Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001
From: (gisela dunn)
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn: If you can answer this question I would be so thankful. If it is answered in your new book, don’t bother, because I am planning to buy it. Here is my questions: I would like to teach a classical curriculum. I have read many books: Wilson, Sawyer, Fritz, Bauer, Berquist. Here are my questions: I have one daughter (12, going into 9th grade) who loves to read, but is, I believe unchallenged and happy to be so. My other daughter is 10, going into 6th grade, and hates to read. Where do I start these two girls within the classical education phases. I have used eclectic curricula in the past. What subjects should I focus on, where do I start especially with the 12 year old. Is the classical education for every child. I have eight, ranging from 16 to 1 year old twins. Is is feasible for a non-classically educated mother to undertake this? If you can answer these questions, I would so much appreciate it. I don’t know anybody I can ask, because there is nobody in my homeschooling environment who has even attempted this, not to mention has experience in this. If you don’t have time, I will trust the Lord will answer my questions in some other way. Thank you for writing the book. I look forward to reading it. God’s richest blessings. Gisela Dunn
Our new book will answer most of your questions, but I’ll try here to answer one of them briefly.
Is it feasible for a non-classically educated mother to undertake this? I can answer this one with a definite yes. I, myself, was not classically educated by any stretch of the imagination. All through school I got A’s in most every subject, but I can honestly tell you I am just average. The reason I did well in school was because I liked school, loved to study, could memorize facts easily (not so now, though), was highly motivated to get good grades, was quite organized and orderly, and knew how to please the teachers. Ask me to memorize a list of spelling words for the Friday spelling test (grammar stage learning) and I could easily accomplish it. But ask me to take part in a discussion of “do the ends justify the means” (logic stage learning) and I was totally lost. I don’t think I ever progressed out of the grammar stage till I started homeschooling my children.
I truly believe my real education began when I started homeschooling. It was at that time that the Lord gave me an inquiring mind, which is a true gift from God, by the way. I can remember almost exactly when it started. The year was 1981 and Ava, our fourth child, was just born. The other children were 2, 4 and 5 at the time. That summer I was finding myself a bit bored and restless. Not that I didn’t have plenty to do with the children and the garden and the house and such (at the time, I was one of those keep-the-house-clean-at-all-costs fanatics), but I felt I needed something more, something that would stretch my mind. I was looking over the books on our bookshelf and noticed that we had the book “Treasure Island.” I was thinking I’d sure like to read that book, but when would I ever find the time to read it to myself what with all the work there was, when it suddenly came to me that I could read it by reading it aloud to the children. Of course, they were too young to understand such an advanced novel, I reasoned, but I figured they could play quietly while I read. But, to my amazement, they did like it and did listen and even asked for more. I don’t remember now all the books we read that summer, but I know it included the Little House series and several books by Jules Verne.
So, to answer your question: yes, plain mothers, with no particular abilities in languages or literature are capable of educating their children classically. All it takes is a desire on your part. Ask the Lord to give you an enquiring mind. And ask Daddy to teach the logic if he will. Not that Mommy can’t, you understand, but my two sons have definite opinions about their experiences of being forced to learn logic with a woman. Laurie
Review of Teaching the Trivium by Christine Miller
Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.00 until you have this book. If you can only get one book on this page, make it this one. The Bluedorns have done an excellent job explaining the Biblical foundation of homeschooling, of Christian education, and how to apply the Trivium to a uniquely Biblical, Christian education at home. “Long ago, students were first taught how to learn. Today, students are taught an encyclopedia of subjects trivia but they are not taught the basic skills of learning: to discover, to reason, and to apply. They are not taught the Trivium. Because we are Christians, we do not want to pursue non-Christian goals. Classical Education must be sifted through the critical screen of the Scriptures to be transformed into the Biblical model.” The Biblical model is thoroughly explained and applied throughout the book. Packed with Scripture, guides for teaching discovering (grammar), reasoning (dialectic), and applying (rhetoric), and many, many practical how-to’s and helps of all kinds, with an out of this world appendix of resources, this is the Well-Trained Mind for those that want their children to have a uniquely and thoroughly Christian education and grounding in a Biblical worldview (that’s all of us, right?). It is inspiring, encouraging, and hopeful the Bluedorns have lived this life with five children, the youngest of which is 17.
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001
From: Wendi C
Subject: Re: spelling
It is true that spelling is a knack that some children seem to have from birth. But like any other skill, practice can help=)
It just takes the right sort of practice. What worked for us was realizing that while reading is best learned through phonics, few of us spell that way. We spell based on whether or not the word looks right. Poor spellers generally haven’t learned to notice this.
So we made a list of spelling words each work from the child’s own papers (about ten or so). Rather than have the child copy, copy, copy (because my poor spellers will misspell a word they are _copying_), we had the child take a moment to really _look_ at the word, properly spelled. Then the child would cover the word or close her eyes and picture it properly spelled. Then she’d check, by looking at it again. When she was sure she’d done this right with each word, I’d give a spelling test, sometimes oral, sometimes written.
The neat thing about this is that I didn’t have to keep on doing it. Once they learned to really _look_ at words on their spelling lists, they began to do this with words they wrote in other situations. They developed that lovely habit of paying attention. Now, my poor spellers will never win any spelling bees- but they will not humiliate their mother every time they put pen to paper, either=). Wendi
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2001
Subject: stuffing formal grammar
>>”Jane Healy goes into a detailed explanation of the difficulties which >>arise from stuffing formal grammar into a head at too early of an age”
The following is quoted in our book, Teaching the Trivium, pages 553-555
— Endangered Minds, Why Children Don’t Think and What We Can Do About It, by Jane M. Healy, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1990.
I would contend that much of today’s school failure results from academic expectations for which students’ brains were not prepared but which were bulldozed into them anyway . . . .
The brain grows best when it is challenged, so high standards for children’s learning are important. Nevertheless, curriculum needs to be considered in terms of brain-appropriate challenge. Reorganizing synapses is much more difficult than having the patience to help them get arranged properly the first time around!
[page 289] Abstract rule systems for grammar and usage should be taught when most students are in high school. Then, if previously prepared, they may even enjoy the challenges of this kind of abstract, logical reasoning. Only, however, if the circuits are not already too cluttered up by bungled rule-teaching.
One ninth-grade student who came to me last year for help with grammar was hopelessly confused about the simplest parts of speech. Although she was intelligent and could, at her current age, have mastered this material in a week, she had been a victim of meaningless “grammar” drills since second grade. As Michelle and I struggled on the simple difference between adjectives and adverbs, I often wished I could take a neurological vacuum cleaner and just suck out all those mixed-up synapses that kept getting in our way. It took us six months . . . But finally one day the light dawned. “This is easy!” she exclaimed. It is, when brains are primed for the learning and the student has a reason to use it with real literary models.
[page 290] Immersing children in good language from books and tapes, modeling patterns for their own speech and writing, and letting them enjoy their proficiency in using words to manipulate ideas are valid ways to embed “grammar” in growing brains . . . . No amount of worksheets or rule learning will ever make up for deficits resulting from lack of experience with the structure of real, meaningful sentences. It is folly to ignore the importance of oral storytelling, oral history, and public speaking in a world that will communicate increasingly without the mediation of print. These skills build language competence in grammar, memory, attention, and visualization, among many other abilities.
. . . I personally believe . . . that helping students at all grade levels memorize some pieces of good writing narrative, expository, and poetic on a regular basis would provide good practice for language, listening, and attention. I do not mean reverting to a rote-level curriculum, but simply taking a little time each week to celebrate the sounds of literate thought . . . .
At the same time, schools must get into the business of teaching children to listen effectively because no one else seems to be doing it.
Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2001
From: Lecia Liege
Dear Harvey & Joanne –
At the risk of finding hate mail in my mailbox, I’d like to present another side of this charter school/voucher issue. We live in a fallen world. I believe God’s best is for each family to have a Mom and Dad, married before the children arrive, sticking together through better and worse. Are most families like this today, no, sadly no. So what do we as believers say to these families and these children, “Sorry, you can’t homeschool; you’re just not with the program…”? Jesus did not have “God’s best”. He was conceived before his parents were married and was believed to be a bastard. He lived and grew up in a town of low reputation, Nazareth. He was apparently poor. Moses did not have “God’s best”; the pagan Egyptians educated him. And then there is Daniel…I’m in the middle of these charter school homeschoolers. Most of the families who join the charter school that I am familiar with are new to homeschooling. Most of them could not homeschool without the government’s support. For them, the choice is between using the regular public school or homeschooling under very difficult circumstances with the charter school. Some are single moms – just trying to make a difference in one child’s life. And the saddest thing is that many of their Christian brothers and sisters, because of this conflict, turn away and avoid helping them at all – at a time when these people probably need it the most.Search your hearts and pray – what would the Lord have you do? Sit in judgement because these people are not homeschooling the one, right, pure way – or have compassion and understanding – and reach out and help them as you can. Some of them may become strong enough through your help to wean off the public trough. It’s not a bowl of cherries – there is a LOT of paperwork, testing, and accountability involved whenever you take government money. Some families do leave the charter school, if they can, to homeschool on their own because of all the bothersome work involved. Even stepping from the regular public school to a homeschooling charter school is a step in the right direction. At least the families are spending more time together, as God intended. At least the parents are taking back some of the responsibility for raising their children. At least the parent or parents will realize more how much they need the Lord’s strength and wisdom to raise their children properly. I’m sorry, but if I am forced to choose between associating with the “pure” and “holy” private Christian homeschoolers or the poor, downtrodden, hard-working Christian charter schoolers, I choose the latter. Jesus was bad-mouthed for associating with the wrong folks and for not doing things the “pure” and “holy” way, too. I’m sorry if I have offended anyone, but the divisiveness of this issue, especially in California, has hurt my heart – and the hearts of many struggling Christians. God bless each of you, L. Liege
I think you have misunderstood our intentions, and probably the intentions of Joanna in Ca. as well. That’s easy enough for me to do, especially when I feel warm about something, so I’m guessing the same may apply to you.
Our purpose is not to “judge” that is, condemn anyone, but to “judge” that is, discern the principles which may apply to a situation, then draw the proper lines of division. When we see someone on what we believe is the wrong side of the line, then we show them where we believe the right side is and we try to help them across. We have full sympathy for the difficulties especially in this culture gone astray, under this government gone awry. We talk about this very thing in our book how if you’re supposed to be in New York, and you started in Los Angeles, but I met you in Chicago, I shouldn’t condemn you because you’re not where you’re supposed to be. What’s important is that I make sure you’re headed in the right direction and I help you on your way. I shouldn’t encourage you to stay in Chicago.
Joanna in Ca. makes an important point, and that is that we Christian Homeschoolers should seek agreement in principle and practice because what each of us does often affects all of the others. The only way to achieve true agreement among us is for us all to follow our Lord more closely.
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001
Good Morning, I have enjoyed reading the posts to this loop for several months. Thanks for all the valuable information.
My question (problem): My 11yo daughter wastes time with schoolwork, chores, virtually everything. Not just a little bit of time either, we sat down a couple of months back, and calculated she wastes 3-4 hours per day “daydreaming,” or doing busy work, like erasing her math computations, and only showing her answers. (When I asked her repeatedly to show her work.)
Anyway, I am at my wits end, since we are always waiting on her we are not doing some of the fun things that I have planned to do with all of my children. I have tried, giving her additional chores and taking away extra-curricular activities if she does not complete her work in a reasonable amount of time. I have even tried incentives such as when you complete this we can…. none of this seems to make a difference.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. This has been going on since about 6 months after we started homeschooling 3 years ago, and honestly, I am ready to send her back to the public school.
This is a commonly asked question. Since I don’t know all of your circumstances, I will try to read between the lines a bit. Here is the math:
One quick worker, go-getter, organized, efficient, secretary type mother (or father).
+ One contemplative, slow-to-move, slower-to-act, day-dreamer type child.
Especially if this is your oldest child or if this is your only child out of all your children who has these characteristics.
My three girls are like me, organized and quick. They know what I want even before I tell them. They will have an assignment or chore done in lightning speed and can even fill in the blanks when I’m talking and I can’t think of a particular word. But my second boy is a different story. First I must get his attention by calling his name. Then wait. Then I make my request or comment to him. Then wait. And as I wait, I can see his mind taking in the words and digesting the information. And then, because his starter motor is defective, I must help him get started on the assignment or chore. Of course, it’s not nearly so bad as when he was young, but at 21, he still takes much longer to finish things than the others. Do you have any idea how long he takes in the bathroom in the mornings? Well, I won’t get into that, but it amazes me how long it takes to comb so little hair.
But, on the other hand, he has an incredible amount of patience — enough to go over and over a piece of classical music he is learning on his guitar until he has it perfect. He is also the most easy-going of anyone in our family, seldom upset, and nearly always cheerful. He is just plain nice to be around.
Hans will never be somebody’s secretary, and I will never be any good at music. We are two different people with different characteristics, and I need to quit trying to force him into my idea of how a person should work and think. Different people develop their creativity in different ways and at different speeds and we don’t want to interfere with that process. We need to guide them, nurture them, be patient with them, and give them a reasonable amount of freedom. In addition, they need firmness and a reasonable amount of structure.
I will assume here, since I don’t know you, that you aren’t one of those perfectionist types who has expectations too high for anyone to reach. That is a separate issue which we have addressed elsewhere. After reading through your letter, I am wondering if you really have two problems instead of one. Perhaps part of your problem is a discipline problem. Children who waste time need specific instructions written out for them to follow, including time limitations, with specific consequences listed for not following instructions.
Example: Daughter is asked to wash the dishes. The time to start is clearly stated, and/or written down. Mother determines a reasonable amount of time to complete the task, say 30 minutes, and also written down is the expected outcome of the task: all dishes, including the pots, clean and rinsed and in the drainer. You will probably need to set up “training sessions” to help the child learn to be diligent.
