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Finding God in Shakespeare

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, 09 January 2014
in Articles

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



"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals - and yet, to me, what is the quintessence of dust?" (Hamlet II.ii.303-308)


When you read this, do you hear echoes of King David's question from the Psalms: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? And yet, you have placed him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor" (8:4-5). If you find yourself asking how God can be found in Shakespeare or why Christian parents and students should study Shakespeare, then one answer is that all literature can be used to examine Christian beliefs—to find God and remind our understanding of Him. So, perhaps the real question is, "Why should Christians study literature?"

My Favorite Sources for Really Good Books

Posted by Beth Watson
Beth Watson
Beth Watson graduated from Cairn University (formerly named Philadelphia Biblica
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on Friday, 01 November 2013
in Articles


He ate and drank the precious words,

His spirit grew robust,

He knew no more that he was poor,

Or that his frame was dust.

He danced along the dingy ways

And this bequest of wings

Was but a book. What liberty

A loosened spirit brings.

- Emily Dickinson,

The Poems of Emily Dickinson



"Children don't stumble onto good books by themselves; they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic."

(Gladys Hunt, Honey for A Child's Heart)



Each year for their birthdays, we introduce our children to one really great story through the gift of a new book. When possible, we buy hardcover. We open the front cover, trace their hand inside, and add their name and age. They love that part! I love building the library we will share for years to come, a library which, I hope, they will one day share with their little ones.


However, there are so many great stories (and so many bad ones, too)! How does one choose? How do we find the really good ones? It is not always easy. Today, I am sharing the sources I return to again and again to point me in the right direction. Using these sources save time, money, and bookshelf space that would otherwise be wasted on less inspired (or inspiring) books.

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
in Articles

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.

Can Books Really Teach Us Anything? (Part Two)

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, 16 July 2013
in Articles

In part one of this article, we looked at two recent arguments in favor of letting children’s desires dictate what they read. This common contemporary argument is directly opposed to the idea of a classical, Christian education. While the aim of most contemporary educators is to prepare their students for the workplace, the aim of classical, Christian education is to train students to love truth, goodness, and beauty, so that they may gain wisdom and virtue. Classics are worth reading because they train students in virtue. The students learn to evaluate the actions of others and in doing so, they are prepared to make wise choices themselves. In addition, good literature trains their affections, helping them learn to love what is true, good, and beautiful.


Last month, a friend asked me which books had been most formative in my childhood. Her question caused me to think: Do books shape us? How do they shape us? If this is such an important part of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, how do we choose the right books?

Can Books Really Teach Us Anything? (Part One)

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, 09 July 2013
in Articles

There has been a healthy argument in the news lately about whether or not students should read the classics. National Public Radio (NPR) recently aired a piece lamenting the fact that students no longer graduate to serious, adult fiction because they are reading too many contemporary, insubstantial novels in the classroom. (Ironically, following the piece, they posted a reading list for young adults which contained only examples of the kind of literature they had just criticized.) In response to their piece, an English teacher posted a blog arguing in favor of reading more modern literature. After all, she argues, these are the only ones students will remember.


The NPR piece illustrates the profound confusion of modern educators. It is easy to dismiss the classics if you forget why you are studying them. In previous generations, it was conventional wisdom to claim that students should only study the best that has ever been thought and said. Educators rejected contemporary literature because it is impossible to know which works will stand the test of time. Much of it will be blown away like chaff in the wind. Classical educators recognize that students must study not only the best thoughts, but the ones which have been presented in the best language. These are the criteria which determine our reading lists.

Coming Soon to Theaters near You! Saxon Advanced Math

Posted by Jennifer Greenholt
Jennifer Greenholt
Jen Greenholt was an early participant in the Classical Conversations Challenge
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on Tuesday, 02 July 2013
in Articles

Do you ever wish someone would turn your required reading into a big-budget summer blockbuster? This July Fourth weekend, feeling slightly traitorous to your classical roots, you could sit in an air-conditioned theater, feed your children popcorn for dinner, and watch A Patriot’s History of the United States in a manageable two-hour block.


Chapter four would last approximately three minutes. It would explain the entirety of the Constitutional Convention through witty repartee between Thomas Jefferson (Matt Damon) and Alexander Hamilton (Ben Affleck) over small government. The scene would round out with a biting, humorous speech from Benjamin Franklin (Jack Nicholson) rejecting the need for presidents to have a salary. A soaring score by Danny Elfman would play in the background during the final scene of the film.

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So Many Books, So Little Time

Posted by David Bailey
David Bailey
David Bailey is the founding pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Stokesdale
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on Monday, 17 June 2013
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My name is David, and I am a reader. I am learning to manage my addiction.


Ironically, I had no trouble avoiding reading in my younger days. I considered it a challenge to persuade my teachers that I had actually read the assigned literature. I was such a slow reader, with pitiful comprehension, that I gained more from class discussion anyway. Reading was often punishment and always drudgery for me. I watched in amazement as my cousins would choose to read books as we gathered for Thanksgiving—missing a perfectly good football game. My mind could not grasp the notion of reading for enjoyment.

Homeschooling Summer Reading List 2011

Posted by Robert
Robert has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 25 May 2011
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What should homeschoolers read during the summer?

You asked for it, so we provide it!  None of these books are required to be read in the summer, but if you want to get a head start on the next year this is the perfect place to start.  Hope you enjoy!  If you have any other suggestions be sure to post them to our facebook page.

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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 Wednesday, 15 September 2010
in Articles

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:

1. Being read to from books above their reading level to increase speaking vocabulary.

2. Reading easy books below level in order to master common words.

3. Reading books at a comfortable level to gently increase the child’s reading skills.

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