Wednesday, September 26, 2012



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Habits of Desert Creatures and Human Intervention Considered

The other day, I was talking to a wildlife biologist, someone working as a field worker who was an expert on the California Desert Tortoise. It is an endangered species in case you hadn't realized, and although I knew that, I am not in fear that this species which has adapted over millions of years is going to leave us anytime soon. Since these tortoises spend most of their time underground burrows, almost 95% of their time where it is cooler, we don't see them that often. But that doesn't mean they aren't there, maybe they are hiding from humans, hell I would if I were them, we don't actually have a very good record when it comes to animals in the wild. Okay so let's talk shall we?

My acquaintance mentioned to me that ravens like to eat the California Desert Tortoise's eggs, and since they only lay eggs seasonally, and only 4 to 6 eggs at a time, it is imperative that more of these eggs hatch or the Desert Tortoise will not be able to procreate fast enough to survive in an ever decreasing area due to mankind's development. As she was explaining all this to me, she told me a story that made her very upset. It turns out that she saw a ravens nest, and underneath it were least 20 or 30 cracked eggs, all from the Desert Tortoise, broken shells proving that it is one of the favorite foods for the Raven, something she was already aware of due to her studies.

She did not disturb the ravens nest because it is also part of the food chain and the natural environment. This is just how nature does things, and humans must understand that. Nevertheless, she explained to me that humans often dumped their trash in the middle of the desert, and this attracted the ravens, and because there were so many birds around that area, which normally wouldn't be there in such abundance, they also went out to hunt whatever else they could find. There were very few lizards in the area, and the population of California Desert Tortoises was not increasing, which is a concern for environmentalists concerned with endangered species.

Had mankind not dumped trash in the middle of the desert, there would be fewer ravens in that given area in such large populations. And since the ravens have a fairly large territory, it practically made a dead zone for these tortoises in that area.

She explained to me that not only does the encroachment of mankind through housing tracts, and business properties limit the ability of this endangered species to repopulate, but also the trash they have strewn across the desert unbalances the food chain. So, not only is the trash sickening to look at, it alters the environment, nature, and changes the habitat, hunting grounds, and behavior in food chain of all the critters in the region. Please consider all this and think on it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is Using the Charlotte Mason Method Right For Your Homeschool?

If you are looking for a way to homeschool a number of children of various age ranges, enjoy reading books with them, want to enhance their writing skills, delve into stories of historical figures and events, and minimize the use of textbooks, using Charlotte Mason's methods may be just the right path for you to follow.

Ms. Mason was an educator in England in the 19th century. She wanted children to learn from "living books" not textbooks. She felt children should go outside and experience nature, make observations, and record them in a nature journal. She advocated that children learned and retained information best when they listened to or read good literature and had the opportunity to narrate orally what they remembered from the reading. Their writing skills developed from reading good literature, studying it, and copying it into copy work journals, and writing down dictation. This is a simplified summary of her philosophy, but it gives you a starting point of her basic ideas. To fully understand and implement her methods you can read her original works or books that have been written summarizing her methods. Ambleside Online has published her works in six volumes for your convenience.

Using CM's methods, you teach history chronologically, and can include Bible instruction if you wish. Lessons are kept short so that the child does not dawdle and includes foreign language and art and music appreciation. There are suggested curriculums you can follow at Ambleside as well.

Some homeschooling families combine the use of these methods with unit study topics. They use notebooking pages to write their narrations, copy work, and dictation to document what they have learned about the theme they are studying. For example, if your family is studying the Middle Ages, you would read living books about the Middle Ages or stories set in the Middle Ages, provide copy work for your child from the book or written work from that time period, and tie in a science topic like disease (black plague) or any scientists' biographies from that time. You would also include art and music appreciation of artists and musicians from that era.

This is just an introduction to the wonderful homeschooling experience you and your children can enjoy when implementing Charlotte Mason methods in your daily routine. For further information, read any of the following books: A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola; A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison; and When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper, Eve Anderson, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, and Jack Beckman.