On our Trivium Pursuit web site we talk about what classical education is and how we can implement it in our homeschool. One question people ask is, “What do we hope to accomplish by giving our children a classical education — what educational results will we see when they are grown?”
Here are four desirable outcomes which can be accomplished with a classical method of education:
1. Enable our children to think for themselves (not be ruled by peer pressure or tied to educational systems, such as the government schools);
2. Enable our children to logically think through arguments and to speak and to write with clarity and force;
3. Enable our children to read and to understand the great and worthy literature of past years (the definition of worthy is another topic for discussion).
4. Enable our children to master a new subject on their own.
Gary North has developed a course on preparing for high school and college by learning how to study — Academic Basics Course (ABC). This course is now available on the Ron Paul Curriculum web site and is the first of many courses to come starting in September. ABC is recommended for any student age twelve and up, adults included. Even if you are already in high school, college, or are a graduate and working, you need this course. If you do everything he says, you are on track to do well in high school, college, and life. Mastering these lessons will help you develop the four outcomes listed above.
Each of the fifteen short lessons consists of:
The brilliance of this schedule of lessons lies in the way Dr. North writes. Lessons consist of short paragraphs and sentences which are easy to understand, but not childish or boring. They are also highly motivating, especially for the young person who is intent upon being unmotivated.
Lesson #1: The #1 Technique for Mastering New Information
The Charlotte Mason concept of oral narration is introduced. It gives a great explanation of exactly how to do it. Oral narration is not just for little kids, but is a great tool for adults. It tells us WHY this technique is the foundation stone for learning. Don’t skip this.
Lesson #2: Long-Term Goal-Setting Is Crucial
How do you set goals and count the cost for any endeavor? This is crucial if you want to accomplish educational goals. This lessons speaks especially to the young person who is having a hard time being motivated toward academics.
Lesson #3: Your Home Office
All I can say about this lesson is, WOW. It sounds like it’s going to be dumb and unnecessary, but it’s all-important for the young person.
Setting up your “office,” organizing your notebooks, learning how to organize your time, how to focus and concentrate even when it’s noisy around you, and what to do when you get sleepy. I LOVE what he says about music.
Lesson #4: Follow Instructions
For some, this is a no-brainer, but many people have a problem following instructions. This lesson explains why it is necessary to follow instructions and how to do it.
Lesson #5: Budget Your Time
This lesson explains how to keep a scheduling book and desktop calendar and how to estimate an assignment’s time-cost. If you learn this, it will prepare you for business and for life. Here is a quote from the lesson: “Do you want to know the three keys to success in business? Here they are: Do what you said you would do. Do it on or before the deadline. Do it for the price you agreed to.”
Lesson #6: Identify Your Less Important Time
Why should you quit wasting time and how can you stop? Use your scheduling book to schedule in your fun times instead of letting “fun” control you. Dr. North speaks mostly about how TV is the biggest time waster. I would like to see him address the Facebook issue.
Lesson #7: How to Read a Textbook
What are the best strategies for reading through a textbook and how do you prepare for a classroom lecture? There really is a best way to read through a textbook to get the most out of it in the least amount of time.
Lesson #8. Lecturing to the Wall, Part 2
The oral narration technique is explained in more detail.
Lesson 9. How to Take Lecture Notes
Listening to lectures is not the best way to learn, but you will need to learn this if you attend college. This lesson has practical advice for note taking and for preparing for that day’s lecture. It lists signal words to listen for and explains how to review notes and compare notes with the textbook. There is more here on making a notebook.
Lesson #10: How to Take Exams
This lesson explains how to take true-false tests, essay exams, and multiple-choice tests, how to keep calm, and how to manage your time while test-taking. This skill is necessary while in school, but will almost never be used afterwards. It will be the most useful in taking tests to save money by opting out of college classes.
Lesson #11: The Book Review
Here is a short but thorough lesson on writing a book review. This is part of the process of learning how to think and how to write, so don’t skip it. “If you don’t learn how to think, you are wasting your time in school.”
Lesson #12: Start a Blog Site
Who would have thought that having a twelve-year-old keep a blog would be helpful in the learning process? I found this to be the most exciting lesson of the series. This lesson explains why you need to start a blog and how to set one up.
Lesson #13: The Term Paper
How many nightmares have centered around writing term papers? Writing a term paper doesn’t have to be the monumental task we remember from high school. The proper forms for footnotes and bibliography don’t have to be the focus for your term paper. Dr. North gives us a different perspective. “Tell a story. Share a piece of your mind. Offer your opinion. But let it come from inside you. If it doesn’t, it won’t be worth reading.”
Lesson #14: Review
Dr. North reviews the various techniques learned in the course.
Lesson #15 Job vs. Calling
Dr. North lectures on the topic of Job vs. Calling — a one-hour video.