Lost Art of Writing

Upon graduating from college, writing was the least of my skills required. I can count the number of times I wrote a report or a lengthy memo explaining a procedure. Most of my writing skills were used on quick and short emails, memos of information or engineering calculations. None of these required much skill other than basic spelling and writing. When I started my little blog, it was an attempt to not only amuse and occupy myself but to also improve my deteriorating skills. The confidence I had in my writing skills was low to begin with and throw in minor activity of writing, well you can imagine how I felt. This blog has not been the most helpful as I had hoped. I need an editor to go along with planning and writing a rough draft.

This is what I see today in society. We have allowed technology to trump what we call snail mail and other personal interactions. Writing a letter is a very personal moment when used without a computer. In the past, we may have selected special paper from Hallmark for certain occasions. We had the special pen we preferred whether it was the color, the tip or the make. I love fountain pens and should tell you the story about black ink and white carpet in an apartment sometime. Next is our writing style. The Educator’s writing style is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. There are plenty of compliments on the style. You could always tell the mood of the writer by their style. They didn’t have to specify this mood; you could see through the way they wrote. I have written many love letters and received many as well. As I look back on some of them, there is a personal feel to these letters. They open the heart for all to see. There are sometimes little pictures drawn in the letter or a mistake showing the train of thought. You do not see this anymore.

I have written emails to people where there was a sense of humour in my writing, but it was never conveyed. Instead, I insulted the people without meaning. All they read is sterilized font with a bland background. The flow of the handwriting is not shown in order to provide a hint of my true feeling. Most of us are not authors with the ability to translate feeling through this medium and should not try to do so. I’ve written short stories and can tell you they are not personal to the reader. I was trying to relay emotion and feeling from the character’s point of view and not mine.

My biggest issue remaining is the need of an editor. I now make the common errors in writing such as the tense of verbs. How embarrassing is it to read something you write a while ago and see the glaring errors with verb tenses or even defining what is plural and singular. You name it, I do it wrong. I have given up on when to place a comma or semicolon. That has always been my issue and was one of the first issues I wanted to fix. Now I struggle with the easy stuff. Help me Grammar Girl!

Now I have embarked on a travel where the Educator is my editor. I will feel the wrath like my two youths, but the Educator is not mean. We just hate to correct our work. Unlike the other two, I won’t mind. I have a goal and that is to succeed on my new adventure… if I get in.

Categories: Education Tags:

History Non-connections

I’m working on a short project about a specific period in history. It is a two day incident in time, and I’m doing a piece about it. My point of view is coming from a seldom noted or thought of area, but this is my attempt to prove or partially prove my point of view is correct. One would think studying this two day incident is what I need to do. Those two days on that specific spot are a small part of my work.

My research has taken me to people in history that have no relation to this point in time. The closest people were miles away from this place at the time of its occurrence. One of my sources would be alive over 150 years later. This is studying history. I need to research around this moment in order to understand and explain my opinion.

This is what happens when you are analyzing history. The facts have lost out to the results of this event. Those interested in my project will know most of the facts or the facts they consider important. What they are looking from me are my analysis and understanding of the incident. They may not even agree with my point of view. That is okay. My intention is not to convince them of my point of view.

It is amazing how seemingly unrelated points of history can be connected.

I now have a weekend to complete this project and submit it.

Categories: History Tags:

Online Video Education

There are plenty of online videos trying to teach people. There are videos on geometry, calculus and even chemistry. You can even find some history, too. On the surface these look impressive and to be a great way to learn. I took the time to interview my oldest and review these videos myself. My son has taken calculus, chemistry and physics. These online videos have been used by him at various times. As I worked alongside him in order to remember what was lost to time and age, I used these videos.

My son found the videos to be insufficient for teaching. It was not in depth enough for him to fully understand the concept. The examples on some of the sites were not worth his effort. The professors for the classes he took required different methods and concentrated on certain concepts more than others. These videos were helpful in a supplemental way for him. If he did not get a concept and was unable to contact the professor, he would use these videos to fully understand. In some cases these videos were successful but more often than not, the professor was the answer. In the end, he would recommend for supplemental help but not for complete instruction.

My viewpoint is close to his. I found reviewing these videos brought back much of what I had forgotten in a quick manner. I could watch a video or two and get the gist. Some of the problems were actually rather helpful to me. Time has a way of obscuring, and these videos helped to erase the fog of time. Sitting for a full course is actually more difficult. I tried to see if I could do a full course and found it wanting. I didn’t care to sit at my computer for any length of time and some speakers attracted my attention less than others. Some were very good but lacked the depth of a class. I found myself searching in order to remember more than trying to learn. I do believe these videos are worth watching.

If you wish to educate your child with the online sites, you need to find one that keeps your child’s attention. I would recommend using a textbook and setting up quizzes and exams for you child. Document the site you are using for education. The purpose of the textbook is for a more hands on education where the child should read the topic. The textbook also provides an official document for the homeschool course.

Compass

Recently, there has been some homeschool talk in my area about the future of our children. There are a group of youths coming close to graduation, and there are parental fears following along. What are these soon to be adults going to do? What path should they be on? Should they have been on the path from early on in their youth?

The answer is not a one size fits all and doesn’t have to be set in stone. A path mapped out since fifth grade is not a well-maintained path if the youth has changed their mind. There is no end destination except in the mind of parents. Far too often, I see parents mapping out the future of their child without the input from the child. Some youths go along for they cannot disagree or they are afraid of disappointing the parent.

