Strategy: War & Peace

Strategy: War & Peace

Strategy: War & Peace

Strategy: War & Peace will focus on the American founding. This course begins by considering the advice George Washington gave us on foreign policy in his Farewell Address. Why have we largely ignored that advice for more than a century? That question will take us back to the first principles of strategy.

What is war, and why do nations fight? What kind of peace do we want, and how can we preserve it? If we must go to war, how do we give ourselves the best possible chance to win? To answer those questions, we will look both at historical examples, and at the great theoreticians of war and national strategy.

Course readings for Strategy: War & Peace will have a wide range, including: ancient works such as Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War, and the Chinese sage Sun Tzu; medieval and early modern authorities, such as Thomas Aquinas and Machiavelli; and contemporary scholars such as Angelo Codevilla and Edward Luttwak.

Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
― George Washington, George Washington’s Farewell Address

Students completing the coursework can be awarded 1 credit counted toward required social studies credits. This course is perfect for students interested in American history and what makes this country unique, who love strategy and are fascinated by war, and why countries go to war, as well as peace and how and why to keep it.

Combine Strategy: War & Peace with World Literature and Composition, World Religion, Physics, Psychology or Ancient History for a robust year of learning. Purchase a Bundle for greater savings!

Meet Charles Dickens – the Man who Invented Christmas

Meet Charles Dickens – the Man who Invented Christmas

Charles Dickens’ Past: Humble

Charles Dickens had an incredibly humble upbringing. That’s probably why we love him so much. We can identify with him or we have a sense of empathy for him. However, if we can’t identify with true poverty he gives us, through his writing, the opportunity to see all facets of society. Dickens helps us explore how Victorian Society was so challenged during the Industrial Revolution with the affluence of the few in contrast with the poverty of the masses.

As a child, he worked in a blacking factory under horrendous conditions before the laws of child labor were enacted in England in 1833. His father, mother, and younger siblings were sent to debtor’s prison. He was too old to go with them, however, and was healthy enough to work so he was sent to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory making shoe polish.

Charles Dickens’ childhood had such an impact on him it became a regular theme throughout many of his books and short stories. His captivating stories allow readers from all classes to see what Victorian life was like for others.

Charles Dickens’ Present: Family, Privilege, and Power

Like every adult with a young family, Charles Dickens was in need of an income to support his growing household. He was becoming an accomplished writer. He had a dedicated following for his weekly short stories (later chapters of some of his most famous works). This was his opportunity to use his creativity to explore the current issues of the day in Victorian England.

The Industrial Revolution was at the height of progress. Industrial magnates were inventing all kinds of things from steam engines, to cotton gins. Every effort was being made to make England a powerhouse of commerce.  In the midst of it all, there was an expanding gap between the classes in Victorian Society. There was a growing population that had the luxury to spend money on books and magazines and ‘the finer things of life’. However, these were the people that were out of touch with the life of the common citizen of Britain – the factory worker, the shipyard laborer, or the country farm tenant.

As Dickens grew in popularity so did his connections in high Victorian society. He had many friends with noble upbringings, yet he never forgot his humble beginnings. He was the perfect person to help bridge the class gap and create awareness of the reality of every-day, common life in Victorian England.

Dickens’ Future: Hope

It’s easy to see how Dickens was becoming a person to help create change in society. With his stories in written form, they were accessible to many. However, by going on the road and performing excerpts of his most loved works he was able to reach people in other countries and increase awareness through the stories of his quirky, oddly, but always perfectly named, characters.

His travels allowed for even more creative genius as he traveled.  Exploring abroad was a perfect way to become familiar with the culture and customs of other regions of the world. His popularity grew as he toured the USA and Europe. His tours allowed him to see how others were handling the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution. Creating a path of hope was his greatest and most powerful writing endeavor.

History in Context

When you recognize the individuals that were the contemporaries of Charles Dickens, it’s astounding. As he grew in fame, he likely had multiple opportunities to mingle with many well-known people. His opportunity to influence them and be impacted by their life stories no doubt became his inspiration for so many of his literary works. Look at this shortlist of other famous people that were living at the same time as Charles Dickens.

Scientists – Inventors – Businessmen

  • Charles Darwin
  • Louis Pasteur
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Thomas Edison

We could stop there but let’s continue with recognizing other famous authors of the Victorian era. Imagine Dickens, among these famous writers, sharing their thoughts and ideas over a game of charades or chess at a dinner party.

Authors

  • Karl Marx
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Henry David Thoreau

As a world traveler, Dickens had the opportunity to ‘rub shoulders’ with so many famous people in both Europe & the United States of America.  His circle of influence was ever-expanding; creating opportunities to invent the timeless masterpieces for which he is known. Imagine being at a gala event with even just a handful of these world leaders!

Statesmen

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Queen Victoria
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Theodore Roosevelt

While he may have not met all of these people personally, he had more than ample access to the news of the day. His journals show that he was greatly impacted by his trips to the United States.

Of course, art and music was an important part of ‘high society’ life as well.  But these artists also had a way of creating greatness out of the simple aspects of life using a variety of different creative mediums.  Can you imagine the inspirational conversation that would come over an evening together with these world-renowned artists & musicians?

