The Tower of Babel and the Chiasmus
Tuesday, 2 June 2009 13:20
-by Mimi Rothschild
Genesis 11: 1-9 tells the story of how the people got together to build a wonderful tower for themselves. God saw that they were gathering glory for themselves, not for Him, and made it impossible for them to talk together and communicate easily.
Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, [a] they found a plain in Shinar [b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel [c] —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
The story of the Tower of Babel is told in a special form called a chiasmus: the words in one side of the sentence or story match and reverse the same words in the other side. Since the story is about a tower, this a great time to study this kind of structure. Take blocks and make a tower of them, noticing how the sentences of the story build on each other.
First, the world had one language(1); later, God confused the language of the world (9) – lay down blocks next to each other to show these verses.
The people said to each other, “Come, let us make bricks”(3); later, God said, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language.”(7) – set blocks on top of the first layer.
The people planned to build a tower going up to heaven (4); later, God came down from heaven to see the tower (5) – set blocks on top.
Use your fingers to climb up the tower as you read the story, telling how the world had one language and the people used it to plan a tower for their own glory. Then climb back down on the other side of the tower with your fingers, telling how God decided not to allow them to complete their plan.
Depending on the ages of your children, there are many possible discussion points for this story. Young children might think about all the languages they’ve heard, and learn greetings in one or two. Have your older students think about their plans for their own lives: are they planning for God’s glory or their own? Or have them discuss how history might have been different if everyone had continued to speak the same language and communicate easily. For what long-term reasons might God have chosen not to allow that?
Then look again at the idea of the chiasmus. Here’s another example from Genesis:
A Whoever sheds
B the blood
C of man
C’ by man
B’ shall his blood
A’ be shed
Here’s an example from Mark’s gospel:
A The Sabbath was made for man
A’ and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
And one from the book of Matthew:
A But many who are first will be last,
A’ and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:30)
The chiasmus is a common structure in the Bible, especially when it’s read in its original languages. But we can find examples of chiasmus in other places, too. President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” An advertising jingle says, “I’m stuck on Band-Aid ‘cause Band-Aid sticks on me.” Chiasmus can be small, like these examples with only two parts, or long, like the story of the tower of Babel.
After this lesson, watch for examples of chiasmus as you go through the day, and keep a list. You’ll be amazed how often you see or hear this structure!
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
What Grade Are You In?
Thursday, 13 November 2008 16:32
When an adult meets a child, it is very likely that the first question asked will be, “What grade are you in?”
For our homeschool students, the answer might be, “I’m in first grade reading, fourth grade math, and everything else is second grade” or “I get to go at my own pace, and we don’t worry about what grade I’m in.” Sometimes the real answer might even be, “It depends on the day – my mom teaches us all together, and sometimes the lessons are for my grade level and sometimes they’re for my sisters’ grade levels.”
Is this a problem? It doesn’t have to be.
When we plan lessons, we need to consider where our children are developmentally as well as what they’ve mastered in the subject. Sometimes a precocious homeschool student could move ahead and study subjects usually considered appropriate for older students. If we choose to do this, we need to make sure that the method used for presenting the subject matter fits the student’s developmental stage, even if the topic is more advanced. The same is true when our student needs to review concepts from an earlier grade level. When our expectations are out of sync with our child’s developmental stage, we’re asking for frustration, for ourselves and our children.
So a young child can understand, learn, and enjoy algebraic thinking concepts using toy animals to manipulate, but not using an algebra workbook. An older student who needs more work on basic reading can get good practice by using magazines and other materials written at a basic level, but might be embarrassed at being asked to read a book labeled “easy reader.”
Equally, when we want our children of different ages to study a subject together, we have to be ready to adapt the lesson to the different developmental needs of the different ages. A group of children may listen to the same online lecture or piece of music together. The youngest children might color while they listen, since it is hard for them to sit still and pay attention as long as the older ones. The older students might take notes in order to help organize their thoughts and develop this useful study technique. In this way, all the students can gain what they need from the shared experience.
What if your student is advanced in some areas and not in others? There’s a temptation to spend more time on the areas where the child has trouble, in hopes of catching up. Yet it is often true that the area in which the child excels is a source of pleasure for him. If he is forced to work extra on math in order to catch up with the reading that he loves, he may resent math and find it even harder, while losing some of his strength in reading through lack of practice.
In our own lives, we know and accept that there are some things we’re better at and enjoy more. We don’t expect ourselves to be equally good at everything. Yet we often do expect this of our kids.
