Cultivating Virtue with CS Lewis
I am excited to dive into the first three books of the Narnia series with you (plus some other fantastic readings)! You might be wondering what kind of course this is: Is it a literature course? A Book club? A Theology course? The answer is, “Yes!” It’s kind of a combination of all three. Let me try to explain…
Our goal together is to follow the imagination of an extraordinary writer in order to explore how the characters, settings and plots of his stories can help us to learn and discern a virtuous path through the unfolding plot and ever-changing landscapes of our own lives. What do I mean? Well, we’ll try to see ourselves in the characters of our books and learn from their mistakes and successes. We’ll share our own experiences and consider how choosing various “paths” through them could lead to wonderful – or disastrous – consequences. Moving between the imaginary world of Narnia and the real world of 20th century England will light up the challenges of the “worlds” that we each inhabit and give us a “way in” to consider how we might best navigate our own stories within them.
Along the way, we’ll meet Clive Staples Lewis (aka “Jack,” or better known as, “C.S. Lewis”), a highly curious and thoughtful boy who became one of the most clever and most well-known writers of his day (and ours!). Lewis’s childhood was full of challenge and difficulty, and we’ll read about how he grew to determine the answers to some of his most difficult life questions. He also happens to be the beloved author of the Narnia series as well as many other thought-provoking books and writings. Unlike his Narnian characters, Lewis is “real” and the story of his real life might also challenge and inspire us to think deeply about two questions: How does what he believes affect how he behaves? And how does the way he behaves influence what he believes? Maybe we’ll ask ourselves the same questions…
… and as we do, we’ll study and define each Narnian virtue in-depth. As a student in my class, you’ll select various virtues to pursue personally throughout the year, and you’ll work together with me, with parents/caregivers, and with your classmates to set and manage goals to cultivate those virtues in your daily lives. While we will be reading C.S. Lewis’s books, we’ll also be guided by biblical scripture and the spiritual practices of prayer, examen, confession and discipline. That might sound a bit formal, but I hope you’ll find that these simple everyday rhythms can become joy-giving practices that help to set you on a lifelong course for following and flourishing in the way of Christ!
My hope is that this course will be interactive and reflective, fun and serious, scholarly and restful. We’ll ask each other questions, share stories from our own lives, and discuss how real life is uncovered through the imagination of Lewis. Through it all, we will be pursuing the truest truth of all – the reality of Christ and the Truth of the Bible – in order to find our best guide through this world and into the next.
I hope you decide to join me on the journey!
Please Note: This course does not constitute a stand-alone writing course. For questions about pace or workload, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Kaufman’s Syllabus- Coming Soon!
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
- Be able to manage Canvas assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Canvas notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
- Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Canvas discussion boards.
- Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Canvas messaging.
- Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to build and use alphanumeric outlines as part of the writing process.
- Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
- Be able to build well organized paragraphs which employ (among other skills) topic sentences, transition sentences, clear linear thinking throughout the essay.
- Be able to build a logical, well-reasoned argument through a written essay providing sound reasoning (i.e. true premises, valid arguments, sound conclusions).
- Be able to request a family or peer to edit submissions, but understands these requests should be for the purposes of raising important questions for the student to consider and suggesting minor edits. The student understands that family or peer editors should not be reworking of sentences, redefining terms, building new concepts, building arguments or writing passages for the student.
- Be able to hand-write answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
- Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
- Be able to listen to the author’s argument and understand it even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).
- Be able to employ basic MLA formatting skills (i.e. 1-inch margins, double spacing, heading on paper).
- Be able to employ MLA citations for (for quoted material and referenced material) through the use of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, work-cited page. Student should have a concept of what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it.
- Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to type paragraph essays (short essays, and 5 or more page essays).
- Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
- Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
- Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.
- With Parent Support
- Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
- Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
- Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
- Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
- Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.
We will be reading three novels by C.S. Lewis, excerpts from some of his other writings and a biography of C.S.Lewis. Students will be expected to read 2-4 chapters per class.
- Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. 189 pp.*
- Lewis, C.S. Prince Caspian. 256 pp.*
- Lewis, C.S. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. 256 pp.*
- Geoff and Janet Benge, C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller. 192 pp.
- ISBN-10:1576583856 / ISBN-13:978-1576583852
- Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. 227 pp. (excerpts only)
- Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. 209 pp. (excerpts only)
- The Bible – Choice of translation is left up to personal preference, but instructor will generally read from the NIV.*I realize that many families already have copies of the books we will be reading, and it is unlikely that all participants will have a standard version from which we can refer to common page numbers. If you are looking to purchase new books, you may wish to purchase a box set with all seven Narnia books bound separately. If so, I recommend this version, which has original illustrations and a nice margin for students to annotate directly in the book:
ISBN-10: 0064409392 / ISBN-13:978-0064409391
Alternatively, this hardcover book includes the entire Narnia series in one binding:
ISBN-10: 0060598247 / ISBN-13: 978-0060598242
Elizabeth Kaufman is an educator, musician, and homeschooling mother of four. She teaches at Scholé Academy online in the Canterbury House of Studies. She is passionate about guiding children and families into biblical literacy and learning how to form a life that is increasingly guided by the study of scripture and the observations and rhythms of the church calendar.
Elizabeth holds a M.Ed. and earned her BA in Spanish from Hope College with minors in Music (piano performance) and Elementary Ed.. A missional mindset led her to work in various countries, teaching art and music in an American School in the Dominican Republic, grades 2 and 3 in a British school in Tanzania, and Spanish at a Montessori school in Michigan. Elizabeth went on to choose motherhood and homeschooling as a full-time pursuit and has loved teaching her four sons for the past nine years while living mostly in East Africa.
Throughout this time, she has grown increasingly committed to Classical Christian education and has developed a love for “living” literature and biblical scholarship. She has also combined her love of music and scripture to compose several collections of songs for young students and families to learn scripture together and to sing through liturgical seasons. Elizabeth believes that every course of study is an invitation to witness God’s redemptive work in the world and to be formed and transformed by it.
Elizabeth lives in Kenya where her husband teaches biblically-based church discipleship and her sons enjoy living and learning “in the bush.” When not teaching or composing, you can find Elizabeth researching the Bible through books and podcasts, trail running, hosting meals for friends and travelers, watching her sons ride motorbikes, or pursuing drawing and watercolor as an amateur artist. One day she hopes to learn a thing or two about gardening. You can listen to her music for learning scripture at www.musictomemorize.org. Email email@example.com
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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