"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things."--Jefferson

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Perry's BYU-I address about role of Religion and God in society

Amazing devotional about the principle of religion in good government. Great quotes and great foundational article to base a month's study upon!

The Church: Scaffolding for our lives by Elder Tom Perry

Here is a segment:
"Today, the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints is truly a world-wide church. Nevertheless, it is important for all of us to realize that the Church could never have become what it is today without the birth of a great nation, the United States of America. The Lord prepared a new land to attract the peoples of the world who sought liberty and religious freedoms. The new land was blessed with strong leaders who felt duty-bound to establish a government that allowed individuals to worship according to their own conscience. The Founding Fathers believed religious faith was fundamental to the establishment of strong government.

Many Americans have forgotten the central importance of religious beliefs in the formation of the policies, laws, and rules of government. Many of our fellow citizens do not understand that the Founders believed the role of religion would be as important in our day as it was in their day. The Founders did not consider “religion and morality” an intellectual exercise—they forcefully declared it an essential ingredient of "good government and the happiness of mankind.”

This position was set forth by President George Washington in his Farewell Address. He said:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. . .reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government."1"

The talk touches on the need for religion in government, the need of a moral foundation to create a nation that is truly "under God," and the need for personal conversion and determination to do what is right to provide "scaffolding" in our lives.

There are definitely different elements of this talk that can be used for other months, but it is a great resource to refer to to capture the meaning of this month/principle

Friday, August 17, 2012

Story behind picture on Blog Header

Years ago, I went to a TJEd seminar, where someone told the story of a man during the depression, who was leaving his farm to find somewhere better to farm.  In my recollection, the story goes like this: He was busy out in the field, as his neighbors were are preparing to depart,... planting.  His neighbors scoffed.

"What is it that you are planting?"

"Oak trees," was his short reply.

"Are you crazy?  You'll never live to see the benefit of those trees!"

"No," the farmer calmly replied, "but my grandchildren will, and my great-grandchildren will.  I am planting it for them."

The presenter then asked, "what are you planting now for our future?"

I have thought about this many times since then.  What do I envision for our future?  I envision freedom, a society where the yearnings for liberty are matched by their ability to keep it.  When I saw this personal vision for what I wanted, I had the follow-up thought that education was the best way to do it, as any socialist, capitalist, and communist knows :): education of others, self, and especially our youth.

Hence, my passion for maintaining what I feel is an educational vision based upon true principles to create freedom-minded, liberty-preserving leaders for our future: Vanguard Youth.  Hence, my determination to make these principles and whatever resources I can find available to everyone I can, with no immediate personal gain.

I am planting oak trees of liberty.

For it is only in a free society that mankind can fully develop their unique potential as children of God...and that is something everyone must work towards to make it happen!

Different stages of absorbing and processing information in kids

I came across this great article by Susan Wise Bauer, that helps us understand why our 12 year olds in Vanguard don't reason or process information the same way our 15 year olds do :)...why when we ask them to reason and apply it is so challenging at a younger age, when they are just getting into using logic to reason about what they are learning.  I included the entire first part of the article, and give complete credit to her and her genius with no profit to myself, other than the betterment of the world around me, and therefore a benefit to myself :)...

What is Classical Education?

Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.

The first years of schooling are called the “grammar stage” — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — what we commonly think of as grades one through four — the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — the list goes on. This information makes up the “grammar,” or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.

By fifth grade, a child’s mind begins to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking “Why?” The second phase of the classical education, the “Logic Stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.

A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic, and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects. The logic of writing, for example, includes paragraph construction and learning to support a thesis; the logic of reading involves the criticism and analysis of texts, not simple absorption of information; the logic of history demands that the student find out why the War of 1812 was fought, rather than simply reading its story; the logic of science requires that the child learn the scientific method.

The final phase of a classical education, the “Rhetoric Stage,” builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language. Students also begin to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts them; these are the years for art camps, college courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training.

Of course, there are kids that are more logical and more ready for "rhetoric" sooner than others, but it can explain the struggle (hence, blank stares) that younger scholars experience when asked to reason and apply what they are learning.

The power of Game night and Outdoor activities

I came across this talk while listening to the radio in my car.  It was a broadcast from BYU on July 17, given by Patti Freeman and titled "Intentional recreation and Things that Matter Most."

Here is a link where, for now, you can either listen to or watch it. (I believe the transcript will be up later.)  I only came in towards the end, but it was incredible...all about the many benefits we get with intentionally recreating as a family (or as mentors with our youth!). 

Intentional recreation and Things that Matter Most

When the transcripts are up, I will try and put in my favorite sections for those who don't have the time to listen to, watch, or read the whole thing.
Here is the link to the talk I mentioned today.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing Inspirements

I wrote the following for our group and I thought it might be useful for others, so I'm posting it here:

I hope we can help each other find ways to come up with powerful, motivating, meaningful inspirements.  These inspirements are an invitation to the youth to act. As they act on their knowledge, they will be blessed with the spirit and a higher capacity for truth and understanding.  Following is the process I go through when writing inspirements. Feel free to share more insights and ideas as you learn them.

1. Get an overview of the subject
F.A.C.E. talks about the importance of whole to part leaning.  It is important that we understand how this subject (history/geograhy, art/imaginative literature, math/science or government/leadership) fits into building of the kingdom of God.
Some good books for this are:
How Should We Then Live?
Gateway to the Great Books introduction
The Noah Plan books: History and Geography for Geo Conquest
          Literature and Stonebridge Art for Imaginative Arts
          Science and Mathematics for Face to Face with Einstein
         The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States (also explains how other             cultures and time periods have contributed to forming a country of freedom) for Leadership Academy

2. Get an overview of the time period:
The above books or
The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bower

3. Find seven points of focus - events, people, creations (by God or by people), or ideas that I want to focus on - one for each month.

