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Andrew Kern and Circe Institute: Curriculum?


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Thanks Karen, I can't tell you how many times I have been ready to order The Lost Tools of Writing. I'm very close...:lol:

 

Is there a full curriculum? Especially for High School? For example, what every 9th grader should complete for the year in all subjects? 10th? etc.

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Hi Kfamily,

 

Thanks to Karen for recommending LTW. As for there being a CiRCE curriculum, I'm going to give you an unhelpful and cheeky answer: ;)

 

Our curriculum is the seven liberal arts plus drawing, painting, and sculpture.

 

Does that completely and totally answer your question? OK, I'll make my answer even worse.

 

We believe that classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty.

 

That being the case, we cultivate wisdom by interaction with the "real world" (gardens, pets, home business, etc.) and great ideas expressed in great works of art. I don't really care which great works of art (books, music, painting, etc.) you encounter (except that you have to include The Bible and Homer), just so you do it fully engaged. This is the tradition you hand on to your children.

 

We cultivate virtues by identifying and training them: the moral virtues, the intellectual virtues, and the physical virtues.

 

A virtue is an ability that has been refined to excellence.

 

A curriculum focuses on the intellectual virtues, so here you concentrate on language arts (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and mathematical arts (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy), using those great books again.

 

You look continually for the true, the good, and the beautiful and you "gaze on them" when you find them. You discuss great books, historical events, etc. etc.

 

I'm not a big fan of subjects, as they are an application of 20th century mistakes to education and they tend to lead to shallow thinking about lots of things, which is a waste of a good mind's time.

 

I prefer the "tools of learning." So study Latin, Greek, Logic, Rhetoric, maths, music, fine arts, etc. so that your children learn to perceive reality from the soul.

 

You'll need subjects for the transcripts, but to that end I recommend you draw them out from what you teach in the 7 liberal arts and the fine arts. It's easier than it sounds.

 

Let's say you are teaching grammar (which includes reading at a high level). You read Julius Caesar and give your child credit for English, History, and whatever else your state or preferred college is looking for. It really isn't hard.

 

As for the natural sciences, I'd begin with gardening (biology, chemistry, and physics combined and alive) and pet care. Have them observe closely and learn everything they can about something they love. That will necessarily grow into something more technical at the right time and in the right way.

 

If there are other things you want your children to learn (and I don't know what would stand outside this), then just add it.

 

I'll bet this was perfectly useless, wasn't it?

 

I've been told it's idealistic, but what people often really mean by that is that they don't think it will get kids into college. I totally and vehemently disagree. I agree with Plautus who said:

 

Virtus praemium est optimum

 

"Virtue itself is the highest reward"

 

He then went on to enumerate how everything else depends on virtue. We can't have the everything else that we want without virtue, but we won't have virtue if we seek everything so hard that we don't nourish the goose that lays the golden egg.

 

And the goose is nothing other than virtue.

 

One last word (really): do not be intimidated by the fear that you might miss something. If you cultivate wisdom and virtue and stay focused on that, your purposefulness will transcend the details. You'll find what you need when you need it. It's not easy, but it's much, much simpler than we've made it.

 

Thanks for enduring to the end!

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Thank you for your beautiful answer, Andrew! My heart longs to be there with my children, and my gut tells me it is right. I have been so ingrained throughout my life with the "school" mentality that it is difficult for me to wrap my brain around exactly how to accomplish this and not be worried that I am missing something...whatever that is. To that end, could you give us an example of your ideal typical week with a highschool student on a day to day basis? Maybe that will be put me at ease that I can do this. I trust your wisdom ;). Many thanks for all you do!!!

 

Blessings,

Lora

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Andrew,

 

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to the original post.

 

Although I have been homeschooling for five years, I am new to the WTM boards, and to the whole idea of classical education. The philosophy resonates with me, and I believe it is the direction in which I need to move with my children. But the implementation of the philosophy (which has manifested as a frantic search for the perfect curriculum/program) is causing me a great deal of stress.

 

Your post reminded me of why I chose to homeschool. It reminded me that education is so much more than filling my children's minds with knowledge, reading the right list of great books or learning to write a perfect essay. I already feel less burdened by all the content we need to cover, and less guilty about all we might have missed.

 

I intend to print your post and hang it beside my computer where I can read it daily. I might even decide to frame it! :)

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To that end, could you give us an example of your ideal typical week with a highschool student on a day to day basis? Maybe that will be put me at ease that I can do this. I trust your wisdom ;). Many thanks for all you do!!!

 

Blessings,

Lora

 

I would love to read a typical week too, but I have an idea it would look different depending on the student and the family. I must say it sounds so freeing.

