Review: Latin-Centered Curriculum

posted in: classical | 2

Originally written in 2009.

Latin-Centered Curriculum - Exodus Books

Campbell’s motto is multum non multa: not quantity, but quality. Campbell explains his philosophy with brevity and clarity, then outlines materials and schedules with grace and flexibility. His premise is that we should study a few great things deeply, rather than study many subjects. His curriculum section then gives the practical details of his pared-down approach.

Yes, Latin and classical studies are his unifying force, and he actually does what Dorothy Sayers suggests: he teaches English grammar through Latin. I am drawn to the grammar-through-Latin approach, because it wasn’t until I studied Spanish that I understood many grammar terms and workings. However, I think church history (from Genesis to today) will be our unifying center rather than classical studies; he maintains that it’s not classical education if it’s not focused on classical learning, although he does emphasize religion studies (with options for Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox, yet he assumes his audience is Christian and leaves secular classical educators completely out of the discussion).

He distinguishes between academic studies and independent learning, stating that though many good titles are not on his curriculum list (like Wind in the Willows, Narnia, etc.) he assumes they will be experienced by independent reading or family read-aloud time (an hour a day each, he suggests) rather than studied formally during school time. He says such reading should not be considered “school,” but rather simply what people do: read. The same goes for delight-directed science as well as art and music appreciation. Such things should be experienced as part of informal family life growing up and not be studied formally in elementary (he starts science studies at seventh grade and all arts are only studied formally as desired by particular families or students). Experiencing quality music and art as a matter of everyday life, he says, is a good inoculation against modern marketing and drivel (my word, not his).

2 Responses

  1. Pilgrim
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    Did you read the first or second edition? Apparently there is a difference. I have been on the fence about getting this book – I can’t seem to find it in a library here. It seems like he expects families to have a culture of reading and fine arts. We’ve got the reading down but not the fine arts – I guess we need to work on our culture around here.

  2. Mystie Winckler
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    I have the second edition. Yes, he did encourage the culture of reading and arts, but what I took away from it was more that these things should just be worked in as part of life and not subjects added on with formal study or curriculums or teaching. So us listening to a classical composer during chore time totally “counts” in his books, though it wouldn’t in most WTM circles.

    I wouldn’t really say we have a culture of fine arts at all, but I’m happy so far with what we do: I usually have a big oversized art library book checked out and available for paging through. Someday when there aren’t toddlers it can actually be on the coffee table. :) And while we do chores and sometimes in the car we listen to classical music, usually one composer for a 6-week term. They all enjoy classical music, but that’s likely because other music is pretty limited (mostly because I can’t take the extra noise).