Classical Education is Dead

16 Feb

I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed with The Latin-Centered Curriculum. I knew that many of the recommended resources would be Christian, but I didn’t realise that the method itself would be rejiggered and redefined to fit  American Christian homeschoolers.

I’m also finding holes. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read it completely through (but I’ve read most of it and have at least looked through all of it. For example, Andrew Campbell mentions how spelling was taught, but does not tell us how to do it or what to use. There aren’t enough resources listed. He doesn’t explain the Quadrivium enough. Memory work isn’t explained. And, as far as I can tell, narration isn’t mentioned once. I thought narration was a big part of Classical Education???

I’ve come to the conclusion that Classical Education, in any ‘pure’ form died along with the ancient Greek and Romans. Any attempt at a Classical Education is going to be a neoclassical one.

I’ve also realised that what we’re doing already closely resembles what’s laid out in LCC. It may not be in the same order, but, for example, we’ll probably read everything suggested in the literature section at some point. I prefer to read Greek myths when we’re studying ancient Greece in history, but we will do it (actually, that’s what we’re doing now).

I also prefer the history rotation in WTM to the schedule in LCC (not to mention the resources).

I do, however, like the focus on Latin. And I like the idea of multum non multa: not many things, but  much (quality, not quantity).

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve cut out a few things. I’ve also decided to cut out Drawing With Children for now because I don’t think Esa’s quite ready for it. I’m also taking a more relaxed approach to Writing With Ease. I want to have daily copywork instead. I’m not going to worry about the guided narrations so much. He’ll get practice with that in FLL (which I’m keeping. We may drop grammar as a separate subject when we begin Latin and Classical Writing) and in other areas.

We’re also going back to a 4-day schedule. We’ve already started this and even though Esa spent much of the free day playing (as he should), he also spent some time reading, doing tangrams, counting, and bird watching. I spent my time getting caught up on housework, planning, and reading. Once it warms up a little we can spend much of that day outside gardening, doing nature study, and playing. I want Esa to develop a love of the outdoors and nature but that won’t happen if he doesn’t spend enough time outdoors now. He does enjoy going out, but it’s not usually his first choice of activity.

I also like using the Progymnasmata for writing, which I plan to use via Classial Writing.

I think, overall, what I got out of reading LCC was:

  • Seeing the Trivium as a list of subjects, not as a developmental framework
  • Making Latin a prominent feature of our homeschooling from second grade on up
  • Studying Greek (later)
  • Multum non multa. I feel better about trimming the fat from our lessons. I want to savour and really absorb what we’re doing. We’re not doing things just so we can say we ‘covered’ it.
  • Moving more slowly through Singapore Math. I was hell-bent on keeping to a schedule for this, but Esa needs more work with addition and we’re going to spend the necessary time focusing on it.
  • Making math more important. I’ve got lots of great books and other resources to supplement math and I’m making some use of them, but not enough. Math is hugely important and we should do more with it.
  • Daily copywork

There’s also the issue of science. LCC isn’t big on science. But a good grounding in science is essential in modern times. And Esa loves it. Here’s my plan for science:

We’re using a 3-week rotation.

  • Week 1: Do lesson from Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. If appropriate, do a lab sheet (based on the scientific method)
  • Week 2: Review BFSU lesson. Read supplemental books, websites, etc. Do any extra experiments with lab sheet. Make a minibook,  narration page, etc.
  • Week 3: Nature study: take a nature walk, draw in nature journal, read a nature book (Burgess Book, James Herriot, etc), read Ranger Rick magazine, watch DVD or programme, make use of Handbook of Nature Study, etc, etc…

I’m wanting to add a few resources to our science studies because at the moment it only takes up one day a week (apart from nature study week). I’d like to it be 2 or 3, but I’m not sure what to add. I recently bought The Story of Science, but it’s more like a mini science encyclopedia. I’d like a book that is truly a chronological story of the history of science. I know the Joy Hakim books do this, but I’m not sure Esa’s ready for them yet.


I think I’m feeling disappointed because I was hoping LCC would fit us perfectly. But no one method is going to fit us completely. My child is an individual and I need to tailor what we do to fit his neds.  But I don’t regret buying the  book. It’s given me a lot of food for thought and has helped me to loosen my grip on TWTM. A good, rigorous education can be achieved without the mania.

Ok, Classical Education isn’t really dead…that was just my attempt at a catchy title, but Classical Education isn’t something easily defined anymore. It’s splintered and out of necessity it’s modernised. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to implement a classical education exactly the way the Greeks and Romans did it. It’s much more fun tailoring things to fit us. And, they didn’t have internet. {shudder}.


2 responses to “Classical Education is Dead

  1. Libby Schleichert

    February 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Feb. 17, 2010

    I like your approach to homeschooling, esp the nature part. Thanks for the “Ranger Rick” mention, as well. Just wanted to let you know, too, that if you go to our Web page and look on the left hand column, there are more ideas for inspiring kids to love nature and a free online educators guide to each issue of the magazine, too:

    Thanks and warmest wishes to you and your family,
    Libby Schleichert, Sr. Editor
    Ranger Rick Magazine
    National Wildlife Federation
    Reston, VA

    You can find new outdoor fun ideas every month, too, on our main Web page:

    Follow me on twitter: @epschleichert or @rangerrickmag

  2. pragmaticmom

    February 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    for more math fact practice, my kids’ teachers assigned these free web math games. i posted the ones that my kids liked the best at See adding and subtracting games on the BLACK navigation bar under “Math Workbooks.”

    We also do practice math worksheets and time them (very stressful), and math flashcards (very boring) to learn math facts.

    Another good game is two card war. Remove face cards and 10s and play two cards at a time; we play with 4 decks. For additional practice, have your child write out the winner:

    10 > 8, or 12 < 16. Then count up who won.

    Pragmatic Mom


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