Tag Archives: classical education

Critical Education

I’m really digging into Dorothy Sayers’ Lost Tools of Learning lecture right now. I really want to have someone read it out loud to me, so I can pretend I am at the lecture where she first presented it in 1947!

(I had a guest preacher deliver the whole Sermon on the Mount from memory for a sermon one day and I’m pretty sure it was the best sermon experience ever… I want that for Lost Tools now!)

As I consider the purpose, the aim, of our homeschool journey, I come back to the idea that we must use the subjects presented as tools, as the proving ground for the ultimate education skill to acquire – critical thinking.

I also question whether I’m using the right terminology in my thoughts right now regarding the classical model… Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric can be used for different layers of understanding.

For example, from a skills-based perspective I know that I am Rhetorical in some tasks and skills, but absolutely Grammatical in others. (For example, I know a lot more about raising rabbits than the average person… but practically nothing about engine mechanics.)

From an emotional/maturation perspective I know that I look at the world much differently now in my 40s than I did in my 20s. Was I even capable of a Rhetorical perspective in my 20s? I certainly thought that I was. But even as I look back at the blog posts on this website from years ago I realize that I have matured in my understanding and the things that occupied my thoughts. So am I Rhetorical now? Will I ever actually be?

Through the idea of continuous sanctification into this thought process and my mind has been spinning!

So, in sum, I currently believe there are at least two tracks of discussion regarding the education of a student with the classical model: both the functional task track and the developmental maturity track.

Here’s Dorothy Sayers’ argument for education in critical thought:

“For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armour was ever so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words.

They do not know what the words mean; they are prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.

We, who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armoured tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world fight massed propaganda with a smattering of “subjects”; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spellbinder, we have the impudence to be astonished.”

I can’t help but think that these words, although they were delivered 70 years ago, could have been written today. I’m trying to reconcile a desire for a classical, time tested and proven education, with an equally necessary need to help my students navigate technology and mass marketing.

It seems to me that Logic and Reasoning is an absolute MUST… both traditional and applied. I keep coming back to the idea that mathematics in a traditional sense (pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, etc.) is necessary, but there also needs to be some sort of applied mathematics like design/architecture, or robotics.

What are the texts or subjects you think could be used to help students develop the armor needed to function as strong critical thinkers in our current world.?

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Eager Anticipation

We can Eagerly Anticipate the way God is about to work through our fear of change.

This summer I was down in the dumps. I had a lot weighing on my mind and then one thing after another happened: our house required major work to be done, our CC community was having difficulty filling all of the Challenge level spots, after months of warning signs my health finally took a nosedive so dramatically I had to get professional help, and, of course, it was crunch time for 4H involvement and the upcoming county fair.

During this time I attended the birthday party of a childhood friend. While there I ran into another friend I rarely see and while we were catching up she related some heavy events from her life. Then said some words that I think will be with me forever:

“Our life had so many burdens on it I knew without a doubt it was impossible for me to manage. So I stopped trying. I started telling God, ‘I eagerly anticipate the way You are about to show Yourself to be Big and Faithful and True and Loving’… and you know what? HE DID.

We are in the midst of a major life change in our homeschool since we have made the decision to separate from Classical Conversations. I know that for some folks this probably sounds very melodramatic to be fretting and crying over whether to participate in a tuition program (I’ve never heard of anyone freaking out like this over leaving AWANA or their gymnastics gym!) but, man, it’s been a BIG deal for us. It’s all we’ve ever known for our homeschool. We’ve loved it tremendously… and now we know that God has moved us away.

I’m going back to things I know to be true from other seasons of life and thought I’d share them with you in case you’re spinning as much as yours truly. For any life altering, directionally changing decision you might be considering:

First, you can EAGERLY ANTICIPATE the way God is about to show up for you.

So many times God works before us in ways we would literally have never imagined. He’s got this. He’s also completely trustworthy! (He is literally the definition of trustworthy, so we should probably pay attention to that.) We know that He has our best interests at heart – not necessarily to help us know how to homeschool next year (I mean, maybe, but who knows?) but to set us up for situations that draw us closer to HIM and give us opportunities to praise Him for His faithfulness and greatness. Dude. That’s a big deal. Homeschooling will fall in line because the big rocks are already present.

