Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Becoming More Fully Human: Beauty for Truth's Sake


by Stratford Caldecott

This book was my meaty read for summer 2018. I didn't finish it before becoming swamped by high school planning, so it carried over into 2019. For many years, we have struggled in our homeschool to avoid viewing math as drudgery. I think we are fairly good at creating an environment in which math is often fun with Life of Fred books as our math texts and plenty of math games from books and our shelves.

Yet this environment is only partially meeting my goal. I have always thought the children should also learn to find the beauty and truth in mathematics, that it should somehow connect them to the natural world,  even though this beauty is something I only vaguely understand myself.

I hoped this book would show me how to reveal the beauty and truth of mathematics to my children in our homeschool.

The Forward is by Ken Myers (of Mars Hill Audio Journal):
Since the Logos is love, and since all things are created through him and for him and are held together in him, we should expect the logic, the rationality, the intelligibility of the world to usher in the delight that beauty bestows. 
A substantial part of the book focused on arguments explaining why the study of science and mathematics is enhanced and fulfilled through explicit relationships to the humanities and liberal arts. Among the many voices Caldecott gathers together in his reasoning are those of James S. Taylor in Poetic Knowledge, Bl. John Henry Newman in The Idea of a University, and Josef Pieper in Leisure the Basis of Culture. That last one is on my wish list.
An integrated curriculum must teach subjects, and it must teach the right subjects, but it should do so by incorporating each subject, even mathematics and the hard sciences, within the history of ideas, which is the history of our culture. Every subject has a history, a drama, and by imaginatively engaging with these stories we become part of the tradition.
Most of these ideas are not new to me and frankly, I was convinced of this much before I started the book, but Caldecott drew connections throughout history from ancient Greece to modern times that I found helpful. His prose is as elegant as you might hope based on the gorgeous cover of this book.
The purpose of an education is not merely to communicate information, let alone current scientific opinion, nor to train future workers and managers. It is to teach the ability to think, discriminate, speak, and write, and, along with this, the ability to perceive the inner, connecting principles, the intrinsic relations, the logoi, of creation, which the ancient Christian Pythagorean tradition (right through the medieval period) understood in terms of number and cosmic harmony.
Homeschooling with Charlotte Mason's philosophy means this relationship of ideas is already integral to our curriculum. We are reading history and science and geography together, allowing the story of humanity to be woven by the student from these different threads. Or rather, allowing the opportunity for these relationships to be developed; each student does his or her own hard work.

Moreover, though we have every intention of our children going to college or trade school and learning how to earn a salary so they can care for a family, either in a domestic church or in the Church, our educational goals are focused on providing the wonder and wisdom for our children to become the people God wants them to be. A job is only a small part of their lives.
The principle remains the same: knowledge is its own end--"worth possessing for what it is, and not merely for what it does." It is not to be valued for the power it gives us over nature, or even for the moral improvement it may bring about in us (even if these things may flow from it). It is to be valued for its beauty. "There is a physical beauty and a moral: there is a beauty of person, there is a beauty of our moral being, which is natural virtue; and in like manner there is a beauty, there is a perfection, of the intellect."
The quotes are Newman's from The Idea of a University.

After these basic arguments, Caldecott begins exploring numbers, shapes, and supernatural relationships. For example, he examines the "irrational beauty" of the golden ratio, phi, and the Fibonacci sequence. Supernatural relationships, like that between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, can be represented geometrically, revealing a greater depth to the relationship.
Then [pi] could be read as describing the relationship between the Persons, a relationship that is infinitely fruitful and never ending. Thus the endlessly flowing numbers of [pi] suggest the super-abundance of God's mercy, the infinite quality of his love, and the unlimited space opened up within the Trinity for the act of creation.
These explorations were exactly the kind of material I sought. Much of it is understandable without knowing too much higher level math, but the combination of mathematics and philosophy and theology made many of the discourses difficult to follow. Thales (before Pythagoras) showed how
the perpendicular line drawn from a right angle touching the circumference back to the hypotenuse will always equal the mean proportional between the segments into which it divides the diameter[.]
There's a diagram in the book for this one (and many others) that helps a little, but I still often found myself reading sections a second or third time to try to understand exactly what Caldecott meant. I'm certain I could glean even more from the book if I read it again.

In the end, though, the important idea is that these sorts of explorations reveal an inherent perfection of the universe which point us always to the Creator and his relationship with Creation.
Speculations like those I have mentioned in this chapter will appear forced to many. Yet we must return to the central idea that God's archetypal forms or Ideas are inevitably found within nature at every level, reflected with greater or lesser degrees of accuracy. That is not pantheism but Christian Platonism, perfectly compatible with the insights of theology and revelations of scripture.
Discussions of frequency, harmonics, and Chladni patterns allows Caldecott to connect a celestial harmony with liturgy, worship, and prayer. He quotes C. S. Lewis (Planet Narnia: The Seven Harmonies in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis by Micheal Ward).
[Celestial harmony] is the only sound which has never for one split second ceased in any part of the universe; with this positive we have no negative to contrast. Presumably if (per impossibile) it ever did stop, then with terror and dismay, with a dislocation of our whole auditory life, we should feel that the bottom had dropped out of our lives. But it never does. The music which is too familiar to be heard enfolds us day and night and in all ages.
All of these subjects must come together in our education. According to Caldecott, integrating science with poetry, art, music, and the humanities allows students, all of us, to understand the universe in a more complete way, one which will at the same time, allow for greater understanding in scientific and mathematical disciplines.
Music, architecture, astronomy, and physics--the physical arts and their applications--demonstrate the fundamental intuition behind the Liberal Arts tradition of education, which is that the world is an ordered whole, a "cosmos," whose beauty becomes more apparent the more carefully and deeply we study it. By preparing ourselves in this way to contemplate the higher mysteries of philosophy and theology, we become more alive, more fully human.
After reading this book, I have a greater appreciation myself for the beauty of mathematical thought and how the underlying principles of mathematics can reveal universal truths. It is not, however, a book I can simply read to my children or even realistically assign to a high school student. While it's been many years since I was in a college classroom, I have a far greater knowledge base than most high schoolers, and certainly a greater intrinsic interest, and I often struggled while reading the book.

