Meet the Speaker: Leigh Bortins

{EDITOR’S NOTE: The following post is the first in a series dedicated to introducing to the readers of Quddity the men and women who will speaking at this summer’s CiRCE Conference: A Contemplation of Liberty. Up first is Leigh Bortins, of Classical Conversations.}

BIOGRAPHY:
Leigh Bortins is a nationally acclaimed educator, perhaps best known for her ability to demystify the fundamental tools of learning. As a teacher, author and commentator, Leigh is credited with helping to launch the “home-centered learning” education movement.

After earning a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, Leigh worked in the aerospace industry before beginning her work as an educator. In teaching study skills for almost 20 years to children and adults, she has written several books including The Foundations Program: A Classical Curriculum (a teaching guide) and The Essentials of English Language Guide (a teaching guide for language arts from the classical perspective). She has authored complete K-12 curriculum guides for program directors, teachers, and tutors all across the country.

Leigh is the founder and CEO of Classical Conversations Inc., an organization that models the home-centered learning approach to empower learners of all ages. She trains facilitators dedicated to duplicating her methods, and is thereby transforming education and improving the quality of family and community life. Classical Conversations is nearly doubling in size and scope each year.

Leigh is currently working on developing The Home-Centered Education Institute where anyone interested in combining the classical model with technological advances in delivering education can be trained in effective methods. She believes that individualized methods and new technologies will continue to make the modern approach to classroom education obsolete, and is excited about preparing the next generation of teachers to help students learn from home, the office, the field, or wherever life might take them. She is presently enrolled in the Doctoral program in Global Education at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston, where she is further developing her thinking and writing on this subject.

Leigh’s emphasis on the time-tested enjoyment of learning and the fundamentals of education and critical thinking skills grew out of her own experiences in homeschooling her four boys with her husband Robert. They live in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

LINKS OF INTEREST

** You can read Leigh’s blog, One Smart Mama, here.
** Check out Leigh’s radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Leigh at Lunch, by clicking here.
** Order Leigh’s book, Echo in Celebration: A Call To Home-Centered Education, here.

CiRCE CONFERENCE
For more information on the 2010 CiRCE Conference (A Contemplation of Liberty: Because Free People Rule Themselves) click here.

What were you thinking, Mr. Coleridge?

I’m driving up to PA today for the Orthodox Classical Home Schooling Conference at Antiochian Village. Along the way I’m going to listen to some Louis Markos tapes from the Teaching Company in which he describes, in an introductory way, literary theory “From Plato to Post-Modernism.” I’m particularly interested in his lectures on Kant and Hegel for two reasons:

  1. When Coleridge was trying to describe the creative process he encountered a problem not unlike the one I’m dealing with right now. The Augustan age, the age of the Enlightenment, left him dissatisfied with the language and terms they gave him. They were too mechanical and immediate. As a result, he looked to Kant, Shelling, and Hegel for language to describe the organic and transcendent side of the imagination. I run into this problem, not so much because the language of description isn’t available, but because the language of harmony isn’t there. In other words, we are expected to approach things from a naturalistic materialistic set of assumptions when we do science. If literature aspires to recognition beyond the domain of personal feelings it feels a need to use scientific language. Even worse, so does teaching. So analogy, parabolic thought, common intuitions, the inner life of traditions, etc. are all “thrown under the bus” as it were. Which marks the end of literary and pedagogical theories as creative forces.
  2. Because Kant, Schelling, and Hegel are, in my view, essential forces on the way to totalitarianism in Europe, so I need to understand what Coleridge was doing with them. Was he adopting their views? Or was he using their language and ideas to lift his own thoughts to a higher level of harmony than they had attained previously while avoiding those elements that laid the groundwork for an expanded tyranny.

I don’t think I’ll have much time for blogging over the next few days, but when I get a chance I’ll try to report on what I discover. Of course, to receive the refined, reflected on, edited, careful report, you’ll need to come to the CiRCE conference this summer and engage in the discussion!

If you are wondering, yes, I do recommend the Markos set for people teaching or studying or, better yet, loving literature. I would also recommend reading the old Encyclopedia Britannica article on Samuel Taylor Coleridge. If you are up for it, his Biographia Litteraria is quite interesting, but don’t anticipate an orderly discussion. He has shorter essays, like his Art of Poesy that are, if only becuase they are shorter, easier to read.