CiRCE President’s Report (updated 10/2009)

In 2006, The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center released a study called Influence: A Study of the Factors Shaping Education Policy. In it they identified Bill Gates as the most influential person in education policy over the past decade. George Bush, Edward Kennedy, and Bill Clinton ranked 2, 5, and 6.

You might notice that none of them are classical educators.

We need alternative voices, especially if we want to see the classical renewal spread and expand its impact. In particular, the research behind our renewal needs to continue and deepen and the materials to implement it need to be continually refined and upgraded.

That’s why there’s a CiRCE Institute.

Have you ever wondered what exactly CiRCE is? Maybe the best way do describe it is to refer to its name, which is an acronym.

CiRCE stands for Center for Independent Research on Classical Education, which sums up concisely what we are. We’re an inquiry based study center driven by one fundamental question: “What is classical education?”

Mind you, a number of other questions arise from that one governing question, especially this one: “How do you do it?”

In short, the role of the CiRCE Institute is to conduct research into best practices, past and present, in classical education.

From that research and practice comes a second interpretation of the acronym: Consulting and Integrated Resources for Classical Educators. That’s what we provide.

2009 was a big year at CiRCE.

We’ve continued to refine our consulting to where we now offer services on headmaster/board relationships, school leadership, teacher training, start ups, curriculum development, public presentations, and customized consultations.

Schools have responded enthusiastically to our leadership materials, especially The 11 Dynamics of School Success, a planning, negotiating, hiring document good for any school – or business.

We’ve accomplished a major breakthrough in bringing the classical curriculum into the contemporary setting by using contemporary “standards” to apply the seven liberal arts to modern subjects. We’ve created a historical document to enable schools to go to the next generation in their implementation of the classical curriculum.

New hires

In an effort to cut costs to the bare minimum we’ve reduced staff to me, David as creative director, Bethany as part time office assistant, Larissa as order fulfillment, and Andrew as all around helpful guy.

Products

I hope you’ve seen our writing program: The Lost Tools of Writing. I’m not shy about saying that this is the most powerful writing program on the planet because it is a determined return to the true classical curriculum: Aristotle’s Organon, Cicero, Quintialian, etc. reduced to a series of step by step exercises that any teacher can teach and any student can learn.

It’s been so well received that sales doubled in 2008 and we expect them to at least double in 2009. Everybody will benefit when so many young people learn how to think and write more effectively!

But a great deal more needs to be done. For years people have been asking us to develop a truly classical math program, to reexamine the way we teach science, and generally to penetrate more deeply into the power of the Christian classical curriculum. We hope to do all those things in the not too distant future.

The apprenticeship

A key element to all our plans is the CiRCE apprenticeship. 12 teachers experience three years of intensive classical teacher training and bring what they’ve learned into their schools. Our 100 year plan is to transform American education from the roots. It’s a profound thrill for me to be able to work with such fine teachers and lead them into the depths of the classical vision!

In 2009 we had the joy of graduating the first CiRCE certified master teachers of classical composition:

  • Lisa Baldwin
  • Camille Goldston
  • Leah Lutz
  • Kathleen Wrobleske

Congratulations to each of you!

New facilities and the conference

In September, 2009 we moved our office home to cut costs.

The 2009 summer conference (A Contemplation of Nature) was held in The Concord Renaissance Center. It became obvious to many of us that the Holy Spirit had a message for us and that by the time the conference was over that message had been communicated.

As of today (10/23) we are still determing what to do about the 2010 conference. If enough sponsors step forward, we will almost certainly meet in Dallas, TX for A Contemplation of Liberty. Visit the web site and blog for updates. If you would like to sponsor the conference, call me at (704) 236-3964.

We’ve got plans for 2010.

First, we are working hard to complete The Lost Tools of Writing, level II. It should be done by March 1, so those of you who are using level I will have what you need to continue to the next level.

Second, the apprenticeship remains our most important endeavor. Everything turns on the quality of our teachers. Only a few seats may be open for 2010, so if you are interested, contact us at (704) 786-9684 as soon as you can. Learn more about the apprenticeship through the web site by clicking HERE.

Third, we’re continuing to produce conference CD’s, and we’re adding DVD technology to our tool box. On November 7, I” record DVD’s of the Lost Tools of Writing with Andrew Pudewa’s help. We also hope to add conference DVD’s to our catalogue. If you like the visual side, keep your eyes open for updates.

Fourth, our consulting efforts continue to grow. James Daniels was an invaluable help during 2009 and we hope to have some announcements for 2010 soon. Debbie Harris consults through CiRCE on classroom culture/management.

Fifth, we are expanding our research efforts. We’ve been asked to update the book, Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America, by the publisher, so there may be a third edition sometime in the next year.

Plenty of smaller research projects continue, driven largely by needs of our clients and people we speak with in the Christian classical renewal. You can see glimpses of these projects by visiting the web site, where we post thoughts about whatever we are contemplating at given times. One of my leading inquiries revolves around the relationship between Darwinism and modern education.

Summary and appeal

At CiRCE we have been called to provide insight, information, and inspiration to classical educators. We bear a primary responsibility to continually deepen our understanding of classical education and to contribute to the upward movement of every participant in the renewal.

So here comes the shameless appeal. If you feel the same commitment to understanding classical education that we do and to implementing it at the highest possible level, would you please consider contributing to the work of The CiRCE Institute.

Much of our work is funded through our consulting and independent resources. However, these sources do not cover all of our expenses. Furthermore, research provides little direct income but takes a lot of time. We have achieved what we have to date because of the generosity of donors who share our vision.

To enter 2010 clear of financial obligations and able to direct our energy to the conference and writing projects that need it most, we need approximately $50,000 in donations. Donations from $10 to $1000 all help us reach those targets and we appreciate every one of them.

Will you prayerfully consider whether you have been called to support this vital work of renewing Christian classical education through the labors of the CiRCE Institute?

Please feel free to contribute by visiting our web site HERE. If you prefer, you can send a donation through the mail to contribute by check as well or you can phone us at (704) 786-9684.

Needless to say, you can also support our work by participating in our services and events – the conference, teacher training, LTW workshops, consulting, etc.

We are profoundly grateful to you for all you have meant to us and to Christian classical education, which is our calling and our passion.

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