So what I need know is for someone to take the next step. Use Caldecott's philosophy to write a mathematics curriculum or supplement or something I can share with my children.

I have received nothing in exchange for this post; all opinions are my own. I purchased this book at a local bookstore. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Change Is Possible and Some Places to Start: The Power of Habit


by Charles Duhigg

This is a book we're probably going to use in our tenth grade health course. It does a good job of explaining how habits work in real life and the steps that may help you identify cues and rewards if you are trying to modify your habits. It shares stories of difficulties in changing habits which will hopefully encourage the kids to develop good habits from the beginning. There are also examples of how people succeed because they spent time anticipating difficult situations, planning a response, and roll-playing it.
"Willpower isn't just a skill. It's a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there's less power left over for other things."
It can also be strengthened, like a muscle, when it is exercised.

There's a chapter on data collection by Target. (They all collect data; Target just made for a good story.) It's very disturbing how much companies know about us and how we seem to happily hand it over to them in exchange for a few coupons: thought-provoking for a teen.

A later chapter on gambling is similarly eye-opening. Between the information in this book and what I read in  The World Beyond Your Head (post coming on this excellent book...eventually), I'm starting to view the gambling industry as a curse on all mankind, so I'm glad First Son will have a chance to read a bit about it.

This is not a book by a man of faith, or at least, not a believer willing to admit it. For example, when writing about Alcoholics Anonymous, Mr, Duhigg explains how those who believe in a higher power are more likely to remain sober.
It wasn't God that mattered, the researches figured out. It was belief itself that made a difference. Once people learned how to believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could make a change.
Or maybe it's God.

He also reports on gay rights organizations in a laudatory manner. We have been discussing this sort of thing for a few years now, so my tenth grader will be surprised.

I also felt like he might be pushing the habit argument a little in the chapter on the civil rights movement. He qualifies the whole thing by saying there were other factors involved, but even so I think he oversteps. As always, I think Rosa Parks deserves a larger role. I don't think she was  just a tired woman who let the lawyers use her case; she was an active participant and decision-maker in the whole process. But I haven't actually read enough about her to be certain.

Finally, the chapter on Saddleback Church is odd. Perhaps I'm just uncomfortable with the idea (the author's not the church's) that being a part of a community of faith is nothing more than a series of habits. I thought about skipping this chapter in our lesson plans but have decided it might be interesting for First Son to consider how people outside a church think about what's happening inside it.

Overall, a fairly quick and interesting read that brings up skills I want First Son to realize exist and topics I'd like him to consider. I'm fairly certain I'll include it in our health course.

I have received nothing in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Economics for Land and People: What Matters?


by Wendell Berry

Kansas Dad had this book on our shelf. I wasn't sure it would be something we could use in high school, but after skimming a bunch of books on economics and finally settling on a main text for our economics study, I decided we needed something to address how our Christian faith should influence our ideas on economics. Wendell Berry isn't Catholic, but his thoughts on economic policy are relatively close to my own though far more eloquent.

Because this is a book of essays, many published in other sources years apart, there is a bit of a disjointed feel to the book. It's also sometimes a little depressing to think of Mr. Berry speaking and writing and living his ideals for so many years in a society that is only ever so slightly changing.

In the first essay, "Money Versus Goods," postulates an economy rooted in the land and people rather than entirely focused on money and spending.
But spending is not an economic virtue. Miserliness is not an economic virtue either. Saving is. Not-wasting is. To encourage spending with no regard at all to what is being purchased may be pro-finance, but it is anti-economic. Finance, as opposed to economy, is always ready and eager to confuse wants with needs. From a financial point of view, it is good, even patriotic, to buy a new car whether you need one or not. From an economic point of view, however, it is wrong to buy anything you do not need. [...] In an authentic economy, we would ask what the land and the people need. People do need jobs, obviously. But they need jobs that serve natural and human communities, not arbitrarily "created" jobs that serve only the economy.
While I don't think is it wrong to buy something you want but don't need, I do think in our society, we buy far more of our wants than we should. Kansas Dad and I do that less than many because we have purposefully chosen a lifestyle that by its nature limits our spending money, but also because we generally carefully consider any purchase. I still buy far more books than we need.

In "Major in Homecoming," Mr. Berry addresses education.
Education has increasingly been reduced to job training, preparing young people not for responsible adulthood and citizenship but for expert servitude to the corporations.
Those of us who homeschool are able to provide an education more focused on developing character and the ability to appreciate goodness and beauty, but we still live in the world. Our children will most likely go to college (Kansas Dad is a professor, after all) and we pray they are able to support themselves in adulthood, but we hope they will seek out the kind of education that makes them better people, not just better employees.

He touches on the same topic in "Economy and Pleasure."
The idea of the teacher and scholar as one called upon to preserve and pass on a common cultural and natural birthright has been almost entirely replaced by the idea of the teacher and scholar as a developer of "human capital" and a bestower of economic advantage.
Think about Wendell Berry the next time you see an advertisement for a college or university.

A number of the essays identify significant problems with the modern agricultural industry.
In addition to an array of labor-saving or people-replacing devices and potions, it has given us massive soil erosion and degradation, water pollution, maritime hypoxic zones, destroyed rural communities and cultures, a farming population dwindled almost to disappearance, toxic food, and an absolute dependence on a despised and exploited force of migrant workers.
First Son will be reading more about the agribusiness model in The Omnivore's Dilemma as part of his Health and Happiness course of study. (We'll be using the Young Reader's Edition because he'll be able to read it faster.)

