How to Boost STEM Education with PHLEGM

STEM education is all the rage these days, and why shouldn’t it be? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are closely related to one another, and jointly useful to society. The market knows this, and lucratively rewards those who pursue careers in these areas. Guidance counselors have compelling reasons to encourage students to pursue STEM studies.

However, STEM may disappoint its followers unless it is supplemented with, well, PHLEGM. This suggestion may not sound appealing at first, but that’s part of the point. PHLEGM represents those subjects that seem, shall we say, worthy of being spat out and left behind in the fast-paced world of the 21st century. However, PHLEGM remains as relevant and as useful as ever.

Permit me to explain.

Philosophy, History, Literature, Etymology, Geography, and Music—to name just a few of the forgotten arts—deserve to be preserved in our educational programs. PHLEGM provides a strong foundation for STEM, and a strong foundation for much else as well.

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Pro-Choice Fallacies Exposed

My heart hurts for women considering abortion as their best or only option, and for the dear little ones they will never hold if they believe that lie. The abortion world-view holds some glaring errors and perhaps some women would choose life, if only the falsehoods of pro-choice rhetoric could be exposed. Of course, the abortion-minded need more than just logic; they also need love. Some people will never change their minds about abortion because their hearts are hard, yet I encourage my readers to approach any conversation about abortion with love while speaking the truth, sharing with listeners the forgiveness we all have in Christ. I write these answers to fallacies to give you a starting point for your conversations. Let’s show the love of Jesus to others, supporting those who choose life with our prayers and actions, working towar dmaking abortion not just illegal, but also unthinkable.

Fallacy 1: The embryo/fetus isn’t a human.

Embryos and fetuses are humans, albeit small and underdeveloped humans. These medical names are given to certain stages of development prior to birth, not to non-human parasites. Every adult human being was once an embryo. We follow predictable life-cycles: conception, in-utero growth, birth, toddlerhood, adolescence, adulthood, old-age. If it is illegal to hunt eagles, it follows that it would be illegal to smash eagle eggs: the eggs contain young eagles. The embryo is not an adult, but that doesn’t mean it is not human. Who would want to give birth to a full-grown human, anyway? With today’s ultrasound technology, even most leaders of the pro-abortion movement concede that the embryo is a human being.

Fallacy 2: Abortion shows love to the woman! or You only care about the baby!

We don’t have to choose between showing love to the baby and love to the woman. We can show love to both! Obviously, abortion is not loving to a baby (because it is murder), but it is not loving to a woman, either. Abortion is not a choice at all, but a desperate attempt at control, made out of fear.

There are grave physical risks to the mother from abortion, as well. There are grave emotional, mental, and spiritual risks from abortion. Abortion is not a loving choice for mother or child. True love does not take the easy way out. I won’t deny it: pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing (or adoption) are one of the hardest things a woman will ever go through. But good things never come easy. All mothers admit that our lives are richer because of the trials we’ve gone through on behalf of our children.

No one ever needs to choose between loving a woman or loving a child. Both can be loved, and neither needs abortion. Women need support in choosing life, and certainly pro-lifers could improve at this. Supporting an abortion-minded woman is never loving her: instead, it is ditching your responsibility to help and sacrifice for her and child, allowing her to put herself and her baby in harm’s way. That is not love, it is convenience and selfishness.

Fallacy 3: Legal abortion allows equal access to safe abortion.

Equality should be championed. But not if equality means equal ability to murder one’s offspring. It is impossible to have equal access to safe abortion because abortion is inherently risky, even when done in a sterilized room by a trained physician. The "successful outcome" of an abortion is the death of a human, and therefore is never safe.

Legal or illegal, some women will still seek abortion. Sadly, women with lesser financial means might be at greater risk for medical complications on the black market. That does not mean abortion should be legal. Street drugs are illegal. Rich women can buy them with less personal risk than poor women, but they are still illegal. The government does not exist to legislate equality through the death of innocent citizens.

On the topic of equality, we need to discuss the inherent inequality of abortion. Two humans with two heartbeats walk into the abortion clinic. Only one human with one heartbeat walks out. Where is the equality for the individual inside the womb?

Birth-control and abortion were originally championed by euthanists who wanted to “purify” society from “unfit” individuals, including ethnic minorities and the poor. Even today, higher percentages of minorites are aborted overall. Anyone truly wanting to stand for equality in our nation should be pro-life and give women of all races and ages equal opportunities.

Fallacy 4: If abortion were not an option, there would be loads of unwanted and neglected children.

