Archives For Homeschool

The read and discuss summer edition was something I aimed at putting together, it just never eventuated. So, I’m skipping right to an autumn post.

One of the chief reasons for this is that we’ve been carefully treading through Paul’s letter to the Romans. The letter itself represents the most significant theological outworking from the Apostle to the Gentiles, in the New Testament. As I recently heard said, Romans is the closest thing to a systematic theology from Paul.

Reading through Romans is something every Christian should take the time to do. For our journey we employed the services of John Calvin, Karl Barth and Charles Spurgeon.

Calvin for the direct reformed theological exegetical exchange, Spurgeon for a straight forward word about the text that comes directly from a Pastor’s heart and Barth for a closer to our times, look at how Marxist language, politics, psychology and Romans meet.

I should add that due to the intensity of its structure and content, my use of {Uncle} Barth’s, Der Römerbrief (Epistle to the Romans) was selective.

Our Autumn reading list for Homeschool:

1.‘Speech to Conservative Women’s Conference, 1988(hyperlinked) & ‘Post-IRA Assassination Attempt – Brighton Bombing Speech, 1984(hyperlinked) (Margaret Thatcher):

On one of our walls we have a number of photos of key historical figures surrounded by the words ‘Thinkers & Doers’. From this list, my youngest daughter chose to read up on and research conservative British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The material we found was so good, that I made the call to expand this into a unit for our read and discuss group activities.

After introducing Thatcher via YouTube, I asked each of our homeschool high schoolers to tell me, based on the footage, what kind of person they think Margaret Thatcher was. Following on from that we jumped into reading through both speeches. Like every speech, we looked at applying Aristotle’s modes of persuasion; hunting down: pathos, ethos and logos.

Once we reached the end of the speech given in 1988, I asked each of our homeschoolers to pick out a quote which stood out to them. Each quote was passionately chosen and reasons for why it was chosen were discussed among the small group.  Each quote chosen reflected the personality of each one of our kids who participated.

I was surprised by how relevant some of the content of Thatcher’s speeches are, and I was encouraged by how passionately our daughters worked to complete this homemade unit. Be sure to check out the amazing, Margaret Thatcher.org

2. Settlement & Convict history

Second on our list are two books. The first is from Karin Cox, the second from Nicolas Brasch. Each book provides a balanced retelling about the discovery and later arrival of Europeans in Australia. These books also helped pad our Latin vocabulary.  For example: Terra Australis (land south – South Land).  Both Cox and Brasch were a welcome addition to our Australian history studies.

3. A Confession (Tolstoy)

I read Tolstoy’s, ‘A Confession’ a few years back and will be forever thankful for having done so. I picked this up again to help buttress our eldest daughter’s year 11 study material with a primary document for her history work, which is focusing on 19th Century Russia. This work includes reading up on the ‘’intelligentsia’’, which was something Tolstoy was swept up in. ‘A Confession’  is a testimony from someone who is raised in Christian culture, only later to reject Christianity. This leads Tolstoy to an epic existential crisis, from which he describes his long journey back to the cross. I’m pretty excited to have this added to our list.

4. Esio Trot (Roald Dahl)

For our youngest, we’ve once more embarked on the journey through this quaint story. This will be last ever study we do on Dahl’s small tale of Mr. Hoppy and his scheme to woo Mrs. Silver. Every chapter has a worksheet and we’ll add some open discussion in there for good measure.

5. I Am David (Ann Holm)

One of the most cherished books we own is Ann Holm’s 1963 novel, I am David. The story follows a young boy as he escapes from a concentration camp, runs from Nazis, is befriended by a dog and meets people along the way.  With permission, our 5th grade homeschooler has decided to pick this up early. Given the content we’ll open this up for discussion. It also allows for us to begin our units on World War Two, beginning with a focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer & Corrie Ten Boom.

