Exordium: The Blog of the Classical Latin School Association

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Are we hurting children by making them wear uniforms in school?

In “It’s 2016. Why are school uniforms gender-specific?”, a recent article posted on the Australian-based Special Broadcasting Service’s website, Nicola Heath argues that school children shouldn’t be forced to wear uniforms that limit them to a particular gender. (more…)

How to Teach Phonics

by Michelle Tefertiller

In my last post, we discussed the key to teaching any child to read: phonics.  So what is the best way to teach phonics?

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Does classical education suck the fun out of learning?

As people new to classical education consider buying in, they sometimes fear that if they put their children in a classical school, somehow those little souls will be weighed down under such a load of old books, old subjects, and old methods, that they too will become unnaturally old, withered, crusty souls, full of ancient history and Latin conjugations, but left without a drop of spirit, spunk, or spontaneity. (more…)

The Classical Reason for Calculus

by Martin Cothran

In a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Tianhui Michael Li and Allison Bishop question the utility of teaching calculus in high school. The reason? (more…)

How to Teach Writing, Part 4

by Brett Vaden

In my previous post about how to teach writing, I outlined the first half of an ancient writing curriculum used by the Greeks and Romans, called the progymnasmata. Now we’ll finish with the higher (and harder) levels.

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Taking note of how taking notes on computers isn’t as helpful as taking them by hand

by Martin Cothran

A new study calls into question another popular belief about the effectiveness of education technology. (more…)

How to Teach Writing, Part 3

by Brett Vaden

Writing is an art. It takes training and years of practice to master. My 7-year-old daughter has been learning piano for several months now under a clear, structured order of training. Her teacher came highly recommended, because, as I was informed, she knows how to take kids from knowing nothing to knowing a lot. The secret for taking a beginner from being a novice to a master is a patient, knowledgeable teacher with a reliable curriculum. A good teacher knows and uses a series of exercises that progress from an introductory, low level of difficulty to more and more advanced challenges, resulting in students’ competence. Is there such a curriculum for writing? (more…)

How to Teach Writing, Part 2

by Brett Vaden
In the last post, I attempted to describe what teaching composition is about. Now, I will describe the objectives of teaching composition, answering the question: What should our students be able to do once they complete their training?

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The Key to Reading

by Michelle Tefertiller

Teaching a child to read is an intimidating endeavor. Even a tenured educator can become unsure of proper technique, questioning which program is the most effective or getting distracted by the newest methods or fads. (more…)

How to Teach Writing, Part 1

by Brett Vaden

What is the best method for teaching students composition, i.e., how to communicate their ideas in writing? This question has mystified many a teacher and parent (not to mention philosopher).
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Walkabout and the Liberal Arts

by Brett Vaden

Between 10 and 16 years of age, boys growing up among the Australian Aborigines are sent out to survive on their own in the wilderness, marking their transition to manhood. This rite of passage has been called “walkabout.”

The Highest Goal of Government, and of Education

by Brett Vaden
One of the greatest statesmen our country has ever known, John Adams, once wrote a letter to his colleague Henry Lee, another signer of the Declaration. (more…)

Is the magic in fairy tales and fantasy books a problem for Christians?

by Martin Cothran

Someone wrote me recently about being admonished by a friend for recommending that her friend’s daughter read the fantasy books of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The books contained magic and witchcraft and her friend felt that this would only encourage an interest in such things.
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Learning Latin to Grasp Grammar

by Brett Vaden

In a recent blog post, Simon Horobin (Magdalen College, Oxford) asserts that learning Latin in order to grasp English is a misguided idea.
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What makes a classical school “classical”?

by Brett Vaden
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How high college tuitions suppress wisdom

Over the past year the media has been reporting general discontent with the state of higher education, particularly its cost. Politicians have noticed this too and are trying to find governmental ways to address it.

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What makes a Christian school “Christian”?

by Brett Vaden

When you hear a school is a ‘Christian’ school, what does that mean? There are a few popular misconceptions about what makes a Christian school ‘Christian.’