Instead, let your student use her strengths to shore up her weaknesses. For example, if she loves science and struggles with writing, let her write lab reports about experiments, or keep a nature observation journal. If music is his pleasure and history is a chore, study history through music.
We can also recognize that our children may need more support for some subjects than others. That’s one of the advantages of homeschooling: that we can let our children work at the pace they need.
Christ gave His apostles what they were ready for, and didn’t insist that they learn and understand everything at once. This is a good example for us as eduators.
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
Maintaining order in your homeschool during the day
Monday, 20 October 2008 16:00
-by Mimi Rothschild
For most families, their home is their haven; a place to play, to rest, to relax. The dynamic of a homeschool home has to be quite different, as it is transformed daily from a regular house to a place of learning. In order to be a successful teacher, it is critical to maintain proper order in your home during the day, when your children are working on their lessons. This can be challenging for most families. Distractions such as games, toys and even television abound in the home, threatening to rob your student’s attention from the matter at hand. And disorganization can be the downfall of even the most gifted educator. But don’t despair. There are some simple tips that you can employ to help you stay on track, so your children can as well.
• Make a list. Every morning. And stick to it. It seems simple and maybe a bit rudimentary, but having all of your activities written out, in order of importance can help you stay focused and make the most of your time during the day. Don’t forget to include your other daily activities, such as housework and any other tasks you want to accomplish that day. This way you won’t be left feeling that you’ve forgotten something at the end of the day.
• Before your day begins, make sure each child’s work station is prepared. Be sure that all required materials are readily at hand. It can be extremely distracting, both for you and for your student, to have to stop and search for a pencil or more paper. Being prepared before the day begins will ensure a smooth flowing day.
• Have a set schedule of daily work, including the order in which it is to be completed and how much time will be devoted to each subject or lesson. Post the schedule in a prominent place where everyone can view it at all times. And do your best to stick to your set times. Otherwise, it’s very easy to let time get away from you, leaving you scrambling to finish your tasks and possibly forgetting to complete some by the end of the school day.
• Go over your daily schedule with your child each morning, so they know what the day will entail and what is expected of them.
• Incorporate order and rules into your lessons. After all, life is all about order and discipline. Use real-life examples such as the Ten Commandments and U.S. laws to drive home the importance of ordinance in our daily lives.
• Discipline is critical to maintaining order in your home and classroom. And, discipline and education go hand in hand. Proverbs 12:1 tells us: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid”. Children simply cannot learn if they aren’t listening and paying attention. Deal with disobedience and negative behavior swiftly. Make it clear what is expected of your child, and what behavior is unacceptable. But don’t forget, children respond wonderfully to positive reinforcement, so be sure to also reward and encourage obedience and good behavior.
• Establish a set of rules that must be adhered to during the school day. These rules should include things such as “Do not speak out during class” and “Ask permission to be excused”. Encourage your children to participate in making the list of rules, so that they feel they are a part of it. Post the list of regulations prominently and refer to it often.
• Set clear and concise boundaries between you as a parent and you as a teacher. It’s all too easy for a child to fall into the more relaxed parent/child relationship and forget that they should be showing you respect as their educator during the school day. When they view you clearly as their teacher, they are more likely to follow instruction and maintain order, and less likely to fool around and get off track.
It can be very difficult to get both your home and your homeschool running smoothly. Conducting structured lessons in the same environment that you also have play and down-time can be challenging to say the least. But by following the suggestions above, you should be able to get your classroom and your home running like a well oiled machine in no time.
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of Learning By Grace, Inc. the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
The Writing is on the Wall
Friday, 14 March 2008 14:58
By: Mimi Rothschild
Recently, the California judicial system has directed a two-part assault on Southern Baptist homeschoolers throughout their state. First, they have banned the words “mom and dad” and “husband and wife” from their schools – please read www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58130 – and are forcing teachers to promote a more alternative sexual lifestyle.
The second part of the assault came last week when three judges essentially banned homeschooling, deeming 166,000 children truants – www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=25469 – and their parents as criminals.
This absurd ruling needs to be reversed. Please visit: www.ReverseTheRuling.com, and learn more information about this alarming issue, and have your voice heard by signing the petition. Our goal is to gain enough signatures to present this petition to the courts and let them know that America is watching. And we know what happens in California can happen anywhere in the United States!
