I am going to copy down below a paper written by my dd back in October. She is 14 years old and is doing grade 10 work. We are doing Y2 Rhetoric (Level 10). We have done all of the writing assignments this year, with the exception of maybe one. She has done a fair amount of writing in the past with A Beka, but we are all TOG now and this is the year that I really want to buckle down and tackle the tough stuff. I am unsure/uncomfortable with assigning a grade to this paper (want to be consistent with the rest of them that have yet to be graded), not to mention the fact that I am a little nervous about posting it for all to see....kind of scary! I am asking you ladies to be brutal, as I really want to know what to be watching for in the future. I also want to thank you in advance for your help!
Here it is:
In this paper, I will discuss the Crusades, the false religious views that the popes used to motivate the crusaders, the ungodly acts that the crusaders committed, and the merciful results that God brought out of these mistaken adventures. As you will see in this paper, these were very difficult and trying times. The popes were God’s puppets for the reform that was to come.
The first point I want to discuss is the Crusades from a biblical perspective. The Crusades were Christian military expeditions organized to recapture the Holy Land during the Middle Ages. It was a way for the Crusaders to show what they believed, as they thought it was the will of God. They first got the idea for Crusades from the Bible; the most famous of Scripture was the idea of righteous anger when Jesus overturned the merchants’ tables at the synagogue. They thought that they also had the authority to “drive sinners out of the Holy Land.” The portion of scripture that they over looked was the verse that states, “…vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lord.” The crusaders were trying to take revenge, when the Lord said in His Holy word that He would, indeed, repay.
Although these Crusades were thought to be from God, these were often very bloody wars, and in no way could be thought to be from God. A bystander, after witnessing a bloody Crusade, said that he had "...never seen as much blood as that day, and that the blood went all the way up to the horses’ knees, and if you took all the wars and put them together, you would still not have as much blood." These sorts of things were often said about the Crusades, and sometimes the Crusaders were so ready to fight, that they accidentally murdered some of their own people. These actions were so violent and cruel, that it was hard to understand how they thought that these actions were God’s will. The Crusaders believed in what they fought for, and their intentions were good; usually, however, that was not the way that it ended up. There were many of these crusades which were inspired by the godless popes of the Roman Catholic Church.
The second point I want to discuss is the false religious views that the popes used to try to get the crusaders motivated. The first view, or phrase was, “Dieu le veut!” translated to “God wills it!” This was the battle cry before each Crusade. The popes wanted the crusaders to believe that this was what God wanted them to do, and therefore, the crusaders would feel worthy of God. As a manipulation tool, the popes used the passage of Scripture mentioned above that tells of God over-turning the merchants’ tables at the Lord’s House. The popes steered clear of the passage of Scripture that tells of God taking vengeance. False promises were made by the popes regarding prayers, indulgences, and blessings if they took part in the Crusades. For example, one crusader was promised blessings, indulgences, and prayers if he took part in the Crusade, and when he was on his death bed, the pope exclaimed that he would not bless him and hoped that he ended up in Hell instead of purgatory, but if for some reason he did end up in purgatory, he promised that he would not pray for him. The crusader then asked why, and the pope explained that he deserved what was due him. The crusader then died a very distraught man.
The problem with this was that a pope told the crusader that the only way out of purgatory was through his prayers, and the only way out of Hell was through his blessings before death. Crusaders were often told that they had to repent of their sins before both God and the pope. The popes believed that they were placed on this earth to be mediators for men. Pope Innocent III stated, “Popes are placed above men, but below God. We are the divine mediators for men.” Many crusaders had a problem with this thought because they read in their Bibles that the only divine mediator between God and man was Jesus Christ. The pope would say that anyone that did not believe his words would not receive a blessing, which would frighten the crusaders into going to the pope as he required.
Popes would also excommunicate anyone they thought should not be in the House of the Lord. In this sense, the pope had great power, because if the crusaders or even lords and kings didn’t do what he thought was Godly, he would excommunicate them. This also was a reason to go to the pope for repentance without question. Crusaders were very careful around the popes and went to them before every Crusade for a blessing in battle. Was this because they knew that what they were doing was ungodly?
The third point I want to discuss is the many ungodly acts that the crusaders committed. These consisted of mass murders and sometimes the killing of their own people in the heat of battle. The crusaders were so anxious to fight for what they deemed as right and good in the sight of the Lord, that they would kill anyone who stood in their way. Sometimes, the temptation was just too great for the crusaders, and they would loot the cities, taking back gold and special types of material such as silk, as well as metals to make more armor for future Crusades. After all the looting, the crusaders would then bring back concubines or wives of other men, and burn the town leaving the men and children behind to burn. They would then race back to the king with precious stones and the rest of their loot crying all the way back, "Dieu le veut!” or “God wills it!”, as was previously mentioned. These ungodly acts were very commonplace. Believe it or not, God used these circumstances for glorious results.
