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A Classical Conversation

Join the conversation! An eclectic group of folks have joined in to carry out the classical conversation; some of these folks may share or represent views we don't hold. We need them to be dialectic and have a classical conversation, and they need us too! So thanks for being patient with us and our fellow participants.

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Teaching Entrepreneurship to Your Children

Posted by Jonathan Bartlett
Jonathan Bartlett
Jonathan Bartlett is the director of The Blyth Institute, a nonprofit organizati
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on Wednesday, 30 October 2013
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My children are many years away from graduating from high school. I have no idea what interests they will have at that time or what direction they will want their lives to go. I do not know if they will want to go to college or to work straight from high school. I do not know if they will be doctors, computer programmers, politicians, construction workers, or theologians. No matter which direction they choose, I want them to know the basics of how businesses operate.

 

Why is this so important?

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Fear: "Molehill-Maker" or "Mountain-Mover"?

Posted by Kate Deddens
Kate Deddens
Kate was born overseas, attending International Baccalaureate schools in Iran, I
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on Tuesday, 29 October 2013
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The same Emily Bronte who penned that famously over-the-top Gothic romance, Wuthering Heights, wrote a poem in which one of the most bedrock truths of the Christian faith is expressed in the very first stanza. Bronte dives right in on the importance of faith and of fearlessness:


No coward soul is mine,

No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:

I see Heaven’s glories shine,

And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

 -“Last Lines”

 

It is possible, is it not, that the one thing most damaging to fruitful life as a Christian is fear? However, is fear itself the problem or is the real question, “What do we fear?”

The Challenge of Challenge: Mentoring Future Leaders

Posted by Courtney Sanford
Courtney Sanford
Courtney Sanford has been home schooling with Classical Conversations since 2005
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on Monday, 28 October 2013
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The Challenge programs are appropriately named: they are a challenge. They provide many opportunities for students to do great things, push themselves further than they thought they could go, and step outside their comfort zones. It reminds me of a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., "Once the mind has been stretched by a new idea, it will never again return to its original size."


How can you help your students stretch their minds and achieve great things in Challenge? First, keep in mind that even though you may drop off your students at their Challenge classes, you should not "dropout" of the job of being the teacher. Your role changes from that of the drill sergeant of Foundations' memory work to being a mentor and advisor to your students.

When the Going Gets Tough

Posted by Lisa
Lisa
Lisa Bailey, a homeschooling mom from North Carolina, has served Classical Conve
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on Friday, 25 October 2013
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“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” This quote by Joseph Kennedy, father of President John F. Kennedy, urges the soul under attack to hunker down and work harder, putting forth extra effort to battle adversity. The pithy sentiment, designed to inspire a perseverance mentality, often encourages us when we are surprised by obstacles to some plan. I have been motivated by the sentiment and challenged to “beat” whatever obstacles seem to be thwarting my efforts at success. I have even tried using it to motivate others (my children!) to achieve a goal when they seem to be losing momentum. Sometimes, however, even a good slogan fails.

Sometimes, students seem to “check out.” They are not motivated to work hard at assignments; they let deadlines come and go; they profess to have no need of help, but still cannot produce a result; they appear supremely disinterested in everything. What is a parent to do? I suggest a three-step plan of attack: assess, diagnose, and treat. We need to identify the specific problem, determine the nature of the problem, and help our students find a workable solution to the problem.

Teacher’s Tool Kit for Parents: A Few of My Favorite Things

Posted by Leigh
Leigh
In an age when many are telling parents who they aren't... Leigh Bortins remin
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on Thursday, 24 October 2013
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Timeless Thursdays: Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read

 

 

When I began to home-educate my boys almost thirty years ago, I realized that there were many deficiencies in my own education. Even though I had a degree in engineering and a career as an aerospace engineer, there were many subjects which I, myself, did not understand. What is more, I certainly did not know how to teach these subjects to my boys.

 

I quickly learned that home education begins with the self-education of a committed parent. I scoured bookstores and convention booths for resources to fill in the gaps in my own education. Over the years, I have collected a few quality favorites that prepare parents in core academic areas.

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A Model for a Classical Conversation

Posted by Courtney Sanford
Courtney Sanford
Courtney Sanford has been home schooling with Classical Conversations since 2005
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on Wednesday, 23 October 2013
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The guide for today’s science seminar in Challenge I said, “Discuss Module 4.” Previous discussions with this class had been a bit boring, so I decided I needed a new model for discussions. I did not plan any questions or make an agenda about what they needed to know. I went in with one idea in my mind: the topic wheel.

 

The students had spent two weeks studying a chapter on water in the physical science textbook. They had completed labs, written lab reports, and answered study questions.

