CM 2 Episode #5 A High School Charlotte Mason Education Part II Julie H. Ross
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In today's podcast, Julie discusses the practical applications of using a Charlotte Mason approach in high school, focusing on literary analysis and how to continue with narrations through the high school years.
Julie H Ross believes that every child needs a feast of living ideas to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As a former school teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and Assistant Director of a Homeschool Academy, Julie Ross has worked with hundreds of students and parents over the past 20 years. She has also been homeschooling her own five children for over a decade. Julie Ross developed the Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast, to provide parents with the tools and resources needed to provide a rich and abundant educational feast full of books, beauty, and Biblical truth. Julie lives in South Carolina. When she’s not busy homeschooling, reading children’s books, hiking, or writing curriculum, you can find her taking a nap.
English Literature for Boys and Girls by H.E. Marshall
How to Read a Book Like a Literature Professor
Vol 3 p 180
There is much difference between intelligent reading, which the pupil should do in silence, and a mere parrot-like cramming up of contents; and it is not a bad test of education to be able to give the points of a description, the sequence of a series of incidents, the links in a chain of argument, correctly, after a single careful reading. This is a power which a barrister, a publisher, a scholar, labors to acquire; and it is a power which children can acquire with great ease, and once acquired, the gulf is bridged which divides the reading from the non-reading community.
Other Ways of using Books.––But this is only one way to use books: others are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter; to analyze a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under proper headings, to tabulate and classify series; to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause; to discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact; to get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science, out of books; all this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education.
The Teacher's Part.––The teacher's part is, in the first place, to see what is to be done, to look over the work of the day in advance and see what mental discipline, as well as what vital knowledge, this and that lesson afford; and then to set such questions and such tasks as shall give full scope to his pupils'
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Ms. Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich, living education in your modern homeschool. So pull up a chair, we're glad you're here.
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Good morning everyone. Today, I'm going to do part two on homeschooling in high school using the Charlotte Mason method. So, if you didn't watch part one, which is what I did yesterday, I strongly encourage you, when you have a second, to go back and listen to part one. Part one was more of the kind of philosophy, more of a why. More of the reasons why homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method in high school is effective. Just some philosophical things to think about.
So, I would encourage you to go back and watch this one before you... I mean, listen to that one before you watch this one. There's a famous speaker, Simon Sinek, and he talks about how our ‘why’ has to be bigger than our ‘how’. And so, today we're gonna talk more about the how. More of the nitty-gritty kind of practical application to using this method in high school. But, I just really think it's important to think through kind of why you're doing it at this age. Why you're using these methods. How it might be different.
Today I'm gonna talk about some of the practical applications here. So, let's jump in, I don't wanna be long-winded like I was yesterday. So, I apologize if I talked too much yesterday, but this is something I'm super passionate about, and so sometimes I can just talk and talk and talk and talk about it.
So, yesterday I was doing more of a philosophical reason for that. So I just wanted to kind of give a quick summary before I move forward. So I was just talking about how the Charlotte Mason method in high school is still extremely effective. I was talking about that we are preparing our kids for life, not just earning a living. And so, that will affect the philosophy we use in our approach.
We talked about what our goal is. That our goal is to create this person who loves knowledge, who's able to think deeply on a variety of subjects, and we talked about how the foundational methods don't change. So, even in high school, you're staying true to the timetables. You still want those short lessons, so they build that habit of attention.
Let's see. Teenagers can have this amazing ability to dawdle and things can just go on and on and on, right? So, sticking to the timetables can really help them just pay attention and get so much more accomplished. That we're still using literary sources in high school. We still want those living books full of great ideas that will inspire and grow in their minds. That we're still using narration. That we don't want to stunt the growth of idea by too many questions, too much lecturing. And that, especially in high school, we're focusing on respecting the child as a person. And as they grow it's just so neat to see them come into their own, into their own person with their own ideas and passions and thoughts. And really be able to draw that out of them and discuss that with them, and that's really, I think, one of the blessings about sticking with this method through high school.
