To know God and to make Him known.

Dorothy, Doubts, and Dialectic

Chapter One - Why We Still Need Classical Education

Dorothy, Doubts, and Dialectic
by Cara McLauchlan

“Our job as parents is to restore our own education as we translate our vision of quality academics into small daily deeds. In this way, education is transformed from an endeavor rewarded by grades for short term memory into the gift of a lifestyle of learning.”
Leigh Bortins, The Question (pg. 14-15)

I recently went to see The Wizard of Oz movie with my son at the theater. There is something amazing about seeing it on the big screen, along with the fact that I am no longer completely terrified of the wicked witch. This time, I paid careful attention to the language of the film, picking up on points I had not heard before.

When Dorothy first begins her journey, I noticed Glinda, the good witch said, “It’s always best to start at the beginning.” Right. I know that seems obvious, but think how overwhelmed Dorothy was with Munchkins, Technicolor, witches, and shiny red shoes. Who wouldn’t be lost in the sparkly shoe part?

One thing I appreciate about the Classical Conversations approach is to begin with something simple that everyone knows. The idea is to start at the beginning to make sure everyone understands where we are headed. We take the definition or the grammar and then begin to build from there.

Recently, I was substituting for the tutor of a Challenge A class. We were reviewing the Distributive Property. We used easy examples and everyone got the idea. However, when we added fractions, negative numbers, and variables it suddenly became very tricky. We went back to our original easy example that formed the basis of understanding. A scary problem became not so scary when we remembered how we had started and where we were going.

In chapter one of The Question, one of first sentences explains that the purpose of classical Christian education is “to know whose you are and to know where you are going” (pg. 5). Right. That seems obvious, right? Everyone knows that. Or do we? In reality, I think I need to etch it into my homeschool walls. With all of the minutiae and my own inadequacies flaunting themselves daily, I get distracted and off the path on which I so desperately want to stay. I forget why I am doing this.

“Whose are you and where are you going?”

As I consider this question for my own family, I cling to the promises of Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV), “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

I get so distracted by things of my own ego. I get wrapped up in things of this world such as awards, test scores, achievement, and pride. I want my neighbors to stop asking me when my son is going to go to a real school. I want them to recognize how great this homeschooling thing is. But they do not. My ego still nags.

I have to keep that one good question in front of me, “whose are you and where are you going?” I imagine that all of the daily effort in our homeschooling journey is leading toward what the Lord has planned for my son, and that one day, I will look back at the path to see that these days were a mighty equipping for what God had intended all along. Until then, I will trust in Him to guide my footsteps.

Like Dorothy, when we are setting off on our amazing adventure of homeschooling, it is best to start at the beginning. It is important to remind ourselves daily, “I am His and this is where we are going together.”

The difficulties will come. The doubts will come. But remembering the important question as our compass makes the bad days not so scary.

One Great Question to Ponder

“Whose are you and where are you going?”

If you have not yet joined “The Question Book Club,” here are the details about joining the conversation:

Join the Conversation with The Question Book Club

For the days ahead, I invite you to join me as we journey through Leigh’s book with “The Question Book Club.” Month by month, we will explore a chapter of her amazing book. My hope is that it will be a dynamic discussion on how these ideas unfold in our days. Together, let us see what God will reveal in our hearts and minds as we wrestle with these important questions.

Here are a few steps for getting started:

--First, order your copy of The Question from to join in the discussion. To get started, download a free sample chapter. Month by month, we will read and discuss a chapter together on the CC Facebook page.

--Log on and “Like” the Classical Conversations Facebook page where you can see questions and comments from the community. I will be posting questions each week for you to chime in and share your ideas along with other CC community members.

The Question Book Club Articles

Introduction - The Question Expedition
Chapter One - Dorothy, Doubts, and Dialectic
Chapter Two - I Heart Aristotle
Chapter Three - The Extraordinary FAQs

Chapters Four and Five - Three Big Ideas about the Three Rs
Chapters Six, Seven, and Eight - What's Your Big Hairy Monster?
Chapters Nine, Ten, and Eleven - Who Is Your Hero?
Conclusion - The Best Question


CATEGORIES: Articles, Classical Christian Education, Dialectic Stage (ages 12 to 14), Rhetoric Stage (ages 14 to 18)

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