Why Classical Education? (redux)

One of the most common questions I get from parents thinking about classical home education is “Why this? Why classical education versus what my children are already doing? How can you possibly do it, when you haven’t done it yourself?” Last part first. I read books.  No, seriously, I read widely and deeply. For example, when I assigned my eldest child The Odyssey, I read Wilson’s translation. I also read about education and classical education. Finally ready for a deeper dive, I read Norms & Nobility last winter. Wisdom Reading comprehension is essentially a background knowledge test Classical education (AKA, a knowledge-rich curriculum) offers the most background knowledge. It’s the reason why studies show that the only curriculum shown to make a difference in test scores, all other variables held constant, is that at private order religious schools (not Catholic parish schools). Religious order schools offer a classical education, right down to classics departments that teach Latin and Greek. Classical education

read more Why Classical Education? (redux)

A utilitarian view of classical education

Classical education is distinctive in part because it has a prescribed path of study. Different classical educators have different paths, but I plan our program of instruction using the scope and sequence of the curricula mapped in the  Well-Trained Mind.  This systematic approach is anathema to many public schoolers using weak standards, eclectic homeschoolers who just study whatever the parent deems important, and unschooling types who feel that dictating an area of study is doing violence upon their child, but I disagree for several reasons. Unknown Unknowns There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. — Donald Rumsfeld I believe that there are “unknown unknowns,” and that children, with their limited experience in the world naturally have a significantly higher number of unknown unknowns.

read more A utilitarian view of classical education

Yes, we use the Well-Trained Mind, but …

People tend to forget that it’s a plan, not a prison. Yes, I peruse it every spring, but my children are not theoretical constructs. I customize it. For example, next year will be the 6th grade for my eldest child. So, I flipped open my Kindle copy of the most recent edition, clicked on Part II. The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade through Eighth Grade, skipped the introduction (I’ve already been convinced!), and re-read the How to Teach. I noted the “if she can support her points with the facts” and reminded myself that I’d like to use the exercises from The Writing Revolution with Gwen next year. “Language, mathematics, logic, history, and science are staples of the logic stage; art and music should be pursued if possible.” (Location 5986 in The Well-Trained Mind) Step 1: Logic. Last year, my eldest child attempted The Art of Argument, but I didn’t have time to devote to going through it with her, and

read more Yes, we use the Well-Trained Mind, but …

The Joy of Saxon Math

Homeschoolers as a group do better than public school students do, but when adjusted for socio-economic status, do less well in math than expected. Direct Instruction works for increasing math success. Saxon math is a Direct Instruction program. Because of its scripted nature, Saxon math is easier to implement in the homeschool than some other, popular programs, especially when many homeschooling mothers are not confident about their own math skills. Saxon math is a complete K-12 program. Grades K – 3 are written very differently from the rest of the program. They’re teacher intensive, highly scripted, and incorporate lots of manipulatives–hallmarks of high-quality direct instruction math programs. Saxon 5/4 through Calculus (3rd edition) is written to the student, allowing students with good verbal skills (like most homeschoolers) to work independently. Saxon math works. It’s been around in the homeschool community for many years, and has been the subject of efficacy research since 2005, including a randomized, controlled trial. Saxon has

read more The Joy of Saxon Math