 

Shannon

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Thank you Andrew for your words. They remind me of where I really want to be with regard to my daughters' education and mine too. I often feel the struggle to balance what others perceive as educated (colleges, local board of education, etc.)and how to achieve this education with what I feel in my heart is educated and how I know we should achieve this. This contant struggle is the driving force behind my endless search for what curricula to use, what books I choose and why, what we emphasize in our day and what we neglect. Many days I just wish I could be brave enough to throw my whole body and soul into our education. In my ideal days, we would pay no more attention to the restrictions of today's approach to an education because our own ideas are what fulfill our hearts and minds. I know I should count my blessings. I must have done something right since my two girls love learning and reading. They look for beauty and truth in everything. If I made any mistakes, it is that I get behind or caught up in life's business and cut short the time they need to follow these paths. Of course, there is the sad truth that I am scurrying around desperately trying to catch up with my own education. There isn't enough time in the day!:lol:

I keep inching towards our ideal curriculum. If I had more time, I would probably be a lot closer to it. Every year I get a little braver. Hmmm, high school is looming ever closer and I feel the anxiety building up again.:001_smile: My poor older dd. I hope she escapes this unscathed!:001_smile:

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The Circe Instutite, Andrew Kern and the various speakers from the annual summer conferences have very much shaped my view of classical education. Let me encourage those of you who have enjoyed Andrew's inspiring post here to consider attending a summer conference! Or at least downloading some of the excellent lectures from past summers. Truly, these are my February lifeline when I'm feeling unsure of what I'm doing or why. This summer's conference will be in Arlington, TX and the topic is "What is Man?" So what does it mean that we're educating image-bearers of God? What does it mean to be human? Such big ideas! But they so powerfully shape how we go about our work as mothers and educators.

 

Jami--a Circe fangirl ;)

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Thanks to each of you for your kind words. I was afraid that post would be completely meaningless and impractical.

 

I don't know if I can imagine a week, but let me see what comes to my mind. Let me begin with this insistance: we must teach our children from rest, and not from anxiety.

 

The most important thing we must do as teachers/parents is to never let anxiety be our guide. It led Abraham into serious folly, and it kept Martha from hearing our Lord's words.

 

In James we read, "The wisdom from above is first pure..." The word for pure means simple. Pure water is simple. It is nothing but water.

 

Wisdom from above is nothing but wisdom. It drives away anxiety. We need this wisdom to inhabit our souls. That does not mean that we need to attain perfect wisdom before we start teaching, but that we need to "enter into" that wisdom before we teach. It's a relationship with Wisdom, not a memorization of His words.

 

In that relationship, He will give you words to memorize, but He'll also give you time to memorize them. Outside of that relationship, you might memorize lots of His words and never enter into His wisdom.

 

It's like Mary and Martha. Jesus didn't tell Martha it was OK to be busy, but Mary should also be left alone. He told her that "only one thing is needful and Mary has chosen that good part," which implies that Martha had not.

 

However, Jesus knew and loved Martha. I have a theory about what happened after the Biblical story ended (by the way, you can read this story in Luke, chapter 10, verses 38-42. It's short.).

 

I think Jesus spoke peace into Martha's soul after she was willing to receive it, which required that she physically set aside her anxieties and cares and physically sit down and listen to Him. I think she eventually calmed down and was totally receptive to what He was saying. And then I think He turned to her and said, "Martha, would you please get me a cup of tea?"

 

He created her to serve and knew that it was the delight of her heart to serve. That was why He wanted to cleanse it (her impulse to serve) of anxiety. She'd lost the pleasure and was driven by cares and worries.

 

I've learned over the years that teachers and especially home schooling moms have a lot of anxiety to deal with. You have an awful lot to be worried about. But you can't let that anxiety become your guide. If you do, then you will teach anxiety to your children instead of the peace you so earnestly seek.

 

So when I envision a week of teaching, the first thing I envision is the personal commitment to stay in His rest. Get there at the beginning of the day and stay there. Each day.

 

Things are going to happen, so I'm not talking about legally binding yourself to 60 minutes of prayer and Bible Study before the kids are up. I would suggest something simpler. Have some simple prayer that you pray every morning and keep in your heart throughout the day. For me, I have to keep it very short because I am very prone to anxiety and egotism. This prayer works very well for me:

 

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner."

 

It works especially well when I want to murder my 16 year old for not holding his pencil correctly or when I have those moments of insanity when I think I am somebody when I am nothing.

 

From that state of rest you will know what your children need to learn and you will be able to discuss things without worrying about passing tests and getting into college.

 

So here's an attempt to move closer to the week for a high school student.

 

He should learn Latin, ideally from someone who knows it like Wes Callihan or Fritz Hinrichs or John Van Fossen. If you know it and have time, teach it. If not, get someone else to do it. If you can't afford that, get him Henle's Latin and tell him you want him to use it and that it is hard and boring, but at least he'll know what's expected of him.

 

He should study Latin for 40-60 minutes/day, preferably in 20 minute chunks.

 

He should learn math on the same pattern (someone who knows it, etc.). 40-60 minutes/day would be a great amount of time. He should learn math by thinking about it and exercising it, not by learning processes for their own sake. If he can't hear numbers sing, find a teacher who can and get him to play for him.

 

He should read deeply, which means letters (history, literature, etc.). But you should focus on reading deeply, not doing the subject, which follows.

 

The way to plunge head first into the depths of a book is not to do a literary analysis, but to ask the question at the heart of every story: Should he have done that (or: what should he do)?

 

By answering that question, he'll learn how to read and how to think. It also makes it easier for you to discuss the book with him, because all you need to do is ask questions that help him dig more deeply.

 

Character arcs, plots, themes, settings, etc. will begin to matter when you approach stories this way. It applies to history as much as it does to literature.

 

He should write an essay every three weeks on what he is reading if you follow the LTW pattern. You can add other forms of writing if you like, but don't assign a lot of writing because you won't be able to keep up with assessing it, which is only slightly less important than his act of writing itself. Of course, he should be encouraged to keep a commonplace book or a journal, but not required, which rather defeats the point.

 

Science is a little trickier, because he's so close, agewise, to actually being able to do science, as opposed to just learning about it (which is really what he can do with history, literature, philosophy, etc.). If he has good background in logic and grammar and observation, etc. he should be encouraged to explore his own scientific questions.

