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Charlotte Mason and Classical Don't Seem to be the Same to Me


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It seems to me that Charlotte Mason and Classical education are being presented as two sides of the same coin, or as roughly the same thing...I have been doing some reading about CM's methods, and I have read about Classical methods, and they don't seem the same to me...

 

I LOVE Circe and Schole Sisters, but I do feel that they (whether intentional or not) seem to be portraying both CM and Classical as Classical...I do feel that there are some similarities, but I don't think they are the same...Am I missing something?

 

Nothing wrong with either approach if either of them works for you, but I am finding the blending of the two on the internet to be confusing...Things I find myself agreeing with seem to fall on the CM side of things, but I am being told that it is Classical :huh:

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Honestly, I've found that the definition of "classical education" varies hugely depending on whom you are asking or what book you are reading.  CM should be more clear, since she has her own books describing it, but I gather that few people have read the original, and so even that has various modern flavors depicted in different books about CM.

 

There are several articles floating around the web comparing the two, including one by our friend SWB :)

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I do find it strange.  When this came up in a different thread, someone referred me to this article by Karen Glass, "The Classical Side of Charlotte Mason."  She says:

 

"Miss Mason also reached back into the past, to educators who certainly deserve to be called 'classical,' such as Comenius, Milton, and Plutarch. These are the men she quoted again, and again, as she attempted to articulate a method of education which would incorporate the principles of the best part of classical education."

 

But I don't think this holds up.

 

Comenius is generally considered to be an early educational reformer, in the same tradition as Pestalozzi and Montessori (whom she groups as "modern educators").

 

Milton was also a radical reformer who was against much of the classical approach of his time.   Besides, after combing through CM's writings, I couldn't find anything about his advice on educational methods.  Which is just as well, IMO, because they were pretty strange.  

 

Plutarch isn't considered an "educator" in any source I looked at.  He just wrote biographies, which she used with her students.  

 

So I'm really not seeing much evidence there.  

 

 

ETA link to "Locke and Milton," by H. W. Holmes, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Lectures on the Harvard Classics, 1909-1914).   This lecture gives a brief sense of the way Milton and Comenius were seen by an educator who lived right around Charlotte Mason's time, and would have been much more familiar than we are with the classical tradition.  

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If by classical you mean a specific method like TWTM or MP or Veritas then no, they aren't the same.

 

But if you mean "classical" in a broader sense, as a concept or description of principles, then CM seems to fit. I don't think of Classical as a method anymore.

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If by classical you mean a specific method like TWTM or MP or Veritas then no, they aren't the same.

 

But if you mean "classical" in a broader sense, as a concept or description of principles, then CM seems to fit. I don't think of Classical as a method anymore.

 

This is what I don't understand...CM and WTM, MP, and Veritas have different ways of doing things, so either WTM and the others aren't classical, or all the people who feel that CM is classical really aren't classical and just need to be fine with being CM...

 

Ambleside and Cindy Rollins are both self proclaimed CM, but they are portrayed in some places as being a form of classical...Is it not okay to be a CM educator and more acceptable to be classical?...Why present both as the same?

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This has been bugging me recently. I don't agree that they are the same. It seems to me that people are just repeating something they read somewhere else.

 

Who is the "patient zero," the first CMer to claim that it's classical, and why does it matter so much to them that they keep repeating it?

 

 

"Ambleside and Cindy Rollins are both self proclaimed CM, but they are portrayed in some places as being a form of classical...Is it not okay to be a CM educator and more acceptable to be classical?...Why present both as the same? "

 

I'm a cynical person so take this with a big ole grain of salt...I think there is a certain cachet (perceived or real) with using the term, "classical education." Most people have no idea what it means but it sounds fancy-schmancy, elite, rigorous. Similarly, I've noticed some private schools rebranding themselves as "classical" but not offering a curriculum much different from their old curriculum.

 

And here's the kicker - what is CM anyway? It keeps evolving too, which, in theory, is impossible because CM herself has been dead for about a century. And now we have that book whose name I can't remember (something Page?) telling us a brand new way to do CM. Which, just incidently, involves more writing and more work and provides a way to exclude more people from the club because they aren't doing those things.

 

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I'm just following. I have been wondering the same thing.

 

I would say we are more CM, but we fit in well here, and can't relate to any of the big CM type sites/curricula.

 

I'm not sure where we fall. Are we classical with CM leanings? Vice versa? Somewhere in between?

 

Are the supposedly CM curricula corrupted from the original methods? I don't see a lot of connection between some of them and CM's original writing. 

 

Part of my problem is that I don't have a solid definition of Classical Education beyond TWTM methodology. When I have asked or read threads, the answers vary widely and I can't say any of them resonate with me.

 

Eta: I would phrase the question as "Why isn't CM classical?" Because, like Tibbie, from my reading, it does sound quite classical. A more modern interpretation of Classical, yes, but isn't that where she got her ideas? If it isn't, what disqualifies it?

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I didn't hear it from someone, or pick it up as homeschool mythology when I was a new hs'ing mother. I read CM's Original Series and noted the rigorous language and grammar studies; diligent study of classical composers and artists; devotion to Shakespeare, Plutarch, and other great works of history and literature; effective maths and natural science lessons; and most convincingly, proficiency in Latin and Greek in 14yo students.

 

What is classical, if not that? What is there to disagree with in Karen Glass's article?

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I didn't hear it from someone, or pick it up as homeschool mythology when I was a new hs'ing mother. I read CM's Original Series and noted the rigorous language and grammar studies; diligent study of classical composers and artists; devotion to Shakespeare, Plutarch, and other great works of history and literature; effective maths and natural science lessons; and most convincingly, proficiency in Latin and Greek in 14yo students.

 

What is classical, if not that? What is there to disagree with in Karen Glass's article?

There is a 'classical' that focuses primarily on Greece and Rome. LCC might be the closest to that. But if we're defining classical as 'strictly from the classical era in methodology, philosophy, AND content' we will have to exclude WTM along with CM.

 

If so, fine, I don't care. I call my own style 'traditional/classical'.

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This is what I don't understand...CM and WTM, MP, and Veritas have different ways of doing things, so either WTM and the others aren't classical, or all the people who feel that CM is classical really aren't classical and just need to be fine with being CM...

