Tag Archives: homeschool

Review: Echo In Celebration: A Call To Home Centred Education

Echo In Celebration: A Call To Home Centred Education by Leigh Bortins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me begin by being frank. This book was written by Leigh Bortins, my employer. This means I’m probably somewhat biased, not because I have to say nice things for my boss, but because I work for her because I believe in what she is doing. So, I’m already in agreement with her, that means I probably in agreement with her book.

That being said, I am in agreement with her book–hence the four stars. I probably could’ve given it five stars, but the editing is pretty bad. This was the first book Classical Conversations MultiMedia ever published, way back in 2007. Their editing staff was non-existent at the time; it shows in the book. The lack of editing, however, does not make the book unreadable. In fact, you should read it.

At first, I was kind of distracted by all of the stories in the book. I thought to myself that the stories *might* be pleasant for moms to read, but I wasn’t really interested. I just wanted to hear why she thinks we should give our children a home-centered education. In the end, though, I was glad for the stories.

What I realized was that Leigh did something far better than offering me the logos for home-centered education (I mean than just offering me the logic-based arguments for it). She offered us the pathos for home-centered education (I mean the emotive reasons for it.) Leigh didn’t give arguments for me to contemplate in regards to education; she gave me stories so that I could enjoy home-centered education through her own life and the lives of her friends. The pathos she provided was far more convincing for the homeschooling vs. public/private/Christian schooling argument than any logical arguments she could have provided.

She made homeschooling desirable; she made it approachable; she made it real. I don’t know if this book would be convincing for someone who is opposed to homeschooling, but it certainly would be for someone who was open to it. Good book.

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Contemplating Mythmaking

I’m contemplating education this evening.

In his book, Norms and Nobility, David Hicks argues that the purpose of education is to instill virtues, to teach norms. The easiest way to do this is didactically: don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t murder, etc. The best way to do this is through myths. Poets like Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, Shakespeare wrote Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, et al, and these are all ways through which we can teach our children norms and virtue.  Instead of telling them directly “don’t murder” we show them the evils of murder when we read Julius Caesar or Macbeth.

The question I am specifically contemplating is how do we do this with subjects that have not already been made into myths for us? How do we do this for the maths and sciences? David Hicks argues that it is possible and necessary. Without doing it, we lean towards creating people who ‘use’ the creation rather than people who learn about God through it.

My own students have pushed me on this very issue. They’ve noticed that all the subjects are taught a certain way except for these two. And they desire to learn them the same way. I need to become a mythmaker for the maths and sciences. It isn’t an easy task before me, but it is a noble and worthy one.

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Another Trail to Blaze

I work in the classical Christian education business, but this isn’t just a job for me. It is more like a dream job: I had already been interested in the topic long before I started working in it, and had been using it to home school my children.

The Trivium is the easier to grasp of the classical Christian education concepts. Folks like Douglas Wilson, the Detweilers, and Leigh Bortins have been trailblazing for home schoolers and Christian educators alike. It is easy to see how to classically educate my children after all of the work these folks have done.

What is difficult is what comes next. The Trivium is supposed to lead into the Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. But what university or college out there teaches like that? None that I’m aware of. There are some great books schools, to be sure, but what about Quadrivium-teaching schools? Well, the sad truth is that there haven’t been any serious trailblazers in that area.

And that is why I am so excited about this upcoming event in northern Virginia! Leigh Bortins and Nancy Pearcey are going to be talking about science and the Quadrivium at an event called Toward the Quadrivium. Doug Wilson has recently blogged on the need to do work in this area. Leigh Bortins has blogged about the need for it. And this event looks like a first step in that direction. Further, it appears that it will be the first in a series of events called Toward the Quadrivium.

I’ll be there to witness the blazing trail, will you?

Teaching Teens: Latin and Math

Next year I will be teaching a group of 11th graders in my Classical Conversations home school community. Today, I had the opportunity to teach them as a substitute teacher. What a great group of kids!

I was able to discuss a couple of things with them as we went through our math, Latin, English, debate, science, and rhetoric lessons.

During math, I encouraged them to understand that math, while an important subject in and of itself, is the basis for a greater understanding of other subjects. I explained that in the Quadrivium, they will learn arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Why that grouping?

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Writers’ Circle

Classical Conversations Writers' CircleI am a contributing writer to the Writers’ Circle. The Writers’ Circle is a collection of daily articles at the Classical Conversations website about homeschooling and classical, Christian education. The articles cover anything from Latin to math, methods to theories, sports to academics, and everything in between.

My articles are written from a homeschooling dad’s perspective. Other authors include Andrew Kern, Andrew Pudewa, Adam Andrews, Tobin Duby, Jennifer Courtney, and more.

I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think of them, especially mine!