So, today I just wanna get into some of the practical applications of this. One of the things that comes up a lot, when people think about high school, and again, you know, one of the fears that we have is am I preparing them for college. And, like I talked about yesterday, you know, we are preparing them for life. But we do want them to have the skills that they can be successful in whatever career path they take. And if that means going to college, we want them to have the skills needed for that as well. But, I think because of that fear that we have, we can wonder, is the Charlotte Mason method gonna work? Or do I need to add a whole bunch more to it? And I think out of that fear and anxiety, it can be very tempting to pile more and more and more into what we're already doing. And in the quote that I read yesterday, you know, I kinda talked about that.
But we can kind of stunt that growth of those living ideas by adding all this other stuff to it. We're feeling like we need to push all that in, remember? And so I really think it's important that we just pray through it and say, you know, are my motivations for adding this or that thing into what we're doing in high school, that really doesn't fit with the Charlotte Mason method, is that out of what my child needs? Am I seeing like a giftedness in them that I want to encourage? That's great. Or is it something that I'm doing out of fear or anxiety about not being able to do enough or measure up enough, or not have them be successful enough.
And so, if it is something that's out of fear or anxiety, you know, that's worth acknowledging, going maybe this is... maybe I don't need to add this in right now. Because that fear, like I said yesterday, that fear and anxiety does change the climate of our home and it does change the atmosphere, and it does change the relationship with our teen. They're not dumb, and they can pick up on that, right? And so, so I see a lot of people feel like they need to add a lot more traditional school type materials into what they're using in high school so that they can make sure they're checking off all the boxes, and I can make sure that my child is learning everything that they're supposed to know, and I can go through and check all their answers, and kinda have this system that makes me feel safe and secure, and I know that I'm, you know, jumping through these hoops directly.
Whereas the Charlotte Mason method, it takes a lot of faith. It takes a lot of faith and these principles. And it takes a lot of faith that my child is able to do the work themselves. You know, I'm respecting them as a person and I'm putting them in touch with these living ideas. And I expect that mind to mind, they're gonna be gaining the knowledge that they need. They're gonna be taking from the feast what they're able. And, you know, that can be scary. Especially as they get older. And I wanna make sure that I'm pouring this in, and this is what's coming out. And it takes that kind of faith to kind of allow this process to happen.
And so, anyway, I just wanted to caution you, if you feel like you have to add in a bunch of more traditional textbooky, workbooky stuff in high school. Just break through kind of your motivations and your reason for feeling like you need to do that. You don't want to stunt the growth that's already been there by using the Charlotte Mason methods.
And so, one of the things I often hear about is what about literary analysis? Is my child going to be successful in a college-level English class? Are they gonna be able to read the books, analyze them, and write the papers like the professors would want them to? And so, I just wanna talk a little bit about kind of some of the fear behind literary analysis and what is included, and what they are doing using this method.
So, first of all, there's two books that I use in A Gentle Feast. Whether you use this or you use some other Charlotte Mason curriculum, or if you're just wondering, can I make this switch in high school? That's totally fine. I'm not gonna talk specifics here. But there are two books that I use for literature. One is in middle school, and that is actually the book that Charlotte Mason used in her PNEU programs for middle school. And it is H. E. Marshall's English Literature for Boys and Girls.
And what that book does, is it takes you through history and Ms. Mason talked about the importance of integrating literature and history, especially as the students get older. And it takes you through the different time periods and shows you what kind of English authors and writers were doing throughout this time period. So, if your child reads that book in middle school, they are introduced to a tomb of English writers and thinking about what they wrote, why they wrote it, and have this amazing survey of literature from everything from Shakespeare until Dickens. The book goes to the late 1800s.
