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Who's pulling the strings in Classical Christian Education? (CC content)

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I've been in the classical homeschool community for at least a decade.  Compared to some of you, that's nothing.  However, even in my time, I've seen so much change.  Part of that is likely because I'm growing, too, and thin veneers are easily seen.  But I'm now thinking it's something more.  There seems to be an overwhelming insistence that classical education become something less... humble and free?  (I'm talking deeper than pyramid schemes, here.)  

Based on the smattering of reading and listening I do, there seems to be growing "push" in a direction that's more rigid, wears knowledge as pride (as opposed to gift), and scoffing at parents has become sport.  What is up with this?  Is this some collective phenomenon, or is there more to it that I haven't put together (a broader influence)?     

I came to classical Christian education because it gave me a playground.  Many caves to explore!  And those became places our family explored together, finding treasures and marveling.  I'm still on that playground discovering, but there seem to be more "kids" on the playground throwing rocks, butting, and giving the appearance of a take-over.  I'm nonplussed.  However, I'm curious about the shift.  Thoughts?     

 

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I think what you are seeing is the byproduct of the new brand of homeschoolers who don't really delve into philosophy or methodology/pedagogy and accept superficial surface definitions as de fide and then stand on that wall as if they know what they know.  

Ironically, I have yet to see any "classical homeschool" approach actually be classical and many that "shout" classical the loudest are far removed from authentic classical pedagogy.  

Homeschooling can definitely have the ps mentality of "cliques" and the "in crowd."  It is one of the reasons that I rarely discuss homeschooling with other homeschoolers IRL.

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Maybe the issue is what is being called classical christian education. Just because a program calls itself that doesn't mean it's ANY of those things. So yes, if you don't like a program you're enrolled in, leave. Back in the old days, we just had WTM 1st edition and would wing it and make our lists and do things our own way. As more people came in, there was this need to follow, to have more and more curriculum guidance, programs, co-ops, diploma programs, on and on. To me they're just recreating various types of schools and either you want what that person is vending or you don't. I talk with newbies who are like oh it's blah blah (it's classical when it's not, it's christian when they have no clearly thought out christian philosophy of ed, etc.). Fine, whatever. I don't have time to argue. If someone likes the system they're in, the like that system. If you don't like the system you're in, move on. It's possible to do just fine WITHOUT all these systems and groups and whatnot people have developed. It just doesn't seem to be the trend right now. 

Do you think there's safety in numbers? If your gut tells you you're not going the right direction, does staying with that trend make you feel better? Some people really want that, and some people are like nope, gonna row my own boat.

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I think what you are seeing is the byproduct of the new brand of homeschoolers who don't really delve into philosophy or methodology/pedagogy and accept superficial surface definitions as de fide and then stand on that wall as if they know what they know.  

Ironically, I have yet to see any "classical homeschool" approach actually be classical and many that "shout" classical the loudest are far removed from authentic classical pedagogy.  

Homeschooling can definitely have the ps mentality of "cliques" and the "in crowd."  It is one of the reasons that I rarely discuss homeschooling with other homeschoolers IRL.

 

Goodness.  I wish someone would stand on a wall with a definition, even a wrong one.  Instead, I see people standing on a classical school/program, or on the people behind those schools/programs.  I do see the byproduct aspect, however -- the vacuum created by a plethora of method-less parents reacting to a local education system they're displeased with--cue the CCE saviors.

So, you think this is the herd driving the market and not the other-way-round?  I can see that, but I don't like what that means for me, or those like me who haven't yet found the joy of *this.*

I've stopped attempting to connect with others re education.  Most people aren't interested, but then you've got those rock throwers.       

 

 

  

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9 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Maybe the issue is what is being called classical christian education. Just because a program calls itself that doesn't mean it's ANY of those things. So yes, if you don't like a program you're enrolled in, leave. Back in the old days, we just had WTM 1st edition and would wing it and make our lists and do things our own way. As more people came in, there was this need to follow, to have more and more curriculum guidance, programs, co-ops, diploma programs, on and on. To me they're just recreating various types of schools and either you want what that person is vending or you don't. I talk with newbies who are like oh it's blah blah (it's classical when it's not, it's christian when they have no clearly thought out christian philosophy of ed, etc.). Fine, whatever. I don't have time to argue. If someone likes the system they're in, the like that system. If you don't like the system you're in, move on. It's possible to do just fine WITHOUT all these systems and groups and whatnot people have developed. It just doesn't seem to be the trend right now. 

Do you think there's safety in numbers? If your gut tells you you're not going the right direction, does staying with that trend make you feel better? Some people really want that, and some people are like nope, gonna row my own boat.

 

I'm not part of a group... other than my community and the homeschoolers I'm aquainted with locally (large homeschooling area).  The issues I'm referring to are coming out of articles, podcasts, etc in the broader CCE world.  The tone has changed significantly since my early days.      

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I am a homeschooling newbie...but I have a guess.  Maybe 10 or 20 years ago people who were homeschooling had deeper philosophies because the public schools weren't as bad.  So the people that went to homeschooling had more fleshed out reasons for homeschooling.  Maybe a lot more people today are homeschooling because of more simple reasons ("what?!  you can't teach my kid THAT!") or whatever other reasons and maybe don't have as much interest in the teaching philosophy part, or just haven't been motivated to dive in deeper.  I know it took me a couple of years to figure things out and learn more about my son's learning style.  There is also the fact that many of the classical curriculums are just so much better than a public school would offer that people follow the 80-20 rule and just don't feel the need to dive in deeper.   Another possible reason is because the economy has changed so much and there is such a big "STEM" focus.   I haven't quite experienced what you are referring to (I mean I would be unaware being a homeschooling mom newbie), but I just thought I'd throw in an observation.

Edited by nwahomeschoolmom
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I think there's a few issues. Classical education, or the idea of, tends to atract some people for the snob appeal. A picture of Jr playing chess at oxford speaking in Latin. There are also more B&M classical schools opening which brings in common core and other regulations they have to deal with. It's also partially, in my opinion, due to a general shift if how people obtain information. People don't have the attention spans to read long (maybe slightly boring) books about ancient ways of teaching so they rely on what Sally told them at Starbucks. There is a lack of identity for classical education and it become whatever sounds good or appeals to the masses. Also I think curriculum companies realize to truly teach classically would require skill and knowledge beyond what most homeschoolers have so we have this prepackaged do all of this and you too can be Socrates type of curriculum. I also think there's a lot of people who feel they need to prove they are somehow beating the public schools or doing something better. Maybe partially due to the criticism that homeschoolers get. JMO...

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9 hours ago, nwahomeschoolmom said:

I am a homeschooling newbie...but I have a guess.  Maybe 10 or 20 years ago people who were homeschooling had deeper philosophies because the public schools weren't as bad.  So the people that went to homeschooling had more fleshed out reasons for homeschooling.  Maybe a lot more people today are homeschooling because of more simple reasons ("what?!  you can't teach my kid THAT!") or whatever other reasons and maybe don't have as much interest in the teaching philosophy part, or just haven't been motivated to dive in deeper.  I know it took me a couple of years to figure things out and learn more about my son's learning style.  There is also the fact that many of the classical curriculums are just so much better than a public school would offer that people follow the 80-20 rule and just don't feel the need to dive in deeper.   Another possible reason is because the economy has changed so much and there is such a big "STEM" focus.   I haven't quite experienced what you are referring to (I mean I would be unaware being a homeschooling mom newbie), but I just thought I'd throw in an observation.

