Sunday, June 16, 2013

Senior Year Worldview Study

Thinking of sending my oldest child out into the world caused me to do some power-thinking about his state of preparedness. I wanted David to think about his beliefs and the reasons he holds them. I wanted (and still want) him to "own" his beliefs and not just parrot them, so that when they are questioned (and I know they will be), he can defend them stalwartly. I also wanted him to be prepared in social skills and some other areas of his life.

Toward these goals, I chose the following books for him to read during his senior year, in addition to his academic reading.

1 - Mere Christianity by C.S. Lew
I read this book for the first time in my senior year of college and it really resonated with me. I've always been a fan of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, but reading this made me realize how practical and sincere his faith in God was. I wondered if the book would be appropriate for a 17-year-old, since I had been several years older when I read it. However, David had no trouble with the book and found it insightful and relevant. I had him write a response paper to the book and he said the book is "nearly impossible to put down" and recommended it highly to everyone. I am really glad I had David read this in his senior year and I will plan to have the other kids read it as well.

Reading Guide HERE

2 - Slumber of Christianity by Ted Dekker

David enjoyed the Black, Red, White series of fiction books written by Ted Dekker and I thought that this non-fiction book by the same author might motivate him to a more passionate faith in God. This is a short book and I did find it personally inspiring. The main point is that most Christians have fallen into a boring slumber and we need to reawaken our passion and joy in Christ. David described this book as a "wake-up call" but said the next book he read (#3 on this list) was one he enjoyed more.

3 - Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna
History always interests me and this book gives the historical reasons for many of the practices in the current church. Why do priests and some pastors wear special clerical garb? Why do we sit in pews? Why do churches have steeples? Why is the order of service so unvaried? These questions and many more like them are discussed historically and objectively to make us understand that church practices are not necessarily based in Biblical instruction. What's more, some of these widespread traditions harm the church rather than help it. 

I wanted David to understand the reasons behind some of the things we see in church and to look past them to the heart of God. What I didn't consider is that our family's lack of a firm foundation in a local church also affected him as he read this book. (We had left a church in rather a slow unorganized way - just slowly stopping our attendance and not really replacing it with another where we felt at home. Long story, but the main idea here is that David did not feel a connection to a local church body.)

So, even though he devoured this important information and really enjoyed the book, I am not sure it had the effect I was hoping for. He ended up feeling more disillusioned than motivated, I think. Since understanding the roots of church traditions is really important in my mind, I am still glad he read it and I hope that he can use what he learned to strengthen his faith and still maintain connections to local believers.

4 - A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World by Paul Miller 
This is by far the best book on prayer I have ever read. I wanted David to read it to understand the insights about prayer that I learned from reading it. I could write tons about this book, but you would be better served to go buy it right now and start reading it. I am currently re-reading it again - my 3rd time through. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I had David also do the study guide which you can find HERE

5 - How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicolas Boothman
This is not a Christian book and I didn't assign it for worldview purposes. However, David is interested in psychology and I thought he would find it interesting from that perspective. Also, he will be meeting many new people and I wanted to give him some strategies for conversation and social situations.

I think this information is important, but I only chose this particular book because I found it used somewhere.  I did read the book beforehand and found it easy-to-read and practical. I will do some research before assigning a book of this type to Emily, but all-in-all, I did find it met our purposes.

6 - Every Young Man's Struggle by Stephen Arterburn
This book is actually going to be a summer study for my husband and my two sons. David has read it before when he was about 13, the age my younger son is now. This book is a frank look at the sexual struggles that young men will face in today's culture. I wanted my husband to do this study with the boys because he obviously has more experience in this area than I do.

 7 - The Bible
I required David to read through the entire Bible during his senior year. I will ask all my children to do the same.  I know we've read the entire Bible during our Bible study time in school throughout his K-12 years, but I wanted him to have the experience of reading it independently and in a fairly short time span. He used both a print version and an audio version of the Bible, both in NIV (New International Version).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Was this everything I wanted my son to read before he graduated? Well, certainly not! However, he'd probably have been reading from sunrise to sunset if I had assigned everything I thought was important. Just typing out this information on these 7 books I thought of many more things I wish I had been able to stuff into his head in the last year of lessons.

However, I will lay all those thoughts at the feet of Christ and let Him take charge of David's worldview. My prayers will be fervent and frequent and I will take any available opportunity for discussion. But my 13 years of planning lessons for David are over.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Learning Styles, Re-visited

Browsing a bit through my past blog posts, I found this post on learning style:
(The rest of this post will make a lot more sense if you read the old one too, especially if you don't know a lot about learning styles or the specific children I am writing about.) A couple of the links on the old page were broken, so I have updated those.

I wrote that post
about five years ago. Now my younger two are the ages my older two were when I wrote it. So, I thought it would be interesting to re-evaluate learning style and see if any of my thoughts have changed on the matter.

When David was 13, I categorized him as an auditory learner with high levels of logical/mathematical intelligence and spatial intelligence. I provided him with lots of auditory input and he has also sought this out himself. I would change nothing about that assessment now that he is 18. I would now add that I believe he is dyslexic which explains quite a bit of his preference for audiobooks over the printed page. He still loves to build things and plans now to study mechanical engineering in college. 

Sixteen-year-old Emily's learning style is still visual (linguistic intelligence). She still loves to read and is a very fast reader. I don't see as high a degree of interpersonal intelligence as when she was younger nor do I notice her musical intelligence has continued to develop. She continues to struggles with math, and I believe this is due to dyscalculia, so it's possible that those struggles have eclipsed her development in other areas. I plan to work hard during the next two years to capitalize on her strengths to build her confidence. She has never had a strong kinesthetic ability, but two years of studying karate has increased her coordination and confidence about her physical abilities.  

Going back to what I wrote about James at age 8 really shocked me. I could write the EXACT SAME thing about him today at age 13. "... he moves and moves and moves. And moves. [....] the constant movement drives my ADD self nuts!" Wow! I hadn't realized I had assessed this so long ago. He still tends to move about constantly. If he stands next to me to talk, he shifts his weight from foot to foot or taps something or wiggles in some other fashion. I have been calling him on it so he can learn to manage it. It's a lot more to deal with when he's as big as an adult than it was when he was an eight-year-old. So, CLEARLY, the kinesthetic intelligence is still high for James. He is still focused on the intrapersonal as well as the existential, often asking me insightful questions that I don't expect. The naturalistic intelligence has seemed to dissipate, but maybe we just need to offer more opportunities to see if that is still an interest for him.

And on to my youngest, Suzanne, who is now 11. At age 6, I had very little idea of what her intelligences were. Today, we completed a multiple intelligence inventory. Her strengths lie in kinesthetic, inter-personal, and visual/spatial skills. Her linguistic skills are lower, mainly because I think she, like her older brother, is dyslexic. She has finally learned to read well and says she "loves reading" now, but it took many years and much prayer and hard work to achieve that. She finds her strengths in being a leader, especially in physical areas (like soccer) and in handicrafts like sewing. She also loves to make things pretty, such as setting a beautiful table with touches like placemats and flowers (things I usually don't bother with). So, really what I thought about her at age 6 was fairly accurate. 

So, how does this affect our homeschooling? I think I'll save that for another day.  

While you wait, try evaluating your own children. Here is a nice printable Multiple Intelligence Survey for Kids.  You can also try some of the online surveys from my previous post, or just google!

By the way, the graphic in this post illustrates my own results on the multiple intelligence survey.