 

However, he also needs to learn the history of science and the great scientific discoveries and theories. This should be taught, but not as a goal, as context. If he likes engines, let him study the history and development of the engine very closely. That will provide links and connections to the wider world of scientific discovery.

 

But what you want him to learn in science classes is how to think like a scientist, which includes background knowledge, ordering and cataloging information, and looking for truth by any means necessary, with an analytical/critical approach.

 

Prayer and time in the scriptures should probably be done separately, though the scriptures will permeate all his thoughts and your discussions, though I would encourage you not to force this. Boys, perhaps, especially seem to find that irritating. Pray when issues come up and at meals and to offer the day to the Lord. Teach them the disciplines and traditions you have learned.

 

I would like to think he is also drawing at least two or three times a week, so that he can learn to see. The arts are about training the senses, and drawing/painting/sculpture trains one to see like nothing else.

 

Music trains the ear to hear and should be taught for that reason, regardless of talen or ability. He might never be able to play well, but he'll always be able to hear better if he plays the piano or violin, for example.

 

I would also recommend he cook at least once a week. This will train the taste buds and the nose. Let him cook literally anything he wants as long as you can afford it. Hot dogs are fine, as are complex and fancy meals. Let him decide.

 

Other than that, let him study whatever he's interested in. If that is the Green Bay Packers, that's fine. Get four hours of Latin, math, letters, music, art, cooking, and science every day and it's amazing what you can cover. You might even find he's got so much time on his hands he starts reading Jane Austen.

 

No, that won't happen, but you never know.

 

This is, again, idealized. But that's because it isn't possible to be specific without a lot more knowledge that is none of my business. But I hope it's helpful.

 

Thanks for asking.

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Of course, my real typical week is that I get up Monday morning after a trip where Martin Cothran and Andrew Pudewa wore me out with their brilliant conversation and crawl to my son's bedroom where I tell him to get up now that the sun has reached meridian and he rolls over on his hinges and tells me to go away he doesn't like me so I crawl back to my room and climb in the hot bath where I drown for an hour or two after which I crawl back to his room and threaten him that when his mother gets home he'll be in big trouble so he gets up and pretends to do some math and Latin and makes coffee which we fight over so it spills all over the kitchen floor and I pull fatherly rank and send him to his room and he says fine and stomps up to his room and I remember that I had just yelled at him to get out of his room but am so conflicted within myself that I don't know what to do so I go back to bed and wait for Tuesday to rescue me.

 

Things go a little better on Tuesday, though at my age it takes a lot longer to recover than when I was a youngster.

 

You'd be amazed by how unimpressed my son is by my ideas. But he is pretty independent, so I make sure I have some sense of what he's doing, but I know better than to harass him about getting things done. He does his work every day and I'm content with that. I hope to get him involved in a co-op or something in the fall.

 

My real week abides somewhere between this description and the other one. :001_smile:

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I would love to read a typical week too, but I have an idea it would look different depending on the student and the family. I must say it sounds so freeing.

 

Shannon

 

Shannon - so very, very true.

 

Take a factory from New York to China and you can make it exactly the same unless the government get's involved.

 

Move a farm from New York to China - you get the idea.

 

Education is a family farm, not a factory.

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The Circe Instutite, Andrew Kern and the various speakers from the annual summer conferences have very much shaped my view of classical education. Let me encourage those of you who have enjoyed Andrew's inspiring post here to consider attending a summer conference! Or at least downloading some of the excellent lectures from past summers. Truly, these are my February lifeline when I'm feeling unsure of what I'm doing or why. This summer's conference will be in Arlington, TX and the topic is "What is Man?" So what does it mean that we're educating image-bearers of God? What does it mean to be human? Such big ideas! But they so powerfully shape how we go about our work as mothers and educators.

 

Jami--a Circe fangirl ;)

 

Jami, thank you so much! You are very kind to me.

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What does a typical week look like for someone trying to nourish her child's soul on truth, goodness, and beauty from and to a state of rest when the child is 7?

 

I'm certainly not Andrew, but I keep coming back to the writings of Charlotte Mason to give me insight and inspiration for teaching my younger children. Linda Fay's blog and AmblesideOnline are my two favorite sources for working out the practical details.

 

http://www.charlottemasonhelp.com/p/why-charlotte-mason.html

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I agree with Jami. Charlotte Mason's insights into how to teach a young child are world-alteringly insightful. Read her closely every chance you get. And yes, visit Ambleside. They're fabulous and wise and careful and practical all at once.

 

My week for a seven year old would include gardening in square feet, giving the child his/her own foot or two; reading fairy tales, fables, folk tales, mythology, biographies, poems, and Bible Stories; playing make believe all over the house, counting and drill-racing the math tables (I love Ray's Arithmetic); letting your child share your world and your responsibilities, especially around the house, and spending as much time outside as possible (it's easier to clean up); and a little Writing Road to Reading work, bits and pieces of Latin, a foreign language used for conversation if you know one, and lots and lots of reading and housework.

 

And whatever else you enjoy doing (dancing, horse riding, toilet papering houses, chopping down your father's cherry tree, etc. etc.).

 

I wouldn't want to spend one second stressing out over how my child compares to others on reading level and all that other nonsense.

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I agree with Jami. Charlotte Mason's insights into how to teach a young child are world-alteringly insightful. Read her closely every chance you get. And yes, visit Ambleside. They're fabulous and wise and careful and practical all at once.

