Monday, June 28, 2010

The Core

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education is written by Leigh A. Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations. Bortins is an aerospace engineer who has home educated her four sons.

I found myself reading with a pencil in hand. My copy is marked in some way on many, many pages. Bortins talks about the history of education in our country and why our current education system is not going to serve our children and their futures. The historical and literary details sparked my attention, and I thought the author did an excellent job of explaining the basics of classical education.


pg. 5

The classical model emphasizes that learning feeds the soul and edifies the person rather than producing employees to work an assembly line. The goal of a classical education is to instill wisdom and virture in people. We see learning as a continuing conversation that humankind has been engaged in for centuries, and we are concerned that industrialization and technologies reduce contact and context between children and their elders.

The Classical Model

pg. 14

The goal of education is to teach children to become adults who can handle complex ideas, in uncertain situations, with confidence.

pg. 15

The purpose of a classical education is to strengthen one's mind, body, and character in order to develop the ability to learn anything.

pg. 37

Today's educators reject the importance of preparing our next generation to enter the great classical conversations of history because they no longer believe there is a core body of knowledge common to man. So personal opinion has trumped universal truth, expediency has displaced goodness, and edginess has shoved aside beauty. Families no longer know that a great classical conversation exists and that their children could become its most interesting participants.

pg. 40

Classical education encourages us that we are capable of becoming an Oxford don who builds bicycles, or a plumber who reads Milton, or a business owner who spouts theology. The classically educated are not defined by their occupation so much as by their breadth of knowledge and understanding.

pg. 47

Classical education is analogous to brain training. When encountering new information, the brain must know how to store data (grammar), retrieve and process data (logic), and express data (rhetoric).

pg. 48

A student must begin with grammar no matter their age or the topic. Grammar is essentially defined as the science of vocabulary. Every occupation, field of study, or concept has a vocabulary that the student must acquire like a foreign language before progressing to more difficult or abstract tasks within that body of knowledge.

pg. 51-52

Educated children are building a permanent, organized storage system in the brain with key ideas that they will continue to use lifelong... No matter what your children's strengths and weaknesses are, or their likes and dislikes, or their gifts and talents, their brains want to gather, sort, store, and retrieve information.

pg. 61

We need to offer children a broad, freeing education that allows them to think well and to be lifelong learners. Children need to be prepared for any challenge, even for job opportunities that may not exist until well into the future.

pg. 71

We want children to recognize the difference between expressing an opinion and developing a logical conclusion through induction or deduction. That doesn't mean they can't or don't express feelings or opinions. They just need to recognize that it is a feeling or opinion.

In Part Two of The Core, the author explains, in detail, the core of a classical education: reading, writing, math, geography, history, science, and fine arts. She emphasizes process over materials or lists and gives the reader very specific ideas on teaching each skill and subject.

pg. 103

In order to read well, you need to spend lots of time reading. Words need to be savored, laughed at and cried over, wrestled with, and stomped on. They should hit us in the head, knock us off our feet, and spin us around. Words should be the thoughts in our heads that comfort, challenge, sharpen, soften, frighten, and embolden.

pg. 169

Often an artificial tension is presented between the goal of teaching basic skills and core content. To classical educators, both are needed. While we emphasize the practice of skills, we need excellent material to practice on. Classical educators go out of their way to ensure that the content is of enduring quality.

The Core is a book that will challenge your ideas about education, introduce you to the classical model, and show you, step-by-step, how to teach your children (and yourself!) the skills and content they (and you!) will need to be confident adults who can learn anything, adapt to new situations and careers, and participate fully in the great conversation of humankind.

{While Classical Conversations is a distinctly Christian program headed by the author, The Core does not expound upon either faith or the Classical Conversations program specifically, so it is appropriate and inspirational for anyone interested in education in America, homeschooling, and/or classical education.}


Anonymous said...

How funny, I sharpened my yellow hi-liter pencil for this book. I always think I will remember which page something was on and I never do. Great book so far, I am trying to finish it before my states Homeschool Convention at the end of July. I believe Classical Conversations will have a booth. Thanks again for recommending such a great book.

K-Sue said...

This sounds like a book I want to read. I have been impressed with what I know of CC, but have not joined our CC group locally.

Angie said...

Thank you for this review. This inspired me today!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review. I just bought this yesterday at our CC Practicum. We did CC last year and are excited about starting our new year soon. I am looking forward to readin this book.