Nothing moves a person’s heart more than an unwanted and neglected child. But abortion doesn’t eliminate this; instead, abortion replaces potential neglect with death. In fact, it’s fair to say that access to abortion undermines the inherent value of children which makes them all the more likely to be neglected. The abortion world-view sees children as a commodity, only something to live if they are wanted. Rather, babies have value regardless of the circumstances of their conceptions because they offer hope for the future of the world.

Laws have been, and ought to be, passed to provide for and protect unwanted and neglected children, not to eliminate them. Laws should not be passed that allow murder for unwanted children any more than they should be passed to allow murder for any other undesirable group that adds a burden to society—the poor, the mentally-ill, or the incarcerated.

In fact, many mothers who have chosen life instead of abortion (even after rape) have found themselves in love with and very much protective of their child. These ideal and model mothers never would have had the chance to know how very much they would want their child, had they been persuaded by this argument.

For those mothers who cannot raise a child in good conscience, thousands of families are waiting and wanting to adopt. Of course, adoption is a difficult road, but can be easier with the education and support of a quality adoption agency. Let’s not pretend abortion, a major surgery with a lifetime of physical and emotional scars, is an easy alternative.

No child needs to be unwanted or neglected. True concern for the well-being of a child (and her mother) necessitates the chance for them both to live.

Fallacy 5: The government ought to protect a woman’s right to her own body.

First, as established in 1 above, a baby is in a woman’s body, but is a human in itself. Making decisions about her own healthcare is one thing; allowing a woman to kill her child is no longer a right to her body, but her child’s body. When a mother’s choices cross over the placenta into her womb, it’s no longer just her body. The government ought to protect is a woman’s right to choose and access appropriate and safe healthcare for herself and her child while pregnant. Abortion is neither safe, nor healthy, nor caring. It is abandonment of both mother and child.

To appeal to the government to protect abortion is abandoning one’s personal responsibility to those in their midst. Parents should support (and forgive) their unexpectedly expecting daughters. Parents should encourage (and forgive) their unexpectedly expecting sons to be active fathers. Neighbors, friends, churches, and communities can offer encouragement and resources. Abortion, doesn’t free a woman to do anything; rather, it frees those who fight for abortion to forsake a lonely and vulnerable woman and her child for their own convenience and ease.

To make abortion illegal does not take away a woman’s right to her body; it establishes a baby’s right to her own body. It does not necessitate that a woman raise a child; it establishes that she must not murder the citizen in her womb.

Fallacy 6: Abortion is necessary to protect the health of mother.

Our society should value women’s health. But, as established in 3 above, abortion is neither healthy or safe for women.

Pregnancy has inherent risks. Thus, before anyone consents to sex, she should be educated that pregnancy and motherhood are very real possibilities, birth control or not. Therein exists a true “right to choose”: abstinence or sex. For pregnancy risks relating to non-consensual sex, see 7 below.

As for physical risks early in pregnancy, a mother might be encouraged to have an abortion due to an ectopic pregnancy. With advancements in research and medicine, this is no longer considered necessary. The baby can be moved via surgery to the uterus! While not always a successful surgery, the object of the procedure is preservation of life for both the mother and child. As for third-trimester risks in pregnancy, many noted doctors profess that late-term abortion for the life of the mother is never necessary. A c-section can be performed to save them both.

Mental and emotional health risks are certainly real. Many a mother feels overwhelmed with the daunting tasks daily life while pregnant or raising a child. Thankfully, there are medications and therapies available to all women, even low-income. Even having a friend or lay-counselor to talk to about her concerns can alleviate fear. Mental and emotional issues attached to pregnancy do not need to be a reason for abortion, and in fact, can surface years later as a consequence of abortion.

A woman’s health is important and we should do all we as a society should support her in making healthy decisions, for both herself and her child. Abortion is not healthy for either.

Fallacy 7: Abortion needs to be legal for women who are pregnant through rape or incest.

I cannot begin to imagine the horror a rape victim has gone through, but abortion will neither correct nor erase her experience. Abortion does not bring the rapist to justice; instead, his innocent child pays his death sentence and is slaughtered.

A woman deserves our support and concern after such horrific experience, through her pregnancy, and beyond. But allowing her the physical and mental atrocities of abortion does not do her, or her child, any favors. Abortion will only kill her child and leave additional scars on her body and heart.

Many women have found healing after rape through motherhood. If a woman, understandably, cannot raise the child, many families are available for adoption.

Fallacy 8: A woman’s health decisions should be between her and her doctor.

America’s Declaration of Independence states that people have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As important as healthcare decisions are, the government must prioritize a child’s right to life over and above a woman’s patient/doctor relationship.

