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The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education

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In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on political correctness instead of teaching students how to study. In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on political correctness instead of teaching students how to study. Leigh Bortins, a leading figure in the homeschooling community, is having none of it. She believes that there are core areas of knowledge that are essential to master. Without knowing the multiplication tables, children can't advance to algebra. Without mastery of grammar, students will have difficulty expressing themselves. Without these essential building blocks of knowledge, students may remember information but they will never possess a broad and deep understanding of how the world works. In The Core, Bortins gives parents the tools and methodology to implement a rigorous, thorough, and broad curriculum based on the classical model, including: - Rote memorization to cement knowledge - Systematic learning of geography, historical facts, and timelines - Reading the great books and seminal historical documents instead of adaptations and abridged editions - Rigorous training in math and the natural sciences


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In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on political correctness instead of teaching students how to study. In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on political correctness instead of teaching students how to study. Leigh Bortins, a leading figure in the homeschooling community, is having none of it. She believes that there are core areas of knowledge that are essential to master. Without knowing the multiplication tables, children can't advance to algebra. Without mastery of grammar, students will have difficulty expressing themselves. Without these essential building blocks of knowledge, students may remember information but they will never possess a broad and deep understanding of how the world works. In The Core, Bortins gives parents the tools and methodology to implement a rigorous, thorough, and broad curriculum based on the classical model, including: - Rote memorization to cement knowledge - Systematic learning of geography, historical facts, and timelines - Reading the great books and seminal historical documents instead of adaptations and abridged editions - Rigorous training in math and the natural sciences

30 review for The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    William Lawrence

