TBR List Declutter, Issue 50

Tangent: Gettysburg Address

“‘But in a larger sense,'” I read, “‘we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground.'”

In our history studies we’d gotten back around to the Gettysburg Address.

“‘The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.'”

My children had gotten used to me blubbering through the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution, but the lull in between tricked them into thinking I’d learned to control my emotions better.

“‘The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.'” I made it through that sentence, barely, but I had to stop to compose myself before I could continue.

“‘It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here—‘”

“Mom, stop.” My son was using the Mom Voice on me, sternly telling me to stop so that I wouldn’t cry.

“No,” I said. “I’m okay. I’m not sad. I’m just full of emotion.”

He went across the room and got me a tissue. Then he let me continue.

“‘…to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.””

I interrupted myself this time.

“What do you think he means here?” I asked, wiping at my eyes.

“That they need to continue the war because the work hasn’t been finished yet,” my son said.

“True. That’s probably one thing he meant. But I think there might be more to it than just continuing to fight the war. What was the war trying to do?”

He thought for a bit. “Stop slavery?”

“Yes, it was to stop slavery, and to keep the country together without slavery. He says, ‘The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here.’ Did the world forget what he said at Gettysburg that day?”

“No.”

“No, because if it did, you wouldn’t be learning about it now,” I smiled at him, and he smiled back.

“Maybe Abraham Lincoln wasn’t talking just to the people in front of him. Whether he knew he was or not, maybe he was talking to all of us, even those of us who wouldn’t be born for another century. Maybe he was reminding us that the work to uphold the ideals that the United States was founded upon continues on and on. We don’t have slavery today, not the way it was in 1860, but you can’t just end slavery and say, ‘Well. Glad that’s over,’ and expect things to be all better. There’s still inequality, there are still people suffering because of the ripples from slavery.”

“You mean the Civil Rights Movement,” he said with confidence.

“Yes, the Civil Rights Movement, and even more work that we’re still doing even today. It’s still not done. Even the people who wrote the Constitution didn’t live up to the words they wrote, but they gave us a framework that they hoped would create a better kind of government, one that would allow us to build a country where we could always get closer to that ideal. We never quite get it right, at least not completely. The best we can do is work towards what we hope we can be.”

“Okay,” he said. He’s eight years old and had had about all the lecturing he could sit through.

“Okay,” I said. “Just one more thing. Lincoln says what we need to work for to honor those who died at Gettysburg. Listen: ‘We here highly resolve…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'”

And then he ran off to play. As an eight-year-old should.

Visual Interest:

Maker:S,Date:2017-11-28,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Books:

Titles 711-730:

Read More

Studying Ancient Egypt

To complement our study of ancient Egypt, we built a pyramid.

CIMG9234

In order to be as authentic as possible, each of these LEGO bricks weighs three tons. Next we need to mummify a minifigure.

Living History

“Daddy, what’s that?”

Image

“Oh! I know! It’s what they used to shred cheese in the olden days!”

Old Sturbridge Village, Colonial Williamsburg, Greenfield Village…and our house.

Lessons for Life: A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion

A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion
A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion by Oliver Van DeMille
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you know that thing where, when you’re pondering what direction to take, everything around you seems to be centered around a particular direction or message?

I love when that happens.

We’re in the middle of this several-months-long period of job transition and cross-country move that’s fixing to shift again as we move into our new home (at long last) next week. My thoughts have been circling for months this idea of what I want to take with me, emotionally and materially, and what I want to leave behind.

This book is full of this idea. In a series of essays, Oliver and Rachel DeMille and Diann Jeppson write about the importance of applying the principles of Leadership Education and practical ways of doing so. At some points, the book is a little slow-going, and some of Diann Jeppson’s essays, rather than helping me see TJEd as more doable made me wonder if I was up to the task (Jeppson offered practical advice, but reading it felt overwhelming at times).

The most powerful essays for me were those that dealt with the leaders of the past and what we can learn from them as we try to improve our own education so that we may give our children the opportunity to be leaders. Rachel DeMille’s “‘Steel to Gold’: Motherhood & Feminism” lit a fire under me and helped me see the importance of my role as a parent (when often the gifts I have to offer as a stay-at-home mother are undervalued in our culture). She helped me begin to place myself in history, which helps ease some of that feeling of loneliness as I take less-traveled paths.

And the last five essays were just incredible. They dealt with the fallacies of education, like that education should be fun (“No nation focused on unearned fun will pay the price to fight a revolutionary war for their freedoms, or cross the plains and build a new nation, or sacrifice to free the slaves or rescue Europe from Hitler, or put a man on the moon. We got where we are because we did a lot of things that weren’t fun.”). They addressed the principles of “liber” and “Public Virtue” and how they were embodied by the Founders. And they pointed out how those we consider great leaders (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill, etc) spent years reading and studying and discussing before they acted upon what they’d learned and changed the course of history.

Then there’s the Epilogue, which most directly relates to the quest I’ve been on these past months. A mother struggling to apply the principles of Leadership Education while raising six children (with a seventh on the way) uses the metaphor of the handcart, used by many Mormon pioneers as they crossed the plains to Utah, to illustrate the idea that those who follow this path are educational pioneers (debates about mismanagement of the handcart parties aside). She talks about the difficult choice of what to put in your metaphorical handcart and what to leave behind, knowing that everything you carry with you, you’ll be pushing with your own power for thousands of miles, and everything you leave behind might be something you needed to take along to ease your journey, or even to make it to your destination.

This is the choice I’m trying to make as we settle into this new phase of our life. What’s important to me? What will I need for this journey? What things no longer serve me that I’d like to leave behind?

This book not only helped me to see more clearly the path I’d like to take my children’s education (and my own), it helped me see that the path I choose for our family’s education is the path I choose for our development as human beings and as citizens of the world.

View all my reviews