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Everyone knows that we should focus our educational efforts on teaching kids skills they can actually use in real life, right? Except maybe that is not the best path to the most practical education after all. Yes, a classical education can build virtue, but it also creates the best employees for the modern world. Need convincing? Then you are going to enjoy this interview with Martin Cothran of Memoria Press. You may learn something new about the term “liberal arts” and might just walk away convinced that STEM is not necessarily where we should focus. Enjoy!

Pam: This is your morning basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hello everyone. And welcome to episode 86 of the, your morning basket podcast. I am Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. Well, today the episode of the podcast is one of those that did not go the way I expected. I thought I knew in my head exactly what this conversation was going to be about, but I learned so much from Martin Cothran during the course of this podcast, it really made me think we defined a few terms and it just kind of switched some of my ideas around to a new way of thinking. It was so interesting. One of the terms that we define is liberal arts. And I thought I knew where Martin was going with this one and he went somewhere else. So this was a really great learning podcast for me. [spp-transcript]

One of those that I’m going to tuck away and remember as I go forward. So I think it really going to enjoy this episode of the podcast. We talk about why a broader education is better than a narrow education. And with the focus on STEM these days, they’re narrowing down education, making it more vocational. And Martin gives us some great examples from his own family of why a broader education is better.
I think you’re really going to enjoy this one and it’s going to spark some conversation. So I want to invite you to come on over to our private community. We have a community of almost 4,000 homeschooling moms who support each other in their homeschooling and liked to discuss big ideas like the ones in this podcast. And it’s absolutely free. And you can join that by coming to
And we’ll include a link on the show notes. And all you have to do is apply to join. We’ll let you in, you can read the rules, see if it’s the place for you, and then start the discussion. So we would love to have you join us over there. And now we’ll get on with the podcast.
Martin Cothran is a veteran homeschool father of four adult children, and is the director of the classical Latin school association. He is the author of several educational programs, including traditional logic, material, logic and classical rhetoric. Just to name a few, he is the editor of The classical teacher magazine by Memoria Press. He holds a BA in philosophy and economics from the university of California at Santa Barbara and an MBA in Christian apologetics from the Simon Greenleaf school, which is now part of Trinity University. Martin has spent 25 years as an influential voice on education policy issues in Kentucky, where he resides with his wife. Martin, welcome to the podcast.
Nice to be here
Well I am so excited to have you on here today to talk about this topic. I think people are going to love it, but start off by telling us a little bit about you and homeschooling and what you’ve done in classical education.
Well, you mentioned that, that we homeschooled our four children who are now grown and have some of whom have produced children of their own. We call them grandchildren and we are really happy with how it turned out for our family and in the process of, of classically educating our children. I was involved at that same time with, with Memoria press, which was founded in 1998 and with Highlands Latin school, the school that is sort of joined at the hip with Memoria press here in Louisville, Kentucky. And so I’ve taught for many years, we started our online classical Academy here back in 2005. I directed that for awhile and, you know, done a lot of speaking and writing about education. And, you know, when you write and think about something for a long time, you, you do hope you have some kind of decent grasp of it.
And, and so we’ve done both things, you know, we’ve homeschooled, and we’ve also been involved in Christian schooling, and both of those of the, of the classical form, you know, our children were taught Latin and logic and classical rhetoric, as well as reading the best that’s been thought and said, and now they’re all computer programmers. And we’re to talk a little bit more about that, but, but yeah, so, so now, and we’ve actually just started Memoria college master’s program in the great books, which is what I’m spending most of my time doing these days.
Oh. So much fun. Okay. Yeah, we are. We definitely need to talk about how these classically educated kids end up in computer programming. So I want to be sure we come back to that, but let’s start with the goal of classical education. I know that, you know, it’s, that’s one of the hard things to really pin down. When we seek to define classical education. These days, there seems to be so many different definitions of it floating around, out there and, and hardly a consensus that you find so define for what you feel like the goal of classical education is.
Well, There’s two goals of classical education. One is an individual goal, and that is to teach students how to be wise and virtuous, that involves what the ancients would have called prudence. Thomas Aquinas defines wisdom as dividing things, rightly ordering things, rightly it’s a matter of being able to make distinctions and to see resemblances and to know what is better and what is worse to know what is true and what is false.
