Classical homeschool, Homeschool
Comments 17

Biblical Classical Homeschool – Why

Why the distinction of biblical classical homeschool? via lagarfias.com
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.”

17 Comments

  1. Brenda says

    LeaAnn….BRAVA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There’s nothing more to say. I am so proud of you, and who you are. Well Done, and Love Ya.

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  2. You might like some of David Hazzell’s perspective. I heard him speak at a homeschool convention earlier this year. His term was Hebraic Classical Education – but the same idea as you are writing about.

    Here is their website: http://www.mfwbooks.com/index.htm

    It is the only one I’ve seen taking the classical approach from a completely biblical perspective.

    I’ll be interested to read what else you write on the subject. We are taking very much the same approach.

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    • I’ve been using MFW for four years now….we love it (and all their hard work putting together the materials and lesson plans has made my life so much easier.)

      Lea Ann: It’s a joy to see your passion and contentment in persuing what God’s will is for your family. Keep on, friend!

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  3. EXCELLENT defense of the faith & of classical homeschooling!! Very well put. I really need to read the Bludorn’s book. Veritas Press offers a biblical classical homeschooling model (although they don’t call it that) with their Bible & history cards for the elementary ages & their Omnibus curriculum for the upper grades. I have used all of it & loved it :-). I have also read The Well-Trained Mind & loved it as well. I just added my own biblical emphasis.

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  4. Ms. Garfias,
    As one of the editors of this Bible curriculum, I can say that the phrase “her recent publication of a Bible curriculum questioning the inerrancy of Scripture” is inaccurate, besides being unecessarily inflammatory.

    The curriculum “Telling God’s Story” is based on the gospels, treats Scripture as absolutely inspired by God, and nowhere questions Scripture’s inerrancy. Rather than quoting a passage from the curriculum to prove your point, you instead linked to your own review of the parents’ guide portion of the curriculum. And although your review is ultimately a negative one, your review also makes clear that “Telling God’s Story” in no way questions Scriptural inerrancy.

    I was one of the editors of Telling God’s Story, and I read through it carefully, multiple times. I, a pastor and a seminary graduate with a deep love of Holy Scripture, found nothing in this book which led me to think that it “questioned inerrancy.” Neither did the other pastors, Sunday School superintendents, and seminary-trained editors who checked the book. Your citations in your review failed to convince me. You employ an “argument from silence” which seems to say “Enns does not have a sentence in his book saying “The Bible is inerrant,” therefore he is undermining the doctrine.”

    This is not valid reasoning; nor is it fair. Enns affirms the Bible’s divinity, divine origin, and truth. Nowhere in the entire book, nor in the rest of the curriculum, does he “question” the inerrancy of Scripture. Saying that he does creates a totally false impression in the minds of your readers. This is not how Christians are called to speak about each other.

    We appreciate the time you took to write a review which cites our book and engages with its contents, but we respectfully ask that you remove your description of it as “questioning the inerrancy of Scripture” when it does no such thing.

    Sincerely,
    Justin Moore
    Executive Editor,
    Olive Branch Books

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    • Mr. Moore,

      I have no desire to enter into a lengthy debate, though I appreciate your reading the review and sharing your thoughts.

      “Home Educating in Biblical Truth” was reviewed by seminary professors, Bible scholars, and students of Enns’s other works before publication. I personally spent six weeks immersed in “Telling God’s Story,” reading it numerous times, comparing it to Scripture, praying over the review, and seeking counsel from godly experts in theology, writing, and education. In any area of disagreement, one can find numerous people to agree with either side. I am grateful the paper has been a help to many confused regarding the message of this book.

      You are mistaken on my message; point 3 under “The Bible, Home Education, and Peter Enns” in my review explains clearly why Enns’s refusal to stand for the inspiration of Scripture is a matter of importance to biblical home educators. I quote from Enns’s words [see especially the passage dealing with “the Bible is not unique”] and explain why such reasoning on Enns’s part is dangerous for our young. Furthermore, the entire review is centered around one theme: the authority of Scripture is of utmost importance in biblical education. Any undermining of that authority, such as these key areas of salvation, doctrine, inerrancy, and personal application, erodes the foundation of our faith.

      It is with prayerful consideration that I have determined to explain the inherent dangers of this curriculum to my readers.

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      • Ms. Garfias,
        You have still not proven your statement. You said this curriculum is “questioning the inerrancy of Scripture” but it does no such thing. Nowhere in the curriculum does Dr. Enns deny this doctrine. You are free to draw conclusions based on what he does not say, but if so, you should distinguish between conclusions that you draw, and doctrines that Enns actually teaches. Precision is important in such matters, as you have rightly said. It’s irresponsible to put, on a worldwide forum such as the internet, statements like “they have published a curriculum that is questions inerrancy” when what you mean is, “they have published a curriculum that does not promote inerrancy to the degree I would think best.” There is a world of difference.
        Again, I thank you for the time and care you put into your articles. I ask only that they be as accurate as possible, for the sake of your readers.

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      • A second reply to your 3/12 , 8:37AM comment: you have added a further charge against Enns, in this new comment: that in the “Telling God’s Story” curriculum, he “refuses to stand for the inspiration of Scripture.” This has even less grounding than your earlier, inaccurate statement that he is “questioning inerrancy.” He says again and again that the Bible is the word of God, and that it derives its power and authority from God (page 20 of the TGS Parents Guide, among many others). I don’t know if he uses the word “inspiration” but the concept is certainly affirmed multiple times.

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  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have always been slightly displeased with classical learning because it didn’t seem meaty enough, spiritually speaking. I had no idea that there was a term for what I was looking for, let alone that there are books about it!

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  6. Suzanne says

    Thanks so much for sharing what the Lord has laid on your heart. I’ve homeschooled for almost 7 years now and the longer I homeschool, the more convicted I become about teaching our children from the Biblical standpoint, not the world’s. I have the book you mentioned but haven’t ever read it. You’ve given me good reason to dive into it asap. Thanks for your encouraging words!

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    • …yes, Jennifer, Dr. Ham did say that. His over-the-top attack claimed that Dr. Enns was committing “an attack on Christ.” Interestingly, Dr. Jay Wile, a young-earth-creationist who disagrees with some of Enns’ views, thought that Dr. Ham was way out of line in what he said and how he said it. He believes Dr. Enns’ views to be within Christian bounds: http://blog.drwile.com/?p=4602
      He urges people to attend Dr. Enns’ lectures and decided for themselves. I think Dr. Wile’s blog post about this issue is a model of how Christians can disagree respectfully.

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  7. Pingback: Ruth Beechick on Humanism | Whatever State I Am

  8. Pingback: Ask the Grad – Jonathan Eischen | Whatever State I Am

  9. Pingback: No Latin? No Problem. | Lea Ann Garfias

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