Archives For Read & Discuss

Australia receives snow in its Alpine regions and on its higher inland plateaus. For those areas that’s freezing.

For everywhere else, it’s freezing if the temperature gets to anything below 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit).

For us, this means that homeschooling gets a little easier. Winter and reading go hand in hand. We don’t have to navigate the Australian heat. We just have to aim at keeping warm.

It doesn’t appear to matter which culture you come from. Short, cold days, and the inner warmth of houses, incubate tranquillity.

Creating an environment which encourages us to slow down, sit, zone out and learn from the stillness that surrounds us.

Picking up a book and reading it isn’t just easy, it’s tempting and looked forward to.

Our dedicated reading list this winter is fairly straight forward.

1. Trends in Food Technology: Food Processing (Anne Barnett)

I was apprehensive about taking this on. It appeared to be full of jargon, almost unusable. Since working through the 43 pages, however, I haven’t regretted the decision. Barnett’s approach is conversational. She also provides a glossary in the back for bold text words featured throughout the book.

Food Technology fits in perfectly with our PD.H.PE curriculum needs, discussing a range of areas including food processes, preservation, flavorings, fats, oils, and key distinctions. One I’m seriously considering adding permanently to our library.

2. The Reason & The Mystery (Lacey Sturm)

If you’re tagging along with me on the internet somewhere, you’ll be no stranger to the fact that we like Lacey Sturm. I read Lacey’s book, ‘The Reason’ in 2015 and wrote some thoughts on it, which can be found here [Review: The Reason].

Whilst the idea did occur to me, at that time I had no plans on using it for homeschool. However, believing the subjects discussed and the overall way Lacey handles those subjects, I decided to include ‘The Reason’ in our core texts for both Junior and Senior High School. Attached to this decision was the intention to follow this up with ‘The Mystery’.

As per our goal, we’ve completed ‘The Reason’ and are now moving through ‘The Mystery.’

These books were also chosen because of similarities between my own journey and that of Lacey’s. I think most people who’ve walked through darkness and pick this book up would find some form of consolation.

Those who haven’t receive an open window into a world of brokenness they may not fully understand or know little about. I ran an open discussion per chapter, which inspired productive and passionate dialogue between, and with my two older homeschoolers. Key learning areas include music appreciation and PD.H.PE. Each book raises topics that provide for a holistic lesson on physical development, mental health, boundaries and relationships.

3. Explore the World of Man-Made Wonders (Text by Simon Adams &  Illustrations by Stephen Biesty)

The journey we took together here wasn’t dull. We even managed to link in Matt Damon’s movie, ‘The Great Wall.’ Simon Adams and Stephen Biesty have created an illustrative tour which moves from the leaning Tower of Pisa, to the Pyramids onto St. Basil’s Cathedral, in Russia.

Add in a tablet and Google Earth, this activity became a whirl wind tour of some pretty cool sites. I think the only sour note for our homeschoolers, was having to the book work after it.

4. The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Similar to the previous book, I linked in a movie. This to me was a natural progression. The content of the poem can be seen reflected in The Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl. This might be news to some, but I guarantee you, there’s got to be a link somewhere.

Coleridge’s poem is big enough to be a small book. A very small book, of course, but a book none the less. If you have never read it, or are looking for an easier way to teach it, I used a PDF version – which can be sourced [here]. The length isn’t big enough to be a problem. I used three copies and lead from my treasured Penguin book of Coleridge Poems.

Finally, I added the book of Numbers to the schedule for this term. We’ve pulled through it and loved every second of it; made even more insightful thanks to John Calvin’s Commentary, a bit of Sun Tzu and some material from Charles Spurgeon.

All of which, while dated, still find traction in the connection between relevance, rubber and road.  Some of which I discussed in a somewhat well received (for me and my stats anyway) post called, Orderly Disorder: The Book of Numbers & Sun Tzu’s Five Pitfalls of a General.


Related reading:

Our Current Read & Discuss List (The 2017 Autumn Edition)
Our Current Read & Discuss Lists (The 2016 [Fashionably Late] Spring Edition)
Our Current Read & Discuss Lists (The 2016 Fashionable Winter Edition)
Tandem Reading & Technology

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.)