What I’m currently reading:

African-American civil rights activist, John M. Perkins’ 2017 book, ‘Dream With Me’, Eric Mason’s 2014, ‘Beat God to The Punch’ & ‘Manhood Restored:How The Gospel Makes Men Whole’; along with Karl Barth’s III/1, Ebherhard’s Biography of Bonhoeffer and Hollywood & Hitler. In addition to this, I’m also prepping for next term’s journey through the Book of Numbers.

The plan over the next few months will be a re-read through Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. My hope is to integrate this into topics from our Wednesday news and presentations taken from The Australian.

‘Children need to be taught traditional moral values and to understand our religious [Judeo-Christian] heritage. We can’t leave them to discover for themselves what is right and wrong.’
(Speech to Conservative Women’s Conference, Margaret Thatcher, 1988.)

Homeschooling is an ever evolving journey, not an ever revolving journey.

There are some areas that might fall into the latter description such as, ROTE learning of music theory, chemistry, Latin, Koine Greek and mathematics. For example: formulas, elements, phrases, alphabet, and rapid recall multiplication, addition, subtraction and division.

I wouldn’t be so quick to place Bible memory verses into a revolving journey category simply because they apply to both a revolving and an evolving journey; more so the evolving than revolving, because as we grow and face new life experiences the Bible speaks for itself to us in different ways.

The Bible confronts us. Although God remains the same and His Word remains unchanged, when we are met by this Word, we do not remain as we once were.

Maturity in the faith isn’t being able to rattle off a bunch of scripture verses. Nor is it based on my church attendance record, Instagram followers, vanity metrics, “friends” or high hitting blog stats. Maturity in the faith is recognising how scripture verses rattle us in our sin, out of our sin; out of complacency, apathy, negative stubborn patterns of behaviour and selfishness.

An evolving journey is about character development, whereas a revolving one implies that we’re stuck, immovable. Like Sisyphus forever pushing the boulder.

An evolving journey is still forged by routine. The difference is that in an evolving journey new routines break old ones. This is one of the reasons we observe Lent.

Lent provides an opportunity to reconsider routine; to act against unhealthy habits. It’s a small part of a global commitment from Christians to observe, review and let go of the certain things in our lives that slowly consume us, the more we consume it. Within that comes the humility to recognise that no matter how successful or privileged we may be; we are all still sinners in need of a Saviour.

Participation in Lent doesn’t have to be complicated, overly planned or structured. It just requires commitment. I won’t say simple commitment, for the reason that I know even the smallest of fasts can sometimes be the hardest.

Author, activist, Pastor and urban theologian, Eric Mason wrote:

‘In rabbinic culture, disciples walked behind those whom they followed as teacher. They would literally follow their master around imitating him […] Following Jesus always means abandoning something else that preoccupied our lives prior to grace passing us by and being preoccupied by Him. To follow Jesus is the follow the grace of God. The Christian life is filled with things that will seek to deter us from following Jesus. There must be a point in our lives where we decide we are committing our lives fully to the master.’
(Mason, 2014)[i]

It may not seem Holy, and it may seem too simplistic, but this year my wife and I committed to ditch our after dinner snacks. We like to celebrate our only alone time together throughout the week and this is one way we express that.

Our kids made their own decision. They were asked to come up with their own joint fast. After much discussion, they presented us with their agreed upon proposal. The consensus among them was to fast from streaming movies, including YouTube kids, Netflix etc[ii].

This is what being part of the Church; or as Karl Barth would state it, the Commonwealth of Christ, means to us. Being part of the Church is an evolving journey that sometimes, though not always, involves the revolving door of routine. Lent comes in many different colours, applications and ethnicities. What unites all those in their diversity is Jesus Christ, the absence of Pride.

For Lent to be what Lent is, humility must win. It is a time for a more active participation in the life of God; a time where minds, deeds, hearts and attitudes are directed towards focusing more intensely and intentionally, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Homeschooling isn’t always filled with routine. It involves random group activities or popcorn and movie marathons like watching Ben Hur. Like lent, stopping to look and listen for lessons as they present themselves requires humility.

As I’ve pointed out few times here in the past, pride is not compatible with love, self-denial and grace go hand-in-hand.

