Community – Making Classical Click – Part 1

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You’ve decided to embark on the Classical journey but where do you begin?  Do you enroll your students in a Classical school (at considerable expense usually), homeschool them, or join a Classical homeschool community and then, which one?  Just like any other decision, this one comes with much planning, thought, and prayer.

Why do we need a community?  Well, first of all, Classical education was never meant to be worked out alone.  There are no islands here.  There does need to be study, thought and reflection time, but these classical subjects are meant to be worked out with other people.  Socratic discussion requires people.  Unless you are a Latin teacher, you may need some help in unfamiliar territory.

Secondly, parents need support.  Just like any profession or trade, the older generation is called on to teach and disciple the younger generation.  Find someone who has made this journey before.  Ask lots of questions.  Be willing to try new things.  Above all, and this is the most important, DO NOT COMPARE yourself or your children to other families.

Finally, the Classical community is a source of inspiration and joy.  I’ve been part of many of these groups and I can tell you, each one is filled with wonderfully, talented and encouraging moms and sweet inquisitive students.  These moms will lift you up when you are deep in the valley.  They will offer support and encouragement.  They will share successes and failures.  Community is essential!

Over the next several posts, I would like to introduce you to those options by interviewing other parents who have gone before us, made those decisions, and have so much wisdom to share.  The range of options is wide.  I will first introduce you to a mom whom I highly respect who has tried several options and learned from each one.  We’ll visit several Classical homeschool communities including our own local Classical Conversations and Schole Academy.  We will also examine Classical private and charter schools!  That’s a lot to cover, so I hope to create a separate post for each community.

If you are part of a wonderful classical community, please share your success and thoughts.  I would love to include them in the appropriate posts.  Join me on this journey!

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Tres Columnae – A Joyful Latin Learning Community

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“Is something wrong here? Why isn’t this working?” If you’re a Classical homeschooler with children have passed the Grammar stage, you’ve probably asked this question as you watched the pleasure of learning Latin turn into toil and frustration.  You’d expect some amount of toil and frustration in pursuit of a good, true, and beautiful end — but should it feel like a horrible slog?  If learning was joyful at the beginning, shouldn’t there still be joy in the journey?

Even the best-trained, best-supported Latin teachers in schools, colleges, and universities feel similar frustration and pain.  “Why do my students predictably struggle when they first encounter authentic Latin literature?” they ask.  “Why must I spend so much time on review and reteaching of what they seemed to understand so well?”  The source of their struggle is the same: the textbooks and approaches they use were not designed for the young people who are using them.

If learning was joyful at the beginning, shouldn’t there still be joy in the journey?

As a Classical homeschooler, you know that young children (in what we call the Grammar stage) love to know what, but older children (in the Logic stage) love to know how and why, and eventually, in the Rhetoric stage, young adults seek to combine and create.   If you’ve ever looked at the Common European Framework of References for Languages or the Proficiency Guidelines published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, you’ll see a similar pattern: beginners or Novice-level language learners rely on memorization, Intermediate-level learners develop a deeper understanding of the language and culture and begin to express themselves, while Advanced- and Superior-level learners are able to understand complex texts and express complex ideas.  It’s obvious that different methods are needed for the different levels.

Where are the tools designed for Logic and Rhetoric-stage learners?

But if you look closely at popular Latin textbooks, you’ll see that they were designed for adult beginners (Wheelock’s Latin), college students (Latin for the New Millennium), or children preparing for the British examination system (Cambridge Latin Course, Oxford Latin Course, Ecce Romani).  Where are the tools designed for Logic and Rhetoric-stage learners?

My dear friend Dr. Ann Martin and I created the Tres Columnae Project to fill that unfortunate gap.  At the time, I was teaching Latin in a small, open-enrollment public school in North Carolina, and Ann was working with fifth-grade students at a small girls’ school in the United Kingdom. Logic meets Rhetoric.  Both of us — and all of our students — were frustrated by the available textbooks.  One day, as I looked at a sea of desolate faces, I finally asked, “Why are you all so frustrated?”  “It’s not you,” they said, “it’s just that we hate the textbook.”  The readings, they said, were stupid and artificial; the grammatical explanations and exercises were tedious and superficial; the characters in the readings were flat and unrealistic; and the whole thing was “flat and dead.”  I couldn’t argue with them — not only because they were right, but because I’d spent years trying to develop supplementary materials to address these very deficiencies.  “But we like it when we make up stories together,” they told me, “and couldn’t we just do that?”

