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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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What Is Classical Conversations?

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Friday, 07 March 2014
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And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.      -- Genesis 35:18 (KJV)

 

 

This seemingly inconsequential detail reveals to us the importance of names. With her dying breath, Rachel wanted to name her newborn “son of my sorrow.” Jacob knew that a terrible legacy would accompany such a name, so he renamed his son Benjamin—“son of my right hand.” What a difference!

 

 

Most parents spend hours pondering the names for their children. We acknowledge that there is much meaning to these names. In order to understand the mission of our communities, let us consider the meaning of the name Classical Conversations.

Trivial or Essential, Classical Conversations

Posted by Daniel Shirley
Daniel Shirley
Daniel Shirley is an alumnus of Classical Conversations and one of the first stu
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on Thursday, 13 February 2014
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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  –Nelson Mandela

 

When I first came across this quote it begged me to ask, “Why?” I believe that a good education is necessary. Now as a student in the Rivendell Sanctuary Honors Program in Bloomington, Minnesota (A Minnesota Campus of San Diego Christian College), I am learning to change the world, and in order to do that I have to discard trivial things such as my self want and seek the essentials of truth, goodness, and beauty.

 

Now, my journey through education has been a process to say the least. Since I was very young, I was homeschooled along with my two siblings, Caleb (fourteen) and Emily (sixteen). Two or three years into homeschooling, a friend introduced us to a homeschool community which was just starting up called Classical Conversations. I was about seven years old when I first met Mrs. Leigh Bortins at a small church somewhere in Greensboro. I enrolled in a Foundations class and began my journey.

The Gift of Rhetoric, or What Are We Aiming for?

Posted by Brandy Ferrell
Brandy Ferrell
Originally from Lawton, OK, Brandy graduated with a Bachelor's degree in enginee
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on Wednesday, 05 February 2014
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Rhetoric: the art of using words effectively in speaking or writing (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

 

When we first started homeschooling, we read Debra Bell's Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling and felt compelled to write down our vision for homeschooling our children.

 

Among other things, our family vision stated that at the end of fifteen to twenty years, we want our children to:

 

•   love to learn and be able to teach themselves,

•   be capable of testing what they are told instead of just believing it,

•   be capable of communicating in a variety of social situations and [to] respond appropriately to others,

•   be able to witness to others ("shine their lights" before others) and stand for their convictions, and

•   be thoughtful and impact others in a great, positive way.

 

But, how would we get there? We had no real idea—no direction—just hopes and dreams of what could be.

Training for Heaven

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Friday, 24 January 2014
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What is the purpose of education? Are we educating our children for heaven or Harvard? What is our ultimate goal?

 

We are called to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and that means more than just training them to perform a task or understand particular cultural norms in our society. It means training them to be free, to think, to love the Lord. It means training them to know how to learn, think, and act rightly in God’s world.

 

From now through February 8th, I will be traveling to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Oklahoma, Illinois, and southern California to speak to families—within and without Classical Conversations—on the purpose of education and how classical, Christian education (and Classical Conversations, specifically) helps us to raise children who can learn, think, and act rightly in God’s world.

Finding Freedom in the Grammar Stage

Posted by Brandy Ferrell
Brandy Ferrell
Originally from Lawton, OK, Brandy graduated with a Bachelor's degree in enginee
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on Tuesday, 31 December 2013
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Once upon a time, I attempted to find a craft, worksheet, and online activity or video to flesh out almost every subject of every week of Foundations memory work.

 

When we entered a year of overwhelming challenges and setbacks, I desperately struggled to keep a firm grip on my lesson plans, but our circumstances forced me to let go. At first, I wrestled with dreadful feelings of inadequacy and failure. However, during that humbling year, I made a simple yet liberating discovery: Whatever may befall us, we can simply rest in the classical method. Our children will learn without crafts, videos, and worksheets.


I discovered that as a classical educator all we need at the grammar stage are the four Rs :

In the spirit of the holidays, I offer you: The Twelve (CC) Days of Christmas

Posted by Lisa
Lisa
Lisa Bailey, a homeschooling mom from North Carolina, has served Classical Conve
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on Friday, 20 December 2013
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On the twelfth day of Christmas, CC gave to me: twelve famous paintings.