Second, you will never change things until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Change is uncomfortable, painful, and messy. We like our habits; we like our predictability. Yes, a few of us have enthusiasm for change, but the vast majority of us are really comforted by stability and patterns. So what does that mean in a season of turmoil? We won’t change unless we must change. We shouldn’t take our grief over change as a sign that we shouldn’t move… instead we should accept that grief as natural, embrace it as proof we’re humans, and move forward in eager anticipation.

Third, expect the pain of loss of the relationship to take about half as long as the relationship endured.

I used this rule of thumb all the time when I worked with college students who were going through a breakup. When you break up with someone, it’s difficult! Expect that there will be moments of depression and railing against reality and just ickiness for about half as long as your relationship lasted. (For example, if you dated someone for six months, you’re probably on about a three month recovery process before you realize one day you haven’t thought about them or wailed while singing All by Myself.) In my particular situation of grieving right now, I was a part of this homeschool organization for eight years. Probably about four years from now I’ll be able to look back at our involvement and not feel like someone’s poking a bruise. Until then, it’s ok to be sad and wish I had more answers. But… in the fullness of time… it will work itself out.

The Plan

If you, like me, are in a season right now that has been proceeded by uncertainty and dread, stop and pray. Put your copy of the Well Trained Mind Aside and sit quietly with the Lord.

  1. Spend some time reminding yourself of how very much He loves you and how trustworthy He is (I love following along in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word books for this!).
  2. Petition Him with your concerns and worries because He’s waiting and willing to respond (Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7).
  3. Pull out a piece of paper, date it, and start writing down your stresses and hopes and dreams – dump it all out and then simply say, “I eagerly anticipate seeing the way this is going to work out.” THEN PUT YOUR LIST AWAY FOR AT LEAST A WEEK (more if you can stand it).
  4. When time has passed, bring out your list and spend time in amazement at the way He has worked in your life (The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14).

In the meantime, know that you’re not alone. God’s got this and His hands are much better than anyone else’s!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

The Spry Ones Are In My Bubble

bvasquez / stock.xchng

I learned two things about youngsters, the wee, spry whippets, today.


One, my kids are not the only ones who are completely unable to tell a joke.


During our presentations for Classical Conversations today, one gal showed the class her picture of Zacchaeus. (Zacchaeus was a wee little man and wee little man was he!) (Now, tell me honestly you knew how to spell Zacchaeus. You didn’t? Me, neither.)


In her picture Zacchaeus was hanging out in a tree, throwing money from the branches in his repentance of his tax collecting ways.


My students wanted to know why he was in a dollar tree. Then a five-year-old genius announced: “Isn’t that so funny?! The Dollar Tree isn’t a tree at all!” and started laughing uncontrollably.


I kind of get it, but I really don’t. I have no idea why he laughed so hard. I’m glad he is a happy kid – and he made me feel there may be some hope for the development of humor in the girls. Who knows?


The second thing I learned is four-and-five-year-olds are no respectors of persons.


I’ve gotten kind of used to my own children petting my hair at random times. I’m ashamed to admit Dos and I actually walked through Ace hardware with her hands wrapped around my thigh in a bear hug last week.


In general, getting rubbed upon by others is not my favorite, but I have learned to be ok with my own children invading my personal space. I am not used to other people’s children getting all up in my grill, however.


We were practicing being spiders and testing our string webs to learn hunting, spider style. As I sat next to the string, four of the seven children in my class got so close to me if they were capable of producing body odor, I would have been experiencing  major aromatic angst!


They were sitting on me, leaning on me, and resting their heads against my cheek.


Now, really, enough is enough. I wonder if homeschoolers are lacking in an understanding of personal space? Or if this is just an early childhood issue? Who knows? I just know I’m outside of my touch comfort zone.


But I think I’ll survive. Especially since they’re not smelly and they like the Dollar Tree.



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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

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