4. Find and read a classic and some background that pertains to that event, person, etc.

5. For each focus, as I read, I ask myself what would Heavenly Father want me to take away from this event, person, etc.?   What might he want the youth to take away from it?  What truths about how we ought to live are found here?  The answers to these questions help me find principles and ideas to focus on.

For example, when I was getting ready to teach Confucius, I was inspired by how hard he tried to get into a position of influence, but never could.  People knew he spoke truth, but did not want to give up their power.  He died having never achieved his dream of governing a people in the government he envisioned.  However, we, thousands of years later, know who he is and the truths he spoke.  There were several principles I could have taken from this, but I believe the principle for the month was "citizenship" so I decided to focus on the impact that one person can have when they are honestly seeking and applying truth, even if it seems like the impact is small.  (It is not necessary to always have the principle you teach be related to the principle of the month, but it can help them draw connections if it can be).  

6. Decide what readings to assign for the apprentice, journeyman and master levels.

For example, for Confucius, I might assign a short section from the Analects for the apprentice level as well as some background reading material (like a children's biography on Confucius).  For Journeyman I might assign some reading about China and some of the wars and types of governmental systems that were taking place at the time (maybe from an original source or a good text book that sites and quotes original sources like Bauer's History of the Ancient World).  For Master, I might assign more or all of the Analects.

7. I think of the goals for the inspirements for each level:

For the Apprentice level the goal is to spark the fire within them for learning more.  Projects will not be too time consuming so the youth will feel like they can accomplish them, but they will be worth-while and interesting so that as they do them, they will be inspired to take more time and go into a deeper level of learning about this person, event, etc.

For the Journeyman level the goal is to give them some skills and background, as well as some more curiosity about the focus so that they feel ready, competent and excited to read the master level book.

For the Master level, the goal is to read the ideas and thoughts of great people and to make them their own by applying what they learn to their lives.  As they start to taste the fruits of doing this in their education, they will hunger for it and be willing to work for it in the future.

8. I start to write some inspirements in each level about each reading. For all levels, I try to have an interesting, personal question (Why do you think about...? What is your favorite...? What would you do if...? What choice would you have made if you...?) that accompanies each inspirement as well as an invitation to apply it.

Apprentice level inspirements might include (with the assigned reading for this level) writing a favorite Confucius quote in Calligraphy, acting out or drawing a graphic summary of an event in his life that impacted others, or making a model of how one thing can impact something else - all with a personal question and application.

Example: "Write your favorite Confucius quote(s) in calligraphy and come prepared to share with us why you liked it.  See if you can find a way to apply it to your day."

Journeyman level inspirements might include (along with the assigned reading for this level)labeling China on a map, drawing the weapons that were used at the time of Confucius, drawing a picture of a major landmark in China, writing a report or making a slide show about what they would like to see if they were to visit China, or doing some research about the forbidden city and the events that led to that government after Confucius's death, for example.  All would be accompanied by a personal question and application.

The Master level inspirements could include (along with the assigned reading for this level) such things as writing a poem or composing a musical number that describes how one person can impact the world, giving an oral presentation about an experience they've had with one person changing a life, writing a report about their experience in reading Confucius's words and trying to apply them, a piece of art that represents what they learned from the book, or doing a word study on impact and presenting what they learned. Again, all would have a personal question and application.

9. I look to see if my inspirements are appealing to both genders.  Young men might be more interested in the action, weapons, achievements, for example.  Girls might be more interested in the feelings involved, in the daily life of the people, or the conversations that took place. (See Why Gender Matters)

10. I see if the inspirements appeal to different learning styles.  If I find there is not enough variety, I might add some art, drama, a logic problem, writing, graphic summaries, word studies, projects or other learning methods that appeal to the different youth. (See Multiple Intelligences)

That is an overview of the process as I see it.  It may need to be refined as we learn what works and what does not.  I also think it is better to have just a few well-thought out inspirements than a lot of them just for the sake of variety (I also think sometimes the youth get tired of reading them when there are too many options). I think the order of these steps is important since I have tried writing inspirements when one of my first priorities was incorporating learning styles, and those inspirements were not as effective or purposeful.

I hope this is helpful. I welcome your feedback!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Master Class

PRINCIPLE: The youth, having acquired the skills in different areas, are now ready to actively participate in their education, and apply it in a world-changing way.  They have learned about the world and its needs, true principles for human interaction, and ways to creatively try to solve problems.  These come together as they discuss great works of literature, debate, plan, and learn in an intense environment.  I see this as a three hour discussion/experience at least, whether it is once a week, or once a month.

With a Master class, it is difficult to be specific. It is an intense one-on-one mentoring experience with a mentor for the youth, surrounded by others who are passionate and ready to do something with their knowledge.  Ideally, a few mentors need to be involved: a speech one to help with oral presentations and simulation feedback; a writing one to give feedback on writing style, efficacy, etc; and then a main one who is the main mentor for the class. This can rotate from week to week if it is based upon the lens, or month to month, if it is a once a month class where the principles of the month are shared.  Other mentors can be brought in according to the needs of the youth in the group.  Guest presenters or outside-class mentoring experiences (like a field trip) would also be very effective. (For instance, on mentor arranged for the youth in her group to get trained in CPR.)