So... and all those authors and poets and thinkers in between. So that's a book for middle school, so they're getting a huge foundation of authors and thinking about why the authors wrote those books, what was happening in history at that time, that kind of spurned that writing. And then when they get to high school, a book that I use...this was not part of Mason's programs. This is a newer book, but in high school, I use the book called An Invitation to the Classics. And it's very similar to the book, the H. E. Marshalls book, that it goes through the historical time periods. This one I like a little bit better for high school because it does go into the different movements of literature. And it does talk about world view. This is written by Christian authors, but even if that's not your belief system, you know, this is a really great book just about authors in general. But it does go into some world view questions as well. So I think it's really important. Why did the authors write what they write?
So, again, starting with Greek writers. This is more... H. E. Marshalls book was English literature, so this is more world authors, which I think is important in high school too. So, it starts with, you know, the Greek writers and it goes up into the modern-day. So this covers more time periods than the H. E. Marshall book does as well. So, this book is...I assign this to my high school students. But it's also a great book for you to read. So if you're like, I did not like English in school. I did not like English in college. I don't know about these great books and these great authors. I don't even know where to begin with talk to my kid about these books. This would be a great book for you to kind of pick up and read through on your own.
Another way that you could use it is if you assigned your child a specific book to read and you want to be able to talk to them about it after they've narrated their readings. So, for example, Gulliver's Travels. That's a common book kids read in high school. So if your kid was reading this, and you're like, I never read this book. I don't know anything about this book. I don't even have a clue on how to talk about this book with my child. You can read this, and so I really like that it talks about the author and kind of some of their background. Because, you know, the experiences that we have in life influence us as human beings, though, especially as artists and the things that we're producing.
So it's good to know some of the background of the author. It talks about the genre of literature, so Gulliver's Travels is a satire. And so it talks a little bit about, you know, what makes a satire. Talks about the story. Gives you kind of a summary here, so if it's something you haven't read, this will kind of give you some foundational knowledge here. It talks about some of the themes in the book that would be good to talk about. And it does give a few questions. They don't actually call these questions, so this isn't like a workbook where you're given a passage and then you have to answer comprehension questions about it.
These are, they call their questions in here, issues to explore. So these are great questions after a child's narrated to you. After a child's read the book, if you wanna kinda have a discussion and kinda go a little deeper with them, not doing, you know, analysis or a bunch of extra stuff, but just having a discussion about it. So like, one of the questions talks about Swift's world view and how that impacts his writing. And just kind of, his moral statements that he's making throughout this book. And so it gets them to kinda think a little deeper if they're still kinda giving you narrations that are basically like summaries. Like, first, Gulliver went here, and then Gulliver went here. And you want them, at this age, in high school, to kinda dig deeper into what they're reading. These kinda questions will really help you with that.
So, I highly recommend this book for both you or for...and your child. Or just you to kinda give you some help with some of the books that they're reading in high school. So, both of these, the H. E. Marshalls book that's read in middle school, and then reading a book like this in high school is going to give your kid a huge foundation for English. Whether they go on to college English, or they just have to get that general ed requirement out of the way in college. They will know so many authors that most people have no clue who they are. And especially like, poets, and things like that. They will just have this reservoir. And one of the things I love about the Charlotte Mason method is these authors and these thinkers and these poets and these composers, they become like my kids' friends.
The other day we were listening to Vivaldi's Summer as part of the summer morning time packet, and my kids, I put it on, and my kids are like, oh I know this. Isn't this Vivaldi? And I was like, yeah. That's who it is. But we learned him like two years ago. But they remember it because, you know, he's their friend and they learn him...??? he's my buddy. Vivaldi? I know him. This is great.
And so, this just kinda puts your kids in touch with these really great minds and thinkers. And so they know these people. And so that will really help them later one. So this book really does dive into analysis of literature, like I was talking about with Gulliver's Travels. Just talking about the genre and the theme and the characters. And the motivations. Without doing a bunch of worksheets or a bunch of extra stuff. I think one of the beauties of the Charlotte Mason method is that you're able to cover so much and be like, how are your kids able to read that many books in a year? How are you able to cover that many subjects with only doing school for four or four and a half hours every day? And it's because I'm not, we're not adding a bunch of extra stuff. Okay? And so when you keep adding more and more things on to your child's plate, it's just gonna wear them down. Where they're actually being able to really get, or really rich English education from reading these great books. And then reading books about these great books. Like this one, or the H. E. Marshalls book.
