The Classical Cat Corner

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

Monday, May 29, 2006

Time for curricula talk....

I will be posting about our curricula and a few thoughts on that the next week or so. I'm still reading through Drew's book. I read the draft manuscript last summer, so this isn't totally new reading, but I still need to go slow and probably read the book a second time. There have been some changes made from draft to published copy. For now, I'll list the things that I've decided on and talk about those a bit.


Both boys will be using RightStart Math. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this program. I can't say ENOUGH good things about it. It works for both boys even though they have differing styles of learning. Sweet Pea 1 doesn't always need all the manipulatives, but they are there if he does. The way Dr. Cotter approaches topics just leaves me in AWE! Here is a child who was crying over multiplying a two or three digit number by a one digit number using a different program. We gradually ease into it by Dr. Cotter's methods and BAM! (to quote Emeril), he's got it! No tears anymore! We are a little behind in SP's book because I changed programs to RS January of 2005, but we'll have it finished up by the end of summer with a few weeks to spare before starting the next level.

Then there is my little Sweet Pea 2. He has a late birthday, so he basically did more Kindergarten things this year but started first grade work about March or so. We'll be continuing on from there with a rest over the summer. I really think he is on the brink of taking off all around...math, reading, handwriting. He is my auditory learner. Anything he hears, he can repeat. RightStart works well for him because he can use the manipulatives, remember auditorily, and learn visually.


Last year, Sweet Pea 1 and I started with Latin for Children. This was going to be our second year of Latin. Actually it wouldn't be a complete second year because we worked through Prima Latin when he was in 2nd grade but started it midyear and finished before the end of Spring. We like this program quite a bit. We ended up dropping it because of my burnout. (This really needs to be a separate post but I'll add it here. I think trying to school year round is just not for me. I was tired and having some physical problems as well. I really like the concept of schooling year round, but I just don't think it is something doable for us. Now, in all honest, I don't feel like we totally stop learning during the summer as we are always reading. Sweet Pea 1 reads all types of books on his own, but I think we need a rest from the scheduled school year.) We only completed five chapters of Latin. I plan on taking a week or two and reviewing those five chapters and heading forward. We used the DVDs that come with this program last year, but we will be dropping those this time. I told SP1 that I will get my own workbooks and work through this with him. He will be quizzing me. (He liked that idea!) We really like the activity book that goes with this program. It makes learning Latin fun.

And can you believe I have my plan for Latin completed through High School? It is a rough sketch, but there. Yea, me!!

Sweet Pea 2 won't be formally starting any Latin until we get his reading solidly established. He is getting there with reading, but it just hasn't clicked for him yet. I will have SP2 playing Latin Go Fish with us just for the exposure of the language. I also have a cute little book called Quot Animalia. It lists the names of common animals in Latin and Roman numerals.


This has been a toughie for me. This past year we used Classical Writing. We did the first seven writing projects in Book A. Classical Writing is based on the progynmasmata. I put it aside for various reasons and has Sweet Pea 1 doing Rod & Staff English, some free writing, and copywork. I feel that after we both have the summer to relax and get refreshed we'll be ready to go forward with Classical Writing.

Before I made that decision though, I was going to enroll SP1 into the Essentials program with Classical Conversations. The Essentials program would consist of grammar using Our Mother Tongue, Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), spelling (of which I can't remember the name of the program) and math drills/games. My main concerns are writing and grammar. I have never been a fan of IEW, but I also know there are other programs out there that I don't care for. I felt I was choosing the "least of the evils". I knew there would be accountability attached with doing Essentials and SP1 would have the opportunity to be under someone's teaching instead of mine all the time. By the time I had sent in the registration for Essentials, I just knew that that was not what we were supposed to do. I read and researched more and more about Classial Writing. I read about what was covered in each level. I read more on the progymnasmata. I also was trying to convince a friend that she might need to consider it too. I basically researched my way into it and I'm VERY excited about it. SP1 is practicing his typing (Popeye says I have to call it keyboarding...I'm dating myself!) this summer. I've also read enough to be convinced that Latin will cover English grammar much better than English grammar will cover English grammar. Classical Writing will have a little bit of grammar included during the Analysis section; it will be using applied grammar versus canned sentences in a separate program. When we get into the next level of CW (Homer), grammar will be covered more thoroughly but still be applied. I'll assess at that time if I will continue with that grammar or let Latin cover that for us.