The following is an idea for the format if the Master class was once a month:

-As much as the individual lenses apply to the book or article of the month, offer master-level inspirements that tie them together (i.e.  "The Count of Monte Cristo" the Master-level class; Europe Geography project--Draw a detailed map of the places mentioned in Monte Cristo)
-The youth will share briefly their projects in Core class

Master class itself: I would include some type of opening spiritual exercise--hymns, scriptures, devotional...however, I anticipate that, because the youth will have been educated to seek for the spiritual in their learning, that connections with scriptures and the spiritual will be a regular part of the discussion.

30-45 min:            Sharing time of master-level projects throughout month that don't directly relate 
                               to book
2-2 1/2  hours:      Begin immersion in book, article, or concept for the month.  Possible 
                               approaches:(with break, as necessary)
        -pre-assigned oral presentation or essay: share and present--discuss, give feedback, evaluate

        -simulation based upon book: i.e.  The Count is on trial: have a jury, prosecutor, judge, and defending lawyer present, first, the crimes he is accused of, and then determine if he is guilty of them or not.

        -hand's on activity of recreating the Chateau D'If (?) and possible escape routes

       -brainstorm mentors/people that remind them of the old fellow in the prison...write letters to them to have them present to their group in the upcoming months, or plan on visits to see them

       -Explore and discuss the penal system of various countries.  Determine what they can do to help, correct, or compliment  these systems.

       -Evaluate the justice system of the United States and compare it to the case of the Count.  Schedule a field trip to watch a court in session and draw comparisons and conclusions.

30-45 minute wrap-up: Decide on action to do during next month, either based upon book, or based upon a massive service project for the summer that they are deciding upon.  For instance, they could decide to schedule a field trip to the courthouse, and then brainstorm about possible areas for service around the world.  

Application is a huge part of this level.  They need to do something with what they are learning.  I think it would be powerful for them to not only have "smaller" projects that are specifically book based, but also plan through-out the year on how to put together a summer service project, either locally or in other parts of the world.

For instance,
Sept: Each participant share with the others at least 2-5 video presentations and articles about service groups or people doing service around the world online the week before class the first time you meet (to give everyone time to review them) Discuss in class which ones impressed them, what they liked and didn't like about them.  Have everyone select one they would like to contact and find out more about for the next month, or come up with a new plan of action inspired by them or their own ideas to bring back next month and report on.

Oct: Review people's plans of actions...discuss feasibility (cost, time frame, etc.) and narrow it down to two or three.  Make committees for each one, making lists of action that would need to happen to make it come to pass to bring for next month.

Nov:  Determine which project they are going to move forward with and get things like sponsors, fundraising, and timing planned out, delegated, and committed to.

The succeeding months will be assignments come up with by the group, by themselves, to make it happen.  Vision will be essential (along with a refresher about "team building dynamics"--excitement to frustration to discouragement to determination to success!), so a monthly "shot-in-the-arm" of vision (ideally supplied by the youth, taking turns perhaps?) would be helpful.

Good summer reads to prepare for this class would be "Do Hard Things," "The One Minute Manager" (formerly part of the 5 Pillar reading, now replaced with "The One Minute Teacher"), and "TJEd for Teens."

I feel that inspiration and synergy will be critical for the efficacy of this class, and that will be unique to the groups involved.  This is meant to be an intense class--to push scholars and challenge them.  If they are ready for the Master class, they will be ready for this.  Do not be limited by adult's perceptions of limitations.  The youth will rise to it.  The DeMilles stress the necessity for individualization of education: "Even in Scholar phase, they (the youth) only enter a proram at their own choosing and or a relatively short time period.  Overall, their entire education is personalized." (Leadership Education, pg 162)
EXAMPLE: Independent Project
Here is an example of a group in a public school that has a lot of great ideas for mentoring and is a great example of the synergy and excitement that can be generated in such a group.
The Independent Project  (One lady in it said that every group that does this will take on a different look and a different feel...amen!)  Obviously, this is a group that gets together daily, so it works a little differently, but something to get ideas from!
They have a blog similar to what some Vanguard groups have started to post ideas and work on.  Check it out! :)  I would recommend having your master-level youth look at this before planning out their year.  Start with one plan and don't be afraid to re-evaluate and tweak it!

An example of a master class can be taken from my own experience:
Tova and I were able to sit down in December of 2012 and really look at what she wanted to do and accomplish. We essentially had a Master class as she took everything to a deep level of understanding, knowing she would have time sufficient in class to share and use all that she learned. 

She made powerpoints, Jeopardy games for topics, studied Latin, taught from youth Leadership books (TJEd for Teens, 7 Habits of Teens) and read the books on the TJEd for Teens list that she wanted to catch up on. We continue to follow the 7 month principle outline, as always, and it has been AMAZING to see the connections Tova is now making in her reading and as we talk about things we see in society.

Mentors to match our message...

 This is a presentation I put together with valuable thoughts about mentoring (I am good at plagiarizing others' thoughts...)

Mentors to Match our Message

Julie had some great thoughts on mentoring as well and how it fits into Vanguard:

Need to have a passion for their subject
Need to have a passion for their students
Ideally same mentor at apprentice and journeyman level
Individual mentoring (especially at journeyman level). Individual study plans..pushing some further when ready. For example some students have a learning style that they favor...reading, writing, digital media, drawing, etc. A wise mentor allows them to express themself often using that learning style but also inspires them to become proficient in all of the learning styles by encouraging growth in new areas.

