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Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

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    Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

    The thread on 7th grade languages got me thinking more about where Latin fits in our homeschool. I confess that, while I consider Latin to be very important to developing a child's ability to think deeply, I've never fully understood the "center of the curriculum" aspect. The history-centric approach seen in the mainstream classical movement has always resonated with me because 1) I was a history major and 2) it seems to order every other part of a child's studies (natural science while studying ancients, chemistry while studying early modern age, literature from/about the period being studied, etc; it's not always a perfect alignment but it makes general sense).

    Until now.

    As I thought about this more, I've come to realize a few things (and to realize that I need help sorting out a few more!):

    1. The foundation of our curriculum is our Faith as that is where we meet Truth, Goodness and Beauty personified. This doesn't mean that everything we study is explicitly brought back to the Bible, or that we moralize our literature studies; but it means we know Who we seek and are able to see Him wherever He may be found whether that is in the natural order, the Scriptures, an historical event, the liturgy or a great piece of literature.

    2. The second level of our curriculum is Grammar. The purpose of education is to fully become the human beings we have been created to be; but in order to do this, we must be able to understand what we learn. In order to that, we must understand language. In the early years, this means we learn the building blocks of language itself (letters, sounds, blends). After we know how to speak and access our language in written form, we then need to understand how language actually works so we can fully understand, process and share the knowledge presented to us. This would be where Latin comes in. Through it we learn the order of language and our minds are trained to process what is before us in an orderly manner. It also prepares us to receive knowledge, from its original sources, in a variety of areas -- including the histories of the classical era, the philosophy of the middle ages, and the mathematics and science works of the early modern age.

    3. This third level is where I need further guidance. My initial instinct is to place history here (all of history, not a divided religious/secular history) since the narrative of the past helps us understand who we are, where we come from, and what we are being called to. It is where we see man in both his glory and his misery. It is where we see the human condition played out before us.

    At the same time, I wonder whether mathematics should be placed in this third level instead since it shows us the order of the universe in which we live?

    So, yes, I now fully believe in the centrality of Latin (Jessica, you can do a happy dance now!), but how would you prioritize the rest of the curriculum based on the purpose of education stated above? I don't mean the order of knowledge (i.e., we study these things now so we can study those things later), but rather, within the curriculum our children study from year to year, how would you prioritize their areas of study after Faith and Latin?
    Jennifer
    Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

    DS16
    MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
    MPOA: High School Comp. II
    HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

    DS15
    MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
    MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
    HSC: Modern European History

    DS12
    7M with:
    Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

    DS11
    SC Level 4

    DD9
    3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

    DD7/8
    Still in SC Level 2

    DD 4/5
    SC Level C

    #2
    Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

    Math goes in the #2 slot alongside Latin in our home. Latin and math are the only two things we absolutely have to do every day. It’s the basis for all scientific thinking. Latin centers the language and mathematics centers the number side of communication.
    Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
    DD, 25, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
    DS, 23, BS '18 mechanical engineering
    DS, 21, chemistry major
    DS, 18, Physics major
    DD, 15, dyslexic, 10th grade customizednMP plus co-op
    DS, 12, super squirmy, possible dysgraphia, MP 7A
    DD, 6 , K- finally one who seems to like drawing and writing- first one since my oldest!

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

      Agreed. Latin-Math IS that second tier. But I have a hard time with a “tiered” system anyway.

      A bit of MP-speak would be good here. When you look at their “rhetoric” for explaining classical education, you will see that the way they describe it is as follows:

      “Classical Christian education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. This is accomplished in two ways: first, through training in the liberal arts; and secondly, through a familiarity with the great books and the great thinkers of the Western tradition.”

      There’s a bit to unpack there.
      CE is what? ...The cultivation of wisdom and virtue. Martin usually translates this to: how to think, and what to do.

      How do we do this?....by meditating on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Notice these are in capital letters - that is because they are attributes of God. By meditating on that which is good, true, and beautiful, we come to know Him Who Is Goodness, and Truth, and Beauty.

      What are the avenues through which to do this? The Liberal Arts, and the Humanities. The 7 Liberal Arts are basically 3 Arts of Language, and 4 Arts of Mathematics. The Himanities are the rest (history, literature, etc)

      This is why it is difficult to say, “we have a history centered” curriculum and have it be truly classical - because that’s not how classical civilizations ordered their curriculum. The center was, and as MP sees it, always should be, Latin and Math, with the age-appropriate amount of the humanities. To say you have a Latin-centered curriculum is both more classical, and more effective for helping achieve the goal of “pursuing wisdom and virtue by meditating on the good, the true, and the beautiful.” To do this, kids need to learn how to THINK - and that requires Latin (followed by logic, also) and Math. You can get there by other means, I guess, but this is the most direct, and the most “classical.”

      AMDG,
      Sarah
      2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
      DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
      DS, 16
      DD, 14
      DD, 12
      DD, 10
      DD, 7.5
      DD, 5.5
      +DS+
      DS, 18 months

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

        I am doing a happy dance, Jennifer! And you've asked some hard questions...

        Faith, of course, is the true center. It preceeds academic decisions and saves us the trouble of thinking we can save ourselves through education. Thus set free, we can move on to academic specifics.

        Since it is about priorities, then answers are going to vary. I would think literature could be in the same spot as history for the reasons you described history. I agree with Debbie on Latin and math as complements on equal footing. Beyond those, we round out the plate with servings of good, beautiful, and true things, many of which are found in books: stories, history, science, poetry, etc etc. Perhaps these could be grouped as "ideas." ETA: I like Sarah's phrase better--age appropriate dose of the humanities.

        Many families add serious musical study as well.

        I always go back to Martin's questions to his wife: Did you do Latin? Did you do math? Did your read some good literature? These are the meat and the rest is gravy. Most of us try to serve gravy every single day. When times are tough, we try to get in those three things (meat) The more we practice, the better we become at getting in the meat and gravy every day.

        I'm a little tired and this doesn't feel well written, but I'm not starting over, haha! Hopefully it will be helpful to the discussion.
        Last edited by pickandgrin; 04-22-2018, 02:56 PM.
        Festina lentē,
        Jessica P

        SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
        @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
        S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
        D · 8th
        D · 5th
        S · 2nd

        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

          Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
          I am doing a happy dance, Jennifer! And you've asked some hard questions...

          Faith, of course, is the true center. It preceeds academic decisions and saves us the trouble of thinking we can save ourselves through education. Thus set free, we can move on to academic specifics.

          Since it is about priorities, then answers are going to vary. I would think literature could be in the same spot as history for the reasons you described history. I agree with Debbie on Latin and math as complements on equal footing. Beyond those, we round out the plate with servings of good, beautiful, and true things, many of which are found in books: stories, history, science, poetry, etc etc. Perhaps these could be grouped as "ideas." ETA: I like Sarah's phrase better--age appropriate dose of the humanities.

          Many families add serious musical study as well.

          I always go back to Martin's questions to his wife: Did you do Latin? Did you do math? Did your read some good literature? These are the meat and the rest is gravy. Most of us try to serve gravy every single day. When times are tough, we try to get in those three things (meat) The more we practice, the better we become at getting in the meat and gravy every day.

          I'm a little tired and this doesn't feel well written, but I'm not starting over, haha! Hopefully it will be helpful to the discussion.
          It is helpful to me! I'm a newbie about to embark on this MP, classical journey for the first time. Those 3 questions from Martin I had never heard before, and they are so helpful as I move forward. I love that if I do those 3 things, I will be fulfilling the day's requirements. Love it-thank you!

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

            Originally posted by Meadowlark View Post
            It is helpful to me! I'm a newbie about to embark on this MP, classical journey for the first time. Those 3 questions from Martin I had never heard before, and they are so helpful as I move forward. I love that if I do those 3 things, I will be fulfilling the day's requirements. Love it-thank you!
            Meadowlark, I'm glad you said this because I should clarify for new folks out there! Martin uses these three questions to encourage overwhelmed homeschool parents, of which I am frequently one. He tells the story about coming home to his wife who was homeschooling four kids at the time. Occasionally she would express concern about what they'd accomplished that day. (I'm butchering the story--Martin, forgive me!) He would ask her these three questions to cheer her up. These questions are "first things" but certainly not the "only things." Latin and Math (and literature) are only part of what we do every day with MP. But, they are the most significant academic things we do. Sorry if my explanation was misleading above. We are a core curriculum family, so we just open the planners and do whatever is there each and every day to the best of our ability. When things must be trimmed (as they must occasionally be), we don't trim these away. Academic formation non-negotiables is probably a better way to describe them.

