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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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The CC Tutor: Model and Mentor

Posted by Heather
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Heather Shirley, her husband Ed, and their three children have been involved wit
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on Friday, 21 February 2014
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The role of Classical Conversations tutors extends beyond that of teacher. Our goal is to reach deeper into the life of each student and parent, becoming both model and mentor.

 

A Leading Example
 
Throughout history, especially ages marked by higher learning, one person oversaw the education of a small group of students. In this discipling atmosphere, students studied all subjects under this one instructor, and learning thrived. Observing this model, similar to the one-room schoolhouse approach of early America, the key to producing successful learners in Classical Conversations must not be based upon the relatively recent utilization of segmented master teachers. Rather we must take note of past success and aim to build student relationships with an inspirational mentor who focuses on the tools of learning as well as the unique life of each student. 
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Stand Up for Parental Rights

Posted by Robert
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on Tuesday, 14 January 2014
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At Classical Conversations, we believe that parents are the very best teachers for their children. This is at the core of everything we do. This is why we firmly believe in equipping parents, and why we have parents attend Foundations and Essentials with their students. This is why we have tutors rather than teachers in the Challenge program. This is why we host free parent training events around the country every summer through our Parent Practicums.

 

However, all of this is only possible because of the very great freedoms we enjoy in our country. It is often easy for us to take these freedoms for granted. In 2012, Classical Conversations sponsored the first Global Home Education Conference in Germany. We spent a week meeting with families from around the world who do not have the freedom to educate their children at home in the manner they would choose. It was eye-opening to say the least.

Fire Safety for Parents and Educators

Posted by Jennifer Greenholt
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Jen Greenholt was an early participant in the Classical Conversations Challenge
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on Friday, 10 January 2014
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“Don’t touch that! It’s hot.”

 

This Christmas, I spent the holidays with my sister and brother-in-law and my young nephew. My nephew is just learning to stand upright and lunge from surface to surface like a trapeze artist. While I was there, he attempted to place his hand on the living room heater, prompting a firm rebuke.

 

Entranced by the flickering colors, small children find it difficult to believe that fire is not a toy. Adults have more experience; we know why the phrase, “playing with fire,” means taking dangerous risks. And yet, is it not a quandary that, even as we warn children away from heat and flame, we also want them—eventually—to learn how to cook on a hot stove and build fires to keep warm in the winter?

 

Knowledge is like that, too. A famous quote about education says, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”1 Sometimes, presenting a child with knowledge seems just as dangerous as giving him a lighted match. Once you spark his curiosity, the risk—but also the desired outcome—is that it will begin to burn on its own.

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Stories of Two Wolves: Attaining Humility through Interventions

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, 11 December 2013
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In her Writers Circle article, “Reflections on Tutor Humility [by a Recovering Engineer],” Amanda Butler imperatively exhorted tutors to embrace humility for “humility allows tutors to support families in a mentoring relationship, humility permits honesty to permeate the lessons in the classroom, and humility invites the Holy Spirit to do His work in the lives of the tutor, students, and parents.” Amanda predicated this thesis on the statement, “individually, humility in the nature of a tutor is hard to obtain.”1 Humility, when viewed in the life of the winsome and vibrant Jesus Christ, becomes a most desirable trait, attractive to anyone. Along with Amanda many would argue, imperative as it is, that humility is hard to obtain. I would argue that humility is not only difficult to obtain, but it is impossible to obtain. Thankfully, humility may be attained through interventions.

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Cultivating Curiosity: The Art of Asking Questions

Posted by Leigh
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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.

 

 

 

 

Why Study Latin?

