You Might Be From The Garden School If…

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    By Elizabeth Veldboom

1) You know that “The Rock” is more than just an ex-wrestler turned lousy actor.

2) You have ever had nightmares about forgetting your lines.

3) You know that Latin is not a dead language. It should be, but somehow they keep reviving it.

4) The names “George Grant” or “Paul Johnson” have ever struck fear into your heart.

5) An “Opportunity” means more to you than an amazing chance coming your way. Rather, it is a strategic plot designed to get you to ponder an early demise.

6) You’ve ever had class at a Starbucks and/or Target.

7) The Morley knows all. Period.

8) You could make the Guinness World Records for the most khaki ever worn on a single person.

9) You have seen at least one thing blow up during a 40-hour presentation.

10) You have ever spontaneously burst out singing.

11) You compare every grandma you know to Nonny. Maybe even your own. Or really anyone.

12) You know who Nonny is.

Garden School teachers, parents, students, and grads–what did I miss?! What would you have put on this list? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

And for our readers from out of state: What out of this list caught your curiosity?! Let us know, and we’ll give you the story behind it!

Have fun, guys! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    ______________________

    Elizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com

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Foundations for Learning

CollegeGraduation[1]

    By Dave Miller

[Dave’s note: What follows is a personal essay for a college application from a graduate of The Garden School. I hope it will encourage parents who have chosen private or homeschool education to “stay the course.”]

I’ve been blessed to be born into a wonderful family (in both the nuclear and extended sense) and to attend a quite extraordinary school from a very young age. My family has always cultivated my education and supported my quest for knowledge, but it was at The Garden School that I eventually understood what learning truly is. The Garden School is a classical Christian private school that students attend twice a week. The students work at home the other three days, following the instructors’ guidelines. The school is based on the idea that there is a Grammar stage, a Logic stage, and a Rhetoric stage. You learn facts, then you learn causes and meaning, and are finally able to communicate your ideas. The Garden School’s foundational principle is teaching students how to think, not what to think. And I thrived in this environment.

At The Garden School, I learned Philosophy from Plato, Chemistry from Lavoisier, Humor from Cervantes, and Poetry from Homer. I learned how science and music and art and government are intricately connected and cannot be separated without losing meaning. I learned to look at the stars and see Pegasus, to look at a snowy field and hear the poetry of Frost, to read a news story and recall a similar event our modern times have all but forgotten. I learned to love knowledge. I found I could dig deeper and understand, follow a path of logic and find a mistake, speak and have my opinions heard. The Garden School instilled in me a deep and passionate longing to know and understand.

[The essay goes on to talk about the writer’s decision to attend Colorado Mountain College to earn an Associate of Arts Degree as well as her desire to transfer to a four-year university. I hope you’ll agree that for this student, the years spent at The Garden School as well as the freedom of homeschooling provided a strong foundation for furthering her education.]

As a homeschool parent, what kinds of things do you do to help your child build a solid foundation for life-long learning?

    ___________________

    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.

The Garden

    By Shilo Bartlett

cover-gardening[1]We have just finished planting our first “official” garden this year. It includes the usual tomatoes, basil, watermelon, onions, parsley and peas. It has a small fence around the climbing tomatoes so they can have a nice sturdy fence to climb up. It has a ground cover to keep the weeds out. It also has a drip hose with an automatic timer so that the seedlings don’t dry out in the sun. It has all this, and we are ever so proud of it. Small as it may be, it contains months of planning, thought, and hard work.

This small garden contains everything essential to the learning process, in my opinion. I grew up watching (and sometimes helping 🙂 ) my mother plant an enviable garden every year. It was one of our favorite things to do as kids to run out and just eat as much as you could – sweet peas being the favorite. We would just pick and eat! I remember thinking, “What an amazing part of nature that we can just put a small seed in the ground, and voila! You have food!”

The lessons I learned from my mother while watching her dutifully plant, water, weed, and care for that garden has shaped the way I look at many things:

1) The dedication to a goal – that is essential in the gardening process.

2) The strict accountability to no one but the plants; to take care of something that will not respond or talk back, but will show you results if you are patient enough.

3) The ability to see the future. To not look at what is in front of you now, but look forward to what will come.

4) To plan for your family’s needs outside of what the world and society have provided.

5) To want to give your children the best food you can possibly provide.

These are all lessons that I strive to achieve in my own life today. I am devoted to the ideals that my mother and her garden gave me.

