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  1. #1

    Default Is there a way to include some elements of Classical Education, without religion?!

    Certain elements of the Classical Education intrigue me, but I can't find anything that isn't wrapped in many gauzy layers of biblicality.

    I want my kids to be able to understand, deconstruct, defend against, and wield, the techniques of rhetoric and debate that almost no one besides politicians and pundits wield with ease today. I want them firmly grounded in logic, and able to detect persuasive techniques so pervasive in media-driven society.
    I like the rigor of it, and the fine-tuning and honing of critical thinking skills it seems to represent, and I also like the idea of them being conversant with ancient legends and myths and their symbolic meanings which tend to recur throughout human civilizations.

    Is there something analogous to the Classical Education curriculum that isn't religion-based?
    Last edited by crunchynerd; 02-23-2013 at 08:52 PM.
    Middle-aged mom of 4 kids spanning a 10-year age range, homeschooling since 2009, and a public school mom also, since 2017.

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  3. #2

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    Have you actually read The Well-Trained Mind? It's definitely not wrapped up in biblicality. It *is* very conservative... and by that I don't mean politically, I mean in its thinking. It is very traditionally based and old-fashioned in many ways. It's also very Western-centric in terms of its approach. The authors address religion in there and suggest including religion as a part of the curriculum - and SWB is a Christian and a minister's wife, as I think everyone knows. However, if you actually read it, it says something along the lines of how religion is important to understand as a cultural force if nothing else and how families should determine what sort of religious instruction they want to give. The curriculum suggestions in WTM do include things like Rod and Staff, but they also include many secular options, including some, such as the Kingfisher encyclopedias, that mention evolution and so forth. And I would wager that at this point, there are secular options for every subject at nearly every level in there. When it was first issued, they had to work with what was out there. But since then, SWB has created the materials she thinks should exist for some things and many more things have come out.

    You might also be interested in Adler's Paideia Proposal, which is another take on classical education, though not one I see mentioned in homeschooling circles much. WTM draws a lot from the trivium and the concept of the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages. But Adler was more interested in a hierarchy of thinking skills and understanding. I would say both approaches though are focused on Great Books and the "Great Conversation" though. That's inherently tied up in the academic canon wars, but I would say that it's a lot easier to ignore that stuff with Adler and focus on the thinking involved.

    While there are some takes on classical education that are very religious (like Leah Bortin's The Core and it's Classical Conversations spin-off of memorization to deaden the soul), I would say that most aren't. In fact, most of the really religious types HATE classical education. After all, it teaches kids about Greek myths as first graders (gasp, false gods) and how to think and be critical as high schoolers (gasp, they might question what we say!).
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    I dont know if this is what you are looking for, but I use older books for reading. there a lot of classic books free online thru google play, its called play books, donpotternet, and you can go to antique book stores, some of the books have a part at the beginning that tell the teacher how to use the book, they also have questions and some projects at the end of the story. She also has her pick of new books as well. But the older books are better for teaching in my opinion. I also use a math book from 1824, it was great for oral math. Sometimes I have to explain the wordingm and I havent noticed anynreligious references. I avoid that stuff. Im in bed right now, when I get ahold if the readers I use ill let you know the names of them.
    Bobo 13 yrs old - marches to the beat of her own drum, driven, out going and loud, yet she loves nature
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  5. #4

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    I second what Farrar said about TWTM and classical homeschooling in general. We are classical style homeschoolers, and haven't used anything with religious overtones in our standard education. We also do plenty of science and math. Some folks seem to think classical education leaves those out, especially science, but TWTM emphasizes the importance of experimentation and a hands-on approach to science.

    Sure, I tailor things to our family - the years we study the Ancients (1st, 5th, and 9th grade), we start with the Big Bang, and look at how the earth and life developed over millions of years, not mere thousands.

    I do teach religion. We study our Pagan holidays as they come around throughout the year. We also study World Religions, so my son can contrast and compare them. Heck, one of the grammar texts we're using, which was recommended by TWTM, was published by Loyola Press - a Catholic publisher - and I haven't come across one religious reference yet. In fact, I think I'm in love with the textbook.

