impressed with myself for accomplishing this task. As I memorized these seemingly useless portions of words and their meanings (we imagined our teacher took some special pleasure in torturing us in this way ­­he being one of the only teachers at our school who took it upon himself to challenge us to new of levels of studiousness, discipline, hard work and accomplishment) I had no idea how valuable these little bits of language knowledge would be. Immediately I noticed that my English reading vocabulary increased and that I had the new ability to remember new vocabulary words effortlessly in both my science and Lit. based classes – really in all my classes. Suddenly the books written in old English from my British Lit. class were understandable! My boring Mythology class (the readings) came alive despite my eccentric teacher’s dull lectures. Remember ­­ my anatomy teacher never once suggested that we would notice any BENEFIT from this exercise, he just offered the opportunity for the points with his characteristic, take it or leave it manner without any sort of pep talk or pleading. I had the vague idea that it might be helpful for the future doctors in our class (of which there were many…one is a professor now at the Harvard school of medicine), but not for the rest of us.
Now, 17 years later, I consider this experience THE real turning point from being a passive learner (I’d always been a good student, but not really interested in anything) to one who could enjoy intellectual pursuits. I really felt smart for the first time. It was as if learning these Greek and Latin meanings and my increased English vocabulary knowledge allowed me to climb over a fence into new pastures of interesting and challenging subjects of many kinds, not just science. Some lifelong brain fog cleared. All this from just learning 400 prefixes and suffixes when I was 17 years old… Hope this is encouraging…I really should try to track down that teacher and thank him…

Sara Shull
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003
From: Corinna D

This reply goes to Angela in the Dec. 8th Trivium Loop. She asked about alabacus, (a math program). I have used alabacus with my daughter in first grade and we are currently using alabacus in second grade. I think this math program is phenomenal. The method used is a nontraditional method, i.e. not rote. In the middle of first grade, for example, the student mentally computes 87 + 37. The system is thorough and teaches the child mathematical strategies. The program is taught in a tutorial style, i.e. mom sits with the student. This, however, is most beneficial, as this way you get to know HOW your child thinks through these mathematical concepts, not just giving a correct answer. The how is very important. The abacus used in the program is GREAT. The concepts and place values taught are easily understood. I have replied in the past on alabacus and you might find my comments in the other archives. I ‘stumbled’ onto this program via the Trivium Loop about two years ago. A homeschooling mother gave a lengthy report about her experience with the program, (you can probably find this in the archives). Furthermore, Dr. Cotter, the author of the program, is more than happy to speak to you and explain to you how her program works, how children’s brains function and how her system and strategies help to unlock that potential.  Like the mother, mentioned above, said in her report:  It’s not the student, it’s the curriculum. I hope this is beneficial to Angela or anyone else in the Loop.

From: The Youngs
Subject: math
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 12:47:21 -0500

L. P. Benezet:
In the first place, it seems to me that we waste much time in the elementary schools, wrestling with stuff that ought to be omitted or postponed until the children are in need of studying it. If I had my way, I would omit arithmetic from the first six grades. I would allow the children to practice making change with imitation money, if you wish, but outside of making change, where does an eleven-year-old child ever have to use arithmetic? I feel that it is all nonsense to take eight years to get children thru the ordinary arithmetic assignment of the elementary schools. What possible needs has a ten-year-old child for a knowledge of long division? The whole subject of arithmetic could be postponed until the seventh year of school, and it could be mastered in two years’ study by any normal child….


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