 

I drew a topic wheel on the whiteboard. A topic wheel is simply one circle in the center and seven more circles surrounding it. I wrote “water” in the center circle. The seven other circles are intended for other subjects. The idea is to provoke thought by having the group brainstorm about what different subjects have in common with the central item. (This would be the topic of comparison if you are familiar with the five common topics.)

How to Be the Best Math Tutor

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Tuesday, 22 October 2013
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This morning I visited my local Classical Conversations community and observed my son’s Challenge II class and my daughter’s Challenge B class. For both, I was able to be with them during the math seminar and witness some good math teaching. I will not name the tutors, so as not to embarrass anyone, but I will share what I was able to learn from them: namely, what makes a great math tutor.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative and Centralized Control: An Idea that Simply Won’t Work

Posted by Robert Bortins
Robert Bortins
Robert has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 21 October 2013
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“We believe parents are their children’s primary teachers not because parents know everything but because each child is uniquely (and wonderfully!) made and because the people who know and love a child best are the ones most motivated to help that child succeed.”

 

We believed in parents educating their children long before Classical Conversations was founded. We will continue to stand up for the rights of parents to choose to homeschool without government interference as long as the Lord gives us breath.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative does not seek to protect a family’s right to educate a child as they see fit. Instead, the Common Core State Standards seek to standardize education for all children in all places.

 

Many articles and television interviews have increased parents’ fears about these standards. Instead of being fearful, I would encourage parents to become better informed. The best site for information is  Home School Legal Defense Association as they have studied the law and have interviewed the creator of the Common Core State Standards.

English to Latin…The Most Rhetorical Latin Assignments

Posted by Kathy Sheppard
Kathy Sheppard
Kathy Sheppard has a B.A. in Latin from the College of William and Mary and a M.
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on Friday, 18 October 2013
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When you think about the trivium in any subject, the rhetorical level is the level in which you should show the most mastery of the subject. Latin is no exception. During the grammar stage of Latin you memorize the endings and the vocabulary. The dialectic stage focuses on Latin to English sentences and parsing; you apply what you learned in the grammar stage. Finally, in the rhetorical stage you will utilize both the grammar and the dialectic to create your own Latin sentences. An interesting facet of Latin is that in each lesson, you will utilize skills of each of these three stages. Chapters will start with the grammar and usually end with the rhetoric (I like the way Henle has several little lessons within each lesson). I thought, in the interest of those of you in the Latin trenches out there, that I would show you how I would work through an English to Latin assignment. I chose Exercise 14 because most of you have probably done it recently or are getting ready to do it (I was discussing it with fellow community members). Also, I noticed that there are some discrepancies between the answer key and the word order I would use (remember, please give yourselves some grace when it comes to word order and macrons—the important thing is that the words are spelled correctly).

 

Henle First Year Exercise 14 page 20:

Lessons from a First-Semester Challenge Parent

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Thursday, 17 October 2013
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Timeless Thursdays: Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read

 

My children and I have been in Classical Conversations since the fall of 2005. At that time, my three children were ages six, four, and one. Now, after all of these years, I finally have a student in Challenge A. During our first semester, we learned quite a few lessons, mostly regarding organization and study habits. I knew that this year would be a transition, so we began practicing last year when my son was eleven.

 

During that year, we cultivated a greater level of independence with his Essentials writing assignments. In addition, we completed a Latin program, so that he could build his Latin vocabulary and get a solid grounding in the five noun cases and the six verb tenses. We also chose to complete many of the exercises in Our Mother Tongue, by Nancy Wilson, as a final solidification of the English grammar concepts we had learned in the Essentials program.


The Perfect Game Plan—On Paper, At Least

My Teacher Is the Book

Posted by Linda Tomkinson
Linda Tomkinson
Linda Tomkinson homeschooled her three children from grades K-12. Linda not only
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on Wednesday, 16 October 2013
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Recently, I was talking with a friend about her classical college experiences. During our conversation I asked her how she was taught by her professors. She professed in summary, “My teacher is the book.” Although this surprised me in the context of the college setting, it did not surprise me in the context of my life experiences. Almost everyone agrees that books are used for teaching. However, many believe that only specialized individuals can explain or interpret books for more difficult subjects; while some, like my friend, attest that books have the power to teach on their own merit.

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The Question

Posted by Leigh
Leigh
In an age when many are telling parents who they aren't... Leigh Bortins remin
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on Monday, 14 October 2013
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The Question, by Leigh Bortins 

 

Coming in October to ClassicalConversationsBooks.com!