What’s, what’s good. What’s, what’s evil, what’s beautiful. What’s ugly. You know, that’s, that’s, that’s all a part of, of what wisdom means. And in virtue, in the classical sense, you know, it has a different ring in our ear now as, as modern people. But the classical definition of virtue had to do with strength.
You know, when I’m in, in the Lord of the rings, there’s a Tolkien uses it this way. And the Lord of the rings in that scene where a Frodo has been wounded by the sword of the knowledge skull. And he asks one of the, the other hobbits to go and find him some Apolis a kind of herbs. And he says he has some, but it has lost its virtue. That’s the old use of that word virtue. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a power. We, we have intellectual virtues, their intellectual virtues on their moral virtues. And we have those by virtue of being human beings and with human natures. And so as a, a creature created in the image of God, we have certain powers God has given us to go along with that. And it’s our responsibility to develop those. So wisdom and virtue that’s on the individual level. And then on the cultural level, the goal of classical education is to pass on our culture specifically in the old classical education, the culture of the Christian West, we need to pass that on to each generation. And unfortunately the educational goal of passing on a culture has really fallen off the radar screen and modern education.
Now we’re into, you know, developing children, you know, child-centered the old progressivist child-centered education. And then this modern vocational education where the goal of education is to produce workers for the economy that was not the classical goal for education. It was to pass on your culture.
Okay. So what is the difference then between a classical education and a liberal arts education? Or is there a difference?
Well, the term liberal arts education Is a little bit of an equivocal term. It means different things to different people, just like classical education was, as you mentioned, when most people, and I’ve noticed this, I spent some time reading four or five books that had come out just in the last couple of years last year on the liberal arts, basically defending it against this, this sort of STEM onslaught and the, the way that that liberal arts is used in those books. And by many people is really not the traditional liberal arts of classical education. They just mean the humanities. They think in an English major, a history major. So my life is a liberal arts major.
That’s definitely not a liberal arts major. That’s a history and literature are sciences. They’re they’re moral sciences, human sciences. What we call the humanities, the liberal arts in the old sense meant the, the arts of language in math. It w in the medieval accounting, it was the seven liberal arts and the first three, which were grammar, logic and rhetoric.
Those were the three language arts, the grammar, which was the study of, of how language is structured logic, which was the study of a valid argumentation and rhetoric, the art of persuasion. Those are the all three old language arts. And then the rest of the liberal arts were math. You know, we, we, we, we tend to pit liberal arts against math when in the traditional rendition of those things, math was, was part of that. Four of the seven liberal arts are mathematical arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Music was the application of arithmetic. And astronomy was the application of geometry. Those are all mathematical arts. So in the traditional accounting, math is a liberal art. It’s one of the two kinds of, of arts in art just means skill.
All right. So you have language skills and math skills, and that’s what made up the traditional liberal arts. When we say liberal arts. Now a lot of people just mean the humanities, which are not really arts per se.
Okay. So that’s interesting. So this is why it’s so important for us to define terms before we start having a conversation. Right?
Absolutely. Absolutely. All right.
Well, let’s take this one step further. What is STEM and why do you think there’s so much attention being placed on STEM right now? Well, STEM literally is an acronym referring to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And it’s, it’s the, it is the manifestation, the most recent manifestation of this emphasis on vocational skills because we’re looking at our economy and we’re seeing that, that employers can’t find people who can do their jobs very well. And so we think that focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is going to solve that problem. When in fact, I don’t think it is going to solve that problem, what we want to do. And the whole idea of STEM is to teach children narrow technical skills.
And we think that that’s going to make them more employable and that they are going to be able to find jobs, right. And that’s, that’s a comforting thing to hear from your school, right. But the fact is that, that, that, that narrowing a child’s education does not make them more employable. We, you know, the thing I’ve noticed, I have mentioned, I have four kids. My oldest is a very high level programmer, and he works for a sports analytics company. Now he was a, this, just to tell you how this, and this is how it, these kinds of stories are very common in the tech industry. You’ll have somebody. My, my son let’s take as an example, who was a philosophy major in, in college, never took a math course, never took a computer science course. He then went on to law school for three years and then was a lawyer for four years. And didn’t like it. So he closed down his company and started a software development company. And now he’s, and this is two or three years ago.
