Monday, October 20, 2008

The Big Read?

I found this, and thought I'd see how I stack up:

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books printed.
The Rules:
1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
4) Put # by the books you HATE.
5) Post.
**1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
*2 The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
*3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
*4 Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (well, I read the first one, does that count?)
%5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
**6 The Bible
*7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
8 1984 - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
%10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
*11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
%12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
*15 Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
**18 Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
*19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
%20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
%21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
*22 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
%23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
%24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh -
%27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
*28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
%29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
*30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
*31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
%32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
*33 Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis
%34 Emma - Jane Austen
**35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
*36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis -
%37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières -
%39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
*40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
%41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
%44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
*45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
*46 Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
*49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
*50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
%51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
**54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
%57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
*60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
*61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (hated it...)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
*64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
%65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
*68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
%71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
*73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
%74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
%76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Émile Zola
%79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - A.S. Byatt
*81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
*83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
%84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
%85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
%86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
*87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
%89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
*92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
%94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
**95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
**97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
%99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
%100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Well, I count 34 that I've read...though only 33 really since I haven't read the entire Harry Potter Series. Not nearly enough!

I am surprised at some of the titles on the list though, some are very much NOT classics, and some I haven't heard of (my fault, I'm sure). Now I feel like I have more reading to do than I did yesterday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning

“An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education”
This book has a lot of interesting information, still applicable to schooling today even though it was written in 1991 (lest you think I'm judging time harshly, a lot has happened in the last 17 years in homeschooling and education!). The book discusses education in general, with a focus on what Christian Education should be, in the framework of the Classical Education model.
Classical Education divides grades 1-12 into 3 stages referred to as the trivium. Grades 1-4 are spent absorbing facts and learning basic skills that will be foundational in later learning. Grades 5-8 expand on those facts by figuring out how things relate to each other and learning to ask questions and delve deeper. Grades 9-12 are the time for a student to learn how to express themselves in speech, writing and debate. There is a large focus on reading classics, world history, and joining The Great Conversation. Academics are structured and accelerated in some areas, and will typically include the study of Latin at a fairly young age.
I really appreciated the depth of the discussion about what Christian Education should be. Much of the book was spent comparing a Christian Education to a Humanistic Education, exploring exactly why they are different. Basically, one must realize that a complete Christian Education is not accomplished by adding prayer and bible study to a Humanistic course of study. Christian Education is built on the framework of knowing that all study is connected to the Creator—they are not individual disconnected areas of study. Because everything relates back to God, there is a connection and a purpose behind the study. Without this, education is lacking true understanding and meaning, it is simply acquiring chunks of information.
As much as I enjoyed and agreed with most of this book, I have to say that I remain unconvinced that a complete Christian Education is the only way to reform education in America simply because this is not the method employed by other countries whose educational systems far exceed that of the United States. It is probably true that countries whose students perform better academically do so in part because of societal expectations. Therefore, in a broader sense I suppose the argument could be applied that Christianity is (or was, or should be) America’s framework for such expectations. In that case the breakdown of the Christian faith in America would account for a degeneration of academic and moral expectations. I tend to think, however, that the problem is more likely to lie in the fact that we are a nation of immigrants tied together by the idea of freedom. Without any other unifying moral framework this ideal has evolved into a sense of entitlement which has had a detrimental affect on many different aspects of our country and government.
I don’t think that the answer to government sponsored education is to attempt to make it distinctively Christian. I do think, however, that it could make a huge difference for Christians. It would benefit Christian families to put more thought into the issues that Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning raises. Overall, I have to say that it was an enjoyable, well written book. If you are in the mood to refine your educational philosophy, I suggest you pick up a copy and see where it takes you!