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Classical Christian Education . . . Made Approachable Review by Kathy Gelzer

Classical Conversations, Inc.
PO Box 909
West End, NC 27376

Many homeschoolers are attracted to the classical approach to homeschooling but find it daunting in scope and method. The purpose of this book, as is evident from the title, is to alleviate that pressure. The book begins by comparing the many educational methods and the various degrees of excellence achieved through home education. The most excellent way, according to the authors of this book, is classical Christian homeschooling--ideally through Classical Conversations. Methods of education are classified as the current public school system, poor Christian education, good Christian education, great Christian education, and classical Christian education. Excellent diagrams for each model show the relationship between the student, the academic subjects, and God.

After proving the view that classical Christian education is the best method, the book goes on to define this method further. The trivium's three stages (grammar, logic or dialectic, and rhetoric) are defined, and general teaching approaches for each are explained. The book then discusses "what to teach" and runs down a list of core subjects: Scripture, literature, writing, math, geography, history, science, Latin, and fine arts. Each subject is taken to a new high in terms of content and student expectations, which is in keeping with a stringent classical education.

The last three chapters talk about the house, parents, and the one-room schoolhouse. "House," as I understand it, is symbolic of the whole person. Parents are seen as the primary teachers, ordained by God in His Word and responsible for the education of their children. The one-room schoolhouse is a model for the benefits of having many ages and stages learning together.

There are six appendices. The first appendix is basically an advertisement for the Classical Conversations program. The second appendix is a sampling of three "Classical Conversations" family homeschool schedules. Only the ages of one family's children are listed. I think it would have been helpful to know the ages of the children in the other two families as well. The third appendix is a subject "goal grid" for each of the three stages of learning. In Appendix D, Jennifer Courtney explains the importance of Latin in the homeschool. The fifth appendix lists some resources on classical education and specific core subjects. The last one is "The Lost Tools of Learning" by Dorothy Sayers. This is a thoughtful inclusion since the book refers to this piece of writing often.

The book was a little disappointing to me for a couple of reasons. It was more theoretical than practical in application, and it was, in many ways, a plug for Classical Conversation's own program. But for homeschool parents unsure about the value of a classical Christian education, this would be a good book to read.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2011