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    Can you help me see the connections?

    I've been thinking about this for awhile, and I'm going to try my best to articulate what I'm asking despite my jumbled thoughts.

    So, a lot of people here and on Facebook have mentioned over the past few years (this is our 3rd with MP) how "this" ties into "this" later on, and how "this" will help "this" make sense later on. For example, studying the Greek Myths will tie into FMOG and The Trojan war someday. That's as far as we've gotten, so maybe there's even another tie-in after 7th grade that I don't know about? I'm guessing these connections happen all over the place and I just don't know it yet.

    So my question is, can you help me see all of the other connections? I think this would be very helpful for those of us in the beginning, or those who are contemplating starting MP. It can be very difficult to understand why a 3rd grader would benefit from Greek Myths, or why a 4th grader would need to learn about the Famous Men of Rome. I keep hearing how all of these things beautifully weave together, but it's hard to SEE that when you have younger kids or have just come to MP. Some are obvious and things you just should know (States and Caps) but others aren't so obvious. I would love it if those of you further on down the road could tell me specifically what curriculum in the 3-6 grades correlates with the upper grades. Thank you.

    #2
    Hello.

    This is hard to see when you are at the beginning of it. And we would love to have a list of connections for you to refer to, but we just haven't gotten that done yet. I can share a little about this though. You specifically ask about Greek Myths, and that is really the easiest one. References to Greek mythology are everywhere in good literature, they are referenced in speeches, they help students study the night sky as they become familiar with the stories behind the constellations. Our students read Homer's Iliad and Odyssey in 7th or 8th grade, and they read Vergil's Aeneid in 8th or 9th. One of the major preparations for reading those primary authors at such a young age is the study of Greek mythology. And Shakespeare assumes a knowledge of mythology too, along with many authors our students read in literature.

    We study the Famous Men as preparation for reading primary authors too. The Famous Men series is age-appropriate for young students so it is character based. Then, in middle school, when students do a more difficult history study of the ancient world, they are ready for it because they have been introduced to it through the characters they study in grammar school. Then, in high school, they read Cicero, Augustine, Plato, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and they translate Caesar, Cicero, and Vergil from Latin to English. All of this work we do in grammar school is our stepping stone to having students ready to take on these difficult works.

    When Cheryl Lowe developed the curriculum, she did it from the top down. She knew what she wanted students to read in high school, and she developed the lower school curriculum to prepare them to succeed. She knew she wanted them to read Dante, so she included Famous Men of the Middle Ages in grammar school and a year of medieval verse in middle school. And our students read The Divine Comedy in its entirety.

    I believed everything Cheryl said to me about education, and I followed her blindly. But when my children went to college, I knew that her system worked. They were so prepared, in fact over-prepared. They thought college was easier than high school, and they had read all kinds of things that no one in their classes had ever read. So be patient and trust the system. You will begin to see your students make the connections they need and be capable of so much more than you would ever dream of asking of them.

    Tanya

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      #3
      We do say that a lot, don't we? Here's an example pertaining to the texts you mention:

      Greek Myths introduces a series of stories, names and places from the classical tradition so that smaller kiddos have the basis for a classical vocabulary. Upon arriving at Famous Men of Greece, the figures they learned about in Greek Myths are now part of a timeline, stretching from Greece's mythic origins to its historical end. These figures aren't just unrelated characters, but part of a longer term story that is as much historical as fictional. Students now know, for instance that there was a Trojan War - maybe mythical, maybe historical, but certainly part of the Greek legacy. Shortly afterwards they read Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; now that they know the "history" of the Trojan War, they now get to see a fiction within that timeline, the way a novel about Washington might follow one's education in the Revolution to turn hard data into a moral experience.