We continued the conversation.  No, obviously we couldn’t just use the textbook’s copyrighted characters … but the students had already dismissed them as artificial and unrealistic.  Yes, obviously we needed a progression of grammatical and cultural topics — “But could it make more sense than what This Book does?” they asked.  “And could it go deeper? And couldn’t we try to figure things out for ourselves first?” Yes, we clearly needed a master list of vocabulary, and it should contain the most important words for reading and understanding Latin literature.  Some language teachers, in their understandable haste to move away from the ineffective textbook, go to an opposite extreme of “whatever the kids say they want to talk about,” but that’s not what my students wanted at all.  They wanted real, meaty, important things to read; real, significant issues to talk about; a deeper dive into Roman culture and history than any textbook seemed to offer; and then a chance to create and share stories “and other things — we could make videos, too!”

Logic-stage learners satisfy their need for how and why by building and refining their own “mental representations” of important concepts and by starting to create and refine their own characters, stories, storylines, and even the occasional “authentic” Roman house or town.

Almost a decade later, the Tres Columnae Project is still growing from that vision.  Late Grammar-stage learners enjoy reading the “core” stories and applying the facts and concepts that they’ve memorized.  Logic-stage learners satisfy their need for how and why by building and refining their own “mental representations” of important concepts and by starting to create and refine their own characters, stories, storylines, and even the occasional “authentic” Roman house or town.  Everyone reads and understands pages and pages rather than sentences and paragraphs, and by the time they reach the Rhetoric stage, Tres Columnae Project subscribers are well-prepared to engage with the greatest Roman authors and create well-formed responses to their works in Latin as well as in English.

Is Tres Columnae right for you and your family?  You are the best judge of that.  But we’d like to invite you to explore our freely available stories, especially those in Lectiōnēs I, II, and III.  If your children want to be part of our joyful learning community, you’ll probably find a subscription plan that works for you, or  you might want to join one of the classes we offer through our partnership with Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.  And if you want to spread the word about how a joyful learning community building meaningful things together can assist in your quest for the true, the beautiful, and the good, please invite your friends to the Tres Columnae Way.

 

For over twenty years, Justin Schwamm taught high-school Latin in southeastern North Carolina and worked “within the box” to make life less difficult for all types of students, especially those who did not “fit the mold” of conventional schools.  In 2009, at the urging of students who wanted an alternative to “flat, artificial, and dead” Latin textbooks, he founded the Tres Columnae Project to provide his “joyful learning community” model of language learning to a wider audience.  Justin left public-school teaching in 2014 and has devoted his attention to working with homeschooling families, expanding the reach of the Tres Columnae Project, and serving Gifted Homeschoolers Forum as Lead Teacher and Director of Online Programs.

Equipping Parents to Teach Classically With the Struggling Learner – Simply Classical

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Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

How many of you thought classical education was reserved for the privileged or naturally brilliant?  People look at classical academics and they tremble.  And why is it, that if we have a struggling learner or special needs child, we simply close the book on the idea?  Why are we so frightened by classical education?  Cheryl Swope, author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child shows us how “experts” promoting elitism, have perpetuated this fallacy and how to teach special needs and struggling learners classically.  She shows me how to breathe.  Knowledge is liberating, especially for parents!

Therefore, I implore you, that is if you enjoy breathing…peacefully, to see below the preface to this great book. Read it all. Follow this brilliant woman, who makes classical education simply attainable for both the struggling parent and struggling student.  You can teach your child with the new Simply Classical Curriculum. Watch the video included in this encouraging article about “The Joy of Knowing.”

This portion is reproduced by permission from Memoria Press, and  the preface comes from the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child (Memoria Press, 2013).