    Some really great points about the importance of knowledge and building memory, completely squandered by socio-political-religious philosophies and failures in logic. The author is bent on ripping on every aspect of public (and private!) education all in favor of homeschooling, when the reality remains most American families can't afford to homeschool. Many simply can't and some simply shouldn't. Bortins judges education based entirely on test scores and anecdotes. Major stretches in logic Some really great points about the importance of knowledge and building memory, completely squandered by socio-political-religious philosophies and failures in logic. The author is bent on ripping on every aspect of public (and private!) education all in favor of homeschooling, when the reality remains most American families can't afford to homeschool. Many simply can't and some simply shouldn't. Bortins judges education based entirely on test scores and anecdotes. Major stretches in logic include comparing the percentage who read "Common Sense" in the late 18th century society to the number who watch the SuperBowl in today's society. And? I'm not saying there isn't a literacy concern, but she's comparing a world that only had reading. They lived in candlelight and rode horses! The author points out that China and India graduate hundreds of thousands of engineers, while we only graduate 70,000, but those two places also have two billion people between them. Says education costed us nothing in the 1950s, when that's simply not true-- teachers were sill paid a salary. Of course, it's going to cost more today than it did in the 50s-- a house only cost $7,000 then! Inflation. Argues that less than 50% of Americans graduate proficient in reading and less than 15% graduate proficient in math, when that's simply not true because they wouldn't be graduating. In fact, kids take far more math than they did in the 50s or even the 90s. Then she goes on to say that only 60% of high school seniors graduated in 2006, when in fact a 60% rate only existed in a hand full of southern red states; Overall US grad rates were 74% in 2006 and have since climbed to over 82%. The author throws out these fabricated numbers without any citations and expects her readers to believe it? And she's arguing about facts and literacy? The real kicker-- all of the above happened on just one page of her book (p. 30)! So even a broken clock is right twice a day. Where I agree: building memory skills is important, knowledge is important, and history is very important. But Bortins goes on to exclaim "I am a big fan of testing" even though over testing and the type of testing we do is seen as the American problem resulting in deficiencies in historic knowledge, social awareness, and ultimately less reading of books. Standardized testing doesn't truly measure knowledge and memory the way a fill in the blank or essay test does. Though I don't personally subscribe to the idea we need to teach grammar in the whole sense that Bortins argues in order to read and write (like knowing the name of everything under the hood to be able to drive the car), Bortins' chapters on reading and writing are probably her best. Schools and parents could use some of these ideas to reinforce other approaches. The geography and history chapters also had something to offer with a few neat lessons. The chapter on science unfortunately seems to culminate with knowing how to skin a rabbit. And Fine Arts should hardly be called a chapter. In chapter eleven she reveals her education schedule that starts with Bible study in bed. There are only about three hours dedicated to learning; not to say that time is everything (Finland's school days are kept to a minimum). The big problem I have with this book is tying the importance of knowledge and classical education approaches to religious doctrine and homeschooling. We can value knowledge and integrate classical approaches without the latter. Bortins blows her ethos in the first part of the book with those uncited claims and fabrications and never makes up for it the rest of the way. Based on the first thirty pages, I'm surprised St. Martins even published this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    This is a book that I can see rating lower in time as I read more books about classical education (update: after reading The Well-Trained Mind, I did lower my rating from 3 stars to a rating of 2 stars: it's okay). The author has a pleasant writing style and presents the philosophy of a classical education in a pretty convincing manner. I'm wondering though, where are the citations? She makes dozens of claims and references to statistics throughout the book, but doesn't provide exact sources. If This is a book that I can see rating lower in time as I read more books about classical education (update: after reading The Well-Trained Mind, I did lower my rating from 3 stars to a rating of 2 stars: it's okay). The author has a pleasant writing style and presents the philosophy of a classical education in a pretty convincing manner. I'm wondering though, where are the citations? She makes dozens of claims and references to statistics throughout the book, but doesn't provide exact sources. If she cites a source for the statistic, she doesn't say exactly where to look it up. For instance, she brings up literacy rates a few times from the NAPAL, but I found conflicting data tables on their website than what she presented. (The tables I found showed just the opposite of what she wrote, which made me question if she misinterpreted the data.) It would have been nice to know where she was exactly getting her data from rather than trusting her at her word throughout the book. Overall it was a very interesting read, but I feel fell short of what it could have been. The research and presentation of her position should have been taken more seriously. Her arguments might hold up in a coffee shop discussion group, but when you're publishing a book like this, you not only have to really know what you're talking about, but you also have a duty to present the entire picture to the reader. For instance, she praises rote memorization, which is probably a great skill that could help expand the overall capacity of how much information someone can retain. However, she never mentions that the reason rote memorization is part of the classical teaching curriculum is because thousands of years ago they did not readily have access to pen and paper. It was out of necessity that students needed to memorize many mundane details, not a philosophy that this was a superior method for the brain in developing its learning abilities. Why not mention the historical reasoning for rote memorization? Perhaps she opted to omit it since it might weaken her position, or perhaps she was not aware of the history. Either way it doesn't matter, that's just an example of how this book fell short of what it could have been. I would recommend this if you're interested in the topic, but it should be a supplement to other material on the subject, not the end-all be-all source.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    While I haven't finished reading every page of this book, I've read enough to say that it's easier to read than the other homeschool book on classical education: The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. When I read Susan Wise Bauer's book, I walked away feeling like a classical education was something that sounded intriguing, but difficult (if not impossible) for me to implement. Bortins makes everything feel more achievable and does a great job of articulating the value of While I haven't finished reading every page of this book, I've read enough to say that it's easier to read than the other homeschool book on classical education: The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. When I read Susan Wise Bauer's book, I walked away feeling like a classical education was something that sounded intriguing, but difficult (if not impossible) for me to implement. Bortins makes everything feel more achievable and does a great job of articulating the value of classical education and how it differs from most educations received in today's school system. If you're looking for a book that will offer lots of curriculum choices, go with The Well-Trained Mind. But if you want to know what a classical education is and get an overview of what it could look like in your home (whether you homeschool or send your children to school), this book is readable, encouraging and inspiring.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    If you are considering homeschooling with the classical method/trivium and are persuaded by arguments appealing to your tendency to brag and feel smug and snidely superior, this book might be helpful to you. Otherwise, don't waste your time, there are other books out there which cover far more practical ground without the snotty tone. Also, dear author, so your child can identify Millard Fillmore on sight? Big deal. There's a lot more to a comprehensive education than the rote memorization of If you are considering homeschooling with the classical method/trivium and are persuaded by arguments appealing to your tendency to brag and feel smug and snidely superior, this book might be helpful to you. Otherwise, don't waste your time, there are other books out there which cover far more practical ground without the snotty tone. Also, dear author, so your child can identify Millard Fillmore on sight? Big deal. There's a lot more to a comprehensive education than the rote memorization of not terribly intriguing facts that Bortins seems to prefer. I thought the whole point of the trivium was to nurture critical thinking skills, not train your children to spit out Sir Walter Scott passages on demand to thrill and impress your friends at the Neoconservative Homeschoolers Ice Cream Social.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This book really lays the foundation for a elementary classical education. It's well laid out. First, she explains what a Classical Education is and then goes on to explain how to education your child classically. She devotes a chapter for each core subject and then has one for fine arts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Spinneretta