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Latin students lean on NFL to bring their Super Bowl letters back

by Martin Cothran
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John Lennox Explains Why Science & Faith are not in conflict

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A Classical School Promotional Video Worth Watching

Holy Trinity Classical Christian School has been a member of the Classical Latin School Association since 2012 and has been growing by leaps and bounds. In their fourth year of operations they already have 240 students enrolled.

They recently released a promotional video that is worth watching.

Check out their new website here.

Picking a Standardized Test for K-8 Private Schools

by Brett Vaden (more…)

What Teachers Need to Do their Job

by Brett Vaden (more…)

Why Study Latin: The short version

by Martin Cothran

There are three reasons to study Latin. (more…)

The Problem with “Deeper Learning”

by Brett Vaden

In a report by the National Research Council, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century, the Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills gives the following definition for “deeper learning”: (more…)

What to get with that technology grant your school just received

by Martin Cothran (more…)

Private School Descendants of Descartes

by Brett Vaden

For the past century, the agenda of “progressive education” has been to convince us to abandon the methods and content that students were taught for thousands of years. (more…)

Why Spelling Matters: The spelling mistake the L.A. school district missed

by Martin Cothran

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7 Gift Ideas for a Classical Educator

by Brett Vaden

Recently, someone told me about the “4 Christmas Gift Challenge.” The idea is to buy only four presents per person in your family: something to they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Regardless of whether you limit your gift-giving to four presents, the categories themselves provide a handy method for deciding what to get that classical educator in your life–or to help others decide what to buy for you.

In this post, I will give seven gift ideas for “something to read” for a classical educator. (more…)

What is Classical Education?

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Ten Great Christian Books

by Martin Cothran

AnnaKareninaBookCoverMy new article, “Ten Great Christian Books,” is up at Memoria Press’ website:

This is a list, not of the ten greatest Christian novels, since I haven’t read all the Christian novels ever written, but at least ten of the greatest. Any one of these would make a great Christmas present for the reader in your family (hopefully there is more than one). These are not children’s books, of course, but they are books that an adult or even a well-read, classically educated highschooler could read for profit and enjoyment. They are also books that warrant spending a little extra money on and getting a nice, hardback edition, maybe one with nice illustrations—one someone could hand down to his children or grandchildren …

Check out the annotated list here.

The Rise of Modern Education

Horace-Mannby Paul Schaeffer

I was recently reading an article arguing that technology will eventually replace public education. While I disagree with some of the author’s premises and his conclusion (he ignores human nature), his analysis of how we got to where we are in education was utterly fascinating: (more…)

Herman Melville’s Literary Imagination

by Brett Vaden

A friend once said to me, “I don’t know how you literature teachers do it—finding stuff to talk about in class.” He, like many people, was mystified by the subject matter of literature. What does a literature teacher teach students? (more…)

When does now come?

by Martin Cothran (more…)

Highest ACT in Louisville for Highlands Latin School Graduating Class

According to Louisville Magazine, Highlands Latin School had the highest ACT scores of any other school in Jefferson County, Kentucky:

HLS2015ACTScoresHLS does not “teach to the test.” It focuses on the liberal arts and the great books. Its emphasis on Latin, math, and music and on the best that has been thought and said has resulted, not only in high tests scores at all grades every year, but in graduating seniors who can think and who know their cultural heritage.

School System Realizes Discipline is Important

A recent opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal makes the seemingly obvious assertion that students should be required to “sit up and pay attention.” The success the author, Eva Moskowitz, has had with underpriveliged children in New York using this philosophy highlights the truth of the assertion. Read the article here.

Ipad woes in Los Angeles schools should be a warning to the rest of us

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Tech startup CEO tells why he isn’t looking for computer science majors

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Grammar and the Fall of Education

 From the excellent Imaginative Conservative blog: (more…)

Why the liberal arts are worth preserving

by Martin Cothran (more…)

Liberal arts graduates are in more demand than you think, even in tech businesses

liberal_Arts_ed

“Throughout the major U.S. tech hubs, whether Silicon Valley or Seattle, Boston or Austin, Tex., software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger. Engineers may still command the biggest salaries, but at disruptive juggernauts such as Facebook and Uber, the war for talent has moved to nontechnical jobs, particularly sales and marketing. The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers–and make progress seem pleasant.”