 

Ambleside and Cindy Rollins are both self proclaimed CM, but they are portrayed in some places as being a form of classical...Is it not okay to be a CM educator and more acceptable to be classical?...Why present both as the same?

 

I'm just throwing this out here...I haven't really done any research to back this up...but I wonder if some of this is a combination of two things:

 

1. In the recent past, people had a tendency to define CM as a method which did not include rigor or as being on the same level with regard to high standards as a classical method. I think that over time many of us who had looked at CM more closely felt that this label was not accurate and spent time trying to undo it.

 

2. Many followers of CM incorporate classical methods with her ideas/methods. This makes us eclectic, I guess. I don't know. I don't really think that it follows that you have to be only one or the other. I found many aspects of classical that fit inside our overall CM approach very nicely. But, perhaps these new followers' ideas, those who are combining both CM and classical, are what is defining this newly evolved CM, maybe...hmmm...just thinking out loud really.

 

But, I do agree with you that some of the approaches are very different. I very much disagree with the WTM approach to dictation and even with writing in the early years to some degree. But, I also know that the simplified version upheld about the CM method (narration as retellings only) is not going to be enough. Hence, I've added some classical approaches to help me teach writing.

 

I was going to post recently about my confusion over some of the books used by CM. I found some of those listed on the old PNEU schedules and was surprised by some of them. I think much of CM still needs to be examined. I don't agree with everything she does. I have yet to find one set of ideas that I can follow perfectly. In the end, I created my own personal methods and curriculum based on my own combination of methods and ideas.

 

 

And I'm also a bit confused by the new connection between AO and the Schole Sisters, mostly because I thought the latter branched off from Circe. I have AO liked on my facebook page and am still surprised to see articles from Schole Sisters linked under their page. How can Schole Sisters be both AO and Circe...?

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I don't think CM was really "traditional" in her time and that's the reason that I don't see her as classical.

 

I no longer have my notes on this but I did read through Book 6 and researched who she quoted in her book. She was not influenced by traditional sources. She was influenced by some people who were fairly radical in her time. My computer crashed and I've lost that word document so I can't provide names. But I recall that Pesstalozzi was one of her influences. 

 

 

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I didn't hear it from someone, or pick it up as homeschool mythology when I was a new hs'ing mother. I read CM's Original Series and noted the rigorous language and grammar studies; diligent study of classical composers and artists; devotion to Shakespeare, Plutarch, and other great works of history and literature; effective maths and natural science lessons; and most convincingly, proficiency in Latin and Greek in 14yo students.

 

What is classical, if not that? What is there to disagree with in Karen Glass's article?

 

But if those are CM's ideas, why not just say it is CM?...Why does CM have to be a form of classical?

 

I really like what you describe above, Tibbie...That is what I want for my boys...What I have been reading on CM describes what you wrote above...I have not been to many CM sites so I am unaware of how many people interpret her work...I just think that it is okay to have a classical homeschool and it is okay to have a CM one...They don't have to be one in the same if they are not the same...If Karen Glass is a CM educator, then just be that...No reason to say it is classical...Would CM have described herself as classical?

 

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Why does it matter?

 

 

 

I think there is a very narrow understanding of classical education even in the WTM, which emphasizes Dorothy Sayer's comment (which was not the focus of her Lost Tools of Learning address) about the trivium being aligned to three developmental stages, is history-centric, inappropriately ports the three cycles of history to the study of science, and attempts to fill the early years with academic pursuits when classical educations rarely began at such young ages.

 

And even then, WTM is taken from Sayers, who had the last vestiges of a classical education in the modern Euro-Christian tradition, far removed from the likes of Augustine in Carthage, and even further removed from Classical Greek pedagogy.

 

My point is that there is no purity or absolute here. No matter our attempts to create a classical education we are merely watching the shadows of it on the wall, so the argument is moot. We can't call this classical and that not, because they none of them are.

 

So, what is to be done? That is the real argument.

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There is a 'classical' that focuses primarily on Greece and Rome. LCC might be the closest to that. But if we're defining classical as 'strictly from the classical era in methodology, philosophy, AND content' we will have to exclude WTM along with CM.

 

If so, fine, I don't care. I call my own style 'traditional/classical'.

 

There are many different things that go by "classical" among homeschoolers and Christian schools these days.   Even within "Latin-centered," there's the medieval model, Renaissance humanist model, 19th century German university model, and modern ideas like LCC which are something different again.   

 

What I'm questioning is the position Karen Glass seems to be taking in the passage I quoted above:  that CM's approach to education was largely inspired by the great classical educators of past centuries, whom she quoted "again, and again" in her writings.  

 

Who are these educators, and where are all these quotations?   Because the references she's provided don't seem to be applicable.  

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Perhaps we are trying to define things too narrowly. Perhaps classical is many things, many approaches fall under the umbrella. 

 

For me, the Trivium is the key. If the method recognizes grammar,logic and rhetoric stages, the application will be different enough from contemporary methodology to qualify as classical-or choose whatever label you wish. If the materials, methods, and lit selections are time worn and tried-and-true (classics),then we are getting even closer. 

 

If we try to say," these all vary, so someone is wrong", then we will be unnecessarily excluding some methods. If we define lasagna as long, flat noodles, layered with cheese, sauce and meat or veg, and baked, we can include many varieties of lasagna, including those in which the noodles are actually thin slices of zucchini. But if we decide that lasagna must have semolina pasta, red sauce, sweet Italian sausage, ricotta mixed with egg, and mozzarella, any lasagna that doesn't follow my mother's recipe is disqualified. True, it's different, but it's still lasagna.

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Why does it matter?

 

 

 

I think there is a very narrow understanding of classical education even in the WTM, which emphasizes Dorothy Sayer's comment (which was not the focus of her Lost Tools of Learning address) about the trivium being aligned to three developmental stages, is history-centric, inappropriately ports the three cycles of history to the study of science, and attempts to fill the early years with academic pursuits when classical educations rarely began at such young ages.

 

And even then, WTM is taken from Sayers, who had the last vestiges of a classical education in the modern Euro-Christian tradition, far removed from the likes of Augustine in Carthage, and even further removed from Classical Greek pedagogy.

