The Classical Cat Corner

Wear the old coat and buy the new book. --Austin Phelps

Saturday, May 07, 2005

WOW! What a night....(and more on classical education)

I was off to my hen party as Popeye likes to call it. I met with my homeschool mom friends at Borders bookstore for coffee, snacks and chatting.

I haven't had that much fun in quite awhile. We closed the place down and a few of us STILL wanted more....but we couldn't figure out a place that was open for several more hours!

And what did we talk about? HOMESCHOOLING!!!

Classical homeschooling is usually not a topic in our discussions because I'm almost the only one in our little "focus group" that chooses that method of schooling. My friends know that I do a vast amount of research on homeschooling philosophies and curricula, and I have since Sweet Pea 1 was three years old. He is eight now, so I've learned alot over those years. I usually don't even say much about the classical method because I don't want to get my friends confused or doubting their choices. But it seems the more we talked last night, the more several of us were on the same wavelength to one extent or another.....and it felt good.

As much as I love these friends of mine, I try not to judge what they choose to use to teach their children (yes, in my brain I know that it is best for each family to determine, with the Lord's help, what is best for each individual family, but I'm human too, so I don't voice my opinions, but encourage each friend to go with what works). I sometimes feel that I will be judged for what I've chosen because it isn't the "most Christian" curriculum, like studying the Greek myths with two young boys. I don't think that most of my friends would "approve" of this. Or the fact that a classical education (be it neo-classical or traditional classical) is in itself somewhat of a rigorous form of study. It is very systematic, which is a big draw to me, considering my personality. But, you know what? I did not feel that way last night in the least. I let the conversation direct itself and, when I was asked, I volunteered information and the surprising thing is that some actually think it is a good idea too. I have encouraged them to take classical education like a buffet....take what works for them and leave the rest.

Here is an exerpt from The Well-Trained Mind. These are thoughts that sold me on a classical education.

Classical education is, above all, systematic--in direct contrast to the scattered, unorganized nature of so much secondary education. Rigorous, systematic study has two purposes. Rigorous study develops virtue in the student: the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right. Virtuous men (or women) can force themselves to do what they know is right, even when it runs against their inclinations. Classical education continually asks a student to work against her baser tendencies (laziness or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) in order to reach a goal--mastery of a subject.

Systematic study allows the student to join what Mortimer J. Adler calls the "Great Conversation": the ongoing conversation of great minds down through the ages. Much modern education is so eclectic that the student has little opportunity to make connections between past events and the flood of current information. "The beauty of the classical curriculum," write classical schoolmaster David Hicks, "is that it dwells on one problem, one author, or one epoch long enough to allow even the youngest student a chance to exercise his mind in a scholarly way: to make connections and to trace developments, line of reasoning, patterns of action, recurring symbolism, plots, and motifs."

While this is SUPERB, I'm taking Classical Education, for our family, to the next level. I'll be writing more about that soon, although I did hint at it in a previous post called "Simplicity and new goal". Tune in soon.


At 10:50 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I homeschool my kids too. I think that different things work best for different kids, families, etc...
The main thing for me is that I make sure my kids are getting a good education in all areas. They are my treasures, and I want the best for them.


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