      Thereafter comes high school, and with it the tragedies of Athens, where now the Trojan War is an immediate antecessor to stories told in an entirely different medium. Students are now old enough to appraise these tales not as pleasant folktales but as a literary argument, the grounds of which were crucial to the transition between the Pagan and Christian world. Early Christian authors like Augustine (cf. City of God) all the way through the Medieval period (Dante's Commedia) and beyond (Wind in the Willows) refer to these later Greek authors and their works with great frequency and depth; these authors don't believe that Zeus or Heracles are real historical people, but they are old and useful symbols for truths they do want to promote with their works. And so, Apollo becomes the face of man's yearning for order and beauty, Dionysus for man's succumbing to passion and chaos; the fall of Troy becomes the model for a climactic upheaval of the state; Antigone's defiance becomes a touchstone for every future conflict between civic and divine law; Odysseus' voyage becomes the forerunner of every great journey. Oedipus shows us when and why we must welcome the outcast; Medea shows us when and why we must shun them.

      The whole idea of classics is of the classis, the ideal model that becomes greater with every further connection you make to it. We've been linking our literary chains to the likes of Homer's Achilles and Athens' Pericles for so long that they can't be untangled from the web of Western writing. Anyone can read a good book, but their authors were totally knowledgeable of these classes and worked with great delicacy and skill to articulate them. To read in the Western tradition without that grounding renders this web of lineages invisible.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Meadowlark View Post
        I've been thinking about this for awhile, and I'm going to try my best to articulate what I'm asking despite my jumbled thoughts.

        So, a lot of people here and on Facebook have mentioned over the past few years (this is our 3rd with MP) how "this" ties into "this" later on, and how "this" will help "this" make sense later on. For example, studying the Greek Myths will tie into FMOG and The Trojan war someday. That's as far as we've gotten, so maybe there's even another tie-in after 7th grade that I don't know about? I'm guessing these connections happen all over the place and I just don't know it yet.

        So my question is, can you help me see all of the other connections? I think this would be very helpful for those of us in the beginning, or those who are contemplating starting MP. It can be very difficult to understand why a 3rd grader would benefit from Greek Myths, or why a 4th grader would need to learn about the Famous Men of Rome. I keep hearing how all of these things beautifully weave together, but it's hard to SEE that when you have younger kids or have just come to MP. Some are obvious and things you just should know (States and Caps) but others aren't so obvious. I would love it if those of you further on down the road could tell me specifically what curriculum in the 3-6 grades correlates with the upper grades. Thank you.
        Without answering your question directly, I want to *highly* recommend the Sodalitas/Teacher Training Session from this summer on Justice & Mercy. Jon Christianson deftly traces those themes through the entirety of the HLS/MP curriculum. I loved this MP path before listening to his (~12 hour) session, but I was all the more convinced of the beauty of this path. I didn't think I'd be up for a 12 hour lecture, but he was remarkably engaging. The entire curriculum indeed has a beautiful coherence that can't be succinctly explained, but it is oh so worthwhile!
        Amanda - Mama to three crazy boys (7A, 6M, 2), classics major

        "Non nisi te, Domine. Non nisi te" - St. Thomas Aquinas

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Jon Christianson View Post
          We do say that a lot, don't we? Here's an example pertaining to the texts you mention:

          Greek Myths introduces a series of stories, names and places from the classical tradition so that smaller kiddos have the basis for a classical vocabulary. Upon arriving at Famous Men of Greece, the figures they learned about in Greek Myths are now part of a timeline, stretching from Greece's mythic origins to its historical end. These figures aren't just unrelated characters, but part of a longer term story that is as much historical as fictional. Students now know, for instance that there was a Trojan War - maybe mythical, maybe historical, but certainly part of the Greek legacy. Shortly afterwards they read Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; now that they know the "history" of the Trojan War, they now get to see a fiction within that timeline, the way a novel about Washington might follow one's education in the Revolution to turn hard data into a moral experience.

          Thereafter comes high school, and with it the tragedies of Athens, where now the Trojan War is an immediate antecessor to stories told in an entirely different medium. Students are now old enough to appraise these tales not as pleasant folktales but as a literary argument, the grounds of which were crucial to the transition between the Pagan and Christian world. Early Christian authors like Augustine (cf. City of God) all the way through the Medieval period (Dante's Commedia) and beyond (Wind in the Willows) refer to these later Greek authors and their works with great frequency and depth; these authors don't believe that Zeus or Heracles are real historical people, but they are old and useful symbols for truths they do want to promote with their works. And so, Apollo becomes the face of man's yearning for order and beauty, Dionysus for man's succumbing to passion and chaos; the fall of Troy becomes the model for a climactic upheaval of the state; Antigone's defiance becomes a touchstone for every future conflict between civic and divine law; Odysseus' voyage becomes the forerunner of every great journey. Oedipus shows us when and why we must welcome the outcast; Medea shows us when and why we must shun them.

