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Recommended Reading for Practical Application of our Pedagogy?

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As a staff, we read The Liberal Arts Tradition together in the fall. The book is, of course, excellent, but I will need to reread it about six times before I really understand it.

My introduction to classical education came around 2005 when I picked up a copy of The Well Trained Mind. I'm looking for more books along this line that give method along with practice, particularly as I work alongside a teacher this year who is very new to classical education. What books do you all recommend for those just starting to step into this world for the very first time?

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My personal feeling is that you would be best served by reading The Liberal Arts Tradition six more times. 🙂 I read and blogged through it earlier this year, and I'll probably read through it again soon...and I did understand (most) of it. It's really that good.

I actually think it's really easy to want to jump to the "how to" of things, but the "why to" is really going to get you what you want sooner. Educational practices can take more than one form to accomplish the same end, just as there is more than one route you can take, usually, to reach a given destination. Knowing exactly where you want to go is more important than having a set of instructions to follow. A clear vision of what the liberal arts is, or what a Christian classical education is, will help you achieve it, or approach it, better than any version of practices.

If you teach younger children (not sure I'm remembering correctly), you could focus on the piety, music, and gymnastic chapters and just read those six times. :-).  There is a paragraph on page 28 really speaks to me:



Imagine the possibilities of thinking of these areas of the curriculum as musical education rather than the "grammar of ----." History would not be so many facts to memorize, however creatively we do it, but an opportunity to use stories from the past to build up a child's moral imagination--a possibilit that, if followed instantly unlocks the significance of ancient historians. Literature as musical education would resist the modern encroachment of critical reading in order to awaken the same imagination. Science as musical education has perhaps the greatest potential of all, especially in our context. Imagine if the foundations for all future science were a wonder and awe of God's creation and sympathetic love of the created world. What might later scientific inquiry look like?


And then, in the next paragraph, he says, that a musical education considers all these subjects "from the perspective of forming the heart, the sense of wonder, and the affections." To me, that's another way of saying what Charlotte Mason says--"Education is the science of relations." If you invest some time in thinking about how to encourage your students to form relationships, and develop awe and wonder, any trial-and-error methods you use will probably give you better results than following a prescribed plan, because there aren't many pedagogies out there that are based on these objectives. But Charlotte Mason's are, so you could also try those. ;)

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I found The Liberal Arts Tradition very enlightening, and our staff reads it as well.

However, the first book we require our teachers to read, and one I cannot recommend highly enough, is Consider This, by Karen Glass (and I have read this book over six times, with new insight each time!). As one reads it, the "why" behind classical education becomes clear, which will illuminate the "how". Unfortunately, without the "why" as the foundation, any method will fall short.

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I keep a steady diet of blog articles on my plate. I read Classic Academic Press and Circe posts, mostly Joshua Gibbs. These quick reads give many "types" or ways of seeing classical ideals applied, or thought about, etc... Not discouraging the reading of the books, but classical paideia is a soaking in and so the atmosphere needs to constantly be re-moistened with the ideas. 

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