The half that the children take of themselves with joy, is far greater than the whole that ultra- conscientious teachers, stuffed with the notes of commentators would fain force upon them."
- Household on Plutarch in Mason's schools
That quote reminds me of "The Thing is the Thing". Plutarch is straight forward - you don't need tons of commentaries and you don't need to be certain that the children are tracking with every detail. Ever since I have plunged into Mason's world of what she calls Citizenship, I have enjoyed teaching Plutarch more than ever. The approach is similar to Shakespeare and we have grown to appreciate it much like we have Shakespeare, although it has taken a bit longer to get to that point.
When you look up her schedules in the archives, you will see a constant mention of "Blackie editions" of Plutarch. I found one of these editions and here are the pictures of it. What do you think? One of the things that I think is how doable these little editions are! No scouring the internet or toting around a 10 lb. volume of Plutarch, just this little 4" x 6", 120 page paperback.
As a new teacher, wouldn't you think "Oh, good, here is our reading for Plutarch this term in this neat, compact little book. I can't wait to get started and we will work through this book in no time." Instead of intimidation or fear of the unknown, it would be "let's dig in!"
The title page tells us that Blackie's English Texts are edited by W.H.D. Rouse, Litt.D. These are from North's translations, of course. The introduction states, "The present edition is reprinted from the first edition of the original, published in 1579, which in correctness is superior to those which followed it. A few omissions have been made, and one or two mistakes have been corrected."
Also note that CM did one life, not two per term and not the comparisons that normally follow. I hope to share more about Plutarch in the future. Meanwhile, Cindy has shared a post with lots of helpful links for Plutarch over on her terrific blog, Ordo Amoris and Anne digs deep into the archives to show what editions were used over at Dewey's Treehouse. (Her notes and lesson plans are over at Ambleside Online for you to use.)
I encourage you to start Plutarch if you haven't already. Just read and narrate - don't stuff your students with the notes of commentators!
From joy to joy,