 

My week for a seven year old would include gardening in square feet, giving the child his/her own foot or two; reading fairy tales, fables, folk tales, mythology, biographies, poems, and Bible Stories; playing make believe all over the house, counting and drill-racing the math tables (I love Ray's Arithmetic); letting your child share your world and your responsibilities, especially around the house, and spending as much time outside as possible (it's easier to clean up); and a little Writing Road to Reading work, bits and pieces of Latin, a foreign language used for conversation if you know one, and lots and lots of reading and housework.

 

And whatever else you enjoy doing (dancing, horse riding, toilet papering houses, chopping down your father's cherry tree, etc. etc.).

 

I wouldn't want to spend one second stressing out over how my child compares to others on reading level and all that other nonsense.

 

thank you Andrew....

 

that describes my just turned 9 y.o with developmental delays associated with autism. It's soooooooooo hard for me (mom) to not stress over math/language arts/speech therapy

but she spends a lot of time doing stuff and just really came fully into the whole pretend play. It took her so long to get her to the point of independent pretend play (not just echolalia), I can't seem to make myself "rush her out of it" just to sit down for a math worksheet! She's willing to learn how to cook and actually measure ingredients for cooking and snacks....

 

I

just

so

needed

to

read

what

you

wrote

 

thank you

 

-crystal

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Thank you Andrew for your words. They remind me of where I really want to be with regard to my daughters' education and mine too. I often feel the struggle to balance what others perceive as educated (colleges, local board of education, etc.)and how to achieve this education with what I feel in my heart is educated and how I know we should achieve this. This contant struggle is the driving force behind my endless search for what curricula to use, what books I choose and why, what we emphasize in our day and what we neglect. Many days I just wish I could be brave enough to throw my whole body and soul into our education. In my ideal days, we would pay no more attention to the restrictions of today's approach to an education because our own ideas are what fulfill our hearts and minds. I know I should count my blessings. I must have done something right since my two girls love learning and reading. They look for beauty and truth in everything. If I made any mistakes, it is that I get behind or caught up in life's business and cut short the time they need to follow these paths. Of course, there is the sad truth that I am scurrying around desperately trying to catch up with my own education. There isn't enough time in the day!:lol:

I keep inching towards our ideal curriculum. If I had more time, I would probably be a lot closer to it. Every year I get a little braver. Hmmm, high school is looming every closer and I feel the anxiety building up again.:001_smile: My poor older dd. I hope she escapes this unscathed!:001_smile:

 

:iagree:You said this so much more eloquently than I could. This is exactly how I feel.

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Thank you so much Andrew and Jami! I absolutely hate the way we are approaching science through a curriculum. It's killing our love of nature. This is so freeing. Although I'm going to HAVE to figure out how to garden... But I will try to do this from a state of rest. :)

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Thank you, Andrew, for your words -- the vision on paper and the realities of working it out with a young man. ;) I especially appreciate your encouragement to approach all of this from resting in the Lord, rather than anxiety. I plan to meditate on that.* Some days, it's easy to rest, some days not as much.

 

Many blessings,

Lisa

 

*SWB in her last talk in South Carolina also encouraged us not to make parenting/educational decisions from fear. So your words are the third time I've heard this recently. Now to put it into practice (Philippians 2).

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Hi Andrew!

 

You mentioned that you were being cheeky. So I'm not sure if you also mean sarcastic. Were you really being sincere when you suggest that Shakespeare is to letters what gardening and pet care is to biology, chemistry, and physics?

 

May I humbly ask how far your study of mathematics took you? From my experience mathematics moves from scales to melody when the child steps into calculus. There is much to master after melody is introduced. And yes, calculus is a difficult transition. There are hints of this new world in geometry. But it is no coincidence that astronomy and music beg to be tied to calculus.

 

When I began hsing my children, I read from homeschool materials about the trivium and the quadrivium. The trivium offered a natural progression in not just difficulty but elegance. The classical educators I was exposed to spoke far less about the depth of the quadrivium. Some even went so far as to offer it as a list of subjects that could be mastered using the skills of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The trivium was an uphill climb; the quadrivium seemed to be a plateau.

 

My ah-ha moment surrounding the quadrivium came when I listened to this lecture series.

 

http://www.teach12.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=1440

 

I haven't read Boethius yet, but doesn't music come after astronomy in the quadrivium?

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/485943/quadrivium

 

Of course you may have mis-typed. :001_smile: If so, I don't mean to point out the obvious. And I might be wrong. If not, I would heartily recommend the lecture series. I posted more about it here.

http://welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1266915#poststop

 

It has changed much of my thinking about education.

 

And finally - please don't take this the wrong way. I'm really not trying to be antagonistic. :001_smile: But I truly wish the voices of the classical homeschooling movement would stop listing 40 minutes a day as a mathematics requirement for high school students. As a real mom in the trenches with three pretty normal children, I can tell you the no one here would make it to the real starting line (as I see it) with the quadrivium on forty minutes a day in jr. high and high school. PLEASE, I am begging you. Please stop saying that!

 

Peace to you and yours.

MUCH peace!

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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Janice in NJ said

 

And finally - please don't take this the wrong way. I'm really not trying to be antagonistic. But I truly wish the voices of the classical homeschooling movement would stop listing 40 minutes a day as a mathematics requirement for high school students. As a real mom in the trenches with three pretty normal children, I can tell you the no one here would make it to the real starting line (as I see it) with the quadrivium on forty minutes a day in jr. high and high school. PLEASE, I am begging you. Please stop saying that!

