Welcome to the eighth and final virtual meeting of The Core Bookclub here at Hope Is the Word. You can read more about the bookclub in this post. Be sure to like Hope Is the Word on Facebook to participate in the discussion over there, too. (should such a conversation ever materialize 😉 ).
I have really enjoyed reading The Core and thinking through some of the things Leigh Bortins proposes to make up an excellent education. These last two sections were encouraging to me in a couple of ways. I appreciate Bortins’ suggestions for those who are in non-ideal or impossible situations for classical homeschooling: single parents, families in which both parents work, “afterschoolers,” and teachers in non-classical schools. I suppose of these, the ideas she offers to teachers in traditional (i.e. public) schools give me the most food for thought because I have often considered how differently I’d do things now were I to go back and teach history or English in a traditional school again. My experience has shown me that I might not have much choice in how to teach, but I do appreciate Bortins’ suggestions of small ways to institute change. In fact, I am making an effort to apply some of these ideas to the Sunday school class I’m substituting in right now. The most helpful thing I read in the last few pages of the book, though, are the following passages. I’ll just quote Bortins here. This is from the epilogue:
As a parent, I don’t know what my children will do with their lives. It’s their choice. I do know that I want them to find purpose in work and joy in their daily tasks, not because they are the best at what they do, or because they have the most friends or money or anything else, but because those are qualitites that inherently make them human. Whether they become craftsmen or professionals, I hope they are competent and content because of the satisfaction derived from a job well done.
As a classical educator, I know it is impossible to prepare my students for the specifics of their future. I am trying my best to equip them with the skills that will serve the broadest of purposes. As a parent, my role is to see that my children are prepared to be confident and competent generally. As they become adults, they will need to take over the responsibility for educating themselves specifically. For this to occur, I must help my children to develop a core of common knowledge and critical skills. Rigorous academics provide an opportunity for children to master general competencies so that when they are grown they can continue to learn on their own. (214)
I often feel a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility regarding my children’s educations, and honestly, I feel most of the time like I’m not doing enough. (To clarify–I do feel like I usually do an okay to pretty good job–I agree with Sarah on this point. I just often feel like it’s never enough.) Part of that is just my personality–I’m Puddleglum, you know. 😉 The other part, though, is just the fact that as home educators, we have taken on a big responsiblity. Yes, we have. Reading The Core has reminded me that what I’m to be about during my children’s early years is focusing on the basics–really, really laying down a good foundation. I appreciate that message so much.
I consider The Core a quick shot in the arm for the classical homeschooler. My number one go-to resource remains The Well-Trained Mind, but really, comparing the two is like comparing the clichéd apples and oranges. The Well-Trained Mind definitely offers a more detailed look, as well as the broader picture of how to implement a classical education at home. I’m interested now in reading Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. Maybe that will be next summer’s bookclub. 🙂
Thank you to everyone who read along and participated in the discussions. I hope this experience has been as instructive for you all as it has been for me!
Links to previous bookclub posts: