Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Poor Richard, Chapter 1

Milk Street - Boston
Wherein a New Arrival Comes to a Family on Beacon Hill - 1706

Boston, in the year 1706, was a lively and growing city near the water filled with merchant shops.  Just outside of town sat a cowherd whose duty it was to keep watch over the cows of the townspeople during the day until the boys of the families came to retrieve them before dark.  The scene on any give day was the same - the cowherd sitting under the tree on Beacon Hill and the boys playing below around the trees.  Even though the town was still young, it had a good bit of history.  The very elm that the cowherd sat under was the same one that Mary Dyer and the Quakers had been hanged from.

Josiah Franklin and his second wife, Abiah, (his first wife died after their arrival to Boston from Banbury, England) lived in this busy town with their 15 children, 5 of them from his first wife and 10 from Abiah.  Anywhere you went in town there seemed to be a Franklin child playing nearby, there were so many.  Most of the neighbors had completely lost count of how many children the Franklins had.  Their home had a blue ball hanging in front of the door and when they moved houses the blue ball came with them.  Abiah was a good mother and kept the children until they were old enough to go with their father to learn a trade and learn to be useful in the world.  Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of Josiah and Abiah, but he had two younger sisters.  

Josiah was a candle-maker by trade.  His original trade, a dyer, was not much use to him in Boston so he learned candle-making some time after he arrived with which he made a good living by keeping the town of Boston lighted.  He was a very religious man and frequently made long prayers, especially before dinner.  Dinner time at the Franklins was a time for the family to gather together and have discussions and share ideas, often inviting friends and neighbors to join them.  Benjamin remembers a time when there were as many as thirteen children around the table at once.  Abiah would ensure that all the children were clean before sitting down to dinner at which time the father would say one of his long prayers.  

Benjamin was especially bored by these long prayers.  One day while he was helping his father salt the pork of a pig he suggested that his father say a prayer now over the entire pig so that he didn’t have to do it each day at dinner time.  His father didn’t like this idea at all but it showed early on Benjamin’s desire to improve thing, and make things easier and more efficient in life.  So since he was destined to be bored during these prayer times he ended up spending this time studying the wall maps in the dining room out of the corners of his eyes.  

*Year 4, Week 1

Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Joshua 1

Moses died and God put Joshua in his place.  He said that just as Moses had been so shall he be and just as God had been with Moses so shall he be with Joshua.  God told Joshua that he was to gather up the people and take them into the land that was to be theirs.  Every place that their sandals touched was to be their inheritance, just as the Lord had promised to their ancestors.  God also reminded Joshua that he was to take the law and keep the law, just as Moses had been commanded to do, and in so doing, would be rewarded by the Lord making the people prosperous.  Joshua told the people of the tribes all of this and they agreed that they would follow Joshua just as they followed Moses.  Anyone that would not follow Joshua’s commands, they would put to death.

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Age of Fable: Preface

The author began by telling us that if the only types of education that can be considered useful are those that serve to gain us more money or social status, then the subject of Mythology cannot be counted as useful.  But if those things that serve to make us happy and enrich our inner lives can also count as useful then we must count Mythology along with the more practical studies.

Mythology is like a gateway that allows us access to great literature of the past and present.  So much of classic literature makes references and allusions to mythology that a lack of knowledge of the subject causes us, in the best cases, to lose some meaning behind many great works, and in the worst case, makes certain literature incomprehensible.  The options that the author saw available up to his time did not really help the situation; one could make a study of reading the translated myths in their entirety, but that in itself is time consuming and will find a reader lost with many phrases that he does not understand because they are referencing yet another myth.  Still, one could obtain a reference dictionary and work their way through the myths with it always on hand, but for all but the most devoted students this will quickly lead to fatigue and cause the student to give up referencing and so lose much of the imagery of the story.  