Mr. Berry argues for a local economy designed to benefit the local people. He recommends economic policies and business practices that favor industries that are smaller, more diverse, and more comfortably nestled into communities. In "An Argument for Diversity:"
Two facts are immediately apparent. One is that the present local economy, based like the economics of most rural places exclusively on the export of raw materials, is ruinous. Another is that the influence of a complex, aggressive national economy upon a simple, passive local economy will also be ruinous.
More than once, Mr. Berry reminds us that the "solutions" for modern-day problems carry a future cost that may be as great or greater than the problems they purportedly solve.
But the industrial use of any "resource" implies its exhaustion. It is for this reason that the industrial economy has been accompanied by an ever-increasing hurry of research and exploration, the motive of which is not "free enterprise" or "the spirit of free inquiry," as industrial scientists and apologists would have us believe, but the desperation that naturally and logically accompanies gluttony.
One of the longer essays is "Conserving Forest Communities." I'd like First Son to read this one, despite it's length. In in, Mr. Berry uses a model of managing a forest for the well-being of a community while considering first of all the future of the forest to imagine how such an economy might work on a grander scale. While there are still many questions about how we might shift our nation toward such an economy, the idea of the ideal is a hopeful note in what may otherwise be a somber book.
The ideal of the industrial economy is to shorten as much as possible the interval separating investment and payoff; it wants to make things fast, especially money. But even the slightest acquaintance with the vital statistics of trees places us in another kind of world. A forest makes things slowly; a good forest economy would therefore be a patient economy. It would also be an unselfish one, for good foresters must always look toward harvests that they will not live to reap. 
The last essay, "The Total Economy," looks critically at the "free-market" economy and it's underlying assumptions. I think this essay is one of the most important for our study of economics as it directly addresses the kinds of arguments we find beneath and behind every economic report in America.

I'm still thinking about what our economics study will look like, but some of these essays will be included. Here are the ones I'm considering:
  • Money Versus Goods
  • An Argument for Diversity
  • Waste
  • Conserving Forest Communities (perhaps only part of this one)
  • The Total Economy 
I could have written a post about every essay in the book. It's wonderful, if slightly depressing. Highly recommended.

All opinions are my own. I have received nothing in exchange for writing this post. Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Thinking of Notre Dame: Heaven in Stone and Glass


by Robert Barron

I found this book at our library shortly after the devastating fire at Notre Dame in Paris. In it, a younger not-yet-Bishop Barron explains the theology behind many of the great cathedrals, particularly in France. During his graduate studies, Bishop Barron spent much time wandering the cathedrals and even leading tours at Notre Dame. He shares his own personal experiences as well as a bit of art and architectural history.

The book is not very long and provides valuable background for people like me who have grown up in the Midwestern United States where cathedrals are few and far between (and were often renovated to their detriment in the 1980s).
Medieval people loved the earth -- and all that grows from it or moves upon it -- for they saw it with biblical eyes: God made the sea, the dry land, the plants and animals and insects, pronouncing all of them good. Therefore, God's house ought to teem with life. Accordingly, everywhere you turn in a Gothic cathedral, you see, carved in the stones and etched in the glass, God's exuberant creation: vines, leaves, tendrils, trees, birds, fish, sheep, and dogs.
A chapter on Sacred Geometry focused on stained glass window. Bishop Barron shows how the intricate patterns reveal an innate characteristic of God.
In short, God is a harmony, a blend of voices. If we wish to name the ultimate reality, we cannot use the awkward category of substance, but must reach instead for the language of numeric relationality, pattern, and dynamic rapport.
I was reminded of another book I was reading at the same time, Beauty for Truth's Sake. The intricate geometrical shapes of stained glass windows and other medieval works of are presented as glorious evidence of the inter-relationship of the Trinity and the mark of Creation by an omnipresent and perfect God.

This would be a marvelous book to add to a study of church architecture or medieval church history in high school. It would also be a wonderful book to read before going on a vacation or pilgrimage to Europe.

Opinions in this post are my own. I have received nothing in exchange for writing it. The links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Charlotte Mason's Geographical Reader for High School Geography: Africa

Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, but just imagine it's the Sahara
I wrote earlier this week on how we fared using Charlotte Mason's Geographical Readers for Elementary Schools Book 5 for ninth grade geography, following the recommendation on the
Mater Amabilis™ beta high school plans, available in the high school Facebook group and linked from the Mater Amabilis™ website (scroll down to Levels 5 and 6).

Today I'm going to share what I've planned for next year in tenth grade: Africa.

I did find an alternate book that at least attempted to cover the entire continent: Africa by John Reader. (He has two books with the same name. This one is the companion to the PBS series published by National Geographic.) This book is lavishly illustrated, of course. It divides Africa into chapters based on environment: Savanna, Desert, Rain Forest, Mountains, Sahel, Great Lakes, Coast, and Southern Africa. It covers not just the ecological regions, but history, economics, and current events. Published in 2001, it includes quite a lot on the HIV crisis, the Rwanda genocide, and the end of apartheid in South Africa. All of these lend themselves to updated information using something like the curated articles I gathered for our study of Asia. With only eight sections, even if a student only read half a chapter each week, the study would be a little short. Finally, the writing is just what you might expect from a National Geographic magazine: often quite good but not universally lovely.

So I decided to use Charlotte Mason's Geographical Reader again, but this time I created a study guide that includes excerpts of the text I found most interesting and least offensive. (There's still plenty of room for discussions of parochialism and racism.) There are some marvelous first person accounts of exploration in the first few chapters. If you are following the recommended course of study for Level 5 Year 2 in British History (the second half of Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples), the last few weeks of the year will create an interesting conjunction of the British involvement in South Africa from Churchill and Mason at slightly different points in time.

Because there are only sixteen chapters on Africa in the Mason text and I'm a little crazy, I decided we could use both books.

The study guide I created for Mason's book includes a list of places and locations to mark on maps I printed from D-Maps.com. (Someone posted about this site in our Facebook group; it's a fantastic source for maps.) There are a few notes, then the text of her book (the parts I liked) with annotations on place names, people mentioned, and other things I wanted to qualify. These readings will be narrated. For those that are interested, I have shared this study guide in the Mater Amabilis™ high school Facebook group.

After reading from Mason's book, my son will go to the list of curated articles in his Google drive. I've tried to be very selective, but there are often quite a few required ones as the Mason text is usually shorter. For each required article or site, I've asked him to write a sentence or two in his geography notebook. Then he should select one of them for a more substantial narration (oral or written, his preference). Again, I've shared this list with the Mater Amabilis™ high school Facebook group and will continue to edit and add to it for the next eight years (until my youngest finishes tenth grade).

