Monday, March 10, 2014

CC Long-Term Vision

Hi Friends - hope you've had a great weekend! Ours went waaaay too quickly and I'm wishing for another one smack on top of the end of this one! Though it was busy, it was filled with good things for which I am grateful.

One great blessing from this weekend was being able to attend a Window Into Challenge event for Classical Conversations. This is not my first, but it always leaves me feeling energized and excited at the years that lie ahead in educating our children at home with Classical Conversations.

I told the sweet friend who went with me, you know how sometimes the more you dig into a program, company, method, any number of things - you may come across something you wish you didn't know? As in, it changes your perspective and you feel disappointed.

I just have to say that every time I go to a CC event, I leave with the opposite feeling. It is like the more I find out about the heart and mission behind every piece, the more I want to be a part of it. And, I thought it would be fun to share some of this here. Incidentally, you can find out if there is an opportunity like this in your area by looking at the Event Calendar on the CC web page linked above.

Did you know that CC's mission is, "To know God and make Him known." I've been writing this entire phrase in the middle of our blackboard each week at home so that my children know the motivating factor behind our choice of educating them is that they would know God and make Him known. This is the ultimate goal as parents for our children and if I can incorporate our education into that, it is a win-win in my book.

There are three core verses that were shared:

Matthew 22:37, "And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'"

1 Peter 3:15, "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence..."

Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

The vision cast through this mission statement and verses of Scripture is powerful and desirable. I want my children to love God more than anything and to know how to communicate that to others in boldness and truth but also respect and graciousness to those they encounter.

This are just my thoughts inserted here {and in my own words}: classical has become a buzz word in education circles these days. It is popular right now. But, it is not a new idea and I think it is important to note that it does not mean the same thing to everyone who uses the word.

Rather than go into the myriad of possible definitions that it could mean, let's just look at the historical Classical Model that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years and I yes - I think even in Biblical times.

The Classical Model as we are describing here is walking through the Trivium. Trivium is Latin for three roads. These three roads are three stages of learning: Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric.

I have used this analogy before - but here is a way to see this in our day-to-day lives. We want to cook a recipe. We have to know the Grammar of cooking and reading recipes to be able to do that. We need to know what the difference in ingredients is and in measuring devices. So, the Grammar stage of learning to follow a recipe is learning what tools we need and what the terms mean. It may mean that we follow the recipe to a "T" and not make any additions, subtractions and/or changes.

As we become familiar with that level of cooking, we may start to get a little more creative with our recipe following. We are beginning to get Dialectic and our understanding of the process is increasing. This time when we make a recipe, we may make substitutions or eliminate things we don't care for. We have moved beyond the basics and are ready to get deeper into this cooking business.

Progressing further, we enter the Rhetoric stage. This is the time that we could teach someone else to follow a recipe, learn the basic grammar and even create our own recipe from scratch if desired. We will get even more creative with applying our basis of knowledge and practice and make it more our own.

A beautiful picture of this is found in Scripture in Proverbs 24:3-4, "By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."

Three key words we can see here readily demonstrate the Classical Model and Trivium: wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the desired goal - the prayed for end result; knowledge and understanding are on the way there. All of these things are given by God and a keen mind is a gift.

Knowledge: Grammar Stage - memorizing key people, places, events, dates, etc.
Understanding: Dialectic Stage - beginning to ask why, want to understand more of the memorized grammar, etc.
Wisdom: Rhetoric Stage - application of knowledge and understanding obtained

It is important to say a couple of things at this point. I do not want to give this kind of education to my children so they can impress others with their multitudes of memorized facts. It impresses me and it will impress others - but the point is this: I am interested in cultivating humble learners who love God and people.

Do not put Classical Education on a pedestal - it is not an end. It is a means that God can use. Do not say, "I'm not smart enough to classically educate my children." Because I have said that before as well - it is not about being smart enough, it is about asking God to strengthen you to train your children in the way He shows you is best for your family. If this is it, then ask for His strength and move forward with confidence regardless of your educational background knowing that He will meet you where you need it.

We are memorizing Ephesians 6 this year and verse 6 exhorts us to remember not to do our work as men-pleasers but to please Christ.

If you would like a deeper look at the Classical Model in Scripture, I highly recommend Bluedorn's book Teaching the Trivium. It is a wonderful resource that has encouraged me time and time again.

This has gotten plenty long enough for one post and I'm only one page through my notes after adding a lot of my own thoughts in. I'm timidly opening the comments today in case there are questions about CC that you'd like to have addressed in a future post. Part two tomorrow.


Leanne said...

I am actually going to a curriculum discussion meeting tonight for a our local homeschool association. We currently use ABEKA, but CC is interesting to me...
here are just a few questions:
1. are your kids, especially Samuel, naturally good readers? do they enjoy books? I can't figure out if my boys do or not :-)
2. Does CC seem different to Samuel vs. the Girls?
3. do you plan to send any of them to school (high school) at some point? and if so, do you think they would be prepared for that?
that's my number one concern-- we are on the fence about all of that!
I may have to check out that resource, too!
I'd love to hear more, Monica...I took 4 years of Latin, so I think I would LOVE CC, but am not sure if that would be a good path for my boys or not :-)
p.s. is there an email address that I could have for you?

Grace said...

I love the idea of adding the mission statement to the review board! I just hung four guideposts for us in the schoolroom (respect, work, service, praise), but I especially love the reminder of the ultimate goal. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny said...

Do you ever feel like your children are overwhelmed? A few of my friends told me the amount of memory work overwhelms their children and they cry every week. They liken the teaching method to a fire hose. Has this been your experience? CC has always fascinated me. I'm so on the fence about it!

Monica Wilkinson said...

Hi Jenny - thanks for your question. I cannot say overwhelmed, no, and not crying either. My kids BEG me to go to CC every week! There is 30 minutes on CC day devoted to learning that weeks memory work and then 30 minutes review of previous weeks. The other two hours are focused on other things and the days at home are entirely up to you in how much you review. So, the expectation on mastering varies per tutor and parent, we vary on how much we practice it or don't. The cd's are fun and I do try to keep it low stress for my kids. If they are getting stressed or overwhelmed over it - I would definitely spend less time. We are spending about one hour a week of concentrated time memorizing and then just whenever we practice at home which right now is sporadic. Hope that is helpful.