April 19, 2017

5 Days of Popular Homeschool Teaching Methods ~ Day 3: What is a Classical Teaching Method? {5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop}

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Welcome back to Day 3 of my 5 Day series about Popular Homeschool Teaching Methods! Yesterday, I discussed a widely popular method called Charlotte Mason. Today, I'm going to jump to the other side of the method style, to explore a more rigorous and academic focused method. It too is one of the most popular methods, although it looks very very different from Charlotte Mason.

Today we are going to explore the Classical Teaching Method!

What Is a Classical Teaching Method?

Interestingly enough, the Classical teaching method pulls third on my list of compatible teaching methods, and it really isn't THAT big of a surprise, because Classical teaching revolves around...books! It is a very visually oriented teaching style, because it is predominately
literature based. "But wait!" you say, "Isn't Charlotte Mason literature based too?" Yes! It is, however, while Charlotte Mason avoids "droll" texts (which sums up most real classic literature from pre-1800 LOL), Classical education puts a high value on them! A student in the classical method, will be reading books that many of our forefathers were trained on! Literature selections including ones that have existed for hundreds and even a thousand or more years--dating back to Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.

Here is what you will find in a Classical Teaching Method:

*The Trivium and Quadrivium
This refers to a classical, Christian education that ran from 476 AD (fall of Rome) to the Enlightenment in Western Civilization. During this time, students were taught through seven liberal arts. These were divided into the Trivium (arts of language) and the Quadrivium (arts of number). The three Trivium arts include: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.The four Quadrivium arts: music, astronomy, geometry, and arithmetic. It was believed that these 7 roads led to a student to being wise and virtuous. This philosphy for Trivium education got a reboot in about the 1980's, when they were compared to the way a child develops: grammar (a mimiking of adults through repititions, copywork, and songs), rhetoric (open dialogue with students to express their ideas), and Logic (applying learning through self-expression in speeches, poetry, and literature translations).
All the grade levels within classical education will be separated into these three categories.

*Heavy focus on classic literature and authors
Think authors like Homer. Think people like Socrates. Think studying literature like Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare. For the younger grades, classics like Farmer Boy, Narnia, Robin Hood, King Arthur. Geared towards literature that makes you THINK.

*Classic Christian Philosophy
Many of the classical material is of a Catholic leaning, but not all of it. However, you will ALWAYS (at least from what I have seen) find it to be Christian in its worldview.

*Learning will be Latin based
Because Latin is the "original" language that most contemporary western language is derived from, it is taught beginning in the grammar stage. This allows for a better understanding of spelling, language skills, and grammar--for if you learn the Latin roots of words, you can find definitions easier, broadening a vocabulary quickly. It is the gateway language to much of the current language today, especially German, Spanish, and French--not to mention the vast collection of English words with Latin roots.

*Emphasis on Greek and Roman cultures
There is a heavy emphasis on the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures in Classical education once you hit grades 7+.

*An Aggressive Curriculum with much structure
Because the emphasis is on reading and writing well, the work load is time consuming and more rigid, yet is conducive to college prep.

*Less exploration and hands-on
Focus is on reading, writing, and discussion. The lessons won't be ripe with hands on materials, or allow time for much exploration outside of the books...however there are projects, reenactments, music, art, and games to reinforce memorization and knowledge.

*Emphasis on memorization, recitation, and dictation
We're talking facts and flashcards for quick memory recall. Ability to recite the 15 brightest stars in the sky for example. To quote famous passages.

*Penmanship
Cursive is king in Classical training and it starts in the early years.

*Tests/Quizzes
You are going to find this method rich with tests and quizzes to "show what you know". Essays, short answers, fill in the blank will be included in all subjects.

*Early introduction to higher level learning
Because of the way Classical education is set up, students will be ahead in many areas due to an earlier introduction of material.

*Heaviest emphasis on language arts
If you can teach to read and write well, the student will be able to teach themselves pretty much everything else.

