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.
2008 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.
The most exciting development has to be that James Daniels has joined the consulting team full-time. James is one of the leading theorists and practioners in this renewal and has made life much better for me and the whole team. He’s in high demand, so don’t hesitate to contact us about having James visit your school or community.
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 We’ve created a historical document to enable schools to go to the next generation in their implementation of the classical curriculum.
For those of you who know CiRCE well, you know that I, Andrew, am not a skilled administrator. In May, I finally hired the Business Manager we’ve needed for years: Nancy Aubitz. She’s focused, orderly, has been bringing everything under control, and is turning CiRCE into a well-oiled machine. You’ll be enjoying the many benefits of Nancy’s help in the years to come. Thank you Nancy!
Another weakness we’ve had over the years is getting the word out about our work and our offerings. In December we were finally able to add a marketing/advertising/communications man to our team, Brian Withey. Look for improved communications as a result in the coming years.
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.
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!
New facilities and the conference
In November we moved our offices to downtown Concord, which is a lot like Mitford or Mayberry. Our facilities include a conference center (The Concord Renaissance Center), so look for regular mini-conferences, retreats, and other CiRCE events. More than ever, we’re here for you.
In fact, the 2009 summer conference (A Contemplation of Nature) will be held in The Concord Renaissance Center. If you can make it (only 100 seats this year, so don’t delay), you can tour the CiRCE headquarters and participate in a colloquy in my study. Visit the web site and blog for updates.
We’ve got big plans for 2009 even beyond our annual conference.
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. Visit the web site and our blog from time to time for updates.
Second, the apprenticeship remains our most important endeavor. Everything turns on the quality of our teachers. 4-6 seats will come open for 2009, so if you are interested, contact us at (704) 786-9684. 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. I’m anxious to record DVD’s of the Lost Tools of Writing, and also 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 as described above, but with James on board full-time we’ve added an efficiency and level of insight that is unmatched. In addition, 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.
James and I also hope to complete a book called What is Classical Education that lays out in the simplest possible terms what classical education is and how you can fulfill its promise today.
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 anywhere near 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 2009 with a balanced budget, we need approximately $5000 in donations. Then we’ll need about $2500/month in the new year. 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 Nancy 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.
And 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.