Who's in Your Family Tree?

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2020

With the advent of DNA testing added to various genealogy websites and programs, many people are discovering who is in their family tree. If you’ve done some research yourself, you likely want to know if you are descended from anyone famous (or maybe infamous). Are you descended from English royalty, a famous composer, or a US President? The possibilities are endless, as by the time we go back about 10 generations, we have hundreds of ancestors in our family tree.

So, what if you were already famous? Who would be in your family tree? Well, famed American author Nathaniel Hawthorne knew who some of his ancestors were – and he was none too pleased. He was born Nathaniel Hathorne (note the spelling) in 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. He lived in Massachusetts most of his life, working a variety of jobs in between writing and publishing his short stories and novels. In fact, his employment at the custom house in both Salem and Boston are reflected in The Scarlet...

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Follow Up to “Why Educate?” or, What About Student Centered Learning?

Uncategorized Jul 06, 2020

As a follow up to the blog, “Why Educate?”, we thought we would respond to a comment that asked us about Student Centered Learning. Like many terms in the education arena and even the modern world in general, Student Centered Learning has undergone a lot of iterations and meanings, and its history could fill up an entire book. So, in order to respond to the comment, let’s start by looking at the amount of history we have space for in a blog post, and define some terms in the process.

John Dewey

The idea of Student Centered Learning was introduced by John Dewey as a way to break away from rote memorization and what he saw as a cookie-cutter, standardized method of teaching. Dewey was influenced by 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s view of education. In Emile, Rousseau argued that things are good until they reach humans. Although he thought humans were inherently good, it is the social systems that humans live in that...

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Why Educate?

Uncategorized Jul 05, 2020

What is the purpose of education? If you were asked this question, you might answer “to acquire knowledge” or “to learn how to think.” For most of the history of the West, the answer has been one or the other, but this is really a chicken-and-the-egg situation. Knowledge without thought is meaningless, but you can’t think unless you’ve accumulated knowledge. Most arguments about education have been about which side is more fundamental, and the truth is that each is inextricably tied to the other. No matter which side you favor, however, the ultimate goal is for the student to acquire reason to some degree and to develop their own mind, whether explicitly or implicitly.

But what if I told you that inside the modern teachers’ colleges, where the very nature of education is debated, where the very best practices and state-of-the-art education is disseminated and distributed to the future teachers of the world, the argument is no longer about...

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Where Does Curiosity Come From?

Uncategorized Jul 04, 2020

Curiosity is a personality trait generally thought to lead to a happier, more optimistic life. A fascination with the world, and the hunger for knowledge, means that life will always be filled with rewards. Curiosity is often romanticized as something inherent in all children, until it is beaten out of them by life. If you’re a parent, and you want your child to have that happy, optimistic life, you might think that preserving that inherent curiosity needs to be your primary task.

But let’s take the example of two toddlers.

You’ve probably seen this story yourself. One toddler always seems to be in the middle of trouble: putting keys in electric sockets or removing the caps from child-proof bottles. They’re testing boundaries, performing little experiments on the world around them. In short, they’re curious.

By contrast, the other toddler is always hiding, shrinking from sudden noises, wailing at the slightest disturbance. They’re...

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Try, Try Again! Encouraging Your Child to Fail

Uncategorized Jul 03, 2020

Yep, I said it. I know what you’re likely thinking: “That’s a horrible thing to do!” Actually, it’s a good thing – it leads to greater and more rewarding success! But, it’s also a hard pill for many parents to swallow, especially in this current age of “everyone gets a trophy.” There has, in fact, been numerous articles presenting research and commentary on this very topic.

So, why is it important to encourage failure? And, what can you do to help your child reach their greatest potential?

Let’s look at the question. Failure is not a bad thing. Think back to your own childhood. What happened when you were faced with a challenge or failed at something? Did you turn your back on that activity forever? Probably not. You likely buckled down and worked harder, even appreciating the reward even more when you finally met with success. I recall times when I failed to learn a new piece of music for the flute or struggled through all...

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The Value of Integration

Uncategorized Jul 02, 2020

If you’ve ever had an anxious dog greet you at the door with waves of love, jumping up and down with manic energy, even though you and your dog have played the same routine hundreds or even thousands of times in the past? You might have asked yourself, why the reaction is always the same, as if each day was new with no connection to any other day? It’s probably because to them, each day IS new, and the animal lacks the ability to make the connections that we, as humans, take for granted.

It’s this unique capacity of integration, to connect the dots, to see the similarities and differences in things and draw conclusions, that allows us to harness fire, to communicate to each other using language, to discover the laws of motion, to build an electrical grid that supplies power to billions, and to live as human beings do. It’s what allows us to even consider asking questions about who we are and how we should live, how we should treat each other, and what should...

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Lessons learned from our first conference

Uncategorized Jul 01, 2020

This past weekend, we had our first appearance at a public event, the Washington Homeschool Organization’s annual conference in Tacoma. We couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more, from the helpfulness of the organizers, to the friendliness of the attendees. But most of all, the chance to talk directly with homeschooling families was immeasurably valuable. Here are a few words that kept coming up in our conversations:

Shakespeare, Director of Operations, Darci, and Founder, Deanna.

Grading. It can be overwhelming for parents to grade quizzes and papers with a sense of authority, particularly if they don’t have the time or desire to become an expert in the subject they’re teaching. We kept hearing that parents want to have an easy to use answer key for quiz questions, as well as a guide to help make the grading of the writing assignments easier. We couldn’t agree more, which is why we include a plethora of guides and supplemental information for the...

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Summer Reading – It’s a Blast

Uncategorized Jun 30, 2020

As the school year wraps up for your child, the daunting task of keeping your child from becoming inactive and bored begins. Summer sees many children celebrating their freedom from classrooms, homework, and jam-packed schedules. Summer, however, is also the time when their skills and knowledge lose traction as daily learning is no longer their main activity. But all is not lost. A simple activity can help keep your child sharp and engaged this summer – reading. I know you’re probably groaning right now as you recall the effort it takes to get your child to read for school, and now we’re suggesting reading during the summer, but there are ways to make it fun!

 

Reading is essential to learning and doesn’t require dragging out your child’s textbooks over the summer. You can leave those in the backpack! On the other hand, we’re not talking about reading tweets, recent Facebook posts, the back of the cereal box either, or even modern stories....

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Why Pisan?

Uncategorized Jun 29, 2020

One of the questions we get asked a lot is where the “Pisan” in Pisan Academy comes from. None of us here have any connection to the city of Pisa, and we’re about as far away from having Italian ancestry as you can get. The real meaning behind the name of the Pisan Academy starts with a story.

It’s the year 1390, in Paris during the tumultuous years after the death of King Charles V, dubbed the “wise” king for his interest in philosophy and his enormous library that included the first translations of Aristotle’s moral works in French.

A 25-year-old mother of three, whose father had recently passed away, received word that her husband, a bright young man with good prospects in his career as a royal secretary, suddenly died from an epidemic while traveling on an assignment.

Her father, who had brought her to Paris at the age of four, had occupied a prominent position at the royal court and was able to educate her as he would educate a...

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