The study guide I wrote for Reader's book includes a similar mapping activity for each chapter. In addition, I've included definitions for quite a few words I thought might be unfamiliar to a high school student (at least my tenth grader). To integrate this book with Mason, we'll be reading the chapters out of order. I think you could skip some of them, too. Because these chapters are substantially longer, I have not assigned any curated articles on these weeks. I did include some in appropriate places that cover topics surfaced by this book like HIV and De Beers mining activities. This book will be narrated, but we'll see how it goes. Each chapter covers quite a lot of material and it might work best to focus on just one part for a narration. I will share this study guide in the Facebook group as well.

When labeling maps, my son will use our atlas, which is an older version of the National Geographic Concise Atlas of the World.

I also intend to have First Son read a travel/adventure book on Africa once each week. I'm still deciding what that will be.

Finally, First Son will choose one book each term to read as supplemental African geography. These will not be narrated, merely enjoyed. There might be some conversations about them arising naturally, but no exams or anything. For the most part, these are pulled from the optional list included in the Mater Amabilis™ beta high school plans and rely heavily on books I already owned or could get easily.

I think if you were looking to simplify, you could use either Mason's text or Reader's text. With either one, I'd encourage including map work and contemporary articles. The chapters in Reader's book could easily be divided in half to spread the study out a bit. We're doing this year of study in tenth grade, but there's no reason it couldn't also be done in one of the other high school years. There are some topics best for mature readers like genocide, horrors of the slave trade, terrorism, and HIV.

Just in case anyone is interested in following our schedule, I'm including it below.

Week 1

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Introduction (Mason Study Guide) and Introduction (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Introduction

Week 2

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Africa (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Africa

Week 3

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Dr. Livingstone’s Discoveries in South Africa (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Dr. Livingstone’s Discoveries in South Africa

Week 4

Reading Assignment (narrate) - African Village Life (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - African Village Life

Week 5

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Dr. Livingstone on the Condition of South Africa (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Dr. Livingstone on the Condition of South Africa

Week 6

Reading Assignment (narrate) - The Discoveries of Captains Burton, Speke, Grant &c. (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - off week

Week 7

Reading Assignment (narrate) - off week

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - The Discoveries of Captains Burton, Speke, Grant &c.

Week 8

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Abyssinia (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Abyssinia

Week 9

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Mountain (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 10

Selections from Christian History issue 105 (linked in the Mater Amabilis™ plans). Write a brief paragraph on two. Choose one for a longer written narration.
- A tour of ancient Africa pp 9-13
- From Abba Salama to King Lalibela pp 18-21
- See how these Christians love one another pp 29-33

Week 11

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Savanna (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

quiz next week on what you've covered so far: Mason (through Abyssinia), Reader (Mountain, Savanna), Christian History articles

Week 12

Quiz #1:
- Mason: Introduction, Africa, Dr. Livingstone's Discoveries, African Village Life, Condition of South Africa, Discoveries of Captains Burton etc., Abyssinia  (and related curated articles)
- Reader: Moutain, Savanna

- Christian History articles

Week 13

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Egypt Part I (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Egypt Part I

Week 14

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Egypt Part II and Egypt Part III (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Egypt Part II and Egypt Part III

Week 15

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Up the Nile (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Up the Nile

Week 16

Reading Assignment (narrate) - The Soudan (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - The Soudan

Week 17

Reading Assignment (narrate) - The Soudan (continued) (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - The Soudan (continued)

Week 18

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Sahel (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 19

Letters from Niger (These are prayer letters written by friends of ours who are missionaries in Niger. If you're not lucky enough to know these amazing people or others serving God in Africa, just skip it.)

You don’t have to read every letter, but read a handful from different times and consider what life is like in southern Niger. Tell what you've learned (oral or written narration).

Week 20

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Rainforest (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 21

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Sahara (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Sahara

Week 22

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Desert (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 23

Reading Assignment (narrate) - The Barbary States (Mason Study Guide

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - off week

Week 24

Reading Assignment (narrate) - off week

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - The Barbary States

Quiz next week on Mason (Egypt through Barbary States), Reader (Sahel, Rainforest, Desert), and Christians in Niger

Week 25

Quiz #2:
- Mason: Egypt Parts I, II, and III, Up the Nile, The Soudan, Sahara, Barbary Statess (and related curated articles)
- Reader: Sahel, Rainforest, Desert

- Christians in Niger (prayer letters)

Week 26

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Great Lakes (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 27

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Coast (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 28

Reading Assignment (narrate) - South Africa (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - South Africa

Week 29

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Cape Colony (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - Cape Colony

Week 30

Reading Assignment (narrate) - Southern Africa (John Reader's Africa Study Guide)

Week 31

Reading Assignment (narrate) - The Islands Round Africa (Mason Study Guide)

Curated Articles (write 1-2 sentences for each link; choose one for a narration) - The Islands Round Africa

Quiz next week: Mason (South Africa through Islands Round Africa), Reader (Great Lakes, Coast, Southern Africa)

Week 32

Quiz #3:
- Mason: South Africa, Cape Colony, The Islands Round Africa (and related curated articles)

- Reader: Great Lakes, Coast, Southern Africa


This post contains my own opinions. I have received nothing in exchange for writing it. Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Charlotte Mason's Geographical Reader for High School Geography: Asia

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (not Asia, but a steppe)
The Mater Amabilis™beta high school plans, available in the high school Facebook group, suggest a semester's course in Geography, split over the four years of high school, using Charlotte Mason's Geographical Readers for Elementary Schools Book 5.
  • Level 5 Year 1 (ninth grade): Asia
  • Level 5 Year 2 (tenth grade): Africa
  • Level 6 Year 1 (eleventh grade): The Americas
  • Level 6 Year 2 (twelfth grade): Australasia
Mason's book is available on Google Books (linked above). I purchased a print on demand copy. (Take care if you try to buy one on Amazon or already printed; some of them say book 5 but are actually other geographical readers by Mason. It can be difficult to tell from the titles and descriptions.) It came well-bound but understandably a bit difficult to read as it's merely an exact copy of the one they scanned. (It's also got a smeared incorrect page in the section on the Americas, though the correct text is available in Google Books.) My son found this text physically difficult to read because of the smudges. He also had trouble making much sense of the maps which have a lot of detail and sometimes archaic names in decorative script.