In high school, in the PNEU programs, Ms. Mason assigned book by Matthew Arnold. It was a book literary criticism. So, they were reading the H. E. Marshalls book in middle school and then this work on literary criticism. And it's in the public domain on archive.org if you wanna look it up. I looked through it cause i was like, woo, do I wanna include the one she did for high school? But it is, whew! It is very intense. And he uses a lot of French passages and stuff, and so it was just overwhelming. But I would...and this one's more modern. So, but there is that one, too, that she originally used.
But the point is that she did assign books for the kids to read that would help them as they're reading their literature books. To kind of get these things. We don't have to do a bunch of, you know, flashcards on, what's theme? What's characterization? What's setting? They can learn that in an organic way by reading really great literature in reading these kind of books about really great literature, is the point I'm trying to make.
I like that we use the book How to Read a Book by Adler. That was written in like, the fifties or sixties, I believe. And I think it's interesting that people assign that for their high schoolers to read, because that was a book that was assigned to me in my master's level theology course. So, it is a hard, hard read. So I like Invitation to the Classics a little bit better than that. And this is more a view of authors, where How to Read a Book is more deep diving deeper into reading a book. But that would be an option if you wanted to add that and felt like your child was capable.
How to Read a Book by Adler, and then, oh, How to Read a Book Like a Literature Professor is another one. So, those would be great reads for, I believe, for you as an adult, if you feel like you're, again, don't have that foundation to kind of go through these high school books. How to Read a Book Like a Literature Professor is kind of funny, it kind of has, he's kind of sarcastic. Kind of has some quips in there that...yeah, I don't know...and some of the positives he uses. I wouldn't use it...like I wouldn't use it as part of my curriculum for every family, cause some people might get offended by some of the things. But overall, it's a really great book, and it's really great for adults, and to kind of go...even if you just wanna get better at reading your own books in your own free time. It has some great points in it. So that's the book, How to Read Like a Literature Professor.
So, I wanted to read to you a quote from, this is from Volume Five of Ms. Mason's writings. Formation of Character, where she kinda talks about analyzing books. Now, this is interesting because it has stories of different people and it's kind of looking at their lives and what kind of decisions they made and what they...how their education impacted them as they were growing. And so this isn't, kinda like your other books where it's very much education philosophy driven. But again, because education's life, and we're making our, we're preparing our children for life, not earning a living. You know, the formation of their character is a very big deal.
So it, but in this book, she says, in talking about kind of analyzing books, this malady of unbelief is common to the serious mind. Educated to examine all things before they know the things they criticize by the slow, sure process of assimilating ideas. If we would but receive it, we are not capable of examining that which we do not know. And knowledge is the result of a slow, involuntary process, impossible to a mind in the critical attitude.
So, here she's saying, the knowledge comes through, sometimes through our slow, sure processing of ideas. But that, if we go into something with a critical mind, that we're only reading this book, let's say, to analyze it. We're not just reading the book and letting the ideas come to us. That, you know, she's saying that this is an involuntary process. It's impossible to a mind in the critical attitude. So that kind of critical attitude going into it, will hamper the process of our mind assimilating these ideas.
Let us who teach spend time in the endeavor to lay proper and abundant nutrients before the young. Rather than leading them to criticize and examine every morsel of knowledge that comes their way. Who could live if every mouthful of bodily food were held up on a fork for critical examination before it be eaten?
So, again, you know, she always has these, like feast metaphors, you know? So, I mean, imagine if, before you ate everything, if you have to hold it on your fork and examine it. How many calories are gonna be in this bite? What food group does this go in? What micronutrients am I getting from this bite of food. You know, if you do that every time you took a bite to eat something, how hampering of a process that would be. But also, just how annoying that would be, right?