 

:bigear:

 

90 minutes is a good day and not our average. (Says this teacher-mom who is in the midst of working the thornier word problems using implicit differentiation in calc. 1)

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Of course, my real typical week is that I get up Monday morning after a trip where Martin Cothran and Andrew Pudewa wore me out with their brilliant conversation and crawl to my son's bedroom where I tell him to get up now that the sun has reached meridian and he rolls over on his hinges and tells me to go away he doesn't like me so I crawl back to my room and climb in the hot bath where I drown for an hour or two after which I crawl back to his room and threaten him that when his mother gets home he'll be in big trouble so he gets up and pretends to do some math and Latin and makes coffee which we fight over so it spills all over the kitchen floor and I pull fatherly rank and send him to his room and he says fine and stomps up to his room and I remember that I had just yelled at him to get out of his room but am so conflicted within myself that I don't know what to do so I go back to bed and wait for Tuesday to rescue me.

 

Things go a little better on Tuesday, though at my age it takes a lot longer to recover than when I was a youngster.

 

You'd be amazed by how unimpressed my son is by my ideas. But he is pretty independent, so I make sure I have some sense of what he's doing, but I know better than to harass him about getting things done. He does his work every day and I'm content with that. I hope to get him involved in a co-op or something in the fall.

 

My real week abides somewhere between this description and the other one. :001_smile:

:lol:

 

good to know you're human, too!

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And finally - please don't take this the wrong way. I'm really not trying to be antagonistic. :001_smile: But I truly wish the voices of the classical homeschooling movement would stop listing 40 minutes a day as a mathematics requirement for high school students. As a real mom in the trenches with three pretty normal children, I can tell you the no one here would make it to the real starting line (as I see it) with the quadrivium on forty minutes a day in jr. high and high school. PLEASE, I am begging you. Please stop saying that!

 

 

Ok, tell me in plain english. How much time *are* they supposed to spend in junior high and high school? See I *thought* it was supposed to be more in the 1-1 1/2 hour range in junior high, maybe even as much as 2 hours for real toughies in high school. But my dd starts comparing herself with kids she talks with and has a pity party, sure that she ought to be doing less, much much less. MUCH less. As you say, slow down too much and you only tread water, never going forward. ;)

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Ok, tell me in plain english. How much time *are* they supposed to spend in junior high and high school? See I *thought* it was supposed to be more in the 1-1 1/2 hour range in junior high, maybe even as much as 2 hours for real toughies in high school. But my dd starts comparing herself with kids she talks with and has a pity party, sure that she ought to be doing less, much much less. MUCH less. As you say, slow down too much and you only tread water, never going forward. ;)

 

Well, Elizabeth, I'm glad you asked this question since I have been contemplating it and thinking about posting all day! And, Ds has some similar issues with math. On a good day 40 mins might suffice, but it's not the norm (hint: the norm is not lower).

 

Shannon

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Thank you so much Andrew and Jami! I absolutely hate the way we are approaching science through a curriculum. It's killing our love of nature. This is so freeing. Although I'm going to HAVE to figure out how to garden... But I will try to do this from a state of rest. :)

 

Get a book called The New Square Foot Gardening. It makes it incredibly easier. Also, don't worry about succeeding. You aren't gardening to grow a crop, you are gardening to learn from it. Try whatever you want to try and see what happens.

 

The first year I had my own garden I successfully grew all of ONE (1) radish.

 

But when I ate that radish, my world turned over.

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Hi, Andrew! Nice to see you here. (I see you have fifty-something posts, so I guess you've been here for a while. But a late welcome anyway.)

 

SWB

 

Susan,

 

How very kind of you to welcome me! What an honor. Thank you for taking the trouble. I just want to be a little helpful when and where I can. Thanks for allowing it.

 

ajk

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Hi Andrew!

 

You mentioned that you were being cheeky. So I'm not sure if you also mean sarcastic. Were you really being sincere when you suggest that Shakespeare is to letters what gardening and pet care is to biology, chemistry, and physics?

 

May I humbly ask how far your study of mathematics took you?

 

When I began hsing my children, I read from homeschool materials about the trivium and the quadrivium.

 

 

 

And finally - please don't take this the wrong way. I'm really not trying to be antagonistic. :001_smile: But I truly wish the voices of the classical homeschooling movement would stop listing 40 minutes a day as a mathematics requirement for high school students.

 

 

 

Hi Janice,

 

Thank you for replying so gently, but don't worry. If I say something that needs correcting, or calling out, or even a clarification, I'm pretty sure I can take it. Even if I can't, nobody here will see me tear up, so just let 'er rip!;)

 

I don't remember saying that about Shakespeare and if I did I don't know now what I meant when I said it. I have said, and will reiterate, that I think you should start reading Shakespeare to your children on the knee in the nursery.

 

My study of mathematics has been very uneven. It was my best class as a kid, but my teachers went on strike for extended periods of time and I got in a car accident that had me out of school for, I think, five or six weeks. In the Milwaukee Public Schools of the late 1970's there were plenty of concerned teachers but no resources for such a situation. I had no trouble with algebra or geometry, but taking trig without algebra II was the only class I ever cried over.

 

Since then I've studied whatever math I can, though it's been more from a conceptual than a practical perspective. What I've learned I've been able to understand in different ways because I've tried to get at essences rather than utility. But I haven't been able to do much with calculus yet. Still hoping.