    The Core, by Leigh Bortins, is a book about how to give your child a classical education. It is written for the elementary aged school child, primarily with home-educators in mind, although someone whose children were in public school would probably benefit from it too. It is a well written, and fairly easy to read manual. A guide to an overall view of classical homeschooling. It is not really a step by step handbook as the Well Trained Mind or the Latin Centered Curriculum are, this one is less The Core, by Leigh Bortins, is a book about how to give your child a classical education. It is written for the elementary aged school child, primarily with home-educators in mind, although someone whose children were in public school would probably benefit from it too. It is a well written, and fairly easy to read manual. A guide to an overall view of classical homeschooling. It is not really a step by step handbook as the Well Trained Mind or the Latin Centered Curriculum are, this one is less defined- more basic. I have read most of the Classical Education guides out there, and this one is a little different. The Well Trained Mind, The Latin Centered Curriculum and Teaching the Trivium are all 'how to' guides with a curriculum guide. This one is more of an apology for classical homeschooling with a few ideas and guides for the how-to. A good book, well worth the read for anyone interested in classical homeschooling and trying to implement it with the elementary aged school child.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    Once you start reading this, it becomes clear that the intent of this book is to introduce the ideas of a "classical" education to parents considering home schooling for their children. The book is clearly written, moves along well, and does provide some distinct ideas for what to do if home schooling is chosen. I have little doubt that, if followed through, this book can contribute to a successful home schooling experience. The author, who is an active blogger on these topics, has successfully Once you start reading this, it becomes clear that the intent of this book is to introduce the ideas of a "classical" education to parents considering home schooling for their children. The book is clearly written, moves along well, and does provide some distinct ideas for what to do if home schooling is chosen. I have little doubt that, if followed through, this book can contribute to a successful home schooling experience. The author, who is an active blogger on these topics, has successfully presented what she set out to present. So why did I say this was only "ok"? The problem was that I had higher expectations when I bought the book. I had read about it in some review that linked it together with some additional works on the role of classics in education, mostly about the continuing rationale for an undergraduate program. Well, when I got around to this book after reading the others, such as by Martha Nussbaum, it did not stand up well in comparison. To start with, the idea of "classical education" here is ambivalent. On the one hand, there is homage to the three part medieval curriculum of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. But, then in practice, these become three general approaches to learning basic subjects : 1) learn the foundational elements and components of an area and the basic rules of order (and repeat them a lot to burn them into memory); 2) learn the logics of manipulation and practice them a lot - learn to write sentences and paragraphs (and to rewrite the paragraphs of the greats); 3)finally, learn to present what you have learned to others, with style and effectiveness - ah... Cicero! These ideas are all well and good and I do not wish to argue against many of the points that Bortins raises. On occasion, I used them in helping my four children - now all largely grown -- to read more and think more critically. The problem is that this sort of "classical" education is different from the original medieval model, in ways too difficult to go into here. Along with this basic ambivalence, references to other versions of "classical" education come up as well. Bible study is mentioned liberally. Colleges that offer a "great books" curriculum - St. John's, for example -- are also featured. Again, these are fine, but to throw these models into the mix together as "clasical" without trying to clarify the differences is not in my opinion very effective. There is a more troubling contradiction here. The motivation for home schooling, although never entirely clear, has much to do with the perceived (and often very real) failings of public "specialized" approaches to primary education. This approach is supposed to reintroduce and reinforce rigor and thoroughness in education that will over time lead to better prepared students. But throughout the book, Bortins is playing the cheerleader to parents interested in doing this. So, a real question is what type of an education to the parents need to make this work? If parents were brought up in a limited non-classical environment, if they have not read the great books, if they do not know Greek, Latin, or other more modern languages, then how can they effectively teach their children? Bortins seems to suggest that parents should just do their best, learn while they do this job, and not worry, since everything will work out given sufficient effort and proper motivation. But isn't that the same criticism that is often directed at public schools -- under educated and under prepared teachers who have not mastered the very subjects they are trying to teach? Why can this be surmounted by home schooling? If "classical" learning is really a lifelong pursuit, then can it really be picked up on the fly? Bortins is silent on this contradiction. Another problem I had was that the book discusses forms and processes and steps to take, but talks very little about the actual content ideas. To put it bluntly, this does not read like a book written by a classically educated thinker/writer. I was interested to know what she thought a difficult philosophical problem was - at one point she was happy that one of her sons had picked up and started a philosophy book during their regular home reading times. Well, what book was it? What did he think of it? What did Bortins do/say to guide her pupil in working through difficult issues or resolve difficult issues such as arise in classic philosophy texts? The author is careful not to be on the wrong side of the PC police and delicate topics are not gone into -- race, sex, family stability, values as an aid to personsl decisions, etc. You know, just the topics that are important in raising young students. I understand the need to be careful. Net net, I expected much more from this. Much of the material was on the order of "God, mother, and country" agreeable at general level with all the difficult issues left to the details. That is not helpful. I realize that she wasn't trying to do this, but that is why the book was only "OK" for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I loved the chapter on Geography. I want to do more actual drawing of maps rather than just coloring them in. The rest of this book sort of bugged me because there is so much emphasis on memorization. Memorizing facts hasn't been, at least at my house, the "fun" or "exciting" experience that she makes it out to be in the book. My kids learn better by being immersed in a subject and reading and reading about that subject rather than just sitting to memorize a bunch of facts or timeline as she I loved the chapter on Geography. I want to do more actual drawing of maps rather than just coloring them in. The rest of this book sort of bugged me because there is so much emphasis on memorization. Memorizing facts hasn't been, at least at my house, the "fun" or "exciting" experience that she makes it out to be in the book. My kids learn better by being immersed in a subject and reading and reading about that subject rather than just sitting to memorize a bunch of facts or timeline as she describes in this book. We do memorize poetry, scripture and some dates but certainly not an entire timeline. I think Susan Wise Bauer in the Well Trained Mind or Charlotte Mason have a more enjoyable (for everyone) approach to Classical Education.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    Read for further research into the classical model. Useful, and I didn't really notice the haughty tone noted by other reviewers. There were some great suggestions and ideas incorporated throughout. A fine overview of the model that takes a lot less time to read than does "The Well-Trained Mind"! (But you really should read WTM, too...)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Schilling