Now he’s very successful because why is that? Because he’s, he got a classical education he’s broadly educated. The thing that people don’t realize. And my second son is in a similar position, and they actually work at the same sports analytics company that works with the NFL edge sports here in Louisville, Kentucky. And it’s the same thing there. And they all say the same thing, look, number crunching, and narrow technical skills. Yeah, there’s, there’s a few jobs out there, but they really don’t pay all that. Well, what the tech industry needs is people who can interpret the data, people who can say what it means, and that’s not a technical skill. That’s a skill you get from being broadly educated. And in fact, there was a book that came out just recently called Range by David Epstein. He was the guy who wrote the sports gene, and the subtitle is how generalists thrive in a specialized world. And this is, this, this book just really opened my eyes to a lot of law. This, because that’s what he’s arguing. That people who are broadly educated do much better in any particular thing than somebody who’s narrowly educated and can only do one thing.
And he makes this comparison. He calls it the, the, the Roger paradigm, Roger Federer, or the tennis player. Who’s still playing tennis. I think he’s been playing tennis for 100 years now. And then, and then, and then the Tiger, the Tiger method of educating, which is Tiger Woods, who specialized in golf from very early on.
Now, what Epstein says is that golf is, is a, I forget the terminology used, but that, that’s a thing you can do. You can be, you can train just in that and do well at that. Chess is the same way, right? But something like tennis is not, which is why when Roger Federer was young, his parents made him play other sports. And now he’s still playing at a pretty advanced age. And in fact, that’s kind of the pattern, people who focus on one narrow thing, they can do that narrow thing for a while, but they don’t last very long, but Roger Federer and, and other people who have a broad training and things, they, they, they tend to do it better and they tend to do it longer. And he’s got a chart in there showing this curve. And I think, and what he says is basically the, the modern tech industry is much more like tennis than it is like golf. The rules change every 10 minutes. You gotta be versatile. That’s the, that’s the skill you have in the modern economy is to be versatile and only a general educational allow you to do that.
Oh, that’s so fascinating. And, you know, I think that’s something that a lot of parents need to hear is that, you know, you do have somebody who was a philosophy major, who yes, actually did get a job.
Hmm. Well, you know, I was in what worked in education policy at the state level here in Kentucky for a number of years. And I ended up, you know, we, we, I, I represented a conservative policy foundation, a state level policy foundation here. And I ended up working in the, in the, in the big debate in the 1990s, over on EDU sweeping education reform plan here, that was very progressive and very vocational oriented on all this. And so I worked a lot with these groups, like the, the school, the States, the Kentucky school administrators association, the Kentucky superintendents association, school boards association. I was working there right shoulder to shoulder with those people. And then one thing I noticed was that the people who are at the top of the heap and those organizations, they all had basically classical educations. They were English majors. They were history majors. They were this sort of thing, because those kinds of professions teach you how to deal with people. You know, if you have read Shakespeare and you’ve read Dickens, you’ve already met 90% of personality types. My wife and I do this all the time. We’ll say, that’s Mr. Guppy, you know, it’s, you know what, whoever, and, and, and you, you know, you, you read, you read authors like that, and you become intimate with them and you will never meet a stranger. And so in terms of personal, cause what are even in the tech, even in a tech business, most of the jobs are not tech jobs.
Most of the jobs are customer service and marketing, and those are jobs you need to have interpersonal skills. And it, you get far more of that. If you take a humanities degree, for example, then if you were to take some narrow technical skill.
Right, right. And, and I’m assuming that at some point, your son taught himself the technical skills he needed to do, you know, to become a developer.
Well, most, most pure computer programmers actually are that way. They taught themselves. I mean, we think of that. You have to go to college to learn that. Well, no. My, my son, the problem was that we, we discovered my son was hacking when he was 12 years old, but we had to take the internet away for a couple of years, but he would basically, he would, he we’d go, we’d drive to my mother’s house. And in Kansas, as we have for every year, for the last 35 years, and he here, he is 12 years old and he’s got these big thick computer manuals and he’s going through them. And, and that’s very common in, in the, in the tech industry. In fact, one guy I know who runs a tech business said, look, the guy I want is the guy who’s been doing this since he was a kid who loves, who loves doing it, that’s who they’re looking for.
