SS #100! Book Bash!

It only took us 6 years to get to it, but we’ve hit the 100 episode milestone on the podcast AND we’ve had over a million downloads.

So in today’s commemorative episode we reminisce about the history of Scholé Sisters, our favorite episodes, and the top 5 books mentioned over the course of 100 episodes on issues relevant to classical education and homeschooling.

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Keyword Intro

  • [02:54] How Scholé Sisters got started
  • [15:44] Our favorite episodes
  • [25:28] The fifth-most mentioned book
  • [29:09] The fourth-most mentioned book
  • [34:10] The third-most mentioned book
  • [42:24] The second-most mentioned book
  • [51:11] The top-mentioned book

Today’s Hosts and Source

Brandy Vencel
saved Scholé Sisters from getting the ax when Sarah Mackenzie had to leave.

Pam Barnhill
has always been known as the “everymom” voice on the podcast, as well as the official opener of cans of worms.

Mystie Winckler
kept Scholé Sisters going for over a year as a monthly email newsletter before we started the podcast.

Abby Wahl
stalked us online and came to our very first retreat meetup because she knew we’d be friends – and she was right. She joined the team just over a year ago.

The sources for this episode are primarily episodes 1-99!

“It’s not a real episode until someone buys a book.”

– Scholé Sisters

The History of Scholé Sisters

Scholé Sisters is the brainchild of Sarah Mackenzie, of Read-Aloud Revival fame. Before Read-Aloud Revival, but after Teaching from Rest, Sarah wanted to gather a group of committed homeschool moms who applied the classical tradition in different ways. She wanted to show how classical homeschooling could look different in different homes and also how moms who homeschooled differently could work together and have helpful, respectful, and fun conversations.

So we started as a group blog with the series “You’re More Classical Than You Think” to show how classical homeschooling has a variety of applications.

Link: “You’re More Classical Than You Think” series

Then Sarah started Read-Aloud Revival, which took off like gang busters and between maintaining that momentum and homeschooling with toddler twins, Sarah had to cut some projects, including Scholé Sisters.

Brandy asked to keep Scholé Sisters as a thing among the remaining 3 of us, and Sarah gave her blessing to that. Mystie then kept the group intact for a year as a monthly newsletter before Brandy realized that it would make a great podcast.

Our first episode, Preventing Burnout Through Levity, came out in January 2016.

And now here we are with episode 100, six years later!

The next summer we did our first retreat, with the primary motivation of having an excuse to all meet together in person. Little did we know we’d also meet a future Scholé Sister, Abby Wahl, at the meetup. We invited her to join us officially in 2020.

Our favorite episodes

Pam’s top podcast pick is episode 46, our Christmas Carol episode, where she and Mystie surprised Brandy by being nitpicky and scrouge-like about Dicken’s attempt to take Christ out of Christmas.

Pam and Mystie ambushed Brandy and we went all off script and off outline for that episode, which might have been what inspired Brandy to name it “What the Dickens?”

Mystie’s favorite recording was with Susan Wise Bauer, Episode 78: Pursuing the Classical Education You Never Had. It was the interview she was most nervous to record. But Susan is so down-to-earth and at ease that the conversation felt very natural as soon as we got going and it was such a great discussion about the self-education project.

Abby’s favorite episodes have all been with Karens, which is great to highlight since Karen is a name made muddy of late. There are some great Karens in the world.

Episode 67 with Karen Glass, Death by Sticker Chart, was inspiring to Abby because of the way Karen is able to express the connections between Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and the classical tradition.

Abby’s next favorite Karen episode was with Karen Harris, #93: Revived by Reading. Her story was so inspiring about pursuing intense reading without getting bogged down and doing it against all odds.

One of Brandy’s favorite episodes was #79 with Ravi Jain, East Meets West

His experience with helping classical educators in China and their perspective on why they want a western, classical education.

Classic Sisters: On Dorothy Sayers & Classical Education

A not-to-miss series: The two-episode set where Mystie, Brandy, and Pam discuss Dorothy Sayers’ important essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning.” In the first episode, “The Sisters on Sayers,” they discuss all the great but oft-ignored things Sayers says in her brief but meaty – and funny! – speech. The second episode in the set, “Gainsaying Sayers” is about Sayers’ appropriation of the Trivium and what is not classical at all about her definitions.

