Teaching the Trivium – Chapter 3 – Part 1

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This post continues the discussion of Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn along with the Classical Mamas Read group led by Amy at Living and Learning at Home.

Chapter 3 – Should Christians Prefer a Classroom School?

After making an argument against public education in the first two chapters, chapter 3 provides the authors’ argument against private education.  While they admit that private education is a far better alternative than public, state-controlled education, it is still inferior to parent-led education in the home.

The authors list their top 10 problems with classroom schools.  The points are so good and worthy of discussion that I have decided to break this chapter down into a series of posts.

Problem 1: Classroom schools create bonds which can easily cross and oppose the proper bonds of authority and affection. The socialization of a classroom confuses the authoritative bond between parent and child and the bond between siblings.  Parents start to lose the hearts of their children.  Did you hear that?  The hearts of their children!  Did your heart just break like mine?  Now, I’m not suggesting that relationships with people outside the family are bad, but it is not a great sign when the bonds with friends become more important than family.  Likewise, a teacher should not have a more powerful relationship with a child than the parent.  Maintaining strong family bonds in today’s society is especially important.  Our children need it.

Problem 2: Classroom schools can create an atmosphere of ungodly rivalry instead of godly challenge.  Rivalry starts young even in religious, private schools.  When Brilliant B was in morning preschool she came home from school upset that a classmate told her that her dress was not pretty enough.  She had just turned 4 years old, and it was a shock to both of us (the dress was from Gymboree for crying out loud!).  Their is rivalry about material items and rivalry about grades.  I admit that as a type-A overachiever I struggle a lot more with this point about competition.  I like to win, but God has been working on me a lot in this department over the past few years.  Healthy competition does breed success, but it is hard to walk the line of healthy and destructive without a sense of who we really need to be pleasing and why we should be striving to do our best (hint: beating our classmates is not the correct answer).

Problem 3: Classroom schools create a cross-cultural exchange outside of the parents’ control, establishing values which may conflict with those of the parents.  I am totally in favor of exposing my children to lots of customs and cultures and people of the world.  God loves diversity.  However, not all of those people act in ways that we would find appropriate or believe the same things we do.  We should have the right to explain that and remove our children from inappropriate situations.

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