In addition, most abortions aren't decided or done between a woman and her doctor. Her primary care doctor who knows her medical history might not ever be informed. Abortion is likely done in strange facility that she will never again go to. The physician who performs the surgery is not likely to follow up with her to sympathize with the horrendous physical and emotional aftermath. Some doctors don't even provide informed consent of what could happen to a woman and her child during and after an abortion. Let’s not pretend that abortion clinics have a woman’s well-being in mind. Pills that can be taken privately and quietly are not exempt from side-effects. Neither do they leave a woman supported, but secretive and alone.

Even if healthcare decisions were the most fundamental human right, doesn’t if follow that a pre-born woman has the right to consult with a physician about her health and future? Tragically, abortion strips that right from her. Thus, this one of the few times the government ought to be involved in healthcare: to protect its most vulnerable citizens when neither their mothers nor doctors will.

Abortion wouldn’t even need to be broached between a woman and her physician if she is offered unconditional love, support, and HOPE from the world! A new life does NOT have to be perceived as the end of a woman’s own life! It’s not her life or the baby’s life. It can be both lives! A baby, even conceived in the worst of circumstances, is a gift to the world. A woman is a vessel of that human potential in her baby, even if she cannot provide for the child long-term. Neither the government nor a doctor can have a bond with a woman more meaningful than that of mother and child.

Fallacy 9: Abortion is sad, but it still needs to be a choice for a woman.

Everyone knows that the death of a baby is a tragedy. And yet, our culture and media celebrate abortion, which isn’t just the death of a baby, but the right of a mother to murder her child.

No women gets an abortion for fun. I have great compassion for any women who finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy. But the fundamental difference between the pro-choice camp and the pro-life camp comes down to truth. Murder is always wrong, even if that murder ends with a “successful outcome” from someone’s viewpoint, whether the mother who can “get on” with her life, the abortion clinic whose income is higher, or the society who doesn’t have the expense of caring for another mother and child on welfare.

Truth is truth. It isn’t always pleasant. In fact, it’s mostly not pleasant. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it or argue against it just because we don’t like it. It is always wrong to hurt others for one's own benefit, particularly the weak and vulnerable. Even if we think our reality would be better with them out of the picture.

All women should have the right to choose life and truth; sadly, many are coerced into abortion for a variety of reasons. In fact, those who are champions for “choice” usurp that very “choice” altogether from a particularly large group of females, the next generation of women whose future will never be due to this generation’s selfishness. They also take strip a father’s choice to raise and care for his children. The "Right to Choose" is a very powerful phrase, but in truth, it means the “right to choose” for only a select group of people, and the “right to murder on demand” at that.


A woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy may feel manipulated by the pro-choice rhetoric above. This life within her may frighten her and and she may rightfully be concerned for her future. But she doesn’t need to feel alone: God doesn’t make mistakes. Every child is a blessing, and she has been uniquely chosen by God to be the vessel of life for this unique person. Her life may not look like what she expected, but that doesn’t mean this child will be her undoing. There is hope! And for any woman who has had an abortion, forgiveness in Christ is hers!


Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).


Suggested Poetry Memorization List

Here are some suggestions of beloved poems that my children have memorized (or will soon memorize!) since we began homeschooling nearly a decade ago. Our practice is to read one work aloud once or twice each day, concentrating on one selection a month. Some longer selections are practiced up to two months. We do these selections in addition to our Scripture and Catechism memory work.

Preschool Children (about 3-6 yrs.)


  • 1, 23, 51, 63, 100, 133, 139, 150


  • Try, Try Again, Hickson
  • Halfway Down, Milne
  • My Gift, Rosetti
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful, Alexander
  • How Doth, Carroll
  • The Caterpillar, Rosetti
  • Work, Stodard
  • Mr. Nobody
  • The Goops, Burgess
  • How Many, How Much, Shel Silverstein
  • Wynken, Blinken, and Nod,
  • Afternoon on a Hill, Millay
  • Any Nursery Rhyme


  • Books of the Old Testament
  • Books of the New Testament
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • The Apostle’s Creed

Primary Children (about 7-10 yrs.)