          The whole idea of classics is of the classis, the ideal model that becomes greater with every further connection you make to it. We've been linking our literary chains to the likes of Homer's Achilles and Athens' Pericles for so long that they can't be untangled from the web of Western writing. Anyone can read a good book, but their authors were totally knowledgeable of these classes and worked with great delicacy and skill to articulate them. To read in the Western tradition without that grounding renders this web of lineages invisible.
          This is beautiful. I am delighted to know the treasure of western heritage is something accessible to my children (and me since I didn’t have chance to learn this way.). There are simply too many books to choose from, and having them chosen for me with care and expertise is comforting. I can see my 6th grader having such an easy time reading The Trojan War this year because of the years she has spent with the framework of Greek gods and culture in the earlier years. I can see this Western Literature Snowball working.
          ~Crystal, and 6 beside

          2019-2020 school year:
          DD12 - 6th Core
          DS10 - 5th Core
          DD8 - 3rd Core
          DS6 - K @local public school
          DS6 - K @local public school
          DS3 - Smiling at everyone

          Comment


            #6
            What's also beautiful about this is that, at each stage, we give children exactly what they can work with. In the early grades, when memorizing often happens as a matter of fact, things like Greek Myths are the bits of knowledge kids can manage: stories and names, the bricks that will be used later to build something big. Latin declensions work the same way. Later, when children develop an ability to think more deeply about what they learn, they can start working more and more ON the knowledge they've been storing, while adding more all the time of course.

            But the process of truly understanding, appreciating, and internalizing what you've been studying (the connections this thread talks about) takes a lifetime. It's life and experience that will really bring out the meaning and value of all you've been learning in school - high school (and then college) are a good start, but you haven't arrived: you may know things at an intellectual level, but that's only the beginning.

            And in the end, this is why a classical education can happen at any time - it's not that if you miss the beginning in 1st grade, you're done for. If one starts in adulthood, some things will be harder (like memorization!), and other things will be easier (like the ability to make connections). We begin so early, when the things we work with are tiny bricks we still don't see the use for, because it's such a beautiful way to spend the school years, slowly but surely discovering and making our own the civilization we're part of.
            DS (14)
            DD (13)
            DS (6)