Artists

  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Like most in the Victorian era, Dickens was considered a very religious person. He was benevolent and had a familiar sense of the impact generosity – or the lack of it – can have on a person. Imagine him sitting at a table discussing the human condition with any of these famous humanitarians, theologians, missionaries, and activists.

Activists

  • George Mueller
  • Florence Nightingale
  • George Spurgeon
  • Susan B Anthony
  • Harriet Tubman
  • David Livingstone

Surely, each of us lives ‘for such a time as this’!

Dickens lived during an era of massive change in every aspect of life in the modern world. Did his past haunt him? Definitely.

Were his present circumstances challenging? Indeed.

Did he have hope for the future? Absolutely!

And, he was committed to using his talent of masterful writing and character creation to help change thoughts and ideas about the challenges of life in the Victorian era.

His timeless classics offer an opportunity for us to examine our own era and decide how we can be people of strong moral character with our own God-given skills and creativity.

 

Find Out More

Want to know more about the man who invented Christmas and the Victorian world in which he lived? Check out our spring class, Dinner with Dickens, taught by Shannan Swindler, this spring for students in grades 8-12.

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Pandemic, quarantine, birthday, and party.? Should any of those words even be used together in the same sentence? They were in my mind and haunting me from the time our state was shut down. How was I going to survive, let alone celebrate a birthday and create a special memory for not one, but two kids during the Corona Virus outbreak?

Well, just like the rest of the world; I had to go virtual! Here are ideas for how to make a fun and safe birthday happen- online!

I wish this was an original idea on my part, but I stole it from all those people out there having happy-hour parties and splashing them all over social media. I just knew I could make a virtual birthday party work!  Soo, I went straight to planning mode, which for me meant calling our youth pastor for game ideas. (working smarter not harder, I mean why reinvent the wheel?). After our conversation, I got straight to work.

First, I decided on my agenda. Any good virtual meeting party has one, right?

My rule for in-person parties has always been 1.5 hours to 2 hours max….. What would my time frame be for an online party? What games would I play? How would we start? How would we end? What virtual platform would I use?

After much thought, this is what we landed on:

  • 45 minutes
  • Open with introductions and Ice breaker (How do you know the Birthday Kid?)
  • Games: Joel and Levi Trivia (I made-up questions about my boys that would be fun, easy, and sometimes hard) & Scavenger Hunt (This was a big hit!) I picked easy “around the house” items.  Sometimes they had to figure out a clue. Some examples: Matching pair of socks, an item that turns on the T.V.  You get the idea, right?
  • We sang Happy Birthday and all participated in blowing out the candles, virtual style of course.
  • Food: This is where I did work a bit harder and maybe not smarter. The night before the party I drove around to our guest’s house and did porch drop-offs of store-bought and sealed cupcakes for each family, along with goodie bags. What can I say, I am the “go big or go home” type of mom! This took a total of 7 hours, as some of our guests lived over an hour away. Talk about making memories for Dad and me!
  • I wrapped up the party with a Dance-Off Competition. This was super fun! They danced the Cupid Shuffle.

For extra fun, I scored both games with points. For “Joel and Levi Trivia: the first person who raised their hand with correct answer earned 3 points, the second person 2 points and the third person 1 point. Same system for the Scavenger Hunt. The first person to return to the screen with the item earned three points, the 2nd person 2 points and the third person 1 point.  I sent Target and Amazon gift cards to the winners- virtually of course!

 

 

 

And BOOM!

45 minutes later the party was a wrap! I used ZOOM as our platform but I have heard that there are several other great mediums in the virtual world to hold a great party.  I did let any kids that wanted to, hang out for a bit longer in the zoom room to chat and catch up with each other.  By ALL party definitions, this was a HUGE FUN success!

If you are going to take a stab at a “virtual” party I would just read up on how to keep your party safe. There have been lots of “party crashers” out there recently.

From our family to yours, we wish you great joy as you celebrate your loved ones- be that online or in person!!

 

About the Author

Erin Garcia is a frontline, boots on the ground, homeschooling warrior momma of 11 kids.  She has 13 years of Educational experience. Erin has been married to her husband George for 20 years.  They have a beautiful, messy, blended family. George came into the marriage with 3 children and a stepdaughter, and Erin entering their covenant with 3 children, the Lord then blessing them with 4 more children together. Their children range in ages from 35 to 10.  While still enjoying their three youngest at home they are also loving the newest season of grandparenting.  

 

 

6 Quick Fixes for Common Communication Killers

6 Quick Fixes for Common Communication Killers

Communication skills are such a big deal. Without honing these skills, we may convey things we never intended to – or leave out important pieces of information that can change everything! Poor conversational skills can potentially offend or hurt, or don’t make the sale. Excellent communication skills are one of the top job skills potential employees are looking for in new hires. Expertise in this area will contribute to your kids’ success, vocationally, and relationally. So, let’s take a minute and talk about common communication killers and how to fix them.Three young women learning about communication together in a filed of bright tulips

Communication Killers

Avoiding Eye-contact

Not meeting someone’s gaze can communicate that you are trying to hide something, such as an agenda or information. It can also convey social awkwardness. In our culture, eye contact speaks loudly.

