Just wondering – As you enter the Jr. High and High School years, are you puzzled over the reading lists? They don’t quite make sense to me. Millions of books, the same 15-20 show up on every list. Are they important, that important, to read? To be honest, I wonder about this. As a teacher, I’ve learned how to teach the class, what to do with reports and narration, and understand the importance of giving my son a rich high school reading experience. What I have not understood, these years, and though my High School experience was, Why.
That is why I am excited to share a book with you this morning – The Eternal Argument, a product carried by Analytical Grammar . This book answers the Why question. Robin Finley is a 34 year veteran middle and high school language arts teacher. She wrote this book as “A framework for understanding Western Literature and Culture”.
I was hopeful, yet doubtful, that we’d be able to read this book together as a family and spark some interest in desiring, wanting, willingly reading these books. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Animal Farm, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Wuthering Heights, The Catcher in the Rye, The Red Badge of Courage, The Communist Manifesto, On the Origin of Species, The Robe, Don Quixote, and Tale of Two Cities to name a few of those discussed. (Just to name a few of the books discussed). Could we find the puzzle piece that would change the Have To into Want to?
I’m not sure that the transformation happened, at least not yet. My High School Son and I are still working on it together, as he was at camp for most of the review period. However – (queue Angels singing) – I LOVED THIS BOOK. It will help me, and it will help as we read it together – to FINALLY be told the WHY of WHY these texts are important.
This is going to become one of those books that I recommend for every single homeschooling mom. Probably starting around age 10-12 for the mom, but definitely by 13. You can read this book together starting at age 13, but I think it matters more to my 16 year old. My 13 glazed over. But he had not been looking, as I have, for the missing ingredient of why.
So – emotions aside – here is how the book “works”. There are a few pages (8) to start you off, to the parent, of the background of the book and how to use it. The recommendation for the crew, and from the Author, is that this is a simple Chapter at a Time, read aloud with the family. The best part of the book is the discussion and questions that are created at each chapter. There are 2-3 discussion questions at the end of each chapter to help you out.
There are 15 chapters, 12 of which are written directly to the student over the age of 13. The first 7 chapters dive into the why, the how and what are we looking for. Chapters 8-12 goes through each historical period – Ancients to the Middle Ages, Renaissance to Neo-Classicism, American and French Revolutions, Romantics to the Realists, and the Naturalists to the Modernists. Remembering again – that this is focused on Western Literature, not World Literature.
One thing that sparked my interest is how the people in power shifted the minds of the people through writing. Those who were in power, who felt the freedom to pursue their interests in their days, shifted what was available in literature, art, science. Seeing the ebb and flow of these events played out in this small book was really eye opening to me.
In each chapter, she will discuss the meat of the matter. She’ll weave you through her thought process. Each time, I felt encouraged to think, amused, entertained, and definitely educated. She’ll give examples of literature that reflect what was going on during that time period. During the historical chapters, she’ll explain how the Eternal Argument plays out, and then gives an example of a text that reflects it perfectly – Like the American and French Revolutions with a tie to the Tale of Two Cities. She’ll go into the text, explaining the entire story, with a view of the historical time period. She’ll give you a Spoiler Alert but I didn’t heed them, I read it all.
In the end, I closed the book with a fresh breath for teaching these Literature books. I won’t spoil what the Eternal Argument is – that is for you to discover. But I will say – secular or Christian – it is truth for each side. She even talks about why it is important for kids to be able to read the King James Bible and be able to understand Greek Myths to help them understand Western Literature. To my secular friends, she doesn’t say you have to believe and love the King James, just gives it the importance of understanding texts. She also has a chapter about Quarantines for our Kids. Being courageous to let our kids explore literature.
“As long as you have your children under your direct supervision, they are secure in their beliefs because those beliefs have become firmly established and never challenged.” Hm. Think about that. Her challenge – “But what if, rather than trying to quarantine your children, you inoculate them instead.”
I’m sure I’ll be back sharing more about this great book – It is one I recommend whole heartedly for every home library. Even, and especially, if your kids are Private or Pubic Schooled – this could give you many aha moments to ponder as they weave their way through Language Arts.
Here’s a shot of one of my “Teacher In Service” Days. Have I mentioned lately that I love being a homeschool mom – and I love being a book reviewer? Pacific City – at Dawn, Watching the boys surf, with my bible, Bullet Journal and The Eternal Argument.