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Creative Homeschool High School Course Ideas

In high school, my kids have written novels, written and produced films about Korean history, studied the Japanese and Korean languages, examined the ethics of sampling in hip-hop music, written and designed web comics, and produced graphic novels. You will probably find similarly unusual courses in most homeschool high schools.

Encouraging your student to dive into the things which most interest him, to explore his strengths, is one of the beauty parts of homeschooling. One of the very best things about home educating the high school years is that  you and your teen have the freedom to pursue those interests which make his or her life meaningful.

As a home educating parent, one of the most important things to learn about homeschooling at the high school level is to teach your strengths and to delegate your weaknesses. It’s essential to be realistic about your weaknesses. Don’t beat your head against a wall or end up torturing both yourself and child with a frustrated attempt to handle something you aren’t really suited for. If you aren’t particularly strong, or even if you’re not especially interested in math, it’s a good idea to find someone else to tutor, or to find a text or DVD series.

It’s even more important to consider each student’s strengths and learning styles as well as her deficits. Be quick to recognize when something just doesn’t work for your kid. Each person is unique;  this student may not be able to work with this resource even though it may have been perfect for your other kids or her friends.

My strengths happen to fall on the arts/humanities/cultural studies side, and so do my husband’s.  We are both art school alums and he is a writer and musician. Art, music, writing, and cultural focus is in the kids’ genes. From their cradles we tried to warn them away from the arts but they were moths to the low-wage flame.

When you homeschool, your lifestyle is in large part informed by your homeschooling. We created a home and lifestyle, consciously and unconsciously, which taught the importance of understanding our culture, its influences, where it came from, and where it could go.

This has a downside. What were our seriously heated “discussions” over?  The Mycenaeans or the Trojans? Javert or Valjean? Is 2001:A Space Odyssey really meaningful or just a bore-fest? What did Bruce Willis’ Dunn in Unbreakable do after the end…remain a superhero or give it up? My kids wanted to die on these hills.

Admittedly, the ideas I offer here are rather humanities-oriented. If you have some ideas for creative ways to learn and present the maths, technologies and sciences, I am all ears.

So here are some ideas, along with our experiences with some of them.

Art History: My freshman daughter earned a credit on her transcript this year in this survey course. We happen to have about half a million art books so it wasn’t a stretch to find material.  But you can find lots of “coffee table books” at the library. Don’t only look at the pictures. Read the books too; you want your student to understand the history of the work, and its cultural and social context, as well as how it and its creator influenced the course of art. The painting is in the book because it did just that.

I recommend any art history book by anyone named Janson, especially History of Art for Young People by H.W Janson and Anthony F. Janson.  It’s pricey new but definitely worth it. It makes art history easily comprehensible.

There’s also a little thing called the internet. One caution. Looking at works of art on a little screen or in a book is an entirely different experience than seeing the work of art for real.

Granted, we have to settle for a picture of the Mona Lisa if we’re not traveling to Paris this year. But be aware that your experience with the works are fundamentally different than standing in front of the real thing in a cool room in a museum with marble floors, battling crowds to see or hearing the echo of your footsteps in a huge empty gallery. The real thing never looks the same close up and in person. Take note of the size of the work and take a few seconds to imagine how that really looks. It may have been created to be installed in a particular place–try to find a picture of it in its original setting.

This course will consist of getting familiar with the most important works and getting the gist of chronological art history, and trying to gain understanding of the context of the works in the times they were created. Tests can be given but don’t let the class degrade into identification quizzes only. I did not give tests or ask for memorization but I can see doing that. I wanted her to grok art history. I believe she did.

The final project was a formal analysis of a work. She had to see it in person and write a formal description according to specific guidelines.

Honors Art History/ Art History 2: Next year art history will be more intense. I will require at least 4 visits to at least two museums, 2 formal analyses, 2 comparison papers, tests on ID-ing works and genres  and essay questions on socio-cultural significance and history of works, an artist bio paper OR technical history paper, and a good bit of reading in art criticism/history sources.

Youtube Course: Young people are immersed in interactive media; they don’t see that involvement as an option but reality. As a result, your young people may already have a Youtube channel.  However, much of this is rather passive and one-event oriented.

But maybe it can be more. Combine reviews with interviews. Write scripts well. Interact with viewers.  Review real events: reviews must be goal-oriented, meet criteria, be substantive (not “we filmed ourselves being at this event”). Interview appropriate people at events and write your essay about what was said, then post in on your channel. These are ideas from an old person; your student will have better ones.

Graphic Novel: If your students are art AND writing oriented, they can write a story, then design and draw the graphic novel. Your student will exercise writing, drawing, and graphic design skills.

Write a novel: Two of my sons each wrote a novel as a senior course. They were pretty self-motivated and disciplined about it (because they love writing), but you may want to require some sort of writing schedule: write every weekday for one hour/ write at least a chapter per week to be turned in and critiqued/ etc.. If you feel unqualified, find someone who can give your student real feedback. This is very important. He will need to discuss writing ideas and goals, and get knowledgeable feedback from other experienced writers.