 

Well, I can tell you from personal experience that 10 years ago, my reasons for homeschooling were not well fleshed out!   My philosophy rested in loving God, my neighbor, and whole heartedly pursuing what was in front of me.  So, I read the books, because I'm the type to take responsibility a tad too seriously.  And, I love learning.  Somehow, that all begins to add up!  Add in the normal joys and blows of a life lived, and here I am, a seasoned schooler, taking a look around and realizing I have an opinion about what I see.  Not that my opinion matters!  It matters not one iota!  However, it does cause me to sit back and consider the state of things and my role in it.

I think you're right re the issues you've shared.  The landscape has shifted with regard to what homeschoolers need and want.  And, I suppose it's only natural that CCE would change as it struggles with how to accommodate it.  But what I see emerging from CCE today is a step taken away from something Christian (humility), toward something powerful that can "save the world."  This concerns me.  Not because I want to call anyone into account, but because it is so darn appealing to humans, including me... and so I grapple.  

And I would've never guessed you were a newbie. (I'd love to add a smiley, but it would be the size of Texas, so...)   

9 hours ago, Momto4inSoCal said:

I think there's a few issues. Classical education, or the idea of, tends to atract some people for the snob appeal. A picture of Jr playing chess at oxford speaking in Latin. There are also more B&M classical schools opening which brings in common core and other regulations they have to deal with. It's also partially, in my opinion, due to a general shift if how people obtain information. People don't have the attention spans to read long (maybe slightly boring) books about ancient ways of teaching so they rely on what Sally told them at Starbucks. There is a lack of identity for classical education and it become whatever sounds good or appeals to the masses. Also I think curriculum companies realize to truly teach classically would require skill and knowledge beyond what most homeschoolers have so we have this prepackaged do all of this and you too can be Socrates type of curriculum. I also think there's a lot of people who feel they need to prove they are somehow beating the public schools or doing something better. Maybe partially due to the criticism that homeschoolers get. JMO...

 

Thank you for the bolded, and for cracking me up.  My MIL's dream was for my DH to find his profession in a workplace where worn elbow patched blazers were the norm.  Instead, he's a programmer wearing comfy clothes, and at times he entertains an unhealthy skittle addiction.  LOL!  Oh the snob appeal!  It's real.  

I bolded the statement above because it helped me clarify the issue.  The market is now vast and diverse.  So whatever identity CCE began with, perhaps it is now struggling to hold onto under the weight of so many expectations.  Even my own expectation that things would remain as they were.  

Personally, my desire is that as my teen grows in his love of God, he grows in wonder for the things God has made.  And conversely, as he encounters the great things God has made, I pray that he grow in his love of God.  This is how my farmer grandparents did life and they modeled the most beautiful humility and generosity.  Learning requires this humility.  Teaching requires this humility and generosity of spirit.  

Sigh.  

Thanks for your response... I needed to work through my thoughts, and it was helpful!

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@Doodlebug I am assuming that you are the doodlebug who posted on my blog about the devolving of homeschooling. The sentence you bolded above, "There is a lack of identity for classical education," is a commercialized marketing phenomena. Terms technically have definitions and qualifications. Classical education has historically had a set criteria. There used to be a poster @Ester Maria who was very articulate about the qualities defining classical education. What has happened in today's commercialized homeschooling market is that marketable trigger words based on Dorothy Sayers's Lost Tools of Learning have redefined what classical education means.  It is a case of market morphing the educational philosophy  vs the philosophy defining materials. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were never stages in classical education. They were subjects and not taught based on age/stage.

In terms of being a newbie without a clear direction, I don't have statistics (I'm not sure any exist) of how people decide to homeschool, but I know for myself that 25 yrs ago I had no clue about homeschooling, no homeschooling philosophy, and just ended up homeschooling purely by accident. My philosophy developed over time bc I recognized the depth of responsibility I had unexpectedly accepted and that that meant taking ownership over our decision and how it was going to impact the futures of our children. Just going along with whatever other homeschoolers or homeschool market materials said or did is 100% counter to my view as to what this daily obligation means to my children's lives. If I took them out of a school system, I better darn well know what I am doing and why vs accepting another herd mentality.

For me, understanding pedagogy and methodology means understanding how children learn and master skills and develop critical thing skills over the long term. Knowing my educational philosophy allows me freedom in making curriculum my tool vs the tail wagging the dog and curriculum defining my educational goals. 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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2 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

@Doodlebug I am assuming that you are the doodlebug who posted on my blog about the devolving of homeschooling. The sentence you bolded above, "There is a lack of identity for classical education," is a commercialized marketing phenomena. Terms technically have definitions and qualifications. Classical education has historically had a set criteria. There used to be a poster @Ester Maria who was very articulate about the qualities defining classical education. What has happened in today's commercialized homeschooling market is that marketable trigger words based on Dorothy Sayers's Lost Tools of Learning have redefined what classical education means.  It is a case of market morphing the educational philosophy  vs the philosophy defining materials. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were never stages in classical education. They were subjects and not taught based on age/stage.

In terms of being a newbie without a clear direction, I don't have statistics (I'm not sure any exist) of how people decide to homeschool, but I know for myself that 25 yrs ago I had no clue about homeschooling, no homeschooling philosophy, and just ended up homeschooling purely by accident. My philosophy developed over time bc I recognized the depth of responsibility I had unexpectedly accepted and that that meant taking ownership over our decision and how it was going to impact the futures of our children. Just going along with whatever other homeschoolers or homeschool market materials said or did is 100% counter to my view as to what this daily obligation means to my children's lives. If I took them out of a school system, I better darn well know what I am doing and why vs accepting another herd mentality.

For me, understanding pedagogy and methodology means understanding how children learn and master skills and develop critical thing skills over the long term. Knowing my educational philosophy allows me freedom in making curriculum my tool vs the tail wagging the dog and curriculum defining my educational goals. 

 

Thank you for this, 8.  Yes, I am the one who posted on your blog!  This is a topic that is winding its way through my life right now... and as things do, it comes from new directions, and I'm surprised/disheartened all over again.  I hope it doesn't seem as though I'm beating a dead horse... I'm genuinely working through my own thoughts and reactions so that I can make wise life/school decisions.     

With regard to definitions... Sayers' essay, even that is a conundrum for me.  I read it as a new homeschooler and remember being struck by her message that students are no longer taught how to think.  That still resonates!  But, I revisited that essay recently and earnestly wonder how/why it launched so many classical ships.  It's hard to write that, because I'm not well read on all things Sayers, and feel as though I'm missing something vitally obvious.  But while I'm chewing on all of this, I might as well hang it out there.  I read that essay now and think: Tools are good.  But where we start matters.  Who we believe we are matters.  What we believe of children matters. 

I will search EsterMaria and read up on defining classical ed.  Thanks for sharing that!            

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Definitely NOT beating a dead horse. Thinking out loud and talking it through is how we ground our self in our philosophical understandings. Trust me! I have btdt. Ester Maria challenged my views. So did Tracy Simmons lectures and Climbing Parnassus.

Fwiw, I don't claim to be a classical homeschooler bc I am more of an eclectic person who takes what works and moves on from the rest. That said, I am well-read on the philosophical views and pedagogies of the multiple approaches that I have opted to morph into my own. I also know why I have chosen the path we have opted to take. That, to me, anyway, should be our goal--to know why we have chosen the method/materials/subjects/skills that we have and then to incorporate them into our lives thoroughly for the betterment of our children.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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7 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Definitely NOT beating a dead horse. Thinking out loud and talking it through is how we ground our self in our philosophical understandings. Trust me! I have btdt. Ester Maria challenged my views. So did Tracy Simmons lectures and Climbing Parnassus.

