Monday, July 29, 2013

An Educational Pondering

Last night I had a conversation with a family friend, who is also a fellow homeschooler, that just has me ruminating.  He informed me that his children had not completed their school work from the previous school year and had been working on it throughout the summer and, unaware of our approach to education, wondered if we had the same issue.  I replied with a simple no.  He looked a bit flabbergasted and pressed on by asking if they had been engaged in any academic pursuits throughout the summer.  As we are always scoping out subjects that others would consider academic I replied, "Of course."  Wanting to know what sorts of things we had been doing I shared, among other things, that Maceo had developed an interest in astrophysics and had begun studying it.  He informed me that Maceo needed to do physics before jumping in to astrophysics.  I disagreed and expressed my belief that because Maceo's interest in astrophysics is so high he would learn the concepts of physics as he is learning about the physical properties of celestial bodies and the universe.  He looked doubtful.  He believes that there is a proper sequence that must be adhered to when learning academic subject matter.   I disagree.  If I require of Maceo that he take physics, calculus and all other maths leading up to calculus prior to delving in to astrophysics I imagine he could lose interest in the initial subject that excited him.  I also imagine that if I allow and encourage him to pursue astrophysics presently he might (1) succeed; (2) find that he needs more knowledge in physics and math prior to going further in his studies (and the study of these subjects will not then seem arbitrary to him but will be firmly grounded in purpose); (3) find that he isn't as interested in the subject as he had imagined (and even then will have likely learned something he didn't know before); or (4) (because it is worth restating) succeed.  When my child comes to me expressing an interest in any particular subject matter and expresses a desire to pursue studies of that subject matter why should I dampen their enthusiasm?  Why shouldn't he get to approach the subject matter of choice with the enthusiasm, optimism and can-do attitude of youth?  And why shouldn't I do all I can to be a part of preserving that attitude?  I believe that he should and I should and that is what I strive for.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Fair Has Begun!

The band marches in playing some funky music and the fair officially begins.
We consume our traditional root beer in a jug and fresh-squeezed lemonade... 
and funnel cakes and hand-dipped foot long corn dogs.
And we head over to the exhibit hall to check out all the entries and to see how we fared.
Bishop took second with both his woodworking and recycling projects and took a first with his leatherworking project.
He took a second with his papercraft project and a first and grand champion with his rock collection.
His cookies, which were a creation of his own, received a blue ribbon as well.
And his lego model of The Robie House received a second place award.
Unfortunately, Christian's photography didn't place; it is a very difficult division to compete in.
We were pleased to see that they stood up well next to his competitiors work.
The joint family project, with four generations represented, received a blue ribbon. 
And, even Roxie's joint project with her daycare received a first place award.
All in all, it was a very exciting experience!
We will return to the fair soon to experience more of its wonderful offerings.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lifestyle of Learning Volume 25

July 14-20

Maceo has returned from his trip to New Mexico.  It was a really positive experience.  He bonded well with his fellow youth group members, met others from our city who were there with other churches, and enjoyed all that the camp had to offer.  He made special note of the mission work, the daily Bible lesson, and the Robbie Seay Band.  He did not take any pictures, however, others did and I will attempt to get copies.

Now Maceo will get to rest for a week prior to beginning another summer institute program at the community theatre.

Bishop completed his insect study merit badge requirements by raising a butterfly from its caterpillar stage.  He had done this before, when he was about five but was delighted to do it again.  Metamorphosis - truly a miracle.
He released the painted lady butterflies this week, with the exception of one with a damaged wing that is going to live with us a little while longer.

Most of Bishop's time was spent working on his projects for the fair.
Bishop stitching his leather work project.
Bishop's recycling project - a Dale Chihuly-inspired sculpture constructed from water bottles.
The Robie House Lego model - all 2746 pieces in place.
All of the fair projects, including Bishop's, Christian's and the family joint project, on display the evening before we took them to the fair.
Bishop was personally responsible for getting all of his projects checked in.

Maceo made a trip to the book store and the comic book store to try to add more to his growing collection of books.  He was also inspired to create his own personal library in his room; he scoured the house for books that he would like to read throughout his high school years.
The boys went to the library to get their rewards cards for the summer reading program.  Bishop played Minecraft and Maceo checked out a stack of books.
They have both been reading quite a bit and Maceo has been listening to podcasts related to movie analysis.
There was also vigorous astrophysics-related conversation amongst all the boys, Christian included.
We concluded the week by going to the community theatre and watching a summer institute production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  It was amazing.

It has been a week well-lived!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lifestyle of Learning Volume 24

I have another week of grand adventures to share with you.
Welcome to our lifestyle of learning for the week of July 7-13.

Maceo's adventure will take him to familiar territory but in an unfamiliar way.
He will be going to New Mexico but it will not be a family trip, he will be going with his youth group.
He will spend the week doing mission work.
Hopefully he will come back with some photos of his adventures.  If so, I will share them with you and give you an update.