It requires stopping, breathing in grace and exhaling the dust accumulated over the past year. We are set free by God to do so, if only we would ‘submit to God, and resist the devil’ (James 4:7)  and ‘put on (not put out) the armour of light’ (Romans 13:12). Like Bible memory verses the evolving journey involves new routine that breaks unhealthy routines that have long ago over-stayed their welcome.

We are broken by the Word of God, pulled out of mindless routines, soul sucking environments and away from merciless task masters. Called to remember that by, in and through Him; His faith, His journey, His-story, we are made new and called out to live as one who is adopted by a Father who reached for us, so that we may be free, and therefore permitted, to reach out for Him.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5, ESV)


[i]  Mason, E. 2014 Beat God To The Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life,  B & H Publishing

[ii] Lent is 40 days and doesn’t include Sundays due to it being a traditional day of celebration.

At the beginning of this term, I sat down and assigned a few songs for my youngest daughter to learn on the guitar. One of those songs was a tune we do in the mornings called Open the Eyes of My Heart.

It took her a few weeks to pull together the chords, and her skill level was where I expected it to be. My daughter did okay for a beginner, but then she blew me away with something completely unexpected.

With gusto, she started singing. I decided to record the “proud dad” moment and accompanied her. Here is that moment: (Bare in mind that this is the first time I’d actually heard her sing. Also, my daughter hasn’t had any formal vocal training and the song is recorded using a smartphone).

 


I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…’

(Ephesians 1:16-18, ESV)

Song credit: Paul Baloche,  Integrity Music, 1997.

‘Accidental Courtesy’ is a recent release documentary featuring African-American musician, speaker and activist, Daryl Davis.

Davis explores the possibility of change through dialogue and relationship. In the documentary we see and hear about how he actively sought out members of the Klu-Klux-Klan in order to ask them one on one, why, because of the colour of his skin, he was hated so much. Especially since they didn’t know him nor had they ever met him. Throughout the process, documented over a series of years, Davis presents the outcome.

Here is the promised part two of our reviews of, and responses to, this phenomenal story. Part one can be located here.

Accidental Courtesy

In his documentary called ‘Accidental Courtesy’ Daryl Davis, who is an African American, talks about racism. He knows what it’s like to be oppressed and set apart by others. He has befriended members of the Ku Klux Klan and even though they have different opinions, they respect each other. The KKK is an American post-Civil War secret society who wants white people to have “supreme authority”; its members claim to be Christians, and are known for burning crosses on the front of black people’s houses

Merriam-Webster defines Racism as the ideological belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and the racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. This is something that should not be encouraged. Racism bullies others because of their skin colour. This is similar to the bullying of kids at school. Racism, like a bully, picks on people who are different. It makes them feel powerful and strong.

When members of the KKK met and talked with Daryl Davis, their views of African Americans changed significantly. For example, some of the members have resigned from the KKK and have given him the cloaks and hoods they wore. Daryl has a few dozen of these. He also has badges and accessories. Daryl didn’t intend to help change their hearts and minds, but he’s criticized for interacting with them.

Some African Americans don’t like Daryl Davis for doing this. He met with representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement and they refused to shake his hand or to listen to what he had to say. They stated their opinion to him but chose not to listen to what he had to say.

Daryl Davis also is a musician and lecturer. He plays the keyboard and piano very well. He also goes to colleges and talks about how two people with different views have a conversation. According to him, two people might be yelling, screaming and banging their fists on the table, but “as long as they’re talking, they’re not fighting.”(-Daryl Davis) If both people can discuss their views and opinions with each other then there is a kind of respect between them; Daryl and the people he met from the KKK did this well.

In conclusion, I think that Daryl Davis’ documentary is good. It shows how racism works and how it can be countered. His being open to talk with members of the Ku Klux Klan was a decision he made. I believe that God used Daryl Davis like a messenger to help those members from the KKK to realise that harassing African Americans wasn’t God’s way. I learnt what racism looks like and it isn’t something to be proud of. People should respect each other even if they look different. Everyone should be treated equally and be shown respect. From different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, God made all humans, no matter what race or colour, unique. We shouldn’t resent that, we should accept and embrace it.

