Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners by Cindy West

I feel a little silly having requested and then won from LibraryThing EarlyReviewers not just a book about homeschooling but one about homeschooling “gifted” and “advanced” learners.

My son is just four years old and has more than 18 months before he’ll officially enter school. While I feel ridiculous assuming my child is a brilliant one, I must say I’m regularly at a loss for answers to his questions already, and he’s only four. I am, of course, biased, but I certainly think he’s a quick learner: he can read and do basic addition/subtraction (counting fingers, not really on paper yet), and he’s fascinated by everything, always asking questions about what he sees around him.1 He’s currently interested in the planets, electricity, and the human body (what’s inside and how it works).

But, that said, I have no idea if I do plan on homeschooling, if he’ll remain an eager learner throughout his life, if homeschooling would provide the best opportunities for engaging his inner spirit, and even if he truly is “gifted.” That term has a lot of connotation associated with it. Maybe I can just settle on “advanced for now.”

Nevertheless, I initially requested Cindy West’s Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners (Prufrock Press, 2011) because I thought it might help me gain a better idea of what homeschooling entails and how a parent untrained in education might be able to meet the needs of a brilliant child.2 Ms West’s book, although slim, certainly gave me a lot of things to consider in relation to my questions, and while I remain unsure what I will do in the coming years for my son’s schooling, I now see the possibility of homeschooling as a reality, while before it was just an overwhelming concept.Continue Reading

  1. His only real problem area is he refuses to practice handwriting. He can write his letters but finds it “too hard” and frustrating most of the time.
  2. That “untrained parent” would be me, of course.

The Scarlet Letter, Part 3: Confused Thoughts on Transcendentalism + “The Transcendentalist” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

At the risk of sounding ridiculously naive, I now turn to the transcendental context for Hawthorne’s novel, since I read it as a part of Jillian’s Transcendental Month. As I read The Scarlet Letter, I struggled to place the novel within the transcendental framework, and I’ve come to the conclusion that The Scarlet Letter is rather anti-transcendental.

As Hawthorne reveals in his novel, people are often consumed with guilt, sin, or desire for revenge. I talked yesterday about the different ways that Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, and Hester Prynne succumbed to the pressure to conform to society. And although Hester later tried to abandon the moral structures of Puritan society, her prideful ways of doing so were not positive.

Jillian commented the other day that she didn’t see it as anti-transcendental, because Hester celebrated her individuality. I disagree with that, but I struggle to explain myself. Maybe I am wrong. This post is just my ramblings trying to put the novel in context with the transcendentalists. Jillian posted on the essay “The Transcendentalist” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and that prompted me to read the essay myself to try to better explain myself. Although I can’t guarantee that this post will explain anything, I’m certainly trying.

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The Scarlet Letter, Part 2: Thoughts on the Characters

As I mentioned yesterday, my reread of The Scarlet Letter left me with lots to think about. I was particularly fascinated by the contrasts between the main characters: Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne, and Roger Chillingworth. And then, of course, innocent Pearl’s symbolic role in the novel was the most interesting part of the moving story line. As I consider the three individuals examined under Hawthorne’s watchful eye, I’m struck by how different each person’s self-recognition was.

If you’ve read this novel, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts too on the characters, themes, and philosophic ideas.

Note that this post contains spoilers of The Scarlet Letter.

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Preliminary Thoughts)

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s prose style in The Scarlet Letter (first published 1850) is not for everyone. I admit, I don’t recall being impressed with the novel when I was 15 or 16 and I read it for the first time. Further, this summer I began a reread (via audio) only to stall a few chapters from the end1.

But for the careful reader, Hawthorne’s prose is richly rewarding. On this read, I could not stop marveling at the gorgeous construction of Hawthorne’s sentences and the ways in which his plot were furthered through the complicated writing style.

Beyond the prose, Hawthorne’s story is complicated, deep, and intense. In just a few hundred pages and in a seemingly basic storyline, The Scarlet Letter deals with issues of love and relationships of different types; guilt and religious zeal; self and community; and shame and pride. Because I chose to reread The Scarlet Letter this month in honor of Jillian’s Transcendentalist Month, I was intrigued by the anti-transcendentalist concepts Hawthorne portrays here. There is so much packed in to a deceitfully simple story that I am at a loss where to begin.Continue Reading

  1. I also blame this on morning sickness and the general exhaustion from early pregnancy.