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The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education [Paperback]

Leigh A. Bortins
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 8 2010

In the past, correct spelling, the multiplication tables, the names of the state capitals and the American presidents were basics that all children were taught in school. Today, many children graduate without this essential knowledge. Most curricula today follow a haphazard sampling of topics with a focus on  political correctness instead of teaching students how to study. Leigh Bortins, a leading figure in the homeschooling community, is having none of it. She believes that there are core areas of knowledge that are essential to master. Without knowing the multiplication tables, children can’t advance to algebra. Without mastery of grammar, students will have difficulty expressing themselves. Without these essential building blocks of knowledge, students may remember information but they will never possess a broad and deep understanding of how the world works. In this book, Bortins gives parents the tools and methodology to implement a rigorous, thorough, and broad curriculum based on the classical model, including:

• Rote memorization to cement knowledge

• Systematic learning of geography, historical facts, and timelines

• Reading the great books and seminal historical documents
   instead of adaptations and abridged editions

• Rigorous training in math and the natural sciences

http://www.classicalconversations.com/

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Review

The Core provides an altogether practical curriculum, a handy reference work for busy parents who want their children to enter adulthood fully-equipped with the knowledge and skills possessed by responsible citizens, discerning consumers, and ethical selves."
--Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation
 
"In a time when many parents are rediscovering the classical methods of education, whether at home or in the classroom, it is heartening to see more and more educators studying, applying, and refining these methods. This book by Leigh Bortins is admirable part of that project, and I commend it to you."
--Douglas Wilson, author of The Case for Classical Christian Education
 
“Shifting American education from the factory model to a classical model is the goal advanced by Classical Conversations founder and President Leigh Bortins.  The public school bar for educational achievement has dropped so low that it takes time for parents to discover how much more potential their children have outside government's educational straightjacket. The Core brings a wealth of practical experience developing classical skills and content for thousands of families engaged in home-centered education nationwide.”
--Gregory Rehmke, Program Consultant for Foundation for Economic Education

“Leigh shows a breadth of knowledge and awareness that will be very helpful. Since I believe our future as a nation depends on the willingness of the home schooling mom to exercise and live with her freedom, this book could make a serious contribution to our national well-being.”
--Andrew Kern, President, Circe Institute
 

“If you have children of your own – of any age – and you long for a way to be certain they will prosper in life, you will love this book.  If you deal with children in an educational situation, this book will motivate you to think differently about how they might best learn.  And, if you just simply care about the children around you, you will find this book personally inspiring and you will want to share it.”
--from the Foreword by Becky Dunlop, The Heritage Foundation

About the Author

Leigh A. Bortins is the founder and CEO of Classical Conversations, Inc., whose enrollment is 20,000. She hosts a weekly radio show, Leigh! for Lunch and lectures widely about the importance of home education at nationwide conferences and seminars. She lives in West End, NC.


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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classical Education "why" & "how-to" Aug. 16 2011
By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is one of many recent books about the popular and growing movement to classical education in North America. While the various books available each have their own particular focus, they are may be broadly divided into the "why" books and the "how-to" books. The why books usually are part indictment of the modern public education system and part case for the benefits and advantages of the classical education model (Douglas Wilson's books are particularly strong on this, see my reviews). The how-to books typically are just that - how to educate your children by the classical method. The Core is, if not the very best of both worlds, a very capable introduction to both the why and the how-to of classical education.

Bortins is the founder and lead of Classical Conversations which puts her in the forefront of the classical education movement in the US. In this book, she speaks to the failings and the systemic errors inherent in the modern state-run education system and she ably puts forth the classical model, particularly in the home school setting, as a far better alternative. Bortins writes from a Christian perspective but her arguments and methodologies are applicable to those who do not share her religious convictions and her faith, while present throughout the book as it no doubt is in her home, is a relatively small portion of the actual written material.

Bortins' approach to home based classical education differs somewhat from other writers in the field (such as Susan Wise Bauer). For example, Bortins is much more willing to use video and internet as aids in educating than is Bauer.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great Content, Absolutely Horrible Writing Style July 24 2013
By Ahsan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm all for classical learning. I've been trying to teach myself the classics since I started university, and have read plenty of books and essays on the topic. And I"m also going to homeschool my kids (when they grow up to that age - my son's currently 2 months old). I've read everything there is to read by Susan Wise Bauer.

For a book that claims to be a proponent of classical learning, the writing style is absolutely horrendous. The content is great, and is structured very appropriately (as anything 'classical' should be). However, the writing itself sounds like someone on a megaphone disgruntled at the world and ranting away. That's certainly NOT the classical way to do things. Often times, the author tries to move from recommending something to a personal experience she's had, without any elegance at all. It's all very choppy, without any continuity within the text.