 

I appreciate your reference to the quadrivium and the courses on it. I hold to a different perspective from the one many conventional classical educators, following Sayers, take. I believe that the quadrivium, in a certain sense, parallels the trivium. As the trivium is to language the quadrivium is to numbers and shapes. Both prepare for studies beyond them and enable you to perceive things you can't otherwise perceive.

 

Arithmetic goes with music/harmonics. Geometry goes with astronomy. And both sets feed the other. Boethius is very good on the seven liberal arts, having named the divisions. I've also always appreciated the Pythagorean approach as developed in the Platonic schools. I wish Aristotle had emphasized it more.

 

As to the 40 minutes on math, I didn't know that was a common statement by classical educators, but I will defend myself, ever so feebly, by insisting that I included 40 as a minimum. Nor did I mean the 60 to be inspired. I just mean that if your child spends 40-60 minutes of focused attention on math every day, in four years they will make astounding progress. I would not ask my child to work on math for more than about 40 minutes at a time, though. Problem solving requires breaks so the subconscious mind can go to work.

 

The focused attention might be the wildcard in that deck.

 

If I had my way and could disregard the fact that only a mind acting with a will makes any real progress, my child would read a novel every two weeks - at least twice, write a complete expository or persuasive essay every three weeks (including invention arrangement and elocution), study math for two hours every day, study Latin for two hours, study Greek for two hours (using a text written in Latin), pray for two hours, go to church each evening, run a hobby farm and a private business, keep a perfectly clean house, and master science, history, and all of the fine arts. And travel the country for debate tournaments.

 

Oh well. I do my best. It's not particularly good, but I keep at it.

 

Thanks for your feedback and request for clarification. I hope I didn't make it even more confusing.

 

Oh, one last thing: I was being cheeky, but not sarcastic. Sarcasm is a corruption of cheekiness that I fall into too often, but I managed to avoid it in that post. I have an awful lot of respect for my fellow pilgrims on this board, so it's pretty easy to avoid sarcasm here.

 

Blessings!:001_smile:

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Hi Elizabeth,

 

You'll have to decide for yourself. I personally would not be comfortable with 40-60 minutes a day in high school. But I do not agree with Andrew. I do not believe the quadrivium parallels the trivium. I do not believe that the quadrivium is to numbers and shape what the trivium is to language. I believe that the seven liberal arts represent a progression toward the abstract.

 

But then again, I do not agree with my role as a "high school educator" as Sayers outlined it either. In her essay she says, "The syllabus was divided into two parts: the Trivium and Quadrivium. The second part--the Quadrivium--consisted of "subjects," and need not for the moment concern us. The interesting thing for us is the composition of the Trivium, which preceded the Quadrivium and was the preliminary discipline for it. It consisted of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric, in that order."

 

Later on in the essay, she indicates that only the scholars will go on to study the "subjects" of the quadrivium at the university.

 

In my experience that doesn't happen.

 

Students who major in mathematics and science do not have the time at university to study the quadrivium with an eye toward the abstractions of wisdom and virtue. They do not have the time to work their way up Plato's line. They are busy learning mathematics and science. Few of their professors will have majored in philosophy. The line is no where in sight. I've been there; I can't recall that it was ever mentioned. It may have been, but because I had never heard of it, the info slid in and slid out; there was nothing for it to connect to.

 

Students who major in the liberal arts tend to lack the time to study mathematics in depth at university. Few of their professors will have majored in mathematics. For them, the line is in sight, but they lack the tools to actually walk it for themselves. They must be content to talk about walking it. They lack the mathematical skill to walk the abstract via the progression suggested by the quadrivium. (And yes, I have a timeline. I know when Plato, Boethius, Sayers, and others walked the earth. I understand that the medieval folks didn't have calculus. Trying to peer into the dark and all that. So yes, their ability to understand the power of the quadrivium was limited. But I might suggest that's part of the reason that Newton and Einstein rocked the world so profoundly. Einstein didn't generate a nice formula; he gave form to old, old ideas. And yes, he was looking for the beautiful. Could it be that these ideas stayed with us when so many others were discarded because of the depth of their truth?) Huge digression. Sorry. And no, I DON'T know.

 

Back to the liberal arts and having the time to study mathematics enough to walk the line rather than talk about the line. For the past twelve years, I have studied diligently in the humanities. I still have a long way to go. But I read, study, and try to understand every single day. However, I have not met many classical homeschool educators who argue that the quadrivium is a more powerful tool for cultivating wisdom and virtue than the trivium. They tend to agree that mathematics (Algebra?) begins to illustrate the abstract. Geometry moves the student in the direction of the abstract (True geometry - not SAT geometry). But its power to train the mind is seldom a topic of conversation. Perhaps that's because Sayers doesn't really address it. I've repeatedly found myself thinking, "That CAN'T be it. I MUST be missing something. There must be some profound nugget of wisdom that is eluding me. Has everything really ground to a halt at "rhetoric" because Sayers stopped typing and went to lunch?"