Recently, my husband was in a situation in a store where one of the people in line was getting loud and quarrelsome. My husband was speaking to the clerk when this person started directing belligerent comments to him. My husband stopped, turned around, and just looked at the man; did not engage verbally, just looked at him.

Now, my husband is a trained psychologist and martial artist and thus, not easily intimidated, so I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, however, this man who had been causing extreme discomfort in this public space stopped ranting. All because of someone with a calm, non-anxious presence who was willing to make eye contact.

Fix-It: Practice making eye contact with the people in your home when you are talking to them. “Look at my eyes” is a significant first step with littles. Put the phone or other tech devices aside as you converse with others. Eat meals together with no tech present and make a point of seeing and speaking with each other. The family table is a great place to gather and practice all sorts of communication skills

Win-Lose Relationships

Often, we approach situations with the attitude that there is one right or wrong way of dealing with an issue. Instead of this type of “black and white” thinking, consider the possibilities. This is much like creating a pro-pro list instead of a pro-con list. When conflict arises, how can a win-win outcome be achieved? What would be a positive solution for everyone? Of course, sometimes people opt-out and you can’t win with them. It will take even more creative brainstorming on your part to come up with a winning scenario for both of you when the other person lacks the maturity or concern to help make it happen with you.

Fix-It: When conflict arises, pause and reflect on how you can contribute to positive outcomes for everyone. Brainstorm those “win-win” possibilities. Create a  “pro-pro” chart in a problematic situation and determine how to bring about a good result.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.

Attacking Character

Attacking someone’s character instead of commenting on what they say or do. Be clear about what a person is doing versus who they are. Attacking someone often can mean that we don’t have empathy or compassion for them.

Fix-It: Teach your kids the difference between actions or behavior and the value of the person. Discuss the difference between what your kids “do” and their value as a person. Talk in terms of behavior. For example, you might say “You broke the dish.” or “You did not do your chores.” instead of phrases such as “You are careless.” or “You are lazy.” Help your kids name emotions and teach them to identify the feelings of others. Use phrases like “Mommy is sad that the dish was broken”, “Suzy is disappointed that the toy is lost” and ask “Are you happy that snow is falling?” Knowing how to name specific feelings is a great first step in understanding people. Understanding can lead to empathy and compassion, which leads to clear communication!

Not Listening

It’s easy to assume we know what someone is trying to say and interrupt or jump to conclusions. Listen to understand. Do you listen to hear someone’s heart? This goes beyond just listening to the words, but taking the time to listen to the other person’s heart.

Fix-It: Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. Hear them through to the end of what they have to say. Respond, “So what I hear you saying is this.” Develop excellent listening skills. Maintain objectivity in the conversation. Push the pause button and take breaks as needed. Remind yourself and the other person that you are on the same team with the same objectives.

Adulsts ignore one another while on social media their phones

Showing Disinterest

We should all display a healthy curiosity about people and what is going on in their lives. Social media teaches and enforces self-absorption. People are hungry to be known, to share what’s important to them, to have someone hear their deepest hopes, dreams, and longings- to have a friend.

Fix-It: Develop the art of questioning with curiosity. Be a student of the world and people. Learn to find out about people; discover their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.

Being Indirect/Avoiding Difficult Conversations

No one likes to have awkward or difficult conversations. But sometimes they are inevitable. Whether it is sharing about a difficult diagnosis, confronting someone you love about unhealthy behavior or problems at work, we all tend to avoid talking about it.  Avoidance can bring its own set of challenges, especially in regards to issues that have a time factor attached.

Fix-It: Practice what you want to say- write it out to get clear on what the real issue is and how you might go about solving it. Do a test run with someone who is objective. In other words, act out the potential conversation. Bring your notes with you if they bring you confidence and pause. Take breaks as needed to get perspective, calm down, and reiterate the belief that you are all on the same team, working towards the same goals.

Practice and Intention

Like all abilities, communication will improve with practice and intention. Teaching our kids how to communicate well is one of the most vital skills we can give them. That is true regardless of what job or industry they go into or whether they have a large family or stay single.

I’d love to hear how you are intentionally teaching communication skills in your family, so drop me a line here or on Instagram and Facebook.

If you want resources for teaching these types of Soft Skills in your homeschool, take a look around our website and blog. Or listen to our podcast at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network where we focus on tips and resources for teaching soft skills and life skills for all age groups. Our podcasts, blog, e-books, and online classes can help with teaching your homeschoolers about Stewardship, Teamwork, Career Choices, and Public Speaking.

Proverbs 25:11 A Word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Using Homeschool Travel as Career Prep

Using Homeschool Travel as Career Prep

In our Orienteering Class, we talk about many things related to adult life and careers. We had the good fortune to have a guest speaker this month, a homeschooling, blogging, expat, living in Scotland, to share about how travel has enriched her life and the life of...