More so, we know that this ruling has long-term ramifications of indoctrination on our children, diminishing the Christian Values that we’ve worked so diligently to instill in them. This is not a one-off case that only pertains to an isolated incident! No, it is a Ruling that eliminates a freedom that dates back to our forefathers.
Stay informed. Spread the word. Sign the petition.
ADHD and Home Schooling Children Who Are Gifted
Monday, 22 October 2007 14:46
By Mimi Rothschild
Have you ever wondered if your child has ADHD? Have you ever considered the idea that he is just extremely gifted? Learn more about children with ADHD and children who are gifted in this thorough article I read this past weekend. Let me know what you think, I appreciate your thoughts! Thanks!
ERIC EC Digest #E522, Authors: James T. Webb and Diane Latimer, 1993
Howard’s teachers say he just isn’t working up to his ability. He doesn’t finish his assignments, or just puts down answers without showing his work; his handwriting and spelling are poor. He sits and fidgets in class, talks to others, and often disrupts class by interrupting others. He used to shout out the answers to the teachers’ questions (they were usually right), but now he daydreams a lot and seems distracted. Does Howard have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is he gifted, or both?
Frequently, bright children have been referred to psychologists or pediatricians because they exhibited certain behaviors (e.g., restlessness, inattention, impulsivity, high activity level, daydreaming) commonly associated with a diagnosis of ADHD. Formally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-III-R (American Psychiatric Association) lists 14 characteristics that may be found in children diagnosed as having ADHD. At least eight of these characteristics must be present, the onset must be before age seven, and they must be present for at least six months.
DSM-III-R Diagnostic Criteria for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder*
Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat (in adolescents may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
Has difficulty remaining seated when required to.
Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
Has difficulty awaiting turns in games or group situations.
Often blurts out answers to questions before they have been completed.
Has difficulty following through on instructions from others (not due to oppositional behavior or failure of comprehension).
Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
Often shifts from one uncompleted activity to another.
Has difficulty playing quietly.
Often talks excessively.
Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into other people’s games).
Often does not seem to listen to what is being said to him or her.
Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities at school or at home (e.g., toys, pencils, books).
Often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences (not for the purpose of thrill-seeking); e.g., runs into street without looking.
Almost all of these behaviors, however, might be found in bright, talented, creative, gifted children. Until now, little attention has been given to the similarities and differences between the two groups, thus raising the potential for misidentification in both areas – giftedness and ADHD.
Sometimes, professionals have diagnosed ADHD by simply listening to parent or teacher descriptions of the child’s behaviors along with a brief observation of the child. Other times, brief screening questionnaires are used, although these questionnaires only quantify the parents’ or teachers’ descriptions of the behaviors (Parker, 1992). Children who are fortunate enough to have a thorough physical evaluation (which includes screening for allergies and other metabolic disorders) and extensive psychological evaluations, which include assessment of intelligence, achievement, and emotional status, have a better chance of being accurately identified. A child may be gifted and have ADHD. Without a thorough professional evaluation, it is difficult to tell.
How Can Parents or Teachers Distinguish Between ADHD and Giftedness?
Seeing the difference between behaviors that are sometimes associated with giftedness but also characteristic of ADHD is not easy, as the following parallel lists show.
Behaviors Associated with ADHD (Barkley, 1990)
Poorly sustained attention in almost all situations.
Diminished persistence on tasks not having immediate consequences.
Impulsivity, poor delay of gratification.
Impaired adherence to commands to regulate or inhibit behavior in social contexts.
More active and restless than normal children.
Difficulty adhering to rules and regulations.
Behaviors Associated with Giftedness (Webb, 1993)
Poor attention, boredom, daydreaming in specific situations.
Low tolerance for persistence on tasks that seem irrelevant.
Judgment lags behind development of intellect.
Intensity may lead to power struggles with authorities.
High activity level; may need less sleep.
Questions rules, customs, and traditions.
Consider the Situation and Setting
It is important to examine the situations in which a child’s behaviors are problematic. Gifted children typically do not exhibit problems in all situations. For example, they may be seen as ADHD-like by one classroom teacher, but not by another; or they may be seen as ADHD at school, but not by the scout leader or music teacher. Close examination of the troublesome situation generally reveals other factors that are prompting the problem behaviors. By contrast, children with ADHD typically exhibit the problem behaviors in virtually all settings including at home and at school, though the extent of their problem behaviors may fluctuate significantly from setting to setting (Barkley, 1990), depending largely on the structure of that situation. That is, the behaviors exist in all settings, but are more of a problem in some settings than in others.