My oldest son had a strong interest in a science field at age 12. We visited a university specializing in this field, and he participated in summer camps and projects related to the potential field. Just before his junior year, he made a change in direction. His compass now pointed in a different direction. Everything we built together was no longer as applicable for my son’s new future. The Educator and I can only stand aside and at most be a support group for him. He is now entering his freshman year at the university with this new path with our understanding his compass direction could change once more.

Sometimes the change in direction has nothing to do with interests. There is a case of a young lady who was going into a field where she would study at a school in New York City. This had been her dream for years. After her acceptance and in the late spring before her first year, she switched schools and majors. The school had informed her the cost of living in the city. It was too expensive. Now she attending a different school with a different major.

There are homeschool students where education is not an interest. Parents have been pushing rope for years. They are obviously disappointed. This youth is now looking at the local community college. Any future they had for him is gone in their eyes. Reality speaks different. His compass is pointing in a different direction than theirs. In truth, he may be the physicist that attends the community college and goes on to earn a Phd in physics and works for NASA. That has actually happened. I’d reference the man, but I no longer recall his name.

We as parents cannot expect our children’s future to be mapped out at an early age. They are developing and their interests develop. Forcing your child into a field they have no interest in is failure. If they are not happy can you call it a success. We can introduce our children to different careers as they grow. Knowing what is out there will help our youths find their path. We can be supportive of their decisions while stressing education. As homeschool parents, we are the guidance counselors and mentors.

Their compass does not point in the same direction as ours.

Categories: Homeschool, Uncategorized Tags:

The day the Americans and the Wehrmacht fought as allies

A little known battle happened during the Second World War that few people are aware of. This battle brought together foes as allies where they fought the 17th Waffen SS on May 5, 1945 at a castle, the Castle Itter. According to one source, the defenders of the castle numbered 41. Twenty were of the Wehrmact commanded by Major Josef Gangl, seven Americans (14 in another account) led by Lt. John Lee, Jr and Lt. Harry Basse and fourteen French men and women. The French consisted of Jean Borotra, a tennis star, General Maxim Weygand and wife as well as other notable French prisoners.

The incident began when a German major entered Kufstein under a flag of truce. He mentioned 14 French pre-Petain government related individuals in a castle not far away. Lee would launch from the town of Worgl with his tank, Besotten Jenny, with five American volunteers. Arriving at the castle, the soldiers and former prisoners set up to defend against the SS soldiers.

The battle began at 4 o’clock in the morning. The SS attacked as the American and German soldiers unleashed their best withering fire. Major Gangl would later be killed by a sniper. As the battle looked to be lost, Borotra crossed open ground to get help. By this time American reinforcements were in site and the battered castle was saved along with the remaining defenders. The reinforcements would arrive at the castle at 3 o’clock after they battled through the 17th Waffen SS. Poor Besotten Jenny, she didn’t survive the battle.

Thus ended the battle where Americans and Germans fought alongside each other against the Nazi SS. Lee would be promoted Captain and Major Gangl honored as an Austrian national hero for these German soldiers were anti-Nazi.

For a more detailed version of this battle, there is a book: “The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe” by Stephen Harding. I can not tell you much about the book for I have yet to read it.

Categories: History Tags: , , ,

Vicksburg or Gettysburg?

Anyone studying the American Civil War has come across this question, “which victory was more significant?” What is the correct answer, Gettysburg or Vicksburg? There are many compelling reasons for each. There are many historians stating Vicksburg while many people state Gettysburg.

The majority if not all of the answers I have heard have been what the victories meant. A result oriented viewpoint would lean towards Vicksburg. What about the opposite? What if the Confederates won the battle of Gettysburg and Vicksburg remained an entrenched hell? Which would be more important?

Vicksburg would eventually surrender for I do not think the South would never be capable enough to relieve the city, and Pemberton’s army was not in any condition to fight their way out. My guess is the city would fall before the year is out had Pemberton not surrendered in July. The results we see from the Union victory would be duplicated if the Union did not capture Vicksburg in July but waited for the surrender. Pemberton would be a hero then and likely considered foolish today.

Gettysburg is a different situation. A defeat or draw opens a political issue and could have caused Lincoln’s 1864 defeat. The New York City draft riots may have been entirely different and not just in New York City. The will of the North may have dwindled and slavery would exist for a number of years until it too proved too expensive to maintain. States rights would have remained as is, not an issue. There could possibly be two countries instead of our united country. I can’t even say this would have been the direction. Would foreign intervention be more likely or would the ultimate union general finally arrive to defeat the South by the fall of 1864. Maybe Lee goes South to Virginia to await the next man. Without a Gettysburg defeat the answer is unknown.

I consider both of these victories to be extremely important. It is easy for me to see the importance of Vicksburg, but I also see the importance of Gettysburg. I also find the importance issue to be really worthless on a historical aspect.

“C” is very important to you

Taking calculus in college was a transition for me. Sloppy math work was a detriment to me as it is to my oldest. I was forced to provide detailed work compared to what I did in high school. There was one part of calculus that I learned very quickly.

The letter “C” has no special value to people unless they are taking calculus. “C” is a constant that no one cares about. That is until you lose a point for forgetting about “C”. For those homeschooling families teaching calculus to their children, do not forget about the letter “C”. This is a constant you apply to the end of your answer when you integrate. If you integrate (2x)dx, your answer is x^2 + C. That “C” becomes a single point for most. If you’re lucky it is 1/2 point. My son learned this the hard way. After losing some points he basically etched into himself in order to remember. Thing was, he forgot the “C” in the next calculus class.

Never forget “C” when taking calculus.

Categories: Homeschool, Math Tags: , ,
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