And so, she's saying, we don't want them to criticize and examine every bit of knowledge that comes their way. We want to allow their bodies to assimilate and digest these ideas. And so that's why, I think narration is so important. That's what allows them the time to kind of process what they've read. Especially at the high school level where, you know, quite honestly, these books are pretty challenging. And so, they need to have time to kind of sit with those living ideas there before they move on to discussing it or kind of critiquing it. And sometimes that's a process, you know? Even as an adult, I'll read something and then a couple days later, I'll hear something or I'll think of something and it'll take me back to what I had read a couple days ago and make it clearer or I'll think deeper on it. Or I might have thought one thing the first time I read it but now after a couple days, you know I think the author meant that.
And so we need to allow our kids the time to kind of process it before like, okay, so tell me about what you read. You know, why do you think the character did that? What do you think the theme of this book is? What do you think about the setting of that chapter that you just read? You know? And we're not allowing that time for those ideas to kind of grow and process in their mind first. And so that's kinda what she was saying in this chapter, that can be a hamper, just like it would be a hamper to look at every piece of food before you ate it, right?
But, it doesn't mean that we don't do anything with the books that we're using or we don't change how narration is done in the high school levels. And so I think that's a key too, that is important for people to realize so that they're not like, oh, high schooling Charlotte Mason way too easy. All they do is they read books and narrate. Well, yes, but there's more to it than that.
So, again, like I said with their reading these kind of literature overview books that are helping them with their kind of critiquing of different stories. But, there's also more that you can do with a book in high school. So, in Volume Three, which is School Education, on page 180, so there's a whole chapter in here called How to Use School Books. And I really, really, really, really recommend this chapter, so I'm gonna link to it, if you have time and just wanna kinda read through it. Cause, since books are so foundational of the Charlotte Mason method, reading through this chapter is just so key.
But, in this chapter, it's talking about, you know, using living books. It's talking about using a careful single reading to build that habit of attention. And then there's a part in here called Other Ways of Using Books. And so this is key here, and take on a think through.
But this is only one way to use books. So before she was talking about reading and narrating. Others are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter, to analyze a chapter, to divide into paragraphs under proper heading, which to me is like, outlining. To tabulate and classify series. To trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause. To discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact. To get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science out of books. All this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education.
So, that's a very strong statement, right? So that there are other ways to use books. Now, again, this isn't something that has to be done every day, have to be done with every book, right? But it is important that they are able to do that. So enumerate...let's just go through these ways here. So, the first one was enumerate the statements. So, taking the statement of a book and using it, rewriting it in their own words. Which is kinda what we're used to with the narration, right? Or even expand on the words that the author said.
Then they can analyze a chapter and so, that's where, you know, talking about some of these ideas and concepts would come in. They can divide it into paragraphs. So, kind of teaching them...and this goes really well with like, science books. How to kinda outline a chapter with headings. And to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause. So, learning cause and effect, is what we would kinda call that today. And again, that doesn't mean they have to have a worksheet, that they're gonna fill out about what the cause was, what the effect was. Circle the cause, underline the effect. I mean, we all do those worksheets in school. Do you remember those?
But it's something they can think through and kinda talk through the story. A fun thing to do would be even to kind of make like a mind map when you're kind of drawing pictures of and writing out. Well, this happened, and that caused this. And this happened and this caused this. And this happened and this caused this, in a story. Like, a really great book for that would be like, Pride and Prejudice, right? Like, Mr. Darcy did this, Elizabeth felt this. Then, you know, Mr. Darcy did this, and then Elizabeth did this. And then Elizabeth did this and Mr. Darcy thought this. And, you know, it's a great cause and effect kinda way to map through that.
And then to get lessons of life in conduct, like that they are gonna take those books and they're gonna realize, oh, well that person acted like that. And this is what happened to them, that was the consequence, right? And it's that formation of character. The preparing your child for a life that we were talking about.
But that's not necessarily something we have to drag in. Did you catch how he acted in that book? You don't wanna act like that, do we? Right? She talks about over moralizing everything. We want them to kind of gain those little tidbits for themselves there.
Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family-centered, inspired by Ms. Mason's programs and philosophy, and in books, beauty, and Biblical Truth. You can find out smooth and easy days are closer than you think at agentlefeast.com.
But then she does give a caution. So right after she says there are some other ways to use books, the very next heading it this kind of caution here. But let us be careful that our disciplinary devices and our mechanical devices to secure and tabulate the substance of knowledge, do not come between the child and that which is the sole of the book. The living thought it contains.
So, you know, we don't wanna use books in these others ways so much or in such a way that it, like I said, kills that living idea. And this is what I think is so key here. She's talking about, we're coming between the child and the sole of the book. When you think about, and she goes on to quote Milton here, that books aren't dead things, right? But this is...they're living ideas inside of this. Especially, you know, like the Word of God. It's living and active. And so, especially that one. But like, you know, other books contain living ideas that are going to teach and grow inside of our child. And we don't want to come between our child's mind and the sole of what is in this by adding too many extra things. And so even in high school, that's a caution. And again, there's no clear cut, like, do this, don't do that. Do this, don't do that. You know? It's a fine line and I think that's why she talks so much about the role of the Holy Spirit in educating our children, that we just have to kind of be walking with the Spirit to know. Am I adding too much? Am I not doing enough? Am I adding...you know? And prayerfully walk through that.
And in this Milton quote, he had some very strong words about books. And he says, as good almost kills a man, as kill a good book. Who kills a man, kills a good, reasonable creature, God's image. But he who destroys a good book kills reasons itself. Kills the image of God as it were in the eye. So, yes, page number? sorry. Okay, so this is Volume Three, page 180 and 181 I'm reading from here. But he says that he who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God as it were in the eye. I mean, that is, whew! Some powerful statements. I like, wanna cut that out and send it to some of my high school English teachers. Cause they really killed some good books, in my opinion. I probably would really like some of the books I had to read in high school English if I hadn't had to analyze them to death.
There's a reason why those books are classics, right? But when I read most of them, I was like... I hate this book.
And she also talks in this same two pages here, about the teacher's part. The teacher's part in the first place is to see what is to be done, to look over the work of the day in advance, and see what mental discipline, as well as what vital knowledge, this and that lesson afford. And then to set such questions and tasks as shall give full scope to this people's mental activity. Let marginal notes be made freely as neatly and beautifully as they be for books should be handled with reverence. Let numbers, letters and underlining be used to help the eye and to save the needless flag of writing abstracts. Let the pupil for himself half a dozen questions which cover the passage. He need not write the answers if he be taught that the mind can know nothing but what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put to the mind by itself.
So, she talks about underlining and highlighting. I write all over my books. Even these beautiful ones. But she's saying, okay, so here's the teacher's part. And I think this is really key and something that can be easy to not kind of notice is that we, as the teacher, do have a vital part in preparing this feast and putting our child in touch with these living minds. Which she says here, the teacher is gonna look over what work needs to be done and so I know you all do that, right? Like, you look maybe at the beginning of your week or maybe do it every night or every morning. Kinda here's where we're going, here's what they're gonna be reading.
But also I think it's important to kind of take those assignments. So let's say your child has to read four chapters in Gulliver's Travels this week, right? It'll be very beneficial to, like, read that passage, an invitation to the classics I was talking about on Gulliver's Travels. If you have time, it would probably be beneficial for you to skim through or even read those chapters that they're going to be looking at. And it says about setting questions and talking about the vital ideas. So, she's saying, you know, as teachers, we can make notes, we can highlight in the books, things that we might wanna discuss or draw out with our kids. But again, we're not coming...it's not like we have to come up with all these questions to make sure that our child got everything they need to know about this chapter. Right? That's their job. Their job is to take what they need to get the knowledge that they need from this great mind, and... but we can discuss it with them after they narrate. So that's the kind of questions she's talking about here.