    The book isn't awful, but I feel like it suffers the need of a stronger editorial hand. The author's style is supposed to be, I think, conversational...to me it comes off as a bit rambling and lacking in organization. I think perhaps she tried to do a bit more than she was able and didn't quite make it there. I honestly sympathize. I have been classically homeschooling for 20 years and when people ask me about it, I feel like what I say sounds a lot like this book. You get a little bit of The book isn't awful, but I feel like it suffers the need of a stronger editorial hand. The author's style is supposed to be, I think, conversational...to me it comes off as a bit rambling and lacking in organization. I think perhaps she tried to do a bit more than she was able and didn't quite make it there. I honestly sympathize. I have been classically homeschooling for 20 years and when people ask me about it, I feel like what I say sounds a lot like this book. You get a little bit of philosophy, a few examples and anecdotes, and a handful of practical hints. It's all in there, but it's not organized nor is it strong in any of those areas. I'm not really sure who this book would be good for. If you are new to homeschooling or classical education in general, I don't think you will find much (or at least not enough) that is practically useful to you. I would say a new homeschooler might get something out of the first half of this book. If you are an experienced homeschooler looking for a way to practically implement classical education, I would look at Memoria Press and Susan Wise Bauer materials. Also the Classical Conversations community model is actually very doable and practicable (which might not seem the case to readers of this book). If you are an experienced homeschooler, and especially an experienced classical homeschooler, looking for a deeper look at educational philosophy I would suggest the books Norms and Nobility and Climbing Parnassus. I suppose that's the problem with this book. It's not that there is anything awful about it, but it seems to have tried to be all things and ended up being nothing in particular.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Wow! I wish I’d read this years earlier. This information would have greatly changed the way I educated my older children. I’m now quite excited about moving forward in my youngest child’s homeschooling journey. I highly recommend this book to all parents. Which also leads to recommending that if you are considering homeschooling, that you check into Classical Conversations.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lora

    Great book with real life principles and ideas for keeping education classical while using materials available today.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Chind

