What We're Reading (July edition)...

We hope everyone is enjoying a restful and relaxing summer! As the summer continues, we are keeping up with our "What we're reading..." series to share news and articles that we’ve found interesting or insightful over the summer months!

What are you reading this summer? If you need some inspiration, check out our weekly “What We’re Reading Wednesday” videos as our faculty and staff share some of their recommendations for parents and students.

Interested in joining fellow parents and teachers for some summer reading?

This summer, ILS is hosting a Summer Book Club! Parents and friends of ILS are invited to join us each month as we read and gather to discuss a short selection. Please use the form below to let us know if you will be able to attend one or more of these discussions!

Join us on Thursdays at 7 pm. Reading selections and options to order, included via the links below.

July 11: Revelation by Flannery O'Conner 
August 8: Leaf by Niggle by J. R. R. Tolkien (copies available in the ILS office)

Please let us know if you can join us!

Recently my son and his family traveled to the beach, so I came into town to keep an eye on their house, cat, and dog. Finding the key, I opened the basement door and went inside. On the opposite wall the large dry-erase board proclaimed “WELCOME GRANDPA! We love you!”

A note of five words, and yet it lit a candle in my heart.

Most of us know the power of the note, although, if you are like me, you often neglect the opportunity to practice that power.

A note is short and to the point, a quick hug, a pat on the back, a burst of applause from the stands.

We witness such a moment in the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Here British athlete Eric Liddell is about to run the most important race of his life in the Olympics. Jackson Schultz, an American runner who admires Liddell’s strong Christian faith – Liddell refused to run another race because it fell on a Sunday – approaches him right before the race and wordlessly hands Liddell a note. Liddell unfolds the note and reads, “It says in the Old Book, ‘He that honors me I will honor.’” Liddell clasps the note in his hand, carries it in the race, and wins.

Of course, many today send such notes via text, which is all to the good. It’s quick and convenient, and lets others know what they mean to us.

But the best notes are those written by hand. Recipients of such notes can hold them in their fingers, and if they choose, fold them and put them in their wallet or purse, carrying them like a talisman, a reminder of worth, throughout their day.
— Jeff Minick, "The Power of 'Just a Note'"

A codex is just the Roman name for a book, made of pages, and usually bound on the left. Its predecessor was the scroll or book roll, which was unrolled as you read. The codex is manifestly superior: one can hold many volumes (from the Latin for book roll, volumen); codices have a built-in cover for protection; and pages that can be numbered for reference, from which arose a cornucopia of tables of contents and indices.

The codex didn’t catch on until surprisingly late in the ancient world. The early Christians, however, took to the codex with singular enthusiasm. Wider adoption of this form seems to have corresponded to Christianity’s spread. In the 4th century, no less a figure than St Augustine illustrates the difference between a codex and a roll – and the nagging ‘Christianity’ of the codex.

Not yet baptised, in his garden where he had been reading, Augustine tells us he heard a child’s voice chant: ‘Tolle Lege!’ (‘Take up and read’). So he grabbed his book and flipped to a random page. His eyes lit upon a passage in Paul’s ‘Letters to the Romans’. The words he found were the key to his conversion. The book couldn’t have been a roll: it was a codex of the Gospels. But many of his other, often non-Christian books, were rolls.
— Benjamin Harnett, "The birth of the book: on Christians, Romans and the codex"

Data visualizing company The Visual Agency has recently released a complete digitization of Leonardo da Vinci’s 12-volume, 1,119-page Codex Atlanticus. For the first time, the interactive application allows you to browse through every page, filled with finely-detailed sketches and scribbled notes. Exploring the extraordinary collection is like entering into the mind of the legendary Renaissance artist, engineer, and inventor.