Okay. Well that, okay. That’s so interesting. So we’re going to jump around a little bit, because I want to talk about, you have some parents whose children, art, maybe like your son when he was 12, and they’re expressing this interest in technology. And all of a sudden, they think I need to throw everything in to this STEM education, because that’s where their interests lie. Why is that not the right way to do it?
Well, you know, there there’s an educational principle. I don’t, hear articulated enough, which is that, you know, because parents think that parents think that they need to indulge the strength of their student. You know, if they’re really interested in this, let’s just go all in on this. Like you said, and you know, I remember an interview with Pete Rose, who was some people account to be all around the greatest, all around baseball player ever. And somebody asked him, you know, how did you learn how to play baseball so well? And, and he said, well, I practiced the things I didn’t do well, I practiced the things I didn’t do. Well, let me think about that. I mean, you just become a more well-rounded person that way, you know, you’ve got baseball players who may be good hitters, but they can’t catch a ball. You know, you may have a players who can throw the ball right to first base for the out, but can’t hit. Rose did all of it.
Well, most of us, you know, there’s a few people who just need to be specialist in their life, you know, and that’s, that’s, that’s great, but to be more employable and quite frankly, just to be a better human being, I think it’s better to be a well-rounded person. You can do lots of things well.
Yeah. I agree. I agree. I get frustrated with the whole learning styles thing. Like we don’t want to just, we don’t want to just play to their advantage. We want to build up the things that they struggle with. It practice those. So will you talk about language being one of the primary liberal arts to focus on? Why is that?
Well, because, Because you know, you, we, you basically have two, two basic skills. They’re either linguistic or mathematical. There are other qualitative or quantitative. Those are the two skills, two kinds of skills. And the quantitative skills are great. You know, there’s of course, lots of uses for them now, but you, most of what we use, even when we’re programmers is language. I mean, even though my oldest son who not only works at, at a sports analytics company, but runs his own sports analytics startup that he’s had for several years and six being very successful at that, he’s got to do marketing, he’s got to figure out how to sell his product. He’s got, you know, there’s in order to sell the mathematical things that they come up with, you have to have non-mathematical skills to sell it. Right. So, so languages we use all the time. We even used language to teach math, if you noticed. And, and, and I have thought a lot about this just in recent years, for some reason, because I’m, you know, I’m looking I’m 61 years old now, and I’m, I’m looking, looking back a little bit more than I’m looking forward these days. And, and I, I, I thought, you know, why, you know, I’ve gotten by because I can communicate, this is the secret sauce. And being successful in life is being able to communicate well, being able to communicate convincingly, being able to communicate persuasively, you know, this was important to the Greeks because the Greeks were always suing each other. Right. They, and, and, and they were always, they were taking each other to court all the time. Some, some ancient writer, I forget who it was, came back from Athens to maybe Egypt or something said, these people, they argue all the time. They, they Sue each other all the time. And if you think about it, we’re a lot like that now. No, it was very important for them to know how to argue and to know how to persuade. And it’s even more important now with the, with the, with the media, as we have it today, we’re having to communicate all the time. We don’t communicate by numbers unless you’re a physicist or something. We communicate with language that’s most of our lives, it’s our personal lives and our professional lives.
Awesome. Well, you know, if we’re looking at reclaiming the liberal arts in education, either in classical schools, right. You know, just any schools or homeschooling, what does the future of education look like if we’re able to do that?
Well, I think it’s been surprising to me the rise of classical education and its its growth, both in the homeschool community and in the wider Christian education world, it has grown tremendously. There are thousands of schools now who are engaging in a classical Christian education, and yet it’s completely flown under the radar.
I mean, you think there’d be articles about this and major newspapers by now or something and, and there hasn’t been, but it’s all over the place now it’s, it’s a thing. And I, and I think that, I think that you’re going to see as more people see what classical education is producing in terms of the, the students that are graduating from any of these programs who are articulate and intelligent and, and good in the moral sense, because they’ve thought very intentionally about what goodness is that, that you’re going to see a big difference or Michael Ortner, who was the founder and owner of Capterra and then S S tech startup company who sold it a couple of years ago for about $250 million. He talks about how, you know, he, they used to get interns into their tech business, just, you know, entry-level positions. And, and they used to get kids from, from the local schools. And then he heard about this classical school and he started getting the students from there. He said, it ended up that I just got my students from this classical school because they were smart and they were articulate and they were versatile and they could do all kinds of different things.