 

My point is that there is no purity or absolute here. No matter our attempts to create a classical education we are merely watching the shadows of it on the wall, so the argument is moot. We can't call this classical and that not, because they none of them are.

 

So, what is to be done? That is the real argument.

 

It doesn't matter what we consider our particular homeschools, but it does matter and make a difference what we call something in the public arena...Words and ideas are what is used to communicate almost everything on the internet...It is confusing when these words and ideas are not clear...Memoria Press, WTM, and LCC aren't exactly the same either, even though all are considered classical...It becomes clearer what your philosophy is when you are say which of the classical methods out there you are using...

 

Schole Sisters is being presented as a form of classical that includes CM...But the two are not the same...For some reason, we are now being told that they are the same, and it just makes the definition of classical even more confusing by throwing something else in the mix...Just wondering why...I really like Schole Sisters, I just wonder what is wrong with being CM?...Why does it have to be the same as classical to be accepted?...Or maybe this approach needs to be called something else?...I am not sure, just thinking out loud at this point...

 

 

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I like Schole Sisters and am quietly applauding their new community and wishing them great success, but I have yet to see anything from that group that I recognize as classical. I haven't had time to really delve into it but my hunch is that the disconnect occurs due to the religious nature and focus of their philosophy, whereas most neo-classical hs'ers of our era are primarily focused on academic content and pedagogy when we discuss what is 'classical.'

 

If the question is why schole sisters (or any of us) must claim to be classical to have a place at the table, I have wondered the same thing. Aspiring to the classics or working toward a rigorous education -- those can be goals for any hs'ers without the need to join a movement or faction. Unless the goal is to claim 'classical' either because of the trendiness of Classical Cinversations, or to distinguish from unschoolers in one word...I don't know.

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I don't think they are the same thing, but I do think they are easily blendable/compatible in a way that say, classical and Waldorf are not.

 

I also think the watering-down of terms makes everything muddy. CM SHOULD be clear, because she was one darn person and wrote several books (not to mention started a school who's methods we still know). But if you read The Original Series or look into PNEUs schedules and then go talk to your local "CM diehards"? HUGE disconnect. They've only read A Charlotte Mason Companion, lightly 5 years ago, and then inferred a whole lot on top of that. That's ok if it works for them, but it confuses what CM is.

 

And "classical" that's a mess so complicated I shudder to even call myself classical on these boards. I've seen classical mean rigorous, mean you tack on Latin to any other method, mean you focus heavily on Ancient Greece and Rome, mean you follow the Trivium, mean you follow SWBs reccomendations, any number of things. I have a hard time understanding how WTM, Circe, Dorothy Sayers, Classical Conversations, Latin Centered Curriculum, and Christopher Perrin are all the same thing. They have pretty blatant differences.

 

CM ala PNEU and Classical ala Circe seem perhaps most compatible to me, of all the bunch. Classical Conversations being IMO the furthest from CM.

 

And for the record, I only call myself classical in local boards and situations, where honestly it just explains in one word that we do "school" and its not from a box. I'd say 90% of my local community is either extreme Unschooling or school in a box. If I say I'm CM they seem to infer that all we do is read books, with no math or science or writing?

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I like Schole Sisters and am quietly applauding their new community and wishing them great success, but I have yet to see anything from that group that I recognize as classical. I haven't had time to really delve into it but my hunch is that the disconnect occurs due to the religious nature and focus of their philosophy, whereas most neo-classical hs'ers of our era are primarily focused on academic content and pedagogy when we discuss what is 'classical.'

 

If the question is why schole sisters (or any of us) must claim to be classical to have a place at the table, I have wondered the same thing. Aspiring to the classics or working toward a rigorous education -- those can be goals for any hs'ers without the need to join a movement or faction. Unless the goal is to claim 'classical' either because of the trendiness of Classical Cinversations, or to distinguish from unschoolers in one word...I don't know.

 

:iagree:

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I don't think they are the same thing, but I do think they are easily blendable/compatible in a way that say, classical and Waldorf are not.

 

I also think the watering-down of terms makes everything muddy. CM SHOULD be clear, because she was one darn person and wrote several books (not to mention started a school who's methods we still know). But if you read The Original Series or look into PNEUs schedules and then go talk to your local "CM diehards"? HUGE disconnect. They've only read A Charlotte Mason Companion, lightly 5 years ago, and then inferred a whole lot on top of that. That's ok if it works for them, but it confuses what CM is.

 

And "classical" that's a mess so complicated I shudder to even call myself classical on these boards. I've seen classical mean rigorous, mean you tack on Latin to any other method, mean you focus heavily on Ancient Greece and Rome, mean you follow the Trivium, mean you follow SWBs reccomendations, any number of things. I have a hard time understanding how WTM, Circe, Dorothy Sayers, Classical Conversations, Latin Centered Curriculum, and Christopher Perrin are all the same thing. They have pretty blatant differences.

 

CM ala PNEU and Classical ala Circe seem perhaps most compatible to me, of all the bunch. Classical Conversations being IMO the furthest from CM.

 

:hurray:  I would like this 10 times if I could...

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(I do realize she wrote more than six books. But you can't have an authoritative conversation about a cm education if you haven't read her education series. You just can't. I have not read HarryPotter. I don't go out into the internet throwing around the word "dumbledor" and joining in harry potter convos just because I've heard OTHER people talk about it soooo sooo much.)

 

 

:lol:  This makes sense...I also have never read Harry Potter, so I totally get this analogy :laugh:

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I have read the explanations further down, and folks have some good points...but really, I don't think it matters all that much, either.  Maybe that's because I am strongly influenced by both, but actually do neither in any pure sense.  For me it's all shorthand because in reality, even the school in a box folks all do it a little differently.  ;)

 

I love the Plato reference!  :D

 

Why does it matter?



 No matter our attempts to create a classical education we are merely watching the shadows of it on the wall, so the argument is moot.

 

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How is Charlotte Mason (herself, not her groupies) not classical, in your opinion? What is lacking or added or different?

This is exactly what I want to know. 