 

Preface to Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

Some parents and educators have the misconception that classical education is only for “smart kids.” It is easy to understand why someone might think this way. Latin at age 8? Herodotus by 14? With such standards, one might reason, surely classical education is only for born geniuses—the brightest and best of our children. Certainly, for advanced performance at the highest levels of classical study, this theory has merit. But what about those children who are not born geniuses? What about those who, far from being intellectually gifted, are living with cognitive challenges, language disorders, or physical disabilities? Does classical education have anything to offer them? Can classical education benefit any child?

No doubt Helen Keller’s concerned parents asked the same question back in 1887. Their young daughter was deaf, blind, and severely “behaviorally disordered.” Distraught and fearful for the little girl’s future, as most parents would be, the Kellers hoped that Helen might somehow receive an education. In the late 1800s, this meant a classical education. Helen Keller began her adapted classical education at the age of six with her private teacher, Annie Sullivan. Although no one could predict the eventual outcome, the Keller family embarked on this ambitious, beautiful journey nonetheless. And the world received captivating evidence that classical education truly can benefit any child.

But what about those children who are not born geniuses? What about those who, far from being intellectually gifted, are living with cognitive challenges, language disorders, or physical disabilities?

In her later adult years, Helen Keller departed in some ways from the philosophies of classical Western civilization, but her story remains an important one as we explore how classical education can benefit any child. After all, Helen Keller’s education more than a century ago mirrors the classical education of today. As soon as language unlocked Helen’s young mind, Annie Sullivan taught Helen the same academic content other classically educated children learn, but through patient, untiring finger-spelling into Helen’s hand. From ages 8-10, Helen studied geography and history. She read of Greek heroes and the classical ancient civilizations. She enjoyed beautiful language through good literature. She read poetic selections from the Old and New Testaments, Lamb’s Tales From Shakespeare, Dickens’ A Child’s History of England, Little Women, Heidi, The Swiss Family Robinson, and countless other books which can still be found on the library shelves of any classical school today. Helen treasured her books: “I accepted them as we accept the sunshine and the love of our friends.”1

From the ages of 11-13, Helen learned Latin from a Latin scholar and French in raised print. She studied more advanced histories of Greece, Rome, and the United States, as Annie continued to spell lessons into Helen’s hand. By age 16, Helen read works in the original Latin and German, and at age 20 she enrolled at Radcliffe, where she read literature in French, studied world history, read poetry critically, and learned advanced English composition.

Helen’s only real academic failure came when she was 17. One of her teachers made some common errors with this special-needs child, mistakes which continue to be made in many educational settings today. First, the teacher determined that Helen must devote herself only to those areas in which she was weakest, namely physics, algebra, and geometry. Moreover, he taught these subjects in a large classroom without necessary modifications. (For example, he wrote visual geometry proofs on the board with no means for Helen to follow along.) As a result, Helen required additional instruction with a tutor before she could enter Radcliffe as previously planned. Looking back over her education, Helen later wrote, “From the storybook Greek heroes to the Iliad [read in Greek] was no day’s journey, nor was it altogether pleasant. One could have traveled around the world many times while I trudged my weary way through the labyrinthine mazes of grammars and dictionaries …”2

Helen received a remarkable classical education because her parents and her teachers bonded together to help her, and she persevered.

Helen received a remarkable classical education because her parents and her teachers bonded together to help her, and she persevered. Although her disabilities remained with her all her life, so did her love for literature: “When I read the finest passages of the Iliad, I am conscious of a soul-sense that lifts me above the narrow, cramping circumstances of my life. My physical limitations are forgotten—my world lies upward, the length and the breadth and the sweep of the heavens are mine!”3

If classical education could give Helen Keller the tools to overcome great obstacles and embrace the “sweeps of the heavens” so many years ago, why do even less-severely challenged special- needs children fail to receive such a bountiful classical education today? Largely, the answer is simply historical timing. At the turn of the century, as special education grew in acceptance, classical education began to wane. In the 1930s, “the height of classical study in the United States in sheer numbers,” nearly one million students studied Latin annually.4

By the 1970s, so-called progressive 5 and experimental education dominated. About this same time, just as classical education had all but disappeared, the landmark special education legislation Public Law 94-142 passed in the United States. This law mandated public education for all handicapped children. Public, yes, but often much less effective and far less beautiful.

In the 1930s, “the height of classical study in the United States in sheer numbers,” nearly one million students studied Latin annually.

