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Posts published in “Petty School”

Petty School Smiley
The original Petty School emoji that entertained the children.

by William C. Michael

The Petty School is a video-based pre-school program I produced between 2008-2001 to help children prepare for classical studies.  The events that led to the development of the program are worth sharing.

A Friend in Need

In 2008, I was at a dinner party with friends, who spoke of their troubles with a teenage son who was not able to read.  They tried every program, took the boy to therapists and specialists and had no success.  The child was labeled “alexic” by the experts and left unable to read.

Listening to their story, I asked if I could say something.  I explained that troubles children have with reading and spelling English are owed to the complexity of the language and that difficulty with them is not to surprise us.  English is NOT a phonetic language.  Efforts by modern schools and parents to oversimplify the language to get kids reading early, can confuse students who want to understand–and don’t.  Many students learn overly-simplified rules that confuse and plague them for decades.

I asked if they would permit me to teach the child to read using classical Latin.  They laughed at the idea, until they saw that I was serious. I explained to them that in classical Latin, every letter represents only one sound.  Classical Latin is truly phonetic language.  Classical Latin is simple and can easily be learned.

Tolle Lege

Living an hour away from this family, I told them I would prepare videos for their son to study and see if I could help.  I knew that the program would be useful to others, so I put some time and effort into it and named it “Tolle Lege”, after the song St. Augustine heard when he read the Scriptures and was converted.  That is why there are images in the early lessons of St. Augustine.

Well, the lessons worked and the boy began reading.  Word spread quickly through the local homeschool community and I suddenly found myself dealing not with “alexic” teenagers, but 3 and 4 year olds whose parents wanted to teach them to read using the classical Latin phonics lessons.  I decided to re-make the videos for younger students and the Petty School Reading course was born.

Requests from Others

Seeing the simplicity of the lessons, but the quality of the content, parents asked about Arithmetic and Writing lessons as well.  Within a year or two, the Petty School courses ended up being my most popular courses and continued so for several years.  There was a spirit of joy in the Petty School videos that still makes me smile–and I think you’ll see why.

Technical Difficulties

Unfortunately, in 2010, Steve Jobs criticized Adobe Flash, which was the video format used for the original Petty School videos.  From 2010-2019, rumors spread that Adobe Flash would no longer be supported on the internet.  In 2020, that become a reality and the Petty School courses were discontinued.

Republishing the Petty School Videos

In 2021, however, I was able to obtain a piece of software that allowed me to play the original videos and record them into new YouTube videos.  They would have their original interactive features, but the video controls would serve well enough.  In 2022, I am working to republish all of the original videos, which you can find below.

Enrolling in Petty School Courses

It is advised that students enroll in the Petty School courses in the CLAA Study Center for a number of reasons.  First, to support the work we do in the Academy.  Second, to introduce young students to the system that they will continue using if they go on to classical studies in the Academy.  Third, to help parents assess and track their children’s progress.

God bless your studies,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy

Petty School Reading, Lesson 07. The Consonant L, M

This course provides step-by-step instruction and exercises to lead young children to read rightly, while also preparing them for future studies in the Classical Liberal…

Petty School Reading, Lesson 06. The Consonant H, K

This course provides step-by-step instruction and exercises to lead young children to read rightly, while also preparing them for future studies in the Classical Liberal…

Petty School Reading, Lesson 05. The Consonant F, G

This course provides step-by-step instruction and exercises to lead young children to read rightly, while also preparing them for future studies in the Classical Liberal…

Petty School Reading, Lesson 04. The Consonant C, D

This course provides step-by-step instruction and exercises to lead young children to read rightly, while also preparing them for future studies in the Classical Liberal…

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