Read more here.

The Latin oration at this year’s Harvard Commencement

What Two Scholars Found When They Looked at the Quality of Education Research (And It Isn’t Pretty)

by Martin Cothran (more…)

Interview with Martin Cothran on Common Core at CiRCE Institute

MartinCothranYou have written and spoken quite a bit in opposition to Common Core, especially the science standards it promotes. Why is this so important to you?

The Common Core standards are important because of the number of children that will be affected by national standards which are eliminating content knowledge and trying to replace it with amorphous “critical thinking skills.” I’m obviously not against critical thinking skills, since that’s what the liberal arts are. The trouble is that public school policy-makers have no clue what constitute critical thinking skills. It’s a nice-sounding phrase that has no definitive meaning. The lack of content knowledge will further corrupt the process of passing our culture down to the next generation, which is the most important educational goal.

Read the rest here.

Defending the Poor Shakespeare

Modern literature studies always raise the question “Who was Shakespeare?” Some claim he was the Earl of Oxford using a pseudonym while others say he was a man from a poor background in Stratford-upon-Avon who actually had the name of Shakespeare.

Whatever side of the discussion one takes, this article’s defense of the poor Shakespeare through classical education should cause one to think (see the second section, ‘Snobbery’). It is true that in his era, the small town grammar school would have given him the tools he needed to write such masterful plays. By the age of eight, all the school children would have been speaking Latin–a skill that would open them the doors of Roman literature. Once those doors were open, nothing would have stood in the way of a boy who thirsted for wisdom and knowledge. If his desire was strong enough, he would have been able to educate himself to a level that surpassed even that of the aristocracy.

Why does our modern educational system insist on keeping those doors closed to all?

Defending Latin in Public Schools

I just found this article about Latin “not being dead yet.” It is a great apology for Latin–it points out that it should be for everyone, not just for the “smart kids.”

It covers just about every reason why one should learn Latin. What astounds me is that a journalist can understand and present the argument so clearly while the educational establishment continues to ignore it.

Latin should be required in all schools. Read the article to find out why.

Learn English Through Latin

It is amazing how many people are now defending learning Latin in school. This blog post points out its fantastic benefits in learning English grammar and vocabulary. I found it to be very well written and to the point. Honestly, even though I work day in and day out promoting Latin, it nearly knocked my socks off with its straight-forwardness. It is well worth the read.

But Latin teaches something much greater than the English language when a student learns it early: critical thinking skills. The effort a student must put into analyzing grammar forms and then synthesizing them into a translation forces that student to start thinking in an organized, systematic way.

Modern languages like Spanish or Portuguese just don’t do the job. Since their nouns and adjectives are not declined as they are in Latin, the student misses the whole exercise of learning the parts of a sentence–and consequently miss the majority of the critical thinking development.

What other benefits do you see to learning Latin?

Education and Politics

In the midst of a recent conversation, a logical syllogism started to form in my mind:

 

1. Modern progressive education teaches students what to think and not how to think.

Modern political discussion is rife with people who spout ideas without reasoning.

Therefore, modern progressive education has lead to the polarization in today’s politics.

2. Classical education teaches students how to think.

People who know how to think will have reasonable political discussions.

Therefore, to help society have better political discussions, students should be taught with a classical education.

 

Is this argument flawless? Post your comments below!

 

An Interesting Way to Practice Latin

Whether or not you have a passion for Latin, you’re inevitably struck when you hear about a radio news program broadcasting in the ancient tongue.

While the Classical Core Curriculum is not designed to teach the students to speak Latin, it will definitely prepare them to understand these fun podcasts.

You may ask what the advantage is of such news programs. If it were nothing more than sparking the students’ interest, it would be enough. But it is also keeping the importance of Latin in society’s sight. Vivat Latina!

Latin helps boost scores on the SAT

We have always said that Latin boosts students’ scores on the SAT. However, concrete data has never been provided. Here is an article that gives average scores for the SAT, not only of Latin students versus the average, but also compared to students of Spanish and French. The stats are about a third of the way down.

