It's the end of another month and time for another look at applying the principles of classical education to our homeschools. This month my friends Sara from Classically Homeschooling and Chelli from The Planted Trees (and me, of course!) are taking a look at the second of eight educational principles as presented by Dr. Christopher Perrin of Classical Academic Press - 'Multum Non Multa'.
Eight Essential Principles of Classical Education
When I first heard about these eight essential principles of classical education I was the tiniest bit freaked out. Those Latin phrases and big words (and yes, I had to Google some of them just to understand what was being said) seemed so beyond reach.
But, by taking the time to listen, study, and contemplate these principles and ideas, I've discovered that they are not beyond the reach of the average homeschool (we are pretty average around here!). Take one principle at a time, study it, contemplate it, and consider how you can apply the principle to your own homeschool (and even your own self-educational journey).
The best part is that all these principles are intertwined - when you start absorbing one idea and applying it, the others will naturally follow. I've found this to be true in regards to discussing 'Festina Lente' (make haste slowly) and 'Multum Non Multa' (much not many). The two principles, when applied to homeschooling, work hand-in-hand.
A Look at Multum Non Multa
'Multum Non Multa' translated means 'much not many'. There are a few ways to apply this principle to many areas of life, but in regards to education, the focus is that, instead of trying to cover many subjects and read piles of books, students spend time with fewer subjects and the best books.
In the process, they acquire a deep understanding of those subjects and can apply that knowledge to other areas - especially those topics that are most interesting to the student.
Finding Your Multum Non Multa
When we first started homeschooling, in my excitement I added so many extra books and products that we ended up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. I combined multiple history books and added in lots of hands-on projects - all of them good - but a bit much for a first-grade child. There wasn't anything wrong with the things I chose to include - it was just too much!
Over the past few years of homeschooling (especially as each subject begins to take more of our time), my focus has shifted. We cover fewer subjects but take more time to move through them slowly. For example, we study Latin every year, and instead of rushing through a textbook each year, we slow things down (usually taking two weeks to cover one lesson). It may take us two years to finish one textbook but we have a deeper understanding of the language and vocabulary.
Now that we cover fewer subjects my daughter has more time to pursue her own interests and learn more about the subjects that interest her. It's a nice bonus - especially as children get older and become more independent.
How to Apply Multum Non Multa to Homeschooling
Using this educational principle in a homeschool setting is so freeing. Instead of filling a schedule with so many subjects and books, focus on the things that are most important to you and your children.
Really, the hardest part is deciding what is essential and what isn't. This ideal will look different in every home - perhaps your child loves music. Then much of their time may be spent practicing their instrument and participating in musical events. My daughter loves art and could spend hours drawing. So we've chosen to focus on the basics that I feel are important (math, Latin, grammar, etc.) but still allow plenty of time for her to pursue her interest.
How can you apply this principle to your homeschool?
- Think about your homeschool in terms of years instead of months - not every subject needs to be covered every year.
- Consider what subjects are most important to you - those are the subjects you may want to focus on.
- Integrate subjects - combine subjects (like history and literature) that are so closely intertwined.
- Block schedule - focus on fewer subjects each semester but study each more intensely.
How these principles are combined
When we look at the two principles we've discussed - 'Festina Lente' and 'Multum Non Multa' - we find that they work together quite easily. When you are making the choice to move slowly through particular topics (Festina Lente), which you can really only manage with a few subjects (Multum Non Multa), they naturally work together to create a learning environment that is unique for each family.
If you'd like to dive deeper into this topic, here is Dr. Perrin's discussion on the subject: