The Conversation by Leigh A. Bortins (Review)

Homeschooling high school students is something that is a few years down the road for me, but I am already daunted by the task!  The Conversation, by Leigh A. Bortins is a book that anyone familiar with Classical Conversations will want to read.  Even if you’ve never heard of it before, it is a great resource for mothers wondering how to homeschool through high school in a way that will create avid learners.

Classical Education through the Rhetorical Stage with The Conversation by Leigh A Bortins as seen on

The Conversation gives sound advice and examples that can take the worry out of the process. It show homeschool moms how to apply a classical education through the rhetoric stage.

If your kids are close to this stage, or you’re just a planner, I recommend picking up a copy of this softcover book.  It has over 250 pages of wisdom from a mother who has been there and inspired others to do the same.

Not only does Leigh A. Bortins explain rhetoric and the classical method of education, but she lays out how to have these conversations with your students.

Digging Deeper

The following subjects are discussed: reading, speech and debate, writing, science, math, government and economics, history, Latin and foreign languages, and fine arts.  For each, she gives thorough examples of way to make these subject real for your student.  She suggests actual conversations and topics to engage with your student.

She goes through Invention, Arrangement, Elocution, Memory, and Delivery.  These are the five canons of rhetoric and will ensure that your students’ studies are memorable and in depth.  The book teaches you, so that you can teach and converse with your own students.

Students (and the parent reading this book!) will be able to clarify their ideas and will learn to relate them to others in a thoughtful and accessible way.


For example, an example in The Conversation for musical performance suggests that you must first go through invention and decide what piece of music to play or write.  Who will you be playing for?  Is there a specific message you need to convey?  What will help you produce the sound that you need?

Next, you would go through arrangement and choose the arrangment, which instruments or harmonies must be used, who or what will carry the melody, and how it will fit in to the musical piece.

Third, you would focus on elocution.  You would need to know and use the correct symbols (crescendo, decrescendo, tempo, forte, etc).  You would need to study the mathematics and language of the music so you would be able to execute it well.

Fourth is memory.  Music is best when performed from memory, which means it must be practiced with great focus and a sufficient amount of time.

Finally, it is time to focus on delivery.  This would be when you would need to communicate all of those ideas to your listener.  If the other steps have been followed, the piece will be well-planned and executed in an excellent manner.  The feelings will be conveyed to your audience and the message will be received.

I had no previous experience with the information presented here, and now I’m curious to see how I can apply this new knowledge into my own conversations with my husband and my peers and projects that I wish to work on!  It has opened my eyes to more meaningful conversations.  It has taught me to take an idea that I have and transform it into something detailed and precise.

I love that the book doesn’t just throw a bunch of terminology out there and leave you to sort through it.  No, it walks you through the process, step by step.  

Not only will this help you to teach your older students, but it will make your own conversations and experiences deeper and more rich.  It empowers you to dig deep and fully develop, and implement, ideas.

Classical Conversations Review
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About Jenn L

Jenn lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and 5 children. The family likes to eat healthy and try new recipes. Jenn homeschools all of the kids. She is heavily involved with local bloggers and is slightly addicted to social media.