NaNoWriMo can be helpful for getting started and for staying motivated. Even if you fail to write a novel in a month, you can get a good start. Or November may be too late in the school year to begin writing a novel.

Courses That Just Happen: Look around and notice when your child is doing “extra-curricular” things because she has an interest in them.  You may be able to gather a few things together and consider it as a course. Example: my daughter sings, and plays guitar and uke. She was taking piano lessons, playing with our church’s youth ministry worship team, and starting to play gigs at local coffee houses and open mikes. That same year she was asked to lead the music component of the worship time at an inner-city VBS which one of our fellow church family was helping to run.

It dawned on me about mid-May that my daughter had actually put many, many hours, and a lot of passion, into a Music/ Music Ministry course. It only took me to recognize as a course what she was already self-motivated to do. Credit on the transcript!

Lesson: if your kid has interests, there is probably a way to add some academic substance to the hours of self-motivated involvement, and call it a course.

I will probably revisit this topic.  If you have ideas, please share them with everyone!

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Prove All Things Part 3

Please see Prove All Things Part 1 and Prove All Things Part 2

     The Word of God says that Christians have been given all the tools and the abilities necessary to think more clearly than anyone, to see the truth absolutely clearly, to discern wrong from right, to be able to discern in all matters.  Abundant power is at our disposal to act on those judgments.

We’re expected to study, search, think and mediate on His word, and  trust that we will find the answers to our questions.  God can speak!

 Ps 119:97-101:Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it day and night

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies.I have more insight than all my teachers

I have more understanding than all the elders, for I obey your precepts

I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I may obey your word

You have the mind of Christ. We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5

How about this verse for clarity?

Evil people don’t understand justice,

but those who seek Adonai understand everything. Proverbs 28: 5

     We never need to consult the wisdom of the world on any important matter. It offers us no reliable or true guide in the making of decisions.

What happens when we don’t use the standard?

     ‘Error, superstition, bigotry, and fanaticism attempt to repress free discussion, by saying that there are certain things which are too sacred in their nature, or which have been too long held, or which are sanctioned by too many great and holy names, to permit their being subjected to the scrutiny of common eyes, or to be handled by common hands. In opposition to all this, Christianity requires us to examine everything – no matter by whom held; by what councils ordained; by what venerableness of antiquity sustained; or by what sacredness it may be invested. We are to receive no opinion until we are convinced that it is true; we are to be subjected to no pains or penalties for not believing what we do not perceive to be true; we are to be prohibited from examining no opinion which our fellow-men regard as true, and which they seek to make others believe. No popular current in favor of any doctrine; no influence which name and rank and learning can give it, is to commend it to us as certainly worthy of our belief. By whomsoever held, we are to examine it freely before we embrace it; but when we are convinced that it is true, it is to be held, no matter what current of popular opinion or prejudice maybe against it; no matter what ridicule may be poured upon it; and no matter though the belief of it may require us to die a martyr’s death.” -Barnes

     We are fully equipped to be leaders in this culture. What’s more, we have a lot of freedom in this particular culture to exercise that leadership.  I think we squander that opportunity. We have conformed to the culture of this world.

Why don’t we lead?  Why do we follow the blind?

     How much have we conformed? We have bought the premises  that we Christians are a marginal sub-culture; that we are nearly powerless to influence the world around us; that it is too uncomfortable to move out of step  with the world around us. We act out of the fear of man when we look to our peers for reassurance in making major life decisions.  We put ourselves under the influence of peer pressure. And worst of all, we don’t even question those other sources; we don’t apply discernment or wise counsel from an unquestionable source which is freely available to us. We don’t test all things.

We want our families to look like everyone else’s. We don’t want our kids to feel different, and to be left out.

And we certainly don’t want to be identified with those Christians who … fill in the blank.

Be careful. Perhaps those Christians with whom we are so uncomfortable are doing exactly what God is telling them to do. He may even be trying to tell you something similar.

We have conformed to the world’s thinking when we believe we have a right to maintain a standard of living like our neighbors, a standard which is comparable to royalty at any other time or place. We have completely bought the world’s under-evaluation of women and mothers in the home.  We act as though we ought to seek the world’s good opinion in the court of popular culture.  We have an aversion to extremes, when truth is truth, no matter where it leads.  We have adopted the world’s definition of relationships, and the world’s standard for conducting relationships.  We willingly share cynicism and pessimism with a hopeless world. We assert that we have the right to make decisions to suit ourselves which would impact His kingdom!

In our women’s Bible study last week, we were looking at David facing Goliath. He was the only man among all the men in the nation of Israel who wanted to challenge the giant.  He was a man after God’s own heart.

But what made him different?  You could name a lot of things about David that made him special, things that end up making him a magical kind of person who could do what he did.  But I think it comes down to one thing.  Those other soldiers who weren’t willing were no cowards in battle. But they were all thinking with the group, responding to peer pressure. David was the only one who was willing to step out of the crowd and act on the behalf of God’s name and reputation.

We have to be willing to do the same.  God wanted all of the Israelites to be like David—and they could have been.  There was nothing magical about David.

David also knew that God would give the victory—it wasn’t up to David.  He could step forward out of that crowd because he trusted God to do as He had said.