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001
Hello to everyone,
I am very new to this loop, but I felt that I could add something regarding the topic of your daughters staying at home. You asked what they could be doing? Well, if I could just share from experience from both ends of the spectrum…
I was taught at home, and for the most part remained at home (except for a few intermissions) until the Lord brought my husband, after a wonderful courtship under the direction of my parents. One thing that I did for a time was become a “mother’s helper” for a couple of my mother’s friends. They each had little ones and very busy households. The one mother taught her children at home, the other would eventually teach hers at home when they became old enough. I would go in and help with whatever they needed (which most always was household help).
I now have three young children of my own and how many times I have desired a “mother’s helper”. To hire a professional is many times out of the range of the general homeschool population. What I did was look to the homeschool community and started asking around for young girls desiring to serve. The Lord has blessed me with finding a sweet young lady who is also looking at this as a training time for her. But, I have to say this is very rare in our day. Most girls in their mid to high teens are already gearing towards jobs, careers, and/ or college. This is leaving a huge gap in our communities. It used to be that women had help, but now our help is searching out after other pursuits.
Let me just encourage you who have teenage daughters to search out areas of service for them such as this. There are many mothers who would just prize the opportunity for some help, and it would give your daughters some wonderful experience!
~Mrs. S Ervin
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001
From: “Laura Roberts”
Dear Bluedorn family,
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the FPEA convention and meet you. I did begin reading your book this week. The following quote is from Chapter 1: “Non-Christian goals are, in fact, anti-Christian goals. There is no neutral ground lying between Christian and non-Christian – as if both sides could agree to some things. We do not deny that some things appear neutral on the surface – to the lazy-minded, who look no deeper than the surface. There are many things which, if they were somehow considered by themselves, then they could be used in a Christian or non- Christian way. But that’s just it – they are never by themselves. They are always being used in some way. Anything which fails to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord necessarily denies Him, even if it says nothing – no, especially if it says nothing.” Can you please clarify your meaning of goals? I’m trying to understand if you mean the pursuit of higher education or the use of certain curricula.
I would also like to ask you for specific guidance in using KONOS in a classical fashion. I have two girls, 5 and almost 7. We enjoy the activities and practical application of KONOS. This summer we will be building a model of the Tabernacle and discussing the symbolism involved. We have recently finished learning about attributes of God. My oldest really loved using water to demonstrate the trinity…ice, liquid, gas; different phases, but always water!
Thank you for writing and asking for a clarification. This is always the best possible approach.
Regarding your specific question:
The Lord did not create the world neutral. He created it for Himself.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. — Revelation 4:11
We, as Christians, should not approach anything as if it is neutral, but as if it is Lord’s.
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. — Romans 11:36
We are to do everything from Him and through Him and to Him, and He is to get the glory in all things. This is not limited to curricula or education, but it encompasses all of life.
We acknowledge every fundamental fact as God’s gift. He is the source of all of the particulars of which we have knowledge.
We acknowledge God as the One Who establishes the proper order and connection between things. Only through God can we understand how everything should fit together.
We acknowledge God as the One Who gives direction and goals to everything which we do. All lesser goals must be harnessed to ultimately serve God, doing all things to Him, according to His direction, and for His glory.
To fail to acknowledge God in everything is practical agnosticism.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. — Psalms 10:4
Nothing in this world is neutral. All things belong to Christ and to those in Him.
. . . For all things are yours . . . And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. — First Corinthians 3:21,23
As soon as we say something is neutral, we surrender it to those who will not acknowledge God’s sovereign ownership over all things. When the devil proposes a compromise, he says: “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is negotiable.” Whatever we surrender to the neutral category becomes negotiable. Once it is in negotiable territory, it is slowly lost by a war of attrition. The border of what we used to consider our territory slowly erodes into negotiable territory and then into enemy territory. Why? Because we have already, in principle, surrendered what is in fact ours.
You’ll find more development of this idea throughout the book. (For example, the bottom of pages 34-35 “No true education . . .”, pages 195-196 “Generally speaking . . .”, and pages 206-207 “Paul solved . . .”)
How does this all apply to curricula and to higher education?
There’s lots of curricula and materials out there which are explicitly Christian. Maybe some of it isn’t as Christian – or at least as consistently Christian – as it openly professes to be.
There’s some curricula and materials out there which are explicitly hostile to Christianity. There’s still more which is hostile, but not so openly.
The vast majority of curricula in the world will implicitly claim to be neutral. Some will explicitly make the claim of being neutral, though most will not explicitly say so. Now, from their point of view, they mean they are giving no favors to religious points of view. They are inclusive. They may even give the religious point of view a little time, and they may not even try to make it sound stupid.
What’s wrong with this picture? God is not just one among may options. Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. The other options are false.
So what do we do with this curricula or material? We either redeem it or we look for something else. It has to be transformed or trashed. Transformation means we must
1. Remove it from its dark surroundings in a false worldview and expose it to the light of God’s truth in the Biblical worldview.
2. We must separate the precious from the vile, drawing distinct lines between good and evil, truth and error, holy and unholy, just and unjust.
3. We must set it at liberty by putting it into lawful service within the correct order of things under God.
For example, if you have a history program which relates everything from man’s point of view, then you need to critique the humanist perspective and show God’s providential hand and moral judgement in everything. If you have some science text which relates everything from a naturalistic perspective, then you need to critique the naturalism and show God’s eternal power and Godhead in everything. Whatever the program, text, or curriculum, it must be brought under the light of God’s Word, the proper distinctions must be drawn, and it must be put into its lawful place in the order of things.
What about higher education – college. In our book, we lay out a college-prep course of study which, from the world’s point of view, would “over-prepare” a student for the very best colleges. Someone might conclude from that fact that we strongly encourage attending a campus college. But just as homeschoolers have broken out of the box of “classroom schools,” so we have taken things to their next logical step and broken out of the box of “campus colleges.” We think you can do a lot better than college.
We don’t tell anyone not to go to a campus college. We only ask, “why do you want to?” For many people, college is a dead end. For others, it is a waste of time and talents. For others it’s a diversion from a straight course. In many instances, college can be a poor choice, and that’s precisely why the alternatives to attending a campus college are multiplying at an enormous rate. College should be a tool you can use as it fits your plans, not a god which orders your entire life. Many people have followed the idyllic college dream, obtained their diplomas, then found how little their college education related to real life, or even to their chosen career. For many people, there are better, safer, more efficient, more effective ways to pursue education and life than spending four years on a college campus. The options should grow enormously in the next few years. It is only the leadened inertia of colleges which is holding people back from adapting to the realities of off-campus self-learning, correspondence courses, apprenticeships, and other such options. Colleges are becoming like dinosaurs – unfit to survive in the present world. Homeschooling has shattered the academic classroom myth. Homeschooling has shattered the school socialization myth. Homeschooling has defeated all of its opponents on their own territory. And, in our opinion, in the next few years, as homeschoolers who have pursued alternatives begin to make their way in the world, Homeschooling will begin to shatter the college myth. Have you figured out what Homeschooling will take on after that?
I want to expound a little more on the “no neutrality” theme. I suppose someone might try to counter my point by quoting,
Luke 9:50 “. . . he that is not against us is for us.”
understanding this as if someone who is neutral – at least not openly opposed to the Lord – he is as good as on our side because at least he’s not opposing Him.
That is not at all what Jesus is saying.
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. — Luke 9:46-50
Jesus’ point is that there are only two classes – those against Him and those for Him. If someone is casting out devils in the name (= by the authority) of Jesus – in the same way which the Apostles themselves had done, then he’s not in the class of those who are against the Lord. That leaves only one other possibility – he is for the Lord. He may not be directly commissioned by the Lord, but he who truly receives a gift in the name of (= by the authority) the Lord receives it from the Lord.
Mark 9:33-50 encompasses a larger context, where the Lord concludes,
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. — Mark 9:49,50 Either you have salt, or you don’t. The words “if the salt have lost his saltness,” is literally, “if the salt has become no salt.” There is no neutral ground. You may have more or less salt, but the salient point is whether or not you have any salt at all.
Some might accuse this of being an Either/Or Fallacy. The Either/Or Fallacy is where someone limits the possible options – usually to two – when in fact there are other options.
It’s like someone who hears that we think giving a four-year-old a tall stack of workbooks to go through in a year is not in congruity with the nature of a four-year-old child, and he represents us as being “against early academics” as if that is the only alternative. There is another option. Find another way to teach him which is more in conformity to his nature. For example, don’t teach math with an abstract workbook. Use concrete everyday experiences, objective manipulatives, and deal with mathematics more on the language level. Or for history, don’t teach him a long complex array of individual historical facts, but read to him historical fiction and narrative history and have him narrate it back, then hang the details on a lineal timeline and a spacial map so that he can at least see the relationships on the grammar level. For most children, the child will be more adaptable to workbooks and abstractions by no later than age ten. So keep it light on the workbooks unless the child truly thrives on them. Parents are the best judges of when their children are ready.
Another example is someone who hears that we stress training in moral discipline and character at a young age and thereby conclude that we must be “against early academics.” Yet we never represent this as an either/or. Our point is that the later more intensely abstract academics must be built upon a solid moral disciplined foundation. There’s nothing about that which excludes teaching Early Knowledge Level academics. Indeed, that is one of the at-hand instruments which you use to teach it. They are not mutually exclusive.
When we evaluate what someone is saying, we should apply the Trivium. (You should expect me to say that.)
When we wish to learn something, we must begin at the Grammar Level by gaining an accurate knowledge of the facts – what someone actually says, and what they really mean by what they say. Primary source evidence is considered more reliable than hearsay evidence because it has not passed through a filter of personal perspective and bias. If I hear about a broken window from my son who is angry at the neighbor boys because they won’t let him play baseball with them, the facts may come across in a distorted way which makes it look as if they hit the baseball through the window. But if I consult the neighbors, I may find that they weren’t in a position to hit a baseball through the window.
If we begin to draw conclusions before we have an accurate knowledge of the facts, then our conclusions are necessarily built upon a wrong foundation. But we must also be careful to reason accurately with the facts we know. There is a difference between what something could possibly mean and what it necessarily means. A small ball in the middle of my living room floor, with glass trailing back to a broken window – these things might possibly mean the neighbors have been playing baseball. Likely – yes. Necessarily – no. The lawn mower could have flung a rock through the window – a rock which I have not discovered. The baseball could be my own, which fell off the mantle when the rock hit it.
If we begin to apply our conclusions before we have accurately ascertained the facts and carefully reasoned with them, then we may take actions which are unwarranted and may, in the end, prove damaging or embarrassing. I may send the neighbor kids their baseball along with a bill for window repair. I may slander the parents of my neighbors for not raising their children to take responsibility for their actions. Then I may discover it was my own lawnmowing which caused the problem. So, in the end, it is I who appears to have acted irresponsibly.
Here are a few Scripture texts which speak to the subject.
Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame. — Proverbs 25:8
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. . . . He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. — Proverbs 18:13, 17
Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? — John 7:51
Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. — Acts 24:13
And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. — Romans 3:8
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. — First Peter 3:16
Now I’ll get off my fallacy-hunter hobby-horse and get back to the question.
“He that is not with me is against me . . . .” — Matthew 12:30 “. . . he that is not against us is for us.” — Luke 9:50
You’re either for Christ or against Him. You’re either against Christ or for Him. Jesus doesn’t leave any other options. On the temperature scale, there are an infinite number of points between freezing and boiling. In a book, there is a margin between the edge of the paper and the print. With a balancing scale, there is a knife’s edge where things could stay level or teeter one way or totter the other way. But with a light switch, there is only an on and an off, and with reference to Christ, there is only a for Him or against Him. This is an Either / Or reality. Here are some other examples of Either / Or reality.
Light or Darkness
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God . . . — Acts 26:18
Grace or Works
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. — Romans 11:6
Self-Possessiveness or Discipleship
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
— Luke 14:33
Our experience seems to say otherwise. There are people who are openly hostile to Christ, but there are also people who are not openly hostile to Christ. We think they are neutral because we do not detect their bias. We frame our thoughts in terms of openly hostile or not openly hostile to Christ. What we don’t see is that to be supposedly “neutral” to Christ is in fact to be hostile to Christ, because “neutral” means negotiable, when it isn’t negotiable at all. Satan proposed that pure obedience to God’s word was negotiable when he said, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden. . . Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
We imagine things as if they were different degrees of direction between true north and true south = good and evil. But as far as God and Christ are concerned, true north is the only direction which counts. Every other direction does not head toward God. The wider our angle away from true north, then the more quickly we depart from God’s way. True south would be the fastest departure. However, the closer we are to true north – without actually being on compass north – then the more deceptive we become, because someone would need to follow our course out much farther into the future in order to see how it departs from God’s way.
There are only two religions: Biblical Christianity and all the others.
When it comes to sorting this all out on a practical level, things may appear blurry and indistinct to us. That’s because our sight needs correcting, and more light needs to be shed on the subject.
The reason people have trouble seeing beyond the myth of neutrality is because neutrality is the prevailing philosophy of our day “You shouldn’t judge. There is no right or wrong. Right or wrong is determined by the way you choose to think about it. If someone else chooses a different set of values, you must be tolerant.” If there is no God, then there can be no logical standard by which we can judge anything. Everything is neutral until someone has clarified the situation from his own perspective and decided to place his own personal value upon it.
NOT! This is God’s world, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. SO!
Do I mean to say “that’s a Christian table, but that’s a pagan chair”? It depends in part upon whose eyes you’re looking through. Eyes which see the unbeliever’s imaginary world without reference to God, or eyes which see the real world with everything related back to God.
Nowadays, this “no-neutrality” philosophy can be a very frustrating philosophy. By refusing to acknowledge God, and ignoring all reference to God, our culture declares, in every nook and cranny, the foolish philosophy of “No God.” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1) It educates in the deliberate absence of the knowledge of God, which is to educate – in a proactive and aggressive way – in ignorance. It matters not that they profess themselves wise, they have nevertheless become fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God into naturalistic philosophy.
The appearance of neutrality comes from considering things without reference to God. Unbelievers see many things, but the one thing which they are blind to is the glory of God in everything, and they want you to see the world the way it appears to them — neutral, which is, in fact, biased against reality.