Codex Atlanticus is the biggest collection of Da Vinci papers and it covers his entire career. It begins in 1478 (when he was working in his hometown of Tuscany) to 1519 (when he died in France). The name Atlanticus comes from the fact that Da Vinci used large sheets, similar to those used for geographic Atlases. The diverse portfolio reveals sketches and diagrams for his creative inventions such as parachutes, war machines, and hydraulic pumps. It also features his detailed architectural sketches and anatomy studies.

The digitization project was made in collaboration with the Biblioteca Ambrosiana who preserves all pages of the 500-year-old collection. The Visual Agency designed an easy-to-use, color-coded application that allows you to browse by year, subject, and topic. The makers say on their website, “The cataloging of the Codex Atlanticus is unique and will open new ways to study and experience this collection of texts and drawings and to dive into the work of one [of] the great masterminds of history.”
— Emma Taggart, "All 1,119 Pages of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Codex Atlanticus” Now Available Online"

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I’ve never seen the California redwoods, but when I was a junior in high school, I studied their root systems in my earth science class. I don’t remember much I learned in the course, but I remember the redwoods, three families of sequoias, and how they grow in thick groves, and how their roots intertwine and fuse together. Most redwoods grow to about three hundred feet high and weigh nearly two million pounds. Their roots range from five- to twenty-feet deep and spread out over an acre of land, claiming 90,000 cubic feet of soil. Yet the burden of their own lives is simply too much for them to hold up themselves, and the only way for them to bear their own weight is to intertwine their roots with those of the other sequoias in their grove. So they grow and fuse together, forming a mass of roots and soil that keeps them all standing.

When I was studying earth science as a junior in high school, one of my best friends was a tiny, vivacious, beautiful girl named Ann. She loved faerie tales (always spelled like this) and philosophy and poetry. She loved nature and trees, and she always loved the thought of California.

Redwoods grow along the coast, soaking up the Pacific Ocean through their matted roots in a 450-mile-long belt of forest. It’s windy there and floods easily. There are forest fires, and far deeper than sequoia roots can grow, there are fault lines from which earthquakes rise. With wind and rain and fire and moving earth, it is not an easy place to grow. It’s an easy place to fall, actually.

If a redwood falls, but no one can hear it over the grind of moving earth, does it make a sound?
— Hannah Hubin, "If a Tree Falls in the Forrest"

If you have an algebraic expression of the form:


You can use the distributive property of multiplication to multiply the two brackets (i.e. multiple each term in the first bracket by each term in the second). When you do, you will usually produce a ‘trinomial’ i.e. an expression with
x^2, x
and unit terms. For example:


However, going in the reverse direction from a trinomial to two sets of multiplied brackets or ‘factors’ is often the more useful thing to be able to do and it is harder. For a start, if you simply dream up any old trinomial, it may not factorise at all or, if it does, the numbers that go into the brackets might be fractions or even irrational numbers such as the square root of 2.

Typically, high school students are taught how to factorise trinomials that do readily factorise and there are two levels of difficulty – those where you have only a single
term and those with
2x^2, 3x^2
and so on. I prefer a strategy called ‘grouping’ for the harder kind of factorising, but this is always a cause of some debate within my department. Regardless of the approach, the ability to factorise depends a great deal on knowledge of multiplication facts (times tables).

The interesting stuff happens around the special cases such as the ‘difference of two squares’ or when the trinomial will not readily factorise. There is plenty of scope for exploring important ideas such as irrational numbers, linking to graphs and functions, linking to other approaches such as ‘completing the square’ and generally building a deeper, more interconnected understanding of mathematics.
— Greg Ashman, "Why would anyone want to spend time factorising trinomials?"

It’s 8:46 on a Sunday morning, and I’m still in my pajamas sipping coffee and listening to the birds outside my sun-filled apartment as I write. No choir obligations, no classroom work looming for the after-church hours, no rush to get the laundry done today, no urgent Sunday-evening meal prepping to anticipate.

Ah, the glories of summer break.