Mason's book has 26 sections on Asia and we just read one section each week, regardless of length.

Drawing heavily from a study guide started by a moderator in the Mater Amabilis™ high school group, I wrote a study guide (which is shared in the Facebook group) that included map work. He was directed to find places mentioned in the Mason text in our atlas. (We have an older version of National Geographic Concise Atlas of the World, which seems sufficient without being too ponderous or expensive.) I spent a long time online trying to match modern names with those of Mason's time, but I justified it because I think being able to match descriptions to points and areas on a map makes it easier to understand the connections between geographical features in theory and the world we experience on the ground.

Finding things on the map didn't work any better in geography than it did in world history, so next year that's changing to labeling a map before each reading.

Mason's descriptions of the land are wonderful.
To the very edges of the vast central table-lands do the rich rain-winds penetrate; but, alas for the highlands, lofty mountains tower like battlements all round the plateaus; the rain-winds touch their cold, snowy brows, and the moisture in the air condenses, becomes snow or rain, and at last pours in floods down the steep sides of the highlands, and feeds the mighty rivers which rise upon their borders; but all the time, never a rain-cloud climbs the summits of the flanking mountains to fall in delicious drops upon the parched plateaus; and these central highlands of Asia remain rainless regions.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Mason writes as a nineteenth century British imperialist, so her descriptions of people are painful to modern ears. At first, they gave us a place to discuss racism, imperialism, and parochialism. Long before the end of the year, I think we were just tired of wading through the disparaging current of words. For next year, I'm just using excerpts from Mason's text. I don't want to abandon it because some of the writing is marvelous. Plus, I wasn't able to find another text (at least for Asia, as I think ahead to my other students) that covers the whole sweep of the continent.

After reading Mason's chapter, my son would go to the computer where he followed links from a Google document to articles curated by me on areas covered by the Geographical Reader. This was my favorite part of the course.

For these resources, I was looking for:

  • archeological and historical references to the accomplishments and value of the cultures (as a contrast to Mason's views and just because it's good in today's world)
  • more information on things mentioned (like an article on foot binding in China)
  • major current events in the news
  • environmental impact or issues in the area
  • some basic historical facts to complement or continue what Mason might have mentioned or that are particularly pertinent for an American student

I drew heavily on National Geographic and BBC Travel with some background things from History.com, Biography.com, and the World Heritage List.

I sorted the articles into "required" which he would read and narrate, "recommended," and "optional." As far as I know, he rarely clicked on anything recommended or optional. For tenth grade, I combined those latter two into one section named something like "for more information."

If you're interested, that list of curated articles is shared in the Facebook group. My son has finished Asia, but I'll be adding other articles of interest as I see them for the next seven years, until my youngest completes ninth grade.

In addition, my son read articles selected from two issues of Christian History (a magazine linked from the Mater Amabilis™ plans): Christianity in India and Christianity in Asia. I also asked him to read one other selection during his independent reading during the year from a handful of books set in Asia. He chose Thirty Seconds over Tokyo by Captain Ted Lawson. These were supplemental reading and were not narrated or included in any exams.

I love Geography: I love old maps and new maps and reading about all the places of the world. I loved this course much more than my son did. I think he merely endured it. I had wanted him to become familiar with the map of Asia and I think he did pretty well by the end on the geographical features, but not as well on the modern countries. Changing his map work from finding things in the atlas (which honestly I think he often just skipped) to labelling a map with make a big difference. The curated articles were a great way to introduced more nuanced reflections on Mason's topics and a brief look at events on the continent since the 1880s. Using online sources my son was also able to see lots of pictures and a few videos of the areas. This method is still not as good as visiting a place in person, but we can't all see the entire world in person.

I think a family could skip geography or could simply read a few of the suggestions for Asia (or another continent) from the Mater Amabilis™ plans in place of these more formal plans rather than in addition to it. I also think a family could choose to do one or two of the continents in any order. Certainly the Mason book can be read in any order; it is not necessary to read on Asia before reading on Africa.

I wanted to include this formal study because I think a basic knowledge of the world outside American borders is a necessary part of being a citizen of the world today. It allows us to think more broadly about our own issues and connects us to the larger universal church. It also balances our literature and history studies which here on the Range focus almost entirely on Europe and America.

I'm just finishing our tenth grade plans with some alterations to our strategy and will post those soon.

This post is my own opinion. I have received nothing in exchange for writing it. Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Second Half of Churchill's Abridged History (Level 5 Year 2, Tenth Grade)


Last year we started A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: A One-Volume Abridgment by Winston Churchill, as recommended by the Mater Amabilis™ high school plans, available in the Facebook group. First Son will read this over two years for British History, which is really pre-American History, so it fits into a National History slot. I have personally really enjoyed the Churchill book. His character shines through the words. This is no text book pretending to be objective; he has definite views on the achievements of England's kings, or the lack thereof. More than anything else, I feel like he's focusing on the foundations of English government as it "progressed" and developed into the system in place in modern times.

As I read the chapters ahead of First Son, I would identify challenging vocabulary and terminology for him. I'd underline them and write the definition right there on the page. Churchill is a serious academic and some of his words were outdated when he wrote them half a century ago.

Even with the vocabulary help, First Son struggled a little with this text. He would read it easily enough, but narrating was difficult. The text reads like a story, but at the end it can be hard to condense it because Churchill packs a lot of action and thought into each sentence. First Son would narrate, but he'd often only narrate a few paragraphs. When it came time for an exam or test, he struggled to really remember anything of substance other than the little bit he had actually managed to narrate or he would confuse different people who'd appeared in the same chapter.

So next year, in tenth grade, I'm going to adapt our narrations using advice from one of the wise moderators of the Facebook group. First Son will write one sentence about each paragraph, ideally answering the question: What did you learn about the person or event described? I will probably still give tests, but I might make them open-note. The more he writes (which would really help him remember anyway), the easier he'll find the tests.

Last year, there were a few recommendations for primary source material to read alongside Churchill. I asked First Son to read and narrate those, but didn't have any test or other assessment for them. For the second half of Churchill, there weren't as many recommendations, so I spent some time searching online and came up with...something for each week. Some of these will, I think, be marvelous. I haven't read them yet myself, but I'll link them below for anyone interested in giving them a try with us.