 

And here's where it gets dicey. :001_smile: Caution. Really. I am NOT a "classical homeschooler". We studied Latin and Greek for YEARS. I believed what I was told: they train the mind. When I began, I was completely ignorant of either. I took two years of Spanish in high school in order to check a box. Period. However, as a homeschooler I fully embraced the notion that classical languages train the mind. I devoted myself to it with much time, money, and enthusiasm - year after year after year. In the end, I personally agree with the mind-training to some extent. There is little that is firmly sequential between phonics and algebra. Latin makes a nice bridge. But once we finally made it to algebra (everyone landed there by the middle of 6th grade), my interest eroded rapidly. I personally found mathematics to be a better tool for training the mind. I watched my kids juggle tense, mood, person, etc to translate a sentence from Latin to English and back again. It was fantastic. But as soon as they were ready to grapple with Euclid's fifth postulate? Oh. My. A totally different experience. And no, I don't have the words in either English, Latin, or Greek to explain it. I won't even try. Let me just say that I watched them grapple with the content and its implications. I'm an adult so yes, I led the discussion. But I did not find them more prepared to "deal with it" than I was. And they had the benefit of all of this training.

 

Now I am fully willing to admit that I've botched it. Fully. Completely willing to admit that we have not done all things well. Given a do-over, this hsing thing would be a TON more graceful. You just can not imagine how much of a dolt I have been about so many things. But I know when I'm beat. And I know that I'm running out of time.

 

It changed my approach. I see education differently. I often lament that there are too many rooms now. Each pried-open door opens into a room with a thousand more doors. I long for closure. I long for a sense of completion. Oh well. I long for a lot of things I can't have. I see education as an attempt to introduce my kids to as many rooms as possible. No, we can not spend as much time as I would like in ANY of them. Oh well, sorry kid, get over it. I'm trying to help you see as broad a picture as I can possibly show you. I will not trust someone else to do it.

 

You, my dear, will either possess the will to return to these rooms or you won't. But at least you will have stood in them long enough to know that exploring them is not a matter of comfort, but a matter of contentment in your discomfort.

 

Sorry Elizabeth. I haven't answered your question. And now I've rambled at length in the wrong place. This post doesn't belong here. This post may not belong anywhere. I may double-back and decide that it's all bunk. :001_smile: Really. Maybe Sayers stopped typing for a really good reason. Maybe it had nothing to do with the fact that her soup was getting cold.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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Janice, I'm always so grateful for all of your posts. I rarely read anything (hear the voice of someone) that understands and relates to everything that spins around in my head (although my words and ideas are never so eloquent), gives them words and meaning and then gives me so much more to think about all at once! Thank you.

 

Your point at the end of your post about having too many doors open to too many rooms illustrates beautifully what I mean. I too want them to spend more time in each room to really know something well enough to find the truth and beauty of it. There is so little time and it doesn't help that my lack of knowledge slows them down even more. And I know you are so much further into the house than I am. My education is still evolving and often that house is just shadow in the forest for me. (If that makes sense, writing beautifully is not my gift, sorry...:001_smile:) I feel the weight of how little I know. I know I'm not always the best answer for my girls since I can't possibly be all that I should be as their teacher. How can I teach what I don't know myself? I ask myself that daily. But then I convince myself that at least the awareness that there is so much still to learn and so much that must be learned better is a gift I can give them too. We are not surrounded by those who live this way. It is difficult to find anyone who would teach my dds this message. I'm trying to find some contentment in this. They may leave my house with many rooms left to explore. They may leave my house intending to spend more time in many other rooms. Sadly, some rooms will not even be made know by me and my girls will wonder at why I couldn't show them these rooms. My girls absolutely want me to teach them and I just hope I can be what they need in the end. For me, it is about finding the balance. I think that I will always feel the struggle of it since my own knowledge is incomplete. I'm probably making no sense at all so I'll stop here. I hope all the brilliant and eloquent moms/dads here will forgive this post. It feels good to write it out if anything. I have no one IRL to really share these thoughts.

 

PS My dd wil always need 1-2 hours a day in math. We should do more than 1, but her frustration only allows for 1 sometimes. We should spend closer to 2 every day.

Edited by Kfamily
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Sorry Elizabeth. I haven't answered your question. And now I've rambled at length in the wrong place. This post doesn't belong here. This post may not belong anywhere. I may double-back and decide that it's all bunk. :001_smile: Really. Maybe Sayers stopped typing for a really good reason. Maybe it had nothing to do with the fact that her soup was getting cold.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

I have found your thoughts very helpful and not bunk at all. :)

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Hi!

 

I find great peace in the idea of shoulders and giants. I try to model that. I try to teach my kids to stand on shoulders in order to maximize their time. I try to teach them to peer past the horizon. I encourage them to enjoy process without becoming complacent. I encourage them to establish a rhythm that fits their personality.

 

And I try to use all of it to cultivate a deeply-rooted sense of wonder toward their heavenly Father - the Master of the infinitely infinite. What a fingerprint.

 

Peace.

Have GREAT peace!!!

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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Get a book called The New Square Foot Gardening. It makes it incredibly easier. Also, don't worry about succeeding. You aren't gardening to grow a crop, you are gardening to learn from it. Try whatever you want to try and see what happens.

 

The first year I had my own garden I successfully grew all of ONE (1) radish.

 

But when I ate that radish, my world turned over.

 

Oh how I love to read this! :lol: We made our first SFG last year and each of us had our own box (2'x6') and a family box we did together. We had some success but oh-so-many failures. We rejoiced over those successes though! And little did I know that I was enriching their classical studies. I feel better about myself already. :tongue_smilie:

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Get a book called The New Square Foot Gardening. It makes it incredibly easier. Also, don't worry about succeeding. You aren't gardening to grow a crop, you are gardening to learn from it. Try whatever you want to try and see what happens.

