Family Business | School

Check lists or Vision

January 3, 2011

Just now, as I snapped at Boy#2 to get focused on his school work, my heart did a little somersault of joy.

Not necessarily because I enjoy snapping at my beloved children, but mostly because we are FINALLY into January and the new year is upon us.

2010 was an interesting year for us.  Lots of busy, lots of challenges and lots of all the stuff in between.

I was ready to say good-bye and ready to jump into 2011.  Despite what the Mayans have to say about next year, I’m excited.

The boys are doing stellar in their schooling.  Yes, I said that with a head bobble and a lisp, but I mean it.  I am so proud of their accomplishments and, as we have stepped out of our comfort zones in so many areas it’s extremely gratifying and encouraging to see how the Lord has kept us steady.   He has been so faithful.

This year I am applying for the Director position to start a co-op/community here in Bend through Classical Conversations.

For many years I’ve looked at “home business” type endeavors and have been told to “BE the Pampered Chef consultant!  You’re a good cook, it would be perfect!!”   Um… No.    I have had the opportunity to work in several other environments and have had absolutely no desire to engage.   I like being home.   I don’t like people all that much.

And while I am not a big HOLY AWESOME CURRICULUM, BATMAN person, I see the benefit for the method and expression of Classical Conversations.   Still,  that’s not what prompts me to buy into the franchise so completely that I’m willing to put myself, my family and my friends through the blech that is starting up an educational coop in, what is arguably,  one of the most elitist, self-serving homeschool environments I’ve ever had the privilege of being overlooked in.

What would prompt me to do this?

The philosophy.   The nature of this method of education is far more than just transforming eager little brains into fact-spewing machines, although is there anything cuter than a 5 year old conjugating Latin verbs and singing about the Reformation? I dare you to find it.

As Dorothy Sayers expounds upon in her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning“:

I am concerned only with the proper training of the mind to encounter and deal with the formidable mass of undigested problems presented to it by the modern world. For the tools of learning are the same, in any and every subject; and the person who knows how to use them will, at any age, get the mastery of a new subject in half the time and with a quarter of the effort expended by the person who has not the tools at his command. To learn six subjects without remembering how they were learnt does nothing to ease the approach to a seventh; to have learnt and remembered the art of learning makes the approach to every subject an open door.

I am excited and passionate about teaching my children to LEARN.  Teaching them to be able to both find and use the necessary tools to further their own education long past the time I have offered all I am capable of giving.   I am looking up at my 5’8″ 13 year old and realizing that as his body grows so also should his ability to discuss, evaluate and intelligently dissect a subject.   I know he has the desire, but does he have the tools to do it well without falling into that argumentative form of debate that relies less on logical, reasonable pursuit of knowledge but rather tends to fall into the fallacies and delusions of emotion driven dialogue.

Boy #2 is 11.  He’s tall, gangly, awkward and delightful.   He’s quick-witted with a vocabulary that includes words like “troglodyte” and “impervious”.   He’s also dyslexic.

Reading and writing are a struggle for him.    Memorization?  The absorption of knowledge?  Easy.

Ask him to conjugate his Latin verbs, give a 5 minute speech on Psalm 23 and why he believes David wrote it or recite multiplication tables up to 15×15?  He can do it.   He can tell you the location of the Po River, when Magellan sailed around the globe and what the seven layers of the sun are.

And, all of this by playing to his strengths in a group setting while we work on his handwriting and reading issues at home.

Not only has he been able to accumulate knowledge, which has him feeling like a pretty stinkin’ smart little dude, he’s gained the confidence to pursue relationships and tackle difficult challenges he didn’t believe he was capable of a mere 5 months ago.

It’s because of this type of result based on this type of educational philosophy that has prompted me to expend the effort to support and expand the scope of Classical Conversations.   I hope and pray we can continue well into the next few years of the boys education and I encourage any of you out there with children to read Ms.Sayer’s essay.

If nothing else, it will give you food for thought.


  • Yay!!! SO wish I lived in Bend.

  • Giraffe

    Sheesh. A 5 year old conjugating(!) Latin(!) verbs. I am intimidated at the thought of lernin’ my own youngsters.

  • The 5 year old conjugating Latin verbs isn’t necessarily doing so from a position of understanding but rather as an exercise in perfecting the skill of memorization. 🙂

    And if you are going to have your child practice memorization skills, why not have them memorize something that will improve their understanding of scientific terms and even concepts in the higher maths when they reach that level of education, right?