Tuesday, April 09, 2013

What is Classical Conversations? Part One

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would share soon for those who have asked about what CC is and how it works. Then, I'll share why our family loves it and how we've been blessed by it. This will likely be at least a three part post!

I'm basically going to share just what I would share at an informational meeting - feel free to completely skip this post if you're not interested and read on if you are! Also, please note that I am not an expert on Classical Education. I am a student of Classical Education and am definitely still learning!

First, let's talk about Classical Education - that word, "classical" has become sort of a buzz word in our day.

You know what classic means and we've all heard of Classical music, right?! Ok, let's think about this in terms of educating our children.

The Classical Model for education is based on a child's natural bent to learn. I will come back to this in a moment when we discuss the model - but for now, let's look at a definition from Scripture that mirrors classical education.

Proverbs 24:3-4, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."

In that passage, we are given three words which mirror the stages of the Classical Model:

We begin with the end result as our goal: wisdom and then think about what is needed to build that "house" of wisdom: knowledge and understanding. So, if we were going to build our house, we would need to seek the knowledge to build - what kinds of knowledge would we need?

* Terms, vocabulary
* Supplies, what kinds?
* Which ways are the best to build, etc.

Once we knew that, we could take that knowledge and learn how to use it - understanding. We have our foundation in place, it is time to get some walls up on this house and put that knowledge to use. We will apply the knowledge we have acquired and use the tools, supplies and such we purchased to build the walls of the house.

Finally, we long for wisdom. We want our children to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man just as Jesus did when He was on the earth. When our children begin to mature and reach their teenage years, we will want them to be able to take the knowledge {their foundation} and the understanding and begin to apply them to debate and defend the truth of God's Word with courtesy and boldness.

One of our goals in this is that our children would be able to clearly communicate the Gospel, why they believe what they believe and to defend God's Word in a generation that will be seeking to turn away from God's Word.

The Classical Model is divided into three stages: Grammar Stage {knowledge}, Dialectic {understanding} and Rhetoric {wisdom}

You will also hear the word Trivium in defining the Classical Model. Trivium is Latin meaning three roads. These stages are how we learn and not just our kids. I've already described a visual using a house, but consider another:

Great cooks love to try new recipes! When we try a new recipe for the first time, we are most likely to follow the recipe exactly {Grammar Stage of learning}. The next time we may think - that needed just a little more onion and add more {Dialectic Stage} and then the next time we make it we may just make something completely new and different based off the original recipe but our own creation {Rhetoric Stage.}

What are your young children great at? Memorizing! It comes naturally to them - that is the Grammar Stage. As they get older they start asking why and wanting to understand more about the who, what, where, when, why behind the knowledge they already have - this is the Dialectic Stage. And, then as they grow into teenagers what comes naturally? Debate and argue! The Rhetoric Stage takes this natural bent and allows them to critically think through why they believe what they believe and consider how to communicate that in a respectful and effective way. Wouldn't we rather teach them to debate topics in a safe environment with us before they are out on their own and perhaps have no idea how or what to say.

Ok, so I've communicated that the Classical Model is three stages:

Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric. I love the front cover of the CC catalog because I think it is a great visual for the Classical Model. Roots = Grammar Stage or knowledge {think of this as the time we put pegs in the brain - they must be secure or they won't be effective, learning the grammar of a subject.} The trunk = Dialectic State or understanding {begins to put the pieces together, to hang things on the pegs, how and why's.} Finally, the branches and leaves = Rhetoric Stage or wisdom {learns to persuade and/or influence, uses the info and pegs to make it effective and clearly communicates a Biblical worldview.}

The Classical Model helps us teach our children HOW to learn anything they want to know. It fosters a love of learning.

At an information meeting, I would walk through one subject in each of the three stages of learning. Then, we'd look at a diagram showing how in a Classical Christian Education, God is in the center of the subjects. Each subject gives glory back to Him, but also we look to see how He is revealed in each area. One of my favorite things though, is then that we look at how these subjects integrate together - they are not kept compartmentalized but we are always looking for how Science interacts with Math which interacts with the Bible and History and more for example.

Now, that I've shared the Classical Model - Thursday I will share specifically about Classical Conversations. Questions?


Denise said...

I'm so glad you are posting on this topic! I have seen it around the internet, but have not taken the time to research it. I help homeschool four of our grandchildren (all in same family) & was very interested in Classical Conversations. I just learned this past Saturday there is a group that meets in a town near us! So, yes, I am most excited to learn more!! Thank you for sharing.

*carrie* said...

Thanks for this refresher course on CC! So glad it's been a good thing for your family and Kristin's, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm excited to hear more.

Jordin said...

Great post, Monica! I look forward to reading the rest!

Mom said...

Great explanation!
Love, Mom

Mrs. K said...

I am curious as to your thoughts on how much work you do independently vs cost of program. I have not done a lot of research but have friends who do CC. The expense, to me, is extremely high and then my friends have to do so much extra work at home in addition to completing all the other studies that CC doesn't cover. I like the concept but if I'm going to pay that much money I'd expect it to be a lot more of a complete program. Unless I'm misunderstanding something along the way?