            Hope this helps!
            Festina lentē,
            Jessica P

            SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
            @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
            S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
            D · 8th
            D · 5th
            S · 2nd

            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

              Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
              I agree with Debbie on Latin and math as complements on equal footing. Beyond those, we round out the plate with servings of good, beautiful, and true things, many of which are found in books: stories, history, science, poetry, etc etc.
              I am going to pick on you a bit Jessica, but not too hard because you said you were tired but you know I love you so hopefully you won't mind....

              I get really irritated when I hear things separated this way - as if the true, the good, and the beautiful are subjects of their own or they are the sole domain of literature, poetry, and music. Goodness, truth, and beauty are transcendental qualities that are the mark of the Creator on His creation. The content areas where I experience these the most easily are in Latin, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and music (the liberal arts). It's EASY to find them there once you dig in and get started on learning them. It is actually harder to find them in the humanities because humans are not the best at living them out. Our stories of mankind, whether fictional or historical, are full of people who did the opposite of what would be true, or good, or beautiful. Latin and math (and music and astronomy, etc) are full of it, every single day - there are "right answers," things are one thing and not another, and things behave the way they have been ordered to behave. It is why we are able to encounter God through ALL our studies, not just in religion class.

              For instance, my son is studying physics this year and he has been learning about light - the speed of light, properties of light speed, etc (I will not pretend I know what he's doing). But he explained to me that in thinking about this lesson on light - how it moves so quickly it seems to be everywhere all at once - it struck him that Jesus said He is the light of the world. This was a metaphor, but one based on scientific truth. Learning how light works has revealed to my son what Jesus actually meant by what he said. Incredible.

              There is another reason the liberal arts are a superior center of the curriculum, too. History is massively huge. The body of information a child would need to learn in order to feel like he or she KNEW history is insane! It takes a lot more time, and a great deal of narrowing of focus, for a person to become reasonably knowledgeable of any one time period, let alone the entire expanse - which is also constantly being added to. When I was in school, the history books went up to the early 80's. Now in my daughter's there's several more chapters for everything that has happened SINCE then.

              Conversely, Latin and math (and the other liberal arts) are comparatively finite. You learn the Latin grammar and you are off and running. You learn your math facts and fractions, and off you go to do algebra. These are measurable amounts of content that your children can master, achieve, conquer - and thus feel smart, capable, able to do anything they set their minds to. Even for as much history as my kids have learned, it has not done for their confidence in themselves what being good at Latin and math have done.

              AMDG,
              Sarah
              2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
              DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
              DS, 16
              DD, 14
              DD, 12
              DD, 10
              DD, 7.5
              DD, 5.5
              +DS+
              DS, 18 months

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                I am going to pick on you a bit Jessica, but not too hard because you said you were tired but you know I love you so hopefully you won't mind....

                I get really irritated when I hear things separated this way - as if the true, the good, and the beautiful are subjects of their own or they are the sole domain of literature, poetry, and music. Goodness, truth, and beauty are transcendental qualities that are the mark of the Creator on His creation. The content areas where I experience these the most easily are in Latin, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and music (the liberal arts).
                Yes, friend! Please correct me anytime! I'm totally with you on this on the liberal arts--that G/T/B are transcendental qualities, not subjects. I was just trotting out a little list of other things that are in our curriculum guides, but aren't math and Latin. I was just trying to name the subjects. One of my favorite things is looking for the G/T/B in everything we do. I think I enjoy it even more than the kids, but they have lots of time still ahead of them.

                I appreciate your clarification and explanation. It is so good!

                ETA: I've got to learn the lesson to stay off the posts that are trending in a philosophical direction when I'm tired. Ha!
                Last edited by pickandgrin; 04-22-2018, 04:40 PM.
                Festina lentē,
                Jessica P

                SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                D · 8th
                D · 5th
                S · 2nd

                Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                  Yes, and knowing you, I knew that was the direction you intended. But it comes up frequently when I read or hear others talk about them and I feel my head start to spin around!
                  (Or wanting to use the grouchy face emoji that I love so much!)