 

The first year I had my own garden I successfully grew all of ONE (1) radish.

 

But when I ate that radish, my world turned over.

 

 

Thanks for the part about gardening to learn from it. Last year was a disaster and I don't even want to mention the common sense mistakes I made- the least of which was putting a small garden in a spot that floods when it rains. :)

I will look into that book and thanks for taking the time to answer! My husband is enjoying a book he got for two bucks off Amazon that you recommended at the homeschool convention called The Rector Of Justin. (We were the Patriot fans).

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Now I am fully willing to admit that I've botched it. Fully. Completely willing to admit that we have not done all things well. Given a do-over, this hsing thing would be a TON more graceful. You just can not imagine how much of a dolt I have been about so many things. But I know when I'm beat. And I know that I'm running out of time.

 

It changed my approach. I see education differently. I often lament that there are too many rooms now. Each pried-open door opens into a room with a thousand more doors. I long for closure. I long for a sense of completion. Oh well. I long for a lot of things I can't have. I see education as an attempt to introduce my kids to as many rooms as possible. No, we can not spend as much time as I would like in ANY of them. Oh well, sorry kid, get over it. I'm trying to help you see as broad a picture as I can possibly show you. I will not trust someone else to do it.

 

You, my dear, will either possess the will to return to these rooms or you won't. But at least you will have stood in them long enough to know that exploring them is not a matter of comfort, but a matter of contentment in your discomfort.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

Janice,

That was amazing. I know you were answering Elizabeth's question, but I have to say, your analogy is fantastic. That's exactly how I've been feeling and now I know why. Too many doors. I'm feeling so refreshed now. Thank you so much.

 

Dorinda

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  • 1 month later...

Janice,

 

What a great post! I wish we could sit down together for a day and discuss it point by point because you have some amazing insights that I want to absorb!

 

Before letting you read the rest, I should interrupt and say that I have just re-read it and it's pretty boring. You got me thinking about some things so what follows wanders between talking to you and talking to myself. Please either bear with me or ignore me!

 

I wonder if, in practice, we disagree about the quadrivium because I think I wasn't very clear. I also believe that the maths are means of training the mind and of leading the student to abstraction. What I meant was that the training in the maths is different from the training in the trivium but both have the same ultimate end (virtue and the perception of truth). And I meant that they are done parallel, not in sequence, though I can see how higher maths would require mastery of the trivium. You can begin arithmetic around the same time you begin spelling. I'm feeling fairly uncertain though.

 

The numbers and shapes define arithmetic and geometry and mark their starting points. When you explore the relationships between and among numbers and shapes you move into music/harmonics (e.g. cords) and astronomy (shapes that move). Then you can move on to higher levels of abstraction by entering into the gaps between ideas (Socratic dialectic).

 

Also, the maths start out a lot more precise and concrete, don't they? Seven begins as seven horses and a triangle begins (in the students mind) as a drawing on a tablet. Then seven eventually becomes the abstract number seven by comparisons of multiple groups of seven, such as seven horses, seven cows, seven styluses, seven people. That way the student comes to see "seven-ness" without any concrete object.

 

A parallel experience happens with the shapes in geometry. In fact, it's one of the crucial moments in a person's intellectual development when he can distinguish the idea of the shape from a drawing of it.

 

So I agree with you that the quadrivium is the means to abstract thought.

 

Language is, by its nature, more slippery and fungible, though its foundational rules are pretty precise.

 

In the more "Platonic" side of the classical tradition, the goal is to reach a point where you directly perceive the good and the true, which then won't be communicable to others who won't walk the same path. That's why he said, "let no man ignorant of geometry enter" the academy.

 

That's the sense in which I mean the quadrivium runs parallel to the trivium. Each begins at the more concrete level of its own nature and rises to the more abstract. And they are different kinds of art. Studying the trivium doesn't teach you the quadrivium and vice versa. But both are giving you the tools for the higher level studies. When the quadrivium reaches its limit it makes way for dialectic/philosophy. And to do dialectics you have to master the language arts.

 

The trivium, which Plato never heard of, is an extension of logic/dialectic and an application of it to the student who is not yet ready to climb the ladder on his own. During the Christian middle ages, the language arts became more important than the mathematical arts because they believed that truth was contained in verbal communications as much as intellectual perceptions. So they came up with the idea of the trivium, but never abandoned the quadrivium.

 

That is why I lament the condition you describe in our colleges where the liberal arts students don't have time for the quadrivium. How odd, when you consider that Cicero coined the term "Humanities," and included in them all four of the arts of the quadrivium.

 

Do you know why Sayers called them subjects? I think she was wrong on that, but want to find out why she said it before I say so.

 

Finally, your metaphor of the rooms is fantastic. I like the idea of being introduced to each. I also think they need to live in one (the one with the liberal arts!).

 

Sorry if this is reviving an antiquated thread, but I've had a hard time getting back in here due to commitments and sloth.

 

Blessings,

 

ajk

 

 

 

[quote name=

Janice in NJ]Hi Elizabeth,

 

You'll have to decide for yourself. I personally would not be comfortable with 40-60 minutes a day in high school. But I do not agree with Andrew. I do not believe the quadrivium parallels the trivium. I do not believe that the quadrivium is to numbers and shape what the trivium is to language. I believe that the seven liberal arts represent a progression toward the abstract.

 

But then again, I do not agree with my role as a "high school educator" as Sayers outlined it either.

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