What is Classical Education?

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Over a decade ago I took a test to determine what style of homeschooling best fit my personality. Have you ever taken one of these? I don’t know how helpful they are. It ranked me as being most aligned with Charlotte Mason and least aligned with classical education. Maybe it was on to something, or maybe I shouldn’t chalk up such things to online quizzes.

I was introduced to an interesting version of classical education when I joined a Classical Conversations community in 2012. Prepped with a guide full of memory work and a folder full of quality adjectives and adverbs, I began redeeming my own education as I schooled Ethan through 6th grade and Emma through 3rd.

I learned a ton while licensed with Classical Conversations. I can in no way deny that.

I spent years immersed in talk of the trivium, ages and stages, and Dorothy Sayers, to the point that I became quite the sophist in my presentations.

When the inability to compromise my integrity regarding business practices resulted in my leaving CC, I found myself desperately searching for replacements to what I had known. I attended CiRCE’s National Conference in July of 2016 and there heard the amazing Leah Lutz speak regarding their Lost Tools of Writing. She was speaking of the trivium and how grammar isn’t always the starting point, and that the 3 are rarely separated. My mind was blown.

I was reading The Latin-Centered Curriculum and this was just echoing what I was reading. The more I read, the more I realized how interesting it is that most agree the trivium and the Great Books are at the center of a traditionally classical education yet the prescription and description of that varies greatly between camps.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I can say that in the last year I have realized something. Many homeschooling mamas who think they are immersing themselves in a classical education haven’t ever heard of neoclassical or given any thought to the 3 paths being paths of language, thought, and speech, but rather as segregated stages of elementary, middle school, and high school.

I’m coaching homeschooling mothers and homeschool group leaders these days and have found that defining classical education can really benefit the way in which they are approaching their daily routine.

So when Homeschool Trade Association’s John Notgrass invited me to do a webinar on classical education, I was more than happy to oblige. You can watch the video here and download the slides, show notes, and my drawing here.

After you’ve watched it, do reach out and let me know what you think about my definition!

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