Sapientia et Virtus

Our motto is “Sapientia et Virtus” which means “Wisdom and Virtue”. Why?

When many people speak about classical education, they focus on the superior academics found at a classical school. This is true, but classical education is not just about information. It educates the mind in a deep way, not just filling it up to repeat it on exams, but leading it to wisdom.

But there is more than just the mind–classical education also trains the soul. We always advocate teacher-directed classrooms to help foster discipline and self-control. The literature classical students read teaches them about virtue and vice.

That’s our motto in a nutshell. Just thought you should know.

Docere, Delectare, Movere

The motto of Highlands Latin School is “Docere, Delectare, Movere,” or “To Teach, To Delight, To Move.” That school, where the Classical Core Curriculum is developed, believes that the key to teaching is making sure that the students enjoy learning.

But a distinction has to be made: the students are to delight in learning not because they are having fun but because they are taught to enjoy the pursuit of truth. At Highlands Latin School you will typically see students sitting quietly at their desks (which are in straight rows facing the teacher), working away or paying attention to the lecture. Almost every child on the planet will tell you there are more enjoyable things they could be doing–and most teachers would tell you their are more engaging ways to teach–but in general the students do not complain or dread the school day.

The teachers take advantage of the occasional game or activity, but most class time is dedicated to serious intellectual pursuit. And yet you can see the children’s eyes light up when they can answer a question correctly or when something becomes clear for them. “Man by nature desires to know” as Aristotle would say, and Highlands uses that innate desire to foster a love for learning. Challenging the students to learn, keeping the bar high, motivates students more deeply than “fun” activities. Teaching truth, goodness, and beauty is the key to delighting in learning.

Learning Virtue

by Paul Schaeffer

In elementary school I learned the story of Cincinnatus from the book Famous Men of Rome. When I try to recall the stories I learned that year, he is the first one to come to mind. Romulus and Remus came second, followed by Horatius. So I had to ask myself, “Why would Cincinnatus come even before the founders of Rome?”

The answer was simple: because Cincinnatus embodied all that was noble in Roman culture. He was a man of simple taste. Though he was from a noble family and a man of great renown, he lived on a small farm outside the city. When the Roman army found itself in dire need, the Senate thought it appropriate to name Cincinnatus dictator for a period of six months. They found him plowing in his field and asked him to take control of the situation. By the end of the day, Cincinnatus had raised a new army and marched to the rescue of the regular Roman soldiers. He immediately defeated Rome’s enemies and marched back in triumph.

This story sounds like all the other stories of Rome’s greatness, but what really stuck with me was what Cincinnatus did after coming back to Rome. He had the right to hold on to his dictatorship for six months. And yet, within a few days of returning home, he renounced his office, gave the power back to the Senate, and returned to his farm. I recall my teacher emphasizing this point: a noble, upright person should not have an inordinate desire for power, but serve his community in the office that they entrust to him. Since Cincinnatus had done his duty, it was right for him to give up his office once he returned home.

I tell this story to show how classical education can affect a student. After almost 20 years, I still remember that lesson about virtue. Not only do I remember it, but I also let it influence what I do. After all, isn’t classical education about teaching students how to think and what to do?

Latin inspired the standard for all poetry

by Charles Moore

A great explanation and defense of Latin poetry. Read it here.

The Science of Teaching Science

by Paul Schaeffer

My high school chemistry teacher’s favorite word was “wonder.” Nothing was done in class because some outside power required us to do it. After a while, we all knew that we learned what we did because it was worth knowing–and that’s why we wanted to learn it. The first day of class he taught us to use our sense of wonder in our observations.

“When you observe something, use all five of your senses,” he said. “Look at it, touch it, smell it, taste it, drop it on the floor to hear what it sounds like.”

We followed his counsels to the letter. Any chemical substance he gave us, we observed completely. We began to wonder!