Fwiw, I don't claim to be a classical homeschooler bc I am more of an eclectic person who takes what works and moves on from the rest. That said, I am well-read on the philosophical views and pedagogies of the multiple approaches that I have opted to morph into my own. I also know why I have chosen the path we have opted to take. That, to me, anyway, should be our goal--to know why we have chosen the method/materials/subjects/skills that we have and then to incorporate them into our lives thoroughly for the betterment of our children.

Would you mind listing the books and resources you found most enlightening or entertaining?

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On 2/22/2019 at 10:50 PM, nwahomeschoolmom said:

I am a homeschooling newbie...but I have a guess.  Maybe 10 or 20 years ago people who were homeschooling had deeper philosophies because the public schools weren't as bad. 

I promise that *30* years ago when I started homeschooling, public schools were every bit as bad then as they are now. Even then, that was one of the major reasons that most people started hsing; for ourselves, we enrolled our dd in a private Christian school because we had no confidence in public schools, and withdrew her from the private school to homeschool.

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@Doodlebug Here are a few of EsterMaria's threads to get you started. My understanding of these topics still continues to grow. Some of these threads are from 8 yrs ago.

 

Not Ester, but gosh there used to be some thought-provoking posts (these came up in my search) 

 

@Sarah0000 Entertaining is not a word I would use to describe the things I have read. My views have come from a very wide range of sources. From the Jesuit side-- 4 Hallmarks of a Jesuit Education is probably the biggest. The Ratio gave me insight into what their classical schools looked like.

Lewis's Abolition of Man. Chpt 2 specifically of Dicken's Hard Times. 

Researching Bloom's taxonomy and Socratic dialogue.

CM's original texts.

My background is in education and psychology, so I am heavily influenced by my own educational background and the role of play and imagination in critical thinking skills development.

Gosh, Poetic Knowlegde, and so many others I can't really remember.

 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Thank you for the links, 8!!!

i spent yesterday afternoon going through a google search of Ester Maria’s posts, but I had to stop at page 4.  😊. Thank you for pulling those specific threads forward!  

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On 2/22/2019 at 11:44 AM, 8FillTheHeart said:

I think what you are seeing is the byproduct of the new brand of homeschoolers who don't really delve into philosophy or methodology/pedagogy and accept superficial surface definitions as de fide and then stand on that wall as if they know what they know.  

Ironically, I have yet to see any "classical homeschool" approach actually be classical and many that "shout" classical the loudest are far removed from authentic classical pedagogy.  

Homeschooling can definitely have the ps mentality of "cliques" and the "in crowd."  It is one of the reasons that I rarely discuss homeschooling with other homeschoolers IRL.

So much this. A recent question in a Facebook group I'm part of, was (paraphrased) "Can you just tell me real quick how to classically educate my children? I don't want to read a book. I just want someone to tell me how to do it." As someone recently delving into books and articles and podcasts and so on, I felt like the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning.

It seems to me, with my limited knowledge, that classical education is much more about WHY you do things, than WHAT you do, and if you don't want to bother learning why, then why is classical education even important to you? It's just a popular buzz word. People want to be able to say, "We're classical homeschoolers" without doing any of the work to understand what that means.

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5 minutes ago, Mimm said:

So much this. A recent question in a Facebook group I'm part of, was (paraphrased) "Can you just tell me real quick how to classically educate my children? I don't want to read a book. I just want someone to tell me how to do it." As someone recently delving into books and articles and podcasts and so on, I felt like the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning.

It seems to me, with my limited knowledge, that classical education is much more about WHY you do things, than WHAT you do, and if you don't want to bother learning why, then why is classical education even important to you? It's just a popular buzz word. People want to be able to say, "We're classical homeschoolers" without doing any of the work to understand what that means.

You might find reading about the origins of classical education vs neoclassical education gives a different perspective. Classical education was historically very much about what subjects were studied. The fundamental (elementary, but not our definition of elementary school ages) subjects originally studied were trivium--grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Students then advanced to the quadrivium--arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Those subjects were studied in Latin and Greek. Philosophy, the essence of how to think and reason, was the core of the methodology behind a liberal arts education.

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48 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

You might find reading about the origins of classical education vs neoclassical education gives a different perspective. Classical education was historically very much about what subjects were studied. The fundamental (elementary, but not our definition of elementary school ages) subjects originally studied were trivium--grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Students then advanced to the quadrivium--arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Those subjects were studied in Latin and Greek. Philosophy, the essence of how to think and reason, was the core of the methodology behind a liberal arts education.

I do understand that, of course. :) I'm knees deep in Charlotte Mason right now and can't imagine just trying to do a CM education or a classical education without knowing the WHY behind it all. :) I'm not trying to imply that the WHAT is irrelevant, but that it won't be successful without an understanding of the philosophy behind it. But hey, maybe I'm wrong about that too. :) It wouldn't be the first time.

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A quick and dirty explanation of classical education as well as other approaches can be very  helpful to narrow down which approaches you even want to research more. And in the beginning years especially there is no harm in jumping right in with subjects. 

I did a lot of reading and research on educational philosophy but I never followed an educational guru. I knew why certain approaches (a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason) were educationally sound ( obviously in my opinion). But I am teaching children who have never wanted to follow a manual. I used the big picture of what I wanted to instill academically and why but taught the children I had. For my son, that meant a pretty detailed classical education. For my daughter (who struggled with that approach) we have worked on trying to get a similar educational outcome in a much less structured way. I don’t really know what you would call my approach with her- Classical Lite?  Hands on Classical?  I still call it classical because we still followed the trivium though this child abandoned Latin halfway and went with Japanese. So purists might reject my Classical label.

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The entire subject of “what is classical education” aside, and looking at the bolded...

On 2/22/2019 at 9:58 AM, Doodlebug said:

I've been in the classical homeschool community for at least a decade.  Compared to some of you, that's nothing.  However, even in my time, I've seen so much change.  Part of that is likely because I'm growing, too, and thin veneers are easily seen.  But I'm now thinking it's something more.  There seems to be an overwhelming insistence that classical education become something less... humble and free?  (I'm talking deeper than pyramid schemes, here.)  

Based on the smattering of reading and listening I do, there seems to be growing "push" in a direction that's more rigid, wears knowledge as pride (as opposed to gift), and scoffing at parents has become sport.  What is up with this?  Is this some collective phenomenon, or is there more to it that I haven't put together (a broader influence)?     

I came to classical Christian education because it gave me a playground.  Many caves to explore!  And those became places our family explored together, finding treasures and marveling.  I'm still on that playground discovering, but there seem to be more "kids" on the playground throwing rocks, butting, and giving the appearance of a take-over.  I'm nonplussed.  However, I'm curious about the shift.  Thoughts?     

 

...it sounds like so many other areas of contemporary culture. Where else do we see people banding in packs to lob “rocks,” and especially at something established?

I have fortunately not seen what you describe in your OP, but then again I have only a handful of IRL homeschoolers with whom I associate, none of whom are attempting classical pedagogy.  And for that matter I find myself (and my community) deficient in so many ways I believe necessary to providing a truly classical education I doubt I’d be anyone’s rock-throwing target.

Edited by Targhee
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2 hours ago, Mimm said:

So much this. A recent question in a Facebook group I'm part of, was (paraphrased) "Can you just tell me real quick how to classically educate my children? I don't want to read a book. I just want someone to tell me how to do it." As someone recently delving into books and articles and podcasts and so on, I felt like the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning.