Later, Brandy and Mystie had Renee Shepard on as a guest to discuss a lesser known but just as important essay by Sayers on Latin: “Dorothy Sayers’ Latin Lament.

The Top Five Episodes by Downloads

5th Most Mentioned Book: Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

Ten episodes refer to the Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. Really, the book is simply two essays, and the first is on education. But it’s the kind of essay that seems as fresh and deep on the fiftieth reading as the first.

In the first part of Abolition, Lewis discusses what education truly is and why the modern progressive mindset makes education impossible.

The Abolition of Man

The Abolition of Man

From Amazon: "In the classic The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society. Both astonishing and prophetic, The Abolition of Man is one of the most debated of Lewis's extraordinary works. National Review chose it as number seven on their 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century."

More info →
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Mentioned in

  • Episode #5 – Balancing Work and Wonder (with Ravi Jain)
  • Episode #7 – Virtual Scholé Sisters Groups and Technology Tools (with Amber Vanderpol) during the Scholé RDA (aka Scholé Everyday) segment
  • Episode #12 – – as part of the topical discussion
  • Episode #40 – Moms: Learn and Grow! – on part 1, found at the Mason Jar
  • Episode #41 – Living Books Are for Life – as part of Pam’s Scholé Everyday
  • Episode #67 – Death by Sticker Chart – as part of Abby’s C.S. Lewis 5×5 category
  • Episode #79 – East Meets West – as Ravi Jain shared his Scholé Everyday
  • Episode #93 – Revived by Reading – Thinking of Lewis as a children’s author, Karen was surprised at how difficult this small book was (and it is!)
  • Episode #97 – – as part of the topical discussion
  • Episode #98 – Ordo Amoris – as part of the topical discussion

For every one pupil who needs to be guarded against a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

4th Most Mentioned Book: The Liberal Arts Tradition by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain

Ravi Jain’s and Kevin Clark’s book on classical education, The Liberal Arts Tradition, focuses on philosophy and principles true to the tradition rather than focusing on methods as the distinctives of classical education. Methods can differ, if they are practices in keeping with the priorities and principles of classical education.

We’ve referred to this book sixteen times in the last six years, and we do recommend getting the second edition, even if you own the first edition. It is that much better. It really is worth it.

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education (Revised Edition)

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education (Revised Edition)

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education introduces readers to a paradigm for understanding a classical education that transcends the familiar 3-stage pattern of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Instead, this book describes the liberal arts as a central part of a larger and more robust paradigm of classical education that should consist of piety, gymnastic, music, liberal arts, philosophy, and theology. The Liberal Arts Tradition also recovers the means by which classical educators developed more than just intellectual virtue (by means of the 7 liberal arts) but holistically cultivated the mind, body, will, and affections. This is a must-read for educators who want to take a second big step toward recovering the tradition of classical education.

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As mentioned in:

Kevin Clark & Ravi Jain, The Liberal Arts Tradition

3rd Most Mentioned Book: The Great Tradition by Richard Gamble

The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being is a collection of excerpts on education from Plato to the twentieth century.

Every season we have at least one episode that uses this book as our source because it is one we can all own, refer to page numbers, and have a multiplicity of sources on one topic. We’ve referred to this book seventeen times over our last 99 episodes.

Reading this book is seeing the Great Conversation unfold before you. In 2021, we had a group of ladies inside Sistership read the whole thing together, discussing it monthly. Their conversations are archived in the Book Club Group inside Sistership – including their Zoom meetups – if you’re interested in reading historic sources on education in company with others.

The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being

The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being

Frustrated with the continuing educational crisis of our time, concerned parents, teachers, and students sense that true reform requires more than innovative classroom technology, standardized tests, or skills training. An older tradition—the Great Tradition—of education in the West is waiting to be heard. Since antiquity, the Great Tradition has defined education first and foremost as the hard work of rightly ordering the human soul, helping it to love what it ought to love, and helping it to know itself and its maker. In the classical and Christian tradition, the formation of the soul in wisdom, virtue, and eloquence took precedence over all else, including instrumental training aimed at the inculcation of "useful" knowledge.