 Selections from the Bible

  • Psalms: 34, 127, 128
  • A Time for Everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)
  • Ten Commandments in context (Exodus 20:1-17)
  • Many Mansions (John 14:1-6)
  • The Word Became Flesh (John 1:1-5, 11-14)
  • The Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4-9)
  • Wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:28-31)
  • The Christmas Account (Luke 2) 

Fun and Rhyming Poems

  • The Jabberwocky, Lewis Carrol
  • A Visit from St. Nicholas, Moore
  • Sea Fever, Masefield
  • The Height of the Ridiculous, Holmes
  • A Tragic Story, Thackeray
  • The Spider and the Fly, Howitt
  • Father William, Southey
  • Matilda, Belloc
  • Ozymandias, Shelley
  • I Wandered Lonely, Wordsworth
  • Foreign Lands, Stevenson


  • The Beatitudes and Selections from The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
  • Sermon to the Birds, Assisi
  • I Have a Dream, MLK
  • Gettysburg Address, Lincoln
  • The American Presidents
  • Kings and Queens of England (Poem: England’s Sovereigns in Verse)
  • Nicene Creed


  • The Star-Spangled Banner, Key
  • Hiawatha, Longfellow
  • Pocahontas, Thackery
  • Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, Heman
  • Excerpts from The Declaration of Independence
  • A New Colossus, Lazarus
  • O, Captain! Whitman
  • Paul Bunyan, Silverstein
  • March to Bannockburn, Burns

Middle School Children (about 11-14 yrs.)

Chapters from the Bible

  • Psalms: 8, 103, 130
  • The Creation (Genesis 1)
  • The Greatest Commandment (Deuteronomy 6)
  • Love Never Fails (1 Corinthians 13)
  • All Things Work Together (Romans 8:28-39)
  • Walk In Newness of Life (Romans 6:1-11)
  • Do Not Worry (Matthew 6:25-34)


  • Casey at the Bat, Thayer
  • The Old Oaken Bucket, Woodworth (and As Revised by the Board of Health!)
  • An Overworked Elocutionist, Wells (Great after you’ve already memorized many selections!)
  • When the Frost is on the Punkin, Riley
  • The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet, Carryl
  • The Village Blacksmith, Longfellow (and others)
  • The Bells, Poe
  • Excerpts from The Courtship of Miles Standish, Longfellow
  • Solitude, Wilcox
  • The Lady of Shalott, Tennyson
  • The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, Marlowe and The Nymph’s Reply, Raleigh
  • Excerpts from On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, Milton
  • How Do I Love Thee, Browning
  • Khubla Khan, Coleridge


  • Queen Elizabeth’s Speech to the Troops at Tilbury
  • Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death (The War Inevitable), Patrick Henry
  • The Athanasian Creed
  • Selections from St. Augustine
  • Excerpt from Luther’s Speech at the Diet of Worms
  • Entirety of Amazing Grace, Newton
  • The Bill of Rights
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Macbeth
  • To Be, or Not to Be, Hamlet
  • All the World’s a Stage, As You Like It
  • Sonnet 18, Shakespeare
  • Anthony’s Soliloquy from Julius Caesar (“Friends, Romans, Countrymen...”) 


  • The Burial of Moses, Alexander
  • Belshazzar’s Feast, Kirk (or many other versions)
  • The Destruction of Sennacherib, Lord Byron
  • Cleopatra Dying, Collier
  • Sherwood, Noyes or Lady of Shallot, Tennyson
  • Excerpts from Song of Roland
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade, Tennyson
  • Columbus, Miller
  • The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Longfellow
  • George Washington, Benet
  • Independence Bell, Anonymous
  • The Oregon Trail, Guiterman
  • Annabel Lee, Poe
  • I Hear America Singing, Whitman


Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).


Ten Book Club Questions

If you don’t have the opportunity to read aloud an entire novel with your child(ren) and discuss the plot as you go, each of you can read on your own and meet for an hour at the end to discuss the book.

Together, talk through these prompts. Make it a special occasion by adding tea or another treat!

  1. What did you think this book would be about before you read it? Were you correct?
  2. Does this book or one of its characters remind you of another book or another character? Which one and why?
  3. What is the setting? How does it affect the story?
  4. What was your favorite part of the book? Why?
  5. What is the main message from this book? Do you agree?
  6. What questions would you like to ask the author?
  7. What would you suggest to others that would help them decide whether or not they might read it?
  8. If this book had a sequel, what might it be about?
  9. How does your faith fit in with this book? How do the author’s and character’s faiths shine through?
  10. What is your favorite quotation from the book?


Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).


Classical Lutheran Homeschool Core Curriculum Choices

Classical Lutheran Homeschool Core Curriculum Choices

(1st through 8th Grades)

A wealth of new curricula and resources for homeschooling has arisen in the past decade since my family began homeschooling. There are many excellent choices out there. You know your family and your needs best. Here is a list of our core choices for our family and the reasons for those choices. I hope it will serve as a resource to families who are just getting started, or for families who are looking for a change.