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, CC gave to me: eleven friends in Challenge.

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, CC gave to me: ten body systems.

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, CC gave to me: nine years of geography.

Considering Classical Conversations and the Gift of Community

Posted by Tucker Teague
Tucker Teague
Tucker Teague is a homeschooling father of three. He has been married for more t
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on Thursday, 05 December 2013
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Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read

 

 

Think about community. The word “community” comes from the Old French word communité, which, as you Latin students know, is derived from communitas (cum, "with/together," plus munus, "gift"). In short, community is the gift of being together with others. This statement raises a couple of questions: Do we see the communities in which we live and participate as gifts of being together? Do we see the Classical Conversations communities, of which we are a part, as gifts?

 

My guess is that the answers to these questions are a mixed bag. Probably, most Classical Conversations communities are wonderful and encouraging, some are not, and a few are in between. All communities will be a mix of good and bad, of warmth and camaraderie, along with the difficult stuff that arises because we are sinners. Perhaps, though, it is precisely in the difficulty of participating in community that we find a blessing. Should we see our individual Classical Conversations communities as something more than a convenient, classical education, homeschooling resource, and weekly social gathering? I want to suggest that beyond timelines and Latin, beyond grammar and world maps, our communities offer social connections in which we are challenged by the greatest classical lesson of all, to be genuine followers of Christ.

My Giving Thanks Top Ten

Posted by Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney
Jennifer Courtney has been home educating since 2004. In addition, she serves as
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on Wednesday, 27 November 2013
in Articles

 

Revisiting Some Archived Articles that Have Not Been Lost, but May Have Been Forgotten and Are Worth a Fresh Read

 

 

Those of you who participate in Social Media will have seen “days of joy” and “gratitude journal” posts recently. I have enjoyed these posts as I count blessings with my friends who live as far away as Japan. As I was reading aloud to my children and contemplating the meaning of Thanksgiving, I decided to create a simple Top Ten list of reasons I am thankful this season.

 

(After reading about the first American Thanksgiving to my children, I am tempted to begin with “I am thankful that my guest did not bring an extra ninety guests with him.”)

 

10. I am thankful that my children are healthy. Some of our friends have recently become involved with orphanages in Uganda. It is difficult, if not impossible, for the children to study their lessons when they do not have enough food or clean water.

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The Hobbit Retreat: What Is It?

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Tuesday, 19 November 2013
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What is The Hobbit Retreat? Some of my readers will know, some will not. In October, Classical Conversations held the first of what we hope will be many “Rising to the Challenge” student retreats. The theme of this first retreat was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was well-timed, I think, because the retreat invitation was extended to Challenge I-IV students, most of whom have read or will soon read the book. It is also timely due to the recent release of the new movie, The Hobbit.

 

The retreat asked students (and the five parents or tutors who attended) to participate in two academic seminars in the mornings and two evening Socratic dialogs about The Hobbit. In the afternoons, the students were engaged in activities such as ropes courses, zip lines, dodgeball, and Ultimate Frisbee competitions.

 

We have had some amazing feedback from students, parents, and tutors on the event. These Challenge students realized how many other like-minded students there are, who care about and enjoy reading and discussing good literature, good thinking, and good communication. Many of them left the retreat with a rekindled love for learning and a curiosity for discovering truth and ideas through conversation.

Cultivating Curiosity: The Art of Asking Questions

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, 18 November 2013
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Was your own education boring? Do your kids ever complain about boredom? This is a sure sign that we are not finding the wonder and loveliness of God’s world.

 

How can we learn to look for it? By being curious and asking questions!

 

Do you worry that you can never learn everything you want to share with your kids?

 

You can reclaim your own education by asking questions.

 

Do you wish you could have rich discussions with your teens about literature, history, theology, and current events? Are you waiting because you have no idea what questions to ask?

 

In my book, The Question: Giving Your Child the Essentials of a Classical Education, I share five questions that you can ask about anything.

 

These five common topics from the classical world are a great place to start.

 

Watch my recent presentation at The Heritage Foundation to get you started.

