Okay, I just gotta' say.........this journal idea is a GOOD one. I am very intrigued and very happy with the lines of thinking with respect to this particular curriculum package called Connect The Thoughts (CTT). CTT was developed by Steven David Horwich, a man you can read about on the CTT website. He's a prolific person who put some intensely serious thought into what it means to be educated, what it means to determine what one is good at, how one can enjoy life and be productive. I think these sorts of things deserve some intense and serious thought, so I, for one, am very glad that Mr. Horwich took the time and energy to carve out a very cool approach to learning. I will tell you about the weekly journal shortly - let me first rant and rave.
Now, all of this positive ranting and raving I'm about to do needs to be tempered a bit primarily because this is a new way of doing things in our homeschool. New things are fun, aren't they? A new shirt, a shiny new bike, a crisp new dollar bill, a new car that runs on recycled vegetable oil.........all of this stuff is great fun and excitement levels can remain high for a while, depending on what the new thing is. I am very much wired this way and thrill to the idea of something new and different. I do have a sneaking suspicion that I am going to like this curriculum very much, though, that the novelty is not going to wear off. However, so I don't have to go back later and retract these glowing statements, I am cautiously stepping forward into this new territory with Max to see how it all shakes out. Day two and it's GOOD. How's that for enough time to properly evaluate something? Yeah, I'm kind of trigger happy.
I also have to remind myself that I have a thing about putting all of ones eggs in one basket, should the basket turn out to not be the kind of basket one hoped it would be to hold all of the eggs, especially if the eggs are of the important kind. It's probably good to pull from other sources and perspectives and have a couple of different baskets lying around to carry things in. This reasoning plays on the level of instinct and I tend to listen to the deep part of me that occasionally will make such a statement. So as to avoid putting all of our homeschool eggs in one basket, I did not purchase the entire CTT curriculum for next year, which will be Max's 5th grade year. I purchased SOME and am willing to give it a good go and see where it leads.
Our first foray into the CTT world started this week with the Weekly Journal. I can hardly stand it - it's so cool! The week's journal was a FREE (love that word) offering on Currclick that happened to show up in a 'follow your favorites' email I get regularly from Currclick. I wasn't even aware that these weekly journals existed, but am sure glad I pursued that link. The journal is serving as a very nice introduction for Max to this new curriculum. He and I are each doing a journal.
Yesterday, for Monday, May 3rd, we had to learn a few new vocabulary words, one of which was 'crooner'. Then Max had to find Tacoma, Washington on the globe. Then we read about the very interesting life of Bing Crosby! Incidentally, Tacoma is where Bing was born. Yesterday would have been Bing's 107th birthday. He started out studying law, then turned to drumming and to music, then to acting. He recorded some 1,700 songs and was an inspiration to many musicians. He acted with Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra in some funny movies. He visited the troops overseas during WWII and helped bolster moral. His lyrics were funny. We watched a few Youtube videos of Bing performing and Max delighted in his style and humor. I learned about Bing, too! Then we were asked to reflect in our journal about what we liked about singers, why music might be important in someone's life, how comedians can make life seem better.
Today, Tuesday, May 4th is National Teacher's Day in the U.S. We learned about Plato and Confucius, located Greece and China on the map, learned what 'meritocracy' means, and thought about education and why teachers are important for civilizations and the future. Max was asked to think about the qualities of a good teacher and write them down. The write up about Plato and Confucius was not dry or dull - it was conversational, the level just right for Max, age 10. It didn't talk down to him or make him feel like he couldn't understand something.
Tomorrow we'll tackle Cinco de Mayo and another famous person in history, Karl Marx, I think You kind of get the idea - it's history, current events, geography, thoughts and feelings and ideas all rolled into an activity that takes about 45 minutes or so.
I'll try to put into words what I really like and admire overall about the CTT curriculum. It's REAL. No fluff, here. It hits a spot that resonates beautifully with a deep personal philosophy of life that I carry within me, or rather, how one can and should take responsibility for living one's life as much as is possible. It's matter-of-fact. It's encouraging. It's honest. It addresses a person's whole self, not just science/math/reading/writing; the author encourages the student to think about how to treat others, how to improve relationships, how to care for him or herself physically and emotionally, how to connect with nature, how to think for him/herself, how to make good decisions and see them through, how to figure out what to do with one's life. It's incredibly thorough, but not in a preachy kind of way. It's conversational in tone, funny in places, serious in others.
I also like very much that it does not adhere to one way of thinking, to just one influence. The curriculum does an excellent job of providing information as seen from many perspectives, but allows the student the refreshing freedom to form his or her own opinions and feelings about things. There is a lot of 'feeling' here - in that the student is encouraged to explore his or her thoughts and feelings about various ideas. In a way it's kind of Socratic - discussion is encouraged as a thought process so the child can find his or her own way in the world and a way to contribute. Many different religions and philosophies are presented, but the material always maintains its neutrality, allowing the child to formulate his or her own belief system as he or she grows into an adult. The science is straight fact, or what we know to be facts at this point. It's ALL there. Creative writing, science, literature, spelling, geography, history, arts, music, drama, etc. The only element that you need to supplement is a math curriculum.
If you are at all curious about CTT, I encourage you to give the Weekly Journal a try by clicking on the link a few paragraphs back. As far as I can tell, the weekly journal is a free offering - whether it will stay free remains to be seen. You can see the entire curriculum on the CTT site or go to Currclick and search for it there. It is offered as downloadable .pdfs. There are different levels for different age groups. I think that this would be a fantastic and delicious curriculum for an adult - to go back and fill in the gaps and learn things with more experience in our back pockets.
It's a little early to be singing praises here, but I just have a feeling that this is going to be a good road to follow. So far this basket looks well-constructed and sturdy!