 



“In college, my classmates were often annoyed with me; I kept asking questions, so the professors kept talking, sometimes beyond the bell. One day, there was an audible groan from my classmates. I turned around and said, ‘Look, I’m paying good money to ask this guy questions. Just leave if you don’t want to stay late.’ The professor gave me a C in the class. (He did not like me, either.) I asked so many questions because the professor insisted on an existential response, in the tradition of Nietzsche, to everything we read. I did not even understand what he was talking about, but I was sure he was wrong. So, I kept asking him to explain how what he said could be true. He did not ask questions to lead an exploration of ideas. I was being told to think a certain way, and he couldn’t adequately explain or defend his bias.

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The Power of a Question

Posted by Lisa
Lisa
Lisa Bailey, a homeschooling mom from North Carolina, has served Classical Conve
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on Friday, 11 October 2013
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May I ask you a question? As a mom, I am good at that:

 

“Are you up yet?”

“Do you need some help?”

“Why did you leave that here?”

“Is your throat sore?”

“When will you be back?”

“Do you call that clean?”

 

As a homeschool mom of two for more than a dozen years, I have discovered that questions have immense power. Questions can identify the most important concept under discussion. Questions can guide a student as he processes a new idea. Questions can propel a student towards a new thought or application. As I have learned to ask better questions, my own students have become more able learners. The power of a good question, aptly posed, is valuable at every stage of the trivium.

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Why Does Classical Conversations Encourage One Teacher for All Subjects?

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Thursday, 10 October 2013
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Timeless Thursdays: Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read

 

 

I remember an incident that occurred when my children were somewhat younger; I happened upon two of them in an argument. One child was angry with the other because a toy had been claimed that he wanted. Rather than resort to diplomatic measures, such as no-fly zones and trade embargoes, to encourage the sibling to return the toy, my son began yelling at the top of his lungs, demanding its return. I stepped in and demanded that he stop yelling, and I told him that yelling was not the way to resolve issues—all at the top of my own lungs. With my words, my rhetoric, I taught him that yelling, just because one is angry, is an improper response. With my actions, the volume of my voice, I taught him that yelling was the exact response demanded by one’s anger.

 

At that moment, I did not realize the discrepancy between my words and my actions, and I certainly would have tried to justify my actions had I been confronted with it. It was not until sometime later, when a pastor mentioned such discrepancies in parents as they discipline their children, that I was able to think back on my own actions and recognize what I had been doing and promoting.

Thoughts on Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

Posted by Beth Watson
Beth Watson
Beth Watson graduated from Cairn University (formerly named Philadelphia Biblica
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on Wednesday, 09 October 2013
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In Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, Anthony Esolen writes an "indispensable guide to overcoming today's treacherous trends in parenting and education—and the overwhelming banality of contemporary culture." Esolen's scope is broad, but my focus was narrow. I looked for how these cultural shifts, which Esolen strongly argues are negative, have impacted my home, my parenting, and my family. How have these effects shaped my parenting? Have I bought into a line of thinking and pattern of behavior that is not only mentally sterilizing, but also spiritually halting?

 

I want to raise intelligent, strong, and humble men who seek God first. I want a creative daughter full of beauty who loves God and loves people. I know to place my children into God's hands, but am I blocking their view of Him through the works of my hands? Is how we are spending our time limiting their time with Him?

The Two Best Hours of the Week

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Tuesday, 08 October 2013
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Feeling guilty seems to be a permanent condition of motherhood. It is often magnified for homeschooling mothers: it seems impossible to finish the “perfect” lesson plans we have made; if we participate in too many activities, we worry that we are overloading our children… if we do not participate in enough activities, we worry that we are ruining their social skills. One pervasive fear is that we are not spending quality instruction time with each child: if we spend a lot of time with our oldest, we may never get the youngest child reading and writing… if we spend too much time with the youngest, the oldest will not be prepared for high school and college.

 

I am homeschooling children from age four to thirteen. It is a constant juggling act. Early on in the year, I spent more time with my eldest, as Ben encountered challenges in Algebra I. Now, he is back to self-study, with the occasional question. The same proved true in Formal Logic. Ben needed assistance with this new—and often strange—subject, but he has now found his “logic legs.” My current goal is to spend quality time with him discussing issues, particularly in current events, debate, literature, and theology.

"Silent Cal" Speaks

Posted by Ruth Holleran
Ruth Holleran
Ruth and Robbo, her husband of 25 years, live in a house they built in Vermont.
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on Monday, 07 October 2013
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Calvin Coolidge’s father, a notary, administered the oath of office to our thirtieth president in their home when President Harding suddenly died. They had neither electricity nor telephone, so that night when the news arrived at the telegraph station, the operator had to drive up the mountain and wake up the Coolidges. By kerosene lamplight, Calvin Coolidge became president. I love that story. Coolidge’s inauspicious childhood on a Vermont farm, in a deeply Christian home, prepared him for greatness.

