Meet a Few of Our Great Books Program Students

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From Tolerance to Totalitarianism: Modern Compassion’s Relation to Western neo-Fascism

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Dr. Peter Redpath, Director of the Angelicum

Dr. Peter Redpath, Director of the Angelicum

Below are copies of papers I will deliver later this year at KUL and in Munich (for a meeting with German bishops).  They overlap a bit, but I hope you enjoy them….Best wishes, Peter Redpath

 From Tolerance to Totalitarianism

The Contempoary Understanding of Tolerance

It’s Back! The Complete National Geographic

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We are very excited to bring back the Complete National Geographic for our geography course.  The Angelicum offers geography in grades 3-12.  The geography lesson plans follow our history program.  For example, in 3rd grade we study history of Ancient Egypt.  Our geography lesson plans include all of the relevant articles about Ancient and Modern Egypt from the Complete National Geographic.  You can find our geography plans and the Complete National Geographic DVD program under the history links in our bookstore. 

  • The Complete National Geographic includes every printed page–every article, photograph, advertisement–from 1888 through 2008
  • Browse special “readlists” from National Geographic stars or personalize your archive by creating and saving your own lists of favorite articles
  • Test your knowledge of subjects with a trivia game and reference hundreds of the magazine’s classic maps
  • Geobrowse helps you easily find articles, photographs, and maps about the location you choose
  • Includes bonus DVD with videos documenting the history of the National Geographic Society and National Geographic magazine
  • Explore 120 years of amazing discoveries, fascinating maps, and the world’s best photography with The Complete National Geographic. This definitive collection of every issue of National Geographic magazine, digitally reproduced in stunning high resolution, brings you the world and all that is in it.
  •  Use the advanced interface to explore a topic, search for photographs, browse the globe, or wander on your own expedition.

Complete National Geographic Features

  • Digital reproduction of all 120 years of National Geographic Magazine
  • Highest production quality on DVD
  • Digital scans are high resolution for optimal viewing of images
  • Easy to navigate and explore content
    • Search by keyword, author contributor, topic
    • Visual geographic search
    • Discover content through NG-created, or user-created “Read Lists
    • Zoom in/out of pages
  • Reading and search experiences significantly enhanced
    • Modern, graphical user interface
    • Explore and discover approaches to content
    • Geospatial browsing
    • Trivia Game to drive content discovery
  • Now Featuring Fold-Out Maps
    • The most popular feature of National Geographic Magazine
  • Bonus DVD includes video extras not available anywhere else
    • Best Moments of National Geographic
    • Photography tips
    • Narratives by award-winning NG photographers
  • The Complete National Geographic. Every Issue since 1888. Explore 120 years of amazing discoveries fascinating maps and the world’s best photography with The Complete National Geographic. This definitive collection of every issue of National Geographic magazine digitally reproduced in stunning high resolution brings you the world and all that is in it. WIN/Mac compatible 6 DVD-Rom’s plus bonus DVD.

    The True Origins of Slumdog Millionaire: The Hole-in-the-Wall Project, An Experiment in Slum/Village Education

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    One of our parents sent us this article.  She said she witnessed children teaching themselves Gaelic in Ireland just by watching the Teletubbies in Gaelic only. 

    The True Origins of Slumdog Millionaire: The Hole-in-the-Wall Project, An Experiment in Slum/Village Education (Free Article)

    In 1999, a computer expert in India thought up an experiment. His office was on the edge of a vast slum. It was separated from the slum by a wall. So, he poked a hole in the wall. Into the hole he inserted a computer screen with a touch pad. Inside his office was a desktop computer. It was hooked up to the Internet. He set up a hidden video camera to make a record of what would happen.

    Eight hours later, an 8-year-old boy was on-line, teaching his 6-year-old sister how to browse the Web.  More children came. Within days, the computer was a phenomenon.

    He took one to a village far off the beaten path. He set up another computer in a wall. The first youth to show up was a 13-year-old drop-out. The boy had never seen a television before. He assumed that this must be an interactive TV set. Within minutes, he was using the computer. He got the word out. By the end of the day, 70 children had learned to browse.

    The experimenter set up a kiosk system in another village where English was not spoken. Then he left for several months. When he returned, village children had learned basic English. They could not pronounce the words accurately, but they could read them.

    This experiment led to a book, which in turn led to a movie, Slumdog Millionaire.

    Here is a 2-minute video on how the project works. The experimenter has told his story to a TED group.  These 21 minutes will astound you. (If you have little time, begin at 7:15 into the speech.)

    He concluded that children can learn in an environment without adults. They teach each other. If the payoff is high enough, they learn on their own what educators say is not possible.  Computers are cheap when compared to teachers and school buildings. This is a way to supplement traditional education in poverty-filled towns and slums.

    Angelicum High School Religion Program – The Didache Series

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    For more information on this series, please click on each of the books.


