The Core – The Perfect Name For This Incredible Book – Official Review

This book sets a high bar in the first three chapters and then brings the learning process back to earth. The grammar of a classical education is naturally divided into small attainable steps so that all forms of literacy can be restored to every student no matter what their situation in life may be. The classically trained student will rise to meet the challenge of a rigorous education. p. 62

I just finished reading The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Educationwritten by Leigh A. Bortins and I have to say that this is one of the most incredible, fulfilling and enlightening books on education that I have ever read. I truly believe that if this were required reading the state of education in this country would finally turn in a direction that would make me hopeful for future generations.

While striving for universal school attendance, education abandoned the simple skills that inculcate universal literacy. Implementing the classical model will restore all types of literacy – cultural, math and language literacy – for all demographics just as it did when our nation was young. p.60

Part one of The Core  – The Classical Model – gives an incredibly understandable explanation of the trivium and quadrivium, while clearly outlining the deterioration of our countries education as the government school system replaced what real learning is about – simply living and learning within your family. As it outlines the theories and historical references it reinforces the need for basic understanding and reversion to this common sense educational blueprint, which centers around the family and building basic skills that will help to foster a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Bortins reiterates her points using incredible analogies to help the reader get what she is trying to say. One of my favorites was comparing our brain memory systems to a grocery store – you know your local grocery store so well because you are there often and it is designed into categories that make it easy for you to determine where products will be whether they are ones you buy all the time or new ones; in the brain facts are stored in the same way as we connect them to other “like” facts and put them into categories for easy retention and retrieval. Therefore the more memorized tidbits on the shelves of the brain the easier it is to find the information that you are looking for and build connections.

If you know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you can certainly teach a child math. If you know how to read, you can help a nonreading child become a reader. It is just common sense. But nowadays parents are led to believe that only professionals in a classroom situation know how to properly teach children. – p. 20

I was expecting the second section of the book, titled  The Core of of a Classical Education, to be just another list of resources and curriculum to use, but was delighted to see that Bortins actually offers real advice, ideas and outlines of the what and how to teach in each subject area – from reading and writing to science and math to home arts and physical education. Unlike many other home ed books on this topic Bortins explains each area in a way that instills confidence in the parent that they are truly able to do this and individualize ed plans based on their family and children. She breaks down topics, giving checklists of key facts and topics, such as a punctuation and capitalization checklist and categories to use when memorizing facts questions and answers in science, with many options to use to do so. She also gives insight into her daily life with her children, giving real stories and lesson plans that have worked for them.

Instead tests are used to determine, well…I don’t know what tests are used for anymore because we move students to the next grade and the next teacher no matter what the test results indicate. p.25

I am strongly against testing as it is used in schools and was very grateful to see that this plan was more about retention and experiential demonstration of knowledge over filling in bubbles and completing worksheets. Bortins conveyed the perspective of building bases of information and developing good habits so that I now fully understand the need for rote memorization drills, repetition practice and many things that I have always thought of as just “busywork”, such as copywork and poem recitation, as they were truly designed to be utilized rather than what the schools have turned them into.

I would like to take a second to mention the religious content as I tend to strictly keep my distance from non-secular resources, however in this instance I felt comfortable with the few religious references and felt that it was handled in a way that was respectful to all – believers and non-believers alike. If you are thinking about using the classical trivium approach and want to do so from a secular standpoint you only need to tweak a few things here and there in regards to science and history facts, but there are a multitude of resources available to help with that.

Honestly if there was one book that I could give every parent on the importance of home education this would be it. I cannot say enough good things about it, all I can say is READ IT for yourself!


The Core – Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education By Leigh A. Bortins

You can find this book in paperback Here

You can find the digital Kindle -HERE

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Filed Under: Book Reviews

avatar About the Author: Gina is a home educating mom since 2007, when her daughter was in 5th grade and could no longer deal with the ridiculous public school system. You can find out more about their journey on their blog – Home Learning Family Going Sane - .

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