Oliver demille said a scholar looks like a youth reading classics and discussing them and writing about them (and I'll add applying them...)we should whenever possible have the student actually be engaged in reading a classic for their class preparation...both at journeyman level and in vanguard

Simple curriculum (classics)...discussion and reading environments
Simple structure (individual mentoring plan)...this is the coaching environment
Simple reporting (individual mentoring time)..oral and written (this is the testing environment)

This may feel more complex in ways since it puts more squarely on the shoulders of the youth the responsibility to plan, prepare and choose along with the mentors guidance, but that is what scholar phase is...especially at 14-15.  Self directed scholars should be choosing their own study plans because they are engaging deeply in their own education rather than being led into their own education

Inspiration and ability to choose what they want to study deeply about...early scholar phase is not the time to fill in all the gaps, it is the time to learn study skills and habits and to change and grow and become as well as study deeply into things you are passionate about

What is your calling in life? -article

This is a great article to help mentors and parents (especially) appreciate that not all youth know what they want to be, but that they each have different talents and strengths that they have already demonstrated that help them have a little direction.

There is so much more to it, but I will leave that for you to enjoy!


Inspirational Chicken and Eagle story about potential

Everytime I see something like this, I think of those youth of ours, and our sacred responsibility to teach them that they are eagles, not chickens
This is a story I love to share at things like the Vision Hike:

At the edge of the woods, near a small farm, a baby eagle fell out of the nest.   The farmer found the eagle, and thinking it was one of his own, brought him to the chicken coop with his other chickens.   As time passed, the baby eagle grew up learning to do what chickens do.  He clucked, he strutted around the coop pecking at the corn and even tried his voice at the morning wake-up call.
A neighbor came to visit his friend the chicken farmer.  He was surprised to see the eagle strutting around the chicken coop, pecking at the ground, and acting like a chicken.  The farmer explained to him that he had brought the bird to the coop as a chick and only later discovered that it was an eagle.  He further told his friend that since the bird had been raised a chicken that the bird actually believed himself to be a chicken.
The neighbor knew there was more to this noble bird than his behavior showed as a chicken.  He was born an eagle and had the heart of an eagle, and nothing could change that.  The neighbor reached down and lifted the eagle onto the fence surrounding the chicken coop and said,  “Eagle, you are an eagle.  Stretch your wings and fly.”  The eagle only look blankly at the man and clucked.  He jumped off the fence and continued doing what chicken do.  The farmer was satisfied. “I told you - he thinks he’s a chicken,” he said.
The neighbor couldn’t sleep that night and returned the next day to convince the farmer that the eagle was born for something greater.  The man took the eagle from the dirty coop and carried him to the top of the farmhouse.  Setting the bird down on the roof, the neighbor spoke to him: “Eagle, you are an eagle.  You therefore belong to the sky and not to the earth.  Stretch your wings and fly.” The large bird blinked at the man, clucked, and then jumped down into the chicken coop.
After another restless night, the friend returned the next morning to the chicken farm and took the eagle and the farmer away from the chicken coop to the foot of a high mountain.  They could not see the farm nor the chicken coop from this great height.  The man lifted the eagle on his outstretched arm and pointed high into the sky where the bright sun was beckoning above.  He spoke: “Eagle, you are an eagle!  You therefore belong to the sky and not to the earth.  Stretch your wings and fly.” This time the eagle stared skyward into the bright sun, straightened his large body, and stretched his massive wings.  His wings moved, slowly at first, then surely and powerfully.
With the mighty screech of an eagle, he flew away.

Guidelines for mentors about classes

As we create this scholar environment for our youth, let us be mindful of the following:

Oliver DeMille, in his article “Force vs. Rigor” :
The tone of youth seminars for those 13 and above could be summed up as:

-You have important things to accomplish in your life, and you need a world-class education

-Push yourselves a lot harder!  Work! Work!  Work!

-What you have to contribute is unique and world-altering

-A great education is a fabulous thing, and it us up to you to go earn one!

-Study, study, prepare!  The world needs what you were born to do.

-Learn more about the areas that interest you, and dig so much deeper into the areas that haven't yet excited you.  You just haven't learned enough about them yet.

-All knowledge is fun, Study a lot more!  How exciting!

What each class should contain:
-At least one scripture
-At least one piece of information to add to their time-line
-your testimony about truth and the Savior

What each class can also contain:
-A Word study
-Music that is wholesome, uplifting, and inspiring
-Reflection moment after particularly impactful experience
-connection to the leadership theme for the month
-something that references the period of history we are studying for the year.

I would like to see us use a method I learned about called “the four R's” either in reflections or word studies:
-Research: study it out using scriptures, words of the prophets, the Noah 1828 dictionary, and other sources of truth
-Reason: write/verbalize your own conclusion of what the truth of that matter is based upon your research
-Relate: figure out how it relates to you in your life
-Record: write or draw your conclusions in your commonplace book

Please try to keep your material within the time frame allotted...going over often makes students restless and makes it harder to learn.

Julie had these great thoughts:
Purpose?   Why does the student need to learn this?  As a mentor am I teaching to the purpose or am I just teaching to the subject?  For example if the purpose of constitution is to Help the student understand and apply the principles of freedom in their own life then every time we should be discussing how what we are learning applies to self...how rewriting the emancipation proclamation teaches us about freedom....perhaps by specifically looking for principles of freedom in the document, perhaps by writing a essay after about how the proclamation applies to you.   It gives the student and the subject purpose...rather than just work to be done.  We should always teach to the purpose.    Each class should have a specifically stated purpose and a wise mentor would reflect upon that purpose while planning and preparing for class time
Example...In speech my purpose is to help them be used to public speaking so that it is not so intimidating to them, to help them be better at speaking in public and to help them learn to think quickly and to have virtuous thought so that they always have something important to say.  I teach to the purpose by giving them time to speak, by giving them feedback about their speaking, by sharing scriptures that relate to speaking and elevating our thoughts, and by giving short lessons about skills such as eye contact and projection, etc.  as mentors we should always teach to the purpose or we loose or focus and become knowledge based rather than principle based

Value?  This goes along with purpose, but the youth need to see the value in the things they are learning.  This is really the application part.  At some points in our lives it is good to get knowledge just for knowledges sake, but it is so much more valuable to have knowledge for wisdoms sake.  If I can't apply what I'm learning to my life right now, my mission, or my foreseeable future I have a hard time motivating myself to want to continue gaining knowledge.  This is both the job of the mentor and the student to find value.  I think value comes from reading classics and from discussion of them with peers who are finding their own value.

