Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A (Former Professional) Educator’s Review of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

A mom in the early seventies is unhappy with how schools are serving her children and pulls them out to do what others at the time say is both insane and maybe not altogether legal – homeschool them! By default, she follows a pattern of education, called the trivium, she eventually realizes is known as “Classical Education.”

Years later, one of the mother’s children, now a literature professor at the College of William and Mary, notes a disturbing lack of skills and analytical thinking among her students. She wonders if their academic deficiencies can be attributed to their lack of Classical Education. She seeks to improve the standard of learning among them and other young academics.

Together, the two women recognize that Classical Education is an ideal way of training individuals to know how to read, to think, to understand and to be well-rounded and curious about learning. Thus, they set out to share their knowledge and experience in a comprehensive volume that provides step-by-step information on how to homeschool -- or simply to supplement the traditional schooling of -- children from preschool through grade twelve. This tome, both pragmatic at times and entertaining at others, is a valuable resource for any parent who fears their child might be lost “in the system”, becoming bored and losing a natural eagerness to learn. It’s detailed, yet concise, explanations and suggestions, provide a sound resource for taking charge of a child’s education, guiding students through the “grammar” stage, where the building blocks of information are absorbed through memorization and rules, to the “logic stage”, where analytical thinking is developed, and, finally, through the “rhetoric stage”, where students learn to think and write with originality and strength.

With The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education in hand, almost any parent will be able to instruct children in all levels of reading, writing, history, geography, mathematics, science, foreign language, rhetoric, logic, art and music, regardless of the parent’s personal aptitude in these subjects. By using the book’s theory and as a model and suggested resources as materials, a sound curriculum for superior, in-depth learning can be both accessible and uncomplicated. Any parent seeking to strengthen a child’s yearning for knowledge and ability to demonstrate academic prowess would do well to pick up this volume regularly.


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