Sweet Pea 2 will be doing some copywork and some oral narrations in preparation for his next higher level of study. I'll be using First Language Lessons with him beginning in January. I think that having a basic knowledge of the parts of speech is helpful when you begin Latin, so this will be a good start for him over the next two years.

Christian Studies

We will be using Christian Studies First Year as our Bible/Christian Studies this year. We will also be using the Catechism from Bob Jones Press and the related Scripture as our devotional each morning. We will work on memorizing the catechism. I'm excited about how the Christian Studies books will give us a deep study of the stories in which we are already familiar.

I still have a few areas to cover but those will have to wait for tomorrow or the next day.

What IS a Latin-Centered Classical Education?

My friend recently asked me "How in the world are you going to do all that for school?" She was meaning a Latin-centered curriculum plus Classical Conversations co-op, plus....I'm not sure what else she thought I was going to do. So, if any of you out there are wondering what a Latin-centered classical education is, then just read this.

{HT to Drew.}

Latin-Centered Classical Education: It's Not What You Think

Latin-centered classical education is not… an attempt to adopt uncritically any ancient or medieval curriculum.

Latin-centered classical education is… the renascence of an educational model that flourished until only a few generations ago and continues to this day in a few tradition-minded schools.

Latin-centered classical education is not… “sola lingua Latina,” training in Latin alone.

Latin-centered classical education is…a rich and varied curriculum, “grounded upon—if not strictly limited to—Greek, Latin, and the study of the civilization from which they arose” (Tracy Lee Simmons, Climbing Parnassus, p. 15).

Latin-centered classical education is not… based on Dorothy Sayers’ reinterpretation of the medieval Trivium.

Latin-centered classical education is… the type of education Dorothy Sayers herself had.

Latin-centered classical education is not…Great Books read only in translation.

Latin-centered classical education is… the type of education enjoyed by those wrote the Great Books: Cicero, Virgil, Quintilian, Augustine of Hippo, Benedict of Nursia, Thomas Aquinas, Vittorino da Feltre, Thomas More, Martin Luther, William Shakespeare, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and G. K. Chesterton.

Latin-centered classical education is not… vocational training. Its goal is not to turn out efficient workers or satisfied consumers.

Latin-centered classical education is… dedicated to enlightening the mind, refining the senses, and ennobling the spirit. It aims at a life beyond getting and spending. Its goals are the inculcation of virtue and the fostering of wisdom.

Latin-centered classical education is not… student-led. Classical education does not endorse Rousseau’s notion that, left to their own devices, children will naturally educate themselves.

Latin-centered classical education is… teacher-led. To achieve its goals, traditional classical education assumes the presence and active involvement of a dedicated teacher who acts not just as a conduit for knowledge but as a role model and mentor. While older students must be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for their learning, the Latin-centered curriculum assumes that teachers can teach because they know more than their students.

Latin-centered classical education is not… an uncritical affirmation of pagan beliefs or values.

Latin-centered classical education is… devoted to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful wherever they may be found. It assumes that a thoughtful student will see fit to entertain many ideas without feeling the least compulsion to adopt those that prove unworthy. Constant exposure to the best endows the student with the ability to recognize virtue and vice for what they are.

Latin-centered classical education is not… humanistic in the sense of “irreligious” or “making man the measure of all things.”

Latin-centered classical education is… humanistic in the sense that the development of the mind and the refining of the aesthetic sense are worthy activities for creatures that bear the image of God:

To each species of creatures has been allotted a peculiar and instinctive gift. To horses galloping, to birds flying, comes naturally. To man only is given the desire to learn. Hence what the Greeks called paideia, we call studia humanitatis. For learning and training in Virtue are peculiar to man; therefore our forefathers called them Humanitas, the pursuits, the activities proper to mankind. -Renaissance humanist B. Guarino

Latin-centered classical education: It's not just what you think. It's how you think.

