Monday, November 3, 2014

A Smathering of Latin Humor

If I were a patient person, I would wait for the Ides of March to post these. However, since discussing Latin last week, I felt these are a few pertinent memes y'all might appreciate. 

For my fellow Whovians:
Gotta love that third declension!

I love the title of the book!
At least, if you're in the Henle: Second Year book.

Especially after the last post! ;)

Divide et impera!
Sara Kathryn

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Problem with Pointlessness

Has this happened to you?
It's a cool day in October and you're at a family reunion. Last year, you were promoted to sitting at the adult table, so you plop into an empty chair at the end of the table next to a relative. After a hearty greeting, he begins asking you about your grade and what you are studying in school. You reply by listing all of your classes from best to least favorite, ending with a sarcastic comment about that last class. He seems either mildly impressed or at least politely interested in that last class, but either way he continues asking you questions about it. Although you answer each question respectfully, frustration builds. Why do you even have to do that class? It's not like you are really learning anything about that subject. And anyway, some of your other friends don't even take that class. It's just so... stupid! Dull! Pointless!

Feel the pull?
I certainly do.

What do you do with a class that seems pointless?

1. Challenge your bias
How are you viewing this subject? Let's use Latin as an example. One bias I have is that Latin is pointless. Sitting down for an hour each day to work on a language that hasn't changed in over a thousand years using a book written during World War II only to read stories about war, death, and Roman Catholic beliefs does not seem the most pertinent to my life or my long-term goals.
While these points might be true, I cannot let this be how I approach the language. The negative mindset affects not only my desire to learn Latin, but also my ability. If something is pointless, why bother to try? Here is where I need an intervention.

2. Change your perspective
 I need to recognize this view of Latin will not help me accomplish the task. What are some positive consequences of learning Latin? Sometimes it will help you score extra points on the SAT, which is nice, but not a key selling point for me personally. It looks nice on a college transcript, which is also nice, but still doesn't help my negative mindset.
From my experience, Latin has helped my ability to reason and think clearly.
How? When translating a sentence, I have to break down every word into it's proper case, number, and gender, then systematically figuring the meaning of the whole. 
I can systematically view an argument, see it's smallest components and how it builds bigger ones which affect the whole of the argument. Just like Latin. Change one letter in an conjugation or declension, and your sentence shifts. Change one fact, and your argument shifts or loses it's potency. You must pay attention to everything, especially the subtleties. For me, this is what keeps my Latin education important. It connects back to something even more important than the thing itself.

3. Change your attitude
When you challenge your bias, and change your perspective, a more positive attitude may naturally appear. Other times, you will have to work on it. And that's okay. You will not get it right the first time. However, you will save yourself more time in the long run by addressing your negativity every single time it appears than letting it root itself in your brain and grow. So far, this year has been my most positive and productive year of Latin since beginning Henle in Challenge I.

4. Change your habits
If every time you see your Latin book, you think to yourself, "Ugh! I hate this language so much. It's so pointless!", replace that with your new perspective. "Latin is a way for me to practice reasoning clearly.  This is a valuable way of spending my time, and I want to benefit from this." You may not believe it the first, the second, or the fiftieth reminder, but you may find a slight change on the fifty-first time. With your new attitude, you can accomplish a necessary goal.
And, of course, the most obvious next step is to actually spend enough time to gain those benefits. Each Challenge strand takes an hour each day. Depending on the strand and how close it is to the end of the semester, you may need more or less time. If you give it enough time, you will reap the benefits. But don't take my word for it!
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." Galatians 6:9 NLT

Having a Classical education doesn't just teach you how to learn, it can also teach you how to live. Dealing with a class that seems pointless can give you the skills to deal with other facets of live that seem pointless. Learning how to identify and challenge your bias, as well as change your perspective, attitudes and habits, are tools you can use every day to make life a little easier and more manageable.

Sara Kathryn

Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Introduction

Do you ever want to give up?

Do you ever pretend you have fewer assignments just because you're so overwhelmed?

Do you ever feel like a wimpy crybaby because all your assignments keep kicking you in the teeth?

Have you ever stayed up until 1, 2, or even 3 AM the night before your Challenge classes just to finish work you should have or could have finished that week?

Have you ever googled "Surviving Challenge __" only to find official Classical Conversations posts written by parents who've taught the material but never completed the programs as teenagers themselves?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have a classical challenge.

I am Sara Kathryn, the author of this blog. I've been in Classical Conversation's Challenge program since 9th grade, and will graduate from the program this spring. I created this blog out of a need. Often during the school week, usually for me on Thursday afternoons, and Sunday evenings, I feel bombarded with feelings of isolation while doing Challenge homework. At the time, it seems that I'm the only one who struggles with things like time management, perfectionism, irritation at seemingly trivial assignments, and actually accomplishing what I've set out to do. Yet, on Mondays when I mention these things in class, every other person voices feeling similarly. Because we all can feel isolated, especially as home schoolers, I want to share some life experiences from being in Challenge levels A, I, II, and III, tips I've picked up along the way, and encouragement to not give up on yourself or your assignments. Life as a home schooler is difficult, but I would like to help make it a little easier, more enjoyable, and point to a long-term destination that you will certainly reach if you do not give up!

I will be posting three types of posts here:

1. Personal experiences from four years of Challenge.
Have you ever wondered how much your work level is going to increase each year? Or if any real, living person has actually survived a certain Challenge level with their sanity and sense of humor in-tact? How about if someone else had trouble understanding how to format a policy debate? Did they ever improve? If so, how? These types of questions will be answered under this category.

2. School hacks
Ever wondered if there was an easier, more efficient, more manageable way of studying certain material that your guide doesn't mention? Like, how on earth can a person read a book and write an essay on it in the same week? I have a couple of ways you can still accomplish your weekly goal and not miss out on actually understanding what you're reading.

3. School memes
Friends, it's the 21st century. Memes are everywhere on the internet. But these memes are pretty special because they revolve around school. Here's one of my favorites about Latin:
The tips will be short, so you won't be distracted, but the stories will be long, so you can take a decent length break and, hopefully, be encouraged.

It is my goal to use this blog to cheer you on as you climb your weekly mountain of assignments. For the glory of God and with much prayer, hard work, and a certain amount of humor, we accomplish all that we set out to do. This is our classical challenge. Let us triumphantly follow in the footsteps of great men and women to know God and make Him known.

Sara Kathryn