Today, much of “regular education” has strayed so far from the pursuit of that which is significantly true, good, and beautiful, many special-needs or struggling children who have been placed in remedial or even age-based classrooms receive little that is inspiring, excellent, or formative. In the past, even “basic” education meant purposeful instruction in the three arts of language: Grammar (reading, Latin, spelling, penmanship, and writing); Logic (analysis, reasoning, and discernment); and Rhetoric (persuasive eloquence in both speaking and composition). A good liberal arts education also involved the four arts of mathematics: Arithmetic (number), Geometry (number in space), Music (number in time), and Astronomy (number in space and time). These seven liberal arts developed the mind and provided the student with essential tools for learning. Intrinsic to his education, the student also studied

history, good literature, and art, all for the formation of a strong mind and noble character. Throughout the centuries, catechesis— teaching the Christian faith—has also been urged alongside the liberal arts, for matters of the soul.

Instead, today the ideal in special education is “individualized instruction, in which the child’s characteristics, rather than prescribed academic content, provide the basis for teaching techniques.”

Instead, today the ideal in special education is “individualized instruction, in which the child’s characteristics, rather than prescribed academic content, provide the basis for teaching techniques.”6 In some special education teacher-training programs, not only progressivism and pragmatism, but also fatalistic, dehumanizing behaviorism dominates. The child’s mind and soul are forgotten. The special-needs child’s humanity—any child’s humanity—must determine the education he receives. Some suggest that as many as 1 in 5 children have special educational needs. Each of these children is a human being, created in the image of God. Shall we assign all of these students to a menial, servile education and deny them the riches of a beautiful, humane, liberating education? And, worse, shall we base our deterministic placements on early testing, with no regard to what the child might be able to overcome with the aid of an excellent teacher?

Ancient Roman orator Quintilian wrote: There is no foundation for the complaint that only a small minority of human beings have been given the power to understand what is taught them, the majority being so slow-witted that they waste time and labor. On the contrary, you will find the greater number quick to reason and prompt to learn. This is natural to man. … Dull and unteachable persons … have been very few. The proof of this is that the promise of many accomplishments appears in children, and when it fades with age, this is plainly due to the failure not of nature but of care. “But some have more talent than others.” I agree: then some will achieve more and some less, but we never find one who has not achieved something by his efforts.7 Regardless of his challenges, any child is called to do more than receive services; he is called to love and serve his neighbor. Even if he is never able to hold a full-time paying “job,” classical education can help the special-needs child bring purpose, love, or comfort to his parents. He is a student with lessons to learn, teachers to respect, and parents to honor. He is a young man who holds the door for aging members of his congregation. She is the person who thoughtfully replenishes a dog’s fresh water bowl while her neighbor is away at work. She is a sister, granddaughter, or niece, with the high calling of gracious and tender service, as God works through her for His loving purposes.

The special-needs child’s humanity—any child’s humanity—must determine the education he receives

We see uniquely converging opportunities at this time in history. Information abounds on special-needs and struggling learners. Classical education enjoys a re-emergence in numerous and growing pockets, for the youngest children through university levels. Abundant resources now offer instruction in Latin, the history of ancient civilizations, the mathematical arts, and more, at every level and with any amount of repetition and practice the child needs. Teachers, homeschooling parents, tutors—anyone who seeks to teach any child—can find helpful curricula for adapting reading, composition, Greek, music theory, literature, logic, and rhetoric. Perhaps the child will eventually prove incapable of progressing to advanced levels in one area or in every area; however, if taught slowly, patiently, and systematically, even those children who are identified with or suspected of having “special learning needs” can receive a substantial, elevating, and beautiful education.

Classical education can address any child’s challenges and cultivate in him a lifelong appreciation for lasting Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Modifications can help with behavioral and neurological difficulties, language and sensory challenges, specific learning disabilities, and even severe mental illnesses. Be encouraged. Any educable child can receive these great benefits of classical education: greater self-knowledge, timeless tools for learning, a more disciplined mind, a love of study, and a dedicated life of service. Classical education is a beautiful gift to your child, so he can say with Helen Keller, “My world lies upward, the length and the breadth and the sweep of the heavens are mine!”

