Over 20,000 students are homeschooled in Oregon. One thousand are registered in the High Desert education district. One of the many benefits of Central Oregon is the opportunities provided to homeschoolers and the community support. A newer phrase in the homeschool world is “Classical Conversations.” This is a unique schooling method that is gaining in popularity and prestige. It was founded by Leigh Bortins and involves students meeting together in local groups and studying subjects holistically. Information about contacting the Bend chapter is included below.
Leigh Bortins, her husband and four sons reside in North Carolina. She was am aerospace engineering graduate of the University of Michigan before beginning to homeschool her children. An article by Dorothy Sayers inspired her to begin the Classical Conversation style of schooling, and she has spent the last 20 years teaching, promoting, and writing about the method. Bortins was motivated by Proverbs 25:2, which says “The glory of God is to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” She believes that the main goals of homeschool parents is to give their children the tools to search out the hidden things of God.
Essential to the Classical method is meeting together with other families. Usually once a week, these meetings consist of classes taught by tutors who are specially trained to teach specific subjects. Parents are required to sit in these lessons with their children, and the rest of the week consists of a customizable review and study at home. Called the “Trivium,” the classical method focuses on grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Every subject can be broken up into these three parts and taught piece by piece. An example is history. Grammar is the study of who did what, where, and when. Dialectic is the understanding level--asking the question why? Rhetoric is the final level of explaining it to others, through writing essays or giving speeches.
Classical Conversations is designed to begin in kindergarten and last through high school. The topics, subjects, and skills all build upon each other to create a thorough education. It is designed as a holistic curriculum that examines subjects in relationship to each other. Biblically, this is to emphasize God’s plan and design over everything. Through Bortins’ ongoing work and her company, Classical Conversations Inc, a lot of material is available to assist parents in their schooling. There are trainings they can attend and seminars to meet like minded parents. For students, in depth practicum sessions are available, and standardized testing is organized.
Classical Conversations is not the easiest method of homeschooling. It is very involved for both the parent and student. In Leah Bortins’ words, “Classical education is hard work and Americans tend to enjoy recreational education.” But for many, this form of homeschool has been very sucessful and their children perform well in standardized testing and higher education.
A local chapter has been organized by Heidi Stone and she can be contacted through the main website—Classical Conversations Link Here.
Data from HSLDA.org and LeighBortins.com