The author’s solution is this book, The Age of Fable, in which he has retold poetic mythology in prose. But his translation is not a word for word translation since in doing that we would lose all the beauty of the original.  Instead he has recreated the stories using the beautiful language of our own time (or his own time, which was in the late 1700’s) allowing us to still have the vivid and captivating imagery that is alluded to in other classic works of literature and he assures us that for this reason his book is not meant for the learned person but rather the student.  He ends the preface with a quote from Coleridge’s Piccolomini about the timelessness of the imagery found in the Greek and Roman Myths.

*Year 4, Week 1
Book lists and schedules can be found at AmblesideOnline.

Educating Myself With AmblesideOnline

I started using Charlotte Mason's educational methods with my children in 2010.  When I heard about Miss Mason's methods and philosophies I wished that I had been educated like that and I knew that this was how I was going to lead my children to a great education.  But I was very overwhelmed with all the lofty ideas Charlotte talked about in her 6 volume Homeschool Series, written over her lifetime as an educator.  How was I, as a busy mother of 4 (at the time - we have since added another) ever going to find the time to seek out the very best books in History, Science, Biographies, Poetry, and Literature , and then plan them all out into a coherent curriculum for my children who deserve no less than the best for their education - especially since I feel strongly that my own government education was severely lacking.  Then I found Ambleside Online and knew that God had answered my prayers. 

Here was a fully prepared curriculum created by a group of women who had done the hard work of finding the best of the best in each subject and even had it all laid out for me.  All I had to do was gather the books and follow the plan.  So easy!  Well, if you have been homeschooling for longer than a week then you know it's never quite that simple and things don't ever work out just as we plan them.  I had so much to learn about the how and why of simple things like: Narration, Picture Study, Nature Study, Short Lessons, Complete Attention.  I have spent the past 5 years reading and learning all about CM's methods and philosophies but while I was learning I was jumping right in and applying the new ideas I came across in my kids' lives.  You know  what the most important thing I have learned so far has been?  That there is a lot I don't know.  But I want to know. 

I am currently doing years 1, 2, and 3 of AO with my children and I have learned more history in this time than I did in my entire school career.  I am making connections to the stories, and so are my kids and it is amazing.  I am enjoying furthering my education by going through AO with them but I have lately been feeling like I need to do something just for me too.  So I have decided to start my own education and work through the Ambleside Online years for myself. 

"Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature"

After looking at the years I have decided that year 4 is a good starting point for me.  I feel a little embarrassed to admit that I am starting my education at a 4th grade level but you know, it's not about where I am starting, but about where I hope to go that's important.   You can view AO's Year 4 Booklist and Reading Schedule.   I am going to try to follow the schedule as much as I can, while giving myself some grace if I get behind.  I do have a home, a husband, and 5 children to care for, after all.  I will be posting all of my Narrations here which, in the beginning, I am expecting to be very simple and I am not going to judge myself much on the writing yet.  Just like for my little ones who are new to narration, in the beginning we just get it out any way we can and work on developing style later.  Some of my narrations will be written while some may be audio or video.

This week's books!

I am also going to get myself a math curriculum (I am going to have to take a placement test and ashamed as I may be, I will disclose to here which program and level I am starting) and will keep a commonplace notebook and a timeline/book of centuries.  I will continue to study French with my children and Latin with my son, although in the future I hope to dive deeper into these languages on my own - perhaps a Community college class.  My handicraft will probably be one that I am already proficient at but could always use more practice: Knitting or crocheting.  I will have a free read going and do Artist and Composer studies and Memory work, Folk songs, and hymns with my kids.  I need to get myself a nature journal and begin learning to draw - I do not feel adequate in this area at all.  I will continue with Plutarch and Shakespeare with my oldest son.  This is my plan.  I will be back later to let you know what reality actually allows, but in the meantime feel free to leave me a comment of encouragement or even jump in and learn along with me.  I would love the company of someone to share in talking to me about these beautiful living books.