The Anti-Logic of Post-Modernism
The prevalent philosophy of today’s culture is post-modern. I know this is supposed to be about Math, Logic and Patterns but indulge me for a minute, o.k.?
The definition of post-modern: Relating to, or being any of various movements reacting to Modernism, typically characterized by ironic self-reference and absurdity. This means that definitions are negotiable, often absurd, patterns meaningless, and there is no truth outside of what we define it to be (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
There you have it. A whole philosophy whose purpose is to undermine truth, logic and patterns. As someone who has bound themselves to Truth, I live in opposition to this. By Truth with a capitol “T” I mean the person of Truth, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). While I fail often, I am committed to living by Truth, as those who truly follow Jesus with integrity must be. I’ve thought about it a great deal and I really believe that one cannot truly endorse post-modernism and Christianity; they are in fundamental opposition to each other.
So, you wonder, why am I babbling on about philosophy in a post that is supposed to be about curriculum picks for math, logic and patterns?
It is because I believe that we need to teach our children concepts that directly correspond to realities that ARE regardless of an ever present social-political environment that calls in to question non-negotiable such as logic, patterns, consequences, causality, and truth. Why we do what we do is just as important as what we do. Theory defines practice and practice informs theory. So, the math program you pick should be a reflection of your belief system. Teaching logic, by definition, declares that your theory about life acknowledges a set of principles by which to understand things.
Teach and Memorize Math
Teach a good solid math program. One that demands logical thought, clear answers, detailed explanations. There are several really great ones on the market (go here for some great ones). Expect your kids to know and memorize math facts. Memory work allows your kids to own the material. 2 + 2 does equal 4, not 5 or 9 or whatever you feel it might; “creative math” exists but not really at the level most of us function mathematically, so expect clear explanations and correct answers. Teach your kids to line up the math facts to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, write neatly and write out the steps on paper. Orderly habits save time, frustration and incorrect answers in the end.
Teach Fallacies, Logic, Critical and Literary Analysis
Teach fallacies, forms of logic and critical and literary analysis. I don’t agree with the group that states that simply reading for enjoyment is good enough and teaching analysis spoils the fun. Really learning critical and literary analysis will take your kids on a learning curve like most other learning curves While your kids are learning lit analysis or critical analysis they will probably be hyper aware of plot, character, themes, the authors and various other questions and concerns. This might make them less aware of how much they enjoy the book or movie or program initially, but it will ultimately allow them a deeper, more complex and vibrant understanding of it all in the end. Don’t sacrifice the profound joy of complexity for the passing pleasure of fun.
Teach Truth. Teach Truth. Teach Truth. As a Christian there is one path and it is found in following the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the Master of the Universe and His Son, Jesus Christ. Don’t agree? Let’s chat. If you are on board with what I’m saying, you are probably wondering what Truth has to do with logic and math and patterns. Well, it’s all there in the beginning. God is a God of order (Gen 1 -3). He has a plan and a purpose and rules, regulations and principals. To deny that, denies the Master of the Universe (see C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy). They go together. By learning Truth and His ways you are committing yourself to learning and observing the way of logic and patterns.
Be an Intentional Consumer
Assess fantasy as it comes through the door; be a gate-keeper. It’s not whether the genre is fantasy or not, but the principles that are being taught. Good writing teaches good thinking. Effective critical thinking skills are vital in sorting through social/relational problems. Good fantasy reflects this same discipline. One of the rules of good writing is believability – you’ll find this in the fantasy writing of Ray Bradbury, C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, Orson Scott Card, etc. Much of today’s fantasy breaks fundamental rules, undermining our kids natural inclination to make real sense out of things.
We are a culture committed to fun and fantasy. We spend billions of dollars a year on movies and games that we allow our children to sit passively in front of as their minds are filled with bizarre aliens, violent creatures and apocalyptic un-redemptive doom. Personally, I love good dystopian literature; but really, if it’s not redemptive, it’s not good. Seriously reconsider WHAT you bring in to your home, beginning with the benign looking Disney movies that ohsooften make any man look like a buffoon and any woman look like a conquering hero with little respect for roles and gender differences.
The Difference between Fiction and Fantasy
There is a clear distinction between fiction and fantasy; I’m clearly not an advocate of the no fiction rule. I am also strongly opposed to the idea of allowing your kids to read just anything because “at least they’re reading.” Good and great literature abounds, so choose that and don’t make excuses for being too lazy to have good and Godly standards.
Be careful of allowing your children to view horror. Horrific events do happen (subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs if you want to be aware of how to pray for the persecuted church), but allowing your kids to indulge in it taps into irrational thought patterns. Expecting the ax murderer to jump out at you in the basement does not teach logical thinking, triggers negative reactivity and violates scripture. Same with exposing your kids to network news. Much of it is geared towards sensationalism and very little of it is actual news reporting anymore. If you want your kids to get news, subscribe to God’s World News, Science News (if you can dismiss the evolutionist perspective), or other quality news outlets.
Immerse Yourself in God’s World
Nature studies teach patterns and logic. If you allow your kids to spend copious amounts of time outdoors they will discover math and it’s cousins, because nature speaks to kids. Spend time on the trampoline star gazing and grab some good, simple astronomy books to check out the patterns and designs and amazing math all around us. The NASA web-site is a great way to get up close and personal with science nerds form all over the world who are so invested in the patterns of the universe that they’ll go to any lengths (even Mars) to understand it. And don’t forget to go to the beach and learn about shells, because that’s a whole math class in and of itself. The Jason Project curriculum is, hands down, amazing, and check out Reasons (to Believe) Academy.
Got weather? Even the most violent of storms follow patterns and predictability. The NOAA web-site is a daily favorite around here and if you get your kids hooked on weather they will learn direction and causality and how to predict what’s coming, as well as season and a whole host of other things.
Be Ready to Give Answer for the Hope that Lies Within You
God’s world is based on principles that are always true to themselves. Apologetics should be part of how you teach patterns and logic because the world of faith is all about how to live. Life is not a live and let live proposition – you are either for God or against Him and aligning yourself with the Master of the Universe means following patterns of thought and behavior. Living a life of faith is not about living by a set of rules. It is aligning yourself with a pattern where grace and law intertwine; weaving a beautiful tapestry that bind us to the heart of our Creator God.
Live it Out
Live what you believe in front of your kids; don’t be a say as I say and not as I do parent. Patterns, by their very nature, are consistent. Create patterns in your family and interactions of constancy for your kids. Habits are ingrained patterns of behavior that let one function on auto-pilot, accomplish more and cost less.
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