Edited by historian Richard Gamble, this anthology reconstructs a centuries-long conversation about the goals, conditions, and ultimate value of true education. Spanning more than two millennia, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers, it includes substantial excerpts from more than sixty seminal writings on education. Represented here are the wisdom and insight of such figures as Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, Basil, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus, Edmund Burke, John Henry Newman, Thomas Arnold, Albert Jay Nock, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and Eric Voegelin.

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As mentioned in:

Do you think it possible that we could find a supply for our daily speeches, when discussing such a variety of matters, unless we were to cultivate our minds by the study of literature? or that our minds could bear being kept so constantly on the stretch if we did not relax them by that same study? But I confess that I am devoted to those studies; let others be ashamed of them if they have buried themselves in books without being able to produce anything out of them for the common advantage.

Cicero, qtd in The Great Tradition

2nd Most Mentioned Book: Norms and Nobility by David Hicks

Although Norms and Nobility is unnecessarily difficult to read (it was Hick’s doctoral thesis) and unnecessarily expensive (often listed on Amazon for $50), it is a classical education essential source. Hicks helps us break out of the methods-focused neoclassical model and think about the root issues of classical education and what truly distinguishes it from modern progressive schooling.

Stay tuned for an opportunity to learn from Norms and Nobility this fall as a Sistership Sophie, either with or without the book!

Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education

Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education

A reissue of a classic text, Norms and Nobility is a provocative reappraisal of classical education that offers a workable program for contemporary school reform. David Hicks contends that the classical tradition promotes a spirit of inquiry that is concerned with the development of style and conscience, which makes it an effective and meaningful form of education. Dismissing notions that classical education is elitist and irrelevant, Hicks argues that the classical tradition can meet the needs of our increasingly technological society as well as serve as a feasible model for mass education.

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As mentioned in

[Our goal is] the cultivation of the human spirit: to teach the young to know what is good, to serve it above self, and to recognize that in this knowledge lies that responsibility.

David Hicks, Norms and Nobility

Very Most Mentioned Book: Leisure, the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper

How fitting that Leisure the Basis of Culture is our top book, because Pieper is the one who introduced the classical world to the idea of scholé and the word itself.

What is real leisure and how to we escape being defined by our paychecks? How do we restore our souls in a world of secularism and tech? By scholé, which is contemplation based in worship, fed by reading, and all returning again to worship.

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This edition also includes his work The Philosophical Act. Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure -- a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture -- and ourselves.

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Mentioned in:

The vacancy left by absence of worship is filled by mere killing of time and by boredom, which is directly related to inability to enjoy leisure; for one can only be bored if the spiritual power to be leisurely has been lost.

Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture
Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation
Leisure: The Basis of Culture
In Tune With The World: A Theory of Festivity
Faith, Hope, Love
Happiness and Contemplation
The Four Cardinal Virtues
Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power

SS #85: Beyond restful learning

Scholé includes, but is also so much more than, restful learning. Once again, the Scholé Sisters return to the topic of figuring out what scholé really means and what it truly is. How do we know if what we’re doing counts as scholé? That’s the question tackled in this episode. Listen to the podcast: TUNE…
Read More SS #85: Beyond restful learning

SS #82: You Can’t Cancel Christmas

The death of culture and festivity is not a less important death than bodily. No matter what government officials say, Christmas is coming and must be honored with festive celebration – piety requires it. In this episode, Brandy Vencel, Pam Barnhill, Mystie Winckler, and Abby Wahl discuss how festivity and scholé fits into the curricular…
Read More SS #82: You Can’t Cancel Christmas

SS #73: A Scholé for All Seasons

Today’s episode is extra long! Our topic is scholé and how it changes with the seasons of motherhood. Brandy, Pam, Mystie, and Abby talked about having all preschoolers, starting to homeschool, the teen years, and then guessed what the particular challenges might be in launching children. It was a long episode because it’s a big…
Read More SS #73: A Scholé for All Seasons

Want to talk about the ideas presented here? The conversation is happening inside Sistership.

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