Video Intro to The Lost Tools of Writing

 

I am excited to learn and work together with you on the Lost Tools of Writing. After teaching the class last year, I have a much better idea of how to use this class to help us learn the tools necessary to write well.
I have just created a 22-minute video to introduce the writing class. Those who have already taken the class should still watch it to help you understand a little better the focus of the class and to help clarify what you will be doing. Please watch at your leisure and then feel free to leave some comments or questions below the video. You may also email me with any questions you might have.
 
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Digital Works vs. the Hard Copy Books

In the past, some of my students have opted for the Kindle-type digital books instead of ordering and studying the actual paper books. At first, I thought it was a viable option, but as I have progressed in my teaching preferences the last few years, I have evolved to consider only using the hard copies of the books themselves. My reasoning extends to three points:

  1. A serious student will learn to annotate in their books, argue with the author, underline the thesis, the problems, the solutions, and in the margin will write their interesting personal epiphanies from their studies.
  2. A serious student will begin to fill a bookshelf and eventually their little library of the great ideas that have changed their world. Each book will represent to them a turning point of thought, comprehension, and contemplation.
  3. A serious student will return to their books as they add experience and learning and will compare their past annotations to the current thoughts and understanding, thus showing to the student their deep growth and progress.

I am sure Kindle-type digital books have their place. Already I can think of a few reasons why one might want to read digitally. They are handy, searchable, and annotate-able. not to mention, a hundred books or more only weigh the weight of the Kindle Reader. Those are arguably excellent reasons to prefer the Kindle. However, a recent study shows that despite the availability, facility, and lightweight-ness of a Kindle, students comprehend far more from reading and studying a real tangible book.

Still, it is up to you, dear reader, to choose for yourself. The following books are awaiting your decision, whether you wish to purchase digitally or purchase the Real McCoy—The Genuine Article—.  May you enjoy your summer!

1776 The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, selections (video)
1798 Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
1815 Emma, by Jane Austen (a book on education, authority, worship, artificial people)
1818 Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
1838 Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville (Volume II, Chapters 1-26)
1850 That Which is Seen and that Which is Not Seen, Frederic Bastiat
1862 Les Miserables (Abridged), by Victory Hugo (used book link)
1848 The Communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings (Dover Thrift Editions)
1947 Diary of a Young Girl, by Ann Frank
1874-1965 Churchill, by Paul Johnson
1865 Annotated Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
1910 What’s wrong with the World, by G.K. Chesterton
1922 The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot
1941 The Weight of Glory, essays by C.S. Lewis, The Inner Ring, Weight of Glory
1953 The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis
1954 Lord of the Flies, William Golding
1970’s Essays, A World Split Apart and A Reflection on the Vendee Uprising, and by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
2005 Queen of Katwe, Tim Crothers

2018-2019 Humanities Scope and Sequence

September

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Sep 4-7

wk 1

Labor Day

First Class-Introduction

Wealth of Nations

Wealth of Nations

Sep 10-14

wk 2

Wealth of Nations

Wealth of Nations

Wealth of Nations

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Sep 17-21

wk 3

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Emma

Emma

Sep 24-28

Wk 4

Emma

Emma

Emma

Art—The Sublime is Now

Art—The Sublime is Now

October

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Oct 1-5

wk 5

Art—The Sublime is Now

Art—The Sublime is Now

Art—The Sublime is Now

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Oct 8-12

wk 6

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Oct 15-19

wk 7

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Paper: ANI chart (Invention)

Paper: Outline, including quotes from readings (Arrangement)

Oct 22-26

wk 8

Paper: convert outline to essay (Elocution) and Submit first draft to 2 peers and/or parents

Paper: work on peer papers and hand back

Paper: retrieve papers back, make edits, polish and submit final draft

Democracy in America

Democracy in America

Oct 29- Nov 2

wk 9

Democracy in America

Democracy in America

Democracy in America

Democracy in America

Democracy in America

November

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Nov 5-9

wk 10

That which is Seen and that Which is Not Seen

That which is Seen and that Which is Not Seen

That which is Seen and that Which is Not Seen

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Nov 12-16

wk 11

Veterans Day, no homework

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Nov 19-20

wk 12

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

No School

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be Thankful to our Heavenly Father for this Free Country and its bounty!

