Originally written in 2009.
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).