It seems to me, with my limited knowledge, that classical education is much more about WHY you do things, than WHAT you do, and if you don't want to bother learning why, then why is classical education even important to you? It's just a popular buzz word. People want to be able to say, "We're classical homeschoolers" without doing any of the work to understand what that means.

 

I agree that if something is worth doing, especially something as important as a child's education, it's worth investing time to understand it.  And yet here I am on this Monday morning hoping I find a what-to-do list for exercise/diet to care for my middle-aged fluffy body.  Someone just tell me what to do! 

Confession: I just "did" Latin.  I had no idea it would carry with it the culture and history of early western civilization--nor did I have an appreciation for why that might be important.  I'd read of such things (Climbing Parnassus) with my first/second grader singing his little ending chants, but understanding the "why" wasn't enough for me to keep it going as a homeschooling parent.  We dropped it for a few years.  Time spent doing, observing, and reflecting has allowed me to more fully apprehend the philosophies I read back then.  And we're doing Latin now, knowing more of what it offers, but it certainly didn't happen in the purely linear way I'd anticipated!  

With regard to "I felt the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning." 

I don't mean to pull more from that statement than I believe you intended, but it presents an opportunity I'll take--thank you for being open with it.  I believe this is how some in CCE justify scoffing at parents openly.  As a private instructor beyond my homeschool teacher status, I've battled with it, too.  But I've come to this... I am insulted by a parent's questions (the good intentioned or the bad) when my specific area of knowledge is no longer the gift for which I'm thankful, but my power.  I'm so thankful for those in CCE who display generosity over and over again, answering the same questions, and delighting in them. 

I see a lot of responses have gone up since I began this.  Apologies if there have been clarifications.  I'm a slow thinker.  Smiley  

Edited by Doodlebug
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3 hours ago, Mimm said:

So much this. A recent question in a Facebook group I'm part of, was (paraphrased) "Can you just tell me real quick how to classically educate my children? I don't want to read a book. I just want someone to tell me how to do it." As someone recently delving into books and articles and podcasts and so on, I felt like the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning.

It seems to me, with my limited knowledge, that classical education is much more about WHY you do things, than WHAT you do, and if you don't want to bother learning why, then why is classical education even important to you? It's just a popular buzz word. People want to be able to say, "We're classical homeschoolers" without doing any of the work to understand what that means.

 

I've found a similar phenomena with people interested in CM education in more recent years.  

I think, after having reflected on it, that part of their issue is that they are further removed down the path of being locked in their own moment in time than the previous generation of homeschoolers were.

If I think about it, my public school education was ok.  There wasn't a really robust epistemology or theory of the person or education behind it, but it did have some dim memory of a tradition.  And my teachers, for the most part, had been educated in a system that was somewhat more robust, and they were able to bring their personal knowledge to the class.  I was lucky to have a university education that filled some of the important gaps, as well.

When I talk to parents now, who are generally younger than me, about classical or CM education, my impression is that their own education was even more empty, both at public school and even at university. The sense is a classical education is a bunch of things you do.  Not only do they not understand the philosophy behind it, the tradition, they don't really know what a philosophical tradition is, or what a history of philosophy is, or what a metaphysical worldview is - I mean in an intuitive sense, not necessarily using that same language.

I think a lot of the younger people, millennials and younger gen X maybe, are locked in the present a bit, because their own educations were so inadequate.  They aren't stupid, and they may know a lot about certain things, but that particular area of a sense of existence in time hasn't had a chance to develop.

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1 hour ago, Doodlebug said:

 

I agree that if something is worth doing, especially something as important as a child's education, it's worth investing time to understand it.  And yet here I am on this Monday morning hoping I find a what-to-do list for exercise/diet to care for my middle-aged fluffy body.  Someone just tell me what to do! 

Confession: I just "did" Latin.  I had no idea it would carry with it the culture and history of early western civilization--nor did I have an appreciation for why that might be important.  I'd read of such things (Climbing Parnassus) with my first/second grader singing his little ending chants, but understanding the "why" wasn't enough for me to keep it going as a homeschooling parent.  We dropped it for a few years.  Time spent doing, observing, and reflecting has allowed me to more fully apprehend the philosophies I read back then.  And we're doing Latin now, knowing more of what it offers, but it certainly didn't happen in the purely linear way I'd anticipated!   

With regard to "I felt the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning." 

I don't mean to pull more from that statement than I believe you intended, but it presents an opportunity I'll take--thank you for being open with it.  I believe this is how some in CCE justify scoffing at parents openly.  As a private instructor beyond my homeschool teacher status, I've battled with it, too.  But I've come to this... I am insulted by a parent's questions (the good intentioned or the bad) when my specific area of knowledge is no longer the gift for which I'm thankful, but my power.  I'm so thankful for those in CCE who display generosity over and over again, answering the same questions, and delighting in them.  

I see a lot of responses have gone up since I began this.  Apologies if there have been clarifications.  I'm a slow thinker.  Smiley   

Perhaps I'm being unjust to this particular mom. And perhaps it was just the way it was worded, which made it clear she had no desire to spend very much effort understanding anything, but was looking for a "recipe." A little this, a little that, bake for several years, and you have created one classically educated child. 🙂

I definitely relate to wanting to know the practical applications of all the high minded theory that gets thrown around. 🙂

I will say that I have tons of grace for parents doing their very imperfect best they can manage at that time. I am very much that parent. Trying, failing, trying some more, never living up to my own ideals. (Including my ideal of extending grace to parents feeling overwhelmed by the task of homeschooling.) 🙂

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7 hours ago, Mimm said:

So much this. A recent question in a Facebook group I'm part of, was (paraphrased) "Can you just tell me real quick how to classically educate my children? I don't want to read a book. I just want someone to tell me how to do it." As someone recently delving into books and articles and podcasts and so on, I felt like the question was kind of insulting to people who are spending hours teaching, mentoring, and reading, and learning.

It seems to me, with my limited knowledge, that classical education is much more about WHY you do things, than WHAT you do, and if you don't want to bother learning why, then why is classical education even important to you? It's just a popular buzz word. People want to be able to say, "We're classical homeschoolers" without doing any of the work to understand what that means.

I saw that post!  Definitely made me blink!  Um I have no idea how you plan to educate your kids if you don’t want to read at all?!

i think on more consideration that the writer was overwhelmed and just needed a starting point.

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3 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

I've found a similar phenomena with people interested in CM education in more recent years.  

I think, after having reflected on it, that part of their issue is that they are further removed down the path of being locked in their own moment in time than the previous generation of homeschoolers were.

If I think about it, my public school education was ok.  There wasn't a really robust epistemology or theory of the person or education behind it, but it did have some dim memory of a tradition.  And my teachers, for the most part, had been educated in a system that was somewhat more robust, and they were able to bring their personal knowledge to the class.  I was lucky to have a university education that filled some of the important gaps, as well.

When I talk to parents now, who are generally younger than me, about classical or CM education, my impression is that their own education was even more empty, both at public school and even at university. The sense is a classical education is a bunch of things you do.  Not only do they not understand the philosophy behind it, the tradition, they don't really know what a philosophical tradition is, or what a history of philosophy is, or what a metaphysical worldview is - I mean in an intuitive sense, not necessarily using that same language.

I think a lot of the younger people, millennials and younger gen X maybe, are locked in the present a bit, because their own educations were so inadequate.  They aren't stupid, and they may know a lot about certain things, but that particular area of a sense of existence in time hasn't had a chance to develop.