Posted by Matt
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Matt Bianco is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. T
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on Monday, 11 November 2013
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Why Study Latin—The Tutor’s View

by Matt Bianco


In the summer of 2012, I had a conversation with one of my rising Challenge IV students and her family. She wanted to quit the study of Latin in her final year of homeschooling with Classical Conversations. We met and I suggested that she needed to give it this one last year. As a rhetoric student, she needed to study things from a rhetorical perspective, and her Latin studies had finally progressed to the point where she could begin to be truly rhetorical with them. If she were to give up on Latin and switch to, say, French, she would be switching to a grammatical study of a language right when she needed to be rhetorical with it. If she would work through this year of a rhetorical study of Latin, she would be far more equipped to return to a grammatical study of any other language. She and her family were persuaded, even if tenuously, and she continued her study of Latin into Challenge IV.

 

Going into the Christmas break of that year, Anna Harvey wrote the following persuasive essay regarding the study of Latin. I am thankful for her humility and willingness to admit and share what she discovered about the study of Latin. I am thankful for her presence and participation in our seminars and discussion. I am thankful for the godly young lady she is.

 

 

Why Study Latin—The Student’s View

by Anna Harvey

 

Have you ever been mistaken in a belief? For years I thought learning Latin was a waste of my time. I have recently come to realize that learning Latin is anything but a waste of time; it makes me a better person. There are three different aspects to consider as to why this is the case. First, learning Latin has a utilitarian purpose. Second, learning Latin helps me understand the world more thoroughly. And third, learning Latin is satisfying.

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.

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

Posted by Leigh
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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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How to Be the Best Math Tutor

Posted by Matt
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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.

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.

The Worst Reason Not to Homeschool

Posted by Jonathan Bartlett
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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? 

Reflections on Tutor Humility [by a Recovering Engineer]

Posted by Amanda Butler
Amanda Butler
Amanda and her husband, Ryan, reside in Cedar Park, TX with their two beautifull
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on Thursday, 16 May 2013
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What is the most important attribute of a classical, Christian tutor? Mastery of academic material, expertise in classical pedagogy, and the expression of natural charm or charisma in the classroom characterize a desirable tutor to some parents. Extraordinary biblical knowledge, administrative excellence, and clear communication skills define a highly sought-after tutor to others. Some would argue humility in the life of a tutor is required while others believe humility is an incidental benefit. Individually, humility in the nature of a tutor is hard to obtain. Humility in the life of a classical, Christian tutor is imperative for three reasons: humility allows tutors to support families in a mentoring relationship, humility permits honesty to permeate the lessons in the classroom, and humility invites the Holy Spirit to do His work in the lives of the tutor, students, and parents.


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
User is currently offline
on Friday, 05 April 2013
in Articles

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.

 

My Classical Journey with the Magi

Posted by Jennifer Greenholt
Jennifer Greenholt
Jen Greenholt was an early participant in the Classical Conversations Challenge
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on Wednesday, 19 December 2012
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Last year, I had the opportunity to study T.S. Eliot's poem "The Journey of the Magi" with a high school student whom I was tutoring. I had read the poem before and my graduate school roommate was an Eliot aficionado, so I felt reasonably confident as I approached the poem. We would talk about alliteration and unrhymed verse, T.S. Eliot's classical roots, and the loss of certainty that characterizes modernist poetry. My student would identify the rhetorical figures in the poem and write a paper about them. Even better, when the discussion turned to the famously difficult questions "why?" and "so what?", I could fall silent, because as a tutor using the dialectic model, my job was to ask the questions, not to answer them.


My plan was neat, impersonal, and clinical; however, as so often happens when you study great literature, my agenda moved quietly to the backseat when I embarked on my personal journey with the magi.


The first week, we began with the grammar of literary analysis. We reviewed the definitions of rhyme and meter, alliteration and consonance, end-stopped lines and enjambment, blank verse and free verse. Then we looked at examples of these literary devices and styles in famous poems by Shakespeare, Keats, and Dickinson. We practiced reading the poems aloud and counting out the number of stressed syllables in each line until my student could tell the difference between iambic pentameter and iambic tetrameter. Then we turned to Eliot. After a brief discussion of Eliot's background and historical context, I sent my student home with a list of rhetorical techniques that he might find in Eliot's poem. His assignment, before we met again, was to read "Journey of the Magi" and then highlight and identify major devices used in it.


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