I nearly broke my keyboard when I was filling out the request information to Review The Conversation($16 on sale for $12 at the time this post was published) written by Leigh A. Bortins from Classical Conversations. I was so curious and excited I waited several days with crossed fingers until the book arrived. Why was I a crazy mess? Well, because even though I have already homeschooled one child through highschool and he is at the end of his 2nd year in college I'm still running scared half the time. Mahala officially starts 10th grade this month.....she's so different, both in her learning style and her capabilities. How am I going to do this again? I ask myself that daily and it usually comes with a lot of negative self-talk. That being said, this book couldn't have come at a better time. We have had a difficult past 3 years to be perfectly honest and structure and planned education hasn't even been a thought around here. But, a new season of life is among us and it's time to focus and do what I know the Lord has called our Family to do. And that's to educate our children and guide them into adulthood with his word. I want them to enjoy learning and see every opportunity as a new learning experience. The Conversation is apart of a Trio of books, this one being the 3rd one. It talks a little about the other books, but it's main focus is this last phase in Classical Education.....the Rhetoric stage. It's not a big deal if you haven't read the other two books, but after this one I'm sure you will want to take a look at the other two. I know that's how I'm feeling right about now. :)
Leigh A. Bortins shares that a Classical Education focuses on the art of Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. Being very eclectic in my schooling style I find it very interesting how appealing this approach is to me. I'm running around and teach by the seat of my pants most of the time. You could call it Chaotic Schooling at times. Anyway it was great to also notice the things that we are already doing that would classify our schooling style a little more classical then I had thought. Classical education immerses the younger Elementary aged Kiddos in the Grammar level. This entails learning to read, memorizing dates, facts, grammar rules and so forth. The Dialectic level is perfect for the Middle School aged Kiddos because this is the time when they naturally question EVERYTHING. The last level in Classical Education is the Rhetoric phase and this of course begins in the High School years. You know this is the time when speaking and writing properly become daily routine in and out of the school room.
One of the things that I took from this book was what high school at home can and should look like. I am sooooo guilty of trying to recreate the public school room or plan. I will get caught up in the need to cross off everything on the list and getting wrapped up in that and not the beauty of learning that's going on right in front of me. I have to remind myself daily that our world is the classroom. That's where real-life opportunities and experiences happen, not behind a workbook in a desk. I love schooling this way, but growing up in the school system sometimes automatically steps in and I do what I was trained to think was right.
Mahala is officially a High School student and I remember looking at Classical Education before and feeling really confused about what my role was and what it was supposed to look like for her. Leigh goes into extreme details on what the Rhetoric phase should look like for virtually every subject. She shares the five canons (as defined by Aristotle) that students in this stage of learning should work towards mastering.....Invention, Arrangement, Elocution/Style, Memory, and Delivery. Do you even know what all that means? I didn't, so don't feel bad if you just gulped really loudly. :) But, don't worry she goes over everything in detail....the whole second part of the book focuses on how to teach reading, speech and debate, writing, science, math, government/economics, history, Latin and foreign languages, and fine arts during the Rhetoric phase.
Are you excited yet? I am....I would recommend this book to anyone looking into Homeschooling or if you have been schooling for years like me. I have been scratching my head a lot lately wondering what I;m doing wrong. Within her book I have found encouragement, guidance and passion again to take my authority back and do what I know the Lord called me to do. This book would be a great read no mater what your teaching style is.
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