    I've been very eager to get my hands on this book. I've never seen it on a good sale so I've always told myself, maybe later. Then I discovered the library had it, so I figured I'd pursue it there. This morning when I was headed to pick it up from the holds desk a friend listed it for sale on-line and I got very excited. I decided to borrow it from the library anyway just to see how excited I could get. Well, I'm not excited anymore. I read The Conversation last week for review and knew I wanted I've been very eager to get my hands on this book. I've never seen it on a good sale so I've always told myself, maybe later. Then I discovered the library had it, so I figured I'd pursue it there. This morning when I was headed to pick it up from the holds desk a friend listed it for sale on-line and I got very excited. I decided to borrow it from the library anyway just to see how excited I could get. Well, I'm not excited anymore. I read The Conversation last week for review and knew I wanted to read The Core. (Think Core = Elementary, Question = middle, and Conversation = high school) I really enjoyed 'The Conversation' but I wasn't enthralled with The Core. It has the argument of what and why I'm doing what I am. But it doesn't have the meat that I was looking for. In general I can tell you that I am extremely enthusiastic for the Classical Conversations Act & Facts History and Science Cards and love using them in our homeschool. I also have really enjoyed going through The Conversation and thinking toward the future with a lot of practical advice. Yet The Core left me unfulfilled and if you're trying to find a Classical Christian Education guide while considering the elementary primary years I do not think that this is it. I much prefer the Latin Centered Curriculum and The Well-Trained Mind, 3rd edition. Climbing Parnassus is next on my to-read list. This review was originally posted on www.CreativeMadnessMama.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book is written in very accessible prose and is more a lengthy essay on why classical education is important than a reliable how-to guide. Ms. Bortins does a great job of making a case for a classical approach to education and her passion is inspiring. For that reason alone, I would recommend this book to anyone dissatisfied with the education their child is receiving. It provides such an optimistic view of teaching children how to learn, and learn well. There is a certain element of This book is written in very accessible prose and is more a lengthy essay on why classical education is important than a reliable how-to guide. Ms. Bortins does a great job of making a case for a classical approach to education and her passion is inspiring. For that reason alone, I would recommend this book to anyone dissatisfied with the education their child is receiving. It provides such an optimistic view of teaching children how to learn, and learn well. There is a certain element of marketing for Ms. Bortins organization but it didn't read as much like a brochure as I expected it to do. Most importantly, I feel inspired to tackle another school year at home with passion and new ideas and excitement.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Floyd

    Taking the abstract notions of the Classical model and making them concrete and even manageable is the premise of this book, and the author's company, Classical Conversations. I found this book to be highly readable, and even comforting, encouraging, while being engaging and even a little admonishing. As Leigh lays out the Classical model in terminology and in terms of practicality, she also gives you insight into our historical and current educational history. Sometimes this may feel like a Taking the abstract notions of the Classical model and making them concrete and even manageable is the premise of this book, and the author's company, Classical Conversations. I found this book to be highly readable, and even comforting, encouraging, while being engaging and even a little admonishing. As Leigh lays out the Classical model in terminology and in terms of practicality, she also gives you insight into our historical and current educational history. Sometimes this may feel like a revelation, sometimes like a friend's good-natured slap in the face. I recommend The Core to anyone wanting to understand home education and anyone who wants to step into the Classical philosophy of educating. This is a great starting point for both interests and endeavors.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a good, practical introduction to why educate your children in your home, using the classical model. Much of the material will be repetitive for those that have read similar books, but the strengths in this book are that it is short, yet gives good examples of the expectations for each stage of the trivium, as well as material to cover. Bortins is good at encouraging parents that they can give their kids a great education using the classical model, and also creative in how to actually do This is a good, practical introduction to why educate your children in your home, using the classical model. Much of the material will be repetitive for those that have read similar books, but the strengths in this book are that it is short, yet gives good examples of the expectations for each stage of the trivium, as well as material to cover. Bortins is good at encouraging parents that they can give their kids a great education using the classical model, and also creative in how to actually do it. This is an excellent, short introduction and survey of what classical Christian homeschooling is all about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Thadeus