In the meantime, Bishop, Christian and I had our own adventures.
We visited a Lebanese restaurant and had a most fabulous meal with hummus and gryos and kafta and lamb kebabs.
We look forward to going back.

We also went for a walk at the nature center.
What a beautiful walk.
We saw turtles, a deer wading through the river, a water snake
and a small muskrat trying to get himself a little lunch.
He was such a blast to watch!

Bishop and I played a new game, Tangoes.
This game is really quite tough.  Bishop beat me but that is not a surprise, is it?

Bishop worked diligently on projects to enter in to the fair.
He has signed up to enter ten different projects - card collection, other collection, paper craft, leather work, wood work, photography, cookies, knot board, recycling project, and locking block (lego) model.
This has kept him very busy.  He even taught me a bit about leather working.

Bishop also spent a lot of time grilling, researching grilling and grilling some more.

He treated us to one delicious meal after another.  He grilled chicken, salmon, polska kielbasa, brats, italian sausage, pork roast and salmon.  He made the most incredible smoked bacon, grilled onion and cheese sandwich.  He even grilled up two pies.
All I had to do all week was come up with side dishes which means all I had to do was slice up cucumbers and watermelon and such.  Unbelievable!

And we experienced more nature, this time in our own backyard.
We discovered that we have Carolina Wrens living in our backyard.
What a beautiful song they have!

The end of the week found us going on a walk throughout the neighborhood
and found us sipping on the great life!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lifestyle of Learning Volume 23

We began this week with a close encounter of the bat kind.  I was trimming back some low hanging branches when I heard a high pitched squeak and, out of my periphery, saw something largish (for the context) hit my arm.  Startled, I dropped the branches to the ground and saw a bat, wings outstretched but still attached to the branch, lying on the ground.  Of course, I called my naturalist, Bishop, out to take a peek.  The bat was laying so still that we had to look closely to see if he was still alive.  He was - his little nose was wiggling.  With a little prodding he finally released that branch and moved to a branch that was still intact.  We got to observe him sleeping for the rest of the day.  It was cool.

The boys attended youth group this week where they are studying where the Bible came from and are analyzing arguments related to the origins of the Bible.  I love how their youth leader is encouraging them to learn the tenants of logical analysis and is also encouraging them to apply logic in understanding worldviews and in developing their worldview.  I also love how their youth leader expects them to participate in the workings of the church.  This week they attended the budget meeting for the church.  At the moment the boys find it very tedious but they feel respected.  They are treated as young adults who have some responsibility in the matters of the church.

Bishop is working diligently on his projects for the fair.  He is researching potential papercraft projects and has begun his locking-block (aka Legos) model.  He is building The Robie House.  It has over 2000 pieces and 141 steps.  It is quite the undertaking.  Both of the boys worked on an art project that involved alcohol ink and spoons.
This project will be entered in the fair as a joint project.
There are four generations, ages 2-70, represented on this artwork.
We are very excited about it!

Maceo continues to consume movies.  He went to the theater three times this week.  I took him and Bishop to one summer blockbuster.  The other two movies were at the independent theater where he got to meet the owner and hopes to secure some sort of internship there to learn about the business of operating an independent theater.  One movie was about eco-terrorists and opened the door to conversation on varying worldviews and how worldview might impact the making of any movie.  It was an invigorating conversation.

Maceo spent the night with some friends.  They live in a very rural area and have a river running through their property.  Bishop and I went out to their house the following day.  We took the scenic route (which simply means that on the way there we got lost and were able to see parts of our state that we had never seen before - cool!).  We celebrated Independence Day with this wonderful family.
We had a really fabulous potluck and then did a fireworks show.
The boys were completely in charge of some pretty serious fireworks.
They relished the independence allowed them and understand the seriousness of the responsibility given to them.  They gave serious consideration to the way that the show might look to the audience while being vigilant about safety precautions; Bishop was the fire marshal making sure that sparks on the ground were extinguished, etc.
It was a really great evening and I was so proud of my young men!

The following day, we continued celebrating Independence day.
Bishop orchestrated an evening of grilled steaks, fireworks, and s'mores.
It was a really fantastic evening!

Bishop and Maceo continue to do a considerable amount of reading and ask to go to the bookstore quite frequently.  Maceo spent nearly two hours roaming a bookstore while Bishop and I went to a program put on by the Conservation Department.  While at the bookstore Maceo was inspired to create his own 'required reading' list; it is quite an extensive list.  Bishop attended a program about venomous snakes in our state at our nature center.
He said that he knew most everything that was presented but he did glean a little new information.  I personally learned a significant amount.

And in the midst of all this fun we also had to get Maceo prepared for church camp in New Mexico.  He will spend a week in New Mexico doing missions.
Life is truly a grand adventure!