"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..."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review of Beowulf: An iBook from Providence eLearning

 Beowulf Video Enhanced Edition

I'm sorry in the delay in getting these reviews out to you.  Reviewing these textbooks has been guilty pleasure for me and I've been delinquent in sharing them with you. 

This was the third book I reviewed for Providence eLearning as a consulting project, and the second I will review here.

I haven't read Beowulf in over thirty years.  And, when I read it as a ninth grader, I really didn't care for it because I thought it was for boys.  Ha! 

Two years ago, I was reintroduced to Beowulf when we read Mary Pope Osborne's Favorite Medieval Tales for my boy's book club.  Whatever was lost on me in the ninth grade was found!  I enjoyed her exposition of the story and promised myself to go back to it.  This summer, I participated in an adult book club on-line and our first read was none other than Beowulf.  That was about two weeks before I got to review Providence eLearning's version of Beowulf. 

Providence eLearning's translation was very close to the Tolkien translation that I read for the book club.  I was very surprised by how much more I got out of the book after listening to the video lectures that followed every few pages of text.  Not only were the videos useful, but the audio narration with the names pronounced correctly was more helpful than almost anything.  I really don't do very well guessing pronunciations in other languages. Just not my skill.  Mr. William Lasseter, the English Chair at Providence Academy, is the instructor and narrator.  His voice and teaching skills are truly showcased by this book. 

The video "enhanced" textbook is a boon to homeschoolers.  Any student that doesn't have a discussion group or is working through this text on their own will find great value in this iBook.  The lectures and video production are well done.  Old book illustrations were used along with other great artist renditions of the tale.  The video production is a beautiful synthesis of new technology with a medieval tale and fine art.  Having the ability to look up words on the fly, check the glossary, check your understanding and have the text narrated to you all enhance your experience.  While the video piece is wonderful, I would be doing you a disservice not to mention all the other perks of using an iBook.  This textbook would be helpful to high-schoolers assigned the task of reading Beowulf.

This epic tale is wonderfully told and explained in this rendition of Beowulf.   I highly recommend this engaging iBook. Bonus - it's on sale right now at the iTunes Store for $6.99.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Review of The Poetry of William Blake: An iBook from Providence eLearning


This was the second book I reviewed for Providence eLearning as a consulting project, but the first I will review here.

I had no idea what to expect in reviewing this book as I didn't know much about William Blake other than one poem, The Tyger.  That was quickly remedied as the instructor spent time in the Preface giving information on him (Authorship and Context) that was extremely helpful in understanding how to approach his poetry and art.  Blake was not just a poet.  Blake was a particularly precocious child who was educated at home by his loving mother.  His artistic temperaments and interested were fostered by his parents.  He actually was trained in a trade as an engraver at a young age, which paid off in his later work when he would not only write poetry but illustrate it as well.  He would create prints, writing the poetry backward on the plate.  Then he and his wife would come back after printing with the engravings and hand paint each page with water colors.

Blake's poetry is beautiful and many poems touched me deeply, especially after the instructor's skillful interpretation.  This book also included other artwork by Blake.  The book is a beautiful balance of poetry, interpretation and appreciation of Blake's work.  I highly recommend this iBook.  Currently, it is on sale on iTunes for $6.99!