Nov 26-30

wk 13

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

December

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Dec 3-7

wk 14

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

The communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings

Dec 10-14

wk 15

Diary of a Young Girl

Diary of a Young Girl

Diary of a Young Girl

Diary of a Young Girl

Diary of a Young Girl

January

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Jan 7-11

wk 16

Diary of a Young Girl

Diary of a Young Girl

Diary of a Young Girl

Study Day

Written Final

Jan 14-18

wk 17

Oral Finals Study

Oral Finals

Oral Finals

Churchill

Churchill

Jan 21-25

wk 18

MLK day—May you celebrate civil rights, kindness, and liberty today

Churchill

Churchill

Churchill

Churchill

Jan 28 – Feb 1

wk 19

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

February

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Feb 4-8

wk 20

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

What’s Wrong with the World

What’s Wrong with the World

Feb 11-15

wk 21

What’s Wrong with the World

What’s Wrong with the World

What’s Wrong with the World

The Waste Land

The Waste Land

Feb 18-22

wk 22

President’s Day—No homework today

The Waste Land

The Waste Land

The Inner Ring

The Inner Ring

Feb 25- Mar 1

wk 23

The Inner Ring

The Inner Ring

The Inner Ring

The Weight of Glory, Lewis

The Weight of Glory, Lewis

March

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Mar 4-8

wk 24

The Weight of Glory, Lewis

The Weight of Glory, Lewis

The Weight of Glory, Lewis

Paper: ANI chart (Invention)

Paper: Outline, including quotes from readings (Arrangement)

Mar 11-15

wk 25

Paper: convert outline to essay (Elocution) and Submit first draft to 2 peers and/or parents

Paper: work on peer papers and hand back

Paper: retrieve papers back, make edits, polish and submit final draft

The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair

Mar 18-22

The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair

A World Split Apart

A World Split Apart

Mar 25-29

wk 26

Spring Break

April-May

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Apr 1-5

wk 27

A World Split Apart

A World Split Apart

A World Split Apart

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

Apr 8-12

wk 28

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

A Reflection on the Vendee Uprising

A Reflection on the Vendee Uprising

Apr 15-19

wk 29

A Reflection on the Vendee Uprising

A Reflection on the Vendee Uprising

Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe

Apr 22-26

wk 30

Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe

Last Day of Class

Study day

Study day

Apr 29-May 3

Written Finals

Oral Finals

Oral Finals

30 Weeks

Shakespeare’s Richard III Examined

Machiavelli, the father of Modernity, seems to think that if human nature is malleable, then he can shape the common mentality into any needful tool to sanction his decisions. Truth is not what he seeks, but “truth” that the prince may put in practice and call truth. Machiavelli seems to be removing the pillar of Christianity and the Ancient Aristotelian virtues in order to create a new ruler, who acquires state without the limiting influence of Christian principles and virtues.

Machiavelli on appearances, “Let a prince then win and maintain the state — the means will always be judged honorable and will be praised by everyone; for the vulgar are always taken in by the appearance and the outcome of a thing, and in this world, there is no one but the vulgar.” It sounds harsh, but Machiavelli may be the devil’s preacher. He has projected the power to turn good men bad and bad men worse still.

From the very start, we see the evil designs of Richard’s pretentious actions in Henry VI, “I can add colors to the chameleon, change shapes with Proteus for advantages.” (Part III, III, ii, 191) The audience witnesses his crooked twists and turns as he murders anyone in his path to the throne, but deceiving the rest. Before the people, Buckingham promotes Richard’s feigned appearance as he vocally observes Richard holding the Bible, “Two props of virtue for a Christian prince, to stay him from the fall of vanity; and see, a book of prayer in his hand—true ornaments to know a holy man.” (3.7.98) The Bible, a sign of religious instruction and inspiration and a hand, the sign of good action and leadership. The meaning, of which, never enlightens the limited intellect of the people. Maybe they are duped, but their cheers are forced and weak, but that without an alternative, they acquiesced. Meanwhile, Richard is elevated by his appearances.
Richard uses subtle, notorious and murderous schemes to destroy nations, whether completely or merely reduce the minds of whole nations to ignorance. Richard III is Shakespeare’s attempt to display the evil intrigue. As Machiavelli might say of him, he has “always led a wicked life at every stage,” (Prince, VIII, 51) and had a Machiavellian virtue of mind that he rose through the ranks and has been “determined to become prince and to hold with violence and without obligation to others,” (51) as he kills all in his way. Continuing to the end of the play, one witnesses how Richard III “maintains [his kingdom] with many spirited and dangerous decisions” (52) And yet, Machiavelli would say that Richard did not follow his advice. He did his treacherousness with “brutal cruelty and inhumanity and his infinite wickednesses do not allow that he be among the most excellent men.” (52)

