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The Latin-Centered Curriculum: A Home Educator's Guide to a Classical Education Paperback – January 1, 2008
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From Cicero to C. S. Lewis, from Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Jefferson, the great minds of the West have been formed by a classical curriculum centered on Latin and Greek. Now you can give your children a traditional classical education at home with The Latin-Centered Curriculum. In a clear and readable introduction, The Latin Centered Curriculum surveys the history of classical education from the ancient Greeks through the 20th-century neoclassical revival. He demonstrates the central position of Latin in the traditional course of study and outlines the many benefits of placing the classical languages at the heart of the curriculum. Then he shares with you the secret of a superior education: multum non multa- not quantity, but quality. With helpful charts and detailed explanations, The Latin-Centered Curriculum guides you step by step with book and curriculum recommendations for each school subject from K-12. It shows you how focusing a few core disciplines-classical languages, mathematics, and composition-can revolutionize your home school. The best education is simple but deep. In this second edition you'll find:
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The first section discusses why a classical education is superior to modern methods. The author, Andrew Campbell, makes several good points, but he is admittedly mostly rehashing other books such as "Climbing Parnassus", an excellent book that already explains quite well the "whys". He quotes "C.P." extensively, so my suggestion is that you read THAT book with the quotes in context instead.
Campbell is emphatic that the classical languages (especially Latin) have THE central role in a classical education, which is certainly correct. Respecting the stages of the trivium model alone (grammar, logic, rhetoric) is not a classical education per se and there are some out there promoting that it is. He critically refers to those who promote that view as "neoclassicists" and rightly so. But why he put the Bluedorns and their long-printed book ("Teaching the Trivium") into this category is beyond me. The Bluedorn book places HEAVY emphasis on the classical languages as central to a classical education; in fact, they emphasize a thorough knowledge of Latin, Greek AND Hebrew as all being central to a Christian's classical education.
Campbell then emphasizes the principle of 'multum non multa' (essentially "less is more") which is a solid classical principle. A child's education should be broad and deep in a few subjects, rather than a smattering of this-and-that in a multitude of subjects, which is the modern methodology. This is what the Bluedorns call "trivium vs. trivia" (yes I am partial to their book; I think it's better!!). Good principle, absolutely crucial in fact for a successful classical curriculum as there are only so many hours in a day. But strangely, Campbell then proceeds to lay out a scope-and-sequence which is anything BUT "multum non multa". Seven subjects for a first grader?? (PLUS read-aloud time). How is this any different from the curriculum suggested by "The Well-trained Mind"? It seems to me the Latin is getting lost again. In other words, in the scope-and-sequence he puts forth, it seems Mr. Campbell contradicts his own advice.
Another problem specifically for Christian home scholars: in The Latin-Centered Curriculum, biblical studies are included (via Memoria Press's Christian Studies curriculum, naturally) but filtering all materials through a biblical world view is not only NOT encouraged by Mr. Campbell at all, in fact it is mocked. Greek and Roman writers of the ancient eras, however logical and wise, were generally humanists and there are some things your child will not be ready for yet, and some writings you may find little value in because the humanist viewpoint taints the whole thing. The Bluedorns, in their book, have no problem in saying if it's not possible to redeem it, feel free to throw it out. Just because a Greek wrote it, doesn't mean it has value for your family. Campbell practically sneers at this notion on p.165, implying that families that might choose to use discretion in their materials are somehow paranoid or must be fundamentalists (in the current negative fashion of the word).
My final problem with this book is that the ultimate point of it appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to sell Memoria Press products. He uses the scope-and-sequence models to push as many Memoria Press products as he can. For example, he doesn't just say "3rd grade Latin", but rather "Latina Christiana I" and "Ludere Latine" (both MP products). I happen to like many of the MP products and expect this sort of thing in their catalog (which also doubles as a magazine with articles on classical education) but this book should have left that stuff out as it undermines its credibility. Alternatively, they could have named it "Why and How to Use Memoria Press Products".
In all, this book brings nothing new to the table, and what wisdom there is in it has all been said before by other authors in a more credible way.
In my opinion, everyone interested in the "whys" of a classical education should read "Climbing Parnassus" by Tracy Lee Simmons. If you are seeking a secular curriculum, The Well-Trained Mind is fine, as long as you remember that Latin is not a tacked-on subject but rather it should be central and as long as you keep in mind the principle of "multum non multa" - it suffers from the same chock-full scope and sequence that Mr. Campbell's does, especially in the grammar years.
If you are a Christian home scholar who desires a classical education, and putting the Bible at the center of your child's education is your priority, I urge you to read "Teaching the Trivium" by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn - it truly places the Bible and the biblical world view at the center, via the study of the classical languages.
I have chosen to review this book because out of all the classical curriculum's out there this curriculum best truly educates the whole child. Mr. Campbell has been homeschooling his daughter, Julia, and tutors students in Latin and Great books. He holds a doctorate from Washington University, St. Louis, in Germanic Literatures and Languages with a specialization in Medieval Studies. Andrew has worked as classroom teacher, school administrator, and independent lecture and workshop presenter, a private tutor and literacy volunteer for over 20 years. And has been researching this area for over a decade.
The Latin Centered Curriculum, gives teachers and parents an interesting and easy to read guide explaining classical education, how it came about, and who its major exponents are. In my opinion, the author is very thorough in explaining what a Classical Education is and the why, and then he tells you clearly how to put the curriculum together in details, and lastly he gives you schedules for each grades. I believe that if you are homeschooling in the Classics that reading this book will help you succeed and accomplish your goal.
There are three parts to this book. In the first he explains the "why" of classical education. He briefly summarizes the history with an eye to establishing a working definition of the methods for today's home educators. Then, he writes about the classical languages and their key benefits. and in the last part of this section, he discusses the principle of multum non multa (quanity, nor quantity). In other words, he discusses how the latin-centered curriculum is different from other classical curriculums. In the second part of the book, he discusses the curriculum itself. He gives an overview of all grade levels and then he reviews each subject in detail, giving you practical recommendations for each subject, grade by grade. He even gives you guidance in how to adapt the curriculum! Finally, in the third part he provides detailed weekly schedules for each grade and generally hints for scheduling your family lesson time and teaching the various subjects.