This is why my small little plot that my children have helped put together in these past few weeks is such an amazing part of our little lives. I am looking forward to the late summer and fall harvest when I’ll watch my children run out to eat those fresh tomatoes and peas, just like my mother before me.

Happy summer everyone!

Do you garden? If so, what is your favorite part of gardening?

    _______________________

    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Finding the Music in Math

    By Dawn Lamping

      “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” -Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

      Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

      Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

      Something very sad has happened to numeracy in our culture. Most of us were educated in a school system that isolates mathematics, teaching one single path to math: memorization of abstract facts and algorithms. Cut off from its context, its separation renders it dead, lost, decidedly “other”- easy to dismiss or feel antagonistic towards. Consequently, many of us have divorced ourselves from math.

      But as Galileo told us, math is important, a vital and fundamental part of this beautiful Creation we are gifted to live within. Creation is its context. Math is a blueprint from which we cannot separate ourselves: it is in music, in our bodies, in the structure of elements, in color and in dance. In some deep way, to separate ourselves from math separates us from God. Or alternately, when God is alive in our hearts, math comes alive in our minds.

      To give our children the gift of a Classical Christian math education is to open a door for them they will journey through all their lives. With the right viewpoint, drilling and memorizing numbers can be fun; it feeds confidence and builds a foundation for success. Even better, when beauty is found in numbers, it feeds the hungers of the soul and sets a foundation for truth in the heart.

      For the very young, finding numbers they know in nature and life is like a treasure hunt. Flowers exhibit petals in multiples of three and six (monocots), or multiples of four or five (dicots). There is one sun, one moon, seven continents, one mother, one father, two parents. Families come in many number combinations, and drawing a family tree will reveal patterns of the powers of two (aptly named!). It can be fun and revealing to keep a number journal with photos and drawings representing the numbers.

      For older students, the history of numbers is fascinating. A math timeline illustrates the relationship of man to number in a graphic way. The writing of numbers predates writing of literature! The earliest examples of writing we have show tallies of moon cycles and the trading of goods. The ancients saw numbers as having color and personality. Musical scales were an essential element of the study of geometry, and instruments were based on mathematical models of tone and form. The ratios of the lengths of strings were the basis for the discovery of harmonies in math, while the golden ratio (www.goldennumber.net) of 1: 1.618 was the basis for beauty in art and architecture. Even the dimensions of Solomon’s Temple and the Ark of the Covenant follow this pattern.

      A project the “tweens and teens” enjoy is one I call “Meet the Numbers.” We divvy up the list and research each number from 0 – 12 to “introduce” the number to the group as one would a new friend. Each number has its own configuration of factors, multiples, and shape. Sometimes amazing stories of the “lives” of numbers pop up, such as the strange battle over the number zero in the Middle Ages. Zero was a new number in Arabic culture (called the “sifr”), and the rulers of Western Europe actually outlawed its use until it was finally accepted in the 1500’s.

      One sequence of numbers-which adds each new term to the previous one-looks like this: 0 + 1 = 1; 1 + 1 = 2; 1 + 2 = 3; 2 + 3 = 5; 3 + 5 = 8. It was discussed by Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa, c. 1130. The “Fibonacci Sequence” can be found in the measurements of the human body (all ages love measuring themselves), in musical scales, in church architecture, in natural spirals of leaf growth in plants and sunflower seeds, in the cycles of the solar system, and many more.

      We are quite lucky, we who get to explore this pattern with our children, because it also teaches us the things we never had the opportunity to learn about math. When children are young, they can find the numbers in nature. As they get older, they can draw things such as the golden spiral (see the “Nature by Numbers” video, below), or compare proportions through algebra.

      To step forth on this path as mothers and teachers asks us to let go of our assumptions about what math looks like and add another dimension to our work. This can seem strange at first until we form a new conception of what math means. Without shorting on memorization, adding space for math discovery will enrich and motivate both us and our kids.

      It’s time for us to relax and discover numbers afresh; resting in the truth that when numbers have meaning and depth, facts are just plain easier to memorize anyway!

      Let’s chat: How do you view math? Is it a blessing or a curse?

      (Readers: as an extra bonus, check out the “Freebies” tab at the top of this page for one last piece of advice from Dawn!)