Drew Campbell is the author of The Latin Centered Curriculum.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wanting to share this....

This is a BRILLIANT piece and wanted to share it with those that come here....I've often thought that I was "spoiling" the story by reading children's versions to my kids before they could read the "real thing" for, I don't have to fear anymore.

It's Never Too Early - Or Too Late - For Great Books

From the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I have been reading the advice of experts. Many experts encourage parents to use simplified retellings of great books in their homeschool, explaining that an early familiarity with the stories will make the books less intimating to the student later on.

The advice made sense, but I sometimes wondered if I was doing the right thing. By reading Black Ships before Troy and Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories, wasn’t I, in a way, ruining it for them? Would it in fact be better for them to experience Shakespeare in the original language, and Homer, if not in the original, at least in the form of one of the classic translations?

I never, however, questioned the merit of telling my children Bible stories. I realized there were a few who only read to their children from the King James Bible, but I didn’t agree. I felt kids needed to understand the stories, to gain an intimate familiarity with them. The analysis would come much later.

It wasn’t until I started reading Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare that I began to see the contradictions in my thinking.

In this book, Asimov helps the plays of Shakespeare come alive for the modern reader by explaining the background and allusions in the plays. The audience in Shakespeare’s time was expected to have an understanding of Greek mythology and Roman history, and Shakespeare’s plays are liberally sprinkled with references to them. While someone without such background knowledge can still follow the plot of the plays and enjoy the beauty of the words, many of the deeper nuances will be missed.

I reveled in this book, delighted with the deeper meaning Asimov helped bestow. Even the plays I was familiar with became more alive as I began to understand the background and see allusions I had never before been aware of. But some allusions, I realized, I knew quite well:

There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.

As someone who was raised in church, with weekly Bible lessons told by teachers armed with felt boards, I have long been familiar with Matthew 10:29:

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Asimov, however, does not assume such familiarity, and explains the allusion.

I am far from a Bible expert, but I realized how much I take my biblical knowledge for granted. Phrases like “pitched his tent toward Sodom,” and “making bricks without straw,” do not need to be explained to me; I’ve heard the stories from my earliest childhood.

But this familiarity has not detracted from my adult delight in the scriptures. The story of the first Passover was once just an exciting tale; now it’s a beautiful foreshadowing of how the crucifixion saves us from death. As a child I loved hearing how Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal; as an adult I ponder how our mountaintop moments are often followed by periods of doubt, and how God comes to us in those times in a gentle whisper.

My nine-year-old catches allusions to Greek mythology everywhere – which he often has to explain to his mother. He sometimes can decipher the meanings of difficult words (and the spells in Harry Potter) from their Latin roots. He thinks of Shakespeare as a writer of exciting stories filled with intrigue and exciting battles, not dry, incomprehensible plays to be slogged through in a high school classroom.

As a Christian, I don’t consider the Great Books as important as the Bible, but I value their contribution to Western culture. As Hamlet says:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

By exposing my children early to the Great Books, I am building a strong foundation. The deeper meanings will become clear to them later, when they have the maturity to understand. And when that time comes, they will have a ready store of knowledge to draw from; the back-story will be firmly in place.

Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

Staci Eastin blogs at

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And I thought *I* am addicted to yarn!

Yarn Thieves in Atlanta

[HT to Pixie Purls]

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What she said....

I'll be posting more about homeschooling things in the near future. But until then, I'll probably be posting bits and pieces of good things I this from KathyJo's site.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


with 2 hours to spare! I was seaming and sewing buttons on in the car so this photo was taken before. I'll have an updated photo in a week or so.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hat is finished; Sweater questionable

Here is a picture of the finished baby might be the only hand-knit item my sister-in-law gets at the baby shower from me....I'm quickly running out of yarn for the sweater unless I can figure out a good place to change over to grey...I don't think I'm going to get the other yarn I ordered in time.