Education: Latin, SAT and Homework

Stressed with the books? Image from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/things-you-should-know-when-studying-for-the-lsat

I’ve haven’t written much here in a while. There are two reasons for that: 1) I’ve taken to tutoring part-time, which is very rewarding and demanding in its own way. So I don’t have quite as much time for blogging. 2) The time I do spend writing has been on other projects, which maybe one day will be ready to show.

I have however, written a few blogs for NovaStarPrep, the tutoring company that I work for. If you’re interested, here are two of them:

How much homework is good?

Per Psychology Today, the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s. Too much homework contributes to overload in high schoolers and disengages students.  But that doesn’t mean we throw out homework entirely; its benefit is the creation and sustainment of discipline, of study habits that produce consistency in skill building. Consistency leads to mastery of subject matter and confidence in the student.

Preparing for the SAT is like training for a marathon

Like a runner training for a marathon, a good coach will assess your strengths and weaknesses, creating a plan and goals which build where you need it and push you to excel where you’re already strong.

Also like a marathon, the athlete’s own dedication matters too. Tutoring is not a super-soldier serum, but it can help you achieve your personal best.

 

Then, there is my defense of Latin, a little essay that I am proud of in its own right. Here is a big excerpt.

Latin: A Ghost Among Us

Today even, Latin provides the names of most of the body parts of anatomy and physiology that medical science relies upon. Cardiologists, heart doctors, for instance, do not take their name from the germanic “herz,” but from the Latin “cors.” “Ology” is further derived from the Greek “to study.” The name of the “respiratory” system comes from the Latin “spire,” which means “to breath.” Ironically, the word “doctor” itself comes from the Latin verb “to teach,” which is why the title overlaps with academic doctors of philosophy (Ph.D.s). The Latin word for doctor was, suitably, “medicus.”

This fascinating article (←Click on link) gives an overview of the development of medical language and how it has been handed down through cultures as one of the few subject matters that has survived societal rises and falls, giving it a unique linguistic inheritance. The Latin names themselves are still useful for medical students and for patients who wish to understand what type of doctor they are seeing when they visit a “podiatrist.”

  1. Latin is the language of the West

The works of past have formed us more than we tend to realize: Virgil, Cicero, Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas.

The names of the ancient writers, emperors and medieval theologians are largely forgotten, but their influence is indelible. Through language, they gave shape to the philosophical, cultural, theological, and literary debates that drove the great conversations of West Civilization, that have filtered down into today. Latin is one of the great languages of our ancestors and the study of it brings access, awareness and awe at the great novel of history, the most recent lines of which we are writing today–but never in a vacuum, always as continuous with all the previous chapters, whether we see it or not.”

Full article — with introduction– here.

So there are some recent musings. More soon–maybe 😉

So–Would you study Latin based on this? Is there still value in language learning for English speakers? Why or why not? 

How much homework is good? Why are high schoolers so stressed?

Did you ever take the SAT? What do you think of its place in college admissions?

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Local Book Places: Nature Centers have Specialized Collections

I’ve been featuring local bookstores because finding just the right book can be a treasure hunt. And blazing a trail to the buried treasure chest can lead to many different locations.

For instance, if you take a sudden interest in the flora and fauna of your backyard, as I have recently, it can be hard to find places to learn to identity the trees by leaf or the birds by name. (Note that I tried googling “blackbirds in Virginia.” Somewhat helpful but nowhere near as comprehensive as a locally sourced print guide.)

Enter Hidden Oaks Nature Center

, one of the many nature centers in Fairfax and Arlington Co. They, and other centers, have small collections, open to the public, of precisely this sort of thing: classification guides to the plants and animals, geology, stars, etc.

Lovely! Now I can learn the names of the mushrooms sprouting from my aging mulch.

But the point here is that there are often specialized collections available outside of stores and public libraries, which can be especially useful if you have localized or highly targeted interests. They must be hunted however.

Colleges, local governmental resources like towns and counties are good starting places.

Here are some photos of the charming little collection at Hidden Oaks. It’s as quirky and sincere as it looks. Continue reading

Consider Supporting Me on Patreon (so I can get my own URL)

lmehihkfybjhxa8hkjmuw6bdfleabgdfrizpc99iifhbbwzqo73atnmxfo0err0d_large_2I prefer to focus on content. But today, I’d like to share some details behind the running of this blog.

  1. I hope you like it here. I love writing and reading; they absolutely keep me sane, so I will keep on writing, and hopefully, you’ll keep on reading no matter what.
  2. I am ready to grow. There are more things I would like to do to grow my readership. I want to offer free e-books, have direct email sign ups on the sidebar, maybe even an affiliate link to amazon, and my own server space and unique URL address like theoress.com.
  3. All these growing things cost money, especially the server space and the upgraded wordpress account.
  4. Patreon is a super & user-friendly way to help me raise money from people who enjoy the content that I create and provide. So I made a Patreon account.
  5. If you like my work and would like to support its growth, please visit me here https://www.patreon.com/StephaniePacheco to offer a monthly pledge or “tip.”