      A few good resources:

      Living Math (www.livingmath.net)
      Math From a Biblical Worldview
      Nature by Numbers (www.youtube.com)
      The Golden Ratio (www.goldennumber.net)
      Donald in Mathemagic Land (Disney, 1959)

    _________________

    Dawn Lamping didn’t see much of fifth grade recess because she was held in to try to “catch up” in fractions. That experience cooled any interest she had in mathematics until she started her family in 1994. Through the journey of homeschooling two children, Dawn discovered the “blueprints of Creation” within mathematics. She feels blessed to share the joy of math and enjoys exploring and mastering numeracy in the classroom through hands-on experiments, fun drill games, geometry, and art. She holds an Honors Degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri and completed teacher training at Arizona State University.

Stages

    By Shilo Bartlett

Stages.

Our children go through so many of these within a period of days, months, weeks, and years. Sometimes it can even feel like hours that they go through one stage before they are on to the next! These stages are punctuated by phrases or terms like the “terrible two’s,” or “fabulous fives.”

BakingMy family is currently in “The Growing Stage”-the one where they eat everything in sight. This particular stage means a lot of grocery store trips, which I am not overly fond of.

Just a few days ago I caught myself complaining about it all: the continual grocery store runs, the endless meal-making, and the demand to always keep the cabinets fully stocked. I was upset that I couldn’t keep up with the constant eating. And then it dawned on me…I remember when my kids were two, and three, and four, and I found myself wishing for some of those stages back. I thought about how I should have appreciated that part of their life while it was still here.

The realization gave me a moment to consciously remind myself that this is a time in my children’s life I should embrace. A chance to try to find the fun within the stage, and give them a reason to learn….just like all the other times in our lives that we have the opportunity to teach our children.

You see, the love of learning is not limited by books, or pens, or a classroom. All our lives we are learning new things, whether it’s new ways of seeing things, new approaches to obstacles, or new concepts and skills. The beauty comes not from viewing a stage my children go through as a thing I must “get through,” but as the gift of a teachable moment. (And many times this way of looking at things is more for me than it is for the kids!)

With this in mind, in addition to the usual I also recently enlisted my children’s assistance in the kitchen. I now have “helpers” in the grocery aisles. They help me decide on healthy snacks for school, menus for the week, and on what we need to buy for the house. They then help prepare the food at home with things like setting the table, washing the dishes, and taking out the trash.

I cannot say that this always goes smoothly or that it doesn’t have its challenges. Real and worthwhile education always has its bumps. However, I can say that the precious bonding time that has come from this stage has value far beyond today’s hungry stomach.

Let’s Chat: How do you implement teaching into the stages of your children’s lives?
________

    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Population Bomb Fizzles?

    By Dave Miller

(So we’re better than three weeks into the new year. How many of you have already reneged on some of your New Year’s Resolutions? I know I have. Blast that old human nature! Nonetheless, one that I am working hard to keep is to post a blog here as often as Lizzie will let me.

While this post is not specifically a “how-to” on homeschooling, it really illustrates a key tenet that most homeschool families will want to adopt; that is, “A faulty understanding of history can lead to an incorrect or downright destructive worldview in the present.” In a quote credited to Sir Acton, “He who knows not the mistakes of history is doomed to repeat them.” One of those errors is the one I have written about below. This would be a great lesson to talk through with your older students. The main idea I want to get across is-as the follow up essay brings home-“With every new mouth to feed comes a mind to think.”

–Dave)

PopulationPopulation Bomb Fizzles? (A history lesson for your Junior and Senior High students)

Have you heard of Thomas Malthus? Here’s a brief bio:

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766–1834), English economist and clergyman. In “Essay on Population” (1798) he argued that without the practice of “moral restraint,” the population tends to increase at a greater rate than its means of subsistence, resulting in the population checks of war, famine, and epidemic.

Problem is, his theory (Malthusianism) has been proven wrong over and over again ever since he came up with it. In fact, great damage has been inflicted upon the human race in the name of the “population bomb.” Even in Malthus’s time, this “bomb” threatened to explode in England and cause unspeakable devastation. In some instances of government intervention-or lack thereof-disease and squalor were allowed to run rampant throughout poorer villages in hopes of slowing down population growth, especially among this less desirable segments. Then the industrial revolution happened and increased the amount of food available to the population a hundred-fold.

In the early 20th century, Margaret Sanger mixed Malthusian ideas with a generous portion of social Darwinism to create Planned Parenthood. Few are even aware that the vast majority of abortion clinics are located near high minority populations. In Sanger’s writings, her goal was to control the less desirable races, kinda like old Adolf himself.