Engagement? Are the student engaging?  Are they participating, are they sharing ah has, are they excited to learn, are they cheating, are they skimming the surface, are they just doing the minimums to get by?  As mentor we need to look at the level of engagement to see when we may have lost our purpose or our value.  Are the students responding by doing more than is required because we have given purpose and they have found value and are now willing to do the hard work.  

Example...Megan has mentioned that sometimes in the geography game there is cheating.  I mentioned that maybe that it was okay with the mentors to keep the game moving.  I was upset with myself later for saying this to her as I don't ever want to teach my children that it is okay to cheat or okay to allow others to cheat.  If students are compromising their virtue...and even just meeting minimums sometimes can be compromising virtue....then we may need to go back to purpose and value....please don't take this as an attack on geography :). That was not my intent only to show that engagement is a reflection of the level of purpose and value being discussed in the class.

I think if we are seeking always for purpose and value in the things we are teaching and looking for signs of engagement from the students then we are truly growing in light and truth not just knowledge.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Coming prepared to teach

Karen: "Here is a great quote that illustrates the importance of coming to class prepared with inspirements and sharing them. Elder Scott was talking to teachers about the importance of getting class discussion instead of just lecturing. He said:
Their decision to participate is an exercise in agency that permits the Holy Ghost to communicate a personalized message suited to their individual needs...participation will bring into their lives the direction of the spirit. -Elder Richard G. Scott"
Thanks, Karen!  Great quote!

Julie Johnson also shared the following email and link:

"This is for the mom's and dad's (and youth too if it is interesting to you).  I shared some information at the parent mentor meeting about some of the amazing things that are happening at BYU-I.  This link is a story that the deseret news did telling more of the story.  Part 1 and 2 are finished and I think part 3 will be up tomorrow.  I have loved how Mary has been so inspired and that the youth of vanguard are doing the same things that the prophet of the church counseled BYU-I to do!  Yea for inspirements!....now onto increased enrollment and online environments :)  hee hee....oh yea and more space!"

This is the link to part 2

Here is a excerpt from the BYU-I feedback page: 
Q: What if I am a shy student?
A: Students at BYU-Idaho “learn by faith” (D&C 88: 118). President Clark has taught: “To learn by faith, students need opportunities to take action. Some of those opportunities will come . . . in the classroom, where prepared students, exercising faith, step out beyond the light they already possess, to speak, to contribute, and to teach one another.” If you are a shy student, there will be times where you have to exercise your faith to participate and comment in class. Also realize that a Learning Model environment is a safe and supportive setting, where students “love, teach, and serve one another”. Moreover, Teach One Another activities do not all happen in large group settings. Many of these activities will occur in small discussion groups, paired teams, and online discussion formats. Make efforts to contribute in all of these teach one another settings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thoughts on the "Art Part"

" the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls"...picasso

"Masterpieces arouse spiritual awakenings that remind us of celestial music."
"Heart is the high-road to the mind."--as quoted by some presenters at the American Heritage seminar

To quote Henrik Ibsen: "To be sure, whenever such a description is felt to be reasonably true, the reader will insert his own feelings and sentiments into the work of the poet {{ or photographer }}. These are attributed to the poet; but incorrectly so. Every reader remolds it so beautifully and nicely, each according to his own personality. Not only those who write, but also those who read are poets; they are collaborators; they are often more poetical than the poet himself. " (Thanks, Chanelle!)

"The influence of art is so powerful in shaping our lives for a higher appreciation of the creations of our God. We should be as eager for its companionship [as we are] for food to sustain our lives, for it has as important a mission in shaping our character and in conducting to our happiness as anything we term necessities. Life is incomplete without it." (John Hafen, 1856-1910)
The arts help us develop both sides of our brains, see things from different perspectives, and bring us the joy of creation.  When I taught art, I used artists like m.c. escher or Norman Rockwell, or particular works of art (photography, architecture, painting, sculpture, pottery, quilts, music)  to offer
a different look at the theme.

For instance,  I used some American art posters a friend acquired for us to use
as a basis of artistic study: to analyze, reproduce in some cases, and discuss both the technique
and the message of the artist.  Sometimes we would use two or three pieces of art to
show contrasting/similar styles/messages.

Some great articles about the effect of Art and Music:
Transformative power of art: http://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/le-wi08/le-wi08_power_art.cfm

Family Art: by Orson Scott Card: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/07/family-art?lang=eng

 "The power and protection of worthy Music"--http://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/12/the-power-and-protection-of-worthy-music

From a friend in a Vanguard group:

"I don't know how many of you are familiar with the painting shows of Bob Ross, but he's kind of the same time period as Mr. Rogers.  PBS just did a remix of his show, and it is SO great!  His painting is amazing, and I love the words to the song.
"This is your world
You're the creator
Find freedom on this canvas
Believe that you can do it
Because you can do it."

"Everyday's a good day when you paint."

I hope you are inspired and enjoy this!  (just ignore his hair!!!)