 

Smeared and dismissed by admirers of the progressives that followed him, Calvin Coolidge has been forgotten for nearly a century; but oh, this man has wisdom for those who still hold tenaciously to the founding principles of this nation! In addition to serving wisely in office, he spoke eloquently on education. Of his writings and speeches, four examples will suffice to show his views on a classical education: the necessity for poetic knowledge; for math, Latin, and Greek; for student persistence; and for faith.

 

Calvin Coolidge advocated classical education in an era influenced by the pragmatism of John Dewey. While Dewey stressed a scientific approach to learning, Coolidge found education incomplete without poetic knowledge. This is what students experience when they engage with what they are learning on a sensory-emotional level. They do not merely learn about a plant through anatomy lessons; they hold it, ponder it, plant it, and watch it grow. The Odyssey becomes more than a name on a list of Greek books; it becomes the journey every man makes as he battles his way home to wife and child. Youth need stories, heroes, and ideals. Coolidge says:

The Common Topics and the Universe

Posted by David Bailey
David Bailey
David Bailey is the founding pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Stokesdale
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on Friday, 04 October 2013
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OK, I am like a kid with a new BB gun. I do not really know how to use it, but it looks like so much fun. In that spirit, please allow me to wield Aristotle’s common topics. I just hope I do not shoot somebody’s eye out.

 

Aristotle’s common topics of invention serve as a series of lenses through which we can look at any given subject. In doing some quick research, I was reminded that the word ‘topic’ comes from the Greek topos, which means “place.” Suddenly, I understand Aristotle’s lenses more clearly. They are places in which we can look for clues for understanding anything from flowers to stars to relationships. I must also note that invention is only the first of Aristotle’s five canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

 

Being the ambitious type, I would like to point this gun of invention at a subject we often overlook, the meaning of life. Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? How should we live? What is the ultimate authority in the universe? I am a Christian and I believe that I need to bring every thought captive to Christ. I acknowledge that it can be dangerous to probe the meaning of life, but I believe that as we pursue the truth we are also pursuing God himself.

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Beefing Up Sixth Grade

Posted by Courtney Sanford
Courtney Sanford
Courtney Sanford has been home schooling with Classical Conversations since 2005
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on Thursday, 03 October 2013
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Timeless Thursdays: Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read

 

 

In more and more Classical Conversations communities, sixth graders start their final year in Foundations already knowing a lot of the memory work. Many of these students began Foundations sitting on mom’s lap and soaking up the timeline cards as early as age three. How do we keep them engaged through Foundations and prepare them for Challenge A?

 

First of all, we can be glad that they know the memory work, but we can also teach them to be kind and compassionate to other students who have not yet mastered the facts. Their role can become one of mentor and helper, but only if their heart is in the right place. Shouting out the answer does demonstrate that they know the material, but it prevents other students from being able to hear the tutor and disrupts the class. So, talk to your student about avoiding prideful behavior and developing self-control. Those are important skills; be glad for the extra practice.

Peace Talks

Posted by Kate Deddens
Kate Deddens
Kate was born overseas, attending International Baccalaureate schools in Iran, I
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on Wednesday, 02 October 2013
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We all know, from watching political events unfold as well as from negotiating with our children over school work, bed times, chores, and sibling squabbles, that ‘peace talks’ are a way to resolve conflict. How many of us realize, however, that the activity of conversing in itself teaches us how to be peaceful?

 

Having conversations is a tremendously important part of education! Learning how to dialogue with others is not simply working together productively, it is also a way to build fellowship, establish stable, healthy relationships, and achieve community goals. It is an important process in which, perhaps, we most consistently fulfill the highest aspects of our humanity as creatures made in the image of God, from whom the peace which passes all understanding flows.

 

Is not speech the special ability that sets human beings apart from every other creature? It is through speech—in conversation with others, with ourselves as we are conscious of our own thoughts, and with the Lord through prayer—that we learn! Learning is not an accumulation of facts, but occurs by questioning, connecting information, examining it, and articulating governing principles and truths from it.

 

Prime opportunities for learning, therefore, arise in conversation. We are essentially forced, through the need to communicate our ideas with other people and to hear and understand the knowledge and points of views of others, to ask questions, integrate concepts, study them, and draw collaborative conclusions from them. The question for educators, then—whether we are homeschooling parents, tutors, or teachers—is how best to nurture these good conversations.

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