 

I so enjoyed reading this: "There wasn't a really robust epistemology or theory of the person or education behind it, but it did have some dim memory of a tradition."  Beautifully said!

@Mimm I think Bluegoat is making a great point that aligns with your observation.  There is a de facto philosophy at play in one who only inquires about the ingredients and steps involved in an education and is overly concerned with implementation of the system.  I don't have many friends with children who would tolerate that, thankfully.  LOL!  

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4 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

I've found a similar phenomena with people interested in CM education in more recent years.  

I think, after having reflected on it, that part of their issue is that they are further removed down the path of being locked in their own moment in time than the previous generation of homeschoolers were.

If I think about it, my public school education was ok.  There wasn't a really robust epistemology or theory of the person or education behind it, but it did have some dim memory of a tradition.  And my teachers, for the most part, had been educated in a system that was somewhat more robust, and they were able to bring their personal knowledge to the class.  I was lucky to have a university education that filled some of the important gaps, as well.

When I talk to parents now, who are generally younger than me, about classical or CM education, my impression is that their own education was even more empty, both at public school and even at university. The sense is a classical education is a bunch of things you do.  Not only do they not understand the philosophy behind it, the tradition, they don't really know what a philosophical tradition is, or what a history of philosophy is, or what a metaphysical worldview is - I mean in an intuitive sense, not necessarily using that same language.

I think a lot of the younger people, millennials and younger gen X maybe, are locked in the present a bit, because their own educations were so inadequate.  They aren't stupid, and they may know a lot about certain things, but that particular area of a sense of existence in time hasn't had a chance to develop.

This is so true for me!  History wasn’t even taught in school till I hit year10.  I was lucky to have a few years homeschooling and a really good English teacher for high school but otherwise it was a very meh education. 

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I will say for me I came to classical education backwards.  I always wanted to homeschool because I knew about that but I’d never even heard of classical education or Charlotte mason or any of it.   I came to this forum thanks to a search for homeschooling math curriculum.  At that stage I was doing Sonlight but the forum made me switch out their first math option to Singapore.  I read and learned a bit here from discussions and links, eventually had to ditch Sonlight due to costs and bought the well trained mind.  Somewhere along the way I came across Charlotte Mason and read all her volumes and works.  I think  while I’ve implemented bits from all the methods I don’t have a really solid philosophy on any of them.  Thing is for me homeschooling was always the important thing.  

Part of what the op may be seeing is that classical education is becoming more of a thing in itself separate from homeschooling as a philosophy.  Now it’s a thing where there is a classical education movement and a homeschooling option and we just happen to be at the intersection.  Many of the voices of the classical education community don’t come from the perspective of home is best and are pretty happy to ditch the model of mum as teacher for a better classical education. 

I don’t personally think it’s necessarily wrong to want a formula to apply to begin with.  If you had time to read and delve into philosophy before homeschooling your kids that’s great.  But for some parents homeschooling has been kind of forced on them.   They might have heard that classical education is good but they can’t delay educating their kids six months to figure out what it is.  They need to jump in and start something even if that means refining the philosophy on the go.  Also as an aside often the philosophy makes so much more sense or needs to be ditched completely in the real nitty gritty of day to day education of a real child especially if there’s learning challenges.  

Heck teachers get a lot of educational theory at school but I think to some degree primary students do better with a teacher who actually know grammar and spelling and how to do math than one who knows all about educational theory but fails basic spelling or something.

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28 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I will say for me I came to classical education backwards.  I always wanted to homeschool because I knew about that but I’d never even heard of classical education or Charlotte mason or any of it.   I came to this forum thanks to a search for homeschooling math curriculum.  At that stage I was doing Sonlight but the forum made me switch out their first math option to Singapore.  I read and learned a bit here from discussions and links, eventually had to ditch Sonlight due to costs and bought the well trained mind.  Somewhere along the way I came across Charlotte Mason and read all her volumes and works.  I think  while I’ve implemented bits from all the methods I don’t have a really solid philosophy on any of them.  Thing is for me homeschooling was always the important thing.  

Part of what the op may be seeing is that classical education is becoming more of a thing in itself separate from homeschooling as a philosophy.  Now it’s a thing where there is a classical education movement and a homeschooling option and we just happen to be at the intersection.  Many of the voices of the classical education community don’t come from the perspective of home is best and are pretty happy to ditch the model of mum as teacher for a better classical education. 

I don’t personally think it’s necessarily wrong to want a formula to apply to begin with.  If you had time to read and delve into philosophy before homeschooling your kids that’s great.  But for some parents homeschooling has been kind of forced on them.   They might have heard that classical education is good but they can’t delay educating their kids six months to figure out what it is.  They need to jump in and start something even if that means refining the philosophy on the go.  Also as an aside often the philosophy makes so much more sense or needs to be ditched completely in the real nitty gritty of day to day education of a real child especially if there’s learning challenges.  

Heck teachers get a lot of educational theory at school but I think to some degree primary students do better with a teacher who actually know grammar and spelling and how to do math than one who knows all about educational theory but fails basic spelling or something.

Perhaps to begin with, but even then a formula puts the practices above the aims. How can you follow a recipe to make bread if you have never seen or tasted bread yourself? You would certainly want to study to find out what bread is like, no? 

The bigger issue for me with neoclassical and formulaic approaches to classical education is that for a truly classical education you need a community/environment which supports/points towards classical education.  I lament all the “almost” classical education things and people I see because I so wish they were actually classical and part of my community so I could better provide for my children that ineffable goal of a real, classical education. 😞

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1 hour ago, Targhee said:

Perhaps to begin with, but even then a formula puts the practices above the aims. How can you follow a recipe to make bread if you have never seen or tasted bread yourself? You would certainly want to study to find out what bread is like, no? 

The bigger issue for me with neoclassical and formulaic approaches to classical education is that for a truly classical education you need a community/environment which supports/points towards classical education.  I lament all the “almost” classical education things and people I see because I so wish they were actually classical and part of my community so I could better provide for my children that ineffable goal of a real, classical education. 😞

Absolutely.  I just think when you suddenly find yourself homeschooling with five kids it’s fine to look for something to get you started while you read and learn.  I mean you can’t just take six months off educating your kids while you learn educational philosophy.

for what it’s worth I think some of this comes down to being a whole to parts versus parts to whole learner.   Using your bread analogy I actually do frequently the recipes for things I’ve never eaten before.  Sometimes we love them as is sometimes we modify them.  Often when I finally eat the thing somewhere else (creme caramel or Thai curry) what I created was very similar and yummy - other times I’ve ended up with a different result but something that still tastes good.  This works as an analogy for education too I think.  We’re never truly going to create a Montessori school or a Charlotte mason school or a classical school on our home.  What we can do is take the elements that work and create something beautiful all of our own.

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45 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Absolutely.  I just think when you suddenly find yourself homeschooling with five kids it’s fine to look for something to get you started while you read and learn.  I mean you can’t just take six months off educating your kids while you learn educational philosophy.

for what it’s worth I think some of this comes down to being a whole to parts versus parts to whole learner.   Using your bread analogy I actually do frequently the recipes for things I’ve never eaten before.  Sometimes we love them as is sometimes we modify them.  Often when I finally eat the thing somewhere else (creme caramel or Thai curry) what I created was very similar and yummy - other times I’ve ended up with a different result but something that still tastes good.  This works as an analogy for education too I think.  We’re never truly going to create a Montessori school or a Charlotte mason school or a classical school on our home.  What we can do is take the elements that work and create something beautiful all of our own.