It boils down to this--a Classical Teaching Method is designed to "produce students who read well, think well, and lead themselves and others well." (Classical Conversations)

Favorite Classical Education Companies

There are three companies, no make that four companies that produce some of the best classical education material out there. I have reviewed products from all four of them and can highly recommend them to anyone leaning this direction:

*Memoria Press
Of the four companies, this one is probably my favorite, simply because I have had the opportunity to use the most of their products. We have explored their literature studies, phonics studies, beginning Latin course, Astronomy, and are preparing to review another science curriculum. I have been impressed with everything we have done, and even though we are not a totally Classical leaning family, their products have worked very well in these areas for the most part with little deviation. I encourage you to read some of my reviews (all linked above) to get an idea of what they offer.
Our new Memoria science curriculum arrived today for review
*Classical Academic Press
Classical Academic Press (aka CAM) goes a more creative route with their curriculum. I have found, they add a bit more life to the "droll" that can in some of the literature. A lot of their products include songs and art to help with memorization. They use animation in things like their language programs. I would say they aren't as "strait laced" as some classical programs are. We used their Song School Latin program, and the boys enjoyed the videos very much.

*Veritas Press
Veritas Press is probably my boys' favorite of the four companies. They offer several self-paced history and bible programs that are completely online. We have been blessed to have been able to review two of these programs--and when they were done, the boys were begging for more. The difference here being--they were online and not books! I cannot praise their self-paced online programs enough. I actually even went and purchased a subscription for their Veritas Press Bible, because the boys just asked for it so much! LOL. If you have a child who does better with online work with interactive programs, this one is a great one to check out. I still remember when Little Britches stood by the dinner table at my IL's and started spouting off all he'd learned about the Monroe Doctrine when he was 8 years old. They were just in shock. LOL

*Roman Roads Media
I added this one, because although neither boy has experienced it yet, I did a review on this program and just fell in love with how it was done. I reviewed one of their American History DVD courses and just fell in love. It still is all about reading/writing/expressing thought, but it is presented in a wonderful way that, while still encourages reading of original sources, their are lectures instead of strictly text. Also the final project is done kind of like a scrapbook which is pretty awesome.

Any of these four companies has my stamp of approval for curriculum, as we had success with all four of them. Another company that might be even more well known to those of you familiar with Classical education is Classical Conversations. I don't know a lot about the program, but I know that it is kind of like a Classical Education co-op and there are many of them around the nation that you can join. I also have friends who ADORE the program. So maybe look them up to get a feel for what it involves!

Last Thoughts about the Classical Teaching Method


As I said earlier, I tend to put a high value on quality literature, and we stick to the older classic children's novels right now because of their emphasis on morality and character. I enjoy the depth of information that is covered within this method, and as a reader who is very good at remembering facts and figures that I read or hear, Classical Education would have been an awesome fit for ME as a student. But I'm not the student. My boys are. And one of them would do WELL in the classical education method, while the other not so much. This is why I pick and choose what we do from the classical education curriculum...and as always--I tweak it to work for us.

On the whole, I don't like the more rigid schedule that this method has, nor am I too excited about going for books written by Homer and the "greats" from that time period. Yes, our forefathers had this kind of education, and our government was designed the way it was, pretty much because of much of this great literature. I, however, need more freedom to explore at the drop of a hat. I need books that are a bit lighter in topic. I need Nature Study to be a focus. I need PLAY to be a part of learning. I need less tests/worksheets, and more read aloud and narration. And this is why, I DON'T use the Classical Method as our primary style.

Before I go, here are a few books that I recommend to anyone seeking to learn more about the Classical Method:

by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise


by Leigh A. Bortins

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You can see my full list of what I'm covering this week on my 5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop 2017 landing page. Make sure you check out what the rest of my Homeschool Review Crew is sharing during this week's 5 Days of Homeschool Blog Hop! There are some GREAT topics being covered--check the list below and see if any of these appeal to you--or head over to the anchor page for the complete list of topics being covered this week!



I hope this gave you a great idea on what you could expect from a Classical Teaching Method. I have friends who really enjoy this method, so if you think this might be your style, I would totally tell you to go for it!! Maybe you have discovered this is most definitely NOT your style. And maybe you don't think Charlotte Mason is quite your style either--well, don't fear! I have two more styles to chat about with you--and yes, one of the next two IS my family's style! :)

I might not get the next two posts up right away, because I am going to be at the Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati all day Friday--so bear with me, if these next two posts go up a bit behind schedule. They are definitely going to be there...just maybe not quickly.