I didn't make a post like this for the first half of Churchill, but I'm going to go ahead with the second half and maybe someday get back to the first half. Below you'll find our Churchill readings for chapters 25-49 with some map work from Map Trek (affiliate link; I don't have the hardcover atlas, just the CD-ROM) and the primary source material I'm going to try. I printed the primary source material and put it all in a binder for my son. That way, it avoids additional internet time and means I won't have to check for broken links before my other children reach tenth grade.

Week 1

1. Chapter 25: The Protestant Struggle pp 254-260 (whole chapter) AND MapTrek Medieval Map: The Reformation Map 24 p. 67

2. Chapter 26: Gloriana pp 261-268, stop before second paragraph, "War was not certain..."

Primary Source Reading - Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More pp 2-15, stop before the last paragraph. (I printed the whole book from the Center for Thomas More Studies website.)

Week 2

1. Chapter 26: Gloriana pp 268-277 (end of chapter) AND MapTrek New World: Elizabethan London Map 2 p. 28


2. Chapter 27: The United Crowns pp 278-285, stop before second paragraph, "The struggle with Spain had long..."

Primary Source Reading - Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More pp 15-30, stop before the last paragraph.

Week 3

1. Chapter 27: The United Crowns pp 285-290 (end of chapter)


2. Chapter 28: Charles I and the Personal Rule pp 291-297, stop before last paragraph, "By all these means under a modest..."

Primary Source Reading - Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More pp 30-42, stop before the last paragraph.

Week 4

1. Chapter 28:  Charles I and the Personal Rule pp 297-303 (end of chapter)


2. Chapter 29: The Revolt of Parliament pp 304-310, stop before second paragraph, "During September and October..."

Primary Source Reading - Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More pp 42-49, stop at the second to last paragraph, before "When Sir Thomas…".

Week 5

1. Chapter 29: The Revolt of Parliament pp 310-315, stop before the last paragraph, "From the beginning of 1643…"


2. Chapter 29: The Revolt of Parliament pp 315-324 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More pp 49-59.

Week 6

1. Make-up / study day

2. Quiz on chapters 25-29

Primary Source Reading - The Diary of Samuel Pepys Sunday 2 September 1666 (I printed all of these diary readings from this website.)

Week 7

1. Chapter 30: The Axe Falls pp 325-332, stop before "The English Republic had come…"


2. Chapter 30: The Axe Falls pp 332-343 (end of chapter) AND MapTrek New World Map: Puritan England Map 17 p. 58

Primary Source Reading - The Diary of Samuel Pepys 3-4 September 1666

Week 8

1. Chapter 31: The Restoration pp 344-352, stop before last paragraph, "It is inevitable that…"


2. Chapter 31: The Restoration pp 352-358 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - The Diary of Samuel Pepys 6-7 September 1666

Week 9

1. Chapter 32: The Popish Plot pp 359-364, stop before first paragraph, "During this year 1680…"


2. Chapter 32: The Popish Plot pp 364-369 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - The Test Act

Week 10

1. Chapter 33: The Bloodless Revolution pp 370-375, stop before second paragraph, "The national fear and hatred…"


2. Chapter 33: The Bloodless Revolution pp 375-380 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Declaration of Indulgence of King James II, April 4, 1687

Week 11

1. Chapter 34: William of Orange pp 381-388, stop before second paragraph, "The Continental ventures…"


2. Chapter 34: William of Orange pp 388-395 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Declaration of the Prince of Orange, October 10, 1688

Week 12

1 - Make-up / study day

2 - Quiz on chapters 30-34

Primary Source Reading - The Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy (1729), Author's Preface

Week 13

1. Chapter 35: The War of the Spanish Succession pp 396-402, stop before the last paragraph, "All Europe was hushed..."


2. Chapter 35: The War of the Spanish Succession pp 402-412 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Second by Horace Walpole ch. 1 (I think you could use a lot more of this book if you wanted.)

Week 14

1. Chapter 36: The Last of the Stuarts pp 413-419 (whole chapter)


2. Chapter 37: The House of Hanover pp 420-426, stop before the first paragraph, "George I died in 1727..."

Primary Source Reading - The World According to Pitt from The Public Domain Review (This article is fun because it uses childhood letters of Pitt the Younger saved by Pitt the Elder and shows how primary sources can inform the study of history.)

Week 15

1. Chapter 37: The House of Hanover pp 426-435 (end of chapter)


2. Chapter 38: Pitt the Elder pp 436-440, stop before the first paragraph, "The year 1756..."

Primary Source Reading - The Interest of Great Britain Considered, with Regard to Her Colonies, 1760 by Benjamin Franklin AND The Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763

Week 16

1. Chapter 38: Pitt the Elder pp 440-444 (end of chapter)


2. Chapter 39: The Quarrel with America pp 445-449, stop before the last paragraph, "The political history..." AND MapTrek New World Map: Early Battles of the Revolutionary War Map 25 p. 74

Primary Source Reading - William Pitt's speech on the Stamp Act (1766) AND Earl of Chatham Speech to Parliament (1774) - both of these are speeches by Pitt the Elder

Week 17

1. Chapter 39: The Quarrel with America pp 449-454 (end of chapter)

2. Make-up / study day

Primary Source Reading - Make-up / off week

Week 18

1. Quiz #3 on chapters 35-39

2. Chapter 40: The Indian Empire pp 455-463 (whole chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Woolen Workers Petition, 1786

Week 19

1. Chapter 41: Pitt the Younger pp 464-469, stop before the last paragraph, "The convulsion which shook France…"


2. Chapter 41: Pitt the Younger pp 469-475 (end of chapter) AND MapTrek New World Map: The French Revolution Map 28 p. 80

Primary Source Reading - selection from Thomas Jefferson's The Autobiography on the beginning of the French Revolution from Paris in Mind (For some reason, I had trouble finding Jefferson's work online, but Paris in Mind includes an excerpt from Autobiography that covers exactly what I wanted. Our library had a copy of this, so I didn't have to buy it to use just one chapter.) This is not strictly British, of course, but having Jefferson's view of the French Revolution seemed to good to skip. I did eventually find it online at Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook. Search for "On my return from" here. 