The fourth and final point I want to discuss is the merciful results that God brought out of these mistaken adventures. Towns were sometimes helped by the foreign king by being taken under government control, which made the towns more law abiding. This took awhile to accomplish since the crusaders had burned the towns so that nothing remained.
Another merciful result was that the Word was sometimes spread. People would wonder what the Crusades were all about, and would find out that the crusaders were fighting for their religion. This wasn’t the best way to spread the Word, because of all the violence that was committed during the Crusades, but people were still eventually told of the reason for these adventures that the king had ordered.
Although these Crusades were definitely not always God’s perfect will, they did help to spread God’s Word, bring land under government control, and bring temporary peace. As you can see, these Crusades were generally devastating to foreign lands but sometimes, with God’s intervention, these catastrophes became miracles.
As you can see from this paper, the Crusades were thought to be biblical, the popes used false doctrine to manipulate and motivate the crusaders, there were many ungodly acts committed by the crusaders, and through God’s intervention, these terrible events were turned into something good. It is amazing to think that times could be so chaotic, but in the end, used for good.
Hello Swim Mom!
Bravo to you and your daughter for being so brave and receptive regarding your daughter's paper. First off, she did a good job in presenting her points in a parallel fashion - topics were discussed in the order introduced in her first paragraph. this is very important!
Have you ever discussed the concept of a "hook" with your daughter? A hook is something that grabs the reader's interest and encourages him or her to keep reading. How could your daughter introduce her topic in an interresting way? We joke about hooks here - when we started homeschooling several years ago, I tasked my older son with writing a report on Christopher Columbus. He tried to start his intro with "This report is about Christoper Columbus." We then discussed how he could get my attention and interest with a hook. Now, whenever something is a real snoozer we all say "this report is about C.C...," and laugh. Perhaps you could keep the mood light and work with her on a more interesting opener.
In addition, you might wish to discuss the proper tone for academic writing. In formal essays, writers generally avoid first person construction. Also, we need to remember to be charitable in tone while still getting our point accross.
Next, how do you and she feel about how she developed her points? The last point seems rather weakly developed to me, and since the last point a writer makes should be strong (because that is what the reader remembers the most), you and she might consider reworking it or dropping it altogher. Similarly, you and she might want to massage her conclusion a bit. (personally, I always hated writing conclusions - by the time I had said everything I wanted to say I didn't feel like saying it again in the conclusion! the process can be tiring!)
Here's another thought - her topic is very broad for a brief essay. Volumes have been written about the crusades, so she can't be expected to cover it in a page or so. Perhaps she could narrow her topic next time and develop it more fully, or plan to write a longer paper to cover all her points.
Finally, have you determined what you want you daughter to learn from this assignment? Are you using the grading rubric, and if so, has your daughter seen it? Since this was written in October, can you compare it to more recent work? Have you seen improvement over the past few months? You could pull this essay out now as an editing exercise and have her reread it to see if she can identify what needs to be improved. She may see some things right away - if so, great! She may need some handholding as you lovingly lead her through improvements. That's okay, too, Remember, the goal is learning to communicate clearly in writing.
I hope I have said something helpful. Again, I applaud your bravery and your desire to help your daughter succeed! Blessings to you both!
Thanks so much for responding with your WONDERFUL advice. I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner, but we were tied up with a swim meet (again!).
Maybe you could answer a question for me. In the TOG curriculum, it was (I thought) suggested that she use that particular sentence for her thesis statement. She had wanted to use a different sentence, but I thought she had to stick with exactly what was suggested. Am I to understand that she could have done her "own" thesis statement, as long as she had those four points in it (they did want her to cover all four points)? Did Mom unknowingly crush her creativity?
I felt much the same way with regard to her presention of this paper in first person construction. I wasn't sure about it, though, so you definitely cleared that one up for me.
Yes, I totally agree about the fourth point. I, too, thought it was weak. I feel that she should have put more effort into giving the reader more detail/more meat on the subject. She thought it was fine, so I just left it for this time, but am glad to know that you felt the same way about it. I wouldn't have wanted it left out because the assignment was to cover this point, as well. She just needs to not be afraid of digging into it more (it's okay if the paper is actually four pages long....hers was a little over two).
How do you help them to make a better conclusion? You are right, that is tough...you don't really want to write it all again. Does she simply reiterate what she stated in her opening paragraph in another way, but with
more of a "conclusive" edge to it? Can she put in a final clincher of some sort?
Yes, I am using the grading rubric and I have shown it to her. I guess she should keep it handy when she is writing her paper to make sure she hits all of the points.
So, based on your suggestions, should I just go ahead and grade her with the grading rubric? Do you feel that I can easily do this with this paper? Will the grade truly reflect the work?
Also, I wanted you to know that I did post a correction on my original message. I neglected to tell you that she was 14 years old. I felt that was important because she is actually one grade ahead (always has been, since we started schooling her at age 4 - she was ready). So, she is doing 10th grade work. In your opinion, is she on track with what a Freshman might be doing? I simply have no idea, since she has never been in public school and I have no other children to compare her work with.