Do you remember the “vicious beast of Angor” with its “huge and nasty teeth” in one of my all-time favorite films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The beast was nothing more than a cute little bunny rabbit. But as Tim, the Enchanter, warned, and the knights of the Round table discovered: “That rabbit’s dynamite!” So were the filmmakers just being silly, or were they interested in pointing out that something so cute and cuddly as a rabbit could really be a ferocious threat? For what is it that rabbits do prolifically? They multiply. And how is the beast of Angor destroyed? With the holy hand-grenade of Antioch, of course! A bomb if you will. And what was one of the issues in the 70s? The coming population bomb!

puzzle brainWhile the world’s population continues to increase, at least in the third world, the food supply has more than kept pace. By and large, starvation is a political crime, as the following essay mentions. I hope you will take the time to read this fine piece of journalism by the folks over at the S & A Digest. If you can’t take the time to read the whole piece, I can sum it up in one sentence: “With every new mouth to feed comes a mind to think.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain your answer below.

Weekend Edition
The Best of The S&A Digest

The streets of Mumbai, India, are so congested, you can’t walk on them. So the city is going to spend $300 million to build 50 elevated steel walkways to allow pedestrians to get where they’re going. Mumbai has nearly 18 million people and its sidewalks are crowded with street vendors, some of whom have been selling their wares on the same spot for 20 years or more, according to the Wall Street Journal.

I hear the word “infrastructure” thrown around a lot, especially when investors talk about China and India. But I rarely hear anyone tell me what it really means in simple terms that anyone can understand.

A city of 18 million without enough sidewalk space… that I understand.

Mumbai’s space problem reminds me of Julian Simon, economist and author of The Ultimate Resource II. The ultimate resource Simon refers to is human beings. Peak Oil proponents and other environmental alarmists don’t get that with every new mouth to feed comes a new brain that thinks. Though there can certainly be short-term shortages of various goods and services – like walking space – over the long term, the rule for humanity has been abundance.

Think about New York City. Today’s population (19 million) is roughly similar to Mumbai’s. But 150 years ago, the population of pre-Civil War New York wasn’t near its current size, and the city would be hardly recognizable compared with today’s metro area.

Given Mumbai is starting off with enormous population resources, imagine what 150 years of progress will look like there. New York to the 10th power? It boggles the mind.

From a reader: So exactly why do you feel ‘Peak Oil’ is rubbish?

Some concepts we simply get tired of explaining in detail because to us the ideas have become like part of the furniture. In the same way you wouldn’t explain in detail how to use a chair, when discussing economics, we sometimes forget to explain the inter-workings of supply, demand, price, and replacement (human ingenuity).

The germane fact about Peak Oil is: It doesn’t matter. We are not going to run out of energy – that’s all you need to know. We have already discovered vastly more efficient sources of energy (uranium). Thus, were we to “run out” of oil, we would simply become far more reliant on electricity, generated largely by nuclear power (if not by coal or natural gas). This might happen even if supplies of oil increase, simply because uranium is a better (more dense) source of energy and, in theory at least, ought to provide lower-cost energy.

The prophets of doom are always wrong because they truly don’t understand how economics works.

Consider the fate of the worrywarts who said we would run out of copper by building telephone wires. It never occurred to them we’d discover a better way to transmit information. Well, of course we did – light waves through pure glass tubes. As recently as the early 1970s, Paul Ehrlich – a tenured professor at Stanford University – was predicting widespread famine by the end of the 1980s in his book Population Bomb. Why people believe this nonsense, I’ll never understand. (There hasn’t been a famine in modern times that wasn’t caused deliberately as a war tactic. And there won’t be: We’ve gotten vastly more efficient at growing crops, thanks to better farming techniques and better seeds.)

Whether or not we will literally run out of oil produced with geophysical tools simply doesn’t matter. Assuming people are free to invest in the creation of alternatives, we won’t ever run out of energy. That’s all that matters. Free markets and the laws of economics provide all that we really need. The supply of everything actually flows from human liberty and free markets. These are the forces that create innovation and technological replacement.

You see, the folks working on better energy sources aren’t limited by the physics of geology. More importantly, they aren’t hamstrung by the lack of Hubbert’s imagination. (Hubbert was the original Peak Oil theorist.) Scientists like Craig Venter have already proven algae can be genetically altered to produce oil from sunlight and salt water. Whether this is commercially viable in the next decade or not remains to be seen. The point is, supplies of oil and other useful forms of energy are not truly a matter of physics. Supplies of useful energy are a matter of economics, where human ingenuity comes into play. That is what is so important about human liberty and free markets.

As long as people are allowed to save, invest, and invent as they choose, the problems of the world will be rendered into what they really are: opportunities.

Regards,
S&A Research

——–

    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.