Whether a person’s skin is black or white, it doesn’t matter because we’re all created in God’s image. To say otherwise is to create God in our image.

(A.Lampard, Yr 9 23rd March 2017)


Sources:

‘Racism’ Encyclopaedia Britannica

Davis, D. 2016 Accidental Courtesy

Disclaimer: We received no payment of any kind for our response to, or our review of this material.  

‘Accidental Courtesy’ is a recent release documentary featuring African-American musician, speaker and activist, Daryl Davis.

Davis explores the possibility of change through dialogue and relationship. In the documentary we see and hear about how he actively sought out members of the Klu-Klux-Klan in order to ask them one on one, why, because of the colour of his skin, he was hated so much. Especially since they didn’t know him nor had they ever met him. Throughout the process, documented over a series of years, Davis presents the outcome.

He found himself becoming friends with some members of the Klu-Klux-Klan. Developing an understanding about the reasons for why a person might hold a racist view in light of the civil rights gains for African-Americans that have been made since the 1950’s.

This relationship, first formed by mutual respect resulted in a turnaround for those he’d made an effort to get to know. Whilst there is obvious evidence of this radical change, Davis is not afraid to highlight the fact that many remain ardently affected by the ideology they serve.

On the other side of the issues, Davis includes an exchange between himself and Black Lives Matter representatives, who despite the evidence and without allowing him to respond, passionately oppose his approach, claiming that no one can change, especially not a white racist.

After watching Davis’ documentary, I looked at my wife and immediately said to her that we need to add this to our watch list. I’ve since packed it into our resources for the key learning area we Aussies call, HSIE: Human Society and Its Environment, and last week I walked our homeschoolers through the issues presented by Davis.

I should also add, that our homeschoolers were already very aware of the importance of Martin Luther King Jnr. and the civil rights movement. The documentary helped to educate them on areas, such as the existence of the Klu-Klux-Klan, and the claims, reasons and issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

As part of bolstering the learning outcomes associated with ‘Accidental Courtesy‘, I have had two of my three high schoolers write a review and response. Daryl is also receiving flak for his outreach, by posting these reviews I hope to suggest to his critics that this documentary goes further in inspiring and educating than might be thought otherwise. The following review is the first of these two reviews:

 .

Accidental courtesy

Daryl Davis is a musician and a lecturer. In “Accidental Courtesy” he talks about racism and how Martin Luther King Jr. wanted the blacks and whites to live together instead of separating the people by the colour of their skin, which helps different groups to put each other down and beat each other up.

Daryl Davis talked about racism in America. Some police officers there have been abusing their power and are beating up black people because of their colour. For example: an African-American teenage boy was arrested and the police ignored his requests for an ambulance. The teenager died, in jail, the day after he was arrested.

In America there are groups of people called the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), that hate black people. They are known for burning crosses on black people’s lawns and throwing rocks at their windows which sometimes have hateful messages tied on them. Some Klans make out that God wants white people to rule and own America for themselves.

Daryl Davis is amazing; he has talked to many members of the KKK. Some of them, after they have talked to him, left the Klan. He has around 25-26 Klan member uniforms from the people who left. He also went to talk with a couple of African-American members from the Black Lives Matter group. One of them didn’t like where the conversation was going so he got up to leave and wouldn’t shake Daryl’s hand, then soon the other one left. He tried to talk to another man, but the man just swore at Davis and left. I think after that he felt very discouraged because they didn’t even give him a chance to talk at all about what he’s learned.

In conclusion, I think Daryl Davis is doing a good thing for America. It’s sad to know that people can’t get along, because someone’s skin is different to theirs. Martin Luther King Jr. would most likely have agreed to what Daryl Davis was doing to help America because Martin Luther King believed in removing the distinction between black and white. Those Klans are wrong!!! God wants us to love one another and get along with each other no matter what our skin colour, or disabilities. God made all of us and we are all the same on the inside no matter what the colour of our skin is. We need to learn to love people who look different to us, because everyone has a life that needs to be loved.To me there is no difference between black or white people.

