From my archives, an explanation of how we learn.
My homeschool ‘style’ has evolved gradually over the years. Though I graduated from home myself, that was in a different era of home-education; parents then were considered pioneers of the re-emerging home-education movement. Our home education would be termed school-at-home now, moving gradually toward traditional-style. When I began teaching my own son when he was 3, my mother encouraged me to continue moving along this road toward more relaxed learning and focus on what was really important.
So I began reading as much as I could get a hold of in my public library and homeschool literature regarding not only homeschooling methods and philosophy, but how children learn and in particularly how they learn in a mentoring environment during their early years. I also searched the Scriptures for what does God say regarding rearing and training my children.
At the outset, I could begin casting aside methods or materials that hindered my purpose. Classroom teaching was not the method I was using in my home, so traditional-style or school-at-home was counter-productive. Too many workbooks and cumbersome teaching drills were also crowding out the one-on-one mentoring, the real molding of young hearts that the Lord has in mind in Proverbs 1 and 2. I began clearing off my bookshelves and throwing out paperwork.
I found some methods, though, resonated at some level with how I understood children to learn. Charlotte Mason had some great insights on character development and literature use. But some of her academics left much to be desired. Unschooling was to the far-extreme of childishness. Biblical teaching on the heart and the parent-child relationship clearly does not coincide with delight-directed learning. Unit study learning was most interesting, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.
Academically, the writings of Susan and Jesse Wise Bauer and other classical homeschoolers most reflected the ideas I had been formulating in my own mind. Like them, I knew home education must strive for the best possible academic standards; Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, the 12 apostles, Paul … so many in Scripture whom God used were well educated to serve Him. Beginning from the most important (reading, writing, thinking correctly, being the right person) and moving outward from there as the child grows up is a model for learning I was already using in our home. I had almost found it.
But I still didn’t have the answer. Everything I read by classical homeschoolers had something that struck me as unbiblical, and that part had to be carefully discarded. In my mind, I began to categorize classical homeschooling thus:
~ Humanistic Classical – This is The Well-Trained Mind and most writings by Bauers and essays you find by unsaved classicists. I can easily spot a humanistic homeschooler because their self is the ultimate authority as well as the ultimate goal. I will read nothing about turning your child’s heart toward the Lord from these sources. The reading materials, curriculum suggestions, and essays are goaled purely toward academic achievement. [Since first publishing this statement, I have received numerous challenges to my characterization of Susan Wise Bauer as a humanistic classicist. While I recognize that labels are, in themselves, not helpful to the discussion, I stand by my characterization of her methods. Though she claims to be a Christian, Bauer promotes a style of education that is embraced by secular homeschoolers because of its lack of dependence on God. Also, her recent publication of a Bible curriculum questioning the inerrancy of Scripture and public support for the author’s un-orthodox theology should give Christians pause.]
~ Romanish Classical – This includes both Catholic and Protestant homeschoolers. These writings are found in Memoria Press catalogs and many homeschool magazines. I can easily identify Romanish homeschooling methods and curriculum because they point back to ancient Rome and ancient Greece and the Roman Church as the pinnacle of history. Studies are heavy in Latin and the ancient history.
I thus began, in my mind, to form a third category, in which I thought I was totally alone:
Biblical Classical – The method of homeschooling which strives to rear and train children as God intended from the beginning; purposing to raise up once more Josephs, Davids, Daniels, and Pauls who will be prepared to serve the Lord in whatever calling He ordains for their lives; understanding it is God’s plan for the parents to carefully pass on their faith, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in the home throughout their lives; pointing to God’s Word as the absolute authority on every subject; seeking to learn first the Bible, reading, writing, and simple math, then adding history, science, language, and logic.
I shared my ideas with a friend of mine, who smiled and handed me Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. “This is the book you have always been looking for,” she insisted. I was somewhat skeptical, but from the first meaty chapter I was convinced. I was not alone. And I was not crazy. Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn set forth the historical precedent of education, explaining that the Romans stole the methods from the Greeks, who stole them from the Hebrews. They carefully show from Scripture how the trivium (three levels of learning) are spoken of throughout the Old and New Testament in those levels of “knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.” I not only ordered my own copy, but I asked the authors if they would sign mine. It sits on my homeschool desk next to my Bible to encourage me to continue on.
Throughout the searching process, I did the research, but I discussed my findings with my husband. Every finding he challenged with “what does the Bible say?” and then “how will they learn?” He steered me in different directions at times and pushed me further at others. Ultimately, he is the final authority of our homeschool. I do the lion’s share of the teaching and training, but I am mindful ever they are his children. We are in agreement as to where we are leading our young ones.
This is briefly how I came to Biblical Classical Homeschooling. The name is mine·¹ , but I pray the methods are the Lord’s. Next, time: Biblical Classical in action.
My son, if thou wilt receive my words,
And lay up my commandments with thee,
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom,
And apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge,
And liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver,
And searchest for her as for hidden treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord giveth wisdom;
Out of His Mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.
He keepeth the paths of justice,
And preserveth the way of His saints.
Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and justice, and equality,
Yea, every good path.
When wisdom entereth into thine heart
And knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul,
Discretion shall preserve thee,
Understanding shall keep thee.
~ Proverbs 2
¹The Bluedorns call their philosophy, very close to mine, “Applied Trivium.”