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Tresta Payne | moms@nrtoday.com

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April 5, 2014
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Why we should consider classical education for our children | Moms

What topics fire you up?

If you are passionate about something - a hobby, your career, a sport - you probably have a classical education in that area.

You have gone through certain stages in learning this thing you are passionate about, and you have all the tools you need to enjoy it and to share it with others.

A classical education is not just for old Greek guys.

In a culture that values change and progress and everything new-and-improved, why would we consider classical education for our children?

Because classical education uses proven tools of learning that give us the ability to learn any and every subject.

As the world changes, the tools for understanding it remain the same.

The three stages, or tools of classical education - Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric - are used daily by experts in every field.

Grammar is the language of any subject. Math facts are part of the grammar of arithmetic; header, footer, tabs, and fonts are grammar related to word processing; touchdown, punt, and pass are some grammar terms for football.

In the grammar stage children are compared to parrots because they like to repeat what they hear - good or bad!

They enjoy learning through songs, chants, and repetition.

We capitalize on that by memorizing lots of facts at this stage – math facts, spelling rules, phonograms, parts of speech, punctuation rules, and steps of the scientific methods.

All of these facts implant themselves into long-term memory through repetition, so that when your child needs to know what 9x9 is they can effortlessly produce the answer without laboring over the addition of 9 sets of 9.

If you still remember the ABC song and the colors of the rainbow, you know the effectiveness of memorization.

If you don’t remember anyone’s phone number anymore because you now have a cell phone, you know the effects of not memorizing.

The next stage and tool is Logic, also called Dialectic.

This stage is often referred to as the pert stage, as in impertinent.

Somewhere around 11 years of age, our children become more argumentative and questioning.

Whereas before they were absorbing information like sponges, now they are asking “why?” and “what for?”

A classical education encourages these questions, and the dialectic stage is the time to give them the tools of logic and argument.

Class discussions and dinner table conversations should encourage the dialectic student to express himself logically and considerately.

To quote from Leigh Bortins' book, The Core:

“We want children to recognize the difference between expressing an opinion, and developing a logical conclusion through induction or deduction.”

This applies both to their expressions and what they will read and hear from others; is this newspaper article conveying someone’s opinion or stating facts about an event?

The goal of the dialectic stage is logical argumentation and organization of facts.

The third tool of a classical education is the art of Rhetoric or persuasive communication.

The classically trained Rhetoric stage student knows how to gather information (grammar), has been taught how to organize that information and properly argue a position (dialectic), and is eager to express themselves clearly through speech or writing (rhetoric).

Quoting Bortins again: “The student who can calmly, simply, logically and eloquently express thoughts through words or actions is a rhetorician.”

A mechanic who can explain to me what is wrong with my car is a good rhetorician.

He has mastered the grammar of automobiles and is familiar with all the parts of a car’s engine.

He knows how to compare, analyze and process the facts so that he can diagnose mechanical problems (dialectic).

He can explain to a non-mechanical person what is wrong with their car, using words and analogies they can understand (rhetoric).

He has used the three tools of classical education.

Classical Conversations is a community of parents joining together to give their kids a quality, classical, Christian education.

They form groups that meet together once a week under the direction of parent-tutors.

Dawn Scott is in the process of beginning a CC community in the Roseburg area for the 2014-15 school year. If you would like to know more about Classical Conversations and how it can help you give your children a strong education with a Biblical worldview, you can contact her at 541-733-8420 or classicalconversationsroseburg@gmail.com.

A classical education is not just for old Greek guys.

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The News-Review Updated May 21, 2014 03:42PM Published Apr 14, 2014 09:53AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.