I love the chance to slow down, to accomplish tasks that get ignored during the school year, to enjoy the weekends with my husband instead of rushing to get as many chores done as we can within two days. On the other hand, the slowness of the upcoming months can be a detriment to me, a person who can be labeled whatever the opposite of a workaholic is. I am not naturally industrious or driven to accomplish work when said work is not pressing. Knowing this about myself, I have started to plan (not a strength of mine either) what I should do this summer to help my next year of teaching music go as smoothly as possible. I’m no expert and I’d love to hear any veteran advice, but the following are five helpful tasks to complete over the generally less busy days of summer.
— Mrs. Marie Greenway, "Five Step Summer Plan for Music Teachers and Directors

Today, June 25, is the 489th anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, which sets forth the definitive teachings of Lutheran theology.

This is very much a lay document, having been written not by Luther but by the great classical Renaissance scholar Philipp Melanchthon, a layman. Furthermore, the presenters were regional rulers and the elected representatives of self-governing cities–laymen all–who were confessing their faith to the Holy Roman Emperor, to whom they owed allegiance and who was concerned about the outbreak of the Reformation in his realm.

The Emperor held a diet–a meeting of all of the rulers and city representatives under his jurisdiction–at Augsburg in Germany. On June 25, 1530, thirteen years after the posting of the 95 Theses, those who held to the Reformation were brought before the assembly to give an account of themselves.]

The confessors wanted to correct misunderstandings about the Reformation and to refute false charges that were being said about it. Many of these misunderstandings and false charges–for example, that these are new teachings, that the Reformation is anti-sacramental, that the Reformation rejects the liturgy, that the Reformation opposes good works, that the Reformation undermines social order–are still common today!

The confessors showed that the so-called Lutherans are in continuity with the church catholic, while clearly stating the elements of the church that had departed from that catholicity and so was in need of reform.
— Gene Veith, "Presenting the Augsburg Confession"

Millions of people—perhaps you’re one of them—have watched viral videos of a Scottish granny collapsing in laughter while she reads to a baby. Comfortable on a sofa with her grandson, Janice Clark keeps cracking up as she tries to read “The Wonky Donkey” and, in a second video recorded a few months later, “I Need a New Bum.”Her raspy burr sounds great, and she’s fun to watch, but the real genius of the scene is what’s happening to the baby. Tucked beside her, he’s totally enthralled by the book in her hands. In the second video especially, because he’s older, you can see his eyes tracking the illustrations, widening in amazement each time that she turns the page. He’s guileless, unaware of the camera. He has eyes only for the pictures in the book.

What’s happening to that baby is both obvious and a secret marvel. A grandmother is weeping with laughter as she reads a story, and her grandson is drinking it all in—that’s obvious. The marvel is hidden inside the child’s developing brain. There, the sound of her voice, the warmth of her nearness and, crucially, the sight of illustrations that stay still and allow him to gaze at will, all have the combined eect of engaging his deep cognitive networks.Unbeknown to him and invisible to the viewer, there is connection and synchronization among the different domains of his brain: the cerebellum, the coral-shaped place at the base of the skull that’s believed to support skill refinement; the default mode network, which is involved with internally directed processes such as introspection, creativity and self-awareness; the visual imagery network, which involves higher-order visual and memory areas and is the brain’s means of seeing pictures in the mind’s eye; the semantic network, which is how the brain extracts the meaning of language; and the visual perception network, which supports the processing of visual stimuli.

And it is all happening exactly when it needs to happen, which is early. In the first year of life, an infant’s brain doubles in size. By his second birthday, synapses are forming for language and many other higher cognitive functions. And by the time he’s blowing out five candles on his birthday cake, today’s viral-video infant celebrity will have passed through stages of development involving language, emotional control, vision, hearing and habitual ways of responding. The early experiences he’s having, and the wiring and firing of neurons they produce, will help to create the architecture of his mind and lay the pathways for his future thought and imagination.
— Meghan Cox Gurdon, "The Secret Power of the Children’s Picture Book"