I’ve been seeing quite an uptick in the popularity of classical education among my friends and acquaintances of late. At least, that’s what my Facebook newsfeed tells me. Within the past year, many of my Christian homeschooling friends across the country have plugged into Classical Conversations (CC), a faith-based support/cooperative community with an emphasis on Christ-centered, classical education at home. What is particularly interesting about CC is its “old-fashioned” educational values: heavy memorization, rote and ritual, traditional subjects (the three R’s), and western (i.e. Ancient Greek) philosophies such as Latin, logic, and rhetoric. These disciplines are viewed as the reflection of an orderly and creative God who reveals truths about Himself through His creation; to love learning, therefore, is to love the Author of learning, who gave us these truths that we might know Him. Those who advocate for the “good old days” of learning will find much to appreciate in the methodology of classical education, and of CC in particular.
With its commitment to the Trivium, classical education models such as CC are contributing to a Latin revival in American education, via the homeschool movement. How this will affect Latin education in the public and private sectors is still unclear, as many of those embracing Latin education in the home are purposefully independant and reluctant to pursue association with secular classical organizations such the Junior Classical League (JCL) and its sponsor, the American Classical League, which promote and organize competitive opportunities for students in the academic, rhetorical, artistic, and athletic disciplines that the ancients enjoyed. I hope that this discrepancy is resolved as homeschooling families and communities continue to embrace Latin and seek additional resources to inspire and enrich Latin paedagogy.
I’m thrilled that CC’s founder, Leigh Bortins, has promoted the classical pronunciation of Latin forms, instead of the ecclesiastical pronunciation used historically by the Catholic Church. Most, if not all, of the classical education curricula out there teach the latter, which is a decision with significant drawbacks for the student who desires to read the speeches of Cicero and the poetry of Ovid one day…but that is another topic for another day. In the meantime, I’ll consider how to convince Ms. Bortins of the merits of other Latin texts besides Henle Latin!