But she says, more important than the questions that we have are the questions that they have. So, they should come up with half a dozen questions about the passage. They don't need to write the answers, because the mind is already answering the questions that they're answering right? So, you know, great skill to kind of encourage is, say, okay, what questions do you have after reading this? So, not just a narration, but it could be questions that, you know, they might ask somebody else. But also be questions they have. Like, why did she do that? What did the author mean when they said that. Or, I'm not really sure what that word meant. Those kind of questions to get them to think a little bit deeper, again. We're not adding a bunch of stuff onto what we're already doing, but we're gonna take those methods and principles that we've used throughout in the high school we're just gonna like go a little bit deeper here.
Okay, and it can be tempting to think, oh my goodness, I can't do this. I don't know how to teach my kid English. I don't know anything about any of this. I should just have somebody else teach them. Or take a class somewhere or something. And I would just like to say that that, that fear isn't necessarily true. Again, we are preparing the feast. We're putting them in touch with these great minds. We're giving them some deeper ways to do that, and some more tools in high school. But you're not responsible for being the only one that's teaching your kid all there is to know about English. They are gaining that knowledge for themselves. The only true education is self-education, like Ms. Mason says, so.
They're doing that themselves, but you're kind of walking alongside them and doing that. Another great resource, if you don't have time. I mean, to read through your kids' books. I mean, I should ??? stack of books my high school kid's gonna read next year. And so, if I hadn't already read all those, there's no way I would be able to read them this summer. That's just, like, I don't even know. Twenty-five books there? But even if you can only read just one, it would just be such a benefit to you and your child. So, just pick one book that they have to read for term one. You could put the book that you know the least about, or the book that looks the most interesting, or a book that, like, you would actually enjoy. ??? reading, like if your kid has to read Jane Eyre. That's my favorite book of all time. So, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.
So just pick one and read through it. And then if you get to, you know, as the year goes on, if you have more time, you can read for term two, and then term three. But just even having one book that you can kind of hear their narrations, ask them good questions, go a little deeper, it's just gonna be a huge blessing for both of you, and you're gonna be teaching them those tools through your discussion that they can use in other books.
But a great resource, too, if you don't have time to read it, the books that they're using, is Spark Notes. So, I mean, kids have so many amazing tools. Can we just say that? Like, if Spark Notes would've been around when I was doing high school English, well I probably wouldn't have read any of the books that I was assigned. I'd probably just use Spark Notes. But, and Google? I mean, gosh, the kids these days, things are so much easier.
But, Spark Notes is great. On Spark Notes you can type in like the name of the book. So I'm just gonna use Gulliver's Travels, cause I'm using that one today. So type in Gulliver's Travels. it will give you a chapter by chapter summary. So if your kids has to read chapters four through eight this week, you can go on Spark Notes and you can read the summaries for chapters four through eight, just to kind of give you an idea of what's going on in the story. Spark Notes gives you characters. So, if your child is talking to you about somebody in the story, and you're like, I have no idea who this person is, or who this character is, or what they're even talking about. You can go on there and see, oh yeah, that's the character, that's the father of so and so, oh yeah. Okay, yeah, I understand what you're talking about.
There's also some great discussion questions on Spark Notes. Some essay ideas and things like that. So that's just a great tool. It's free. If you kind of want some more information on how to kinda approach what they're reading that you haven't read. Cause I get that question a lot. Like, do I have to read every book that my high schooler is going to read? No. Would it be beneficial if you're able to read some of them? Yes. I think for any age, if you're able to read through some of their books and just have a deeper understanding of what they're reading and be able to talk about it and talk about their narrations with them, that's great. That's a huge blessing. But don't feel like all this pressure to kinda have to read through twenty-five books this summer.