Week 20

1. Chapter 42: The Napoleonic Wars pp 476-483, stop before first paragraph, "Napoleon turned his attention…" AND MapTrek New World Map: The Napoleonic Wars Map 29 p. 82


2. Chapter 42: The Napoleonic Wars pp 483-490, stop before the first paragraph, "All through the spring..."

Primary Source Reading - Letters and Dispatches of Horatio Nelson (Oct 15-21, 1805) AND The Death of Lord Nelson, 1805 (Other letters and dispatches can be found on the site, too.)

Week 21

1. Chapter 42: The Napoleonic Wars pp 490-497, stop before the second paragraph, "There seems no doubt…"


2. Chapter 42: The Napoleonic Wars pp 497-501 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Farewell to the Old Guard (1814) AND Remembrances of Napoleon

Week 22

1. Chapter 43: The Victory Peace pp 502-508 (end of page)


2. Chapter 43: The Victory Peace pp 508-517 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Peterloo Massacre (1819) AND Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829

Week 23

1. Chapter 44: Reform and Free Trade pp 518-522, stop before the first paragraph, "The new electors…"


2. Chapter 44: Reform and Free Trade pp 522-528 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Victoria Becomes Queen, 1837 AND Condition of Ireland from Views of the Famine which has lots of other options as well

Week 24

1. Make-up / study day

2. Quiz #4 on chapters 40-44

Primary Source Reading - Voice from the Ranks: Trench Work before Sevastopol

Week 25

1. Chapter 45: The Crimean War pp 529-536, stop before first paragraph, "The Treaty of Paris…" AND MapTrek Modern World Map: The Crimean War Map 3 p. 33


2. Chapter 45: The Crimean War pp 536-545 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - Voice from the Ranks: Sevastopol Stormed AND Mary Seacole excerpt

Week 26

1. Chapter 46: The Era of Emigration pp 546-553, stop at the first paragraph, "In small parties…"


2. Chapter 46: The Era of Emigration pp 553-561 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay Ch 1-6.

Week 27

1. Chapter 47: The Rise of Germany pp 562-568, stop before third paragraph, "The war seemed over…"


2. Chapter 47: The Rise of Germany pp 568-574, stop before last paragraph, "While his great adversary..."

Primary Source Reading - A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay Ch 7-12.

Week 28

1. Chapter 47: The Rise of Germany pp 574-581 (end of chapter)


2. Chapter 48: The Fin De Siecle pp 582-589, stop before last paragraph, "The position of the Liberal Party..."

Primary Source Reading - A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay Ch 13-18.

Week 29

1. Chapter 48: The Fin De Siecle pp 589-596, stop before third paragraph, "It ws not immediately perceived…"


2. Chapter 48: The Fin De Siecle pp 596-605 (end of chapter)

Primary Source Reading - General Act of the Berlin Conference on West Africa (1885) AND the Anglo-German Treaty (1890)

Week 30

1. Chapter 49: The South African War pp 606-614 (end of chapter) AND MapTrek Modern World Map: South Africa Map 16 p. 59


2. MapTrek Modern World Map: World Empires Map 19 p. 65

Primary Source Reading - Letters from soldiers of the Boer War


The usual disclaimer: This post contains my own honest opinions. I have received nothing in exchange for this post. Links to Amazon and RC History are affiliate links. The links to primary sources above are to sites that may contain material inappropriate for children and don't indicate a blanket recommendation.

Friday, June 28, 2019

A Child in Kenya: The Flame Trees of Thika


by Elspeth Huxley

The Flame Trees of Thika is the suggested travel or adventure book for Africa in Level 5 Year 2 (tenth grade) in the Mater Amabilis™ high school beta plans (available in the high school Facebook group).

It's a memoir of the brief time the author lived in Kenya with her parents as colonial settlers from Britain in the early 1900s, until life was interrupted by World War I. Her youth and naivety allow her to unabashedly share the vibrant wildlife and tribal life. Beautifully written, it evokes a past era, one we may be able to appreciate as we also learn to recognize its mistakes and prejudices.
For until you actually saw it and travelled across it on foot or on horseback or in a wagon, you could not possibly grasp the enormous vastness of Africa.
Because it is a memoir of colonial times, many of the relationships between the white settlers and the Africans may be unsettling for modern readers. There are also a few instances of language we would consider exceptionally insulting and degrading. High schoolers, especially homeschooled students, who may be unfamiliar with this kind of language, may need to be explicitly taught about these kinds of words and their meaning in today's world.

The writing is beautiful:
The sunset was, indeed, spectacular. The whole western sky was aflame with the crimson of the heart of a rose. Deep-violet clouds were stained and streaked with red, and arcs of lime-green and saffron-yellow swept across the heavens. It was all on such a scale that the whole world might have been burning.
Though a young child, she was allowed to wander quite a lot. Her memories of the natural world of her youth perfectly suit a Charlotte Mason homeschooler comparing life in Africa with his or her own life.
One morning I surprised two dikdik in the glade, standing among grass that countless quivering cobwebs had silvered all over, each one -- and each strand of every cobweb -- beaded with dew. It was amazing to think of all the untold millions of cobwebs in all the forest glades, and all across the bush and plains of Africa, and of the number of spiders, more numerous even than the stars, patiently weaving their tents of filament to satisfy their appetites, and of all the even greater millions of flies and bees and butterflies that must go to nourish them; and for what end, no one could say. 
There is little excitement in the book. She's too young to participate in many of the big adventures like a lion hunt. The book records a child's daily life and her views of the farm and African people. There's not much plot or even much closure at the ending, just the wistful hope of a young girl to return to Africa after the war. She does return; her memoir continues in The Mottled Lizard, which I haven't read.

This was a lovely book to read. I haven't decided yet if it's going to be assigned reading for tenth grade. The plans recommend this as a travel or adventure book that would be read and narrated once a week. I'm more inclined to assign it as independent reading without narration (though we do use a reading journal, so there would be a few words jotted down...First Son uses the fewest words he possibly can...with abbreviations). I think I'd like to find something more "adventurous" but so far the few options I've skimmed from our library are a bit too adventurous - violent adventures and survival stories.