    Meet One of Our Families from Huaytu, Bolivia

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    A big thank you for our Angelicum family from Huaytu, Bolivia for these beautiful pictures of homeschooling and family life.  We have added a new catagory here on Angelicum Great Books Blog called “Angelicum Families” -please send us your family/country pictures!


    How to Read a Hard Book

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    How to Read a Hard Book  by Mortimer J. Adler

    I find that more and more people have an urge to pry into such difficult subjects as science, philosophy, religion, economics and political theory. One clear sign of this is the widespread circulation of the serious books that are now found everywhere in paper-back editions. Decidedly, people want to go further and deeper in their thinking about many things which we used to feel were the monopoly of specialists and scholars.

    More often than not, however, this urge soon dries up. People find that the book which they open with high hopes of enlightenment turns out to be beyond their grasp. They think that the subject must require more background than they have, and they quit.

    Actually, any book intended for the general reader can be understood if you approach it in the right way. What is the right approach? The answer lies in one important-and paradoxical-rule of reading. You should read a book through superficially before you try to master it.

    Most of us were taught in school to go to a dictionary when we met an unfamiliar word. We were told to consult an encyclopedia, scholarly commentaries or other secondary sources to get help with statements we couldn’t understand. The rule to follow on tackling a difficult book calls for exactly the opposite procedure.

    Look first for the things you can understand, and refuse to get bogged down in the difficult passages. Read right on past paragraphs, footnotes, arguments and references that escape you. There will be enough material which you can immediately grasp, and soon it will add up to a substantial foothold from which to climb further. The amount you understand by a quick reading-even if it is only 50 percent or less-will help you to carry some light back to the places which left you in the dark.

    The tremendous pleasure that comes from reading Shakespeare was spoiled for generations of high school students who were forced to go through Julius Caesar, Hamlet or Macbeth scene by scene, to look up all the new words and to study all the scholarly footnotes. As a result, they never really read the play. By the time they got to the end they had forgotten the beginning and lost sight of the whole. Instead of being forced to take this pedantic approach, they should have been encouraged to read the play in one sitting and discuss what they got out of that first quick reading. Then they would have been ready to study the play carefully, for they would have understood enough of it to be able to learn more.

    The best proof of the soundness of this rule-give a book a first superficial reading-is what happens when you don’t follow it. Take a basic work in economics such as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. If you insist on understanding everything on one page before you go on to the next you won’t get very far. In your effort to master the fine points, you will miss the big points that Smith so clearly makes-about the role of the market in determining prices, the evils of monopoly, the reasons for free trade.

    What is true of The Wealth of Nations in the field of economics is equally true of J. S. Mill’s Representative Government in the field of political theory. These books are open to the layman if he approaches them in the right way; so also are a host of other books. In religion, the writings of Martin Buber, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich; in philosophy and psychology, the writings of William James, Segundo Freud, John Dewey, Bert rand Russell; in science, the works of Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein. The writings of such specialists are probably not completely understandable by the layman, nor need they be. It is a considerable achievement if we can grasp. The essential part of what these great men are saying, about their principles, their methods and their aims.

    In addition, it is well to remember that books can be not only good friends, but also passing acquaintances. Some of them can tell us what we want to know-or all they have to tell-from a brief chat, if we use them properly.

    A variation on the method of giving a book a first superficial reading is the technique of skimming. You will never get from skimming what reading and study can give you, but it is a very practical way of dealing with the mass of books available to you. By skimming you can get, often with surprising accuracy, a general sense of the contents of a book. This enables you to file the book away in your mental index so that, should occasion arise in the future, you can go back to it, dig it up and dig deeper.

    Giving a book a quick once-over is also a threshing process that allows you to separate the chaff from the real kernels of nourishment. You may discover that what you get from the skimming is all the book is worth to you for the time being. It may never be worth more. But you will then at least know what the author’s leading contention is, so the time you spent with the book will not have been wasted.

    For skimming or reading, the following steps are a good way to begin giving a book the once-over:

    • Look at the title page and preface, and note especially the subtitle-or other indications of the scope and aim of the book or the author’s special angle.
    • Study the table of contents to get a general sense of the book’s structure; use it as you would a road map before taking a trip.
    • Check the index for the range of subjects covered or the kinds of authors quoted. When you see terms listed that seem crucial, look up the passage. You may find the key to the author’s approach.

    Now you are ready to read the book or skim through it, as you choose. If you vote to skim it, look at the chapters which contain pivotal passages or summary statements in their opening or closing pages. Then dip into a page here and there, reading a paragraph or two, sometimes several pages in sequence. Thumb through the book in this way, always looking for the basic pulse beat of the matter.

    All this will add to your alertness while you read. How many times have you daydreamed through pages only to wake up to find that you have no idea of the ground you’ve been over? That cannot happen if you have a system for following a general thread.

    One word of warning: if you use this approach and start to skim through a book, you may end up discovering that you aren’t skimming it at all. You are reading it, understanding it and enjoying it. When you put the book down it will be with the realization that the subject wasn’t such a tough one after all!

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