As you may know, I love the classical education model; we don’t practice all of its characteristics in our homeschool, but we do implement some of them. I was very excited to review a physical copy of The Conversation: Challenging Your Student with a Classical Education, by Leigh A. Bortins of Classical Conversations.
Unlike many classical homeschooling bloggers, I do not use the classical model 100%, and do not completely understand the rhetoric phase, or the high school years. This book definitely helped me better understand what the rhetoric phase is, and why it is so beneficial to students.
What it is
The Conversation is like having a seasoned classical education homeschool parent hold your hand. Truly, the author has broken down the rhetoric phase and written in such a way that if you were brand new to classical homeschooling, you could do it with this book!
Part one is what I call “the pep talk”- it is the inspirational speaker part of the book that tells you you can do this even if A) you weren’t taught using the classical method, and B) you struggled with certain subjects in school. This is also where Bortins has broken down the 5 canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, elocution (style), memory, and delivery. She has gone further to break down each of these 5 canons to explain in great detail what they are & why they are important.
Part two, The Rhetorical Arts, specifies how to include rhetoric in each part of your child’s education and does so in the following chapters:
- Speech and Debate
- Government and Economics
- Latin and Foreign Languages
- Fine Arts
Here you find specific examples to help you include and implement the 5 canons in each of the subjects listed above. Bortins goes in depth on the importance and benefits of being thorough in the rhetoric phase. At the end there is a quick chapter on graduation, and college admissions that many parents will find comforting and helpful as their high school students are staring at the end of their in-home education career.
Part three is the appendices, which has some pretty neat ways to study through games. I really liked this and doggy-eared this page (among others…)
What I Thought
The first few chapters are my favorite- Confident Parents and Rhetoric Defined, will make any homeschooling parent feel like “Hey! I can actually do this, despite my insecurities and weaknesses, this is doable!” (I think that is the early childhood educator in me!)
The rest of the book is wonderful as well! The breakdown of topics, explanations, charts (SO great for a visual learner/teacher) and examples is what would set this book apart from any other of its kind. Although I am not 100% certain we will use the classical model through high school, I will be referencing this book again.