Episode 33: A Practical Approach to Classical Thought with Heather Shirley

Heather explores how to study math and science classically, how parents can become experts in the classical approach, and what resources have helpful in her own classical education journey.

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Episode 33: Heather Shirley

Summary

How do STEM subjects fit into the classical model of education? In this episode, Robert sits down with Heather Shirley to explore how to study math and science classically, how parents can become experts in the classical approach to education, and what resources Heather has found helpful in her own classical education journey. If you’re a Classical Conversations® member, you might know Heather Shirley as our Chief Academic Advisor, although Heather has plenty of firsthand Classical Conversations experience, leading local communities for the Foundations, Essentials, Challenge III, and Challenge IV programs. Although she is passionate about the humanities, Heather originally pursued a career in STEM, receiving a bachelor’s in mathematics and a master’s in computer engineering. If anyone can speak to the topic of studying STEM subjects classically, it’s Heather!

Quote

“Dorothy Sayers says we tend to see subjects as ‘watertight bulkheads’ and we separate them. And we have to be careful because a subject should not just remain a subject. As we move forward, we see the integration and the universe and how things sing together, how stories tell us about the world, and how nature tells us about the world. And all of these things teach us about humans and about God’s creation and about our place in the world. So [subjects] are really all meant to go together.”

Heather Shirley

Topics

  • Intro to Heather Shirley [0:44]
  • How Heather, with a background in mathematics and engineering, became interested in classical education [2:14]
  • How STEM subjects fit into the classical model; how to study math and science classically [3:31]
  • Why memorization is a skill necessary in every field [7:52]
  • How Heather became a clear communicator; learning how to write well as an adult [9:02]
  • The challenges Heather faced in first learning the terminology of the classical model of education [10:44]
  • The single best thing Heather has done to become a better classical educator [15:43]
  • Resources for parents wanting to understand the classical model of education better [17:46]
  • Classical education pushes us to ask what is true, good, and beautiful [21:09]
  • What’s next for Heather at the end of her homeschooling journey [22:39]
  • Farewell to Heather [24:49]
  • “Current Events Discussion”: Hitting the national debt limit [26:25]
  • Ad: Museum of the Bible [31:05]
  • “Classical Crypto”: How crypto can help us save money [31:50]
  • Outro [38:28]

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