You know, I don’t think we give enough credit to just plain broad intelligence and, and, and that’s what classical education is focused on. So I think you’re going to have people more and more recognizes because public schools aren’t doing well, they’re doing very poorly. And they, you know, they’re, they’re not doing the things they need to do because as E.D. Hirsch, the education writer’s pointed out, they’ve got a bad philosophy. They, they really don’t believe in some of the traditional basic skills subjects. You know, we’ve had a hard time convincing public schools that they really need to be teaching phonics. And, and it’s kind of a thing, right? That’ll go out, you know, as soon as it goes out of fashion, we’ll be back to doing these other things, you know, being able to learn basic arithmetic and to master it, you can’t even get that done in a lot of schools these days. And, and what classical education has done, it’s taken, you know, that, that kind of traditional emphasis on the basic skills, which was there in the old classical education too.
And it’s wedded it with this idea that we should focus on the best that has been thought and said. And so, so we, you know, we, that’s why we teach the classics. We were looking at the best that has been thought and said, and you just can’t go wrong with an educational like that.
No, no, you can’t. Well, let’s talk specifically to homeschoolers, homeschoolers, homeschool moms, right now, you know, maybe they don’t even identify as classical educators, but they’re intrigued by this idea of this broad education. And you know, I’m going to tell you out in the homeschooling world, I don’t know if it’s because it’s, you know, a fad or a buzzword or whatever, but there’s a, there’s a lot of information on how to bring STEM into your home school and why you should bring STEM into your homeschool. So, as we’re thinking about, we’re intrigued by the idea of prioritizing liberal arts in our homeschool, even with this STEM pressure out there, what are some very practical things we can do?
Well, for one thing, I’m sitting here at Highlands Latin school talking to you right now, which was founded in 2000 and we have three campuses now over 700 kids here. And then we, we own, and we only go four days a week. We have the homeschoolers come in on Mondays for our cottage school. And most of the interesting thing is despite the fact that they’re, they’re studying Latin, they’re translating Virgil and the 10th or 11th grade. Most of our graduates go into technical disciplines. They’re going into engineering, they’re going into computer science and they’re much better fit for it than many of their peers. So it’s kind of an ironic thing to say, but focusing on STEM is not going to make your child a better STEM worker.
Focusing more broadly is going to make your child a better STEM worker. Okay. And that’s a hard thing for people really to get, get through their heads on this. They think you, you, it, you know, you point toward a thing if that’s what you want them to do when you focus on that. And that’s how to get there.
And, you know, and I’ve discovered this in education over and over and over again in education, the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line. It’s kind of a crooked line. It may even be a circle. We need to be careful of narrowing our children not just because we’re concerned about their vocation, but because we should be concerned about their humanity.
I mean, if we focus when we spend all our time on mathematics and on science, they’re not going to learn important things. The things that really matter in life when it comes right down to it, they’re not going to be able to focus on those things on our relationships with other people on how we live a meaningful life, you know, because that’s really what we’re all after.
But we all, we keep focusing on the means, the means that we think we’re are going to be best for getting there, like making a lot of money in a job that all comes, you know, with a classical education, you get, you get everything you, and you get the STEM stuff to is my point.
Okay. So give me just like a few ideas of something you could do. If you’ve been a little bit STEM focused, how can you kind of, re-engage your kids into, you know, even when you have young kids, like third, fourth, fifth grade, re-engage them with some of these, some of these other topics that would make a more well-rounded student.
Well, I’ll just, you know, I’ll tell you what basically a classical education consists of. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s no different from, you know, traditional education in the early grades. You don’t learn how to read, learn how to figure, learn how to write, you know, get all those things on your belt. So you can start the liberal arts in the third grade. You know, then you can start studying grammar, you know, grammar. Cheryl Lowe our founder here used to say that grammar is not a grammar stage subject. It’s actually a, a logic state subject cause it’s very analytic. You can’t really do it until about the third grade. And the way we do it is through Latin itself. Okay. This is one of the things that is hard. Even, even I’m saying this, but not all classical people would even say this, but, but we’ve found this to be true. And that is that you can’t just do Latin as a supplement. It doesn’t do you much good. But if you make it the center of your language program, it does a great deal. It teaches you that your academic vocabulary, you know, big words, more learned words are almost, you know, are, are heavily Latinate. So you’ll, if you learn Latin, you will see a word you’ve never seen before. And you know what it means. It also teaches you grammar. It’s hard to learn grammar in your own language, particularly in English, because it’s such a, an unusual language in terms of its difficulty in irregularities in it, you need a, you need a language that is, is a foreign language, so that you’ll see the grammar objectively instead of having to, having to back into what you kind of already know. And you one that’s inflected that has the noun and adjective inflections, so that you can see how nouns work. You can know the case system. We try to teach that through sentence diagrams is why we have those never works.