    This was an outstanding book! It did a great job of laying out the reasons for, and a framework of classical education. If you have just learned about the trivium and classical education, this is a great book to start with in order to gain an understanding of the reasons for, purposes of, and a little 'how-to' of classically educating your children. The style was very conversational and gave me a great basis for finding my way in the realm of classical education. Recommended for those who have This was an outstanding book! It did a great job of laying out the reasons for, and a framework of classical education. If you have just learned about the trivium and classical education, this is a great book to start with in order to gain an understanding of the reasons for, purposes of, and a little 'how-to' of classically educating your children. The style was very conversational and gave me a great basis for finding my way in the realm of classical education. Recommended for those who have heard about classical education or the trivium, and want to learn more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    This was my 4th reading through The Core. Each summer I re-read this a refresher and a reminder to the goals of a classical educator. I'm encouraged and renewed each summer to set out to teach the core subjects and to bring about mastery. It is a easily read and modeled examples of how even a public school raised mom can learn how to love learning thru the classical model.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kcshrader

    I've read this one twice, because I keep trying to like it. I want it to be a knock-your-socks-off exposition of the joys of classical education. Instead, it reads more like a course catalog for Classical Conversations (founded by the author) -- full of glimpses of what your kids could be doing, but no information at all about how to actually pull it off. A grave disappointment.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angie Libert

    I am so glad that I finally read this book! The author presents a totally doable approach to applying the Classical Method in a homeschool setting, especially during the Grammar Stage. I am looking forward to applying her various ideas into our daily routine.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicole L.

    This book was a great introduction to Classical education. Leigh Bortins did a great job of presenting how Classically educating your children can prepare them for whatever they choose to do when they become adults.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kara Guffey

    I felt like this was a good and very practical book about classical education. It makes classical education doable. I agree that other books give more depth and breadth of the subject but this book is a great place to start and get your feet wet with classical education.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I agree that maybe we should find a happy medium when it comes to educating our children and teach both old and new techniques. My problem with this particular text is I think the author has set out to belittle those of us who elect to use the public education institutes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lea Lea

    I recommend this book to anyone interested in classically educating. It is easy to read and gives examples for each subject. I am re-reading a second time. This time with a pen in hand for underlying. I also plan to try her recommendations for geography this summer.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt Bianco

    Good book to help the new homeschooler get on the right track. Great introduction to classical education, christian education, and home-centered education. A When You Rise Up-type of approach to education.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Totally regret not reading this when we first started CC. However, it is not too late and I can totally use all the information in this book still. Should buy this book soon..krb 7/24/16

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    This book was amazing!! Helped me wrap my mind around classical home schooling. Encouraged without overwhelming me. Quotes to chew on for days. Great resource lists

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Book Review: The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education Author: Leigh A. Bortins Format: Paperback Topic: Education Scope: The philosophy behind (mostly Homeschool) Classical Style Education. Purpose: To explain the benefits of choosing the classical model over the traditional model. Outline: The book is divided into two main sections: 1. The Classical Model containing three chapters. 2. The Core of a Classical Education containing eight chapters and an epilogue. The first Book Review: The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education Author: Leigh A. Bortins Format: Paperback Topic: Education Scope: The philosophy behind (mostly Homeschool) Classical Style Education. Purpose: To explain the benefits of choosing the classical model over the traditional model. Outline: The book is divided into two main sections: 1. The Classical Model containing three chapters. 2. The Core of a Classical Education containing eight chapters and an epilogue. The first section is the why one may want to use the classical model. It explains the problem with the traditional model, what the classical model does differently, and what the benefits are of using classical education. The second section then explains how one can (basically) implement the classical model in educating students. Topics covered in the second section are Reading, Writing, Math, Geography, History, Science, Fine Arts, and Scheduling. What it does well: Bortins gives a great primer into the thought of the classical model. Anyone looking for some of the theory behind what the classical model should do (especially in the early stages or "core") will find some good information here. In addition, Bortins does give a few practical strategies on how to implement the classical model throughout. My kids and I have summarized the message of this book as "Good learning starts with over-practicing the basics." This would be the Grammar (beginning) stage of the classical idea of learning (the Trivium or Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric). The classical model emphasizes that all person must go through these three stages to be competent in any learning situation. With this in mind the student can gain wisdom and virtue. What it lacks: This book is not meant to provide an iron-clad or practical method for following the classical model. There are some (great) practical suggestions through out, but the emphasis is on the philosophy and reasons behind why we should choose to educate classically and what that looks like broadly. People should look for a more practical work and exact steps in classical education elsewhere. Some quick highlights: "Classical education emphasizes using the classical skills to study classical content." -3 "Let's resolve to be adults whom children like to spend time with, not because we are 'fun,' but because our kids know that we think it is a great privilege to be with them. Let's show them that when we learn something new, we can't wait to share our discovery with them." -7 "When encountering new information, the brain must know how to store data (grammar), retrieve and process data (logic [or dialectic]), and express data (rhetoric)." -47 brackets mine The phrases "over-practiced" and "over-learned" or such are mentioned in almost every chapter. By this Bortins is using these to describe the term to have run through the (basic) information so much and so often that it becomes second nature to access that information and describe the information in writing or verbally. "I believe the ultimate goal in a classical education is to lead a child through knowledge and understanding to wisdom and virtue. If they use their knowledge exclusively for their ow purposes, I have failed." -79 "When you expect students to copy the great ideas of authors in grammar school, they have no problem producing original thoughts in rhetoric school." -127 "Just read what your family wants to read. The memorized history time line helps us tie stories to their proper order in history. Reciprocally, reading and discussing literature helps to keep the time line fresh in the mind." -169 "But don't say, 'Oh, gross!' then wonder why your family doesn't enjoy science. Exploring science can be wet and messy." -197 "...children will mess up any schedule you can devise. So do your best..." -207 "As a parent, my role is to see that my children are prepared to be confident and competent generally. As they become adults, they will need to take over responsibility for educating themselves specifically." -214 Recommendation?: I am (still) not convinced that classical education is the one right style of education for people. The tribalism in the education world regarding their philosophies continues to sadden me. However, this is a worthy primer to the thought behind the classical education and has much of value for anyone in education. As my family has decided to homeschool our children in a classical model, this book was highly valuable to me. Anyone who is considering Classical Conversations or wonders how a homeschool program could be academically rigorous would benefit from reading this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    JR Snow