Again, I can't tell you how much your comments have helped me. Thank you so much for actually taking the time out of your schedule to help me with this. I know it took more time than you probably wanted (or had available) to spend.
I haven't forgotten about you - I just don't have time to type alot right now! Like Arnold (our "governator"), I'll be back!
Please forgive me for taking so long to get back to you - we have been doing standarized testing, my husband has been travelling, and my mom's house has been flooding - things have been hoppin' around here!
First, I always feel free to adjust assignments to match what I feel my sons need or what they have studied most thoroughly, or whatever. So, if your daughter feels she doesn't know enough to address a certain point fully, you could adjust the assignment, or require her to do more research (taking longer to do the paper), whatever makes the mose sense for your lives at the time.
For this particular assignment, I would require her to drop her last point or rework it. (of course, at this point, I would probably apply these "pearls of wisdom" (grin) to future assignments) When my guys run into problems thinking through points, I talk to them and help brainstorm. Sometimes we moms can contribute analytical skills gained from age and experience even if we don't have all the facts at our fingertips. For example, what were the merciful results brought about by the Crusades? (that leads to a host of other questions - merciful for whom? etc) Certainly, the Crusades were a catalyst for many social and economic and spiritual developments in Europe, including the Renaissance, the stimulation of trade (enriching the Italian states specifically), and the Reformation and Counter-reformation.
On to conclusions! Hmmm, remember the old adage about papers - tell them what you are going to tell them (intro), tell them (body), and tell them what you told them (conclusion)? I have also heard this expained in terms of format this way. Thimk of your intro as a fummel - moving form general information about your topic to your thesis, or big idea. The body is like a tube. The conclusion can be thought of as an upside down funnel, moving from the specific points made to some interesting big-picture thought about your thesis. Kind of like the so-what staement.
My older son (age 15, grade 10) chose to do his research paper (required annually by our umbrella school) on this topic ( title "A Brief Look at the Crusades form a Biblical Perspective"). This required him to think beyond just the economic and social impact of the Crusades on Europe. He had to try to determine what he thought might be God's purpose in allowing such horrific events (then and now!) Ultimately, he concluded that God's purposes for what He allows in human history are pretty broad and applicable for all eras: His own glory and the sanctification of His people. He (my son) reverse-funnelled, if you will, to that big idea in his conclusion.
One of the challenges in helping our children to write well is in helping them think big thoughts, and another is in not expecting them to think beyond what they are capable of developmentally. We want to stretch them without exasperating them - I'm not always sure how to pull this one off! I expect alot!
In terms of grading, I'm not sure what to advise. I generally don't accept a paper until it meets my expectations (which can vary depending on the assignment). But perhaps you and your daughter could sit together and compare her paper (or the next one) to the rubric and determine a fair grade. That way she could see where she needs to improve herself, and she could let you know where she feels her skills are lacking so you could do some reteaching. I might try that myself! My guys have gotten a little too dependent on me for editing they could do themselves, in my opinion.
Tammy, I hope this is helpful in some way. Know that I am there with you on this journey to produce well-educated, thoughtful young people who can express themselves well!
please excuse the typos!!
Thank you so much for the advice. It was very helpful and gave me some additional ideas on how to handle things.
I really liked your idea of the funnel concept. That is a good analogy that I will use in the future. You are right, it is hard to get them to think "big thoughts." I really want her to be able to expand on her points. We will need to do, as you said, more research and I need to make sure that she puts those points in an outline or cluster diagram, or something, to help her along. I have been a little slack there. I will pay more attention to that. I'm sure it will help her, as she will be able to more readily see all of the things she needs to write about. And, I can see that I should ask her more direct questions to get her to think in broader terms (beyond just the basic facts). It is so hard for a child to move beyond that point....it is hard for me to!!!
I have decided to use Jensen's Format Writing to supplement what we are already doing. I really like how he teaches children to research and write in a more efficient manner, rather than dragging it out too long. I want her to be able to tackle these projects when they are fresh in her mind (to help maintain her focus), and not have to be thinking about turning in a paper five or six weeks from the start of the thing. I like how he starts with the basics and builds. What she will write about will be what she is studying through TOG. With a combination of Jensen's and Writing Aids, I am hoping to be able to more clearly guide her.
We will keep plugging along with, hopefully, some fruitful results. She is certainly capable. She has written quite a bit in the past and used to love it. I feel that sometimes, as she gets older and I'm demanding more of her, that she feels like she needs to rush the project more, which is not the case. I will allow a reasonable amount of time to get a paper done - just not six weeks. Wish us luck! This writing thing has to be one of THE HARDEST things to accomplish. I need to keep it in prayer, that's for sure!
Again, thank you so much for your advice. I will put it into action!
You are very welcome, and I will join you in prayer for us both! I agree that making writing happen consistently is challenging; unfortunately, I tend to slack off in that area as well. Perhaps we can hold each other accountable. Blessings to you and your daughter as we all try to think "big thoughts"!