– Cheryl L. Swope, M.Ed.

[1] Helen Keller, The Story of My Life (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1905), 105.
[2] Ibid., 93.
[3] Ibid., 117.
[4] Victor Davis Hansen and John Heath, Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (New York: Encounter Books, 2001), 16.
[5] “I believe, therefore, that the true center of correlation on the school subject is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities.” John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed, Article III (New York: E. L. Kellogg & Co., 1897), 10.
[6] Daniel P. Hallahan and James M. Kauffman, Exceptional Learners: Introduction to Special Education , (Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 2003), 24.
[7] Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria , Book I:I.

This portion is reproduced by permission from Memoria Press, and that this comes from the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child (Memoria Press, 2013).

Please follow cherylswope.com for valuable resources, forum discussions, and articles.

You can purchase the book through Memoria press here Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

First Podcast!!!! – Addressing the Heart of the Rhetoric Student

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First ever Classical Revival Podcast!!!

What do you do when your student becomes passive or disinterested in the rhetoric stage? Address the heart. Pastor Duane DenBoer has a unique position as a Challenge II Director with Classical Conversations, a national classical education homeschool community.   He meets with students once a week and reviews the math, Latin, literature, logic, art/music history and biology.  Where most Directors (tutors) are homeschool moms, he is both a homeschool dad and a pastor with a heart for shepherding his flock.  And he views his class as part of this flock.  Listen to the podcast to find out how he teaches classical subjects and addresses the heart issues of people as they understand great literature, art, and culture.

I’ll let you glean the nuggets of wisdom in the first ever ClassicalRevival.com podcast (soon to be available on iTunes).  Listen to his definition of classical, why students benefit from learning Latin and addressing the challenges of the rhetoric stage.

You must know, that one of the reasons I asked Duane for the interview, is that he’s created the MOST VALUABLE Visual Guide to Latin Semantics I have ever seen in the time I have been teaching classical.  See Classical Content for images and SUBSCRIBE TODAY (see the bottom of page) to get YOUR FREE COPY of the sample sheets listed on the Classical Content page here In order to order your complete copy of this essential tool, see the blue box below or contact Duane at pastorduane@gmail.com.

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A Literary Tapestry – How to Use Teaching the Classics

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Every year, for some time now, I have made the habit of beginning the school year presenting Teaching The Classics to my small group classes.   Just yesterday, someone asked me again, why?  And how does that work exactly, since it appears to have only six lessons?

Teaching the Classics introduces literary analysis.  It truly introduces the student (and many times the parent) to the world of thinking about and writing about great literature.  It does this by applying each lesson and Socratic questioning to children’s stories and poems such a “Peter Rabbit,” “A Bargain For Francis,” and “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.”

The Key is the Appendix

Sometimes, these lessons are a review of plot structure, character, conflict, and themes.  More often than not, students don’t know many literary devices outside of alliteration, rhyme, similes, and metaphors.  The Socratic questions in the Appendix of the Teaching the Classics Notebook, list a method for students to question themselves while reviewing the meaning of more complex literary devices such as juxtaposition, anaphora, and epistrophe.

Teaching Students to Ask Themselves the Questions

The questions probe the student to think deeper about the text.  Whereas, it may be simple enough to ask a student about the setting, in which they may rattle off the time period and country, the book asks more advanced students to probe further.  Now the student must ask themselves, does the hot tropical climate contribute to the events in the story?  Is this climate/setting symbolic of something even greater?  How does this differ from what is normal?  Think of stories with extreme settings and how that setting contributes to the plot.  The jungle setting of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” contributes to the story and gives a deeper picture of an English family living in India. I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novel “The Long Winter” aloud to my children.  We were all cold and we could feel their desperation and hunger.  How did that setting contribute to the setting, plot and even characters of that story?  Or the powerfully dreadful heat in “A Passage To India?”

Context is King

Although students were familiar with some devices and setting, they were stumped when I asked them about context.  Quizzical looks peered from every face.  Then, nearly word-for-word, I reenacted Adam Andrews insightful lesson using “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  This lesson, so important for understanding authorship, their motives, and meaning, is best taught by Mr. Andrews.  Interestingly, having graduated from UCLA with an English degree featuring British Studies, I didn’t truly understand the depth of context and authorship until listening to this lesson.  You notice, I’m not giving the whole lesson away here. You truly must get your hands on the program and add it to any of your literature teaching today.