Apparently, Richard ought to have studied more faithfully his master teacher, Machiavelli, for he did not surround himself with barons, rather, he killed everyone who surrounded himself…except for Buckingham. (IV, 25) Additionally and according to Machiavelli, Richard would have best attempted to do all the injuries together as to appease his observers. What “taste[s] less…offend[s] less” (VIII, 55)

Rediscovering Unknown Talents

Tonight was the Stake Standard’s night and parents were invited. One young man spoke of his experience at Youth Conference and how the Spirit spoke to him at almost every junction at the Ropes Course and guided him to do what needed to be done. It was inspiring. It reminded me of one of our discussions in Humanities today. One of my students talked about Vasari’s account of Michelangelo and the stone-cutter working on the tomb of Julius II. Michelangelo guided him with these words, ‘Now, cut this away, smooth it out there, polish it here.’ In this way and without the man realizing it, Michelangelo made him carve a figure, and when it was finished the man stared at it in amazement, while Michelangelo asked: ‘What do you think of it?’

“The man answered: ‘I like it a lot, and I am very much in your debt.’

‘Why?’ enquired Michelangelo.

‘Because with your help I have rediscovered a talent that I never knew I had.’

Here was a simple man, a stone-cutter, put into the path of the Renaissance master, who quietly and lovingly mentored him to create something beautiful and profoundly significant to his learning and growth—a turning point of self-discovery and re-discovery.

Our discussion turned to the complex idea of rediscovering a talent we never thought we had. One student suggested this idea points to a knowledge of the pre-existence and the talents given to us before coming to earth.

If a simple stone-cutter can be guided so well by Michelangelo, how much more significant and powerful is the guidance of the Great Master from Galilee, who guides us with gentle whispers from the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost.

“The voice of the Spirit is described in the scriptures as being neither loud nor harsh, not a voice of thunder, neither a voice of great tumultuous noise,” says Boyd K. Packer, “but rather as still and small, of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it can pierce even the very soul and cause the heart to burn.”

The Spirit teaches, confirms, guides, pricks our heart when needed, and consoles us in our afflictions.

As I have reflected over my personal growth in these last couple of decades, I have come to know of the gentle guiding of the Spirit. To my great joy, I have become a mentor of Humanities to homeschool youth. I teach from my home and meet with my students using state of the art video conferencing software, where I can see each face of my students. Weekly, I bask in some of the greatest conversations about the deepest questions of the soul. I and my students stand on the shoulders of giants as the great masters of literature, history, science, and philosophy, help us see the Truths and Consequences. Moreover, we have the pleasure and great privilege to include Christ and his Gospel in our discussions. During and after each class, I come away feeling invigorated and inspired. How can I be so blessed?

If someone were to tell me ten years ago that I would be doing this, I would either laugh or choke. I never saw this in my future.

And yet as I look at my life and the many steps leading up to now, I see how the Spirit gently urged me, “Now, do this. Take this class, read this book, talk to these people, matriculate into that university, get involved in your community, help this neighbor, teach your children, etc., etc. and etc. 

Precisely like Michelangelo guiding the stone-cutter, Heavenly Father, through His Spirit, guided me every step of the way until I have re-discovered a talent I didn’t know that I had.

What more does the Lord have in store for me? What does he see for your future? How is he guiding you along your path? As we carefully listen to the Still Small Voice and choose to take each little step, we are carving out and rediscovering talents we never knew we had.

“Be still and know that I am God,” says Jehovah. May we let the Savior in our hearts and allow him to create in us his greatest masterpieces!