Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 5 (1)


Real families and real communities are studying rigorous academics.

I have been developing this church-based curriculum for home schooling communities since 1997. The results have been very encouraging. A poll of one thousand families enrolled in these programs provided some interesting feedback.

Christian parents participated in these programs primarily for accountability while pursuing rigorous academics and rarely for the classical approach. The average parent has yet to make the connection that methodology and philosophy are as important as support in a difficult endeavor. The ‘whys’ are as important as the ‘how’. But they value the importance of associating with Christian families and recognize that education is a community activity.

When a family joins one of these communities and then quits, it is usually because the academics are too rigorous or they expect to receive a cafeteria-style offering of courses instead of integrated seminars. Of course, sometimes students leave simply for logistical reasons.

Since I refuse to lower standards or offer cafeteria-style courses, I have sometimes been accused of fostering academic elitism. The literacy rates in early America when everyone—rich, poor, slave, free, hungry, or orphaned—was educated classically demonstrates that the average student is capable of pursuing a classical education, so I have no desire to reduce expectations.

Instead, I have implemented more free training programs (called Parent Practicums). Here adults practice teaching students “to study far fewer subjects far better” in the words C.S. Lewis used to describe a classical education.(1)

(1) C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children, ed. Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie L. Mead (New York: Macmillan, 1985), 83.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved.

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