Teaching the Trivium – Chapter 1


This week I started reading Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn along with the Classical Mamas Read group led by Amy at Living and Learning at Home.  The subtitle of the book is “Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style”, and the first two chapters of this book make a Biblical case for homeschooling led by the parents.  I am part of a religious family, but the authors were a little extreme in these chapters even for me.  I, however, respect their point of view and let them make their case with an open mind.  After all, I am new to homeschooling and certainly don’t have all the answers.


Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style

Chapter 1 – The Transformation of Classical Education: A Biblical Vision for Homeschooling
When I started to research homeschool teaching methods, the classical methodology stood out among the rest.  It emphasizes subjects and material that I know have been pivotal in my own academic successes.  I also see how these are the skills missing in today’s young adults, and so it was an obvious choice to develop and challenge my children.  I never thought about the choice of methodology as a Biblical choice.  It likewise never occurred to me that classical education needed to be transformed for a Christian purpose.  I guess that I simply see classical education as a methodology and not a philosophy.  The authors address it as such in this chapter.
I had three important take aways from the first chapter:
(1) Education has to serve a purpose.  Most of the time that purpose is arbitrary and derives from somewhere other than inside ourselves.  For instance, we have compulsory education requirements, your family says you need a high school diploma or college degree, etc.  Education, however, should serve a purpose and person other than yourself.  It should be a means for service to God.  Knowing God’s calling for your life is a struggle.  I’m nearing middle age and still can’t tell you with certainty that I am succeeding in this area.  All I can say for certain is that I try to keep my heart open to where He leads and that He uses me for His purpose.
(2) “Modern government education does what ancient education did – teach without reference to God.  Hence it creates ignorance.” Backing this up with scripture, the authors argue that when a person gathers knowledge without a knowledge of God that they can become vain.  The knowledge itself becomes their god.  It is actually pretty easy to see this in practice within the university setting.  I’ve had precisely the opposite experience.  The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.  We should seek to be humbled by education.
(3) Finally, the authors mention that other than the classical model being the Biblical model for education that there are two other benefits.  Classical education is academically rigorous.  Classical education also produces results.  In their words, “By mastering these basic tools of learning, the classical method creates self-teaching students who are able to move forward and master any area of learning on their own.”  These are precisely the skills that are necessary for success in higher education and any career path.  These are precisely the skills that are lacking in the average college-aged student.

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