"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Monday, June 21, 2010

What is a Classical Education?

According to the "Circe Institute", a Classical Education:

is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences.
Historically, classical education has followed two streams that frequently flow together:

  • the Rhetorical, in which teachers guide their students to contemplate great texts and works of art, believing that such contemplation will enable them to grow in wisdom and virtue and

  • the Philosophical, in which teachers guide their students through an analysis of ideas through a Socratic dialogue, believing that insight into the heart of things will enable students to grow in wisdom and virtue.
These two emphases, which have often been in conflict historically but are not mutually exclusive, gave rise to two modes of instruction: the Mimetic (Didactic) and the Socratic
Another way to define classical education might be as follows: "Classical education is the logocentric, idealistic quest to cultivate virtue in the souls of the student."
 My current read is _Climbing Parnassus:  A New Apologia for Greek and Latin_.  At present I am in the Introduction, which is about 30 pages long.  To say that Tracy Lee Simmons is eloquent would be an understatement.  I am enjoying every word, sentence and paragraph.   However, one thing the Circe Institute and Tracy Lee Simmons do NOT agree about is what makes a Classical Education.  Simmons asserts that one MUST fully embrace both ancient languages, declensions, and all, to have a truly Classical education.  It must not just be a "Great Books" program, or logic and rhetoric, but it all starts with those two language.  He has convinced me.  I now need to work on learning them both myself so I can better teach my children, since it is not in our budget this year for them to take an on-line class or class in a group setting.

I have to be careful.  Reading this book makes me want to start school NOW.  I am not a patient person.  This year we take Latin seriously.  We've done Prima Latina, but I felt it was a little too easy for the older kids.  We'll do Latina Christiana I.  We'll start Latina Christiana II as soon as they finish and move on to Greek.  We don't start Logic until we start Greek.  I'm also excited about the program I have for my youngest two.  They are using Song School Latin before they get to Prima Latina.  The younger students in my home school LOVE to sing.  I hope this will be a great addition to their curriculum. 

If you have experience with Latin, could you please let me know what programs you use and how you like them?

Thanks in advance!


Harrington said...

Hello Cathie,
My name is Sherrylynne. I live in Minneapolis. Since the MCHEC in May, I have been poking around your blog and "eating it up". I have read TJE, Climbing Parnassus and am going thru CCM books now too. Is there room for a fellow intellectual in your group. I have lovely CHC friends but no creative deep thinkers. Even my M.ED in Elem Ed cohorts never read any classical ed stuff. In homeschooling, I have learned more than I ever learned in a master's program on education. Thanks for your hard work and generous spirit in sharing!

The Road Scholar said...

Hi Sherrylynne,

Welcome!!!! I have met you at the Mother's Day of Renewal. I run the registration table every year.

You are absolutely welcome to join us. In fact, I'm interested in starting a local group that can get together for coffee, curriculum conversation and friendship. I will keep you posted!


PNG said...

Hi, I'm also in MN. We have used Prima, Lat I & II. My daughter will start an on-line course with Mem. Press this fall using their First Form Latin. I'll see how that goes and if we need to switch, we'll have her take Latin at YEAH Academy with Greg Membrez. Love your blog!