It would help me SO, SO much and the first 20 supporters get to ask me a question on any topic and have it appear in a blog post. I am ramping up other rewards too which will be ready for roll out soon like a printable, pin-able manifesto of the core principles of this blog and my writing, of playlists of inspiring and/or historical music and all kinds of fun stuff.

Really though, I want to start making some of my work available as free e-books and the tech support I need to do that well is gonna cost me some bucks. So please, visit https://www.patreon.com/StephaniePacheco

Note: Don’t donate if you don’t have funds. Only you know your situation, and this blog is here to bring you fresh insights, not run you into the ground.

Also, supporting me on Patreon is like a donation. It is not a guarantee of content or of content that you will like. I cannot be responsible for dissatisfaction with my blog posts, so the second you aren’t happy anymore, you can stop supporting me. I won’t be offended. It’s okay. (That being said, I have a pretty steady record of posting about once a week and I strive to hold myself to high standards in my writing.)

So think about it. Visit me at https://www.patreon.com/StephaniePacheco and let’s make fun things happen soon!

Thanks a million just for reading!

 

2016: Welcome Waterways and other Themes

In 2015, I picked a theme for the year instead of resolutions. For us, it was Farm Year: we planted a vegetable garden, learned about tractors, plows and combines, visited farms, learned about farm animals, sang Old MacDonald had a farm, read books about farms and animals, talked about where our food came from.

Farm year wasn’t remotely stressful; it just provided inspiration for activities. Since it was such a success, I’ve decided on a new theme for 2016.

Waterways.

We will learn about and visit streams, lakes, rivers, ponds and the ocean. We will learn about the animals that live in them and the vessels that travel atop or within them. Connecting it to farm year, we will talk about irrigation and the importance of water for food production and human life.

I don’t expect my one year old and three year old to fully absorb all this, as I am still absorbing it myself, but it is part of their foundation.

I like the themes concept. It has proven more transformative and less stressful than “resolutions,” which just seem like one more thing on the to-do list.

What else for me in 2016?

  1. Keep writing; keep the articles coming, and post at least one blog post per week.
  2. Finish first draft of a longer project
  3. At least 5 minutes of Scripture or spiritual reading per day
  4. Participate in Pope Francis’s Jubilee Year of Mercy by making a pilgrimage (albeit a small one) to the National Basilica in Washington DC (more info on this to come)
  5. Focus on kindness and generosity especially with my husband and children and in general
  6. Run my home more like a monastery or try to. Read The Rule of St. Benedict

Whelp, there are more detailed things that I have in mind, but those are the basics.

What are you thinking for this year? Did you make any themes or resolutions?

 

David Brooks on Wisdom

In a recent column, David Brooks gently criticizes a new school’s approach to education that aims to respond to the out-of-date nature of many classrooms, but in the process throws out most of the good that schools do.

I love his summary of the learning process: Life skills are important and relating goes hand in hand with knowledge, but fact acquisition matters too:

If we want to produce wise people, what are the stages that produce it? First, there is basic factual acquisition. You have to know what a neutron or a gene is, that the Civil War came before the Progressive Era. Research shows that students with a concrete level of core knowledge are better at remembering advanced facts and concepts as they go along.

Second, there is pattern formation, linking facts together in meaningful ways. This can be done by a good lecturer, through class discussion, through unconscious processing or by going over and over a challenging text until it clicks in your head.

Third, there is mental reformation. At some point while studying a field, the student realizes she has learned a new language and way of seeing — how to think like a mathematician or a poet or a physicist.

At this point information has become knowledge. It is alive. It can be manipulated and rearranged. At this point a student has the mental content and architecture to innovate, to come up with new theses, challenge others’ theses and be challenged in turn.

Finally after living with this sort of knowledge for years, exposing it to the rigors of reality, wisdom dawns. Wisdom is a hard-earned intuitive awareness of how things will flow. Wisdom is playful. The wise person loves to share, and cajole and guide and wonder at what she doesn’t know.

This is so true. From my own limited experience, memorizing facts–if they really sink in–is actually hugely helpful and provides the legos with which to build a wall of understanding. Without the basics building block, there is nothing to build; there is no water to turn the water wheels of the mind.

Schools are certainly not perfect, and we shouldn’t think we can’t improve them. Rote learning has its drawbacks, as does sitting in a seat all day. But basic fact acquisition will always be a key first step to deep learning and critical thinking. No reform effort should ever forget that (including Common Core!)