True, you can’t wait and need to get going.  That’s why I tell parents when just starting to do the three Rs: read to their kids, read themselves, and set up routine.  Later, when you have a routine set and know what you want to do you can do it in earnest. I would  rather start off with making toast and call it toast than call it baking bread. I guess I’m an idealist, and words and meanings matter to me. 

I have to laugh - the quoted emojis come across on my tablet about 3” in diameter - that was a major frowny face!

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1 hour ago, Targhee said:

True, you can’t wait and need to get going.  That’s why I tell parents when just starting to do the three Rs: read to their kids, read themselves, and set up routine.  Later, when you have a routine set and know what you want to do you can do it in earnest. I would  rather start off with making toast and call it toast than call it baking bread. I guess I’m an idealist, and words and meanings matter to me. 

I have to laugh - the quoted emojis come across on my tablet about 3” in diameter - that was a major frowny face!

Lol the emojis are certainly livening up the forum...

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1 hour ago, Targhee said:

True, you can’t wait and need to get going.  That’s why I tell parents when just starting to do the three Rs: read to their kids, read themselves, and set up routine.  Later, when you have a routine set and know what you want to do you can do it in earnest. I would  rather start off with making toast and call it toast than call it baking bread. I guess I’m an idealist, and words and meanings matter to me. 

I have to laugh - the quoted emojis come across on my tablet about 3” in diameter - that was a major frowny face!

If you don’t have toast to start with but you have flour and yeast you’ve gotta give it a go.

you don’t learn if you don’t try.

I mean if you didn’t get a classical education and you don’t know exactly what one looks likes you read and research and do your best don’t you?  Maybe the analogy is translating differently to me.

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I do think there is something to be said for diving in.  Sometimes you start to see the point of certain ideas, or start to wonder what the point is, when you try them out.  Then you can make a lot more sense of the ideas when you come across them.

I mean, I think this is why so many people find their philosophy, not to mention their practise, develops over the years.  I started as a classical homeschooler, mostly because it seemed to bear some relation to what I considered to be the classical tradition - as I read more I kind of floundered about within that a bit, and I ended up a pretty committed CM homeschooler.  But that took a number of years.  I doubt I'd have got there had I not just started.

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10 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

I do think there is something to be said for diving in.  Sometimes you start to see the point of certain ideas, or start to wonder what the point is, when you try them out.  Then you can make a lot more sense of the ideas when you come across them.

I mean, I think this is why so many people find their philosophy, not to mention their practise, develops over the years.  I started as a classical homeschooler, mostly because it seemed to bear some relation to what I considered to be the classical tradition - as I read more I kind of floundered about within that a bit, and I ended up a pretty committed CM homeschooler.  But that took a number of years.  I doubt I'd have got there had I not just started.

Yes, dive in! Just don’t claim you have “the” version of classical homeschooling, or that it’s even classical homeschooling when it isn’t.  Just say you’re homeschooling with a classical bent/flavor/angle/etc or you’re exploring.  The OP was all about people claiming “classical Christian education” and disparaging others who do it differently. Then there were comments about recipe version of classical, which I’m not saying isn’t ok but probably isn’t classical? 

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4 minutes ago, Targhee said:

Yes, dive in! Just don’t claim you have “the” version of classical homeschooling, or that it’s even classical homeschooling when it isn’t.  Just say you’re homeschooling with a classical bent/flavor/angle/etc or you’re exploring.  The OP was all about people claiming “classical Christian education” and disparaging others who do it differently. Then there were comments about recipe version of classical, which I’m not saying isn’t ok but probably isn’t classical? 

Oh my! Yrs ago I was informed that I was not a Catholic homeschooler bc I didn't use Seton. The more recent discussions are around how CC offers our children the best option for a classical education. 

Finding your homeschool legs takes time. No one jumps into this and has it figured out from the get go unless they started at the birth of their first child and they live in Perfectville. 

But, learning about methodology & philosophy, over the yrs I have learned that is not how the majority of families I know approach homeschooling. Most buy a box, open, and go right through the lesson plans crossing the t's and dotting the i's. Or they enroll their kids in this class or that one.  

 

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While I do think that there are things that are classical distinctives, I don’t think that classical education is so narrow that there can’t be variations within a theme. I am personally drawn to some writers (like Dorothy Sayers) and not others ( the Climbing Parnassus guy). I have to admit that I can’t name newer names because I am at the end of my homeschooling journey and don’t feel like I have to read more to know what I am doing and why. But I would assume that there is room for more than one modern voice?  But I can’t state that from a place of actually knowing who those voices are. 

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8 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

While I do think that there are things that are classical distinctives, I don’t think that classical education is so narrow that there can’t be variations within a theme. I am personally drawn to some writers (like Dorothy Sayers) and not others ( the Climbing Parnassus guy). I have to admit that I can’t name newer names because I am at the end of my homeschooling journey and don’t feel like I have to read more to know what I am doing and why. But I would assume that there is room for more than one modern voice?  But I can’t state that from a place of actually knowing who those voices are. 

 

Yes, I think this is a real issue, it is simply not possible to box in the term "classical".  When I was first interested in classical homeschooling, I thought of it more as being "in the classical tradition" which appealed to me as I was a classics major, and I saw real value in being educated in a way conscious of your own intellectual history, rather than taking it for granted.

But a lot of what gets called classical education doesn't see it that way, and not just box-checking people.  The approach based on the sayers essay falls within it, I think, but it doesn't define it.  The Latin centred approach similarly falls within it, but for me isn't the absolute heart of it (though, I might say that language in some way is at the centre.)  I think groups like CC actually don't fall within it, but some of the methods that do talk a lot about "rigour" probably are even though I don't necessarily think they are good. CM is in the classical tradition but doesn't always use every method that has been used by others. 

But anyway - it's a wide enough that it isn't something you will necessarily like every valid example of.

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20 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

I've found a similar phenomena with people interested in CM education in more recent years.  

I think, after having reflected on it, that part of their issue is that they are further removed down the path of being locked in their own moment in time than the previous generation of homeschoolers were.

If I think about it, my public school education was ok.  There wasn't a really robust epistemology or theory of the person or education behind it, but it did have some dim memory of a tradition.  And my teachers, for the most part, had been educated in a system that was somewhat more robust, and they were able to bring their personal knowledge to the class.  I was lucky to have a university education that filled some of the important gaps, as well.

When I talk to parents now, who are generally younger than me, about classical or CM education, my impression is that their own education was even more empty, both at public school and even at university. The sense is a classical education is a bunch of things you do.  Not only do they not understand the philosophy behind it, the tradition, they don't really know what a philosophical tradition is, or what a history of philosophy is, or what a metaphysical worldview is - I mean in an intuitive sense, not necessarily using that same language.

I think a lot of the younger people, millennials and younger gen X maybe, are locked in the present a bit, because their own educations were so inadequate.  They aren't stupid, and they may know a lot about certain things, but that particular area of a sense of existence in time hasn't had a chance to develop.

It's hard to get people to think about how education should be different when there isn't an agreement on what education is for. I feel like public school tends to treat children like buckets to be filled up and most of the discourse is about what belongs in the bucket, or the most efficient filling methods, or at what age to begin filling, or if Finland or Japan or whoever are better at filling their buckets. And you're trying to tell people that children are more than buckets and they might not know how to have that conversation.