From: “Roni Ward”
Subject: So many decisions…
Date: Fri, 22 Jun
I am the mother of four children…ages 10, 8, 5, and 2. I began teaching my eldest child at home in 1995. Zachary had begun reading on his own and therefore, I assumed he was ready for a steady stream of academic work. I have spent the last six years struggling at this game called homeschooling with this child who is the epitome of the young boy mentioned on page 385 of your new book entitled *What Do I Do With This Boy?*. He nearly matches all 14 points on the list of character traits.
We’ve studied using a variety of methods and programs, dictated by the amount of resistance I had received from Zach. Our techniques mostly resemble a mixture of classic, charlotte mason, and literature based. Zach is a fluent reader, has a wonderfully logical mind for a boy of his age…he most enjoys discussions of a political or theological nature with his father (who is a pastor). Pestering his younger brothers and sister is also a favorite pastime.
When he was a few years younger, he showed some natural talent in mathematics…which has since deteriorated to a *putting up with* attitude. Writing out math problems has been a problem…his numbers are never quite legible enough to read and occasionally a wrong answer is entered simply due to immature handwriting or transcription.
In his spare time, he likes to read books and magazines about science (his favorite) and also the works of Tolkien. Watching Star Wars and playing computer games is a habit picked up from his dear old dad, which I have never felt good about. My husband has agreed that we need to taper these habits off.
My question for you and the folks on the loop is this…After reading your ideas about *Ten Things To Do With Your Child Before Age Ten* and feeling convicted of the errors I have made…and how I have contributed to the exacerbation of Zach’s problems, how would you recommend I proceed?
Would it be wise to give Zach a year of grace following your suggested guidelines for children under ten to allow him to mature further and to work on developing character? Or, should I continue on by following your guidelines for children in the 10-12 range?
I’m certain that this kind of question isn’t simple to answer without knowing the child, but as a former elementary school teacher, I can see the wisdom in your methods. Thanks you so much!
As I read portions of articles from the website, I nearly shook with relief at finding some sanity for my homeschool.
God bless you!
Perhaps it would be best to continue for another year with the guidelines for children under age 10. You might visit a science and engineering fair this coming school year and encourage him to do a science experiment or display. Projects which combine history, literature and art are valuable uses of your time at this age. You might also want to help him start a small “business.” Minding Your Own Business by Raymond and Dorothy Moore is a good resource for ideas in this area. Laurie
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001
Subject: New Book
From: “Raymond S. Moore”
Dear Harvey and Laurie,
Thank you for your fine book….I remember very well the article I printed in the Moore Report about Nathan a few years ago. We are pleased, of course, that your concern is the same as ours–that Biblical principles, not humanist principles, are laid at the foundation of all Christian Homeschooling. This book will be a valuable resource for our educational counselors.
With gratitude and blessings,
Raymond and Dorothy 🙂
From: “Heather & Rusty”
Subject: a thank you for your new book
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,
A group of us from our homeschool support group just purchased your new book and I am probably 150 pages into it (just finishing up on the section describing the benefits of Latin, Greek and Hebrew.) I just wanted to thank you for the time you spent writing this book and going into the detail you did developing the argument for homeschooling all the way through (I love your very specific questions and answers!) as well as the detail for why to study classical languages. I have been trying to get up to speed on why to use the classical approach (my kids are 7 and 8 and I’ve been wanting to be as informed as I could be so as not to “miss” such an important decision) and have listened to your tapes on the subject, have read the Well-Trained Mind and articles as well, but it has not been until your book that it is beginning to soak in. And what is so exciting for me personally is that I am looking forward to studying Greek and Latin with my kids! I was a lawyer before the Lord granted me the privilege of motherhood and homeschooling and I grew up with a pediatrician so have gotten first hand experience at seeing the benefit of Latin and Greek in those disciplines, but you have spurred me on to go deeper. I am a Bible teacher in our women’s ministry team at our church and because of that am interested in getting one of the interlinear Greek Bibles. I was glad to hear that it doesn’t have to impede my progress in Greek study but might help it! Well, thanks again for your efforts. I am looking forward to finishing your book, reading all those lovely articles in the appendices, and perhaps discussing it with our support group! Sincerely, Heather Young
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001
From: (Christa Dittmar)
country: (US Military abroad) London, England
message: My first child is 5 and we’ve made the decision to not enroll him in the DODDS school or British schools here. I agree with your point and that of Dr. R. Moore’s that later formal education is best. But what do you recommend for now? I have looked at Sonlight, a Christian literature-based curriculum, whose philosophy seems to be to open the child’s eyes and mind for a love of learning initially. (not the textbook/workbook approach) Do you have any comments on them? Would you recommend starting with something like that for a boy who loves reading (listening) and learning…seems ready for some structure, but not too much. We’re so new to this…it’s hard to know where to start! I don’t want to get too burdened down with workbooks galore! Any advice/comments are appreciated.
Sincerely in Christ, Christa Dittmar
Have you read our article Ten Things to Do Before Age Ten? I don’t know very much about Sonlight, but I’m wondering if it would be too much formal academics for a five year old. Perhaps one of our subscribers could help us out here. Laurie
From: “Johan Schoonraad”
Subject: re: stuffing formal grammar
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001
“. . I personally believe . . . that helping students at all grade levels memorize some pieces of good writing narrative, expository, and poetic on a regular basis would provide good practice for language, listening, and attention. I do not mean reverting to a rote-level curriculum, but simply taking a little time each week to celebrate the sounds of literate thought . . . .”
No fancy words from my side, just pure experience – we’ve been doing the above for the past year and I am blessed to say that IT WORKS! The effect “Reading Aloud” has on our kids still amazes me. We’ve changed from “reading text books at your desk” to “reading books on the couch”. Our kids are able to convey, grasp and understand so much more – I am talking about 10 & 11 year olds – Their knowledge has increased and their logic is starting to “scare” me!
What we do now exceeds everything else we have done in the past.We’ve started with H & L recommendations (regarding ALL subjects) about a year ago and we are reaping the fruits.
Harvey & Laurie, your schedule works – I have much more freedom of thought, freedom of what to do (not bogged down by a fixed curriculum – though I believe, it has a place at some stage in your home school career) and freedom to enjoy my kids (even if they don’t feel like “doing math”).
Thank you for sharing your life. Greetings from a chilly South Africa.
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001
Subject: 11 yod wasting time
We have had two dawdling sons. With the oldest, his dawdling skills were perfected at about the age of 12. He was old enough to stay home alone, so if we had an errand planned, he had to stay home if his work was not done. We were not on the go a lot, so this was something he did not want to miss. Whatever we had planned, we would just go on without him. He soon became my best worker. Next we had a 9 yo dawdler. I looked over our school work, and saw that just about any assignment should be able to be finished within 20 minutes. I bought a timer, and they set it for the allotted time when they begin a task. If they finish before the timer goes off, the remaining time is free time. If it’s not finished, it is set aside, we go on to the next subject or task, and the work must be finished at the end of the school day. This alone has worked wonders. No one wants to be sitting alone at the table working while the rest of us are outside playing. We rarely have anyone with work after school anymore. Patricia
From: “Josh & Christa Dittmar”
Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2001
I did find that article, “Ten Things…” after I posted my message. It helped immensely. That day my husband, a voracious learner–anxious to learn Greek himself– came home and read a bit of it too. He taught our 5yro son the first five letters of the Greek alphabet before dinner. Connor was writing them and informing me after this brief and simple introduction! The next day when we did a “letter craft”, he said, “I want to make the alpha!” and proceeded to correct me on my formation of the beta! Thanks for the exciting ideas and for personally answering my e-mail. I realize that as a child, I always longed for the kind of home-based, experiential and classical education you’ve modeled. Now with God’s help, hopefully my children will not experience the void of real learning so prevalent today. Sincerely, Christa
Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2001
Subject: SL kindergarten
<< Have you read our article Ten Things to Do Before Age Ten? I don’t know very much about Sonlight, but I’m wondering if it would be too much formal academics for a five year old. Perhaps one of our subscribers could help us out here. Laurie >>
Hi, I’m Laura, new to the loop. Was in the UK for 3 1/2 yrs, at RAF Lakenheath, where are you? Anyway, used SL1 but not their K program. Too busy, disjointed, ended up just getting books from the library and good book websites to read to the kids. Also loved Five In A Row for that age much better than SL. Don’t know how/where FIAR fits into the trivium idea as this is fairly new to me, but the kids and I really loved reading the books together. Don’t know if we need an intro on the loop, but here’s one anyway! LOL! Laura B. Hunt, married to active duty air force member Jeff and mom to five fab kids ages 8 1/2 to 1 yr old. We were overseas for almost 10yrs, back in the US for almost one year, currently in SC. At the moment I am reading all the TP articles I can find and planning to get your new book!
In Him, Laura B. Hunt
I think Five in a Row fits very well with the classical approach to homeschooling. Laurie
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001
You say Greek is the key? Surely it is no disadvantage and it is a help, but the men of God I know, the men who have had the hand of God upon them, the men who were used of God in saving souls and building the church, were NOT original language men. You yourself like Rolf Barnard. Was his usefulness and power his knowledge of the Greek? Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned [agrammatos] and ignorant [idiotes] men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 1 Cor 4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.
Another example is Brainerd’s great usefulness – extreme, but proving the point – though he did not even know the [Indian] language of his audience. He was a man who laid hold of God and was used powerfully in his short life.
Perhaps you are referring to remarks which I made in our book, such as the following:
[Page 108] We are persuaded that a genuine renewal of the Gospel in our own day awaits a renewal of the study of the Greek Scriptures.
[Page 110] Those who pursue the study of the Greek New Testament will become the vessels of God for the recovery of His truth.
[Page 111] Great revival begins with a closer, more careful examination of the word of God.
I will address your comment in a general way.
A return to Biblical standards requires a return to the inspired Word of God the Bible. God did not inspire a translation. He inspired the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. The actual Word of God is in Hebrew and Greek. Translations are useful, and the more faithful the translation, the more God can use it, but no translation displaces the authority of the actual Word of God.
A man may faithfully preach and teach from his knowledge of the actual Word, or he may preach and teach from his knowledge of a faithful translation. Either way, he relies upon those who know the original languages for his translation or for his interpretation.
If we raise the water level in the reservoir, then there will be more water available for everyone to draw from. Our cultural water level of the knowledge of God’s Word is about drained away. There are only a few puddles here and there. Thank God for the puddles, but we need the water level raised back up to where it was.
How far you can advance is, in part, limited by what you have to work with. If you have leather enough to make one shoe, then you may make an absolutely marvelous shoe, but you’ll never make two shoes out of one shoe’s worth of leather.
If you have a good mind and an adequate English translation, the Spirit of Christ the Spirit Who inspired the Scriptures can teach you much. But there is a limit to the accuracy and depth of your understanding and to the valid authority of your application. You cannot accurately understand and correctly apply what you have no knowledge of. As Luther and Calvin and Spurgeon all declared, the Spirit never teaches apart from His Word. Faith comes by hearing.
That is by no means to suggest that anyone who knows Greek will necessarily exposit the Scriptures better spiritual gifts can amplify small assets, and the lack of such gifts can diminish otherwise great assets. Nor do I suggest that people don’t make errors in Greek as well as in English they certainly do. Nor do I suggest that there are not some things which are hard to understand even in the Greek. Sometimes the Greek raises difficulties in understanding which are not apparent in the English. Nevertheless, we need more men who have the actual tools necessary to bring the real ore out of the original mine.
I want to make this perfectly clear I do not in any way detract from the gifts which God has given men who have no special knowledge of the Biblical languages. The power of God is glorified as we see it working mightily in what would otherwise be esteemed as weak vessels. Amen. My point has nothing to do with measuring or matching a man’s gifts from God by means of some carnal knowledge of the Biblical languages. Apollos was a man with tremendous talents and gifts. Yet he benefited from having the way of God explained to him akribesteron, which means “more exactly, precisely, accurately, strictly, scrupulously.” Then others benefited greatly through his benefit.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. — Acts 18:24-28
We all benefit from the general raising of the standards raising the water level in the reservoir. Even those who never learn Greek will be capable of more when the general level of accurate knowledge is raised all around. They will have access to a culture where such knowledge is part of the pool from which everyone can draw.
Knowing Greek guarantees nothing, but it raises the potential limits enormously. There have been some men in history who did remarkably well without a direct knowledge of the Greek New Testament. They relied instead upon their access to others who had such knowledge. This makes one wonder how far they could have gone if they had more direct knowledge.
William Tyndale translated the Greek New Testament so that the common plow-boy would have a higher and more accurate knowledge of God’s Word. He raised the level of the pool. The more water which flows from the fountain, the more water there is to fill the pool. We desire to see the widespread recovery of God’s truth in the English speaking world, and this will not come from ignoring the fountain of all truth, the actual Word of God particularly the Greek New Testament.
Water flows purest from its source.
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001
From: “Michael L. Cook”
Dear Harvey Bluedorn,
In your Trivium #190 email letter, one of the topics was:
> Interlinear Greek-English New Testament and textual issues
Ok, Harvey, the cat’s out of the bag, again! Would you give us Trivium readers a summary (however long you think it should be) of your view of acceptable/preferred Bible translations, which Greek texts are preferred for translation, and a summary of the “KJV is the only Bible” controversy (notwithstanding that Jesus did not speak English!).
Could you include in the summary comments on KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, Holman’s new “Christian Standard Bible”, and other English translations you believe should be included?
Is there as much controversy over Hebrew texts?
I know you’ve covered this information in the past, sometimes in-depth, but perhaps a summary is in order?
Where on your web site (or others) would you refer us to more information? Thanks for your time, and patience in explaining this all again.
— Michael Cook
Why do both textual issues and translation issues stir up controversy?
1. Some people take hardened positions on these things before they know or understand the facts.
2. Some people perceive a threat to Biblical authority if we examine these matters too closely.
3. Some people perceive a threat to scholarly authority if we question their approach to these issues.
I’m sure others can add to that list.
If we all sought to evaluate these issues on the basis of Biblical criteria, I believe we would all be in general agreement.