Helping Students Connect the Dots

Once I’ve worked through these simple lessons with my students, we begin the study of great literature.  As we read, I can reach back (and I often do) to these key ideas we brought up at the beginning of the year.  Because of our lesson in context, my students were able to research and better understand the motives and purposes of the author.  How rich to understand that “The Cay” was written by someone who personally knew and was influenced by Martin Luther King Jr.  Interestingly, students realized “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” was conveniently written after the civil war.  Students examined the society of Jules Verne which clarified his progressive views for a traditional time in “Around the World in 80 Days.” Students learned not only about the stories themselves, but the stories behind the stories; a richly colored fabric which started with a single thread.  So begin your year with what may seem like a simple program, but know it will prove to enrich and decorate your literary world forever.

Latin and Its Influence

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Contributed by Rose Williams http://www.roserwilliams.com/

(Note: the words in bold Italics are Latin, unchanged in form; the others are derivatives)

The Romans ruled most of Europe, most of the Middle East, and all of Africa north of the Sahara for a very long time. The culture of the Western World has been shaped in large part by two powerful influences: the Judeo-Christian and the Greco-Roman. These strains, blended together from their four separate streams in the five hundred years of the Western Roman Empire, became a compelling ruling force and emerged from the collapse to dominate the Western culture that went forth to impact the entire world.

The Latin language has long been the basic tool of that impact. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, order and stability in its vast lands vanished. In pockets of civilization that still existed, Latin remained the shared language used for communication, law, education, religion, and exploration. As more ordered states slowly emerged from the chaos, universities and governments in the European countries and the United States used Latin, some until the mid-nineteenth century. The languages that grew from Latin’s dialects, Spanish, Italian, French, Rumanian, and Portuguese echo it strongly, while English, influenced both by the Roman colonization of ancient Britain and the conquest of England by the Norman French, today takes, directly or indirectly, almost 70% of its vast vocabulary from Latin, as through a large English dictionary will show. There are ten basic Latin verbs which give us hundreds of common English words.

Through the influence of the Western World the international fields of law, literature, medicine, science, and even religion still make great use of Latin.

Our legal words and phrases such as ex post facto, per diem, per capita, habeas corpus, republic, legislature, election, congress, and President are either Latin or Latin derivatives.

Mathematical, medical, and scientific terminologies are Latin. Not only the specialists, but also the rest of us, speak of flora and fauna, digits and integers, ratios and media. Medical terms from abdomen to vertebra are Latin.

As the Christian religion spent its infancy and childhood in the Roman Empire, it is perhaps not surprising that words such as pastor, minister, congregation, salvation, divine, and creation are Latin or Latin derivatives.

Thus Latin helps students develop a deeper understanding of English and the Romance languages. The students’ reading, writing, and speaking improve as their vocabulary grows in volume and depth and they learn to comprehend Latin’s careful and regular grammatical concepts. These facts help explain why Latin students consistently do better than other students on SAT tests and many other learning assessments.

Not only the words themselves, but many of the concepts we have today, were largely shaped by the Romans and the complex multi-cultural world which they ruled for so long. Language is a product of its culture, and it in turn limits its culture in certain ways. As people have great difficulty expressing thoughts for which they have no verbal symbols, they tend to develop new language elements or transform old ones as their society moves forward. Words develop in a language as its people feel the need to express certain concepts, and they change and grow as the people and those concepts grow.  Not only Latin words, but also the ideas they express, have moved through Roman history and out into other languages and cultures and greatly influenced the world. As crises and triumphs flow one from the other, the people and the language are carried along and shaped by them.

Among the great classical Roman writers who helped to shape our highest ideals is the statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, who lost his life as a result of his successful campaign to prevent the brutal soldier Mark Anthony from succeeding Julius Caesar as Dictator. In his De Officiis, written for the education of his son, he sets forth the premise that honestas, that which is honorable and just, and utilitas, that which is useful or pragmatic, will in the end never truly disagree: that ultimately the honorable act will be most useful to a person.