(I have two teens in public school and I'm not thrilled about it.) 🙂

And many (most?) homeschoolers are coming from a public school setting and, in my experience, have not broken away from that understanding of what education IS. So when they hear about classical education, or CM education, they think they have stumbled on a better bucket filling method and want that explained to them. 🙂

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57 minutes ago, Mimm said:

It's hard to get people to think about how education should be different when there isn't an agreement on what education is for. I feel like public school tends to treat children like buckets to be filled up and most of the discourse is about what belongs in the bucket, or the most efficient filling methods, or at what age to begin filling, or if Finland or Japan or whoever are better at filling their buckets. And you're trying to tell people that children are more than buckets and they might not know how to have that conversation.

(I have two teens in public school and I'm not thrilled about it.) 🙂

And many (most?) homeschoolers are coming from a public school setting and, in my experience, have not broken away from that understanding of what education IS. So when they hear about classical education, or CM education, they think they have stumbled on a better bucket filling method and want that explained to them. 🙂

 

Yes, I think this is absolutely the problem with most public education.

I think the problem may stem from the drive for what people think of as "secular" education.  REligious education specifically of course, but really any education that presupposes a real, defined, worldview.  The idea with this is that it should be an education that allows for the beliefs and values of all citizens to co-exist, but IMO, it doesn't really work very well in practice.  

You simply can't have a good educational system without really think about what education is, what it is for, what it means to know, what the nature of the human person is.  Most people, including people in education, have kind of a lowest common factor approach - which is often what gets you a job or into university, and then an overlay of whatever is politically popular.  

It actually reminds me of some of P.D. James novels, where one police-woman who grew up in public housing talks about her education London, where she says the only real "religion" they learned was anti-racism.  Which she thinks has some merit and is in many ways satisfied with - but you always get the sense that she feels there should be something more behind it.  It was a utilitarian decision by those designing the system, about keeping people manageable.

But as far as general public education, there is not much that holds it all together, and it often comes out as a heap of disparate elements.  It cannot know itself, the student can't know the presuppositions behind it, because they are not conscious, and if you can't know your presuppositions, I think that means you aren't really educated.  Maybe, you are even anti-educated.  It also makes an easy opportunity for influential people with an agenda to insert it into the teaching, be they individual teachers or corporate interests or political interests, without real questioning about how it all fits in.

I had an odd conversation with a teacher fiend of mine - someone who I know was able to benefit from a pretty good education herself and who has a masters in education.  I was talking a bit about Charlotte Mason, and she said "Oh, we (she and her husband) like to use the best educational methods based on research, because that is scientific."  I found that such an odd thing to say, especially as her dh is in fact a scientist - because how do you measure what "best" is, even scientifically, if you do not know what it means to be best?  Is it best performance of standardised tests?  Or how many orders of things you care about?  Or something else?

I agree - I think that is what is behind a lot of the newest homeschoolers - they haven't realised that there is any philosophy of education - they think it is the same kind of thing that the schools are doing, just an argument about the best way to produce some sort of vague, undefined, and utilitarian product.

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I think that goes back to education as a science vs an art. We've tried to create an exact science to teaching and educating making ways that everyone can learn from a teacher that isn't necessarily a master at the subject they are teaching. Streaming the education process as if children were the next t model car. 

Going back to what Mimm said about buckets. That's the issue I've had with ED Hirshs core knowledge series. The idea that there are specific facts in any subject that we can pin down a child will need as an adult is silly. We will never teach everything, they will lose much of what we do teach. I think this also stems from the scientific approach to education. What probability is it that the child will need xyz as an adult. 

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14 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

Yes, I think this is absolutely the problem with most public education.

I think the problem may stem from the drive for what people think of as "secular" education.  REligious education specifically of course, but really any education that presupposes a real, defined, worldview.  The idea with this is that it should be an education that allows for the beliefs and values of all citizens to co-exist, but IMO, it doesn't really work very well in practice.  

You simply can't have a good educational system without really think about what education is, what it is for, what it means to know, what the nature of the human person is.  Most people, including people in education, have kind of a lowest common factor approach - which is often what gets you a job or into university, and then an overlay of whatever is politically popular.  

It actually reminds me of some of P.D. James novels, where one police-woman who grew up in public housing talks about her education London, where she says the only real "religion" they learned was anti-racism.  Which she thinks has some merit and is in many ways satisfied with - but you always get the sense that she feels there should be something more behind it.  It was a utilitarian decision by those designing the system, about keeping people manageable.

But as far as general public education, there is not much that holds it all together, and it often comes out as a heap of disparate elements.  It cannot know itself, the student can't know the presuppositions behind it, because they are not conscious, and if you can't know your presuppositions, I think that means you aren't really educated.  Maybe, you are even anti-educated.  It also makes an easy opportunity for influential people with an agenda to insert it into the teaching, be they individual teachers or corporate interests or political interests, without real questioning about how it all fits in.

I had an odd conversation with a teacher fiend of mine - someone who I know was able to benefit from a pretty good education herself and who has a masters in education.  I was talking a bit about Charlotte Mason, and she said "Oh, we (she and her husband) like to use the best educational methods based on research, because that is scientific."  I found that such an odd thing to say, especially as her dh is in fact a scientist - because how do you measure what "best" is, even scientifically, if you do not know what it means to be best?  Is it best performance of standardised tests?  Or how many orders of things you care about?  Or something else?

I agree - I think that is what is behind a lot of the newest homeschoolers - they haven't realised that there is any philosophy of education - they think it is the same kind of thing that the schools are doing, just an argument about the best way to produce some sort of vague, undefined, and utilitarian product.

 

wow dow bluegoat, great post

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4 hours ago, Momto4inSoCal said:

I think that goes back to education as a science vs an art. We've tried to create an exact science to teaching and educating making ways that everyone can learn from a teacher that isn't necessarily a master at the subject they are teaching. Streaming the education process as if children were the next t model car. 

Going back to what Mimm said about buckets. That's the issue I've had with ED Hirshs core knowledge series. The idea that there are specific facts in any subject that we can pin down a child will need as an adult is silly. We will never teach everything, they will lose much of what we do teach. I think this also stems from the scientific approach to education. What probability is it that the child will need xyz as an adult. 

But then that transitions to just teach child how to source information and don’t teach content at all for some schools which also doesn’t work well for everyone long term.  It’s probably the appeal of the “grammar, dialectic, rhetoric” concept.  Learn knowledge, learn how to think about and evaluate new knowledge, learn what to do with it”. A lot of education styles either go too far toward just learning a tonne of content or completely away from learning any facts to just learning how to analyse and think before it’s developmentally appropriate.

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4 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

But then that transitions to just teach child how to source information and don’t teach content at all for some schools which also doesn’t work well for everyone long term.  It’s probably the appeal of the “grammar, dialectic, rhetoric” concept.  Learn knowledge, learn how to think about and evaluate new knowledge, learn what to do with it”. A lot of education styles either go too far toward just learning a tonne of content or completely away from learning any facts to just learning how to analyse and think before it’s developmentally appropriate.

 

It's really a balance, isn't it.  Because people need to know things, and I would even say there are certain sets of information that are important, for example, how the government works.  Every adult needs to know something about that.  

On the other hand, it is not possible to pin down an exact group of facts that each person needs to know, no student will remember every fact, and bare facts themselves are dead - knowing all the parts of a horse is not the same as knowing a horse!

Within this question, for me, comes the idea that human beings are made to have minds that are curious, that want to know things, that it is their nature to have relationships with, not facts, but ideas and people and things.  And that what the teacher can do is help the student be exposed to them when they are ay the right age to do so - you can't jus pour in facts and be sure they have all the right ones to come to the right conclusions.

