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President’s Report: LTW and the practical benefits of classical composition and the Opportunity of the Decade

It’s that time of year when I write my president’s report so I’ve been reflecting on the last year lately. In the spirit of openness and for the sake of thinking out loud, it seems like it might be valuable to write some thoughts here.

We’re a young organization, so every year is a big deal, but 2008 has proven to be a bit of a turning point for CiRCE. The Lost Tools of Writing seems to have burst out of the blocks this year, more than doubling sales over the previous year. I get excited about that because of what LTW is.

Sure it’s a writing program, but it’s a great deal more than that. For one thing, it teaches the art of thinking. No other writing program I’ve found includes a systematic, step by step approach to coming up with something to say on your own (Invention). Quite a few of you have told us that this is the most valuable part of the program.

Perhaps that is why Dialectics was called the art of arts. Every other art and science has its own logic. But all of those logics are brought together and made universal in Logic/Dialectics. And Invention is the art of logic. Many logic programs teach the science of logic. That is, they teach the rules that govern strict logical reasoning. But they don’t necessarily teach students how to think logically. LTW does.

As a result, LTW shows as no other program can that the seven liberal arts (the trivium and quadrivium) really do enable people to think about anything more effectively.

And not just academic things. One of the great experiences students and teachers draw out of LTW is ongoing practice in making decisions. Sure, many of them are drawn from literature. But a student would have to be pretty stiff necked to not eventually see that he makes his own decisions about his normal life in the same way. It’s not an academic exercise; it’s a real world experience.

When students study LTW, they really are being equipped for leadership: i.e. decision making.

So I don’t feel it is any exagerration to say that sales of LTW are good for the Christian classical renewal. It helps every student who uses it write better, think better, and communicate better. And if they want to hear it, it helps them live better by making better decisions.

I said 2008 was a turning point for CiRCE, and LTW is one reason for that. After years of struggling to perfect the program while surviving financially, we seem to have established a strong financial foundation so that now we can start to pursue our essential function even more aggressively.

That essential function is research. CiRCE stands for Center for Independent Research in Classical Education. In fact, LTW is a product of that research, as is our consulting, conference, apprenticeship and every other resource. So much so that CiRCE has a second meaning: Consulting and Integrated Resources for Classical Educators.

God has continually provided for us to continue our research against all odds, often through last minute gifts and faith stretching provision. Never yet has His provision come from the sources I had anticipated or predicted. Except for this one thing: it always comes from the sacrificial goodness of people who believe, as I do, that our communites, churches, and country need a classical education. Our freedom depends on it. We need young people who are trained to make sound decisions, communicate effectively, and think soundly.

Now we sit, to quote the old poem, On the threshold of a dream. We’ve moved our office to downtown Concord, which is small town USA! I look out my very large windows through two arches to the street below where I see the life of the town pass by. I see people walk in and out of the Boutique across the street and, next to it, the Union Street Bistro. For the first time in a very long time, CiRCE is part of the local community.

And get this: one floor below us there is an entire floor of offices and two large rooms that could be used for conferences. Empty.

Talk about Scope for the Imagination!

Our old offices were so small that Nancy (our business manager) literally didn’t have her own cubicle, much less office. Now she has her own office where she can run the business without endless distractions.

In our old office, my mind had no room to explore and experiment and try things, which is a bit like taking a scientist out of his laboratory. Now, not only do we have adequate office space for staff, we are very close to rooms for LTW workshops, mini-conferences for school teachers and home schoolers, tutoring, classes, etc. etc.

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