It reminds me of a webinar from Williamsburg Academy I enjoyed.  Here are some of the highlights for me:
The presenter had a great quote: "Art educates us emotionally."  So true!  She also asked some great questions that will help me appreciate what society accepts as "art" for the messages it conveys: what do you feel when you initially see it?  Do you see any connections of that with the world around you?  Interesting...

Lens monthly structure proposed outline

What I see is this:

The first week is the leadership "lens" to set forth the topic/theme of the month.  The Leadership area was not so much a lens, as the core principle we are studying through the lenses.  Thus, the final week is merely using the arts and imaginative literature (our book discussion) lens in which to explore that principle. 

So, in other words:
Week 1: introduce the core principle to be studied
Week 2: explore it through a geographical/historical lens
Week 3: explore it through a inductive and deductive lens (math and science)
Week 4: explore it through the arts and imaginative literature lens

As in the past, we have tried to tie in the subjects to a theme to give what we study context.  Obviously, as we study people like Madame Curie, and how she exemplified "work," say, we are going to explore the wonderful things we have usually explored with our mathematicians and scientists.  So, rather than limiting our discussion, it merely confirms the connections to principles that people throughout time have embodied and inspired us with, as we explore their lives and contributions.
further clarification from Karen
Karen: "I read several books including Teach the Children, Norms and Nobility and the Gateway to the Great Books Volume I. Each of these talked about different "schools of thought" that teach the students to think in different ways as they pursue truth... Here is how they were spoken of in the different books:

"Norms and Nobility:
There are 3 “schools of thought” to “form the conscience and style of each student” (with morality weaved through each one) :
1. Math and science
2. Humane letters
3. Arts and languages

"Teach the Children (ch.14):
There are four “lenses” that each child should have to properly view the world. Without these lenses the “student is handicapped in his ability to see things as they are”. Morality is the hub in which these things function to help distinguish between right and wrong
1. Math (for the ability to induce truth through logic and reasoning - inducing truth),
2. Science (for the ability to deduce truth through observation)
3. Social sciences (for the ability to see truth by widening perspective to see norms and values)
4. Arts and language (the ability to judge truth through beauty/value).

"Great Books:
There are 4 colors “representing 4 aspects of ourselves as we use words to communicate what we know, think, feel or intend”
1. Yellow - works of imagination (arts and language)
2. Blue - biographies and histories (humane letters or social studies)
3. Green - mathematics and natural sciences
4. Red - philosophy or theology (morality)

I have a visual:

A color wheel has red, yellow and blue. Each color represents a different "lens" for finding truth. Blue for humanities, yellow for the arts, and red for math and science (different than the green above for purposes of the visual). In the middle of the wheel is a white circle that represents light (the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, morality). If we only have one color to work with - we can not see the world as clearly. Two colors help us see more clearly and we can create more color through the connections we make. All three colors will enable us see the truth all around us even more beautifully and clearly. However, without the light in the middle - we can't see anything at all.

"Tree example:
We will be weaving a principle through these lenses, but to make the idea more concrete I used a tree as an example of how these schools of thought help us see the world in a "whole" way.
Tree through leadership lens: What did Heavenly Father want us to learn from trees? How are trees used in the scriptures? How can we apply this?
Tree through science/math lens: Fibonacci numbers in different trees, circumference, age of the tree, photosynthesis, etc
Tree through history/geography: Different types of trees in different areas and how they affect the lives of the people there, how they affected the westward expansion...
Tree through arts/imaginative literature lens: Painting a tree - noticing it's colors, light, textures, beauty. Reading The Giving Tree and imagining what the world might look like through a tree's perspective.

"You can see how studying a tree through all these different lenses gives you a "whole" picture of a tree and you appreciate the truth found in it on a deeper level.

"We use a principle-based teaching approach so we take a principle and weave it through these lenses in much the same way. We make connections as we study through the different schools of thought. In addition, the youth pick "inspirements" in different learning styles and will subsequently be able to use different learning styles to see things through different lenses." (Blog post on "Vanguard Mentors"--April 2012).

Some groups are going to separate these "lenses" by week in Vanguard, to prevent the "bell-ringing interruptions"  mentioned in "Dumbing us Down" (but you can include some each week, if that format works better for you):
Week 1: Leadership Academy--principles-introducing the principle of the month which will be weaved through everything we study that month. This is the center of the wheel.

Week 2 - Face to Face With Einstein--math and science:To see the Creator’s hand in the world around us as we understand and apply the natural laws of the earth and the patterns therein; to develop the desire and ability to exercise inductive (i.e. logic) and deductive (i.e. scientific method) reasoning to find truth and to help others to do so; to expose them to great thinkers and concepts in history—to teach them to think --as well as inspire them to greatness as they study the lives of great individuals, their triumphs and struggles.

 Week 3 - Geo-conquest--history and geography: To enlarge our perspective as we view the world through the perspective of others as we study the history and culture of God’s children throughout the world. To develop the desire and ability see patterns in the past, how they relate to the present and how they may relate to the future; To develop a love for all of God’s children and a desire to serve them.

Week 4 - Imaginative Arts--arts and imaginative literature: To see the artistic view of the concept of the month as we study the imagination of man through art and literature. To develop the desire and ability to recognize truth through it’s beauty and feeling.  To desire to create new ways to share ideas to help others find truth.