We’ll begin with the last reason first.
3. Scholarly authority. No scholarship is worthy of the name if it does not submit to Scripture as its starting point. We should not begin with the word of man, with his imaginations and his speculations and his faulty perceptions, and we should not approach the Scripture with a skeptical attitude. To do so would necessarily be a formula for unbelief. Naturalism is, by definition, anti-super-naturalism. In other words, by definition, it rules out the work of God. It will not find the truth, because it has ruled it out from the beginning by definition. Those who follow a skeptical and rationalistic approach, even if they somehow arrived at the best conclusions, will nevertheless hold to those conclusions for the wrong reasons built upon the wrong authority, and standing on the wrong foundation, they will eventually fall.
2. Biblical authority. The Bible has nothing to fear from the careful examination of anything. Biblical authority is threatened only by the failure to examine all matters honestly and thoroughly. The success of the theory of evolution was not due to scientific research, but due to the professed Christian community’s failure to carefully examine that research, and to carefully examine their Bible. In my opinion, the same is true with regard to textual and translation issues of this century. Christians have retreated where they should have vigorously advanced, and as a result we have an inferior popular Greek text, and we have translations based upon faulty notions of translation theory.
1. Hardened positions too early. Things become hardened under pressure. Aren’t we all prone to draw conclusions before we assess whether we have sufficient information. The details of textual criticism and translation can be represented in such an overwhelming manner, that they can cloud our reason and keep us from discerning the salient facts. Under the practical pressure of needing to decide something, we succumb to what seem weighty arguments without checking them against the true weight on the other side of the argument. How many Christians have thoroughly committed themselves to the theory of evolution — men such as R.C. Sproul or James Dobson — because of what they consider the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Folderol. It has nothing to do with the evidence. It has everything to do with the interpretation of that evidence.
For example, there’s the issue of the age of the earth. Some “scientists” are overwhelmed by the alleged evidence for billions of years. There is no such evidence. There is only an hypothesis which interprets selected evidence. What are some of the assumptions of the hypothesis? 1. That the universe was not created as a whole in a mature and fully operating condition. 2. That all rates of movement and decay have always operated at fairly constant rates. 3. That time passes at the same rate everywhere. Remove any one of these assumptions, and the hypothesis of billions of years disappears. If you believe the Bible, then there is no reason to accept those three assumptions. 1. God created all things in mature and fully operating condition within six days. (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 20:11) 2. God has subjected creation to vanity and introduced great catastrophes. (Genesis 3:17-19; 5:29; Romans 8:20-22; Second Peter 2:5; 3:6) 3. The Scriptural record of 6 days of creation, and of 6,000 years of recorded history are obviously all elapsed time measured from earth as the reference point. From our point of view, the sun and moon and stars rise and set, the seasons turn, and the heavens and the earth were created in six days 6,000 years ago. That does not rule out a relative time gradation out toward the stars. Time is “relative” between God and man (Psalms 90:4; Second Peter 3:8)), and time may be “relative” within God’s creation. The stars could have been created at the same time as the earth, and yet be much older than the earth. God could have made the stars instantly, and where they are He could have caused billions of years to pass, while only thousands of years have passed where we are. If such a time gradation exists, it could explain many things, including the measured change which occurs in time as objects leave the earth. “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4) A watch in the night was sometimes three hours, sometimes four hours. Let’s use with a time gradation ratio of 1,000 years to 1/8 of a day, or 8,000 years to one day, or 2.92 million days to one day. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (Second Peter 3:8) This leaves us with a ratio of only 1,000 years to 1 day, or 365,000 days to one day. The ratio of 1,000 years to either a watch or to a day is probably only meant to convey the enormity of the scale, but if we simply take it in its literal sense, the farthest stars could have passed through somewhere from 2.19 billion to 17.52 billion years while only 6,000 years have passed upon earth. I am not at all suggesting that this is a correct application of the verse. My observations are only speculative. (Perhaps you can point me to some Scripture which would contradict this speculation, so that it can be dismissed.) My point is only that when someone accepts the “billions of years” for the age of the earth, they are clearly raising the speculations of men above the authority of the Word of God, and even as far as speculations go they are raising one speculation which contradicts the Word of God above other equally valuable speculations which do not apparently contradict the Word of God.
My overall point is simply that we may harden our positions and close our minds before we examine the truly pertinent information. I am not suggesting that our convictions remain in a perpetual state of flux liquid and ever flowing. I am only saying that we must be sure that we build our understanding upon the solid authority of the Word of God, and not upon the speculations and traditions of men. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8) “The scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35) “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psalms 118:8) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” — Colossians 2:8
Back to the issues of text and translation. We can argue the evidence and the history and the statistics and the like, and these things are not without a certain value in disproving, or at least justifying skepticism toward certain points of view. But the bottom line is, “Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?” (Galatians 4:30) and, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain.” (James 4:5) What Scripture principles relate to these questions? What does the Scripture itself teach us about evaluating evidence? What does the Scripture itself teach us about translating the Scripture?
It is my conviction that Scriptural rules for evidence eliminate the so-called “early manuscripts” from consideration. They are false witnesses and they cannot be trusted. That doesn’t resolve all issues regarding the correct wording of the Greek text, but it does substantially reduce the number. It is also my conviction that Scriptural principles for translation require a logical correspondence between the English translation and the original Greek and Hebrew text. That does not require an almost computer-generated translation written in a bland wooden English style. But interpretative alterations and additions and English expressions of style of any significance should be distinguished from what represents the actual inspired lawfully-binding text. An expanded interpretive dynamic equivalent paraphrase of Scripture may prove extremely valuable in bringing out the meaning of the text. But please, do not pretend that such a paraphrase is a legitimate translation of a legal document, especially the legal document of all legal documents — the Scriptures. I must say, however, that some very subtle tricks of language have been introduced into some modern English translations which are hidden in the vocabulary and structure of the sentences where they are not so obvious. I call them “tricks,” because a manipulative game is being played on the reader to get him to accept ideas which are not in the Greek text, but which are subtly woven into the fabric of the English translation, and by accepting the language, he unwaringly accepts the presuppositions behind the language, and thus the philosophy quietly becomes a part of his thinking.
I’ll probably write more on these topics, but you’ll find some of what I’ve written in the Archives.
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: Question re: gifted education
I’m just now preparing to begin home schooling my oldest child, who turned five in January. I’m intending to follow a classical model. I’ve just recently found your website and I’ve read your articles on early formal education.
My daughter is, in your terms, a precocious little tyke, who taught herself to read at age 3-1/2. She now reads chapter books, does basic math calculations in her head, and comfortably uses words like represents, imagination, paleontologist, capillary, etc. We read a wide variety of books and discuss diverse subjects. She attends a Montessori preschool, and we have been doing informal, concrete math at home for a long time. I ordered Saxon Math 1 this winter in preparation for the fall. She saw the workbook and asked if we could start right away. She loves her lessons, especially the worksheets. She works quickly and almost never makes a mistake. So I think, again as you say, perhaps I would be mistaken to hold her back.
Here is my question: When a young child is very advanced for his age, what should guide a parent’s decision as to how quickly to move through material? I mean, if he can handle algebra at age 8 and wants to do it, does that mean it should be introduced? On the one hand, I hardly see the point of teaching algebra to a child that young. On the other, don’t we want to keep the child excited about learning and feed that voracious desire for new horizons?
I have done some reading on gifted education, but I have not found satisfactory information on how to manage the very young child, i.e. discerning developmental readiness and balancing that against the child’s relentless drive to learn. Can you suggest any resources on this topic?
Thank you in advance for your consideration of my question. I look forward to reading your forthcoming book.
Whether we have intellectually slow, average, or gifted children, one of the keys is to achieve the best balance. If we focus on what is needed by the child, instead of upon feeding the child’s particular appetite for a particular thing or lack thereof, then we will achieve a better balance.
For example, let us say we have a child who is somehow a mathematical genius, able to handle algebra at age eight. Does that mean he shouldn’t learn to play cowboys with his older brothers? Does that mean he shouldn’t do his chores of folding and putting away the laundry, washing the dishes, and vacuuming the floors. In other words, should other things be put aside in order that he can pursue his algebra? Of course not. His talent in algebra may prove a curse to him if he learns to think of it as putting him above other ordinary obligations in life.
Likewise, let’s say we have a child who is advanced in verbal skills. He can talk your ears off with an excellent vocabulary, excellent articulation, and a wide range of understanding. But he’s only six years old. The last thing you want him to do is to use that talent to take control of both his and your life.
True talents are actually extra burdens which the Lord places upon some persons burdens which, if they learn to handle them properly, can be the source of great happiness in achieving godly aims, but if they are not handled properly, can be the source of great sorrow and frustration.
So balance does not come from feeding appetites. A balanced diet is not one which satisfies my constant craving for ice cream and chocolate. Balance comes from training appetites.
Of course, the analogy begins to break down here. We are not saying do not allow a talent to advance like you wouldn’t let someone continually gorge himself on ice cream and chocolate like a glutton. But you must have an eye of discernment as to what is actually the nature of the talent, how best can it be advanced, and an eye which is not distracted by the talent from other important things.
My boy has a talent for playing soccer, therefore I’m quitting homeschooling and putting him in public school where he can get better training and be better challenged. Bad choice. A whole parcel of other things should take precedence over your boy’s “talent.”
My girl has artistic talent. I’m cutting back on the Greek and Logic and other things so that she can take lots of special lessons and go to art shows, and the like. Bad choice. With such attention, your girl is likely to get a big head about her talent, as if it should take precedence over other important things she should learn, and other important parts of life. Then her talent will not serve her well.
Above all, the child must learn to serve others, not themselves, with their talents. If you have a child with a talent for languages, then find ways he can help others which do not have this natural gift. He could teach others or help others to learn that language, or help others who don’t know English to learn it. Pray that the Lord open up specific opportunities to use the natural as well as the spiritual talents which you, your child, and your family have to build His Kingdom.
And, of course, the parent is in the best position to see how to balance all of these things. One family will need to draw the line in a different place than the next family.
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001
Subject: High school math
I have a question regarding my oldest son’s math curriculum which I hope you can answer. He is turning 14 this month and finished Saxon Algebra 2 this past spring. He began kindergarten at 4 and just naturally accelerated in everything, especially math, partly because I had so much time with him before the others were old enough to school and partly because he is a good student. We started Saxon at seven. I previously thought the accelerated method was good and planned for him to finish Saxon Calculus by age 16. I won’t say he always loved math, and having understood your philosophy, I would probably do things differently as I see in retrospect that we went through some unnecessary drudgery along the way. We are delaying math with our younger boys.
At this point he seems to like math pretty well and is technically minded (possibly a future engineer?). However, my husband and I are wondering what to do next. Should we put him in Saxon Advanced Math this fall, as we originally planned, or should we do Jacobs’ Geometry and then go back to Saxon? He is beginning to learn VBasic because he is interested in it, he loves electricity and is building a robot. He can fix things and enjoys technical drawings and designing things. Any help you can give would be appreciated.
I can relate very well to Colleen who is having trouble keeping pace with her 16 year old son. My son has outpaced me in every subject except writing skills. His engineer father has to tutor his math. I second your recommendation for self-teaching curricula. We are finding that Saxon, Artes Latinae, Apologia science, and Henty books for history fit that requirement nicely. I am muddling through logic with him.
I also can relate to the dawdling problem. My 11yob and 9yob seem to be particularly good at this art, although the 11yo shows signs of outgrowing it soon. We have tried time limits and depriving them of privileges with mixed results. Both boys, when they were 8 or 9 especially, could stare at a math or writing assignment for 30-60 minutes without accomplishing a thing and then suddenly burst upon it and complete it in 15 minutes quite well (which made me think they were capable, just lazy or unmotivated). I found that most of my school-time dawdling was eliminated when we stopped requiring them to do math and original writing before age ten since these seem to be the most difficult things for younger boys to concentrate on. I’m still not sure whether it is a diligence problem or a maturity problem. I suppose Bluedorn philosophy would say maturity (the light bulb?).
By His Grace,
Mother of seven
14yob, 11yob, 9yob, 7yob, 5yob, 3yog, 1yog
It is my opinion that Saxon is weak in Geometry. In the Saxon Advanced Math book they combine geometry, algebra 3 and trig. The geometry lessons alternate with the algebra and trig, and they use the paragraph proof system instead of the 2 column proof system which we used when we were in high school. The paragraph proof system is unnecessarily confusing and makes geometry, which is already a difficult subject, even more difficult. I think it is beneficial to the student to study geometry for a whole year as a separate subject all by itself instead of combining it with algebra and trig. We used Geometry by Harold Jacobs and had good success.
Then when you are finished with geometry you can go back to the Saxon Advanced Math book and omit the geometry lessons. Laurie
From: Gregory Billson
Subject: Reading your book
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001
I’ve just received your book, ‘Teaching the Trivium’ and I’m finding it interesting reading.
A lot of your basic ideas of things to teach before age 10 go along with the impressions I was having myself but having read so much other advice it gets a little confusing knowing what to do.
I found your thoughts about math teaching at this stage especially interesting. My oldest is 8 and I had noticed that he seemed to suffer ticks of his eyes and face which I felt were due to stress. I also felt completely burnt out so we finished school for this year about mid June. We’re both feeling a lot better and the ticks have stopped. I asked him today about how he felt whilst we were schooling and about his dreams. He told me that he had been having dreams about mathematical problems that he had to solve and dreams that he was trapped in a room where he had to school forever. This is an eye opener to me.
Thanks for the words in your book. It gives me the confidence to proceed with my own God given understanding as to how and what to teach my children.
Joshua is already half way through Saxon 3 so I’m going to leave off math altogether next year apart from the practical math in daily life as you suggest (which my son also said was what he would like to do). This leaves me more time for the read aloud, personal and family skills, crafts and arts and experiments and observations I wanted to do.
Josh still says he feels cold at the thought of schooling again but hopefully I can turn this feeling into pleasure at learning by the end of this next year.