The bad news was that occasionally he would let us taste a substance that was not conducive to our health (to put it euphemistically) . He did not want to shield us from real-life experiences, but taught us what unrestrained wonder could lead to. I no longer remember what chemical it was, but one day he passed out a white powder that we were to observe. We all dutifully tasted it (among our other observations). He continued with the lesson and our tongues started to go numb. Ten minutes later, he stopped in the middle of his lecture and said, “By now your tongues should be numb. I will be passing out some vinegar now which will act as an antidote.” And then there we were, all drinking small portions of vinegar to get our tongues working again! He had a deeper point: the pursuit of knowledge can be arduous and even dangerous.

The good news was that our sense of wonder, with his support, continued beyond physical observation. We learned about the pre-Socratic philosophers and the difficulties they encountered. We followed the quest of the Greeks to figure out what was the underlying substance of the entire world. We drank at the fountain of Socrates’ wisdom and continued into the world of Plato’s forms. All this time we were dying to know what really made up our world. And then we met Aristotle. We picked up his book Physics and struggled to follow his strict logic. We expected him to posit one underlying substance for everything as his predecessors had done. But no, he taught us that everything in this world is made up of matter and form.

The course did not stop there–we continued to learn about the development of the periodic table of the elements as well as different chemical properties. But we knew what the world was really made of. We understood from the beginning that the periodic table was a method of discovery and manipulation, not a philosophical interpretation of existence. So while we needed to understand modern chemistry, it was grounded in a classical understanding of the world. We were not stuck manipulating formulas for days on end, but rather our wonder drove us to think about reality more deeply and still drives me every single day.

Rhetoric: Much More Than Public Speaking

by Paul Schaeffer

Current educational trends either ignore public speaking all together or attempt to teach it by making the student do it repetitively. However, this approach does not seem to be working. Look at the people who make their living by speaking to the public: talk show hosts try to persuade their listeners by shouting more than their opponent while others bore their audiences to death with long, drawn-out monologues. The fruits of our education beg us to find out what current trends miss.

Aristotle defines rhetoric as “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” Observation is active by its very nature. It requires processing and analysis. So then it must be concluded that rhetoric is not about flailing your hands as you speak, nor is it just a wild attempt at public speaking. It is a deliberate effort to decide which method would be most apt to convince your audience of your point. It is therefore a conscious process (something largely ignored in modern public speaking classes). In classical rhetoric, there are three methods of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is the quality the speaker holds as a respectable person. Because he is good, we listen to him. Logos is persuading by means of logical argument. Because it makes sense, we agree with it. Pathos is using the audience’s emotions to convince them of your point. Because we feel attracted to it, we like it.

While the speaker must take these aspects into account, it is very advantageous for the audience to be aware of the art of rhetoric. A listener equipped to “observe in any given case the available means of persuasion” will be able to glean the truth or falsity of arguments based on ethos, logos, or pathos. Whether or not a student will ever be in a situation where he needs to speak to a large group of people, it is worth teaching him rhetoric. It will make him a better speaker and a better listener.

How knowing Latin helped one reporter get the scoop of a lifetime

“Qui res mundi vellet scire linguam Latinam cognosciat.”

If you don’t know what that means, then join all the reporters who missed one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the 21st century.

When Pope Benedict XVI recently abdicated the papacy, he did it in a speech that was supposed to be about the canonization of three saints. But all of a sudden, he began almost whispering in Latin.

Giovanna Chirri, the Vatican reporter for ANSA, the leading news wire service in Italy, was covering the regularly scheduled speech. She immediately realized what the Pope was saying.

She knew Latin.

She quickly called Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi to confirm what she thought she had heard: that Benedict was going to do something that no pope had done for 717 years: voluntarily step down from his office. But Lombardi could not be reached.

Chirri then reported to her editor at the ANSA News agency that the Pope had just announced his abdication. But the editor got cold feet, and a heated argument ensued between the reporter and her editor, the editor doubting her story, and Chirri insisting that her Latin was good enough to understand what the Pope had said.

At 11:46 a.m. GMT, ANSA sent out the alert to a surprised world. Chirri had scooped the rest of the press corp because she knew Latin.

Oh, and that Latin sentence above? It means, “He who wants to know what’s happening in the world should know Latin.”

via Blogger http://vereloqui.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-knowing-latin-helped-one-reporter.html


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