The Conversation ~A Schoolhouse Review

As homeschoolers we tend to be rather eclectic. I attribute that to the fact that every one of my four children is SO very different from the others. We do tend to lean towards a classical, Charlotte Mason, type of model though. When I learned of the opportunity to review Leigh A Bortins’ newest book,The Conversation: Challenging your Student with a Classical Education from Classical Conversations, I knew that this was one that I had to read. Sure, my kids are little now (okay, my oldest is 10 in a few weeks) but it never hurts to plan ahead right? 🙂


The Conversation is the third book in Bortins’ series of the three stages of classical education.  The first stage is covered within The Core (elementary level) and stage two is covered in The Question (middle school).  The Conversation is directed towards those who are prepared or already homeschooling high school students.  Although Bortins’ frequently references the other two books, those books are not necessary for understanding and enjoying The Conversation.

This book is broken down into three sections:

  • High School at Home
  • The Rhetorical Arts
  • Appendices


In High School at Home encouragement is given to parents.  It is important that we are confident as parents. While naysayers may tolerate homeschooling little ones, as our children get older it seems there is more pressure to send them to school instead. Often there is not enough support and encouragement there for homeschooling parents, and let’s face it, as they get older it can be tough to stifle fear and anxiety over our children’s future. Compound that with the expectations society has for our youth and it can be a difficult decision to continue in the high school years. We need to be confidant mom!


We are more comfortable duplicating our childhood school experience, instead of going with our initial instinct that institutional education is not the best method.


Within this chapter Bortins’ seeks to equip and empower us that we may be sure and strong in our choice and ability to homeschool.  Bortins’ also defines for us ( didn’t completely understand myself) what the rhetoric stage of classical education is.  She describes in great detail the difference from previous stages, and she also introduces the idea of viewing education for high schoolers through Aristotle’s five canons of rhetoric.

These five canons are:

  • Invention/Inventio
  • Arrangement/Dispostitio
  • Elocution/Elocutio
  • Memory/Memoria
  • Delivery/Pronuntiatio


In the second section Bortins’  goes through the individual subject areas our high school student ought to be engaged in, and provides examples and ideas as to how these canons  are presented themselves in each area.  She also makes an excellent case for the study of disciplines like Latin and  speech and debate (which my children are all engaged in; we have an amazing speech/debate group here which all three of my kids just love!).


Then there are the appendices.  These are GREAT! Conversation games – isn’t conversation quite a form of art? There are lots of super fun games, even some of my little ones can play, like Rhetoric (a variation of BINGO or Tic-Tac-Toe) or Speech Thief. Common Rhetorical Devices helps our children to see a variety of devices within their writing and others too, helping them to become a better speaker, reader and writer too! Full of terms and definitions, this is very handy (to me)! And then there are pages and pages of resources to strengthen you in your classical education journey. I have a number of these “wish listed” right now.  So many excellent tools to help you grow along with your students!


“As classical parents and educators, we sometimes forget that we really only need four things in order to educate someone.  We need pencil, paper, good books and time for great conversations.”



Although we are still a number of years away from high school, I found this book so inspiring! So often I have people asking if I plan to continue homeschooling my children through high school; I fear they are not as inspired by my answering that I shall do just that, God guiding my every step.  Bortins’ provides me with so many wonderful thoughts, and a greater desire and confidence that I can do homeschool high schoolers. I look forward to those years, although I hope they do not come too quickly, and I look forward to sharing with others her wisdom in future conversations!


I encourage you to consider picking up a copy of The Conversation for yourself. The price will be $16, but for now you can purchase a copy on sale for $12. If your children are younger, or you’re new to the idea of Classical Education, consider Leigh’s other books: The Core, and The Question.






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