"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book & Movie Recommendation

My husband is a big movie buff. He loves movies that teach great moral lessons that we can share with the kids.

Two weeks ago, he brought home Horatio Hornblower: Duty from the public library to watch. I saw 10 minutes of it because it was a movie to be watched on my "night out". I LOVED IT. They LOVED IT. It's an A&E production based on the C. S. Forester Horatio Hornblower Series written between 1937 and 1967.

C. S. Forester is most well known for _The African Queen_. He was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1899. He live his early years in England. At the beginning of World War II, he came to the US to help produce propaganda to encourage American support of the war effort. To pay the bills, he was also writing a screen play about the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, Captain Blood was released just as he was working on his movie script. He was disheartened and gave up. However, still needing to make a living, he started writing the Horatio Hornblower series. His first book, known as _Beat to Quarters_ in the United States, was a huge success. He added books for thirty years to the series and readers, famous and not, sung his praises. Here are a few famous men talking about the Hornblower series:

"I recommend Forester to everyone literate I know." - Ernest Hemingway

"I find Hornblower admirable."- Winston Churchill

I'm always looking for good books to use as book club material. As my children move closer to the Scholar Phase, I'm changing how we do our book clubs. This year I'm doing a literary book club for each of my kids where we'll used the Socratic method of literary analysis to discuss the book. We'll be using outlining the book using the worksheets from Teaching the Classics available from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I got so excited about the Horatio Hornblower books that I was about to do this for my son's group.

I reserved all eleven volumes of the series at the public library. I picked up the first on Monday. _Mr. Midshipman Hornblower_ was written in 1950 as a prequel. It's not supposed to be very good. In fact, as I read the reviews I felt myself starting to be a bit disappointed. It was a bit disheartening to see people say it was not nearly as good as the others that were written earlier. But, I usually have to judge things for myself and I'm glad I did. I didn't get to start reading the book until Tuesday evening.

I must admit I was a bit depressed after reading the first chapter. I won't spoil it for you, but I found the content too deep for a 6th grade boy's book club. I could see myself doing it starting in 8th grade, however. I was about to give up reading it. My husband, wise as always, encouraged me to just read another chapter and give it a chance.

I wanted to resist. My time is so precious these days, having 6 kids under 12. However, part of the TJEd philosophy is "You, not them" and I tend to forget that. I have been rereading _Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning_ by Oliver DeMille and I had a completely different take away this time. I get so hung up on the day to day that I often forget my goals. I want a Leadership Education, too. I need to be reading the Classis, too. So, here was my chance and my husband was willing to help me find the time to do it. I'd be silly not to take the time.

So, I kept reading. Yesterday was one of those days we spent hours in the car driving my nieces back to Wisconsin, visiting my 90 year old grandma and visiting my best friend from junior high and high school. We were in the car for about 4 hours of the day. I normally use that time to talk with my husband. We don't often get concentrated amounts of time to just talk, free of media or children. We did have children with us, but most were occupied visiting with their cousins or sleeping. Instead of talking with my husband, I read. He encouraged it, too.

Let me tell you, reader. I love the book so far. I'm on page 222 of 310 pages and I can't even believe I stopped to write this post. So, I now have the other 10 books in my possession from the library and I will be sneaking off to read whenever I have a spare moment.

If you have a young man (teen aged years), have them read this book series. If you are interested in helping them develop values and character, have them read this book. Horatio starts out as a 17 year old boy placed on a ship as Midshipman. Get to Wikipedia often to look up the TONS of nautical terms you are not going to know or recognize. Talk about the choices he had to make. Talk about why Mathematics was so important to his career and talk about the life-and-death situations he was place in with regularity and how he survived. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

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