Latin-Centered Curriculum

Latin-Centered Curriculum

A Home Educator's Guide to a Traditional Classical Education

by Andrew A. Campbell
Publisher: Non Nobis Press
2nd Edition, ©2008, ISBN: 9781930953734
Trade Paperback, 236 pages
Current Retail Price: $17.95

Andrew Campbell's new book, The Latin-Centered Curriculum, gives teachers and parents an interesting and easy to read guide explaining classical education, how it came about, and who its major exponents are. In addition to a useful scope and sequence for how a Latin-centered classical education can be accomplished in a home or private school, Campbell explains why the central principle behind classical education is the study of Latin and Greek.

Campbell provides a short history of the modern classical movement, examines the predominant role of Latin in a classical education, and explains how the other pieces of the classical curriculum fit together. He provides the practical application to Tracy Lee Simmons' statement that a "Classical education is a curriculum grounded upon Greek, Latin, and the study of the civilization from which they arose."

In addition to chapters on Latin, Greek, and logic, Campbell covers the various content areas of classical education, such as English studies, classical studies, Christian and modern studies, with sections on arithmetic, science, and mathematics.

But this is far from a purely theoretical book. In a chapter entitled, "Scope and Sequence," he gives a practical overview of what a Latin-based classical curriculum looks like from Kindergarten to 12th grade. With helpful charts and explanations, this book constitutes a manual for the Christian educator who wants a complete understanding of what is involved in a classical education.

The most important section in the book may well be the chapter titled "Multum non Multa." This is the principle sometimes expressed by the maxim, "Less is more." It is the idea that, rather than throwing multiple subjects at students and burying them under a mountain of unconnected disciplines, educators should instead employ an integrated focus on a few important core disciplines and related subject areas.

The best education, Campbell points out, is simple but deep.

In this second edition you'll find:

  • an expanded Great Books program for high school
  • new introductory chapters
  • restructured subjects for easier state reporting
  • updated recommendations for Latin, Greek, History, Science, and Religion
  • detailed weekly schedules
  • tips for large families
  • a self-education program for adults
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  Quality, Not Quantity
Mystie Winckler of WA, 2/18/2011
This one is going into my “favorite” category for education books. Its 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 schmaltz (my word, not his).