 

As far as CM not being up for interpretation, I mostly agree. I definitely prefer the original writings ( not even the modern language version because she did write in reasonably modern English) over anyone's interpretation. I agree that while interpretation, discussion, and implementation are worthwhile topics, it is OUR OWN interpretation and application that really matter. 

The only discussion I can really see need for is whether or not and how to update the methods. Science has come a long way. Nature study isn't going to cut it. Math methods vary more now. CM didn't have access to Asian style math. What all the good quality literature written in the past 100 years? Do we write it all off because CM didn't have access to it? 

The danger, of course, is in updating ourselves all the way out of the original spirit of CM. I suspect that has happened to Sonlight. I was quite surprised to see SL referred to as CM. The publisher refers to it as "book-based" not even literature-based. That sounds accurate to me. The booklists are not terribly impressive and sorely thin on classics and actual lit. IMO historical fiction is generally not literature, and rarely quality literature. Others may disagree, and that's where the discussion comes in. 

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How is Charlotte Mason (herself, not her groupies) not classical, in your opinion? What is lacking or added or different?

 

For what it seems to me (I am no expert), these things are different...When I speak of classical, I am talking about WTM and MP...Circe falls into a different category to me, because it is not really a curriculum (except for Lost Tools of Writing), and seems to promote different things than MP and WTM does...There are differences between WTM and MP, but both are considered classical in most places...

 

The goals of early childhood seem different to me...Classical has an emphasis on memorizing facts in order to be able to make connections with that knowledge later on...Narrations and questions are guided in a way that seems different than CM...Classical has the distinct stages of development, where CM does not...CM seems to have an emphasis on ideas and character formation more so than Classical...Narrations are handled differently...

 

Short lessons in CM is different than the longer lessons found in Classical..

 

Writing is handled differently, as classical uses the progymnasmata and I don't think it is used in a CM education (CM educators may use or adapt it, but it is not a CM thing)...

 

Grammar is handled differently as Classical uses Latin primarily to teach Grammar, and CM does not...

 

I don't know enough about CM to point out all of the differences...I have to do more research for that...There are many similarities (depending on the method of Classical you use), but they are not the same...It seems as if what is viewed as important and how to make that happen differs...You can blend the two ideas, but if they were the same all along, then why are they just not the same...That last sentence probably makes no sense, but I can't think of another way to phrase it right now :tongue_smilie:  

 

ETA: I didn't even touch on Classical Conversations, which is also different than WTM, MP, or the other Classicals, but now some classicals seems to promote...I am not sure where LCC fall in all of this...

 

 

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Another possible scenario is that CM wrote before all of these other Classical methods we know now - WTM, MP, Classical Conversations, LCC, Circe, whoever else I am missing, and what she describes is actually Classical and the rest of this stuff is not ;)

 

What was the Classical Method at the time CM was educating and writing?

 

I don't have the best answers...They just don't seem the same to me...

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I didn't read all the posts, I will later when I have more time.

 

Classical Education was started by the Ancient Greeks or Babylonians, depending on how you count it.  So, don't expect anything that's been around for thousands of years and contributed to from all over the globe to be any one thing.  How could it possibly be?  Here's how I classify different forms of Classical Education and I did choose to put Charlotte Mason in the Living Books category because not all Living Books based education are Classical in content or technique but no one makes the argument against twaddle better than CM.   But, of course she is a type of Classical educator-not the exactly what Dorothy Sayers argued for, but it's still a form of Classical Education.

 

Don't waste time getting suckered into newbie, purist, rigid debates about what is Classical Education and what isn't.  It's as pointless as getting into a debate about which Christian denominations and doctrines are "real Christianity" and which aren't.  There are no absolute answers because no one owns the term and you don't get gold stars or merit badges from those who agree with you anyway. Just be familiar with different forms and their different distinctive characteristics  and incorporate those that fit your goals and your children best. If you want to know what CM had to say about it, read CM. If you like the Circe Institute's version where you pursue truth, beauty and goodness, go pursue truth, beauty and goodness. If the Trivium matters to you, then go build it layer by layer with Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. If you want to mix and match those things, then go do it.  It's all Classical in different ways. 

 

===Living Books Approach ===

Only the best literature and writings on each subject are used.  Think of it this way, instead of reading from a distilled over simplified textbook on the Civil War, these parents have their students read several of the books about the Civil War that an author of a textbook would read preparing to write the textbook.  Now, think of doing that for Science, History, Economics, Literature, Art, etc.  This crowd is also known for

nature studies, narration, and dictation.

 

Heart of Dakota 

Charlotte Mason (also Classical based on content and teaching techniques)

Karen Andreola

My Father’s World

Sonlight

Greenleaf Press

All Through the Ages

Robinson’s Curriculum

 

 

===Classical Education===

Classical education has at least three distinct camps. They can be integrated as much as the parent prefers. They all have a strong preference for first source materials and use primarily Western Classics (Also called the Western Canon, or the Common Book of the Western World.) Some can include the study of "dead" languages (Hebrew, Classical or Biblical Greek, and Latin) although some are content with good English translations of Classic works while others opt for studies of Latin and Greek Roots in English.

 

Group A

 

 Characterized by the Trivium.  The 3 stages have many terms: 

 

  1. Stage 1 Grammar (facts)
  2. Stage 2 Logic (cause and effect) All stages of formal Logic inductive, deductive, material, etc. 
  3. Stage 3 Rhetoric (application and persuasion) Formal argumentation is studied.

 

Formal Logic and Rhetoric are studied specifically. History is usually studied chronologically. Logic is studied formally, and Science is studied with experimentation, biographies, and original writings of the greatest minds. Classic works from masters throughout Western Civilization in all eras are studied. Some integrate History, Geography, Science and Literature into a more unit study approach.

 

Think Dorothy Sayers.

 

Tapestry of Grace

Classical Conversations

Memoria Press

Veritas Press

Teaching the Trivium

The Well Trained Mind

The Circe Institute

 

Group B

 

Characterized by the Mentor Model and sometimes called a "Statesmen" education. Morals, virtue, and character are emphasized above all.

 

  1. In the early years children are allowed to follow their interests and learn good moral character while developing a strong work ethic.
  2. The middle years are when the parent begins inspiring students by reading classic works by the best minds on the subjects and entering into apprenticeship situations with masters of certain skills. 
  3. The later years the students are mentored in apprenticeships in entrepreneurial situations for their future leadership roles and professional pursuits.

 

Think Thomas Jefferson.

 

A Thomas Jefferson education by DeMille

A Thomas Jefferson Companion

 

Group C

 

 Also known as the Principle Approach.  This is a method often attributed to how many of the Founders were educated.

 

  1. Research the topic by looking up ideas

 

a. first source materials (original writings, documents, autobiographies, first hand historical accounts, etc.)

 

b. look up terms in dictionary (keeping in mind dictionaries that are specific to the era)

 

c. look up terms in your sacred writings or other sources related to your beliefs (Christians-Bible)

 

  1. Reason through the material looking for the underlying principles.

 

  1. Relate the information you have found through research and reason and apply it to your life.

 

  1. Record your findings in a logical, systematic, and persuasive format.

 

Think James Madison.

 

www.principleapproach.org

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Another possible scenario is that CM wrote before all of these other Classical methods we know now - WTM, MP, Classical Conversations, LCC, Circe, whoever else I am missing, and what she describes is actually Classical and the rest of this stuff is not ;)

 

What was the Classical Method at the time CM was educating and writing?

 

I don't have the best answers...They just don't seem the same to me...

 

And that is what I think the primary issue is.  There are way too many definitions and interpretations of "classical" floating around now.  And as stated above, way too many people re-writing CM's actual words.  

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I didn't read all the posts, I will later when I have more time.

 

Classical Education was started by the Ancient Greeks or Babylonians, depending on how you count it.  So, don't expect anything that's been around for thousands of years and contributed to from all over the globe to be any one thing.  How could it possibly be?  Here's how I classify different forms of Classical Education and I did choose to put Charlotte Mason in the Living Books category because not all Living Books based education are Classical in content or technique but no one makes the argument against twaddle better than CM.   But, of course she is a type of Classical educator-not the exactly what Dorothy Sayers argued for, but it's still a form of Classical Education.

 

Don't waste time getting suckered into newbie, purist, rigid debates about what is Classical Education and what isn't.  It's as pointless as getting into a debate about which Christian denominations and doctrines are "real Christianity" and which aren't.  There are no absolute answers because no one owns the term and you don't get gold stars or merit badges from those who agree with you anyway. Just be familiar with different forms and their different distinctive characteristics  and incorporate those that fit your coals and your children best. If you want to know what CM had to say about it, read CM. If you like the Circe Institute's version where you pursue truth, beauty and goodness, go pursue truth, beauty and goodness. If the Trivium matters to you, then go build it layer by layer with Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. If you want to mix and match those things, then go do it.  It's all Classical in different ways. 

 

===Living Books Approach ===

Only the best literature and writings on each subject are used.  Think of it this way, instead of reading from a distilled over simplified textbook on the Civil War, these parents have their students read several of the books about the Civil War that an author of a textbook would read preparing to write the textbook.  Now, think of doing that for Science, History, Economics, Literature, Art, etc.  This crowd is also known for

nature studies, narration, and dictation.

 

Heart of Dakota 

Charlotte Mason (also Classical based on content and teaching techniques)

Karen Andreola

My Father’s World

Sonlight

Greenleaf Press

All Through the Ages

Robinson’s Curriculum

 

 

===Classical Education===

Classical education has at least three distinct camps. They can be integrated as much as the parent prefers. They all have a strong preference for first source materials and use primarily Western Classics (Also called the Western Canon, or the Common Book of the Western World.) Some can include the study of "dead" languages (Hebrew, Classical or Biblical Greek, and Latin) although some are content with good English translations of Classic works while others opt for studies of Latin and Greek Roots in English.

 

Group A

 

 Characterized by the Trivium.  The 3 stages have many terms: 

 

  1. Stage 1 Grammar (facts)
  2. Stage 2 Logic (cause and effect) All stages of formal Logic inductive, deductive, material, etc. 
  3. Stage 3 Rhetoric (application and persuasion) Formal argumentation is studied.

 

Formal Logic and Rhetoric are studied specifically. History is usually studied chronologically. Logic is studied formally, and Science is studied with experimentation, biographies, and original writings of the greatest minds. Classic works from masters throughout Western Civilization in all eras are studied. Some integrate History, Geography, Science and Literature into a more unit study approach.

 

Think Dorothy Sayers.

 

Tapestry of Grace

Classical Conversations

Memoria Press

Veritas Press

Teaching the Trivium

The Well Trained Mind

The Circe Institute

 

Group B

 

Characterized by the Mentor Model and sometimes called a "Statesmen" education. Morals, virtue, and character are emphasized above all.

 

  1. In the early years children are allowed to follow their interests and learn good moral character while developing a strong work ethic.
  2. The middle years are when the parent begins inspiring students by reading classic works by the best minds on the subjects and entering into apprenticeship situations with masters of certain skills. 
  3. The later years the students are mentored in apprenticeships in entrepreneurial situations for their future leadership roles and professional pursuits.

 

Think Thomas Jefferson.

 

A Thomas Jefferson education by DeMille

A Thomas Jefferson Companion

 

Group C

 

 Also known as the Principle Approach.  This is a method often attributed to how many of the Founders were educated.

 

  1. Research the topic by looking up ideas

 

a. first source materials (original writings, documents, autobiographies, first hand historical accounts, etc.)

 

b. look up terms in dictionary (keeping in mind dictionaries that are specific to the era)

 

c. look up terms in your sacred writings or other sources related to your beliefs (Christians-Bible)

 

  1. Reason through the material looking for the underlying principles.

 

  1. Relate the information you have found through research and reason and apply it to your life.

 

  1. Record your findings in a logical, systematic, and persuasive format.

 

Think James Madison.

 

www.principleapproach.org

I like this breakdown. We use a little of most of these with an emphasis on Living Books and Trivium. I describe my home school as Classical, and leave it at that, because I don't feel we fall discreetly into one or another category. 

 

Like it or not, there is no ONE overriding definition of what classical is. We can argue that one brand is different than another, but I don't think we can say that only one brand is correct. 