    Had to read for my Classical Education Class at Whitefield College. This book offers many good insights about the foundation of classical education but neglects to even mention God or religion, which makes all of the statements about our beautiful world or training in wisdom ring rather hollow. She focuses on the grammar stage of education, and her chief ideas are that memory work and copy work help students to retain basic facts they will need when older, and that imitation of greatness Had to read for my Classical Education Class at Whitefield College. This book offers many good insights about the foundation of classical education but neglects to even mention God or religion, which makes all of the statements about our beautiful world or training in wisdom ring rather hollow. She focuses on the grammar stage of education, and her chief ideas are that memory work and copy work help students to retain basic facts they will need when older, and that imitation of greatness inspires students to create better works themselves, whether it be art, poetry, literature, or the craft of writing. These are persuasive. Her comparisons to Colonial literacy rates and methods of education are helpful, but seem a bit too rosy-retrospective to me. Ironically, she advocates home-centered education but also online education. Her aversion to traditional schools seems to hinge on the lack of mentorship, but wouldn't that also be an issue with online classes, where the teacher wouldn't mentor the student hardly at all? Douglas Wilson's comments about the hypocrisy of homeschoolers who want to take the charge to educate their children without "farming" it out to teachers, but then turn around and use curriculum and textbooks, rings in my ears while reading this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A good overview, The Core nonetheless is at times more manifesto than manual. Bortin's writing lacks finesse and at times is far too strident in tone. She would have done better to remember that anyone picking up her book is likely already skeptical of public education and needs less persuasion and more practical guidance. Even the last section of the book, supposedly an outline for using the classical education model at home, sometimes felt too thin. Her specific suggestions were good but I was A good overview, The Core nonetheless is at times more manifesto than manual. Bortin's writing lacks finesse and at times is far too strident in tone. She would have done better to remember that anyone picking up her book is likely already skeptical of public education and needs less persuasion and more practical guidance. Even the last section of the book, supposedly an outline for using the classical education model at home, sometimes felt too thin. Her specific suggestions were good but I was hoping for a something even more prescriptive. I would still recommend anyone interested in home education or the trivium read this book, but also encourage them to read Susan Bauer's The Well Trained Mind. Also, why are classical education enthusiasts almost exclusively Christian?? For goodness sake! How can the model which purports to develop deep, critical thinking and an appreciation for the mathematical laws and scientific principles that govern the cosmos be almost solely the territory of the unquestioning faithful? For once I want to find a rigorous homeschool schedule that doesn't include bible study and scripture memorization. Just freakin' once.

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