You see it in Latin because you don’t see it in English. You see it in Latin. And, and then finally, a regular foreign language is the best thing to learn grammar. And because you don’t have to deal with all these irregularities, Latin is very regular. The rules almost always apply. And then Latin is a great thinking skills subject. You know, this is what this connected with this whole STEM issue is I hear people talking as if thinking skills is a STEM thing. Well, excuse me, but logic is not a STEM thing. Logic is a language art in the old system. And the, the, the thinking skills that you want, the best thinking skills program is the traditional liberal arts grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. There’s your, there’s the old thinking skills program. And it worked. And that’s why nobody talked about the problem of thinking skills until we abandoned the liberal arts. Now, we talk about it all the time, because we don’t have a thinking skills program. What you learn in the grammar of an inflected language is the two basic thinking skills analysis and synthesis making distinctions and seeing resemblances contrast and comparison.
That’s just, I’m just restating the same thing. That’s what you learn in an, in, in the study of an inflected grammar, which is my theory of why students who study Latin do better on the college board. You know, the SAT tests than other kids is because all the SAT is measuring his thinking skills. Really it’s an aptitude test, but it’s measuring thinking skills.
And if you look at the studies, they put out every year, the college board on how kids do, who studied different languages. You see Latin is always, almost always number one or two. And the other language is on. There are also these inflected languages with these noun and adjective inflections. The study of an inflected language is the best thinking skill study you can do on the language side of your curriculum.
In addition to the math you’re doing on the other parts of the liberal arts learning, how to think pretty basic. And then, you know, so, so you’re doing that from, you know, starting in third grade, we recommend a study of Latin to be the core of your language arts program. While you’re reading to your children, I’m a big read aloud advocate and just familiarizing them with this just treasury of great children’s literature that we have in English.
And then in high school, you know, things do revert a little bit to the traditional scheme. You know, you gotta, if you want to do science, you got to do biology and chemistry and those sorts of things. But, but only after you’ve done some nature study for a little while to just know the things that are in this world, what creation is made up of before you start taking it apart in those high school science subjects. And so, you know, math and science, which we already have a pretty good idea of what that curriculum looks like, but we’ve really dropped off. This has been the emphasis in classical education is the language part of the curriculum, because that’s where we’ve probably regressed.
We progressed on math and science, but we’ve regressed in language. And so classical education has really tried to reemphasize the whole language and humanities side of the curriculum.
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. It’s funny. I thought I knew English grammar until I took Russian in college. Yeah.
That’s, that’s an inflected language and you had to learn those, those, those now declensions. Right. But the thing, I mean, in, in Latin, let me just, let me just talk about one simple exercise that you do in Latin and what it does to try to match an adjective to the now. And it modifies, you know, the good man homo bonus in Latin, when you match an adjective to announce, here’s what you got to know. You got to know which of the five Latin nouns it is that you’re dealing with, which of the two Latin adjectives you’re dealing with. And then you’ve got to match each in case there’s five gender there’s three and number there’s two there’s about somebody counted 17 mental steps. You have to go through just to match an adjective with the noun in Latin and students learn to do it almost instantaneously. You know, that that’s the kind of exercise you get in, in something like that, that people don’t value in that.
Yeah. And it’s funny, just hearing you talk about, we now have to think of critical thinking as an extra subject, you know, the whole, we’ve got to hide this critical thinking workbook. We’ve got to add this into our curriculum, into our school day. If we would Go back to the original critical thinking, you wouldn’t have to do that extra subject.
Well, I like to scandalize people and say, well, what kind of thinking skills program do you have Latin? Let’s see what they say, you know?
Oh, goodness, love it, love it. And yes, I totally agree about grammar being more analytical.
You know, we actually even started a little bit later than third grade because it’s like you’re using a lot of the same logical skills to do grammar that you use to do algebra it’s, it’s the same kind of processes.