Example:  I felt that the leadership class would focus on a principle that would hopefully be brought out through the other studies of the month: for instance, the historical biography for the Journeyman class for this month might be George Washington for the month of with the theme of “service-oriented leadership”, and a piece of art depicting the joy of service might be studied, or an artist that dedicated themselves to service (like Dorothea Lange’s photograph of “The Migrant Mother” from the depression), along with the art medium of photography for the subject of the journeyman class, or a painting of George Washington.  The book, "Princess Academy" could be discussed (or "The Lost Prince"...excellent!) as a way to further examine the value of service-oriented leadership.
It is more challenging to incorporate mathematicians that help mirror the theme, but it is good for the mentor to be aware of possible connection...i.e.  Thomas Edison as someone to study in the month where "the value of work" is discussed.

Book selection guidelines and suggestions

"When you gather data, you become informed.  When you read, you develop wisdom." Bauer, Well-trained Mind p. 24
Amen. I will reserve the championing of the why of classics in education for other posts.  Classics--books, art, poetry, the lives of people--are truly the crux of a leadership education.  They are ideas and examples that bring you face to face with greatness and can be read again and again and again.  They motivate and inspire you to do more. (If you still need to be sold on the value of classics at this point, you should probably go back and read all the books on the "Methods Behind the Madness" list :).)  While there are many list of "classics" (like ones I have linked to below), one should not be limited to officially designated classics in a prayerful reflection of which books to select for a year.

What may be a classic to one group, may not be the same for another.  I expect the list of books a group uses to delve into understanding and ultimate intelligence to be as varied and unique as the individual scholars in their group :).  As with all things in Vanguard, I would follow the same path Karen outlined for creating inspirements which I also used in my suggested post on "Planning the new year." However, here are some of those same initial ideas to consider specifically before selecting your books for the year.  (Thanks, Marni, for your contribution!)

1. Pray.

2. Have the mentor in charge of that lens call for a temporary committee of all interested persons to brainstorm and select books. (It is great to include youth mentors in this; however, their input can be more powerful and personalized at the "master class" level.  The principal mentor should definitely be involved, but it is very meaningful for the person in charge of that lens to feel personal ownership and stewardship over the books they will be focusing on.) How the ultimate decision is made can vary from group to group, but should be done by people who understand the monthly principles.  We have done it by verbal discussion and consent in the past of a temporary committee.
3. Use Classics.  It must be a classic to the mentor/youth mentors. (See above definition of a classic.)
4.  Principle based - While most great books will bring in multiple monthly themes, the priority should be choosing a book that helps round out the principle discussion for the month.  What is a strong message of the book?  Does it inspire reflection and action as it lends clarity to the principle?  I wonder if a book is selected prayerfully and teaches a principle beautifully, if we even need to consider whether it is a classic or not :)?

5.  Historical placement/significance.  Each year in Vanguard the group may choose to focus on a time period.  While it is nice to have an added picture of the time period through literature, this should not be a focus point for selecting the classics.  For instance, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is definitely one of the greats and definitely principle based, but it also gives a great picture of the time period, was written in the time period, and was definitely historically significant in that it helped to bring about change.  However, there are also many great books that are not placed in a time setting-wise or aren't historically significant, but they do have a great message and would fit with the principles well.

6.  Difficulty - Since this is considered a scholar group we should definitely be keeping in mind the age level and ability of the youth. If a book is simple (like "Charlie's Monument" that you mentioned) they should be meaningful enough that the older youth won't be bored.  At the same time, the reading level and subject matter should be within reason for the younger youth.  Don't be afraid to stretch them, but a stretch every month may mean less youth reading.
I hesitate to even put a "list," just because I am aware of the huge limitations such a "list" creates mentally.  However, by seeing the books below and how they are "categorized," perhaps it will help you in your own understanding of how books can be used in different monthly principles.

There is also a link here from the Vanguard resource blog for other lists of books that you can access that people have found helpful.

The Vanguard Youth Book Pool
I have not read all the books on the list...they are suggestions.  
Preview and use at your own discretion.  You may use any book you would like outside of this list as well, just find which genre it would fit under.  Please let us know of other good classics you use so we can update this list for others to use. 

Meaningful Life/Real Happiness
The Little Lame Prince 
Charlie's Monument, by Yorgason
Caddie Woodlawn
Endless Steppe
Dragon’s Gate
Great Expectations
The Tale of Two Cities
Door in the Wall
The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed
Carry on, Mr. Bowditch
I am David (better for month of "Role of the Creator" perhaps)
Education of a Wandering Man
The Last Lecture, by Pausch
The Christmas Box?
Rayna M. Gangi's Mary Jemison: White Woman of the Seneca? 
To Kill a Mockingbird
Cyrano de Bergerac

Watson’s Go to Birmingham
Number the Stars
Endless Steppe
When My Name was Keoko
Across Five Aprils
Up From Slavery
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Lonesome Gods
Legend of Bass Reeves
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Witch of Blackbird Pond (1692--Salem Witch Trials)
Seven Miracles that Saved America
Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World
The Alliance, by Gerald Lund (but much better for "proper role of government") 
The Kidnapped Prince, by Equiano
Les Miserables 
Sarah's Key

Little Prince
Swiss Family Robinson
Dragon’s Gate
Up From Slavery
Strawberry Girl
Do Hard Things
Sign of the Beaver
40 Acres and a Mule
A Long Walk to Water, by Park? (better for Citizenship, but could easily fit here) 
Carry on, Mr. Bowditch
Discovering Isaac, by Behunin 
Charlie's Monument,
Wheel on the School
The Single Shard, by Park
Kon Tiki (great book for exploration or antiquity)
Poor Richard's Almanac by Franklin 
These is my Words (1800's)
Oliver Twist (1800's)

Role of the Creator/Natural Law
Bronze Bow
In My Father’s House
Standing for Something
A Heart Like His
The Dream Giver
St. Joan—by Twain
Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
Prince Caspian
Swiss Family Robinson
The Chosen
Fire and the Covenant
Seven Miracles
Seven Tipping Points 
St. Joan, by Twain (best fit here, hard to read, but amazing!)
Discovering Isaac, by Behunin
The Lost Prince, by Burnett
The Alchemist, by Coehlo
The Real George Washington or Thomas Jefferson
The Screwtape Letters, by Lewis
Mere Christianity, by Lewis
The Last Battle, by Lewis 
"All's well that End's well" as a somewhat broken example, Shakespeare
The Jungle Book (1899) 
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)
The Witch from Blackbird Pond (Salem Witch Trials, 1692)
Poor Richard's Almanac (laws...)

