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Learning Notes

October 7, 2008


  • We worked in Spelling Power.
  • We talked more about her research project, and I helped her come up with a plan.
  • She worked on some character sketches.
  • She and James have written about 11 pages on a story they’re doing together.
  • We did Lesson 12 C in Math-U-See Pre-Algebra — The Distributive Property.
  • We started reading and discussing Are You Liberal, Conservative or Confused? by Richard Maybury.
  • She hung out with GamerGirl and YoshiGirl, and she and GG played Neverwinter Nights, a fantasy role playing game. (Strategic Thinking)

So far, I am liking Are You Liberal, Conservative or Confused? I picked it up because I realized that Sarah had almost no knowledge of the issues on the table in this presidential election and other recent events. Then I realized that the next time a presidential election, she’ll be old enough to vote. Holy Tempus Fugit, Batman!

I reckon that one of the fundamental responsibilities of a parent is to “graduate” a thinking voter — y’know? God knows we need more of those!

Are You Liberal, Conservative or Confused? starts by explaining that no article or book is wholly objective. Every writer brings a bias to the table, and he unconsciously slants his work in what facts he chooses to include. A simple, basic fact — but one that I suspect is often overlooked. I wonder how many voters really discriminate facts from opinion when they listen to a presentation on CNN or Fox news or read something on the internet? I wonder how many people even question the pearls of wisdom they hear in Wal Mart. (“I heard that Barack Obama is a radical muslim, and he won’t pledge allegiance to the flag. What? That’s not true? Really?)

The book goes on to discuss the concept of Natural Law. It doesn’t invoke the name of John Locke or any other thinker; I guess the author is trying to keep things simple. Still, I wished there had been some attribution.

I was surprised by how challenging Sarah found this book. I started guiding her slowly through the process of picking out, and discussing, the main points. More on that later.

Speaking of unraveling political speak, I just found an article titled Diagramming Sarah at one of my new favorite blogs, Farm School. The author, Kitty Burns Florey, writes:

There are plenty of people out there—not only English teachers but also amateur language buffs like me—who believe that diagramming a sentence provides insight into the mind of its perpetrator. The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, and generally stretch its capabilities, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression—or such an impoverished one that it can produce only hot air, baloney, and twaddle.

Priceless! 🙂

For her research paper, Sarah decided to interview local librarians on the topic of banned books. I knew she would have trouble narrowing down the topic of “banned books” to a specific question (or a few questions) that she could research. First I asked her to freewrite about it. She ended up with a list of frequently banned or challenged books that she’s read. Not much to work with there. Then I gave her a K-W-L Chart and had her fill in the first two columns (“What I Know,” “What I Want to Learn”) That’s how she came up with a few specific questions and conceived the idea of interviewing librarians at public libraries and schools. She seemed a bit sparked about it. It is SO AWESOME to see her starting to get excited about things again.


  • He has worked hard practicing Ode to Joy on the piano, and he had another music lesson today.
  • We worked in Math-U-See Gamma on multiplying a 3-digit number by a 2 digit number.
  • We worked in Spelling Power.
  • He worked on the story he’s writing.
  • We played Mythmatical Battles and had a treasure hunt (following a path of flash cards to the prize).
  • He hung out with Tori and Ashlyn.
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