This post contains my own opinions. I have received nothing in exchange for writing it, though the links to Amazon above are affiliate links. I requested my copy through PaperBackSwap.com (another affiliate link).

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Explanations: The Great Crash 1929



by John Kenneth Galbraith

I don't know how this book ended up on my to-read list back in 2012, but I enjoyed it tremendously in 2019.

While some of the conditions creating the environment enabling the dramatic rise and fall of the stock market in 1929 have been alleviated, I was struck more than once at how we saw the same problems and problematic responses during the 2008 financial crisis.
Always, when markets are in trouble, the phrases are the same: "The economic situation is fundamentally sound" or simply "The fundamentals are good." All who hear these words should know that something is wrong.
He talks about it later as well:
Mr. Mellon was participating in a ritual which, in our society, is thought to be of great value for influencing the course of the business cycle. By affirming solemnly that prosperity will continue, it is believed, one can help insure that prosperity will in fact continue. Especially among businessmen the faith in the efficiency of such incantation is very great.
Obviously in 1929 (recounted in this book) and in 2008 (when I vaguely paid attention as an adult), these "incantations" were ineffective. It would be interesting to see if anyone can point to a time when the economy was struggling and such affirmations helped steady it before there were drastic effects.
The machinery by which Wall Street separates the opportunity to speculate from the unwanted returns and burdens of ownership is ingenious, precise, and almost beautiful.
He mentions a few of these methods like funding to customers through brokers and adjustments to margins and interest rates to keep funds available.
The purpose is to accommodate the speculator and facilitate speculation. But the purposes cannot be admitted. If Wall Street confessed this purpose, many thousands of moral men and women would have no choice but to condemn it for nurturing an evil thing and call for reform.
Mingled with the financial record is a remarkable tone of humor.
To say that the Times, when the real crash came, reported the event with jubilation would be an exaggeration. Nevertheless, it covered it with an unmistakable absence of sorrow.
One of the points Galbraith makes in the book is how most people who anticipated the 1929 crash realized there was only a little hope of avoiding it, mainly they realized it could not be stopped. The only choices, though, were to allow it to happen "naturally" as a results of the market itself imploding or taking action toward a "deliberately engineered collapse." In hindsight, it seems obvious a slow controlled collapse would be preferable to the disaster that ensued, but it's difficult to assess. Additionally, whoever took action toward a controlled collapse would bear the unmitigated blame for the entire collapse despite protestations of a potentially greater catastrophe. The system, therefore, and one which continues today, discourages any person or entity from suggesting restrictions or constraints on the financial market as a whole.

One aspect I misunderstood before reading the book was the relatively small number of people trading on the stock market. According to Galbraith, at the peak of speculative trading in 1929, there were probably less than a million. Google tells me there were 121.8 million people in the United States in 1929. Somehow less than 1% of the population wreaked havoc on the economy and ravaged the lives of millions for a decade to come. One of the explanations Galbraith proposes is that the stock market crash disproportionately devastated the very wealthy in an economy that was heavily dependent on luxury spending. When the wealthy people stopped buying luxuries, the crash spread throughout the entire economy.

Galbraith also tackles the misconception that suicides increased, people were leaping to their doom from New York City skyscrapers. Suicides in New York were substantially higher in the months before the crash than after. The rate did rise, however, over the course of the Great Depression. I can imagine how the initial shock and optimism gradually deepened to unremitting helplessness. Galbraith suggests people remembering these later suicides mentally altered their dates to the time of the crash.
The singular feature of the great crash of 1929 was that the worst continued to worsen. What looked one day like the end proved on the next day to have been only the beginning. Nothing could have been more ingeniously designed to maximize the suffering, and also to insure that as few as possible escaped the common misfortune.
Those who survived early dips with intact capital were lured back to the market for the "bargains," companies now priced below their estimated value. The price of the stocks stabilized after November, but continued to decline over the next twenty-four months, dropping to a third or a fourth of their "bargain" price. So even those who bought "bargains" found their investments worthless over the course of the next few years.

My library only had this book in an anthology: The Affluent Society and Other Writings. I only read The Great Crash 1929 but I enjoyed his style so much I put the whole book on my to-read list. (At my current rate, I'll get to it in about ten years, when my youngest son graduates high school.)

This post contains my own opinions. I did not receive anything in exchange for it. Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Monday, June 24, 2019

May 2019 Book Reports

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik - link to my post. (library copy)

Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang - link to my post. (library copy)

The Odyssey by Homer and Elizabeth Vandiver's The Odyssey of Homer - link to my post. (purchased copies)


Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything by Tim James - This is another book I pre-read in the search of a chemistry free read for my high school son. It's a light breezy book perfect for a high school reading level that includes some great explanations of chemical principles. It's also full of the kind of humor a 15-year-old boy would appreciate (lots of death and destruction). Its greatest defect is the lack of a periodic table anywhere in the text. To really follow the reasoning, you would need to dig one up to keep alongside you as you read. For a Christian, there are also numerous side comments intended to be humorous but I think go just a little too far and are therefore flippant or dismissive toward the faith (any faith). Weirdly enough, the author bio specifically mentions how he grew up in Africa because his parents were missionaries. He also casually mentions a non-traditional living arrangement for a scientist and assumes people who found it scandalous were clearly mistaken. While I wouldn't mind if my high-schooler read this book, I'm not going to assign it. (library copy)

The Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan - This book is an adaptation I'm going to have my high-schooler read as part of a health course alongside anatomy next year (tenth grade). It's far below his reading level, but that will work well as I'd like to include a handful of other books in addition and the original (which we own) would simply take him too long. It covers all four of the meals (industrial, industrial organic, local sustainable, and hunter-gatherer) plus a new preface and an afterword. Pollan's food rules are included as well. Despite the easy text, I'd hesitate to give it to a really young reader as some of the scenes described, especially in the course of the industrial meal, are quite distressing. I discouraged my twelve-year-old from reading it yet. (library copy)

You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham - link to my post. (library copy)

Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist by Brother Guy Consolmagno - link to my post. (library copy)

I have received nothing in exchange for these posts. All opinions are my own. Links to Amazon, RC History, and PaperBackSwap are affiliate links.