From: “Terrie Benjamin”
Subject: Re: fitting it all in
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001
I have finished reading you new book. I love it. I wanted to give my children a classical education but with a Biblical emphasis. My question for you is after looking at your schedule, how do you fit it all in? I really want to give each of my children time with Mom, read to them and allow them individual work time, plus they need some play time and each have lessons like piano, art, etc in the afternoon. I have reworked and reworked a time allotment and run out of hours. Any suggestions?
I have three children
Lisa first grade
Ryan fourth grade
Lauren sixth grade
None of them are self motivated
>time with Mom, read to them and >allow them individual work time, plus they need some play time and each have >lessons like piano, art, etc
It’s the “etc” that’s everybody’s downfall. : ) Seriously, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all you want to do. On some days it seems like we’re just treading water and not a getting anything permanent done.
Is it your desire to schedule a separate time alone with each child? Perhaps you might want to reevaluate whether it’s necessary to schedule this. In a homeschooling situation these opportunities come up naturally without you having to deliberately schedule them.
Music and art lessons, especially if each child has a lesson in each, every week, can certainly swallow up a big chunk of time. In our family we only did music lessons, and they were every other week.
I suggest that when you read aloud, you make sure all the children are present. That was always the rule in our house. If I was going to exert the effort it takes to do the reading, then I wanted all the children to benefit. If you like, you can fit in the oral narration during the read aloud times.
Another thing which wastes a lot of time is making unnecessary trips into town. If you can stay home 5 days a week and leave all errands to 2 days you will find you have more extra time.
Probably you’ll have to take the “etc” out of your schedule. Make a list of your priorities — the things that matter the most to you and your husband.
Those items which fall at the end of the list perhaps must be eliminated.
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001
Subject: preparation for the parents
I am about to purchase your new book which I am very excited about – I have been on your email loop for about a year now. I have been researching education and home schooling now for several years. It has always been my intent to homeschool. I have come to the conclusion (as you have) that each approach to home schooling has it’s advantages and disadvantages. However, I am convinced that academically speaking the trivium is by far the best ‘method.’ So, I will first be led by the Spirit of God and secondly, use what I have learned from each of the methods to implement the trivium. All of this to say, I feel I am ready to begin “specializing” or focusing on more specifics – a narrowing, if you will. I have spent some time in spiritual preparation and renewal in regard to education and am asking God to lead me more specifically in ways of preparing. I feel led to purchase your book as one step toward that season. However, I do have a question that may be answered in your book and if so, then a reply indicating that will be fine. My question is this – Is there a way to prepare myself academically, while my children are young, or will it be enough to learn along with them? For example, I would like to begin teaching my son Latin next year, would it be a good idea for me to begin a course for myself – an adult course or purchase his course now and study it through myself first? I think you get the idea. Thank you so much for your service to the Lord and to his people. I appreciate your family’s ministry.
Concerning Latin, if you use Artes Latinae you can learn right along with your child without having to learn it first. The same is true of logic if you use the Critical Thinking Press materials. I think your time would be better spent in developing the habit of reading good books. Start stretching your mind by reading some of the more difficult books, taking notes and discussing the ideas in these books with your husband. Laurie
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001
Below is the response I sent out in the past. What I didn’t mention before is that during the time between when my son wanted to learn to read and our actually working on reading, we would OCCASIONALLY do things like turning a cereal box into a monster head with an opening for the mouth (the beloved Alphabet Monster), who would eat the alphabet letters…..as fish if we were ‘fishing’ for magnet letters (of course, we had to say the sounds of the ‘fish’ which was about to be eaten!!! We had to know which kind of fish were for dinner!!!), (my friend used their Monster for blends which went with her phonics program: as sandwiches, when they were putting a group of letters together), and we would make up ultra big batches of sugar-cookie dough so we could wrap up little batches in the freezer —- to pull out another little batch and make alphabet letters out of the dough…..they would only learn one occasionally, and they loved it so much, but the point was not to do all of the letters, it was just to help them love the idea……now that we are working on cowboys and I have another 3 1/2 year old starting to get interested, we are calling the letters “Brands” that they can eat (and using bread dough more, since I’m baking more healthy again….at least for now). Finger painting freely with an occasional letter thrown in also helps prepare an eager heart for learning. These activities were rare in our home, but fun, and later, made the process so much more realistic to begin young. We purchased the Sanseri cards while I was trying to decide what we would do for spelling for my eldest. He had already learned how to read and write in private school, though his spelling was, and still is atrocious (though the Spalding method does help him to analyze his incorrectly spelled words and fix most of them himself). I was interested in the Ayers list, so, when I had a chance to pick up Writing Road to Reading used, inexpensively, I jumped at the chance. I love the list of words. At the advice of a friend, I went ahead and enrolled in a ‘class’ for teaching Spalding style Writing Road at home. It was inexpensive…$10 I think, and the logic of the class penetrated my heart. I had time to learn how to modify things before my now 5 yo was ready to learn how to read and write….when he was only 2 1/2-3 yo…..
1) we would enjoy searching signs for letters on signs, books, or newspapers……
2) ……letters which we had taught him with cookie dough, playdough, crayons, writing in the dirt in the garden or such….of course, the letter ‘o’, or ‘o, oh, uu’ (spelling?) as Spalding calls it, was the first letter they learned, and even my now 3 yo, was only 1 yo then, learned it and he’s loved that letter to this day!!! We slowly learned more letters, calling them by the names Spalding calls them, even at restaurants or stores, etc.. That turned quite a few heads over the last couple of years, but was effective.
3) Then, after a couple of months, I began occasionally pulling out a tray with cornmeal (contrasting color backgrounds are best, if possible…I used a clear lid about 10″ in diameter, placing it on a dark wood surface…..) and let him play, but occasionally ‘modeling’
specific Spalding strokes. I would occasionally ask him if he could do what I did, but never forcing him. He would be pleased when he could do what I asked, and just act independent if he wasn’t quite ready to follow my lead.
4) (some months later…) After he could do the strokes in cornmeal, dirt, or whatever, we moved to chalk or crayons on sidewalks or paper.
5) (some months later…) After he had finally mastered all of the strokes that Spalding shows to do in her pre-writing instructions, I knew he was finally ready. I could’ve taught him how to read without teaching him how to write, but I had already bought a curriculum that was fine, and I just didn’t think a two-year old had to learn how to read…….I thought I knew better than he did!!) (****This took about 2 years from the time my 2 yo ‘wanted’ to learn to read. We finally moved on to the next steps when he was 4 1/2 yo.)
6) I pulled the cards back out to review them with my now 12 yo. We made sure we did them with the 5 yo around. He ‘got hooked.’ I added a few cards each week….probably averaged 1 a day most of the time, but when he seemed overwhelmed, we stopped adding, even took some away for almost a month once.
7) Each time we added a new phonogram, we made a paper-chain link with his new phonogram. (this turned into a great opportunity for counting, and using my hands to show the pattern of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 through the 10’s, 20’s, 30’s, etc., he really began to grasp that there is a pattern to counting…not that he had mastered the pattern, but he grasped that there is one). This was very encouraging to him. He loved knowing how many phonograms he had learned…..he also loved ‘saying’ how many phonograms he had learned.
8) When he began learning a new phonogram’s sound, he would practice writing it on a magnet writer. This was neat because he could erase the most recently written letter if it was written poorly, and keep the ones that he had done well.
9) After he learned enough phonograms to begin learning words (per Spalding’s schedule), we learned a new word a day (more or less, well, probably a bit less…. =-) ). Since he was only 4 yo, we did not do a notebook. I simply made a new word card each day (which I color coded by the part of speech which the word was used for most). He did write out each word as he learned to read it…..using the Spalding markings and such. But we still used the magnet writer so he could erase only the letters that didn’t come out well without leaving erasure marks all over his ‘paper.’
10) We reviewed the phonograms as I felt lead in prayer…but then, as I can so easily do, sometimes, instead of praying, sometimes making decisions based on habit, and then learning, from his response, that I was either reviewing too much or too little, I can admit that it wasn’t always lead in prayer time…..humbled often enough to see a pattern that must be addressed on my part. (there were a couple of times that I was firm with him, but more on the nature of maturity at a 4 yo level, than anything academic—I remember teaching him at this time, that he could ask to stop, but he couldn’t have a fit, when I would see his face suddenly turn just a little from interest, to stress, I would either stop, or I would encourage him with my expression, not with words, that he had a choice he could make [have a fit, or ask to stop]…..that’s a lot to ask of a 4 yo, but I didn’t want bad habits to form, and he was receptive to learning this advantageous skill…..).
11) About this time, I began adding some of the phonetic rules in the method, with some of the phonograms. Adding one as he was comfortable with the last one.
12) We reviewed word cards similarly to the review of phonogram cards….he loved counting his word cards instead of his phonogram chain….he wasn’t really adding to the phonogram chain anymore, though there were a few more phonograms to learn, he didn’t need them yet. (Now we moved the base ten lesson to stacks of ten…letting him count with his fingers the ones place, and seeing how many stacks of ten were laid out beside us.) (the other day we reviewed his phonogram cards again, to see how he was doing, and to help him remember the double letter phonograms for his spelling word. He wanted sooooo badly to count them again….must’ve been good memories?).
13) Now we could start recognizing words in signs and books together.
14) Sometimes we would take words and pull them from the stack and see who could put the longest chain of words together (that made sense together of course). He loved seeing the chain of words get longer and longer and longer. It was interesting that both chains averaged about the same number of words by the end. We didn’t do this a lot, but when simple ‘flash-card’ style needed a break, it was nice to review with a more engaging approach. But simply different smiles made with each success usually tickled him pink…and that’s something I had to learn to do….it’s not natural for me to encourage each little success…..it had to be a decision for me,,,,he needs to receive immediate reinforcement sometimes just for fun….then he enjoys the process of learning so much more….and his enjoying it sooo much is good reinforcement for me to continue encouraging him for each little success!! =-) ).
15) We began using the recommended book list at the end of the Spalding book. He began to read.
16) He started sounding out simple words independently (to write them down that is). He didn’t always spell correctly, like when he decided to spell out all family members’ names under the family picture he drew for his daddy (he left out the ‘e’ in Rachel).
17) He doesn’t love reading yet…not books anyway, but likes being able to look at a picture and being able to identify words about it in the caption (today he read the word beets in a book this list recommended to us _Linnea’s Windowsill Garden_…which is getting him interested in the garden, and he’s my only child who hates the garden….thankyou, thankyou, thankyou). Or look at a sign and excitedly tell us about a word he has found. (I suspect he has young eyes too, and he hates the weariness of eye fatigue, but haven’t taken him to the doctor to verify my thoughts).
18) We sometimes have him do dictation in his journal (his dictation to me, and as I write, he often learns, such as when he began learning capitals on his own by watching me use them). We sometimes help him to write a letter. We sometimes give it a rest. Sometimes he just writes words when he is drawing for fun. Mostly he only wants to write when he wants to, and since he’s only 5 yo right now, that’s fine.
19) We began learning sign language so we taught him to sign the phonograms, which was good review.
20) Oh! Somewhere in there he learned the other phonograms using the Sanseri cards.
21) Now we practice spelling in the van/truck, using sign language. We add new words to his spelling list as he masters any that he has been working on. He has ten words on his list at a time. We never put words on the list that he could spell correctly naturally.
22) I now want him to gear up towards writing simple captions in his _Bones & Physiology_ notebook, which interests him so much. (can you imagine? He’s just 5 yo!!! I think his nick-name, Bones, fits him soooo well!!! LOL!).
23) I don’t intend to force him to read. He loves writing and spelling.
When his heart and eyes are ready for him to read, he’ll pick up that too.
24) So, we are working on other learning skills….or we will be again after the wonderful spring weather, and our season of ‘finish-moving-in-finally’ is over.
Hope that is helpful. It is three years of experience. Just one little step at a time works so well, and no one else’s schedule will necessarily fit your child’s schedule. The biggest problem with Spalding at home is the schedule. Spalding wrote out a schedule to put children in a classroom well on the road to reading and writing. It is effective in the classroom, but not in homeschool settings (which are better settings after all, aren’t they…so no child has to be tutored heavily in addition to school to keep them from having to be remediated….they just learn at home, as they are ready).
who doesn’t know if this will work quite so smoothly for her next two would-be readers…. but who does hope so =-) ………………………..and so the saga continues…….
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001
From: “the Canadian Boswell’s”
My name is Laura and I homeschool in Canada with my husband and three boys. I realize that schedule is a matter of ones own opinion and preference but I seem to struggle with the number of hours in each day. I find my time leaves me the quickest between tending to my one year old and disciplining my 4year old. I am also expecting another in August. Thus, my 6 yr old gets less time reading etc than ideal. Perhaps we are just more lazy than we ought to be but no one is up in our house until at least 9 and goes to bed at a reasonable 8:30. The youngest still naps too. Should I be waking folks up earlier to make for more time in the day? Family worship seems to suffer most because of this schedule problem as my husband leaves for work by 7:30 and often isn’t home until after 9. He only works 4 days a week but it seems to mess up any schedule I do try. Any suggestions? Should we keep a schedule and have Dad pop in and out of it or is it more important to work around Dads ever changing schedule?
It seems like your husband’s schedule is making family worship impossible on the days he is working. You will just have to make the most of the time when he is home. When he is home then you can have family worship and when he is not, perhaps you can do something with the children by yourself.
With 3 little ones and being pregnant I wouldn’t try to get by with less sleep. Don’t try for a rigid schedule, but for a flexible one, allowing for all the many things which come up in the day when there are little ones in the house. Laurie
I want to recommend to you an audio tape by Dennis Gundersen on the subject of courtship . Here is a description of the tape:
Homeschooling parents are hearing much about “courtship” these days, but judging from conversations we have with families, many are very much in the dark about where precisely the differences lie between a “dating” approach to relationships for their children and the “courtship” concept. We want to spare our children the pitfalls we remember that “dating” held, but too often we lack clear ideas about where the two approaches differ. This seminar lists 6 easy to understand distinctions between the two approaches, that can help any family apply these old paths to a new era, and without artificial, Pharasaical rules that stretch Scripture.
