or history. What is a hero? Or, they can
be used to determine public policy on
issues such as euthanasia. (What is it?
What makes humans and animals different when it comes to this issue?) Or, you
can use them to discuss classical music.
(What is a sonata? What are its parts?
What makes it different from other musical compositions?)
As our children explore the world, they
will achieve greater understanding
Comparison is a natural habit of mind.
We look to see how things are the same and
how they are different. After examining
roly-polies, the small child will be curious
about how a roly-poly is different from a
ladybug. Some of this will be easy. She will
notice that the roly-poly is black while the
ladybug is red. She will notice that the ladybug has wings while the roly-poly does not.
Then, she may begin to notice that they
have things in common. They both have
six legs and a pair of antennae.
Fast forward to discussions with your
older children. You can use the topic of
comparison to help them distinguish between big ideas like self-preservation and
heroism. How are these the same? They
share the goal of protecting human life.
How are they different? One is about preserving self while the other is about sacrificing self to preserve others. Have your
student give you examples of both from
history and literature. They shouldn’t
have to look too far.
Students must also consider questions of
relationship. These questions have to do
with what came before and after. Is there
a cause and effect relationship? Too often, we jump to conclusions about public
policy issues because we don’t properly
consider the questions of relationship. For
example, we often attribute an upturn or
downturn in the economy to a recent government policy. We must learn to clearly
distinguish between cause and effect and
antecedent (before) and consequent (after).
When Congress passed Prohibition,
there was a subsequent rise in crime. Is
this a cause and effect relationship? After
World War II, there was a period of rapid
economic recovery in the United States.
Was this caused by the war or was it sim-
ply an antecedent-consequent relation-
ship? When evaluating our own actions
or events in history, we can train our-
selves to ask these questions. What hap-
pened directly after event X? Did Y cause
X or did it just happen to occur before?
Students can also think about the cir-
cumstances surrounding a character or
an event. I recently read and discussed
Malcolm Muggeridge’s biography of
Mother Teresa—Something Beautiful for
God—with a group of homeschooled
high school students. One of the ques-
tions we pondered was whether or not
What if we could reclaim these tools so that our children are careful thinkers and
considerate speakers, winsomely drawing others to the truth?