Monday, January 29, 2007

One of the things I love about homeschooling

This morning my oldest daughter and I read several pages from The Law by Frederic Bastiat. The Law was published in 1849. Frederic Bastiat puts forth several arguments for small governments, and why citizens have to watch their government. After reading a couple paragraphs I would talk with my daughter to make sure she understand the main points.

One of my goals from this exercise is to teach her to mark up books. As I mentioned almost a year ago, one of the important parts of really mastering a book is to mark it up, to make the book yours. The brain processes the information deeper when you stop and think about the main points of a book, and add your notes. Just adding a few comments on a page makes the reading much more active.

About ten years ago I was reading The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. One of the references mentioned in the book was How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler. I had never heard of the book before. I bought the book. I read the book. I read it again. There was a little light bulb which went off in my mind. It was OK to mark up books! In fact, it was a good thing. Marking up a book helps with the processing and mastery of the book. I wish I had been taught this sooner.

One of the things I love about homeschooling is teaching ideas and skills to my children. From both nature and nurture I have always been distrustful of large government. The Law helps articulate why we need to be careful. But I was pass 30 before I learned to mark up a book. My oldest daughter is learning this important lesson at twelve.

The next books on the schedule are John Adams by David McCullough and The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias. I'll buy these books for her. She'll add them to her personal library. Some times we'll read parts of them together. We always discuss the books. And I encourage her to mark up the books. If she goes light, I'll go back through the book with her and tell her about some of the points I thought were important.

If you haven't taught your children to mark up a book, check out How to Read a Book from the library, or buy it, and read it yourself, with a pen in hand. Then you can work with your children to help them learn how to mark books up.

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Anne said...

How to Read a Book taught me how to mark up my books, too. Thanks for reminding me that I need to pass this on to my children.

TheTutor said...

The McCullough biography of John Adams is one of my favorite books. A wonderful read. A month later, I listened to the audio book Adams V. Jefferson by John Ferling. That was also very good. Enjoy your reading and marking!


Henry Cate said...

David McCullough does an amazing job. I was sad when I got to the end of the book and read about John Adams dying.

Anonymous said...

Marking up a book helps with the processing and mastery of the book. I wish I had been taught this sooner.

Did you go to public or private school? You can't be taught to mark up books in most schools because the books have to be passed from student to student, year after year. There's nothing wrong with that -- it's just economics -- but I distinctly remember being told NOT to write in my school books, with the exception of adding my name to the list of students on the inside front cover.

I learned how to mark up my books when I was in college (English major), where I also learned how to do a close reading.

After I graduated, I took a couple of graduate education courses in language arts. The professor and my professor and my entire class clucked their tongues at me when I said I always had a pen or pencil in my hand when I read, even fiction. They said my college education had ruined my ability to read for fun.

It didn't matter that I told them I thought it was fun to do close readings and mark up my books.

Just the same old "we'll tell you how to do everything the right way" educrat mantra.


KarenW said...

Maybe this is what my kids need! I am a reader and have done all the "right things" in order to insprire my children to read but they only pick up a book when I make them. Perhaps "making it theirs" is the difference we need. Thanks!

Henry Cate said...

I went to a fairly good set of public schools growing up. Lori is right, because the schools owned the textbooks I was discouraged from marking up the books.

By the time I got to college the habit was strong enough that even though I noticed other people marking their books, I was reluctant to mark the books I bought.