As we approach term four in our seventh year of homeschooling, I’m continually amazed at the blessings we receive. Not only having the freedom to do what we do, but the guidance and provision to do it. The kind that only God can provide.
One such example this term was Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice. We read the play, talked about it and watched the movie. We devoured it, comparing the movie to the play and writing our own commentary on it.
As it turned out, our regional theatre was hosting a Bell’s Shakespearean version of ‘The Merchant of Venice’. So I added this to compliment our learning.
The same thing happened when we did Hamlet a few years back. I tend to leave these events out of the yearly calendar, largely because of cost. Like Hamlet, I didn’t plan on seeing T.M.o.V live when setting out the course of study for the year.
I’m a Christian, therefore I believe that the Holy Spirit leads us and that we should invite such leadership into our lives.
Joining with the Psalmist,
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”
(Psalm 143:10, ESV)
‘gracious Spirit will lead me forward on a firm footing.’ (Psalm 143:10, NLT)
It’s this faith that drives us towards better things; holding onto the good, correcting the bad. If we, as parents aren’t humble enough to be led by God, how can we, ourselves, be humble enough to lead?
Since it’s offered, I’ll take the Father’s hand, and choose to trust in the wisdom of His government before I do my own.
‘Neither man’s headship or humanity’s dominion (lordship) over the earth equals ownership of woman or creation. Humanity’s rule exists, as a gift. It exists in the light of God’s rule and therefore cannot be absolute.’
(Karl Barth, p.205 paraphrased) [i]
Koral Wojtyla, (John Paul II) in his 1979 address to the Latin American Churches encouraged its leaders to look upon the pastoral care of the family, for
‘…evangelisation in the future depends largely on the “domestic church”. It is the school of love, of the knowledge of God, of respect for life and for human dignity.’ [ii]
This edition sees some exciting reflections on the term that was and the term that will be. We, I’m happy to say, more than reached the goals laid out in our Winter edition.
On top of these, we’ve travelled African river rapids in The African Queen, traversed the English country-side, chasing puppies in 101 Dalmatians, unpacked the lessons of George Orwell’s, The Animal Farm, and revisited The Pilgrims’ Progress. We also made our way through the ups and downs in the book of Deuteronomy, farewelled Moses and got excited about our new journey with Joshua at the helm.
As for this term’s reads:
1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Janet & Geoff Benge, 2012
I’ve insisted on each of our homeschoolers learn about Corrie Ten Boom and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When it comes to history, the Holocaust and the events surrounding it is the only real history, outside the Biblical texts, that I place an importance on learning above all others.
This will be our fourth journey into the life of Bonhoeffer and the tragic events that brought about World War Two. I am of the firm conviction that in learning from Bonhoeffer, Boom and countless others, such as the White Rose Movement, that society can not only avoid the horrors witnessed then, but navigate a path towards a future that gives rise to Christian compassion, Christian passion for truth and Christian mercy in the seats of human Government.
2. The Wind in The Willows, Kenneth Grahame, 1908
I didn’t read a lot when I was growing up. We learnt from movies and television. Most of that wasn’t all as wholesome as it should have been. I do remember The Wind in the Willows, though.
This book is a classic. Our youngest has only just picked it up, is having a great time. I wanted something to keep his interest going after finishing the 101 Dalmatians, and the Oxford Children’s version fits the bill.
3. Teen Sex, Dr. Patricia Weerakoon, 2012.
Patricia is a Sri Lankan born Australian. Like most parents, dads in particular, I was very apprehensive about teaching this subject. That was even after my wife read it and gave her own thumbs up.
Don’t let the title of the book distract you. The heading grabs as teens attention, but doesn’t do a lot of justice to the breadth or level of precision Patricia skillfully employs in bringing to the Church, what is, in my opinion, the best sex education book available.
Patricia is graceful, God centered and she handles each subject with the dignity it deserves. This is a counter-cultural read, far from any “Puritanical” view of sexuality. I’m glad we chose it.
4. The Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Over the course of the past year, our older homeschoolers have read through both of Lacey Sturm’s autobiographies. As we read we discuss the material; stopping to cover thoughts, emotions and any areas that we found surprising. Our older homeschoolers handled those with excellence.
So I decided to take them through Ayaan Ali’s autobiography. Ayaan is an atheist and an ex-Muslim. She often talks out, under threat of death, about life under Islamist rule. In The Infidel, Ayaan outlines her life experiences openly and with honesty.
Adding Ayaan’s YouTube lectures in with our read and discuss sessions added value and depth. Ayaan is skeptical of religion, and has good reason to be so. Our prayer for Ayaan, though, is that she will find her ultimate peace in Christ, and as such move beyond religion towards relationship with God.
5. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Lord of the Flies is, once again, being turned into a film. This time, however, it’s apparently an all girl cast. Golding has captured my attention when I first saw the 1990 film adaptation. Since then I’ve been returning to its key themes in discussions about politics, society and world history.
One of those key themes is the regression into tribalism and exercise of arbitrary power. For our year 9 studies, this has also coincided with our work through Deuteronomy, Animal Farm and Ayaan’s autobiography. I recommend it.
Through most of our read and discuss subjects, each child reviews the chapter they’ve just worked on. I set the task within a read and response paradigm.
This allows us to practice paragraph writing and sharpen our essay writing skills. In order to do this, I also will, for important paragraphs, read their final draft out loud over some thematic music. This measures whether or not the paragraph has rhythm, dynamics and flow.
Requiem for Piggy (Lord of the Flies, Year 9), read out loud over the theme from Rambo:
“Piggy is unjustly treated. No one knows his real name. The boys just called him “Piggy” because he was short and pudgy. Piggy was a friend and advisory to Ralph. He helped Ralph when he needed it. Piggy was smart. He knew of Jack’s hatred for Ralph and warned Ralph of it. This shows he was observant of those around him. Piggy chose to stay with Ralph, who put down rules and order. Unlike the majority of the boys, who follow whichever leader looked the most fun. Piggy chose the one who was the wisest.”
[i] Barth, K. 1958. C.D The Doctrine of Creation, Hendrickson Publishers
[ii] Wojtyla, K. 1979. On Liberation Theology et.al Third General Conference of the Latin America Episcopate (Sourced 26th September, 2017 from The Holy See