The Latin language and its speakers continue to affect the world.

 

About the Author:

Rose Williams is  a veteran Latin instructor at the high school and university level.

Rose holds a BA from Baylor University and an MA from the University of  North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She did postgraduate work in Latin and the Humanities at the University of Dallas and the University of Texas at Arlington.

On a Rockefeller Grant, she conducted research at the Bodleian Library of Oxford University, England and at the University of Pisa, Italy.

She is the author of numerous classics textbooks and teaching guides as well as humorous books of Latin phrases. She serves on various classics consultant boards.

Recently she was awarded the most prestigious American Classical League’s Merita Award which is intended to recognize sustained and distinguished service to the Classics profession generally and to ACL in particular.

Contact Rose via email rwill627@suddenlink.net

Teaching History Through Literature Classically

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I teach a classical program at a public charter school independent study program.  For those not familiar with this, imagine a homeschool program which pays for your curriculum and sometimes even offers classes at a resource center.  Our Resource Center is rather special in that most of the families know each other and love each other.  My students come one day a week (Mondays) and then complete their work during the school week. A credentialed teacher reviews and signs off on any work done by the student and gives the official grade.

This year, I teach the 7th and 8th grades, and unlike years past, we are moving beyond the Story of the World Volume 3, a chronological series of history stories. All of our younger grades are using this excellent program.  With great time limitations during my teaching time, we decided to use historical fiction to teach early U.S. history.

Most people have used unit study programs (which I will use to a certain extent) incorporating vocabulary, comprehension, literary devices, and the like.  This year, to feature the historically rich context of our novels, I am adding a timeline project perfect for the dialectic stage student.  Each student is given a timeline template, where they will research facts and information on several historical events each week.  With each of the historical events, they will complete a quick survey of Aristotle’s 5 Common Topics of Invention.   I’ve outlined the topics below and then I will explain how I apply this to teaching history.  For the sake of space, I’ve crunched this down.  Please see citation and visit the site for a more detailed list.

 

ARISTOTLE’S COMMON TOPICS OF INVENTION (Adapted)

1. DEFINITION: How do I (or others) define X?

A. Genus: What group of things does X seem to belong to?

B. Division: What parts can X be divided into? How is X different from other members of the class?

  1. COMPARISON:A. Similarity: What is X similar to? Why?B. Difference: What is X different from? How is it different? Why?

    C. Degree: To what extent does X differ from Y?

    3. RELATIONSHIP:

    A. Cause and Effect: What Causes X? What are the effects of X?

    B. Antecedent and Consequence: What should precede (or follow) X?

    C. Contraries: What is the complete opposite of X?

    D. Contradiction: Is there something which cannot be (or be true)

    4. CIRCUMSTANCE:

    A. Possible and Impossible: Is X possible? Is X impossible?

    B. Past Fact and Future Fact: Because Y happened, X will happen.

    5. TESTIMONY: What have others said about X? (These require research)

    A. Authority: What does an expert (or experts) on X say about X?

    B. Testimonial: What does a respected (or popular) person say about X?

    C. Statistics: What has been counted or measured about X?

    D. Maxims: What old saying applies to X?

    E. Law: What laws, regulations, or rules apply to X?

    F. Precedent and Example: Are there similar cases or examples of X?
    http://www.public.iastate.edu/~drrussel/www548/aristcomtopics.html

 

Students begin by Defining their terms.  What was the “Continental Congress” or the “Declaration of Independence?”  Is it part of something bigger? (genus/species).

They then use Comparison to contrast this event with other events.  How was the American Revolution different than the French Revolution?  How different (degree) were they?

Then they examine Relationship. If they are different, how much so and why?  What is the relationship between the Magna Carta and the Declaration?

Then they examine the Circumstance.  What was going on at the same time in other areas? How do those circumstances influence the event?

Finally, they look at Authority.  What valid testimony or quotes are made about the event?

If teams of students (PBL) work together and present their findings, the class can make a collective timeline of all of the necessary events.  This methodology is more dialectic, educational and covers more information and standards than any book.  Moreover, it teaches students to understand anything they must study.

Is IEW Classical?

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by Andrew Pudewa

The following is adapted from the 2015 Homeschool Magalog, available free at your request.

With the rapid rise of interest in classical education in homeschools, hybrid schools, and even full-time schools, we at IEW are often asked if our approach to teaching writing with Structure and Style is truly a “classical” one.

To some it appears that we lack the proper pedigree, since our syllabus lacks obscure Greek terms and also contains modern elements such as multiple reference research reports. However, I believe that we do indeed follow a classical approach in several ways.

  1. Our Units
    The nine units of our syllabus (see here) clearly imitate the ancient rhetoric exercises.
  2. Our Techniques
    Our stylistic techniques checklist requires students to learn and understand basics of grammar as well as many of the schemes and tropes of classical composition.
  3. Our Methodology
    Our methodology employs modeling, imitation, and mastery—all mainstays of a classical approach.
  4. Our Materials
    Our materials address all five of the canons of classical rhetoric.

We know the IEW system works. Having offered teacher training, mentoring, video courses, and student materials for almost twenty years now, we see excellent results. Students who have practiced with structure and style for a few years usually do very well in advanced classes, college, and university environments. And “the real world.”

I believe that we do, indeed, follow a classical approach. The list above only touches lightly into why, but my article “Is IEW Classical?”, the lead piece in our 2015 Magalog (free here), lists more ways IEW is classical:

  1. We model compositions similar to the classical rhetoric exercises.
  2. We use classical figures of speech.
  3. We value imitation.
  4. We practice memorization as a discipline.
  5. We teach how to speak well.

So, is IEW classical? We think so, but you be the judge. Read a little more about the ancient exercises, classical methodologies, and the canons of rhetoric, and see if we meet the standard, even without the fancy terminology. However, we are not exclusively classical. We teach what works to create excellence in writing, and it’s not surprising that what works hasn’t changed for several thousand years.

What is Classical Education and How Does It Really Work?

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The Question

As a classical educator, this is the question I’m asked most often. What is classical education?  When asked by traditional educators, this is accompanied by a quizzical, expectant look.  Depending on who you’re speaking with, the definition will change drastically.

The purpose of this blog is to explore classical education and to see how differently it’s taught by homeschoolers, co-op teachers, and in the classroom. It is meant to be a resource for all of the above to share and discover new and old resources, of which there are many.

The definition of classical education may change but the heart of the subject is similar to many groups.  Most people will agree that the classical approach to education is the trivium, comprised of three parts; the grammar stage, the dialectic stage, and the rhetoric stage.

Where It All Begins

The grammar stage features a bulk of memory work including people, places, and facts.  Dorothy Sayers, in her call for people to revisit (or revive) the classical approach in “The “The Lost Tools of Writing” calls this the “Poll-Parrot stage.”  Elementary age children tend to enjoy memory work and repeating it back.  Today’s children still enjoy this, although with attentions divided, it is becoming a lost art.  Latin vocabulary and endings, historical facts and dates, geography, English, and science facts are easily committed to memory at this stage.  In the future stages, these facts will be reference points for asking the why and the how.

Good Arguments

The Logic stage (or sometimes called the Dialectic stage), takes the facts and information of the grammar stage and asks how and why?  Students begin researching, writing, and presenting material to answer these questions relating to history, art, and literature.  Latin studies include more grammar, parsing, and translations. Most importantly, this is the stage when children naturally become more argumentative and therefore should be taught in formal logic and debate so they may reason well.

True Rhetoric

Finally, the Rhetoric stage incorporates all the skills used in the grammar and logic stage to present a thesis or premise and systematically defend their ideas in all subjects.  In this stage, students are creating their own work of art, whether it be poetry, essays, persuasive debate.  During this time, subjects overlap more than ever.  Math meets motion in physics. Writing and philosophy become oratory events. History, geography, literature and other subjects are contemplated, discussed and argued together.

Of course, this overly brief definition serves only to introduce classical education.  Most people would agree on these points.  The real trick is making it work in the modern day homeschools, independent study programs, and classical schools.  Over the next several weeks Classical Revival will feature articles and resources to give their own definition of classical education and show us how it’s done in their world.  How do you teach Classically?  I’d love to hear from you!