 

 

 

 

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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How Classical Conversations Teaches Us to Communicate Culture

Posted by Matt
Matt
Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Tuesday, 01 October 2013
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“People and other creatures would be known by their names and histories, not by their numbers or percentages. History would be handed down in songs and stories, not reduced to evolutionary or technological trends.”

-Wendell Berry

 

What is culture, civilization, community? Do we live in a civilized community because we have tagged and identified everyone with a nine-digit social security number? Does that kind of technical efficiency define what it means to be civilized? Is the human soul satisfied because it can describe a person statistically: height, weight, race, religion, and gender?

 

Community is far more than these things; it is the songs and stories that we can tell about one another, about our forebears.

The Dividends of a Challenge Education

Posted by Lisa
Lisa
Lisa Bailey, a homeschooling mom from North Carolina, has served Classical Conve
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on Friday, 27 September 2013
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Well here we are, six or seven weeks into this academic year. For most of us the dust is settling: we are growing accustomed to getting up and out of the house on Classical Conversations day, we are remembering what we like in our packed lunches, and everyone in the family knows where to go when we get to community day. However, in our community, I can tell the “old timers” from the “first timers” among our Challenge parents fairly easily.

 

The “first timers” hurry wild-eyed into the Challenge room, latching on to the tutor as she sets up for the day. “How are we supposed to get it all done? Does anybody finish all the work every week? Should my student already know some of this? You know we never did Challenge before, right?!” They are looking for enlightenment. They are looking for answers. They are looking for understanding. They are looking for a hug. Some are looking for hope for the future. Some are looking for a reason to quit! I want to offer a few insights that should provide hope and a reason to STAY!!

Classical Education Is like Making a Cheesecake

Posted by Lisa
Lisa
Lisa Bailey, a homeschooling mom from North Carolina, has served Classical Conve
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on Friday, 13 September 2013
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I recently asked a group of young children at Foundations Orientation if they wanted to learn how to make cheesecake. Always ready for an adventure and primed to have snack time sooner rather than later, they enthusiastically agreed. “So, what do we need to get started?” I asked. Answers were abundant, and eventually we sifted through them and decided that, first, we needed a recipe. The ingredients suggested might surprise you: cheese (cheddar, maybe?), crackers, ketchup, and candy bars, along with the more expected eggs, sugar, and butter. We also determined we needed some tools, such as a mixer, a spoon, a measuring cup, and a pan.

 

“Ok,” I said, “So now that we have all our “stuff,” we are done making cheesecake, right?” A chorus of groans greeted this assessment. They protested that we had not DONE anything yet! We had not used the tools and the ingredients had not even been mixed together. So, I assented to the notion that we still needed to work a bit more; we should definitely use all the tools and mix the ingredients. Then we would be finished. But no, it appeared my sous chefs thought we needed to bake the cheesecake in order to really finish the process. Therefore, I asked, “After we bake it, then we are done, right?” Well, here is the thing: These guys had been thinking about cheesecake for quite some time. You might say they were really invested in the cheesecake; they did not just want to make it and bake it, they wanted to eat it! One little guy said, “What’s the point of making it if we don’t get to taste?!”

 

Actually, parents, this is the question I would ask you: What is the real point of Foundations if you are not going to stick with it through Challenge?

Life Lessons I Learned from Canning Tomatoes

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 Monday, 26 August 2013
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Photograph submitted by Anna Rose Sheppard

 

I was going to write a post about how to prepare for Latin for this school year, but then I realized that you could just read my article from last year to help you prepare. (http://www.classicalconversations.com/easyblog/entry/preparing-for-next-years-latin-classSo instead of writing such a post, I thought I might ruminate on some things I have pondered while canning tomatoes in the past few weeks.

Heart Experience...Some Reflections

Posted by Linda Tomkinson
Linda Tomkinson
Linda Tomkinson homeschooled her three children from grades K-12. Linda not only
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on Friday, 23 August 2013
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Another year has begun and, again, I am directing a Challenge program. I have tracked my seasons which have been positive, delightful, and always different. My current Challenge II group has already met twice and this week we completed our first biology experiment. Historically, this is the approximate time when I consider the current year’s student dynamics, ponder the unique mixtures of abilities and skills, and reflect on my previous customs with students. Then I may adjust my agenda accordingly and ”experiment” to achieve goals for classic skill building, to consistently meet expectations for Classical Conversations, and to support parents with the primary focus of making community day meaningful for everyone.

