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The Core Part 3: The Core of Writing

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, 22 July 2014
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Postcards is revisiting some archived articles that have not been lost, but may have been forgotten and are worth a fresh read. Jennifer Courtney now serves as Communications Director for Classical Conversations MultiMedia. She served as State Manager of Oklahoma from 2006-2010.

 

The Core Part 3: The Core of Writing
by Jennifer Courtney

I hope that this article finds you collecting fall leaves with your children, wandering through corn mazes, and savoring great books with a mug of apple cider. My family has leaped fully into the joys of autumn!

 

This article is part three in a series of articles looking at the core or foundations of classical education as presented in Leigh’s book The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education. In previous articles, we looked at the reasons for pursuing a classical education, chiefly that the classical model works with a child’s natural stages of mental development and teaches them how to think rather than what to think. In the first core subject article, we looked at applying the classical model to teaching children how to read.

 

Now, let’s turn to the core of writing which Leigh outlines in chapter five of The Core. Teaching a child to write classically involves following the trivium skills of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. To lay the foundations for writing in the grammar stage, the fundamental skills are handwriting, spelling, and copywork. Then, dialectic students can progress to the technical vocabulary of grammar and analysis of sentence structure. Finally, rhetoric students can hone their skills of expression by employing stylistic techniques which allow them to express complex ideas.

 

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The Core Part 2: Teaching Reading Classically

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Monday, 14 July 2014
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Postcards is revisiting some archived articles that have not been lost, but may have been forgotten and are worth a fresh read. Jennifer Courtney now serves as Communications Director for Classical Conversations MultiMedia. She served as State Manager of Oklahoma from 2006-2010.

The Core Part 2: Teaching Reading Classically
by Jennifer Courtney

 

I hope this article finds you enjoying some good books and some pleasant fall weather.  In Part 2 of our series on Leigh’s book The Core, we will look at teaching your children to read. Leigh discusses reading instruction in depth in Chapter Four. In future articles, we will address the other core areas of knowledge:  writing, math, geography, history, science, and fine arts.

Before we delve into teaching methodologies, let’s look at three important notes on reading from The Core (p. 90). “Children need to spend time with books in three ways:

 

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Discovery

Posted by Cara
Cara
Cara McLauchlan’s love of words began as a teen when she dreamed of becoming the
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on Monday, 07 July 2014
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Nurture Your Soul – Summer Devotions Series

Discovery
by Cara McLauchlan

"The only true voyage of discovery...would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another..."
-- Marcel Proust

 

 

No summer would be complete without an adventure to the island. As a child, the island of our hometown lake held the promise of discovery and mystery for me and my brothers. Every summer we would make a plan to take our clunky rowboat there and to search for whatever treasure might be lurking along its bluffs.

 

Once you arrived on the island, there was not much to it: bunches of clumpy reeds gave way to mounds of dirt trails and a patchy forest. It was an ordinary pile of land that was not beautiful or interesting. The true beauty was in what stories the island held. We imagined pirates or mafia hiding away there, burying their stash and waiting for crimes to blow over. The lore and legends of the island were the stuff of campfire stories that became grander every summer.

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Take Your Time

Posted by Cara
Cara
Cara McLauchlan’s love of words began as a teen when she dreamed of becoming the
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on Monday, 23 June 2014
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Nurture Your Soul – Summer Devotions Series

 

Take Your Time

by Cara McLauchlan

 

“Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”  -- Eddie Cantor

 

“Let’s take our time,” my brother said to me recently.

 

We were beginning a walk across a nearby meadow that bordered his home in Oxford, England. In my head, I was mentally putting together an agenda of all the things we were going to do and see that day. Walking was only the transportation, it was not the focus. I was looking forward to the exercise; he was looking forward to savoring the moment.

Classical Education Myth #5: Classical education isn’t Christian.

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Monday, 16 June 2014
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Can an education be both classical and Christian? Many parents ask this question every year, unknowingly echoing an age-old query. Parents often associate a classical education with “non-Christian” content such as Greek mythology or philosophy. Naturally, they then wonder how these studies can be Christian. Tertullian, an early Church Father, was perhaps the first to consider whether these two ideas are compatible when he asked, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” The Church Fathers continued to wrestle with the question for centuries, most concluding that all ideas that are takecaptive for Christ may be used profitably by Christians. Examining this ongoing conversation about classical, Christian education will serve to answer many of our own questions today. We will subsequently be able to perceive that our current understanding of classical, Christian education depends more on the medieval church’s idea of education than it does on the ideas of the Greeks and Romans.

