The Core is an interesting book, not only for its content, but also because of who wrote it and why. Author Leigh Bortins founded Classical Conversations, Inc. to “...lead the home-centered education movement by equipping parents and students with the classical tools of learning needed to discover the order and beauty of God’s creation and to inspire others to do the same”(*). This handmaiden group for Christian (and anyone else interested) homeschoolers considers the family as the basis for successful education, and Classical Education homeschooling to be the best way to educate your child. Through personal experience, they have discovered that most homeschoolers agree with them. What is a ‘Classical Education’? Bortins’ website explains that it models “...the three stages of classical learning—grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Using age appropriate methods, children are taught the tools for studying any subject...[it] emphasizes mastery of facts during the early years. This gives students a foundation on which to build later learning and a solid framework where ideas can be categorized and compared as students mature”(*). In other words, Bortin and her associates seek to step away from modern methods of teaching and provide real, brain-engaging information which produces interested scholars.
The foregoing also explains the why of this book: to get the message out to a wider audience; to show how to educate in this manner; and, to let people know about Classical Conversations, Inc. Does The Core achieve these aims? Definitely! Besides being a savvy homeschooling educator and interesting writer, Bortin has done her homework and provides well-researched, significant information about Classical Education. With humor, panache, and compassion, Bortin makes this book worth reading from the various prefaces through to the epilogue. In the first section, Bortin writes of her experience discovering what her family had missed in homeschooling their children and how they began to fill in those missed spaces. Then she discusses the problems of today’s education, the need for a classical education, and how it can help you. The main part of The Core looks at the actual content and teaching of classical education: reading, writing, math, geography, history, science, fine arts, and schedules and resources. The epilogue discusses the benefits of this type of education accruing on into adulthood. Be prepared for hard work when educating the early ages. To round off this informative volume, a thorough list of resources and a detailed index are included.
As Bortin outlines in her preface, The Core, is useful for homeschoolers and parents wanting better for their public-schooled children, public and private school educator professionals looking for ways to improve their curricula, adults looking to broaden their abilities, and all those hoping for a generation of competent thinkers and leaders. – Donna Eggett, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
*Classical Conversations. Retrieved from http://www.classicalconversations.com/
In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on political correctness instead of teaching students how to study.
Leigh Bortins, a leading figure in the homeschooling community, is having none of it. She believes that there are core areas of knowledge that are essential to master. Without knowing the multiplication tables, children can’t advance to algebra. Without mastery of grammar, students will have difficulty expressing themselves. Without these essential building blocks of knowledge, students may remember information but they will never possess a broad and deep understanding of how the world works. In this book, Bortins gives parents the tools and methodology to implement a rigorous, thorough, and broad curriculum based on the classical model.