                  AMDG,
                  Sarah
                  2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                  DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                  DS, 16
                  DD, 14
                  DD, 12
                  DD, 10
                  DD, 7.5
                  DD, 5.5
                  +DS+
                  DS, 18 months

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                    Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                    I am going to pick on you a bit Jessica, but not too hard because you said you were tired but you know I love you so hopefully you won't mind....

                    I get really irritated when I hear things separated this way - as if the true, the good, and the beautiful are subjects of their own or they are the sole domain of literature, poetry, and music. Goodness, truth, and beauty are transcendental qualities that are the mark of the Creator on His creation. The content areas where I experience these the most easily are in Latin, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and music (the liberal arts). It's EASY to find them there once you dig in and get started on learning them. It is actually harder to find them in the humanities because humans are not the best at living them out. Our stories of mankind, whether fictional or historical, are full of people who did the opposite of what would be true, or good, or beautiful. Latin and math (and music and astronomy, etc) are full of it, every single day - there are "right answers," things are one thing and not another, and things behave the way they have been ordered to behave. It is why we are able to encounter God through ALL our studies, not just in religion class.

                    AMDG,
                    Sarah
                    I wanted to say something like this regarding Math, but you are much more eloquent. For me, Math is a good, beautiful truth that offers an insight into the power, organization, logic, and creativity of God. It forms the basis and structure for all Science (creation). I adore literature and poetry, but they are merely our attempts to express truth, whereas math inherently expresses universal truth.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                      This thread is so enlightening and you all are amazing! How did you all get to know so much about classical ed?

                      Sarah, I've been listening to Andrew Kern's podcast on classical ed, and your definitions are almost word for word what he's said. Is there some book out there that I haven't read that y'all are drawing from?
                      ~ Carrie
                      Catholic mom to four - ages 10, 7, 5, and 2
                      7th year homeschooling, 2nd year MP!
                      2019-2020: 5M (LC year 2), 3M (LC year 2), and K enrichment!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                        Originally posted by klwalukas View Post
                        I wanted to say something like this regarding Math, but you are much more eloquent. For me, Math is a good, beautiful truth that offers an insight into the power, organization, logic, and creativity of God. It forms the basis and structure for all Science (creation). I adore literature and poetry, but they are merely our attempts to express truth, whereas math inherently expresses universal truth.
                        Well, and I love the humanities too - for all the reasons people usually already know because it gets talked about a lot more. But what gets lost in the shuffle is how rewarding it is to learn grammar, and then see it behave as it ought over and over again, let alone to then also understand the meaning of the content, which is usually something worth remembering!

                        AMDG,
                        Sarah
                        2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                        DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                        DS, 16
                        DD, 14
                        DD, 12
                        DD, 10
                        DD, 7.5
                        DD, 5.5
                        +DS+
                        DS, 18 months

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                          Originally posted by carriede View Post
                          This thread is so enlightening and you all are amazing! How did you all get to know so much about classical ed?

                          Sarah, I've been listening to Andrew Kern's podcast on classical ed, and your definitions are almost word for word what he's said. Is there some book out there that I haven't read that y'all are drawing from?
                          Carrie,
                          What I quoted was from MP's website, in the "About" tab. But as for the rest, many of us who took the long way here of needing to be convinced of the "why" of classical education before we embraced the "what" have been asking your same question for years! We read, and keep reading, great books on classical ed - many of which MP has listed on their website for sale. We all have our favorites - for many it is Climbing Parnassus. My fav is Norms and Nobility. Start a stack on your night stand and you will fit right in around here! (Not that that is a requirement to be here - many of us just happen to be nerdy like that!)

                          AMDG,
                          Sarah
                          #wedohardthingshere
                          2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                          DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                          DS, 16
                          DD, 14
                          DD, 12
                          DD, 10
                          DD, 7.5
                          DD, 5.5
                          +DS+
                          DS, 18 months

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                            Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                            Carrie,

                            AMDG,
                            Sarah
                            #wedohardthingshere
                            I've not seen that hashtag before, and I love it!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: Latin-Centered, History-Centered...and a confession

                              It’s Dianna Kennedy’s!!! <3
                              It was on the thread about Prima summer review (I think).

                              AMDG,
                              Sarah
                              2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                              DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                              DS, 16
                              DD, 14
                              DD, 12
                              DD, 10
                              DD, 7.5
                              DD, 5.5
                              +DS+
                              DS, 18 months

                              Comment

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