We act as though everything is up to us to orchestrate and make happen.  But God is there! God has a special place and task for you if you step forward out of the crowd, and listen to Him instead of the voices in the world.

Now all of us, if we’re believers, have already stepped out in a major way!  We already have declared that we’re different from the rest of the world.  We believe we are willing to suffer for our beliefs. But are we willing to suffer for being different?

Here’s the application to Titus 2:3:

The decisions that women make…all women, married, single with families or without….define the culture.

2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

     We must step out from the crowd.  We must wade against the relentless current. Our culture is not to be trusted for sound advice for walking a Christian’s path. We must recognize that we are necessarily, positionally living lives which are in opposition to the world’s purposes. We have to expect to be different!

     How much do we impact the culture by our distinctiveness…and how much can we…if we become people who really prove all things, and who live every bit of our lives acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

Who is the person who fears Adonai?

He will teach him the way to choose.

He will remain prosperous,

and his descendants will inherit the land. Psalm 25: 12-13

 

 

 

Prove All Things: Part 2

Please see  Prove All Things Part 1 and Prove All Things Part 3

Here was the amazing connection I found—actually it found me!

Commentary: The prophecies  “ must not be accepted with credulity but are to be tested by more objective revelation and especially the touchstone of Christ’s Lordship. (I Cor 12:3) and His Incarnation.” (I John 4:1-3)!

I John tells us how to discern between spirits; this was the test the early Christians were to use.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.

And here is the ‘touchstone of Christ’s Lordship’: I Cor 12:3: Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says ‘ Jesus be cursed’, and no one can say,’Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit     

     So the test that we apply is whether a premise/idea acknowledges and accepts the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

If I’m weighing my options about a decision which determines the course of my life, and impacts the lives of those in my family…which options, if I were to choose them, would allow me to acknowledge and yield to the conviction that Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life? Does this source of wisdom accept Jesus as Messiah…that he is God and came to earth as a man, and that He is my Lord?

And this is what immediately follows John’s test for the discernment of spirits:

I John You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us (the apostles and their disciples); but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. I John: 4-6

     Why should the acknowledgment of Christ’s Lordship be the test?

     He owns my life!  He bought me at a price, the most costly price ever paid for anything. I owe Him Lordship in all matters. All things in  my life are seen in the light of his ownership. Everything in my life, everything, is about Him.

     “Spiritual discernment is the ability to distinguish divine truth from error or half-truths, right from wrong or good from bad, an ability which is vital to assure a healthy Christian life. Test everything to see if it is authentic Christianity.”

“One way to examine everything carefully is to ask: ‘What does the Lord think about this? How does it appear in His presence? Every area of life comes under the searchlight- conversation, standard of living, clothes, books, business, pleasures, entertainments, furniture, friendships, vacations, cars, and sports.”  MacDonald: A Believer’s Bible Commentary

I Peter 3:15  But set apart Christ as Lord.

Gal 1:8,9  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  If they were to test even apostles, we ought to test influences from other Christians, and certainly sources from the world.

Isaiah 8:19-21 encourages us when needing counsel…To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

Eph 5: 8-17, esp. 8-10   For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

 

     If I agree that He is Lord then I must go to scripture to find out what He says about a matter.

Acts 17:11: Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Hold fast that which is good-…This is just as much a duty as it is to ‘prove all things’. A man who has applied the proper tests, and has found out what is truth, is bound to embrace it and hold it fast. He is not at liberty to throw it away, as if it were valueless; or to treat truth and falsehood alike. It is a duty which He owes to himself and to God to adhere to it firmly, and to suffer the loss of all things rather than to abandon it. There are few more important rules in the NT than the one in this passage.  It shows what is the true nature of Christianity, …practical value cannot be but be felt constantly in our lives.  Other religions require their votaries to receive everything upon trust; Christianity asks us to examine everything.” Barnes Notes on the Bible

     We are to be THE thinking people.  And I think that God expects us to think, think, think, about everything. Question everything…prove all things. Don’t accept what any other source has to say about anything without putting it to this test.

I Corinthians 2:12, 14-16: Now we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God, so that we might understand the things God has so freely given us. 14-16: Now the natural man does not receive the things from the Spirit of God-to him they are nonsense! Moreover, he is not able to grasp them, because they are evaluated through the Spirit. But the person who has the Spirit can evaluate everything, while no one is in a position to evaluate him. For who has known the mind of Adonai? Who will counsel him? But we have the mind of Christ!

     The Word of God says that we have been given al the tools and the ability necessary to think more clearly than anyone, to see the truth absolutely clearly, to discern wrong from right, to be able to discern in all matters; abundant power is at our disposal to act on those judgments.

We’re expected to study, search, think and mediate on His word, and we are to have trust that we will find the answers to our questions.  God can speak!

 Ps 119:97-101: Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it day and night

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies.I have more insight than all my teachers

I have more understanding than all the elders, for I obey your precepts

I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I may obey your word

You have the mind of Christ. We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5

     We never need to consult the wisdom of the world on any important matter. It offers us no reliable or true guide in the making of decisions.

See Part 3:     https://madelynlang469.com/2014/04/29/prove-all-things-part-3/