 

The Best Question

Posted by Cara
Cara
Cara McLauchlan’s love of words began as a teen when she dreamed of becoming the
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on Tuesday, 10 June 2014
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The Question Book Club – Five Ideas for What’s Next

 

The Best Question 

by Cara McLauchlan

 

“So what?” is the question my dad used to ask me after we had a long discussion. It was always presented as a half joke and half dare. For my dad, it was never enough just to mentally understand what we had debated. The most important question was, “What did it really mean to me and what would I do with it?”

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Come Rest Awhile

Posted by Cara
Cara
Cara McLauchlan’s love of words began as a teen when she dreamed of becoming the
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on Monday, 02 June 2014
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Nurture Your Soul – Summer Devotions Series

 

Come Rest Awhile

by Cara McLauchlan

 

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of St. Augustine

 

My Aunt Betty loved teatime. She was born in Scotland and lived most of her life in Canada. When she came to visit, the world stopped for afternoon tea. We would be in the midst of gardening or cleaning and she would say, “Now it’s time to rest – come sit with me for tea.”

 

I loved that about her. She tucked rest into little pockets of her day—finding renewal in easy relaxation over a lovely cup of tea and buttered toast points. We would tell stories and I could not get enough of her tales of my mother as a young girl or what I was like as a baby. She carried an attitude of rest throughout her day because it came easy to her—it was as natural as laughter.

 

Rest does not come easy for me. I long for that ability to enjoy rest. I convince myself that if I check off enough things, then I can stop. The thing is, there is always more to do and always more to check off. With the lovely vision of summer months spreading out before me, I crave more rest in my day. I want to carry that attitude my Aunt Betty was so good at—a reservoir of peace in my spirit, filled by the Lord’s whispering into my heart.

Poolside Latin, Anyone? Summer Studies

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, 27 May 2014
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In Classical Conversations, we often speak of the wonderful fruit of restoring the education of two generations of students—the education of the students who are in Classical Conversations and also the education of their parents. What does this mean? If we want our children to receive a thoroughly classical, Christian education, it means that we must be willing to pursue a new education for ourselves. We must be willing to tackle some new subjects and ideas that we never learned, and we must be willing to re-learn some that we encountered in school.

 

Does this seem daunting? Perhaps, but not if we take it in small bites. When I served as State Manager of Oklahoma, I challenged directors and parents to read three kinds of books each year: 1. a book on parenting or leadership, 2. a book on classical education, and 3. a book for self-education. In this article, I want to draw your attention to the last two. However, I do not wish to completely ignore the first, so my top three recommendations are: A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming (my apologies to the dads), Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp, and Hints for Child Training by Henry Clay Trumbull.

Graduation and Getting There

Posted by Heather
Heather
Heather Shirley, her husband Ed, and their three children have been involved wit
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on Monday, 19 May 2014
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A handful of friends gathered around sharing stories, celebrating achievements, and finally, praying over Daniel as one season of life was coming to a close and a new season was beginning. It was a time of joy, a time of tears, and a time of testimony.

 

As I look back, I wonder: how did we get here? I can remember three car seats in a minivan and meeting my first Foundations tutor. I remember meeting Leigh Bortins at our Classical Conversations campus and sitting in a nursery with our youngest children on our laps discussing ideals of education. I joined the community.

 

As I look back, I remember learning the memory work along with my children in the Foundations program. The timeline, geography, history, English Grammar, and Latin held many lessons in humility for me and my college education. The flow of ideas, peoples, nations, and language were coming alive to me. My children and I were enjoying this journey together. We were all being transformed in our unique ways.

The Practical Classical Education

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Monday, 12 May 2014
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This month, I visited St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland for their Accepted Students Day. My oldest son, Alec, graduated from Challenge IV in the spring of 2013 and will complete his year at Mandala Fellowship in May. He has been accepted to St. John’s, so we visited the school along with another Mandala fellow who has also been accepted, Barnabas Holleran of The Wayfarers (a blog about Mandala Fellowship), and Classical Conversations’ faithful videographer and CC YouTuber extraordinaire, Tobin Duby.