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Charlotte mason can not be changed. She spoke very articulately and thoroughly for herself. Classical can mean a great many things.

 

So no meaning whatsoever has to be changed. The reader has to recognize what is up for outside interpretation, what is NOT up for interpretation (anyone is of course free to eschew anythung they want for any reason at all), and what positively DEMANDS outside interpretation.

Sure, she's clear in her own context but how that plays out in a modern culture with advances in science and mathematics (esp math instruction), technology, information (and vocation) explosion, another 100 years of possible quality literature, homeschooling options (solo families, co-ops, schools (Red Mountain Community, e.g.,)), roles of men and women (and even more so, of persons from all/diverse social strata) in society (and therefore the end goals of the education) is where the rubber hits the road! You can't do CM her way because we are not in upper middle class Victorian England!

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I agree that while interpretation, discussion, and implementation are worthwhile topics, it is OUR OWN interpretation and application that really matter. 

The only discussion I can really see need for is whether or not and how to update the methods. Science has come a long way. Nature study isn't going to cut it. Math methods vary more now. CM didn't have access to Asian style math. What all the good quality literature written in the past 100 years? Do we write it all off because CM didn't have access to it? 

The danger, of course, is in updating ourselves all the way out of the original spirit of CM. 

 

THIS.  So, so this.  I know for myself, in trying to update CM and in trying to blend it with classical methods when those resonate with me more, this is the fear.  Where do we lose the spirit of it?  If we blend CM and Classical are we running the danger of doing neither well?

 

 

The goals of early childhood seem different to me...Classical has an emphasis on memorizing facts in order to be able to make connections with that knowledge later on...Narrations and questions are guided in a way that seems different than CM...Classical has the distinct stages of development, where CM does not...CM seems to have an emphasis on ideas and character formation more so than Classical...Narrations are handled differently...

 

I would argue that both have a strong emphasis on memorization in the early years, they are just memorizing different things.  If you look at CM's Formidable List of Attainments For a 6 year old, they are expected to be able to recite 6 poems and hymns, a parable and psalm, and the names of several flowers, trees, and birds.  There is another list for 3rd grade, though I am not as familiar with it, not having a child that age.  But it includes similar memorization.  Classical methodologies are going to be memorizing more "facts", grammar rules and lists of the kings of France and what-not.  But BOTH methods allow that the grammar years are ripe for memorization with the goal for future connections.  

 

I agree CM has a stronger emphasis on character development.  You see this often in classical groups that are also strongly based in Christianity (such as Circe) and less often in classical groups that are secular.  Which makes sense.  Most of CM's emphasis on character development comes from her Christian background.  

 

 

Short lessons in CM is different than the longer lessons found in Classical..

 

I think THIS is the big difference.  They agree on short lessons in the very young child (say 6 and under?) but Classical tends to ramp up the time spent on each subject fairly rapidly and CM keeps the "20 minute lesson" until high school (form 6? I can never keep the forms straight).   But its not even the lesson time that's important, I think.  Its the idea of the "Generous Feast" of Charlotte Mason vs the "Much not Many" of Classical. You can do both, but at the same time, can you? I dont actually know.  I try to but I wonder if I'm achieving neither.  

 

Writing is handled differently, as classical uses the progymnasmata and I don't think it is used in a CM education (CM educators may use or adapt it, but it is not a CM thing)...

 

I heard a rumor that Karen Glass has a decent argument that CM did indeed use the progymnasmata.  We will have to wait and see in her book.  I think it was also hinted at in The Living Page.  

 

Grammar is handled differently as Classical uses Latin primarily to teach Grammar, and CM does not...

 

CM also taught Latin.  On her formidable List of Attainments for a 3rd grader she has "of Elementary Latin Grammar; should read fables and easy tales and say one or two books of Caesar."   I suppose you may mean that BOTH teach Latin but Classical does so primarily to teach grammar and CM did it just for the language itself.  That may be, though I hardly know how one learns Latin without improving ones grammar.  

 

I don't know enough about CM to point out all of the differences...I have to do more research for that...There are many similarities (depending on the method of Classical you use), but they are not the same...It seems as if what is viewed as important and how to make that happen differs...You can blend the two ideas, but if they were the same all along, then why are they just not the same...That last sentence probably makes no sense, but I can't think of another way to phrase it right now :tongue_smilie:  

 

ETA: I didn't even touch on Classical Conversations, which is also different than WTM, MP, or the other Classicals, but now some classicals seems to promote...I am not sure where LCC fall in all of this...

 

Im loving this thread :)  Cant wait to hear more.  In fact, I'm such a slow typer with a baby on my lap that I can already see 4 more replies while I've typed this!

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For what it seems to me (I am no expert), these things are different...When I speak of classical, I am talking about WTM and MP...Circe falls into a different category to me, because it is not really a curriculum (except for Lost Tools of Writing), and seems to promote different things than MP and WTM does...There are differences between WTM and MP, but both are considered classical in most places...

 

The goals of early childhood seem different to me...Classical has an emphasis on memorizing facts in order to be able to make connections with that knowledge later on...Narrations and questions are guided in a way that seems different than CM...Classical has the distinct stages of development, where CM does not...CM seems to have an emphasis on ideas and character formation more so than Classical...Narrations are handled differently...

 

Short lessons in CM is different than the longer lessons found in Classical..

 

Writing is handled differently, as classical uses the progymnasmata and I don't think it is used in a CM education (CM educators may use or adapt it, but it is not a CM thing)...

 

Grammar is handled differently as Classical uses Latin primarily to teach Grammar, and CM does not...

 

I don't know enough about CM to point out all of the differences...I have to do more research for that...There are many similarities (depending on the method of Classical you use), but they are not the same...It seems as if what is viewed as important and how to make that happen differs...You can blend the two ideas, but if they were the same all along, then why are they just not the same...That last sentence probably makes no sense, but I can't think of another way to phrase it right now :tongue_smilie:  

 

ETA: I didn't even touch on Classical Conversations, which is also different than WTM, MP, or the other Classicals, but now some classicals seems to promote...I am not sure where LCC fall in all of this...

Thank you for answering. 