In the classroom, a gifted child’s perceived inability to stay on task is likely to be related to boredom, curriculum, mismatched learning style, or other environmental factors. Gifted children may spend from one-fourth to one-half of their regular classroom time waiting for others to catch up – even more if they are in a heterogeneously grouped class. Their specific level of academic achievement is often two to four grade levels above their actual grade placement. Such children often respond to nonchallenging or slow-moving classroom situations by “off-task” behavior, disruptions, or other attempts at self-amusement. This use of extra time is often the cause of the referral for an ADHD evaluation.
“Hyperactive” is a word often used to describe gifted children as well as children with ADHD. As with attention span, children with ADHD have a high activity level, but this activity level is often found across situations (Barkley, 1990). A large proportion of gifted children are highly active, too. As many as one-fourth may require less sleep; however, their activity is generally focused and directed (Clark, 1992; Webb, Meckstroth, & Tolan, 1982), in contrast to the behavior of children with ADHD. The intensity of gifted children’s concentration often permits them to spend long periods of time and much energy focusing on whatever truly interests them. Their specific interests may not coincide, however, with the desires and expectations of teachers or parents.
While the child who is hyperactive has a very brief attention span in virtually every situation (usually except for television or computer games), children who are gifted can concentrate comfortably for long periods on tasks that interest them, and do not require immediate completion of those tasks or immediate consequences. The activities of children with ADHD tend to be both continual and random; the gifted child’s activity usually is episodic and directed to specific goals.
While difficulty with adherence to rules and regulations has only begun to be accepted as a sign of ADHD (Barkley, 1990), gifted children may actively question rules, customs, and traditions, sometimes creating complex rules that they expect others to respect or obey. Some engage in power struggles. These behaviors can cause discomfort for parents, teachers, and peers.
One characteristic of ADHD that does not have a counterpart in children who are gifted is variability of task performance. In almost every setting, children with ADHD tend to be highly inconsistent in the quality of their performance (i.e., grades, chores) and the amount of time used to accomplish tasks (Barkley, 1990). Children who are gifted routinely maintain consistent efforts and high grades in classes when they like the teacher and are intellectually challenged, although they may resist some aspects of the work, particularly repetition of tasks perceived as dull. Some gifted children may become intensely focused and determined (an aspect of their intensity) to produce a product that meets their self-imposed standards.
What Teachers and Parents Can Do
Determining whether a child has ADHD can be particularly difficult when that child is also gifted. The use of many instruments, including intelligence tests administered by qualified professionals, achievement and personality tests, and parent and teacher rating scales, can help the professional determine the subtle differences between ADHD and giftedness. Individual evaluation allows the professional to establish maximum rapport with the child to get the best effort on the tests. Since the test situation is constant, it is possible to make better comparisons among children. Portions of the intellectual and achievement tests will reveal attention problems or learning disabilities, whereas personality tests are designed to show whether emotional problems (e.g., depression or anxiety) could be causing the problem behaviors. Evaluation should be followed by appropriate curricular and instructional modifications that account for advanced knowledge, diverse learning styles, and various types of intelligence.
Careful consideration and appropriate professional evaluation are necessary before concluding that bright, creative, intense youngsters like Howard have ADHD. Consider the characteristics of the gifted/talented child and the child’s situation. Do not hesitate to raise the possibility of giftedness with any professional who is evaluating the child for ADHD; however, do not be surprised if the professional has had little training in recognizing the characteristics of gifted/talented children (Webb, 1993). It is important to make the correct diagnosis, and parents and teachers may need to provide information to others since giftedness is often neglected in professional development programs.
*Note: “DSM-III-R Diagnostic Criteria for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” is reprinted with permission from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1987.
American Psychiatric Association (1987). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third edition, revised. Washington, DC: Author.
Barkley, R. A. (1990). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment. Guilford Press: New York.
Clark, B. (1992). Growing up Gifted. New York: Macmillan.
Parker, H. C. (1992). The ADD Hyperactivity Handbook for Schools. Plantation, FL: Impact Publications.
Webb, J. T. (1993). “Nurturing social-emotional development of gifted children.” In K. A. Heller, F. J. Monks, and A. H. Passow (Eds.), International Handbook for Research on Giftedness and Talent, pp. 525-538. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Webb, J. T.; Meckstroth, E. A.; and Tolan, S. S. (1982). Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers. Dayton: Ohio Psychology Press.
