Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Update on Rachelle and The Beauty of Jesus

Several have asked lately about Rachelle.

She's enjoying her sophomore year at Hillsdale. Though she's a "homebody" and at times would just as soon be home, she is at peace that she is where she should be. Taking at least twenty hours, she has four main classes including Great Books, Greek, Latin, and Continental Literature. She has a firearms class--yes, that one makes me grin, orchestra, choir, and private violin, voice, and piano. She is also tutoring Latin, will soon start teaching her first two violin students, is on a board of editors for the college's student publication of poetry and short stories (The Tower Light), as well as being secretary for a student club and musical society called Camerata. They rehearse and perform chamber music.

She studied over the summer and got through the first year of Greek on her own so that she could join the 3rd semester class. Her professor told me last weekend, "You'd never know she wasn't in the first year class with us." I don't understand this ability. I could never do what either of our girls do, but I am thankful! I believe God has a place for each one of us, and we are all unique and equally valuable. Isn't He good and wise!?

These days are busy for me as I teach piano (and a little voice) to a few of the children and youth from our church and continue directing the music for church, along with helping out on various projects for Curt's office and a variety of other things. Never a dull moment! I've been practicing more myself to better demonstrate things I teach, and it feels good to get some patterns back into my hands that had somewhat slipped over the years while I poured my energy and time into our girls.

Life is rich and full, and no matter what comes, the hope I have in Jesus colors and shapes everything. I was singing yesterday, preparing a song for Sunday, and I found myself altering the words of an old favorite song, "Be Still," from an Evie album. The chorus goes something like, "So few of you stop-- to hear the birds, stop-- to smell the fragrance in the air..." There have been times when I was quite enchanted with the beauty of the earth, and I often still find myself soaking it in, enjoying it as the our-pouring of God's love for me. But as I sang yesterday, the beauty of the earth just wasn't grabbing me like it sometimes does. I was focused on the beauty of the life of Jesus. I looked at those words and thought, The birds are nice. Good smells in the air are nice. But there is nothing to compare to the beauty, the aroma of Jesus and of His surrendered spirit emanating from another human being! I altered the words and will sing them this way Sunday morning.

Be still and know that I am God
I'm right here by your side
Be still and know that I am God
And in My love abide

So few of you
To hear my words
Oh-oh stop-
To sense my fragrance
In the air

My Kingdom is
Within you
Be still
And find Me there

My peace
I've given you
My child
The world would steal it away
So seek My face
And read my Word
Then listen and obey

So few of you
To hear my words
Oh-oh stop-
To sense my fragrance
In the air

My Kingdom is
Within you
Be still
And find Me there

Oh be still
Be still
Be still
I'll meet you there

What a way to live!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

LaRae to Perform on College Faculty Recital

LaRae, in her senior year at Hillsdale, is extremely busy this semester. Her load is heavy as she applies to a wide variety of graduate programs and for various scholarships that have been recommended to her by her college faculty.

It'll be good to see her get through these first weeks of fall semester so that the application process, particularly for the big scholarships is completed. They take a tremendous amount of time, and she still is carrying her normal 20+ hours, teaching five violin students, concert-mistress of the college orchestra, tutoring in the writing center, working part time as the Student Writer for External Affairs, and that's just a sampling of her crazy schedule!

She has been asked to play violin with three faculty musicians this Friday evening. For any of you who are close enough to Hillsdale, the concert is at 8PM in the main performance hall, Markel Auditorium.

Faculty Chamber Recital
Friday, September 12 | 8 pm
Markel Auditorium
Brad Blackham, piano; Melissa Knecht, viola; David 
Peshlakai, cello; Kristen Matson, soprano; Amy Ley, 
harp; Andrew Sprung, clarinet; Jaimie Wagner, flute; 
Cynthia Duda Pant, bassoon; and student LaRae 
Ferguson, violin. 
Program includes works of Faure, 
Bax, Schubert and others. 

Would love to see you there! I'll be there. ;)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Characteristics of a Critical Thinker

A parent never knows where learning might best take place! 