Service-Oriented Leadership
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Little Lame Prince
Little Princess
Goose Girl
River Secrets
Otto and the Silver Hand 
The Seer and the Sword (Also great for citizenship month)-fantasy novel with contrasting examples of leadership as well as people who make sacrifices to do the right thing; clean book, enjoyable to read...great for an end of the year selection :).
Watership Down, by Adams
The Lost Prince, by Burnett
Princess Academy, by Hale
The Seer and the Stone
The Real George Washington
The Real Thomas Jefferson
The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkein
Walking Drum (12/13th cent) by L'amour
Louis Braille: The Boy who invented the Books for the Blind
Up from Slavery (this one and the one above would go together well...)
The White Stag (situated ancient history/medieval times...could work for "expansion" theme)  
To Kill a Mockingbird
"A Tale of Two Cities" by Dickens (situation: French Revolution of 1789)
Cyrano de Bergerac

Dream Giver
The Chosen
The Hunger Games
Seven Miracles
Seven Tipping Points 
The Witch of Blackbird Pond 
The Alliance, by Gerald Lund (excellent and clean!)
St. Joan by Twain 
The Hobbit, by Tolkien
Les Miserables*
*these are a remarkable combination (see post on "Outline of Monthly Principles")
"The Giver" by Lowry
"A Tale of Two Cities" by Dickens (situation: French Revolution of 1789)
Watership Down, by Adams 
The Real Thomas Jefferson
A Long Walk to Water, by Park
Mysterious Benedict Society, by Stewart
The Wizard of Oz
The Jungle Book (1899) 
A Wrinkle in Time
The Law, by Bastiat 
To Kill a Mockingbird
Gulliver's Travels (1726) (Check out Wikipedia's outline of "themes": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulliver%27s_Travels
The Little Prince by de Saint-Exupéry 
Sarah's Key
These is my Words (1800's)
"The Virginian" 1800's 
The Little Princess, by Burnett

Do Hard Things
Tale of Despereaux
Hero and the Crown
Jane Eyre
Goose Girl
Fire and the Covenant
The Horse and His Boy
The Silver Chair
The Alliance, by Gerald Lund (but much better for "proper role of government")
A Long Walk to Water, by Park ? (Clean, short, powerful--perfect for Africa...about the Lost Boys of Sudan)
The Seer and the Sword (Also great for service-oriented leadership)-fantasy novel with contrasting examples of leadership, as well as people who make sacrifices to do the right thing; clean book, enjoyable to read...great for a last month selection :).) 
A Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens
Watership Down, by Adams
Princess Academy, by Hale
The Wizard of Oz
Goose Girl, by Hale
The Lonesome Gods, by L'Amour
Wheel on the School
The Seer and the Stone, by Hanley
The Real George Washington or Thomas Jefferson
Mysterious Benedict Society, by Stewart
A Long Walk to Water
Stargirl, by Spinelli
The Hobbit, by Tolkein
Walking Drum (12/13th Cent) by L'amour
The Last Battle, by Lewis
Prince Caspian, by Lewis
Rayna M. Gangi's Mary Jemison: White Woman of the Seneca
"A Tale of Two Cities" by Dickens (situation: French Revolution of 1789)
Cyrano de Bergerac 
The Little Prince by de Saint-Exupéry 
Sarah's Key (WWII)
These is my Words (1800's)

Summer—get excited about learning!
Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles:
Comment from a youth about this book: I think it helps you want to use your imagination.
It talks about learning from you mistakes, and not giving in to bad feelings like fear, pride, and greed.
It also talks about age, and how it doesn't matter, but there's something you can give and someone you can help no matter how old you are.

Do Hard Things
TJEd for Teens
Education of a Wandering Man
Mysterious Benedict Society, by Stewart

Books that can go over the course of the year:
-Mythology: use different myths for the different themes they fit in
-TJEd for Teens
-7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Summer – Year with Miss Agnes, Mysterious Benedict Society
Meaningful Life – Charlie’s Monument, The Secret Garden
Liberty – Homeless Bird; Year of Impossible Goodbyes
God – I Am David, The Hiding Place
Leadership – The Tempest, Lord of the Rings
Property/Work – Single Shard, Remembering Isaac
Proper Role of Govt – Wizard of Oz, Animal Farm
Citizenship – Fish by L.S. Matthews, Lonesome Gods

Summer - Phantom Tollbooth
Life and Pursuit of Happiness - Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Liberty - Equiano: The Kidnapped Prince
Property - Miracles on Maple Hill
God - The Alchemist
Leadership - The Lost Prince
Society - Angel on the Square
Citizenship - The Princess Academy

2009 - 2010
Summer – Chasing Vermeer
Life and Pursuit of Happiness - Door in the Wall
Liberty - The Red Scarf Girl
Property - Little Britches
Pursuit of Happiness - Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs
God - Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Leadership - The Whipping Boy
Society - The Giver
Citizenship - City of Ember