Well, that’s the thing, you know, I go to these homeschool conventions and I, and I know that half the mothers in the hall in the exhibit hall are looking for a systematic language study, following phonics. And there isn’t one, you know, language, we, we think language is really subjective, but it’s not, there is an underlying grammar that controls everything in every language and studying a foreign language helps you to see that much better, particularly Latin, because it’s so regular. And, and what that does is give your language, the language side of your curriculum, a backbone, just like you already have in your sciences with math. You know, it’s the equivalent of math, but I have mothers who say, well, you know, when do I start your logic program? And I’ll say, well, or what, what can I do? What can I do before I start your logic program in seventh, eighth or ninth grade?
What other thinking skills, subject programs should I be using? And I’ll say math and Latin math and Latin.
It probably throws them for a loop.
Sure. Not used to thinking that way, but if you go back to the traditional curriculum and I’m by that, I, you know, cause we were doing classical education in this country until about the 1920s when Dewey’s reforms came in and, and the, and the vocational reforms of other people came in. And if you look back, you know, they weren’t thinking about this the way we think about it. They were, they were doing Latin and Greek because they were, they needed to know those in order to read the great books, because that’s what they were written in. Well, in comes, the English translations. And everyone says, Oh, well, I guess we don’t need those anymore. And in fact there were a whole lot of other benefits to it that we didn’t realize back then, but we’re starting to realize now.
Very much, so yeah. The original thinking education for sure how far we’ve come. Well, Martin, thank you so much for joining me here today to talk about this.
And this is a really fascinating topic. Where can people find out more information about what memoria press has to offer? An maybe even if they’re intimidated about teaching Latin can find some help for that.
Sure. Yeah. When our programs are very much geared toward people who don’t know the subject, we write for a homeschooling mother. And so you come to a and, and sign up for our classical teacher magazine. It’s a very, it’s, it’s, it’s our, I call it a magalogue it’s our product catalog, but it’s set up like a magazine and we have articles in there, helpful articles, every issue that people really find interesting. We’ve got a big fan club for that magazine and I read.
Yep. Yep. Very much so. Yep. I will recommend that when I get it in the mail every few months and enjoy it. So there you go. Okay. All right. Well, thanks so much.
Well, thank you, Pam.
And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the books and resources that Martin and I talked about today,
you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast. That’s at And we’re also going to include a link to our free community over there. So you can come and join us in the, your morning basket community and discuss this particular podcast. And anything else you’ve got on your mind that has to do with morning baskets or homeschooling.
I will be back again in a couple of weeks with a, another great interview. This one is with Jennifer Stowe. She has a homeschooling mom who owns her own tea room in Tennessee. And for years she and her family has been doing tea time in their homeschool. She has some fabulous ideas about how to do tea time in your homeschool. Some really interesting tidbits about the history of tea, where it came from such a fascinating conversation. It’s just going to be kind of a breath of fresh air for wintertime. So we’ll be back again with that one in two weeks and until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

The Hobbit and The Lord of the RingsPinThe Hobbit and The Lord of the RingsRange: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized WorldPinRange: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World


Key Ideas about Liberal Arts Education

The goals of classical education are both individual and cultural. On an individual level, the aim is to bring the child into wisdom and virtue. On a cultural level, it is to pass on the culture of the Christian west to the next generation.

The world of education has been highly focused on the area of STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math in recent years. Many are beginning to focus on this in an attempt to make students more employable in our highly technological world. But, specialization in a narrow area of study doesn’t necessarily make a person more equipped for a job. Having broader training is actually much better.

Focusing on language in classical education is one of the best tools for preparing students for a variety of career opportunities. Studying language, especially Latin, is great for developing strong thinking skills. And, studying language will enhance a student’s ability to be an effective communicator.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • [2:36] meet Martin Cothran
  • [5:24] goals of Classical education
  • [8:41] the difference between classical and liberal arts education
  • [11:24] defining STEM and why it’s being emphasized now
  • [19:26] when a child shows interest in STEM
  • [21:12] importance of focusing on language as the primary liberal art
  • [23:58] reclaiming liberal education and the future
  • [27:26] practical ways to bring liberal arts education to your homeschool
  • [30:35] making a more well-rounded student

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