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Dear Readers:

This week we offer two articles based on a similar topic --- analyzing what comes into our minds – and our children’s. First is an article by my wife, Mary and I “Information Is Not Knowledge” and secondly, Emerson Sandow, one of our staff writers, offers “The Cranial Gymnasium – Critical Thinking”. We hope these article provide pleasant and useful summertime reading! Thank you for reading our work.

Michael Leppert

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Easy Grammar Systems – Grammar texts for grades 2-12
Assessed by Jennifer Nairne

www.easygrammar.com

Easy Grammar Systems has developed a series of texts for students that finally make the English language approachable for everyone. Struggling students, English Language Learners, accelerated students – all children can benefit from using this innovative approach to grammar instruction. In one study, conducted of students using the texts, 85% increased their test scores by at least 20%; almost half of the students bumped their test grade up one level. This is most likely due to the strong emphasis on content mastery found throughout the Easy Grammar Systems series.

The key features of the Easy Grammar texts is author Wanda C. Phillips’s use of the “prepositional approach” and encouraging students to engage with grammar “hands-on”. While she is not the original developer of the prepositional approach, Dr. Phillips immediately understood how to translate it into a classroom environment. By combining this innovative approach with various other methods that she found effective in her years as a teacher, Dr. Phillips developed a series of texts that ensure every student will master the concepts and succeed in grammar.

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Easy Grammar

Zion Academy

Information Is Not Knowledge
By Mary Leppert and Michael Leppert

Most of us would agree, "Knowledge is power." However, over the past 40 years the words "knowledge" and "education" (meaning "school") have been confusedly melded. This is how we have arrived at the deplorable condition of having illiterate high school graduates (all well "schooled") and major universities offering remedial math and English courses to incoming freshman!

Recently, yet another confusion of terms has arisen that is significant – especially to parents who teach their own children and are typically very aware of world events -- the confusion between "information" and "knowledge." Being informed of something does not mean you significantly know about it. With the explosion of "talk radio" and the Internet, information has become a constant stream of apparently significant stuff, but upon close analysis, you realize this "white noise" it is mostly not useful . . . and may even be harmful.

Lately, I, Mary, have been thinking that this information barrage is like an umbrella, always overshadowing all of our lives. As naïve as it sounds, whatever happened to "trusting" our politicians to do their jobs, so we can go about living our lives? Or keeping actors’ lives (and sins) in perspective (irrelevant) – rather than as front-page news day in and out? What ever happened to taking walks, reading books, enjoying life, instead of being so stressed out that we can barely concentrate on these truly important things?


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English From The Roots Up
By Linda K. Foster

I can’t count the number of times in my life that I’ve said, "it’s Greek to me" meaning, of course, that I didn’t understand something. After reading English From The Roots Up, developed to provide a foundation for the English language through the study of root words, I realized that not only the things I don’t understand, but, also, most of the things I do understand are "Greek to me". "Just as phonics helps children figure out what words are, Latin and Greek help them figure out what words mean." This quote by Joegil K. Lundquist, author of English From The Roots Up provides a simple explanation for learning the Latin and Greek roots for English words. In the introduction, Ms. Lundquist opines, "Without an early working knowledge of these indispensable components of their language, children are handicapped in their ability to use words well."

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The Cranial Gymnasium – Critical Thinking
by Emerson Sandow

One goal of many homeschoolers of widely-varied backgrounds is critical thinking or as it is also known, logic -- the science of reasoning correctly. C.S. Lewis, (author of The Chronicles of Narnia; The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce), for instance, was a master at reasoning. He was taught logic at about the age of 11 or 12 by a rigorous tutor he lived with. This prepared him for his adult occupation as an Oxford tutor, where his job was to analyze and critique the weekly papers written by his pupils, illustrating their errors of logic so that they could re-write the paper the following week. By this process, he, in turn, taught them to think and reason – and become effective thinkers and supporters of their thoughts -- rather than merely opinion-formers. Reading some of his shorter works, where he takes the reader upon a journey of actual thought and rational mental work, moving from point to point, constantly building a new conclusion upon each successive conclusion, is stimulating and awakens one’s awareness of this valuable skill of reasoning.

Critical thinking at its best entails having to decide, or prove for one’s self, what is "right" or "wrong" and may also require dealing in absolutes. Many modern people are uncomfortable with making such determinations and prefer to let themselves be ruled by emotions or convenience rather than by thought and reason. America of the early 21st century has a Politically-Correct, highly visible portion of the population that insists on diluting every thought and concept down to intellectual pabulum. In this mushy atmosphere, the term "critical thinking" at first blush, sounds harsh and grating to some. For those with no intellectual teeth, who thrive on pabulum, it probably is.

But, for those whose brains can process and digest intellectual material, and choose to investigate the definition . . . Random House College Dictionary (1975) provides the following on p. 317: "critical . . . 3. involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc.;" and further down the same page "criticize . . . 1. to make judgments as to merits and faults." And finally, "criticism . . . 1. the act or art of analyzing and judging the quality of something . . ."

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MATH DRAWINGS - Good Stuff For Teachers
By Emerson Sandow

Math Drawings by Mary Smale is an exciting multi-disciplinary method of incorporating art with math allowing students to create entire pictures using only basic geometric shapes. For over 30 years, Mary Smale taught algebra and other math disciplines in high school and middle school. During this time, she developed her unique math-based art lesson, originally used as a reward system for her 8th grade students.

Mary soon found that she was able to disguise new and old math vocabulary as instructions for drawing and, for the first time in her teaching career, she had 100% participation in her math lessons. Her students were able to combine their love for drawing with basic geometric principles to create "works of art". Mary later taught math and art on television for 2½ on the Los Angeles based KLCS-TV program "Homework Hotline Teacher" and was ultimately convinced to write Math Drawings so her principles could be used by teachers in their art, history and special education classes.

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Math Drwaings

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