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Showing posts from June, 2010

Week 26: The Making of Americans and Unseen Academicals

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T he Making of Americans : Democracy and Our Schools, by E. D. Hirsch Hirsch is a famous critic of American educational practices and promoter of common standards. I've already reviewed his older book The Schools We Need; this is a newer book with quite a lot of the same message, but shorter and much easier to get through. Here, Hirsch concentrates on the development of American citizens, and how a common curriculum would promote egalitarian schools and a stronger public culture. I agree with much of his message, so I haven't got a whole lot to argue with here. Unseen Academicals , by Terry Pratchett This must be something like number 35 in the Discworld series, but Pterry is still going pretty strong. Discworld started off as funny fantasy, poking a bit of fun at the standard tropes, and has matured into social satire that is both entertaining and insightful. Here's hoping that Discworld will continue as long as possible. And, this marks the halfway point in t

Week 25: Beautiful Girlhood and Mistakes Were Made...

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Beautiful Girlhood , by Mabel Hale, revised by Karen Andreola This rather romantic growing-up book for young teenage girls was first written in 1922. It is very much something you imagine Anne Shirley reading and taking to heart (it may have been old-fashioned even when it was new). Karen Andreola, who is best known as the major name in Charlotte Mason education, kept the flowery Victorian language but took out anything that had dated particularly badly and added a few updates. It was not usually easy for me to tell where she edited. Much of the basic advice in the book is still quite applicable today, even if most modern girls would balk at the tone. Quite a lot of it is about honesty, consideration for others, popularity, getting along with your parents, and so on. If you take the spirit and not the letter of the advice, it's just fine. I rather enjoyed reading it and gave it to my 9-year-old daughter to read as well, thinking she would like reading something Anne would have

Week 24: Quiverfull and The Red Pyramid

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Quiverfull , by Kathryn Joyce I don't think that many people in my area of the world know very much about the Quiverfull movement. Lately I've been interested in understanding it, and the tragic Schatz case made me feel more strongly that this is something more of us should be aware of. Quiverfull is one term for a growing movement among very conservative Protestants, which emphasizes wifely submission, male headship, and "openness" to children, which can frequently translate to having as many as physically possible because it's a sign of righteousness. Adherents also homeschool, try to live as self-sufficiently as possible, and are usually quite isolationist. Women bear the heavy burdens that go with the lifestyle--but wives are also frequently the ones who are attracted to it in the first place and who pull their husbands in. Joyce explains some of the history behind the movement and the major players. This was very helpful to me since, as a homeschooler, I

Week 23: The Aeneid

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The Aeneid , by Virgil, translated by Sarah Ruden After reading Paul Among the People, I thought I'd see what Ms. Ruden's translations are like. It's a long time since I read the Aeneid, though. The story is only half-written; Virgil meant to write a 24-book epic, but only finished 12 before his death. I felt that the translation was quite clear and readable, and I enjoyed going back to the story and refreshing my memory. I need to tackle some more ancient classics this summer, not to mention the medieval books that have been put on hold lately...