Raising Lifelong Learners

This is my first born’s senior year of High School. My wife and I are asking ourselves what areas of knowledge and skill we want to make sure we cover this year. So, it is time to make good on my promise: “No one graduates High School from our home unless you have worked through this book with Dad: How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren.”

Why is this book so important? Because one of the most critical skills I can impart to my children is the ability to learn. I don’t want to complete our home education only feeding my children fish. I want to teach them to fish. A person who has the skill of learning has the ability to find the information they need, to decide which books to read, to comprehend what is in those books, to critically evaluate their arguments, and to compare and synthesize this information with other sources. How to Read a Book teaches all of these skills! To learn more about why this book is important and what it teaches, you can listen to the workshop I gave at the Thrive! The NCHE Homeschool Conference, Raising Lifelong Learners.

I have developed a syllabus for my daughter and I to work through this year. I am sharing this syllabus with you so you might be encouraged to use this book as well. Ideally, the parent or teacher overseeing this class will read the book with the student. A sharp High School student could possibly work through it himself. I have designed this to be a portion of Bethany’s English credit for this year, taking about 22 weeks. If it were taken seriously, it could be completed as a semester elective for a half credit.

One more question: if you would be interested in having your student participate in an online course working through this syllabus with us, contact me at matthew@truthtofreedom.org.

You Should Write in Your Book!

I love writing in the books I am reading! I always have a pencil in hand when I read non-fiction. Recently, I read a book that has transformed my reading. It is How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren. This is a must read! Happily, they have confirmed my habit of writing in the books I read.

I would like to pass on these reading tips by Adler and Van Doren:

Here are three reasons to write in your book while you read:

  1. "It keeps you awake."
  2. "Reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks."
  3. "Writing your reactions down helps you to remember the thoughts of the author."

Here is how to do it:

Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author.
— Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren
  1. Underline major points and statements.
  2. Vertical lines at the margins too long to be underlined.
  3. Star, asterisk, or other doodad at the margin to mark important statements and passages (not too many). You could fold the corners of these pages for quick location.
  4. Numbers in the margins of sequences and lists.
  5. Numbers of other pages or sources that relate.
  6. Circling of key words and phrases.
  7. Writing in the margin and in the blank pages at front and back.