The Latin-Centered Curriculum Forum is Open

May 9, 2006 @ 3:00 pm | Filed under:

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.

* Favoring writing programs based on the progymnasmata, such as Classical Writing or Classical Composition.

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:

An Apology for Latin and Math.

Multum non Multa: an excerpt from The Latin-Centered Curriculum.

Decluttering Education.

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7 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Elizabeth Foss says:

    I never thought of myself as “Latin-centered” or even classical in approach, but this is what we do: “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.”

  2. Theresa says:

    I want to preface this comment with the assurance that this is TOTALLY NOT a bash. I came across Andrew Campbell’s blog (or website, whichever) a little while back and found his ideas interesting. What gives me pause, however is that, from my understanding, this man has only one, very young child that he is homeschooling. Now, nothing against small or young families, but I wonder how much of the book is entirely theoretical, and how much could be based on experience at this stage of his journey? I tend to rely more on the advice of those (like Elizabeth, for example) who have walked the walk for a good while before they talk the talk. What is your take on this?

  3. Mungo says:

    Hi, Theresa,

    Drew Campbell here. It is true that I have one young child, but I also have 20 years’ teaching experience in a variety of settings. Aside from my own child, I’ve taught people from age 6 to age 76, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

    More important, I think, is that the traditional method I talk about is 2000 years old. While I’m not trying to teach just like Quintilian 😉 we have generations worth of evidence for the effectiveness of this method. Tracy Lee Simmons lays out the history very nicely. My goal was to make it possible for homeschoolers to come as close as possible to the kind of education he describes in their own homes.

    I don’t know if that sets your mind at ease at all, but I thought I’d put it out there. (And I hope I’m not stepping on your toes, Lissa, by grandstanding in your combox!) -Drew

  4. Melissa Wiley says:

    Not at all, Drew, I’m delighted that you chimed in! Thanks for elaborating. I am really looking forward to reading your book. And it’s great that you’ve got the forum, too, as a place for discussions about the practical challenges of implementing LCE in a household full of children of many different ages. Plus I daresay we’ll be chatting about it over at 4RealLearning.

  5. Theresa says:

    Thanks, Drew. That really does make a difference. As a former professional educator myself, I have seen alot of teaching methods come and go as the latest “cure-all” with no real long-term data to back it up. They usually fail, just as miserably as the ones before. So, I am a little wary, with “classical ed” being one of the latest fads in PS circles. But I guess this is more a case of the old becoming the new, and as you’ve pointed out, these ideas really do have quite a proven track record!
    I do like what I’ve seen so far,especially the part about paring down the subjects taught.
    So, please forgive the initial reluctance. I look forward to learning more about your philosophy!

  6. Love2learn Mom says:

    Dang, I sure do learn a lot at your site, Lissa! 🙂

    We’ve sort of stumbled into something that sounds like it resembles a Latin Centered Curriculum in some degree – or perhaps something that is becoming that. We’re pretty eclectic and rather relaxed, but a weekly co-op for the primary purpose of studying Latin (with a few other things thrown in as the need or opportunity arises)has been a staple of our homeschool for the past four years and we tend to somewhat shamefacedly admit, when asked, that many years we let the Latin suffice for most of our grammar, spelling and vocabulary. So when I saw the “Latin Centered Curriculum” book in the Memoria catalog I was already intrigued.

    I’ve stumbled across Mungo’s blog a few times and enjoyed what I’ve read there, but didn’t make the connection until now. Looking forward to reading it even more now!

    Thanks & God Bless!

  7. Meredith says:

    This does look very interesting, I’m grateful for all the links and will check out the forum. We are planning on hitting Greek and Latin studies hard this next season, here sometime after we move!! As always, info abounds at the Bonny Glen! Funny how our days are somewhat structured thus already!! Hugs.