This week I finished reading two of the books I listed for the Dewey 300s in my reading challenge: 373.24 Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Simmons and 371.04 Morning by Morning by Paula Penn-Nabrit. I really enjoyed reading these books although they were very different in content and style.
Climbing Parnassus focuses on why a classical education was the primary educational model for centuries and why it should still be important today. I initially read it because I have been reading other books about classical education and this was recommended. Many of the other books were good about some of the "how-to", but this book emphasized the why. Simmons also differs from the common history-based classical education frequently espoused today in that he emphasizes that the languages are at the center. Among the emphasized points was that previous generations of classically educated people had a common core of knowledge and language to draw upon. Their understanding of morality, justice, liberty, and freedom came from reading the Greek and Roman classics (in the original) and they could banter the exact translation and meaning of certain items. Simmons also emphasized that this classical education and requirements to compose in Latin is a main component of the great literature produced in previous generations. My interest in learning Latin has been rekindled although will most likely not be acted on right away. I figure I have a few years to get up to speed on Latin before I need to teach my children Latin--they need to gain further competency in English first.
The second book I read, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy Leauge by Paula Penn-Nabrit, was primarily the story of one family's experience. However, it was different from many of the other books I have recently read about education. Many authors write glowing reports and emphasize everyone else should do exactly what we did. This author, on the other hand, was very honest in stating this was our experience and what we learned, but it isn't for everyone. While reading the book, several times I felt like I was sitting at the table having a frank discussion with the author. This family came to home schooling after bad experiences in their private school. An emphasis was placed on how they desired to provide a holistic upbringing for their children encompassing not only education, but physical fitness, spirituality, arts, and community service, and how they accomplished their goals. This book provided a lot of food for thought for all parents regardless of the educational choices they make for their families.