Archive for August, 2008


Friday, August 29th, 2008

1. Sat Preparation is an excellent opportunity for the Christian student to prepare for college. Taking time to build disciplined study skills, to develop an extensive vocabulary, and to improve reading comprehensive skills are laudable goals indeed and they are pursued vigorously in my curriculum. But, they pale in comparison to the greatest strength of The Sat Preparation Course For the Christian Student: the student is encouraged to grow in the Lord and to discern opposing worldviews by the daily devotions.

2, My curriculum stresses working hard and doing one’s best for God’s glory. Rather than “beating the system” or “cracking the SAT” I encourage students to work hard to bring glory to our Lord. I want Godly character to be developed not an attitude of outsmarting the testing instrument. This attitude will hopefully follow the student into college and into life.

3. I seek to develop clear, articulate, well-educated critical thinkers who will become world changers. I am, as it were, engaging in my own form of apologetics: helping young Christians change their world for the glory of God.

4. My curriculum is not a quick fix. This is the hardest but most effective SAT course I know. The best SAT preparation occurs over a few years, not weeks. I ask students to commit a minimum of one year; maximum of three years.

5. My curriculum is designed to help the harried student prepare for the SAT without intruding too much into his busy life. I recommend a few lessons/week rather than a massive intervention weeks before the exam.

6. My curriculum guides the preparation. It doesn’t ask the student to create his own study plan (most won’t anyway). It is designed to be completed by the student himself and even comes with a solution manual.

7. My curriculum encourages the development of writing skills. A writing sample is now part of the PSAT. At the same time, writing skills are critical for college success.

8. My curriculum includes test-taking tips as well as timely reminders. It demystifies the exam. Students know what to expect on test day. It answers most questions students would ask a guidance counselor about college entrance requirements, PSAT, SAT, and scholarship money.

Would Charlotte Mason approve of my SAT Prep Course (1998, 2005) – 5

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Finally, I know that Mrs. Mason would want all instruction to be relevant to societal needs that are looming in front of the next generation. At the very moment when our American culture is clearly not providing the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual support that people need, is not making sense out of life, will the next generation retreat? Or will they show our nation that Christ is the answer? Never in the history of America has there been a greater need for Christians to take a stand in American culture–especially in the secular, competitive university. I believe that in the next twenty years Christians–especially Christian homeschoolers–will assume leadership in the university and professional community. Will next generation be prepared? Doing their best on the SAT is one hurdle God sets before many students to prepare them to be the kind of Christians who will change their world no matter what the obstacles.

Would Charlotte Mason approve of my SAT Prep Course (1998, 2005) – 4

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In my book College and SAT Preparation Course for the Christian Student (1998, 2005) I attempt to address all the above questions in a Charlotte Mason approach. First, I constantly emphasize total book preparation. In fact, reading is the single most important preparation for the SAT. Reading total books, rather than passages or excerpts make sure that students increase their vocabulary and critical reading skills. The authors of the SAT are not stupid–they know we can buy SAT vocabulary lists. My book invites students to prepare the old fashioned way–hard work!

Would Charlotte Mason approve of my SAT Prep Course (1998, 2005) – 3

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Our children do not have to know how to solve quadratic equations to do well on the math portion of the SAT. Some algebra and basic geometry is helpful, but I have found that the key to high performance on the math portion is the same as it is on the verbal portion: critical thinking. Thus, best scores come from individuals who think well–even if their math skills are average.

Would Charlotte Mason approve of my SAT Prep Course (1998, 2005) – 2

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Where do we begin? The Scholastic Assessment Test–SAT I–is an important first challenge lying straight ahead. Students should prepare for this test, viewing it as an opportunity to grapple with an important question: Can they become what God is calling them to be? They won’t have the whole answer to this vital question at the end of their SAT preparation, but this can be a first step.

It is important to understand that the SAT is an aptitude test–not an achievement test (like the Iowa Basics or Stanford Tests). Students usually take it during the second semester junior year or first semester senior year. It measures their potential success in college, but it does not necessarily measure their information acquisition and assimilation skills. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with a student’s worth or esteem in God’s eyes.

Would Charlotte Mason approve of my SAT Prep Course (1998, 2005)

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

As my children entered their teenage years (many years ago), for some inexplicable reason I felt more and more anxiety. For all of their lives–including their schooling–I had nurtured, encouraged and challenged my children to be all that they can be for God. Now, almost by magic, they were leaving me.

Some of my children might be going to college. But whether they are going to college or getting a job, they are leaving me because they are growing up. Counselors call it “differentiation” or “breaking away” and they say that it is a good thing.