Home Devotions/Bible Reading:

  • Daily: Hausvater 4-Year Reading List with Order of Service from the Hymnal as a family

  • Weekly: Family Altar Board with catechesis, memory work, and hymnology based on the theme from Divine Worship on Sunday Morning

  • Personal daily reading of Scripture or Bible History book

Classical Considerations:

  • Aside from intentional devotions, most religious training happens organically during guided conversation in the car, at lunch, or while getting ready for bed (see Deuteronomy 6). In this way, parents can make use of Socratic questioning to guide children in a Biblical Worldview.


  • We like to integrate the subject of “religion” into our family routine rather than our school routine because it is something that no one ever outgrows, even after graduation.

Math: Saxon (Saxon 1, 2, 3, 54, 65, 76, 87 or Algebra ½, Algebra ½ or Algebra 1)

Classical Considerations:

  • focuses on memorization of math facts and terminology prior to application

  • utilizes direct instruction and frequent, spiraling review sets


  • Parent teaches levels 1-3 from scripted text; Child self-teaches levels 54 through Advanced Mathematics.

  • Each level spans between 110 and 140 lessons; we complete one level each school year by doing 5 lessons each week.

  • Assessments are offered every 5 lessons.

  • Several choices are available for DVD lessons aligned with the book.

  • The 3rd edition in the higher levels avoids the Common Core written into the 4th edition.

Language: First Language Lessons (Grades 1-4)/Hake Grammar and Writing (Grades 5-8)

Classical Considerations:

  • teaches traditional English grammar through direct instruction (both)

  • employs grammar-level poetry memorization (FLL)

  • models diagramming with appropriate scaffolding (both)

  • includes extensive vocabulary and Greek/Latin root words (Hake)

  • teaches traditional writing and the five-paragraph essay for mastery (Hake)


  • Parent teaches levels 1-4 from scripted text; Child self-teaches levels 5-8.

  • Each level spans between 80-120 lessons; we complete one level each school year by doing 3-4 lessons each week.

  • Consider adding poetry memorization to the Hake curriculum.

  • FLL is mostly an aural curriculum. You may want to supplement or add activities if your child is more of a visual learner.

History: Story of the World (Grades 1-4)/Mystery of History(Grades 5-8)

Classical Considerations:

  • follows a cyclical four-year cycle, beginning in ancient times and ending with modern times (both)

  • includes quotations from primary sources (MOH)


  • SOTW is not written from a Christian perspective and thus needs a Biblical worldview presented alongside, particularly with Biblical History and the Reformation.

  • MOH is written by a non-Lutheran, but attempts to present all Christian denominations fairly in that the author looks to the denomination’s own primary sources to explain their theology.

  • Each textbook can be covered in one school year. Plan to read three lessons each week and supplement with activities as desired.

  • Each curriculum comes with supplementary map-work for covering the subject of geography.

  • Consider supplementing with Notgrass American History if deeper understanding of American history is desired.

Other Recommendations:

Phonics: Teach Your Child to Read (Engelmann)

  • Direct-instruction is used.

Literature: 1,000 Good Books List

  • Read these aloud to your children and discuss them. Many are available for free at your library. Study guides are widely available.

Science: Answers in Genesis

  • These follow a four-year cycle and can integrate all grade levels to be taught at once. A Biblical worldview is taught.

Art: MaryAnn F. Kohl's Discovering Great Artists Books

  • These art projects look at master artists and follow in their footsteps.

Latin: A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin

  • Great for upper-grades church-focused Latin. Instructor should clarify theology, as many sentences in the exercises display Roman Catholic doctrine.

Music: Piano Lessons (1st-8th Grades), Band (5th-8th Grades)

  • It is a beautiful thing to hone the ability to play music for pleasure and in the service of the church. By learning to play classical music, children grow in their ability to recognize goodness in music, as well as history about composers and musical eras. Also consider building a classical CD library for your home.


More Precious

All is dark, but no matter-

Our eyes are closed.

All is quiet, but for your soft little swallows echoing rhythmically.

I recline, relaxed, my arms and heart full.

As your breath warms my body (and soul), my peace is interrupted.


“Does she sleep through the night?” I remember them innocently asking.

Yes, you sleep... but I don’t mention your wakings.

Waking, when you’re aching for the comfort and security that only I can give-

Waking, for the reassurance that I will reach for you when you cry,

To know you won’t go hungry or unloved.

I wrap you in comfort, and my arms, entangling our bodies and our lives.

I feel our hearts beating so closely-

Such peace in the darkness,

Only we two will know.

Your tongue moves, singing silent praise, while my face glows through the shadows.


My mind again floats to them.

I cannot explain to those who have not understood-

You might sleep, if I let you cry,

But how could I give up this moment?

There are things more precious than sleep.