I hope she comes out with another edition that's got a better flow to her writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  47 reviews
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Content, a little overwhelming... June 14 2010
By Just Another Homeschooler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a home schooling mother of two and am following the classical model with my very young kids. We are actively involved in a Classical Conversations community and I absolutely love the program and hope to continue with it throughout our home schooling journey.

Leigh Bortins presents a very clear and persuasive argument for classical education, siting many examples and studies. She then goes step by step though different subject matter, explaining how the model can be implemented. She has an obvious passion for classical education that comes though in this book.

She speaks frequently of her own family, which I found helpful, for the most part. However, I came away from this book feeling rather overwhelmed. When I finished this book, my gut reaction was "Wow, I don't know if I can really do this." Whereas when I read Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind my reaction was "Wow, I think I can do this!"

I do recommend this book to anyone who would like to further their research on Classical Education. If you're just starting to look into it, however, I think Bauer's book is the best "jumping off" point.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy to implement guide to classical education Aug. 22 2010
By DJC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd like to give a little background that I hope will aid in my book review. I am embarking on my 7th year of homeschooling. I have tried to classically educate my children since the beginning. After reading Susan Wise Bauer's "The Well-Trained Mind" I was excited, but thoroughly overwhelmed at how to implement all of her wonderful ideas. I struggled for 4 years on my own, and always felt as though I never accomplished all that "TWTM" laid out. At the end of each year I felt I had failed because we did not complete all that we "should have".

Then I was introduced to Classical Conversations. What a breath of fresh air! My children thrived. Our homeschool accomplished more, my children learned more, they enjoyed it more, and it required less effort on my part. THIS was what I had been struggling for four years to achieve.

This summer I read The Core. I believe this book can help many families who want to see their children truly educated, whether in the home, or in a brick and mortar school. For new homescholers, or those new to the idea of classical education, she explains classical education well and utilizes a common sense approach. The book is laid out by subject matter and shows how to encourage your children to truly learn. She also provides ideas that families who aren't homeschooling can use in their children's education.

As a veteran homeschooler, I was encouraged. This book reminded me to focus on the best things and not get distracted with good things. As a mom of multiple chidren, she encouraged me how to truly do a "one room schoolhouse", thereby simplifying my life. She has also graciously given us a glimpse into her own homeschool by laying out what has worked within her family. I appreciate that and am confident that I can implement something similar in our family.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK! July 30 2010
By R. Summerville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am new to homeschooling, I did kindergarten with my son last year and have been so stressed about the coming year. My daughter will start kindergarten (not too stressed about that) and my son will move to 1st grade. I wanted to be able to give him a strong base but had no idea how. Like so many, I knew my education (though I did very well) was lacking and didn't trust today's school districts to do better. The Core is amazing. I read The Well Trained Mind last year and it gave me a good starting point, but The Core breaks it down and makes a classical education feel manageable! I'm much less stressed about the coming school year and feel really confident that my kids are going to get the best education possible - and I'm going to learn a lot in the process!!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classical Education is within MY grasp! Nov. 13 2011
By K. Ann Seeton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm delighted with this book. It presents classical education as something I, who am lacking somewhat in that department, can actually achieve with and for my children. I like how positive this author is and how she is not strictly a home school educator but encourages parents who have made other choices to explore the classical model as their way of being more involved with their children's educations. After all, most of us have children because we want to spend time raising them and being involved with them.

I particularly enjoyed the information on educational expectations when the classical approach was the norm, and educational expectations today. Very much gives a perspective on why a return to the classical model is a good idea!

I home schooled my older, now college age, children and this book inspires me to reach for a little more for the next child I'll have the privilege to educate myself.

I purchased several books that were recommended to me on the classical model, but this one seems the most accessible for a broad range of parents, not only home school parents.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very helpful book! July 12 2010
By Emily - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Leigh Bortins provides an organized guide to laying the foundations of classical education. The first part of the book contrasts the pitfalls of modern education and the benefits of a classical education. The second part of the book consists of a chapter dedicated to each of the core subjects: reading, writing, math, geography, history, science, and fine arts.

The author writes to equip and encourage parents in their quest of a quality classical education. This book is easy to read and is full of invaluable information. I will most likely read the entire book again at some point, but I can see myself looking back at particular chapters as a sort of a refresher down the road. Any parent could benefit from this book. After reading it, I am even more excited about the upcoming school year!
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