 

I can see that there are differences. Thank you for pinning a bit of that down. But overall, this seems to be based more on feel than objective factors. The same way that I can pick up a book at the library and determine whether or not it is twaddle, or fine literature, or something in between, but can't necessarily voice what factors define each. It's just a sense of whether or not this feels right to me. I don;t think we can definitively say this or that does not meet the objective criteria if we have not defined what that objective criteria is. 

 

Out of curiosity, what would you call Circe? CM is a method and not a curriculum as well. I don't see the difference there. (Not in specifics, as I can read them both and see they are not identical, but in differentiating that CM is CM and CIrce is...something else?)

 

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Thank you for answering. 

 

I can see that there are differences. Thank you for pinning a bit of that down. But overall, this seems to be based more on feel than objective factors. The same way that I can pick up a book at the library and determine whether or not it is twaddle, or fine literature, or something in between, but can't necessarily voice what factors define each. It's just a sense of whether or not this feels right to me. I don;t think we can definitively say this or that does not meet the objective criteria if we have not defined what that objective criteria is. 

 

Out of curiosity, what would you call Circe? CM is a method and not a curriculum as well. I don't see the difference there. (Not in specifics, as I can read them both and see they are not identical, but in differentiating that CM is CM and CIrce is...something else?)

 

 

Circe is Classical Christian, or Christian Classical.

 

And you may not have seen my long reply to you and Atumn Oak above because i am such a slow typer, sorry :).  

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Sure, she's clear in her own context but how that plays out in a modern culture with advances in science and mathematics (esp math instruction), technology, information (and vocation) explosion, another 100 years of possible quality literature, homeschooling options (solo families, co-ops, schools (Red Mountain Community, e.g.,)), roles of men and women (and even more so, of persons from all/diverse social strata) in society (and therefore the end goals of the education) is where the rubber hits the road! You can't do CM her way because we are not in upper middle class Victorian England!

 

I dont know.  I think you can and you cant.  

 

You CAN "do it her way" as in read all the books she read ect.  I am part of a Facebook group that does just that and its interesting as heck to watch.

 

You can also "do it her way" as in IN THE SPIRIT of what she was doing.  Continuing her methodologies but with access to new information, literature, ect.  She said over and over again after all that it was a methodology, not a curriculum.  Of course you actually have to understand the methodology to do that.  Which is harder than understanding a booklist.  And its going to require guesswork at times.  But I dont think "her way" is tied to Victorian England.  The methodology still stands.  

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Following, because I don't know where I define us. I read Climbing Parnassus years ago and decided I would never be able to call myself a classical educator. I read Andreola and Levison and decided there was too much about CM that made me cringe (admittedly never desiring to read actual CM after their books). I guess it really isn't important, but I feel more secure having a label! I most identify with Sally Clarkson's Educating the Wholehearted Child, and felt like her ideas are to reach a child's heart, promoting living, whole books.

 

I have been enjoying Schole Sisters; I see them as encouragement but they have left me wondering about homeschool methodology. They all present very different ways that they homeschool, which all look different than mine. I guess maybe I don't think they are so much about how you homeschool (in terms of curricula or even a method) but why you homeschool. Reaching your kids' minds through their hearts. At least, that's how I perceive them.

 

I think Circe is a bit of a muddy term for me. Is it a method now, like Classical, CM? Is it just a source of inspiration?

ETA: Need to go back and read all these posts a little more carefully.

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I meant tho quote strawberry here and forgot to.....

 

The literature aspect is super easy to update. Just read newer books :-)

 

I agree than in mathematics and science we as a community of sorts just need to be mindful of the *information* we present for the children to learn. But the philosophy can be the same. Charlotte says to present the children with books written by people who love and live with the subject.

 

Someone on the forum.....sorry I can not remember who it is, I usually see it when I accidentally click over to the high school boards....is forever talking about giving the children trade books. Sobooks written BY chemists or physisists or whatever. Botanists. That is the ticket. Sure, science has come along way since cm's time, but its easy easy easy, once you have a grip on what she really said, to "do" science the same way. And it is effective, besides.

 

So.

 

For example, when my older was five he loved volcanoes. I mean he still does, but when he was fuve I had to do something about it :-) I did NOT get him a book for five year olds about volcanoes. I got him this book. And we read it over and over and over. I wish I could post a picture of it. It is falling apart now, from much love :-)

 

He took to this because he wanted to learn about volcanoes. He didn't want a cutesy story ABOUT volcanoes, he wanted info!

http://www.amazon.com/Volcanoes-Firefly-Guide-Mauro-Rosi/dp/1552976831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-1&keywords=volcanoes+firefly+guide

 

So even science is relatively easy.

 

Math she didn't really say as much about and really, you're free to free to what works. But indeed it could use some more in-depth discussion by cm'ers.

I did remember to quote you ;)

 

I agree with what you are saying here, and this is my basic plan. The basis of our curriculum is and always has been living books, along with hands on application. My oldest is only 11, so I don't know yet how this will play out in the later years (and I'm really trying not to freak out about it). 

 

But not everyone agrees with us that this is the way to go and CM herself could not address our worries about college entrance requirements and state regulations. (which is terrifying me, as I am rapidly approaching the time when I must begin meeting them for the first time in order to qualify Sagg for college eligibility and scholarships  :eek: )

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I didn't read all the posts, I will later when I have more time.

 

Classical Education was started by the Ancient Greeks or Babylonians, depending on how you count it.  So, don't expect anything that's been around for thousands of years and contributed to from all over the globe to be any one thing.  How could it possibly be?  Here's how I classify different forms of Classical Education and I did choose to put Charlotte Mason in the Living Books category because not all Living Books based education are Classical in content or technique but no one makes the argument against twaddle better than CM.   But, of course she is a type of Classical educator-not the exactly what Dorothy Sayers argued for, but it's still a form of Classical Education.