Yet another interesting read I came across yesterday, something I saved years ago on my hard drive. Not sure the exact source, though I did note the name of the author. Upon reading it once again, I am challenged to think more carefully.


Raymond S. Nickerson (1987), an authority on critical thinking, characterizes a good critical thinker in
terms of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and habitual ways of behaving. Here are some of the
characteristics of such a thinker:

�� uses evidence skillfully and impartially
�� organizes thoughts and articulates them concisely and coherently
�� distinguishers between logically valid and invalid inferences
�� suspends judgment in the absence of sufficient evidence to support a decision
�� understands the difference between reasoning and rationalizing
�� attempts to anticipate the probable consequences of alternative actions
�� understands the idea of degrees of belief
�� sees similarities and analogies that are not superficially apparent
�� can learn independently and has an abiding interest in doing so
�� applies problem-solving techniques in domains other than those in which learned
�� can structure informally represented problems in such a way that formal techniques, such as
mathematics, can be used to solve them
�� can strip a verbal argument of irrelevancies and phrase it in its essential terms
�� habitually questions one's own views and attempts to understand both the assumptions that are
critical to those views and the implications of the views
�� is sensitive to the difference between the validity of a belief and the intensity with which it is held
�� is aware of the fact that one's understanding is always limited, often much more so than would be
apparent to one with a noninquiring attitude
�� recognizes the fallibility of one's own opinions, the probability of bias in those opinions, and the danger of weighting evidence according to personal preferences

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Homeschooling Perspectives

I was looking for a word document on my hard drive today and ran across this (partial) article by Adam Andrews from the Center for Literary Education, I am not sure where this article came from. I thought it was interesting and might cause some of my homeschooling friends to want to investigate Adam's materials more extensively if you haven't already done so.

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday!

Three Kinds of Education:
A Buyer’s Guide

By Adam Andrews
When you decided to homeschool your children, you made a shrewd move: you chose to treat education as a commodity. Not content meekly to accept the government’s general issue brand, you declared yourself a consumer in the education market, with the same rights and privileges of all consumers everywhere – namely, the right to choose between options; the right to decide whether, and what, to buy.
Boy, the decisions came thick and fast after that, didn’t they?
What books to read? What tests to take? Which math curriculum is best? Which book prepares Johnny for the college boards? What about phonics? Latin, French, both or neither? Science now or science later?
Every homeschooler is of necessity a curriculum designer, and these are all important decisions. It may be helpful to consider that although the number of curriculum choices on the market increases daily, there are really only three types of education to choose from.
First, there is “practical” education. This kind of education is designed to give students a basic set of skills that will enable them to function in society and will help them avoid becoming a burden on the public weal: skills like reading a newspaper, driving a car, balancing a checkbook, operating a computer, playing on a basketball team or filling out a job application.
The ultimate goal of “practical” education is the creation of good citizens. Students who are the products of such education learn how to behave, and their parents and teachers are primarily concerned with having them turn out to be well adjusted citizens of their neighborhoods and communities.
The second type is “professional” education. This kind of education is designed to produce experts in a particular discipline. The fields of engineering, higher math and science, advanced computer programming, architecture, medicine, law, business and information technology teem with students who have this sort of training.
“Professional” education produces students who know lots and lots of information about a relatively narrow field of inquiry. These students are experts - specialists. They have been taught more than simply how to behave; they’ve also been taught how to perform – that is, to apply their specific knowledge, when asked or hired to do so, to a specific type of situation. Parents who desire this kind of education for their kids are often primarily concerned with having them get good, high paying jobs.
The third type of education available to the choosy consumer is “philosophical” education. This kind of education is concerned primarily with reading great books, studying world languages, and writing about ideas. It’s designed to give students the ability to tell the difference between truth and falsehood; to recognize the timeless principles that make successful societies possible and to communicate these ideas to their neighbors.
A “philosophical” education produces students who are not only capable of choosing good over evil but also capable of leading their fellow men in the pursuit of good…