    Classical education isn't inherently religious. I think some of the better-known resources about it, such as TWTM, the "Latin-Centered Curriculum", and "Classical Conversations", might give that impression, though.
    Wendy
    Mumsy to Gavin (13-year-old artsy boy) and Rowan (3-year-old disco queen)

  6. #5

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    JinkieFox, I'm looking for a good grammar text. Which one are you using?
    Mom to"E",10-my artist, "J", 8-my engineer/one man demolition crew ,"R" 6,-sweet,brilliant and in constant motion and "D"- well she's 3

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by JinxieFox View Post
    I second what Farrar said about TWTM and classical homeschooling in general. We are classical style homeschoolers, and haven't used anything with religious overtones in our standard education. We also do plenty of science and math. Some folks seem to think classical education leaves those out, especially science, but TWTM emphasizes the importance of experimentation and a hands-on approach to science.
    Some versions of classical education do leave out science in the early grades particularly. WTM definitely doesn't and they defend including it and that it's important... but I think it also gives it very short shrift compared to history and I never got the sense of an emphasis on hands-on experimentation from WTM in any way when I read it. She includes recommendations for some things that have hands-on emphasis, but my sense was that the focus was clearly on reading, writing, grammar and math. Then, if you have time, history, and then if you really have time, everything else. And I think SWB doesn't fully gets science. Her concept of aligning the sciences to go with the history is just silly IMO. They don't go at all. I wouldn't really expect anything different from an historian though.

    But I think there are a lot of WTM'ers like you Wendy, who are giving science a lot more focus or a focus equal to history anyway. So I don't think they don't go together...

    We're not really classical though... We do history in a four year cycles way more or less and my goal is very much to get to that rhetoric stage rigor. But I don't think it has to be founded on grammar stage memorization.
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  8. #7

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    Wow, Farrar, you are a goldmine of just exactly the information I was looking for! Thank you!!!
    I hadn't read anything but what I could see for free, online, and most everything I saw made it seem as though Classical=Religious.
    Middle-aged mom of 4 kids spanning a 10-year age range, homeschooling since 2009, and a public school mom also, since 2017.

  9. #8

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    Yup, Farrar, some do leave it out entirely! Oh, the evil science!

    mntnmom, not to derail the thread, but for 5th grade we're using "Voyages in English". I really like the way the lessons are organized.

    Crunchynerd, Farrar is definitely an excellent resource in and of herself.
    Wendy
    Mumsy to Gavin (13-year-old artsy boy) and Rowan (3-year-old disco queen)

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by JinxieFox View Post
    Yup, Farrar, some do leave it out entirely! Oh, the evil science!
    Yes, that evil science! Where religious questioning has no place!
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

  11. #10

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    In Oklahoma, apparently it does. But that's a rant for another day and involves government officials with their heads firmly up their bums.

    We roughly use the WTM method as well and are eclectically classical in our approach. A lot of the emphasis revolves around the 'stages' of development... lots of rote memorization and exposure to many, many different things in the early years and then building and expounding on those ideas in the later years. DS is going into fifth grade this fall and so we're going to be asking a LOT of "why" questions that he wouldn't have understood when he was DD's age. When he hits high school, I'm hopeful that he'll be able to construct logical arguments for and against certain ideas and write coherent papers about them. (Same for DD, but she's still young.) The classical approach also has a heavy emphasis, like Charlotte Mason, in using primary sources. So instead of reading excerpts, we use the real deal. DD is in the middle of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women; DS is reading Gulliver's Travels and adores Jack London. Instead of reading a book ABOUT the Constitution, we read the Constitution and I help them interpret it or we find books to accompany it that helps them do the interpretation independently.

    We have never once had a religious bent to our homeschool. In fact, I realized the other day that DD has even less knowledge of the Bible stories than DS has, something I'm going to have to fix this fall when we go back to the ancients. She's perfectly aware of various pantheons and has a working knowledge of several religions, including Christianity, but she doesn't know the stories that make up many of the cultural references that dot our landscape. So it's my job to correct that. I digress. It's easy to have a classical education without heavy doses of Christianity. And it can be a lot of fun, too!
    ---
    Sarah B., Oklahoma

    "By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest." - Confucius

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Is there a way to include some elements of Classical Education, without religion?!