 

Don't waste time getting suckered into newbie, purist, rigid debates about what is Classical Education and what isn't.  It's as pointless as getting into a debate about which Christian denominations and doctrines are "real Christianity" and which aren't.  There are no absolute answers because no one owns the term and you don't get gold stars or merit badges from those who agree with you anyway. Just be familiar with different forms and their different distinctive characteristics  and incorporate those that fit your coals and your children best. If you want to know what CM had to say about it, read CM. If you like the Circe Institute's version where you pursue truth, beauty and goodness, go pursue truth, beauty and goodness. If the Trivium matters to you, then go build it layer by layer with Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. If you want to mix and match those things, then go do it.  It's all Classical in different ways. 

 

 

I can see what you are saying here, but I think this is a little different...I am not saying that CM or classical is more real, better, or worse, just different...Even with Christianity, the different denominations give others a clue as to what you believe...If I tell you that I am an Orthodox Christian, you may know what that is, not know, have opinions about it or don't, but you will know that I believe something different (at least on some level) than someone who says they are (fill in the blank)...But now if I told you that two different religions are now the same because of certain similarities, you may think to yourself, "But don't they feel differently about ____?"...All types of Christianity have something in common, but they are not the same...There are even similarities between some Christian and some non Christian religions...No judgments here, just facts...People believe different things...And educators believe different things...

 

As far as the situation with CM, I am not saying CM is better or worse than classical...I am just stating that they have been seen as different for many years, now suddenly they are seen as the same when neither one of them has changed...Either they have been the same all along or not...Judging by the methods I see advertised as classical, and the methods I see advertised as CM, they seem different...And that is okay...No one is more real than the other...One may work better for you than the other though, and it is the combining of the two in the public arena that can confuse people...Classical is confusing enough without adding something else (which is the easiest to define) into the mix...

 

I just think maybe people should stop calling things "classical" ...Just leave CM as CM instead of the CM version of classical...

 

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Grammar is handled differently as Classical uses Latin primarily to teach Grammar, and CM does not...

 

CM also taught Latin.  On her formidable List of Attainments for a 3rd grader she has "of Elementary Latin Grammar; should read fables and easy tales and say one or two books of Caesar."   I suppose you may mean that BOTH teach Latin but Classical does so primarily to teach grammar and CM did it just for the language itself.  That may be, though I hardly know how one learns Latin without improving ones grammar. 

 

Yes, I meant that while Latin is taught in both methods, Latin is the primary way to learn English grammar in classical (some classical educators feel explicit English grammar instruction is unnecessary if you learn Latin from a young age) while that is not the case in CM...English grammar is taught through lessons based on the living books you are reading, not taught through Latin...

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This topic has been covered ad nauseam in many threads.

 

The bottom line:

If you want to pursue a classical education for your children and you feel you can use Charlotte Mason or pieces of CM to achieve that goal, go for it. You don't need anyone's approval or buy in. Do what works for you.

 

If you want to pursue a classical education for your children and you don't feel that anything from Charlotte Mason will help you meet that goal, stop bashing others who do and move along to something that you feel will work for you.

 

If you are simply offended by someone's use of the word classical by a definition with which you disagree, I don't know that I can help you, but I will try. Classical is just a word that has no one true definition. It may mean something different to you than to someone else. For that matter, Charlotte Mason may mean something different to you than someone else. Let it go. Release it to the universe.

 

HTH-

Mandy

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Yeah I wish some more cm old timers would come of the woodwork with advice about college and stuff. (And not the victorian-replication people!!!) But a lot of rigor-minded people on the board are doing it, just not identifying it as a cm education imho.

 

That would be nice...I was really sad to see Ordo Amoris go...

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This topic has been covered ad nauseam in many threads.

 

The bottom line:

If you want to pursue a classical education for your children and you feel you can use Charlotte Mason or pieces of CM to achieve that goal, go for it. You don't need anyone's approval or buy in. Do what works for you.

 

If you want to pursue a classical education for your children and you don't feel that anything from Charlotte Mason will help you meet that goal, stop bashing others who do and move along to something that you feel will work for you.

 

If you are simply offended by someone's use of the word classical by a definition with which you disagree, I don't know that I can help you, but I will try. Classical is just a word that has no one true definition. It may mean something different to you than to someone else. For that matter, Charlotte Mason may mean something different to you than someone else. Let it go. Release it to the universe.

 

HTH-

Mandy

 

I am enjoying this thread because I wasn't apart of the threads that took place in the past I guess...I am not offended, don't want to let it go or release it, and I am enjoying the replies...

 

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Classical Education was started by the Ancient Greeks or Babylonians, depending on how you count it. So, don't expect anything that's been around for thousands of years and contributed to from all over the globe to be any one thing. How could it possibly be?

 

Don't waste time getting suckered into newbie, purist, rigid debates about what is Classical Education and what isn't. It's as pointless as getting into a debate about which Christian denominations and doctrines are "real Christianity" and which aren't. There are no absolute answers because no one owns the term and you don't get gold stars or merit badges from those who agree with you anyway. Just be familiar with different forms and their different distinctive characteristics. It's all Classical in different ways.

Reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote:

The divisions of Christendom are undeniable and are by some of these writers most fiercely expressed. But if any man is tempted to think—as one might be tempted who read only con- temporaries—that "Christianity" is a word of so many meanings that it means nothing at all, he can learn beyond all doubt, by stepping out of his own century, that this is not so. Measured against the ages "mere Christianity" turns out to be no insipid interdenominational transparency, but something positive, self-consistent, and inexhaustible. I know it, indeed, to my cost. In the days when I still hated Christianity, I learned to recognise, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dante....It was, of course, varied; and yet—after all—so unmistakably the same...We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity.

He goes on to say that the best way to see the unity is to read widely from all the various ages of Christian thought - after you've seen several different variations, the underlying similarities are clearer.

 

It seems to me that classical education is similar. I read a history of classical education in the Lutheran church, and it was eyeopening wrt all the various ways "classical" was done, how it was never this singular monolith, and seeing why the various educators picked the particular version of classical that they did. Yet for all the variations through the ages, there's still a core that distinguishes classical education from other approaches - there's much more similarities than not between all the different flavors of classical.

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Cool...I teach English grammar Rod and Staff style using Rod and Staff :laugh:

 

Me, too! LOL The point being that CM's grammar instruction is not in contrast to methods currently labeled classical. She also taught the skills through interaction with excellent English in living books, along with moving the children through formal grammar lessons in the upper grammar stage.

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