            Comment


              #7
              I was not well educated. While I was valedictorian of a class of over 400, other than math, science, and computers (back in the 80’s!!!) I did not learn much in high school. I never read any of the classics in school except one Shakespeare my sophomore English teacher had us read. I also had no training in clear thinking and writing. To be sure, I had lots of training in “critical thinking” which served me well as I earned my civil engineering degree, but I was never trained to read with discernment, write with clear rhetoric, or think for my self other than reacting on my emotions. Now as an adult I often feel like uneducated slime when I’m around people who are trained to think clearly. I just sense how little skill I have. I know I have the capability. Had I been educated well in school, I would have had such a better base to build on. Now I feel like I am playing catch up. I read things with my teens and they get so much more out of it than I do. I see so many pieces that I intuitively sense can all be connected into a beautiful picture, but i just can’t seem to put that puzzle together. It irks me! I want so much better for my kids.
              case in point- Dante! I have never read it. I didn’t even know anything about it other than he has nine circles of hell. I tried to read a few cantos (chapters) when my older son studied it with another school. I couldn’t even comprehend the words. When I did comprehend, they had no reference so still made no sense. I am now reading it with my daughter using MP material. I now feel it is approachable, yet I am still missing so much. I read the translator notes and the teacher guide and that helps me understand the basics. I watch the video and just sit in awe of how anyone can make the connections he makes. It feels so beautiful, but just out of reach. There is so much depth there. So much. So much Truth. So many lessons on human nature. I want to grasp even just a bit of it. The poem is full of references to classic mythological figures, historical figures and events, and biblical characters. Every time I encounter one, I have to stop and look up who it is so I can I see stand the reference. On top of that, it is a deep poem that uses many literary devices of which I have no background decoding. I wish I had been trained to understand symbolism and allegory, to understand the power of rhythm and rhyme in poetry, and to catch nuances of word play. I can see how so much of the skills and information of the early years comes into play to really appreciate and grow from a reading of Dante. I see my daughter making connections that are beyond my background.
              MP and classical education is about even more than making connections to our cultural history. It’s also about using those connections and other connections to grow as a person. Skills a classical education develops enable this- Skills such as being able to read slowly and taking time to ponder what was read, being able to read complex sentence structure and poetry and understand the meaning, being able to organize your thoughts and grow from what you read, being able to express that growth to others, being able to defend your position in speech and writing. Having knowledgeable access to references from classical western culture is very helpful, but having access to the skills gained while studying this culture is even more valuable.
              Martin Cothran, in his talks on why study western culture, explains that it is a culture that can be used to critique itself. When famous reformers wanted to convince us that we as a nation were behaving poorly (such as with slavery), they used our own writings, our own culture to convict us. They didn’t take outside cultures and try to say those values are better than ours- they took our own ideals, our own values and used them to convict us of our wrong doings. It’s easier to blow off correction from an outside value system. It’s much harder to ignore your own cultural ideals, especially when those ideals are based on sound thinking. Knowing the philosophy of Socrates and Aristotle and seeing how that developed through Christian eyes with Augustine and Aquinas and on to modern times helps us better understand why our nation is headed the way it is and helps us develop ideas of how we can steer it back on a path that brings feelings of peace instead of discord (which is a word with all sorts of classical connotations).
              I can’t even begin to list the connections developed by classical education because I am sorely lacking in those connections myself. But I see the fruits growing in my children. My 26 year old daughter now has this classical background and just watching the way she absorbs information and processes it and draws conclusions and acts on those convinces me that this is worth it. Even if I don’t see it all, it works. All one has to do is read fb or twitter to see how easy it is to twist logic and convince people of complete untruths- even those who are otherwise intelligent people. The masses have been trained to act on emotions and desires and not on clear thinking. Thus they live out all the drama of the Greek tragedies over and over rather than learning from them and growing into better people.
              I want better. I wish I could list out all the connections. I do t even know what they are, but I sense them and I see their effect. It is better.
              Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
              DD, 25, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
              DS, 23, BS '18 mechanical engineering
              DS, 21, chemistry major
              DS, 18, Physics major
              DD, 15, dyslexic, 10th grade customizednMP plus co-op
              DS, 12, super squirmy, possible dysgraphia, MP 7A
              DD, 6 , K- finally one who seems to like drawing and writing- first one since my oldest!

              Comment


                #8
                Love this thread!
                2020/2021 - 3rd MP Year
                S - 6, 1st Grader @ home and HLN
                D - 4, Junior Kindergartener @ home
                S - 3, Junior Junior Kindergartener @ home

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Beorn View Post
                  Love this thread!
                  Here, here!

                  as a newbie to MP, as far as connections, what I see blazingly clear is:

                  -knowledge, truth, wisdom- they all derive from hard work, experience, and love of man.
                  -I personally (just lil me!) see the progression of this curriculum to be toward a basic, solid, foundational knowledge of classics, mathematics, and a humbling awareness of the world outside the child (student). The goal is to learn to THINK...for themselves, not just what is pop culture (and, yes, cultural climate is pop culture).
                  -understand that hard work (for good deeds) is such a blessing. Personal knowledge is a good deed.
                  -if YOU don’t see the progression within your own family unit-modify as needed. From my time on this forum, MP is clearly a beautiful “recipe” that needs to be “adjusted” for altitude and humidity

                  you aren’t alone in your misgivings/doubts. Thanks for sharing-gives us all pause to think upon our educational choices for our kids.
                  -Victoria

                  at home:
                  boy - 3rd grade
                  boy - 2nd grade
                  boy - k/1st
                  girl - toddler

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