Posted by: Brian Glass | August 4, 2010

Classical Education Part 4 – Miscellaneous Observations

In my reading on classical education I have comes across some interesting tidbits that I am not going to take the time to expound upon in depth, but are worth making known.

On Sentence Diagramming: I found a book with some of the most remarkably complex sentence diagrams I have ever seen. The one I’ve included here is by no means the most complex.

On Phonics: Most of the books on classical education you come across these days make a point of criticizing the modern look-say method. They instead favor phonics. While phonics is actually quite a bit older than the look-say method, it is not particularly ancient. It was in fact invented by Blaise Pascal circa 1655. Prior to that full syllables were memorized by students. I’m not suggesting we dump phonics and go back to the syllabic method, but perhaps Dick and Jane weren’t as bad as they’re made out to be. “Is Russia about to forget the lesson of Blaise Pascal?” is an interesting read.

On Composition: For at least 1500 years and probably significantly longer, students have learned pre-rhetorical composition using a Greek approach called the Progymnasmata that is attributed to Aphthonius of Antioch. This basically involves a fair amount of imitation of text and method of excerpts of classic authors. While originally written in Greek, the Latin translation has been used for much of that time. You can actually have a look at the Progymnasmata in Latin. An example of an old English based text using this approach is A booke called the Foundacion of Rhetorike. Both of these are quite impractical for the homeschool, but we did find three hand-holding homeschool programs that are based on these methods in varying degrees:

On Spelling: Noah Webster’s famous speller is also an interesting option for spelling. However, as we found with the composition materials, it is somewhat impractical for the busy homeschool teacher since it doesn’t come with a hand-holding teacher guide.



  1. Interesting stuff! I’m going to show this sentence diagram to my 5th grader — maybe she’ll appreciate the shorter sentences she diagramms! 🙂

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