 

This year is different. I may ruminate, but I am resolved to endeavor deeper waters, rest, and float.  Rest is active and involves great trust. Floating is the challenge; it requires rest or one sinks. At first, I thought I should chiefly “experiment” on myself, keeping some ideas in the forefront of my heart, rather than classroom practices.  After contemplating over the summer, I rejected this experiment. It was far too analytical and contained too many variables. I considered afresh and prayed. I should purposely experience rest to grow classically and humbly. I want to grow in order to empower, to encourage, and to enlist, not only for my benefit, but most importantly for those I serve.

The Many Lessons of Chemistry in Classical Education

Posted by Jonathan Bartlett
Jonathan Bartlett
Jonathan Bartlett is the director of The Blyth Institute, a nonprofit organizati
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on Monday, 08 July 2013
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I find that I am better able to learn topics when I can connect them to something I already love or already understand. When I learned biology in high school, I was bored out of my mind. Later in life, I have realized that biology is God's engineering on display! This realization has caused me to take a much keener interest in biology in my later years.

 

Chemistry has the same effect on many people. If one is not already planning on being a chemist, chemistry seems an incredible waste of time. However, there are some key lessons lurking in chemistry that I think will help students take a deeper interest in it, as well as pull deeper meaning out of it.

Why You Should Attend a 3-Day Parent Practicum

Posted by Nancy
Nancy
Nancy Casari Dayton graduated from Pennsylvania State University and earned a Ca
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on Friday, 21 June 2013
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Our family joined a Classical Conversations community in February of 2012, and we did not have an opportunity to attend a 3-Day Parent Practicum prior to joining. When Practicum season rolled around the next spring, I did not feel that I needed to attend a Practicum, because I had received my orientation to Classical Conversations by experience and, after all, I already knew a lot about classical education. I did not need to attend a Practicum.

 

Now, as a new director of a Foundations/Essentials community, I am required to attend two Parent Practicums so that I can receive tutor training for the Foundations and Essentials programs.

 

Having returned from my first Practicum, I can say that I was completely unprepared for the blessings awaiting me there. Consequently, I would like to offer my encouragement, by way of an acrostic, to any family who might be “on the fence” about whether to participate.

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The Worst Reason Not to Homeschool

Posted by Jonathan Bartlett
Jonathan Bartlett
Jonathan Bartlett is the director of The Blyth Institute, a nonprofit organizati
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on Monday, 10 June 2013
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This article is modified from sections from the newly-released book MicroSecession: Simple Ways to Liberate Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community from Government Idiocy.

 

In recent years, homeschooling has progressed from an obscure choice made by a tiny minority to a mainstream schooling option. Although I believe strongly in home education, I realize that not everyone can choose to homeschool their children. Homeschooling allows for a great deal of independence and it can allow for a fuller education, but it can also be a drain on time and finances. The fact is, by paying taxes we already pay for schooling our children, so homeschooling is sometimes difficult because we actually pay twice.

 

While there are some good reasons for a family not to homeschool, I want to cover one bad reason which people often give for not homeschooling their children: believing they are unqualified. I want to take some time and look at this objection in depth because it is both common and problematic.

 

First, if you did not learn the material well enough in school to teach it to your children, this represents a problem with public education, not a problem with homeschooling. Said another way: if your teachers did not teach you well enough to teach your own children, why are you entrusting them to teach your children, too? 

Congratulations! You Finished Latin!

Posted by Ruth
Ruth
Ruth and Robbo, her husband of 25 years, live in a house they built in Vermont.
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on Monday, 03 June 2013
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Latin’s a dead language,

As dead as dead could be;

First it killed the Romans;

Now it’s killing me!

-Anonymous

 

Dear graduating Latin student,

 

Congratulations! A year of hard work is complete and you have turned in your final exam.

 

You know the noun declensions. You know something about adjectives, pronouns, and prepositions. You know many verb tenses. You know more about Caesar and the Gauls than you ever wanted to know.

 

This summer you may have a conversation that goes something like this:

 

Curious uncle: “So, what do you learn at Classical Conversations?”

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