If the kind of education given to Shakespeare and C. S. Lewis appeals to you, you might want to swing by the brand-new Latin-Centered Curriculum website and forum.
Unlike the neoclassical approach to education favored by Susan Wise Bauer and Laura Berquist (whose books I consider extremely useful resources but whose systems or curricula strike me as bucket-filling instead of fire-lighting), “Latin-centered” or “traditional classical” education involves an intense focus on, in the words of author Tracy Lee Simmons, “Greek, Latin, and the civilizations from which they arose.” Simmons’s book, Climbing Parnassus, which I’m currently in the middle of, lays out a case for a simple curriculum revolving around Latin, Greek, and mathematics. (You can read an excerpt of his book here.)
Andrew Campbell, whose new book, The Latin-Centered Curriculum, is hot off the presses and shipping this week, describes the elements of a traditional classical education:
* Limiting the number of daily core subjects to a small number, typically Latin and/or Greek, math, and perhaps one or two others, such as Bible or music.
* Presenting English grammar and vocabulary through the medium of Latin.
* Making Classical Studies an ongoing subject, rather than approaching “Ancients” as part of a four- or five-year world history rotation.
* Teaching most subjects, such as composition, science, and history, on a weekly or semi-weekly rotation.
* Approaching science and history informally in the early years.
With its emphasis on slow and deep study of a particular few subjects, Latin-centered education lends itself nicely to a Charlotte Mason approach: one might begin the day with lessons in Latin and math; follow those studies with fine read-alouds in fiction, history, science, or poetry (perhaps rotating through several books in the course of the week, and having the child narrate some of the readings); and leave the rest of the day open for free play, nature walks, art, music, and curling up with good books.
Likewise, folks with unschoolish yearnings but who have reservations about completely letting go of structured pursuits may find that LCE offers just enough disciplined study to maintain Mom’s comfort level while allowing lots and lots of free time for a child’s interest-driven explorations.
Intrigued? Here’s more good reading on the subject: