Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review of The Core by Leigh A. Bortins

There are a few books that I believe all parents should read, and The Core is one of them. Whether you follow the classical model exactly or simply want to incorporate some of its methods, here's a book that will get you started. 

I've never been taught nor taught using the classical method; but after reading this book, I am positively intrigued. Although I don't agree with everything the author, Leigh Bortins, says, I do believe that were I to homeschool all over again, I would incorporate many of these ideas in my homeschool program. In fact, without knowing it, I actually did. The main difference between the way I educated my children and Classical Conversations is that I didn't use all "classical" literature, and I still wouldn't today. The reason: there is only so much time in a day. There are many books not considered "classics" that are worth reading, and there is some "classical" literature that I consider less than "edifying." In addition, I prefer to assign literature based on the specific needs of children. My two children were very different, and I assigned reading based on their specific abilities and interests. I included classics, as well as modern literature, nonfiction, and vocation-related, how-to books. They are now adults and have the same love of learning and thinking ability as those educated on the "classics." 

As a family, we did read some "classical" literature together. As suggested in The Core, we spent time on rote memorization. We put history and science in context rather than learning isolated facts. We spent time analyzing why and how, not just filling in blanks. Had I read this book, however, I would have had even more resources from which to choose and ideas for implementing this type of instruction in my homeschool. I would have spent more time on geography, too. I love the ideas presented here on learning geography. The bottom line: The Core is a gem! 

The first three chapters explain what a classical education is, why we need it, and how it can help you, whether you are a single parent, working parents, homeschooling parents, or teachers in a school. Part two describes the skills learned and how to teach them. Finally, the last chapters provide scheduling and resource ideas. 

If the book sparks an interest in you for teaching a Classical education, but you have no idea where to start, look for a Classical Conversations community in your area and give it a try. That's how I would start. You can find these groups listed on Bortins' Website at www.classicalconversations.com. Once you learn the program and how it works for you and your family, you can continue the program or spin off a program of your own that incorporates some of these same ideas. You won't be sorry you spent the time to learn the methods used in a classical education. It will only make your own program better. 

Leigh Bortins is the founder and CEO of Classical Conversations, Inc. She homeschools four children.

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