Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins

Book Description:
Children are natural learners, and building a core foundation at an early age is critical to their success both educationally an din life. Yet academic excellence is lacking in many school systems throughout the country. In this book, education expert and author Leigh A. Bortins incorporates the best ideas from the ancients and gives parents the tools to revive classical learning. In this prescriptive guide you'll learn:
  • Techniques to help your children expand their knowledge base
  • methods to strengthen effective self-expression
  • How to use great books and historical documents to deepen your worldview
The Core is an important resource that helps parents create ways to incorporate study into daily routines involving the entire family.

My thoughts:
When it comes to educational methods I am drawn to Charlotte Mason's educational method, though I have read and used some ideas from the Classical education method. I had heard about Classical Conversations, but wasn't very interested until I read an article in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine that Leigh Bortins wrote on how she did geography. That is when her book, The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, came across my radar and I decided to check it out.

In the first part of the book she talks about what is wrong with education today. She discusses the loss of parents as teachers, the desertion of memorization, loss of literacy, and the loss of great classical conversations.

She then discusses why we need classical education which basically answers the problems with our education today and then discusses how a classical education can help you in your own home. She shows the importance of memorization in the grammar stage and how it builds a child for analytical skills during the logic stage and finally the communication skills they will gain in the rhetoric stage.  She really gives a lot of information to chew on and consider.

In the second part of the book, she shows how this looks in reading, writing, math, geography, history, science, and fine arts. These sections are filled with suggestions and examples of what it looked like in her own home school.

I really enjoyed this book more than I thought, and it made me look at classical education in a new way. much I liked what she suggested the book kind of left me in limbo on exactly how you would implement these wonderful ideas into my own home school. Honestly, a rigorous education kind of makes me sweat bullets since a lot will fall upon me to implement. So if the opportunity arises I'll probably go check out a Classical Conversations information meeting, though I seriously doubt we would do it.

Overall, I did find this a worthwhile read and I probably found this one of the most helpful and informative books on classical education. Some book on classical education focus more on "how" to implement the method, while The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education focuses on the "why" to educate with a classical education.


  1. Thanks for posting your review! It's definitely a book I want to read at some point.


  2. Classical Conversations definitely has some good ideas, but I think many of them can be implemented in your homeschool. The emphasis on memorization, for instance, can be implemented in a half-hour a day "group time" in which you practice the things you want the children to memorize.

    I haven't read the book, however, so I may be missing the point. Thanks for reviewing.



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