 

 

The trip was exciting; it was also a bit embarrassing. To the latter, a lot of the families there did not know who we were, so they thought I had brought my personal videographer—that was a bit strange. To the former, I experienced something that only reinforces every decision we have made to use Classical Conversations through the high school years.

Who Is Your Hero?

Posted by Cara
Cara
Cara McLauchlan’s love of words began as a teen when she dreamed of becoming the
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on Tuesday, 06 May 2014
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Chapters Nine through Eleven – History, Science, & Fine Arts

 

 

Who Is Your Hero?

by Cara McLauchlan

 

 

“If we do not move our children to discover heroes to imitate, they will invent their own. That is what the cultural icons have become….If however, I want my child to be pushed beyond the limits of his humanity in the service of something good and noble, then I need my child to have genuine heroes, the real deals.” – Leigh Bortins, The Question (pg. 160)

 

 

As a kid, my hero was Wonder Woman. With her lasso of truth, golden crown, and invisible jet, I thought she packed all the qualities of the coolest heroine for an awkward middle school girl.

 

 

So when I asked my son who his hero was and he responded, “Captain America,” I understood. In our youth, we look for heroes that do the impossible, the amazing, and the powerful things we could never imagine doing. Obviously, Christ will be our best and greatest reference as a hero, but my son’s Captain America response got me thinking about what sort of heroes I was inspiring him to consider.

 

 

Leigh Bortins says in The Question, “Heroes drive us, by their examples, to do what we would not consider it possible to do, to be what we would not consider possible to be, to become what we had not considered it possible to become” (pg. 158).

The Gospel in Shoe Leather

Posted by Heather
Heather
Heather Shirley, her husband Ed, and their three children have been involved wit
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on Monday, 21 April 2014
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As a young Christian, I studied the book of James intently. As a matter of fact, the first verses of any length that I ever really memorized were from James 1:2-10. I can still say them today! Aside from the memory verses, I found this book full of practical principles and enlightening instruction. You could say this book helped me put on the walking shoes I needed to travel the Christian road.

 

 

Has your family ever considered studying a book of the Bible for a school year? Consider the book of James. Do you have middle schoolers or high schoolers? I would go so far as to say you need the book of James!!

A Beginning Glossary of Terms for Classical Education

Posted by Beth Watson
Beth Watson
Beth Watson graduated from Cairn University (formerly named Philadelphia Biblica
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on Friday, 18 April 2014
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Before homeschooling my children, my educational experience was limited to how I was taught, which I would generally characterize as traditional. I grew up attending a private, Christian school and later graduated from a Bible university with degrees in social work and Bible. I had no experience and very little information regarding classical education. When I attended an information meeting for Classical Conversations, I was just beginning my journey into understanding classical education. The first thing I noticed was that I did not understand the terminology! Whenever a CC representative tried to explain how the program worked, I found myself lost in translation. Maybe you have found yourself in the same predicament? Today I aim to offer definitions for some terms commonly used in classical education. I hope it helps! 

 

 

Note: I have chosen to organize the terms in order of topic development rather than alphabetically, like a typical glossary.

Four Benefits of Saxon Math

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
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April is Math Awareness Month. Here is an article from the archives to encourage you in your math study and instruction.

 

Four Benefits of Saxon Math

by Matt Bianco

 

Math is not scary. Say it with me: “Math is not scary.” Perhaps you might tell me you grew up believing your sister to be a math oriented person and believing yourself to be a language oriented person (and this is the reason you think math is scary). This is not true. If you have a proclivity for one over the other, it is the fault of education and our culture—not the fault of your mind. We might have natural talents that make one area of study easier for us than another—although the argument could be made that those are still the result of cultural and familial influences—but your being pigeonholed into developing only one of those talents is the fault of education and culture, not your mind. God created us in His image and He is not a left brained or right brained God. You are not left brained or right brained either. You can image God—and by this I mean you can reflect the image of God to this world—with both sides of your brain; you just need to break free from the pigeonholing that education and culture have imposed upon you.

Two Words of Encouragement

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 Wednesday, 16 April 2014
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Have you ever noticed how many times in the Book of Psalms the words lovingkindness and truth appear together?

 

For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds.   Psalm 57:101

 

I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.  Psalm 40:10

 

Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Psalm 85:10

 

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Psalm 86:15

 

When I looked into the Hebrew I found these words: chesed and emeth. Chesed is translated “lovingingkindness,” but it means more than a general kindness. It is only used in the context of two parties in a covenant relationship.2 It describes God’s compassionate commitment toward us regardless of our merit or our faithfulness toward Him. Chesed appears in the New Testament as charis, grace.