This ERIC Digest was developed in 1993 by James T. Webb, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean, and Diane Latimer, M.A., School of Professional Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
Organization: Advice for Parents
Tuesday, 16 October 2007 15:26
By Mimi Rothschild
Below is a wonderful article I ran across which I wanted to share with homeschooling parents. The article looks at the importance of being organized and how organization helps people succeed in life. The strategies below are easy to implement and will help any child do well in school. I encourage all homeschooling parents to take the time to read this informative article.
Developing good organizational skills is a key ingredient for success in school and in life. Although some people by nature are more organized than others, anyone can put routines and systems in place to help a child “get it together.” Here’s a list of strategies that you can use to help your child get — and keep — his life under control.
Help your child get into the habit of keeping a “to-do” list. Use checklists to post assignments, household chores, and reminders about what materials to bring to class. Your child should keep a small pad or notebook dedicated to listing homework assignments. Crossing completed items off the list will give him a sense of accomplishment.
Organize homework assignments.
Before beginning a homework session, encourage your child to number assignments in the order in which they should be done. She should start with one that’s not too long or difficult, but avoid saving the longest or hardest assignments for last.
Designate a study space.
Your child should study in the same place every night. This doesn’t have to be a bedroom, but it should be a quiet place with few distractions. All school supplies and materials should be nearby. If your young child wants to study with you nearby, too, you’ll be better able to monitor his progress and encourage good study habits.
Set a designated study time.
Your child should know that a certain time every day is reserved for studying and doing homework. The best time is usually not right after school — most children benefit from time to unwind first. Include your child in making this decision. Even if she doesn’t have homework, the reserved time should be used to review the day’s lessons, read for pleasure, or work on an upcoming project.
Keep organized notebooks.
Help your child keep track of papers by organizing them in a binder or notebook. This will help him review the material for each day’s classes and to organize the material later to prepare for tests and quizzes. Use dividers to separate class notes, or color-code notebooks. Separate “to do” and “done” folders help organize worksheets, notices, and items to be signed by parents, as well as provide a central place to store completed assignments.
Conduct a weekly clean-up.
Encourage your child to sort through book bags and notebooks on a weekly basis. Old tests and papers should be organized and kept in a separate file at home.
Create a household schedule.
Try to establish and stick to a regular dinnertime and a regular bedtime. This will help your child fall into a pattern at home. Children with a regular bedtime go to school well-rested. Try to limit television-watching and computer play to specific periods of time during the day.
Keep a master calendar.
Keep a large, wall-sized calendar for the household that lists the family’s commitments, schedules for extracurricular activities, days off from school, and major events at home and at school. Note dates when your child has big exams or due dates for projects. This will help family members keep track of each other’s activities and avoid scheduling conflicts.
Prepare for the day ahead.
Before your child goes to bed, he should pack schoolwork and books in a book bag. The next day’s clothes should be laid out with shoes, socks, and accessories. This will cut down on morning confusion and allow your child to prepare quickly for the day ahead.
Provide needed support while your child is learning to become more organized.
Help your child develop organizational skills by photocopying checklists and schedules and taping them to the refrigerator. Gently remind her about filling in calendar dates and keeping papers and materials organized. Most important, set a good example.
Adapted from “Tips for Developing Organizational Skills in Children” by the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities (CCLD).
Public Schools Promoting Islam?
Friday, 20 July 2007 16:46
By Mimi Rothschild
Randy Dotinga of The Christian Science Monitor reports that public schools around the nation are changing their schedules, policies, cafeteria food, and setting up prayer rooms, all to accommodate Muslim students. The intention of this blog posting is not to argue against the religion of Islam, but rather expose the apparent hypocrisy of public schools in America.
While discussing an elementary school in San Diego, Dotinga asks, “In accommodating Muslim students, is the school unfairly promoting religion?” That’s a compelling question. Why are these public schools catering to Muslim students? American public schools seem to be so afraid of offending religious groups, with the exception of Christians.
Christian students have the right to pray at public schools, but they cannot “pray solely Christian prayers as an organized part of the school schedule” (religioustolerance.org). Does this law not apply to Muslim students too then? Public schools, like an elementary school in San Diego, have organized their day so Muslim students can pray during Islam’s designated prayer time in a specially provided prayer room.
Some public schools appear to be promoting the Muslim religion by helping Muslim students pray, eat according to the Muslim guidelines, and set up prayer rooms. Yet, when Christian students pray, they are often humiliated and told they are not allowed to engage in such conduct in a public school? Double standard?
To read Randy Dotinga’s article click here.