In the homeschooling world there are many different methods used for educating your child. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and confusing, simply because of the plethora of methods currently available. In our home we have tried many including Charlotte Mason, Textbook, Literature Based, and some Classical. Over the years it has evolved into a more eclectic feel including all of the above. Early on in our homeschool adventure we even attended a Classical Private School for a couple of classes. More and more of my homeschooling friends have joined Classical Conversations groups in our area and rave about its benefits with their children. Recently I was given the opportunity to read and review The Conversation from Classical Conversations. I felt a little background information may be helpful to my readers in how I formed my opinion of the book.
Let's begin with "What is a classical education"? Classical education is explained and referred to by three main stages; Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. The Grammar Stage is basically memorizing all the rules for each subject. For example sounds of the words, capitals for cities, grammar rules, muscle groups, and so much more through songs and chants as well as good old fashioned memorizing and reciting. The Dialectic Stage takes learning a step further by having the student take the information that was learned and start comparing and sorting it. The third stage is call Rhetoric and by this point the student utilizes all the information they have learned to give speeches, debate subjects with teachers and classmates, participate in great discussions, and create presentations.
The Conversation by Leigh A. Bortins is a book dealing mainly with how to teach high schoolers in the Rhetoric Stage. The Conversation is the third installment completing a set of books geared toward teaching your child classically.
Leigh Bortins is not only the author of this book, but also the CEO and founder of Classical Conversations. She has a degree in Aerospace Engineering, completed a Doctoral program in Global Education, speaks on her own radio show, writes on a personal blog, and still has time to raise and educate her own family. This is one busy woman.
The Conversation is a 254 page book written to help guide parents through the process of educating a high school age student through a classical education. The book is divided into three main parts: High School at Home, The Rhetorical Arts, and Appendices. Part Two with Rhetorical Arts is the bulk and meat of the book. The section includes chapters on every subject; Reading, Speech and Debate, Writing, Science, Math, Government and Economics, History, Latin and Foreign Languages, and Fine Arts. Each subject/chapter describes how to teach it classically to a high school student in the rhetoric stage and shows plenty of examples of how the discussions and presentations would take place. The appendices contains conversation games to use with the student, common literary/rhetorical devices, with terms and definitions, resources, and a small section of parent responses about a classical education.
After reading the book in my opinion it is definitely geared toward families and parents that educate classically, but I was able to glimmer some nuggets of information that could be used in our homeschooling endeavors. I love learning new things and The Conversation definitely taught information and terms that were new to me. I have many friends that have chosen the route of teaching classically and have joined Classical Conversations. I plan on gifting this book to one of the families that has or will have a high school student soon as well as tell all the other families that there is a great book available to help them negotiate the classical high school path. The Conversation is a must read for all parents teaching classically to high school students.
The Conversation can be found at Classical Conversations. Be sure to see what other Crew Members thought after reading The Conversation.
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