The Delaware Tea Party…And Why Writing Is So Important

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 Tuesday, 15 April 2014
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As I traverse history with my Challenge III and IV students, I have noticed a very important trend in history. Those who are remembered in history are those who are able to write well. Our goal, of course, is going to Heaven, but if a person wants to influence the greatest number of people, he/she should learn to write well. If a person can write a persuasive essay well, he/she can write a beautiful speech, an outstanding presentation or a convincing affirmative construct for debate. In keeping with the theme of this missive, here is my thesis statement: Throughout history, we see that men are remembered not just for their deeds, but because their deeds have been immortalized in writing.

Classical Education Myth #4: This is just too much to learn.

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Monday, 14 April 2014
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As I have visited with parents over the years about the classical, Christian model of education, many have been overwhelmed by what seems to be “way too much to learn.” Many people have read books about classical education and found their heads swimming with thoughts of Latin, Greek, logic, ancient literature, and history. They find themselves thinking that their students could never tackle all of these subjects nor could they guide their students through them.

 

Nothing could be farther from the truth of classical education. Let’s consider two important ideas about a classical education. First, a classical education seeks to train students in certain skills. These skills are the habits of mind that will help students learn any subject. Secondly, a classical education seeks to train students in these skills by practicing them on quality content.

Take the Ultimate Challenge

Posted by Jennifer Greenholt
Jennifer Greenholt
Jen Greenholt was an early participant in the Classical Conversations Challenge
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on Friday, 11 April 2014
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A lawyer, a medical student, a teenager, and a mom of three gather at a public park. No, this is not the beginning of a joke; it is the start of a weekend Ultimate Frisbee tournament.

 

 

In 1968, three high school students, one of whom would go on to produce the Matrix series and other popular Hollywood films, developed a rudimentary game of “frisbee football,” which they later renamed “Ultimate Frisbee.” Since that first casual summer, the sport has grown immensely, and as of 2012, the governing body, USA Ultimate (USAU), boasted 35,000 members.

 

 

I was introduced to Ultimate Frisbee in college, but I began playing recreationally about four years ago. Now, I play for a mixed club team in the Triad area of North Carolina. As I have discovered over the past four years, this sport is accessible, classical in nature, relational, and, above all, character building. I recommend it highly whether your high school student loves to run and is seeking a competitive outlet, or hates exercise and is seeking a tolerable alternative to the treadmill.

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You Are Math in Motion

Posted by Kate Deddens
Kate Deddens
Kate was born overseas, attending International Baccalaureate schools in Iran, I
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on Thursday, 10 April 2014
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April is Math Awareness Month. Here is an article from the archives to encourage you in your math study and instruction.

 

 

If I asked you, “Do you like math?” would you answer that you dislike it? Would you complain that you “never use it in real life”? Would you claim that you are not a “math person”? If you would answer in those ways, consider a follow-up question: “Do you like music?”

 

 

If you are like most people, you will say that you enjoy music; it makes up a significant part of our lives…in entertainment, in relaxation, and—perhaps most importantly for Christians—in worship. The love of music is a human phenomenon that crosses all geographic and cultural boundaries. With this in mind, let me suggest that if you answered the last question about music in a positive way, but the former question about math negatively, you have just contradicted yourself.

 

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Classical Approach to Homeschooling: Part 1

Posted by Tori Ryan
Tori Ryan
Tori Ryan is an experienced homeschooling mother of four lively children ages se
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on Wednesday, 09 April 2014
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“You mean I’m going to do this math book again next year?” my son complained as his father and I broke the devastating news to him last spring.

 

 

“Yes, son. You haven’t mastered the concepts in this book yet and you need to have this down before we move on,” we gently explained, expecting the floodgate of tears to begin at any moment.

 

 

“Won’t I be behind?” he pleaded.

 

 

“Behind what? Behind whom? The only thing you are behind on is mastering the math concepts and paying attention to details. If you move on to the next book, you think then you won’t be behind a ‘book,’ but you will still be behind on the concepts,” we tried to explain. This was a baffling idea to him, that although he had completed the book, he had not completed the purpose for going through the book which was to master the material.

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