They're' doing this work of the self-education themselves. So in narration, in high school, your child's going to be doing more written narrations. They're still gonna be doing oral though. So that's not something that you know goes away. Even in high school, they're still doing oral. So, the way I do it is when my little ones are doing room time, so after lunch, they have an hour in their rooms and, or, one child goes into my room because they share a room. And during that hour, that's when I meet with my high schoolers. What have you been doing today? You know, give me your narration of whatever. If, for some reason, I'm not able to do that. Like, let's say we have a doctor's appointment in the afternoon or something like that, and I have to leave, my high schoolers will voice message me their oral narrations. So they have phones and, or you could use a old iPod or something if you don't want to do that. Or even...I mean, I think they still sell those, like, little old tape recorder message things that we used to have in the eighties, and they can voice record their narration on one of those old tape player voice message things as well.
But, so, like, if they're still doing oral narration, and then I'll tell them what subjects I want a written narration for. If you do use A Gentle Feast, I kind of, in the form four, high school planner now, the new planners. There is a list of kind of what written narrations to ask for in a week. And kind of like a little checklist here of what they would need to have. So let me just show you that.
So, for the week I want one written narration in each of these subjects. And by listing them, that kind of helps me, like, and they know which ones to do. So one history, one literature, one geography. And then the other narrations would just be oral. And then for their science, I want a narration of their readings that they did, and then a narration of the lab that they did. And then, one of the other things to do in high school, literature, and composition are so tied together in these English courses, and so, you're taking these kind of deeper narrations and you're taking these deeper thoughts that they're having about books. And you want that to translate into their written narrations about the literature books.
And so, a way that I do that is I assign different kinds of composition prompts that tie in with their literature. And this is the part of the form four packet in A Gentle Feast, but you could make, you know, you could do these yourself, depending on what they're reading. And I don't do this every week. It's not always tied to literature every week, but I think it...literature and composition, obviously, in English classes, they tie together very well.
So, for example, this is from the right year. So, I give them a video to watch on finding textual evidence. So again, this is a skill that they're gonna need to have if they're going on to college, is finding evidence to support your theories, right? In what you're reading. And so, there's a video to watch on that, so I'm kind of just giving them, in a very easy, quick way, here's the skill, and if your kids are well-read and they've been reading living books this whole time, it's not a hard skill to grasp, right? They kind of have been doing that in their own minds for a long time.
And then this says, write an essay describing the changes that take place in Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's relationship throughout Pride and Prejudice. Use textual evidence to support your theories. So again, it's like, very common kind of literary analysis prompt. But, giving them the space to write that in here, kinda helps me. I don't have to reinvent the wheel every day, of what they have to do and what they have to write about.
But it is teaching them those kind of literary analysis skills without having it to be forced into their mouths. And again, it's them preparing the feast and gently bringing them to it. So they are learning those skills in a way that's not going to stunt those living ideas. So this is like, you know after they've read most of the book, here, now we're gonna kinda do some deeper thinking about it. If you are assigning your kids' written narrations yourself, at the high school level, you can assign different kinds of narrations. So it's not always, tell me what happened in that chapter. Okay, that's a very basic narration that you would expect from like a form one or form two child. So, as they're progressing, they're, you can ask them various narration questions. And if you look at the appendix of School Education, Volume Three, at the exam questions that she gives to the high schoolers, they're...remember, exams are extended narrations. You can see the kind of depth of these questions she's asking and how various they are. So instead of, what just happened in this chapter? You can say, explain. So that's a word that's used a lot. So, explain how George Washington was able to outmaneuver the British at the Battle of Trenton. Okay? It's not just, what happened in that chapter? But explain something to me.
Like, that goes really well with science books as well. Like, explain to me the process of rocks turning into soil, or whatever the chapter was about, right? Describe. So, you could tell them to describe, describe the Moors in Jane Eyre. Okay? Describe the character of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. Okay? So, it's not just focusing on, you know, here's a summary of all events, but we're asking them these deeper narration prompts to develop a thinking more. And then the last kind, so there's then, there's the narration. That's just a narrative, a series of events. There's explaining. Expository writing. And oral telling. There's descriptions. And there's also persuasive. So, and this can be oral or it can be written. I mean, these are like four main kinds of writing that, you know, we would teach kids and so you are teaching them these kind of different genres of writing through oral narration, which is where she said to always start. And then through some of their written narrations and composition assignments in high school.
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