But I think that part of the issue people ave is what they really want sometimes is to know that if they put in the right inputs, the student will turn out right, employable, with the right political and religious opinions.  That's something I see in classical education though as well as public school - some classical schools seem to be trying to make sure they pour the right facts into the grammar students so that at the other end, they will get young, strong, Christians with little or no chance to straw, at least on intellectual grounds.

To me, this is a faith issue - it's about the doubt of the teachers and parents in the essential nature of the relationship between God and the student.

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I think the problem is we aren't teaching the children how to learn, how to really dissect something and truly contemplate it. As a society most of us to a point understand it and they say that's what common core addresses but I really don't think it does. I still see schools teaching to the test, it's just a different test. The most success I've had in any subject when teaching is discussions and allowing my students to go down rabbit trails. Finding out what interest them and allowing them to explore. I have to get into the subjects with them and research to be able to hold these conversations. I need to know where to direct them when they hit a wall. That's where the master teacher comes in. And if I am stuck also I help them (teaching them) to research and find the information. Schools in today's era don't allow for this. Students used to have to go and research and find information and recite it in class where a teacher could correct the information. We spoon feed kids and wonder why they aren't thinking critically. There is too much on the standards, not enough room for true discoveries to happen. 

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I've been reading through the posts which seek to define classical education.  Very helpful, as I realize it isn't just the modern assumptions I'm struggling with... I love so much about classical education, how it grounds us in a history/culture. 

What I don't love about current models: It seems I must be a citizen of antiquity to the extent that I cannot see beauty in the place and time I have been born.  Classical Education in my time and place.  This is my struggle, and the loudest voices calling for an ultimate commitment to antiquity... this kind of extreme thinking has appealed to me in the past, but is one I've experienced as unhealthy.  

On 2/27/2019 at 9:13 AM, Bluegoat said:

Within this question, for me, comes the idea that human beings are made to have minds that are curious, that want to know things, that it is their nature to have relationships with, not facts, but ideas and people and things.  And that what the teacher can do is help the student be exposed to them when they are ay the right age to do so - you can't jus pour in facts and be sure they have all the right ones to come to the right conclusions.

 

 

Blue, this describes it a bit... We must have a foundation to start from, but that seems to me for the purpose of exploring/connecting with ideas and people and things -- this is where we live out a philosophy and its fullness takes hold.  To render ourselves incapable of desiring connection, because we use the ancients to sustain the ideas built in pride -- to our own isolation.  This is a dead end. 

Still working through it.  

    

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I would not have said classical education was about preferring antiquity, or any particular point in time really.  I would say that it is more a matter of seeing them as part of an intellectual tradition with a kind of continuity.  

Two important things about this - the first is that in order to be self-aware, you have to be able to place yourself within your own tradition - how else do you know your own assumptions and biases?  To me, this is the reason that for westerners, the western classical tradition is actually important, and not some kind of cultural imperialism - it's the only way we can actually transcend those things, if we decide we ought to.  Those who are unaware of them can be as woke as they like, but it's all rather a short in the dark.

The other reason is what you might call a conservative reason, in the proper sense of the word - while there is always change, when certain things stay the same, or you see certain continuities, in culture, often they are there to serve a purpose or for some real reason.  New ideas and theories can be great, but they are new, and quite often, we find they are wrong after all, or incomplete.  There is a kind of hubris in the assumption that the new theory of the day is likely to be better than the old theories.  It's ok to do new things, but the assumption that they will be better is simply an irrational bias.

I would say, however, that historically the 20th century and the present has a very odd relation to all of this, to the idea of an intellectual tradition at all.  I think this comes out of certain new ideas that were embraced during that period.  On the one hand, they absolutely come out of the tradition, they don't spring out of thin air.  On the other hand, they deny the tradition.  (And, some might push this back farther than the 20th century, but these ideas came to fruition there.)

While I wouldn't say that the current period n time has no attractive elements, I do think there are elements of some others which are stronger, and I guess I prefer them.  The medieval period for example was far and above the modern period for intellectual rigour and giving ideas the light of day and debate of controversial ideas.  It's a bit ironic actually that many people today believe the opposite.

Edited by Bluegoat
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4 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

I would not have said classical education was about preferring antiquity, or any particular point in time really.  I would say that it is more a matter of seeing them as part of an intellectual tradition with a kind of continuity.  

Two important things about this - the first is that in order to be self-aware, you have to be able to place yourself within your own tradition - how else do you know your own assumptions and biases?  To me, this is the reason that for westerners, the western classical tradition is actually important, and not some kind of cultural imperialism - it's the only way we can actually transcend those things, if we decide we ought to.  Those who are unaware of them can be as woke as they like, but it's all rather a short in the dark.

The other reason is what you might call a conservative reason, in the proper sense of the word - while there is always change, when certain things stay the same, or you see certain continuities, in culture, often they are there to serve a purpose or for some real reason.  New ideas and theories can be great, but they are new, and quite often, we find they are wrong after all, or incomplete.  There is a kind of hubris in the assumption that the new theory of the day is likely to be better than the old theories.  It's ok to do new things, but the assumption that they will be better is simply an irrational bias.

I would say, however, that historically the 20th century and the present has a very odd relation to all of this, to the idea of an intellectual tradition at all.  I think this comes out of certain new ideas that were embraced during that period.  On the one hand, they absolutely come out of the tradition, they don't spring out of thin air.  On the other hand, they deny the tradition.  (And, some might push this back farther than the 20th century, but these ideas came to fruition there.)

While I wouldn't say that the current period n time has no attractive elements, I do think there are elements of some others which are stronger, and I guess I prefer them.  The medieval period for example was far and above the modern period for intellectual rigour and giving ideas the light of day and debate of controversial ideas.  It's a bit ironic actually that many people today believe the opposite.

 

You know, I really want to agree with you re classical education not preferring antiquity.  That would tie this up for me, and it would make classical ed what I need and want it to be.  However,  here's my issue... Classical education sees antiquity as the place from which we receive the time tested-truths (and their counterparts) of language, culture, virtue, etc.  Classical education prefers antiquity, technically speaking.    

I do see the distinction that we can appreciate the time-tested truths of antiquity without preferring antiquity.  However, the school model which is causing me some heavy thinking is one which most definitely camps out in antiquity feasting on its truth, but then looks at modern culture with such a critical eye that I wonder if a student can ever see his place in it.  This model functions according to a more technical definition of classical education than I ever have as a homeschooling mom.

But oh my... how I prefer your definition.   
    

 

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4 minutes ago, Doodlebug said:

 

You know, I really want to agree with you re classical education not preferring antiquity.  That would tie this up for me, and it would make classical ed what I need and want it to be.  However,  here's my issue... Classical education sees antiquity as the place from which we receive the time tested-truths (and their counterparts) of language, culture, virtue, etc.  Classical education prefers antiquity, technically speaking.    

I do see the distinction that we can appreciate the time-tested truths of antiquity without preferring antiquity.  However, the school model which is causing me some heavy thinking is one which most definitely camps out in antiquity feasting on its truth, but then looks at modern culture with such a critical eye that I wonder if a student can ever see his place in it.  This model functions according to a more technical definition of classical education than I ever have as a homeschooling mom.

But oh my... how I prefer your definition.   
    

 

 

Well, I can't really speak to a particular model without knowing what it is.  Maybe to the point, I'm not a classical homeschooler, I'm a person educated as a classicist and a CM educator.

There are some models that see a particular thing as the heart of not only classical, but real education, and therefore they tend to see modernity as flawed because it rejects that thing.  Models that focus on language as being the very substance of education might be an example. 

For Christian educators, there is also a certain sense in which the idea of the tradition of the Church also affect the sense of time.  

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