(C.Lampard, Yr 7 20th March 2017)

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Davis, D. 2016 ‘Accidental Courtesy’ 

Disclaimer: We received no payment of any kind for this review.  

The original idea for this began as a random fifteen second video for Instagram. It then developed into a random set of videos after a game of ‘RISK’ between myself, my nephew and a friend.

Excluding the Bruce Lee segments, all the footage was recorded using an iphone 5. The sequencing and production was also done on the smart phone.

It may not win awards for cinematographic excellence, BUT it’s a win when it’s measured against making my kids laugh so hard that it inspires them to utilize creativity and match that with laughter.

One of the best homeschool lessons we can offer our kids is in teaching them the importance of knowing when to take themselves seriously, and when not to. What better to do this than to lighten up and set the example?

As Solomon wrote, ‘a joyful heart is good medicine’ (Prov. 17:22) and ‘a glad heart makes a cheerful face’ (Prov. 15:13)

 


 

1st-feb-2017-041In searching for a great way two kick-start our lessons for the second day of the new school year, I chose to adapt an activity I found on Apologia’s Instagram feed.

The objective was to draw a bird house and then write a brief blurb about it, as if you were trying to sell it.The idea wasn’t too hard to replicate.

Instead of it just being about science, I figured we could expand the activities usefulness to include commerce, creative writing and some music appreciation in the background for good measure.

So, I created my own template and as we do from time to time, we put on some old vinyl records and hit the drawing board.

The new objective still included coming up with, and drawing their own nest. The difference, though, was that it could be any kind of nest related to the ant, beaver, crocodile or bird.

After the nests were drawn, the goal was to write a description under the separate headings of features and benefits.

What we ended up with was a

Secret Ant Base” that looked like an ant and “came with 6 rooms, 1 room fit for a Queen, bomb shelter, nukes, rockets, and boats with all the accessories. [Benefits include] active security system and privacy.”

Second on the list was a

Lovely House For Beavers”, featuring ‘’lots of room, lovely interior, with storage room for lots of food. [Benefits included] It’s safe, can be hot or cold, has an [underwater] escape hatch and comes with furniture”

Third on our list we saw a for sale sign put up on Beaver’s House from Narnia,

“Situated on a frozen lake, this lovely home has two beds built into the wall, windows with amazing views of the forest and water surrounding it.[Benefits include] having good neighbours who could be relied upon for help if ever needed”

Fourth on the list we had an

Awesome Mansion For Birds”, featuring bedrooms, dining hall, attic, satellite radar dish, a boat that goes under water, guns and a scanner. [Benefits include] safety, security and peace of mind.”

Last on the list was a

Ant Colony Housing”, which features two entry ways, storerooms, two large worker sleeping quarters, and one egg chamber. [Benefits include] being situated under a massive food and water source, with connecting tunnels.”

To finish the project off, each one of our homeschoolers wrote a summary consisting of two sentences or more, about why they think this would be a great product to buy.

The primary key learning area covered, for us here in Australia, is called HSIE (Human, Society and its Environment) – this is part of the government recognised standard called the Australian Curriculum – which includes history, social studies, indigenous Australian studies and commerce.

Whilst we have freedom to choose our syllabus from infants to primary, to Junior High School, the curriculum must include the key learning areas set by the government, and we must prove that we’ve adequately met them.

This turned out to be an exciting lesson in marketing a product; learning why great product knowledge is the key to building loyal customers and making a successful sale.

Secondary key learning areas that benefited from this small project included science and creative arts.

If you’re keen to give this activity a go, I’ve added my adapted template as a downloadable PDF in the bottom of this post. Feel free to adjust it, copy it, borrow or make it your own.


PDF Link: For Sale: Build and Sell