27 May, 2010

Garden Surprise

Look what I found on the dill today...Caterpillars that will become swallowtail butterflies! One of my favorite things ~

The tiny one ~

(there are two that I saw that are this size)

And the large one ~

I thought about bringing them in to observe them in a jar, but I think I'll wait till closer to "chrysalis" time.
The summer is starting out pretty well. I've had a sore neck of late, but have enjoyed puttering around in my garden, bringing in the first harvest of snow peas and now enjoying the caterpillars.
How has your summer begun?

21 May, 2010

On This Day

In 1859:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

My guys enjoy Sherlock Holmes well enough. Are any of my readers, or their children, Arthur Conan Doyle fans?


20 May, 2010

Buttercup Squash Soup

This fantastic recipe came to my attention today and I wanted to share the link with my friends.
We make two variations of this soup here the Bookncoffee house, but I am excited to try a different squash in the recipe. We are always open to new, healthy recipes to add to our regular meal rotation. Especially while in the typical 'slump' of just making 'the usual' because we are inundated with special events like graduations and their follow-up parties and weddings in this ever-so-busy month of May.

Do any of my readers have other squash or sweet potato soup recipes they'd like to share?

Running low on cooking inpsiration,


08 May, 2010

Prepping for a presentation on C. MAson & Foreign Language Learning Pt. I

I was asked to come speak to another local CM group which was started by a friend of mine. She had been visiting my CM bookclub but wanted to start a group on her side of town when she moved across the city.

It feels wonderful to be studying again, after a pretty long break during our daughter and son-in-love's engagement and recent wedding. There's just something about it that gets my adrenaline pumping and my motivation kicked into third and fourth gear.

This week, I have made some more possibly significant connections. This time regarding Charlotte Mason's process of fine-tuning (over her lifetime) Foreign Language recommendations. I told my hubby tonight that I need a copy of a first edition of _Home Education_ to compare it to the revisions made in the form we have now. It is noted in the preface that lectures VII and VIII and the appendix were moved to another volume and that part V was written at a later date. This note being dated 1905. This may be nothing at all new to some of you, but I just had a personal lightbulb moment during my studies. Seeing the original manuscripts from the first "Lectures for Ladies" would probably shed some light on my quest, as well, since revisions were likely made when it was first published into book form.

Gouin's work was published in French in 1880, then painstakingly translated into English by a friend of his in 1889. This work reads so much like Charlotte's own writing. I have a couple of other insights about the educational philosophers that Gouin drew from, and what Charlotte thought about their work; where she agreed with them, and where she didn't. Most people won't be interested in that, but if you are (my bookclub friends, especially) just let me know and we can discuss it over a virtual latte or iced coffee! I'd be glad to share, since we won't be studying from volume's I or III as a group again for some time, yet.

Charlotte seems to have a better grasp of M. Francois Gouin's work by Volume three than she had in Volume one, but I'd love to see the first editions in order to compare. This only occured to me studying these things this time around. It would make sense based on the samples of lessons in Volume three, which are very specific and true to Gouin's examples from his writings,
The Art of Teaching and Studying Language. Her Foreign Language suggestions and examples in Volume I don't conflict with Volume III, but they are a little different. Anyone who has read all Charlotte's Volumes and studied them carefully note how she seemed so idealistic in the earlier years, pre-World War I, and how her methodologies were fine-tuned over the decades of her lifetime as they were practiced and fine-tuned, even after her death in 1926.

Back to my new revelation, though. Charlotte seems to imply this incomplete understanding that I picked up on this time around (my third thorough reading over the last 13 years) when she writes, in a section presenting the method and the background of Gouin's FL 'research,' "But any attempt to quote [Gouin] gives an uncertain and unsatisfactory idea of this important work..." from _Home Education_ (also known as Volume I) pg. 304.

Then it struck me: That very quote reflects how I have observed so many CM moms and how we felt about reading CM herself for the first and second times; that first revelation of understanding, yet still being in wonderment and awe feeling, no knowing we'd only touched the tip of this educational iceberg and that there was so much more to read and drink of, to sift, let simmer, and slowly come to better understanding.

What's exciting about all of this information is that I first really cared about this information just a few years ago while reading with my own CM bookclub and it was timely to me, because I've been teaching Jr. High and High School Spanish for the last five plus years (including several summerschool sessions).

I won't linger over all the details, as I've shared them on this blog before. Briefly, modern and popular effective methods today reflect work by researchers named Dr. James J. Asher and also another researcher, Krashen, have written books and success stories about "Total Physical Response" methods. Imagine my joy when one of the main linguistic researchers they cite was not only a contemporary of Charlotte Mason, but they man she discusses most in her FL learning recommendations. In her time and country (England) that meant French, German, Italian. Latin was still taught the old classical, drill way, since it was not a conversational language like the others.

Other similar work and research still continues yearly in classrooms and seminars all over the country (and internationally) by the teachers and proponents of TPR Storytelling. I have described the differences and the similarities in previous posts before, if you are interested.

Most all corroborates with CM's intuition, philosophy of education and treatment of children as smart and capable persons. There are only a couple of minor, specific suggestions which differ from her own. As I organize the details, I will try to post them in simple form for those who are interested.

I wonder, would Charlotte have tweaked her recommendations a bit with our modern tools such as the computer (I think of power-point type programs), animation, DVDs, etc? What do YOU think? Since oral lessons were a hallmark recommendation, I think audio lessons would be approved, *but* they must fit her philosophy, and Gouin's, which is based on immersion, or how we all learned our first language, not on twaddly, mixed language, dialogues that some recommended "programs" provide, and not the drill and kill of grammar and vocabulary-heavy programs, nor what I call the "chopped-up," and "parts-to-whole" programs that are also popular.

Just keep in mind "whole-to-parts" learning and *common*, *daily*, useful chunks of language with all-important, most common verbs. Just a few a day, and keep building on those.

Until next time,