Thursday, July 31, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Analytical Grammar #hsreviews

Analytical Grammar Review

During middle school, high school, and even college, I never quite grasped "it."   You know -- the big "it" of life and study and the how/when/why did it all fit together?  I spent a lot of years and a lot of time learning the random facts about people, places, and events that I would need to answer the questions on the tests to come, but I never quite understood how to reconcile those same people, places, and events in history.

I kept hearing that The Eternal Argument ($24.95) by Analytical Grammar was a must-read, but had no idea just how much we would come to love and appreciate it until I actually held my very own copy in my hands.  Billed as "a framework for understanding Western Literature and Culture"The Eternal Argument will help you answer the big questions you've been wondering about all of your life.  This is my kind of book.  It offers a way to fit together history and literature that explains the how and why.   Finally, I see the big picture.  In the author's words, the intention of this book is to give you a framework for studying most books that would fall under the heading of Western literature.  This includes anything written from the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans all the way up to contemporary literature.

Analytical Grammar Review

Author R. Robin Finley submits that to understand literature, you must first look at the culture surrounding the time period in which it was written.  I've never really considered that but it certainly makes sense.  I've read tons of books throughout my life and even made sure to have my children read those considered classics, but I haven't spent time reading these books in the context of the social, cultural, or political climate of the time period in which they were written.  Doing so simply changes everything.  It is Finley's premise that for thousands of years we've been in one big debate -- Is there a GOD and do we need HIM?  That is the eternal argument.  And how you answer those questions will determine how you understand and respond to literary history.  She says:

In the course of your life, you have met and will meet people who hold views which are either similar or different to yours.  I submit to you that, even if you have no idea what the two sides of The Eternal Argument are, you still have a position.

And that position determines what you glean from each piece of literature that you read and study.   If you've ever wondered if, then this delightful book will help you figure it out.  Sharing literary works through the swinging pendulum of history, Finley helps ignite a passion for reading in students young and old.  As we read through each chapter of the book together, my children have been introduced to snippets from many types of literature and I have been reminded of quite a few works that we need to read together.  She has also offered me a fresh perspective on books that I read in high school and college.  Many of them were read simply because there was a test coming, but now I plan to re-read with my children for enjoyment.

Appropriate for students in the 8th grade and up to read or for a family read-aloud and discussion in earlier grades, The Eternal Argument contains 15 easy-to-read chapters in 286-pages.  I would highly suggest that you not assign readings to your children to tackle independently, but that you read and discuss each chapter together as a family.  The discussions that will ensue around the dinner table and in the car will hold priceless memories for your family.

Not only have we read and enjoyed The Eternal Argument, but I intend to use this book as the spine for our entire curriculum for the next school year.  This is huge.  We've spent the past four years doing a chronological study of history in which I have learned as much as my children.  This year, we will begin reading through the literature that Robin Finley references and working to build our own timeline of art, science, literature, and history.  I am excited to put The Eternal Argument  to the test and see the ah-ha moments in action.

I want the Eagle Scout and the Princess to understand not only how to read a book (Chapter 13) but also to know how to deconstruct a book (Chapter 14).  Very rarely does one book change so much about how and why you do what you do and how you think and look at life around you.  The Eternal Argument is such a book.  Through her literary selections within each chapter and discussion questions at the end of each chapter, Finley truly brings a breath of fresh air to those dusty pages from the library.  She encourages each of us to pause and think.  We will be doing just this at Long Leaf Academy this year.  
Literature is the reflection of what has happened to us as a species on this planet.   Amidst all the getting and striving, struggling and trying to survive, literature happens in the pause we take to "think about it" from time to time.
More information including Sample Chapters, the Table of Contents and a complete bio of author Robin Finley can be found at the Eternal Argument website.  You'll want to do yourself a favor and spend some time perusing there.  I enjoyed listening to the audio samples (hearing Robin read aloud made the book even better) and look forward to ordering the audiobook so that we can all listen together.  Robin is funny and personable and reading through the pages of her book is like sitting down for a discussion with a dear friend. 

For further information, you can connect with Analytical Grammar on both Facebook and Twitter.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review The Eternal Argument as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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  1. I'm just like you....trying to put it all together. Wish this resource had been available when my kids were young!

  2. You definitely should read it! It's great for moms, too!


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