Book Review – Cry the Beloved Country – 12

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

From Barrons’ Booknotes (Symbols):

The church in Ndotsheni is a simple, rough structure that represents a faith that is humble and unpretentious. With its leaky roof, the church seems to offer little shelter from the elements, but confirmations and other ceremonies occur there nonetheless?with nothing better availabble, the congregation must simply make do.

Although it is a house of God, the church is also closely linked to Kumalo. It is introduced to us almost as an extension of his house, and it is he who decides when services will be held and does its accounting. When Kumalo returns from Johannesburg, it becomes apparent that his young successor has had no success in making the church his own, and that both the building and its flock are fundamentally Kumalo’s. Jarvis’s offer to build a new church for the community is a symbol not only of his commitment to Ndotsheni but also of his new friendship with Kumalo.

Both Arthur and his son are notable for their “brightness,” a symbol of their eager intellects and generous hearts. Although they don’t shine physically, there is still something inherently brilliant about them that holds unquestionable promise. The novel’s mystical way of describing them is strongly reminiscent of the language typically used to describe angels, messengers of God who take human form but are somehow obviously more than human. The character of Arthur’s son seems to be especially developed as an almost divine agent. He rides around Ndotsheni on his horse, appearing periodically to raise Kumalo’s spirits, and his visits are occasionally followed by some generosity from his grandfather (an unexpected milk delivery, for example, or the arrival of Napoleon Letsitsi). Both Arthur and his son, then, help to bring good to their fellow men.

Book Review – Cry the Beloved Country – 11

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

From Barrons’ Booknotes (Theme): Repentance

Throughout the novel, a number of characters lash out in anger. Msimangu speaks harshly when he learns that Absalom has abandoned his girlfriend, the young man from the reformatory speaks harshly when he is disappointed in Absalom, and Kumalo gets upset, at various times, with his wife, his son’s girlfriend, and his brother. Often, these episodes are truly ugly. When the young man whirls on Kumalo, for example, his anger is made even uglier by Kumalo’s fragile helplessness. Similarly, when Kumalo cruelly asks Absalom’s girlfriend if she will be his lover, the combination of lechery and bullying is unappealing.

Even acts as vile as these, however, can be atoned for by sincere repentance. Although the characters lash out in anger, their repentance is always met with forgiveness, and even the gravest insults are excused. This pattern demonstrates the power of caring to overcome bitterness. Social relationships are torn by anger, but they can be mended with kindness.

Book Review – Cry the Beloved Country – 10

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

From Barrons’ Booknotes (Theme): Ubiquitous Nature

The novel’s descriptions of the beauty of Natal highlight the contrast between the various ways of life in South Africa. The hills and rivers of white farmland are always depicted as being fruitful and lovely, but the land of the black farmers is always shown as barren, dry, and hostile. This contrast between the natural beauty of South Africa and the ugliness brought on by its politics shows the necessity of change. It also, however, offers some hope. The land may be ravaged, but it is clearly not naturally infertile. With the right nurturing and protection, the potential for real beauty seems endless.

Book Review – Cry the Beloved Country – 9

Monday, August 18th, 2008

From Barrons’ Booknotes (Theme): Faith

In the tremendous hardships that Kumalo faces, his main solace comes from his faith in God. When he finds out what has happened to his son, his faith is shaken but not broken, and he turns to his fellow priests for comfort. Much of Kumalo’s time is spent in prayer, both for the souls lost in Johannesburg and for the fractured society of his village. Not just a form of comfort, Christianity proves to be a tool for resisting oppressive authority as well. Arthur Jarvis’s final essay, for example, calls the policies of South Africa’s mine un-Christian. Some allusions are made as well to the priests who have made social justice in South Africa their leading cause. As demonstrated with Msimangu, religion is often held up as South Africa’s only possible means of avoiding the explosion of its racial tensions.

Christianity is also, however, associated with injustice. John Kumalo reminds his brother that black priests are paid less than white ones, and argues that the church works against social change by reconciling its members to their suffering. He paints an infuriating picture of a bishop who condemns injustice while living in the luxury that such injustice provides. At the same time as he calls the policies of the mines un-Christian, Arthur Jarvis states that these policies have long been justified through faulty Christian reasoning. Arthur Jarvis mentions that some people argue that God meant for blacks to be unskilled laborers and that it is thus wrong to provide opportunities for improvement and education. The novel frequently explores the idea that in the wrong hands, Christianity can put a needy population to sleep or lend legitimacy to oppressive ideas.