From Zachary Today: Classical Conversations trains local parents, students to learn
Dorothy Sayers, a friend of C. S. Lewis, gave a lecture at Oxford in
1947. She challenged educators to think about learning in a different
way. She asked, “Do you ever find that young people, when they have left
school, not only forget most of what they have learnt…but forget also,
or betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject
She answered her own question with a practical
solution: return to the classical model of education. Teach just three
skills: grammar, dialectic and rhetoric and use the best of literature,
science and math resources guided by an individual who loves teaching
students to learn anything.
In the Baton Rouge area, a program
called Classical Conversations (CC) is taking Sayers’ advice and giving a
new face to these classic ideas. Leigh Bortins is the founder of
Classical Conversations, a North Carolina-based organization which seeks
to equip parents and students with the classical tools of learning. As a
parent and teacher of four boys, Bortins has found that Sayers’ “tools
of learning,” are the foundation of a lasting education.
1997, CC has supported home-centered education by providing teaching
tools and training for parents and educational materials for students.
Although CC began with a few families meeting in Bortins’ basement, CC
communities now exist in over 35 states and several foreign countries,
and the programs continue to grow.
Four years ago, the first
Classical Conversations community was born in Baton Rouge. Today, there
are five locations in our area:
• CC of Zachary meets at Plains Presbyterian Church on Old Scenic Hwy.
• CC of Baton Rouge meets at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church on Florida Blvd.
• CC of Mid-City Baton Rouge meets at Grace Baptist Church on Richland Ave.
• CC of Gonzales meets at First Baptist Church on Burnside Ave.
• CC of Denham Springs meets at Lifepoint on South Hwy. 16
“three skills” Sayers promoted form the backbone of the classical model
and of Bortins’ programs. Grammar, the science of reciting and
memorizing vocabulary, begins the study of any topic. It is followed by
logic, or the discussion and reconciliation of ideas, often called the
Finally, rhetoric, the consequences of ideas, is
the ability to take grammar and teach it to others. Taken as a whole,
classical education means good education: being taught how to learn
anything by defining and storing terms, clearly thinking about the
reconciliation of new ideas with old information and wisely using
knowledge and understanding.
Each community is facilitated by a
trained parent-director, and weekly classes are led by trained
parent-tutors who model the classical tools of learning.
age-appropriate methods, CC’s three central programs are based on the
three stages of classical learning - grammar, dialectic and rhetoric.