This first chapter of The Question is a very basic but eloquent survey of the classical model of education, specifically the trivium. Leigh Bortins seamlessly explains the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric phases of the trivium, using concrete examples. She does offer some slight criticisms of modern educational practices, but mostly she focuses on classical education and its benefits. This first chapter provided a great refresher for me on the classical model, and it left me eager to go on and read more of the book. One thing I particularly love in this chapter is a personal example she uses of laying sod in her yard–how she had to learn the grammar of grass to even know what kind of grass she wanted, etc. After reading this chapter, I feel once again grounded in what type of education we’re after for our children. There are so many choices in education–a real surfeit of choices, and that is paralyzing to me. Bringing my thoughts and focus back to the simplicity of the classical model is encouraging.
I underlined a lot in this chapter. Here are a few quotes I find encouraging:
We adults often feel bored by repetition because our business does not afford us time to find the loveliness. I do not want my children’s education to be so fast-paced and so abstract that there is no time to meditate on the fantastical. I do not want them to treat glorious facts as mundane. (9)
I’ve had this revelation about memorization myself, particularly about the memorization of scripture, poetry, and historical documents. Knowing them “by heart” creates an intimacy that nothing else can.
So, the classical model complements and exercises their natural tendencies to “talk back” by teaching young teenagers to argue effectively by using formal logic. It takes a wise parent to trust that it is appropriate to teach her young child to argue well, to ask questions, to make new comparisons, to examine true relationships, and to discover false premises. After all, we may have to correct our own dogma if we engage in deep discussion with the next generation. (11)
Can I just say that I find this frightening? 🙂 I have a child who’s barreling headlong into the dialectic phase, and oh my, the exhaustion! This is an exciting time, though, and certainly not an intellectual opportunity we want to miss.
A few other gems:
Once grammar, logic, and rhetoric are overpracticed, a student is prepared to tackle any field of study. (12)
The student who can calmly, simply, logically, and eloquently express thoughts through words or actions is a rhetorician. (13)
When parents model the trivium arts of memorizing, questioning, and conversing, even difficult subjects will become accessible to the entire family. (14)
Our job as parents is to restore our own education as we translate our vision of quality academics into small, daily deeds. In this way, education is transformed from an endeavor rewarded by grades for short-term memory into the gift of a lifestyle of learning. (14-15)
This first chapter was a great refresher for me, and I’m eager to find time to delve into chapter number two.
The Question is this summer’s selection for the Homeschooling Mothers’ Bookclub here at Hope Is the Word. Here’s the posting schedule:
June 11, 2014–Linky for Part I, chapters 1-3
June 25, 2014–Linky for Part II, chapters 4-5
July 9, 2014–Linky for Part II, chapters 6-7
July 23, 2014–Linky for Part II, chapters 8-9
August 6, 2014–Linky for Part II, chapters 10-11
August 20, 2014–Linky for Epilogue and final thoughts
I hope you’ll considering joining!