You can obtain this tape from Grace and Truth Books. Laurie
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2001
From: (Lorraine Cramer)
I am excited about this method of education, but worried that it requires too much discipline for me to be able to succeed with my children. We’ve been struggling with home education for 5 years as I am very scatter-brained (yes, in this case the mom has ADD). Any suggestions? Thanks so much.
The classical method of education doesn’t require any more discipline than the other methods, but homeschooling itself is what requires the discipline. But homeschooling is for parents. I guess the question would be, are you willing to work on disciplining yourself? The children learn by your example. Laurie
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001
Subject: Received the Book!
From: Eugene B Sedy
I received the book at the end of last week–thank you so much! It did come at a very good time–just before we left on a long-weekend camping trip, so both Gene and I had some extra time to spend reading it. I really appreciate your book. It has confirmed that we are on the right track, and is motivating us to refocus on a few things we had been neglecting. I especially appreciated your comment that you are still developing your educational philosophy. I think I was getting down about the fact that I’m still learning so much about homeschooling, stuff I felt I should have known: I’ve been at this for 7 years now, why do I still feel like a novice?! Thanks for reassuring me that Homeschooling is supposed to be like this–a continual honing of our skills, knowledge, and philosophy of homeschooling. Homeschooling is for parents!!!! Perhaps by the time we have grandchildren we will have it all together, and we’ll have the privilege of helping our children with this precious heritage.
Blessings, Janet Sedy
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001
Hello Harvey and Laurie,
I just wanted to let you know that your book has encouraged me so much. I love the “applied” part of it. I’m not doing as bad as I thought!!! The last few years I have really beat myself over the head because I wanted to do so much more but lacked the time and energy. So, we have majored on the basics. (Ten Things To Do Before Age Ten) Looking back I’m discovering we were just doing what the Lord wanted us to do in the first place!! I’ve also learned a lesson over not fretting when you’re doing all you can do and THAT being the Lord’s will. Sometimes I feel frustrated and sad because I feel like I was so unprepared for all this. I hope to give my children a good heritage to pass down to their children. Who knows, maybe they’ll learn Greek, Latin AND Hebrew!
I just had to laugh about the part you using the Glenn Doman theory with your children when you first began. I did EXACTLY the same thing!!! <G> My oldest son really struggles with not looking at the symbols but the whole word. This is the reason we want to begin Greek this year to retrain his little mind.
Trying to do it all and figure out what’s best can definitely be a challenge but Jesus’ mercy is GREAT.
I am very thankful for books like yours…
Wife of John, Mom to James Allen (11 yrs.), Jessica LeeAnn (10), Victoria Christine (9), Jonathan Andrew (6), Angelica Gabriel (5), Valerie Grace (3), Mariah Catherine(2), and Abigail Rose (4 months).
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001
From: Scott & Denise
Subject: “Active” memorization 🙂
Had an interesting concept arise here which I thought might benefit others. My husband hung a rope swing from a tree in our yard a couple of months ago. This has mysteriously caused the grass beneath the rope to disappear. 😉 My 11 and 9 yo girls are supposed to be responsible for a certain amount of Bible and poetry memorization and review on their own. It hasn’t been getting done the way I believe they can do. The eldest, a very active, wiggly person, requested a couple of weeks ago that she be allowed to do her memorization and review work while swinging on the new rope swing. Knowing how wiggly she is, I thought it might actually be an advantage for her and gave my consent. The idea seemed attractive to the 9 yo and, though she’s not quite the wiggly person her sister is, I thought it worth a try when she made her request. Now memorization and review work looks *much* more attractive, is actually getting accomplished each day, and in our short time allowing this, they appear to be making far more progress than they were previously. One daughter thinks it quite fine to be memorizing God’s Word out in God’s creation under the huge walnut tree that He grew. Each girl has printed up an extra copy of each piece she is working on, leaving the clean, nice copy in the notebook. This extra copy does get quite munched while swinging! Yours in Christ, Denise Mama to 6 (including one on the way) in Utah
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2001
message: We are first time homeschoolers with a 10 year old and a 7 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. How would we integrate these ages into this method and maintain order. The eldest child (male) is so burnt on school. We are concerned about adjustment and interest. He is willing but very hesitant to invest any depth of interest into a subject. I agree with the statement that even a Christian school is structured in such a way that it draws the child away from the parent and closer to the influence of the peer group. We have seen that occur with our eldest and yet, I think, it disturbed our son as much as it disturbed us. Making a decision to bring our children home was a tough decision (yet with the Lord it seemed fairly easy) but trying to process through all the options has been overwhelming!! We would appreciate any encouragement in this process. Thank you
I suggest that you follow the plan in our article 10 Things to Do before age 10. Did you see it on our web page? Our new book Teaching the Trivium has a more detailed plan. Your children are still quite young, and you have plenty of time for the academics, so there is no hurry now. Take time now to allow your child to recover the love for learning that he probably had before he started school and to bond again with his family.
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001
From: Carol Bertilson
Subject: What has worked for me
Here are some things that have worked well for me over the years. When the children were young ( 5 kids under 6), as I was reading to the 2 eldest, I would stack up picture books to read to them on my lap and have a tape recorder on my lap and tape myself as I read to them. These tapes they would listen to at night while going to sleep. I also made teaching tapes with whatever I wanted them to learn at the time, such as reciting the alphabet, counting, the Lord’s prayer, songs, the Greek alphabet, etc. I do this periodically with new things I want them to learn, such as a Christmas tape with the Bible accounts plus Christmas carols (copied from other tapes).
For history, we have been studying chronologically period by period, mostly. I started out a Roman Empire unit 2 years ago ( kids aged 4-9) using Genevieve Foster’s book Augustus Caesar’s World. I really love that books! It is unique in that it ties together all the events going on around the world at the time Jesus was born. It also delves into the background for that time periods events, so you learn a lot of previous history, too. The only caution is that she comes at history from a liberal-religious viewpoint which is obvious in many places. I used those times as opportunities to educate them about what a lot of academics believe. For instance, she takes an evolutionary approach to the development of religions: that people started out believing spirits animated nature, then developed into polytheists (many gods), then developed into monotheists (one god), then developed the higher ideals of loving non-violent ethics which she equates with Christianity. She also believes that Moses invented the Judaism (I mean the Old Testament teaching, not later Judaism) himself, which my husband says is what a lot of Jews believe. At first I tried to get away with editing out those parts, but my son would insist I read them, and we got into the greatest discussions where I explained worldview ideas to them. We branched off of this with many other books from the library. We had so much fun that I decided to go back and do ancient Egypt and Greece (, mostly the hard history not the myths which I think should wait until they hit the logic stage and can reason and learn discernment), using the Famous Men books and lots of others.
The method I use is to read the easy picture books of a topic or period to the little ones first, with the older ones listening, the little ones sitting next to me to see the pictures. This introduces the character to them. Then I read as many different books on the same thing from different perspectives as are interesting. Over time, with the repetition of the same names and ideas, the ideas really soak in and they start “living” the history. I leave lots of picture, non-fiction books, like DK or Eywitness out for them to look at. We watch any videos that seem appropriate. I try to branch off into art, science, literature, geography and music, too. I let my curiosity be my guide. If the books mention or introduce something that I wish to learn or teach more about (such as Illuminations in the Middle Ages, or how Venice, where Marco Polo came from, was constructed, I look it up in the library catalog over the internet and get out likely looking books). I mostly read books, I don’t try to do many “projects.” I let the children initiate projects on their own, though. When we studied Egypt they began constructing pyramids out of duplos and then drawing them, and designing the insides of them on paper. I have once in a while managed to get them to draw a person and put it on the timeline. When we study like this, all I read to them is related to the time period. I don’t try to do other reading aloud, partly because I take so many books out of the library and want to finish them before I have to return them. Then after an intense period (a month to a month and a half, reading aloud an hour or two a day) I take a break for a while, before launching the next unit, by reading any literature that I like. For the little kids to stay interested and not get worn out I try to make sure to read easy history picture books fairly frequently. When I read a really long historical novel or biography one after the other, they get tired of it. So it’s good to balance short books with longer books.
I use All Through The Ages by Christine Miller (might have been published under a new name) for finding books, plus I do a lot of library searches using the keyword search and selecting for juvenile entries.
When we studied the Dark Ages (400AD to 1000) it was quite difficult. So many peoples one after the other attacking Rome. Probably would have been better to skip reading that part of the Famous Men and just read it to myself and have older kids read it, then try to read it aloud when they are young.
We are now studying the Middle Ages. It has been a lot more fun. Genevieve Foster doesn’t have a book for this time period (the next is the World of Christopher Columbus), and I don’t find that the Famous Men books tie things together as well as her books do, so I’m using World Landmark books, Dickens A Child’s History of England, and The Story of Liberty as background reading for myself to learn the history I never learned, while I read the most readable stories I can find to the kids. If any would like a list of what I have found so far to be good for this age group, let me know. I found a lot of good storylike informative books that weren’t on the All Through the Ages List. Carol
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001
From: Carol Bertilson
Subject: a few thoughts on teaching history
I recall you asked something about teaching history when last we talked. I am of the opinion that the best way to approach it is to read the easiest books on history first, then move to more difficult up the ladder, even for older kids, before reading primary documents and sources. I find that if we read good children’s picture books on a historic topic, then move on to an easy non-picture book, etc, they (and I) have a much better handle on the subject. I am going to have my kids read Landmarks and Genvieve Foster and all the children’s versions of history before they tackle primary sources (if we can). Same for Quine’s curriculum. I think I’ll have them read the children’s versions of Iliad and Odyssey before they tackle the originals (at about grade 9 when they can reason about differences in worldview). I am thinking about using the Trisms curriculum for “junior high.” I teach my kids all along that they can’t trust history books to be accurate or truthful so that they will have the desire to check everything out for themselves and remain skeptical. Then when the get to the age to do research and reason they can formulate research questions based on conflicting views of history. I always point out to them when two authors works are in conflict so they realize it isn’t the last word. That way I think it’s ok to use history books that may be very opinionated or even inaccurate but help to give a background in history through a well-written story. I used to have a lot of qualms about reading historical fiction because of the mix of fiction and fact. Now I realize they will inevitably have this even in so-called straight history, and will eventually have to learn how to research to find out the facts, and learn how to evaluate different interpretations of history. Carol
From: “Bill & Gretchen McPherson”
Subject: Re: Fw: cow question
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001
What did you folks decide to do about the cow?
It looks like there are quite a few families on this loop who combine Latin and logic with milking cows (and goats)!
Because of the numerous helpful responses to our question about whether we should buy the cow with the hairy foot wart, we were able to make an informed decision. We passed up the diseased cow and bought an older (6 years) Jersey cow that is in milk now. The dairy needed to get rid of her because her udder isn’t very tight, and she’s hard to milk with their milking machines. They sold her to us for $600, which is cheap for a good milker today. She is giving us 4 gallons a day, and we are swimming in milk, so Johannah is off to the dairy again to buy a newborn bull calf. This calf will drink up our excess milk, and then we’ll butcher it at this time next year. I’m going to try and talk the girls into NOT naming this calf. A named calf is rather hard to let go to the butcher. First we had Beefy (he’s in the freezer now), and Wensleydale is scheduled for his demise in October.
Nathan extracted 8 gallons of clover honey last month and has another 12 gallons to extract as soon as we get the containers to put it in. He had two swarms this spring but was able to capture them both and put them in new hives. I guess you could say our little piece of ground here in New Boston is literally flowing with milk and honey.
I hope all of you are enjoying this peaceful and beautiful, though hot, summer, and will be refreshed when school starts this fall.
Today is Harvey’s 51st birthday!
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001
From: Steve and Kathy Craig
> Does anyone know of a good spelling program for the 3-5th grade level that > teaches in relation to the spelling rules? I have a copy of Matt Whitling’s > The Grammar of Spelling, but I find it a little awkward to use.
I used the Writing Road to Reading for the first 3 years and then got really tired of it. I just started using SRA Spelling which is a spelling workbook series that uses the same spelling patterns as WRTR but uses graded workbooks so each kid can do a lot more on their own and I don’t have to do such intensive teaching. We still use a notebook alongside the workbook. Covenant Home uses these but I got them from Follett which sells used and surplus textbooks for half price.
The 4th grade SRA Spelling has isbn # of 0-02-686184-4 and the 5th grade SRA Spelling has isbn # of 0-02-686185-2.
Covenant also recommends a workbook called RSVP with Etymology for 5th grade and up published by AMSCO. I got one from AMSCO and I like it. It is more vocabulary and word building than spelling but my kids aren’t quite ready for it. Also the Scripps Howard Spelling Paideia booklet is a nice resource. These are the study booklets for the local, state and national Scripps Howard Spelling bees and only $1.50. There is no teaching guide for this, it is just categorized word lists, you need to attack it however you prefer. The booklets are available from your state’s spelling bee sponsor. I live in Montana and have the address for ordering it for our state. It is:
Diane Svee, Montana Bee Director
The Billings Gazette
PO Box 36300
Billings, MT 59107-6300
The way I am attacking it currently is very informal. Some of the word categories come from books. I am just having my kids pick one of the books and underline the words as they come across them. Just reading and noticing the words is helpful. For instance Watership Down is one of the books they take words from so my dd who likes rabbits is reading a used paperback copy and underlining words from the list as she comes to them. We’ll discuss them or not if she asks. If they decide to get serious about the bee we’ll hit it harder later. A new paideia will come out in the fall and some of the categories will change.
Last year for 3rd and 4th I didn’t even teach spelling but used copywork and dictation and just spending time reading for spelling and the kids made fine progress except for a month before the county spelling bee we went through a list the county sent out and marked and syllabicated those words. (The 3rd and 4th graders have a “pre-bee” with fewer, simpler words and the real deal is for 5th through 8th graders). No-mine didn’t win but they had fun and a good experience.
Hope this is helpful.
From: “Scott family”
Subject: taking kids out of school
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2001
You asked what to advise people who want to take their children out of school. We took our daughter out at the end of third grade from a classical Christian private school. I won’t go into the details why, it’s not the subject of this email. Based on our experience, especially with a younger one ( under 10 or so), I would spend at least a year just getting to know each other again, reading a lot, and working on family relationships. Probably the worst thing I did was try to do school at home. It takes a while to change your mindset and to understand that education really has nothing at all to do with sitting at a desk looking at a text book or filling out workbook pages. That’s what we grew up with so we have to re-educate ourselves first. Mom and Dad can use the time to read things like Teaching the Trivium, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias, For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Is Public Education Necessary? by Samuel Blumenfeld, and the Bible! I don’t know of any resources specifically written for people who are just removing their children from school and how to handle the transition, but someone else may. Even if the children are older, a period of adjustment is going to be necessary. I would say most emphatically – relax! Learn to enjoy the children and share with them whatever excites you. In time you can start to gradually add in academics. May God grant you wisdom in guiding people!
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001
Subject: ED Eye Development, Tracking, Speed Reading
I was wondering if any of you have ever heard anything about children using their fingers to track while they are reading? I took my son to the optometrist when he was about 11 because of squinting and eye fatigue while reading. They said he could see well but his eyes were immature. They also said he was a bit far sighted in one eye but thought that he would outgrow it. Now at age 12 his eyes still have to work pretty hard to focus. I’ve noticed lately that when he’s sitting at a table using his fingers to track his eyes don’t get stressed out. Whereas, when he sits in a chair (with a light too) and has to hold the book, and doesn’t use his fingers to track, he has a much harder time. Hmmm?
Watching him made me reminisce when I was his age in school. I was CONSTANTLY rebuked and teased by TEACHERS and children for doing this. I finally quit using my fingers and they stuck me in LD classes because I couldn’t read fast enough. Right after becoming a believer at age 15 I wanted to read the Bible but really struggled with it. I can remember seeing a commercial on TV about a speed reading course and how they used their fingers to track. I thought, “Hey, they are ADULTS!” I started reading using my fingers again in High School when no one was watching. I’m a fast reader now and I no longer have a need to use my fingers. I don’t remember where along the lines I dropped it…
I think it’s interesting that there are some eye problems that glasses just can’t correct and only things done in God’s way and time can. I’m going to encourage this unless any of you can give me a good reason not to. It also makes me wonder about the value of this as an adult. Could we cover more material by doing this as adults? It seems to me that it would lessens “brain strain” so our minds can concentrate on comprehension and speed instead. Did I quit using my hands out of laziness once I could read like everyone else? Have you ever noticed how the elderly revert back to this? Does anyone know anything about speed reading while maintaining good comprehension levels, even for an old dog like me?
Mrs. John B.
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001
I’ve just started re-reading your book along with another sister and thought I would share my thoughts and comments with you as we progress.
‘We cannot just try to patch together two things of dissimilar nature’ How very true! You go on to use the scripture verses in Luke 5, verses 36-39 I understand these verses as the old covenant could not be simply patched over with the new (as you discuss effectively). The new creation of the individual who is born again in Christ cannot come about by merely patching ‘commandments’ upon the old man of the fall. The old man must be put aside through the leading of the spirit and the power and grace of God. The old and the new cannot exist together, they war against one another. As it says in Luke 5:39, when one turns from the new creation and turns back to former ways (as a dog to it’s vomit)then the old becomes preferable; easier and indeed the way of Christ becomes illogical. The old must be done away with and used no more if we are to be of use to God. Only that which is created new (new wine and new skin) will be a success. This I say from my own experiences, trying to fit the old ‘ways’ with the new life Christ has called me to. This is I believe the point you are making about the way Classical homeschool should be. I loved your definition of Classical Humanism and the three steps of transformation. Also, you clear outlining of Greek education and how it uncannily resembles modern education: ‘It was by their carnal wisdom that they knew not God. Their education was the agent which caused their great ignorance’ How this ignorance causes one to ‘worship the thing created over the One who created it’. This is very evident with ‘worship’ of people and nature and the pursuit of knowledge (which equally belongs to God). Also, I thought about personal worship. How we can be converted and transformed and think ourselves good, forgetting for a moment the one who made us so. Thus we become our own god. I’ll finish with my favorite line in this chapter: The object of education is not service to self, the community, business, church or state, but service to God
Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2001
From: (Tracy Dushaj)
message: I just wanted to tell you that you are an answer to prayer. I have been struggling lately in my homeschool endeavor because I had come to the conclusion that the classical way of education was the correct way, yet I did not want to expose my children to all of the mythical and humanistic thinking so prevalent in classical curriculum studies. I am so eager to begin anew and afresh with my children. I am eagerly awaiting your book “Teaching the Trivium.” I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of you all in desiring to help others to learn from what you have experienced first hand. Again, Thank you. Tracy Dushaj
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001
From: Daniel Kirk
> 1 would like to find large print, upper and lower case flash cards > for the various alphabets
We made our own on 3×5 cards with a large felt-tip marker.
> list of history related picture books?;
I don’t have a list, but 4 yos enjoyed Little House in the Big Woods.
He didn’t have the patience for Little House on the Prairie, (longer
chapters) but we might try it again soon — that was nearly a year ago.
> 7 ED Eye Development, Tracking, Speed Reading
I believe telling children not to use their fingers is one of many mistakes in current reading instruction. I took a speed reading course that used “finger tracking” as a technique to discourage regression and increase reading rate. Some programs recommend more complicated finger sweep patterns as your rate increases, but I found that I naturally dropped the technique when my reading reached a rate that my hands couldn’t keep up with. I think that if children were Encouraged to use their hands and warned about subvocalization and regression, Most of us would read at “speed reading” rates with no special instruction.
Now my question: I’ve read about children, especially boys, not being ready to read, or, more often, write, at the usual kindergarten or first grade age; does this neurological readiness apply to learning the alphabet as well? We’ve had a daily informal “learning time” with our 4.5 yo son for about a year now: Bible story, Bible memory, counting to 20, and Greek and Roman alphabets. While he’s good at reciting, when we tried alphabet flashcards he could only name the letters if we put them in order. He has a hard time looking at a letter and naming it.
Is this a common difficulty? How can we tell when he is ready to go from singing the alphabets to naming letters when he sees them? We would have tabled this indefinitely, but he enjoys learning time so much. He asks for “learning time” or “Bible Story” several times a day. Christmas morning, he walked right past the tree and presents (which weren’t there the night before) and asked for learning time. The Alphabet for Biblical Greek is one of his favorite “bed time stories”. He enjoys pointing out “Delta on the door, ” etc.
Subject: Pidgin Latin?
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001
Recently, I was reading an article by a man in which he makes the case that homeschooling parents do not need to force Latin into the curriculum. What struck me about the article was he talked about our children learning Pidgin Latin or Spanish, French etc. That seemed true of my efforts to insert Latin into our homeschool. Perhaps it would be better to spend our time elsewhere and leave the languages for later. Or perhaps Pidgin Latin is better than no Latin at all.
I have enjoyed reading Teaching the Trivium and I found your suggestions extremely helpful in many areas. On the other hand, I am teaching 7 children and have 2 little, cute troublemakers besides. My husband is busy providing for our family in the corporate workplace. He is not able to teach Latin, Logic or Math in our home. We are just happy that he can read-aloud and play a few games here and there. I have always been drawn to Latin and have spent many years trying to teach it but at best we know a smattering of vocabulary. I am committed to home education and do not agree with Doug Wilson that my children would be better off learning Latin in the local Christian Classical School.
If you are in a situation where Mother and Father cannot help the child with Latin, then I suggest that you wait till he is older, say 14 or 15 or even older, and then use a good self-teaching Latin curriculum so the student can teach himself.
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001
Mr. and Mrs. Bluedorn,
I am excited to have come across your family ministry. After much research, I have chosen to homeschool my children with a Christian Classical education. I also will be learning right along with my children. I wish I would have had homeschooling parents. I am 26 years old and a highschool (public school) graduate. I graduated with honors and did very well in public school. However, now that I’m researching education and am desiring to teach my own children, I see just how ignorant I was and am in the areas of math, geography, literature, history, arts and civics/government to name a few. Just this year, I taught my 2 1/2 year old daughter the names and location of each state of the USA. I learned right along with her because I didn’t even know US geography. Hannah (now 3) and I also have been learning world geography together and having fun! I can’t imagine ever sending my babies to public school only to graduate being ignorant of a basic education 13 years later.
Again, I am thankful for your family ministry. Have a great day in the Lord. Thank you, Nicole Ray
From: “Oveja” <
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001
HI Laurie and others!! I am looking for good mysteries for my sister. I believe I recall Laurie mentioning that she likes mysteries. I tried to do a search on the loop but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Thanks!!! Clara In Miami
How about: Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; John Buchan wrote several mysteries; The Moonstone by Wilke Collins; Beau Geste by P.C. Wren
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001
Subject: teaching math
I just recently heard a lady named Carole Joy Seid who, along with the Bluedorns and also the Moores (Raymond and Dorothy), suggest staying within the parameters teaching math concretely until the child shows signs of being more abstract in their thinking. I did not do this, due to ignorance and fear, and my 1st child has had much the same trouble you are having with your daughter at this time. We ended up stopping math altogether when she reached long division due to tears and general frustration on both our parts. We then switched to “Math U See,” which is manipulative based and we use till this day and love. But, we are still dealing with some things that happened with my child’s brain development at that time and carefully trying to re-map if you will, her thinking and concepts of numbers. I know others recommend “Math It.” The same people who put out “Math It” also put out ” Pre Math It,” which uses dominoes, and “Advanced Math It.” Has anyone else used these. I am curious about the results. I know I need to keep rereading “10 things to do with your child before age 10” by the Bluedorns to remind myself of the important things and try to undo all my public school mentality. This is just my very humble $.02 worth. Only by His grace, Dorene
From: “Anne Calvert”
Subject: Alphabet readiness ; Learning Spanish
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001
:<< I’ve read about children, especially boys, not being ready to read, or, more often, write, at the usual kindergarten or first grade age; does this neurological readiness apply to learning the alphabet as well? >>
My experience with this is that yes, the neurological readiness does apply to learning the alphabet as well, but that they are separate issues. A child can be ready to learn the alphabet, but unable to hook phonetic sounds together to sound out words. I taught my 2 and 4 year old their letters, taking a year or so, with some letters I made out of posterboard using 4″ stencils from Walmart and cutting them out. I put the capital A up on a coat hanger on the wall of their room. We would play “find the A” every morning when they had finished dressing and making their beds. I would hide it somewhere in plain sight while they covered their eyes. They thought it was a great game. After a week of this we began looking for capital A’s in books that we would read. They were delighted with this game too. We began looking for A’s on road signs and in the store, etc… After they were good at finding A’s in the books, we started playing with the B and I would ask them which was the A and which was the B. Once they knew these two letters really well and were finding them in all their books and on signs it pretty much snowballed and they started asking me “What letter is that?” They learned a handful of letters that way. We went to the bank to open an account and my 2 and 4 year old (at that time) kept pointing at the name plate on the desk, and the other letters on the signs and telling the letters to me. I tried to contain their enthusiasm by telling them to please talk quietly. The bank officer looked at me and said “Boy, you must believe in starting them early!” Well, not really actually. I think it is advantageous to just teach them one letter at the beginning and then add one more, and so on, until they just naturally pick it up and learn the other ones by asking. We always had a great time playing with each other in the morning. I would smile and laugh with them, they were so funny the way they would search all over the room. It was like a treasure hunt. Any time they found a letter in a sign or book I would smile and tell them how clever they were.
Then I let them watch educational videos once in a while, (once a week or less) Dr. Seuss’s ABC is one that they like to watch and that tied in the big and little A, etc. (I start with just the capital letters at first because it seems to work well. ) Also they have a couple of alphabet puzzles that they like to do. And, they have a book called “The Sesame Street ABC and 123 book that they love, although the Count is in that book (you know the purple guy who counts everything) and he is doing tarot cards in the book. I actually like having him in there because we have great conversations about palm reading, crystal balls, and other types of fortune telling and why those are wrong. It gives me an opportunity to educate them about those things before they see them in the world around them. All my kids think the Count is a bad guy.
Well, anyway, back to the subject. They also have been reading different children’s alphabet books with me since I could get them to sit still with me on the couch. They have had lots of repetition in relaxed enjoyable settings where they didn’t even know that they were doing school. I never pressured them about knowing their alphabet. Now the game that we play is “What is A for?” and they can give me a laundry list of all the things that they know begin with A. (They are not reading yet though). When I first started teaching them, I gave them their first initial and told them “P is for Peter” and “D is for Daniel” and those are still their favorite letters. It really added to their enthusiasm. The older kids caught on and started playing these games with them too. Recently I found some cookie cutters shaped like the alphabet at the local education supply store. This week we are making alphabet cookies just for fun to “begin” the school year. One other thing that doesn’t hurt is to look at letter shapes. My little ones are always pointing out that “O” is round like an orange (really it’s just a circle). ” A” looks like a triangle except you put the bottom line up higher so it stands on two legs. I don’t do this for every letter, just whenever it seems profitable and natural. I hope this is helpful
Also, I just wanted to add something about teaching a modern foreign language for the mother who is fluent in Spanish. For the older kids (7 and up) we are using the Learnables to learn French. This might work for an advanced 5 year old. The child doesn’t have to know how to read. You can look at their web. My other suggestion is that you look for children’s books that are written in Spanish and read them over and over again. Anne
Also, we went to an old book store in Iowa City this summer, and I bought Johannah and Helena several small, old books written in French. That particular store carried lots of old books in numerous languages. Laurie
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001
message: My thoughts on Teaching the Trivium, Chapters 2 & 3.
“Schools have become orphanages full of children who have been educationally abandoned by their parents.” (I would add, and spiritually abandoned also, although I wouldn’t be so hard as to say that most parents do either intentionally!)
P 53: “We are not to be overtaken by amusements but to muse upon God’s word.” (This is my favourite line in this chapter.)
p 58: (I loved the poem by William Cowper.)
p 59: the words of John Dunphy, The humanist magazine 1983:
(I wrote Blah by it! Such potent hatred to God and man was manifest so strongly.)
“Ten problems with classroom schools:
1. Create bonds which oppose the bonds of authority and affection:
Sibling -bonds: (A friend of mine in England decided to homeschool after much prayer and tears. Her children were not progressing academically and both were very unhappy. The final straw came when a teacher told her that her daughters were not allowed to play with one another at recess because they were forming bonds with one another and not with their peers and the teacher! She took them out the next day.)
2. Ungodly rivalry. (How many of us parents still suffer feelings of not being good enough because of such experiences at school.)
3. academically inferior. “Homeschool becomes the same if we mimic the school.” “Parents remediate their own lack of education by teaching their own children.” (Don’t we all know just how uneducated we are. I had a University education at a British university where 18,000 students applied for 50 places. I got one of the places. And yet the more I homeschool and learn at home the more sure becomes my knowledge of the fact that I am indeed without education.)
4. encourages peer groupings. “divides families and generations”
5. situations which are inappropriate.
“Our girls have no business developing relationships with other boys (and the same for boys with girls), apart from our knowledge, advise and consent.”
(Oh, how I wish this had been the norm when I was growing. Where can an innocent child learn and grow in blessed peace from this cultural monster other than in the home of loving, God fearing parents. So much pressure, confusion and pain is the result and adult happiness and marriage/family contentment become almost beyond the reach of man. I will not let my children endure what I did.)
6. Time at school and school related activities draws away from the family. (The scriptures are full with how little time we have in which to learn the ways of the Lord and live them. Why waste this precious resource on things trivial.)
In your conclusion:
These words really struck home with me:
‘The culture in which we live is in ruins because of its unbiblical ideals.
Why do many Christians still feel some cultural obligation to keep propping up these ruins?’
(How many of us still keep trying to fit this old with the new. One foot in Babylon whilst claiming to be building Zion.
And also, tying in with the above; why we suffer burnout and I know it’s the reason I have done and will again if I don’t learn) ‘overburden themselves with all kinds of activities and studies which are either redundant or unnecessary’.
My favourite line in this chapter:
‘We can skip some of the homeschool mother’s meetings and homeschool student enrichment days for a while in order to concentrate on restoring fatherhood to the cultural vocabulary’. (Amen to that. I pray earnestly that I can daily learn how to stop usurping my husband’s authority and how I can meekly encourage him to take the role of the patriarch in our family.)
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001
From: Eugene B Sedy
Recently Daniel Kirk wrote: >> While he’s good at reciting, when we tried alphabet flashcards he could only name the letters if we put them in order. He has a hard time looking at a letter and naming it.<<
I’ve found that my own children at some time in the progression of learning to read have this difficulty. Here are some fun ideas that help them: –Play games like “Go Fish for Letters” (a card game we made up patterned after Go Fish), similarly we played Letter Old Maid. Discovery Toys has a nice game called A, B, Seas that my children have enjoyed playing. You could make one yourself. Create a fishing pole with a small dowel rod with a string and a magnet at the end at the end of the string. Use this to “fish” for fish cut out of poster board with Upper Case letters on them (put paper clips on them so the magnet can attach!). Match the “caught” letters to letters on bingo style sheets with 4×4 grid. The “real” game has upper case letters on one side of the sheet, and lower case on the other, so you can use the upper case side first, and then to learn to match upper case to lower case letters. We’ve also played letter bingo. –“Study” one letter/week, and make up a letter page. Cut out pictures, upper case and lower case letters from magazines that begin with your letter. Make coloring pages with the letter. Go on a letter hunt: write upper and lower case letters on several stick-it notes and stick them on things around the house that start with that letter. Have the child look for the letter on road signs. See who can find the “biggest” letter. Give the child a page from a magazine or an advertisement and have him circle all the study letters you can find. Have him begin penmenship practice: writing the study letter in sand or corn meal, then on paper. Let him trace a large print of the letter with his finger. As the child traces the letter, reinforce the letter sounds: “B” says bbb, as in bat, bib, bike, etc. I’ve found that once a letter is taught in this manner, concentrating on it’s form, formation in writing, and it’s sound week by week, it is not usually forgotten. In 26 weeks time, your child might be ready to start Saltmine Hifwip Reading, or whatever program you choose to use (if any!) These are fun things for the child to do, and if you have older children, they should be capable of teaching these things to the younger children. My oldest daughter finds great satisfaction in helping the younger children this way. She has been helping me with this since she was 9 years old. Blessings, Janet
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001
Just wanted to thank Anne for her ideas on teaching letters and also on teaching a foreign language. I am working on the abcs with my two little ones (3 and almost 2), no pressure though. This year I figure is mostly an introduction and next year we’ll do it all again. They love all the activities that we’re doing. And mostly they just love books.
I am also trying to expose them to Spanish. I am not bilingual and am at a total loss how to do this. I have a couple of cds that sing and speak in Spanish and English. Also, I bought a couple of Spanish books, one is of animals and the other is Goodnight Moon, which my kids have in English. The Animal book helps with pronunciation. Goodnight Moon does not, but my mother is coming next week and she minored in Spanish in college so I will get her to record her reading these books so the kids can listen to them over and over. And I can learn as well. Any other suggestions?
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001
Subject: Service projects for boys
>I have an age span of boys from 1-9. My husband and I are looking for ideas for service work or activities. Aside from the >nursing home visits is there anyone that can share some ideas that they have either heard of, or actually used with their own >family?
Hi, Teri. We have five boys aged 5-14 (two girls 1 & 3). We have found several ideas for service projects for boys. Last fall our homeschool group (boys, girls and parents) found two widows who needed yard work and housecleaning done for them. The boys went to work outside and the girls inside. The boys have been able to pull weeds, prune trees and bushes, mow yards, clean up debris, even paint. We plan to make this a regular fall project for our group. When my boys were younger, we used to visit a widow who lived alone once a month. We would talk with her, share homemade art, and eat lunch with her. She just enjoyed having the boys around, but we fixed things if she needed it done.
Also, my oldest son has had an opportunity to baby sit for a family that has three boys on several occasions with sickness and a new baby. He spent a full day at their house when mother was suffering from morning sickness. He watched her boys and cleaned her house, much to her delight. A homeschool family with six children under age 10 recently had to put a fence around their 2 acre property. My husband took our two oldest boys with him and helped them put up the fence. They were blessed by the fact that our boys were so eager to serve, and the hard work was good for them. I hope this gives you some ideas to use with your boys.
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001
Subject: Study of Literature
Harvey & Laurie,
I am reading through the chapter in your book on principles for the study of literature and I have a few questions. Please keep in mind that I never read any books that would be considered classics myself. When I was in high school we read The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies. The high point of high school literature for me was reading Romeo and Juliet as a freshman.
In chapter eight you say, “The comedy plays of Aristophanes, for example, are full of perverse topics which defile the imagination and the conscience.” Did you read these plays or are you just going off of what Plutarch said about them? I am very concerned about exposing my children to images that cannot be erased from their minds because I have so many myself, but how do we know what is O.K. to read unless we read it ourselves first? But then we run the risk of defiling our own minds as well.
I have never even heard of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, should I have? You also mentioned Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. I remember other classes in my school studying those and I always thought I was missing something. I guess I thought that my children should read them, but now I’m not so sure.
You also mentioned that if we didn’t want our children reading Heather Has Two Mommies we shouldn’t want them to read The Iliad by Homer. Now I AM confused. We used Greenleaf Guides for history and in the Greek study they suggested A Children’s Homer. My boys really enjoyed the adventure and it was a great story. I assumed that eventually they would want to read the original Iliad and Odyssey. Of course we discussed their many false gods and their belief in fate and how that contrasts with scripture. I finally got a copy of D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths even though in the beginning I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I should be teaching them about the myths at a young age. I eventually reasoned that they would be better equipped to combat false teaching if they knew them, and so many things in our culture refer to the Greek beliefs, Pandora’s box, Achilles’ heel, etc. Once we had the book, I wondered if it presented too much information, and my younger boys were always wanting to look at the pictures. I wondered if my 7 and 9 year olds should be allowed to read it. I’m still not sure about that one.
Concerning The Iliad, I just signed my 14 year old son up for an online tutorial from SCHOLA. The first book they are going to study is The Iliad! I have skimmed the book and don’t understand what your objections are to it. Could you help me with this? Is it the overall theme that is objectionable or individual portions of the book? I just don’t have time to read the whole book. I thought I was doing the right thing by enrolling him in this class and giving him a chance to discuss great literature with someone who understands it. I haven’t read any of these things. They are also supposed to read Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. I know you have objected to that too. I spoke with a mother (and daughter who had taken this class) about Sophocles. They said that the main character kills his father and marries his mother (sounds bad), but that the whole point of the book is that he did it unknowingly and when he found out what he did, he was remorseful. They said that it illustrates how the Greeks’ belief in fate was so central to their lives – the fact that if you were fated to do something it would happen no matter what you did to try to stop it. Wouldn’t it be different if Sophocles was condoning marrying your mother? I haven’t read this one either.
Everything that you have said in the book about literature I appreciate and agree with. I am just trying to figure out if I have made a big mistake in enrolling my son in this literature class. We have always tried to be very careful about what we let our children read. I am looking at a box full of books for this class – Homer, Aristotle, Plutarch, Plato’s Republic, Sophocles, Herodotus, Thucydides (C.S. Lewis Until We Have Faces) – that just came in the mail. I was so excited that this year he was going to take this class and it would take some of the pressure off of me and free up my time for the younger children. He has surpassed me in almost every area, and I don’t have time to learn EVERYTHING with him and still teach the others.
I hope my thoughts aren’t too scattered. Any advice you could give would be helpful. I really am enjoying the book. There are so many valuable nuggets throughout. I wish I had read it ten years ago when we began, but then again I am afraid I might not have appreciated the wisdom as much as I do now. Some things we do seem to have to learn the hard way.
I have read through several of the comedies of Aristophanes, and if you do a search on the archives of our web site you will find comments we made on him and on other classical literature, including Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. Also, chapters 8 and 9 of our book detail our arguments on how to choose literature. Our point is this: your family should determine what your principles are in choosing literature. Ideally, this should be done while your children are young. Also, don’t be swayed by classical homeschooling peer pressure. Just because a book is on someone’s “must read” list doesn’t mean your family must read it. In our book we have listed our family’s principles for choosing literature. If your family’s principles are broader or more narrow than ours, that’s between you and God. There may be circumstances which prevail in your household which allow you to draw the line at a different place than us, and we have no criticism of you as long as you understand that the prevailing philosophy that “our children should be exposed directly to everything in the world” is in direct conflict with the philosophy that “we should protect our children from direct exposure to those things which they are not prepared to handle.” You cannot serve these two masters. If you adopt the first philosophy, then you will try to find the most direct exposures. If you adopt the second philosophy, then you will try to prepare your children through carefully timed and controlled exposures which are themselves thoroughly exposed under the light of God’s Word. Our general rules with regard to such exposures is, “better to delay than to be too early” (First Samuel 13:8 etc.; Jn 2:4; 7:8) and “when in doubt, leave it out” (Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6). In other words, these things may be useful, but they are neither indispensable, nor are they unavailable later. Young children are like soft clay — they are very impressionable, and those impressions will harden and stay with them. What impressions do we want them to be left with throughout their life? Young children do not have the mental equipment necessary to properly handle graphic descriptions and striking images of brutalities, carnalities, and perversities, regardless of our commentary. Remember, these stories were designed to leave a lasting impression upon the memory which subtly and effectively communicates a cultural philosophy. They were never innocent little stories. They are great literature, but they are not good literature, just as Richard Wagner wrote great — absolutely brilliant — music, but it is not good music.
You list several books you recently received. The historians Herodotus and Thucydides are quite valuable, and so is the biographer Plutarch (although even these will have occasional lewd passages and should be pre-read by the parent — Thucydides is probably the only Greek author who is totally safe to read). The reading of classical Greek and Roman literature is not something that should be left to someone outside the family to manage. It is my opinion that the parent should be involved in that study, guiding and directing the student. I know this is difficult. Unfortunately we have few curricula to help us. Lord willing, this winter we will be putting together an annotated list which describes and evaluates literature according to our principles. The first volume will cover creation through Roman times.
Harvey and Laurie
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001
From: (Daisy Meeker)
message: Mr. and Mrs Bluedorn,
First I wanted to thank you for coming to the FPEA Convention in May. I enjoyed both your workshops and took lots of notes. We will begin using the educational materials I purchased next week and I can hardly wait!
Mrs. Bluedorn, I want to let you know that I was very impressed when you said that your children do all the housework. When you stated that you had your children begin by folding their laundry at age 4, I realized how much I had been spoiling my children and denying them the opportunity to learn to do things for themselves. I now have my children making their own breakfast and lunch, doing dishes, learning to sweep and mop, and doing the bathrooms. I also make them accountable for the care of their pets. Not only are they learning life skills but although they may complain a little at times, they feel good of a job well done. This is such a blessing!
I would like to thank all of you who prayed for us this month. On Wednesday, September 5th, which was the day before we were to leave on a 15 day speaking trip to Texas, my father died — by his own hand. A couple hours after getting the call, we left for Des Moines, which is where my parents live. I was able to see his body before cremation and help my mother with a few things before we had to leave for Texas on the 6th. The grief I have experienced these past three weeks has at times quite overwhelmed me, but I have witnessed the power of God in lifting us up and giving us strength, especially when we were doing the seminars in Texas. I would especially like to thank all those people in Texas who comforted us, and also those back here at home who continued to pray for us. Laurie
Subject: Priceless Trivium
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001
Dear Loop readers:
Just how valuable is the Trivium anyway? Here are a few examples of how our family has found the value in it.
1. Our car’s transmission died. We could not afford the mechanic’s fee to replace it with a new one. So my husband studied the grammar level of the “What” is the transmission. Then moved into the logic stage of how, and when this is done. Finally, he applied what he learned and did the rhetorical end of it by installing the new transmission. We saved $800.00
2. Dry cleaning bills are to high for me. I have a lovely pure silk ladies blouse with a stain. I really couldn’t afford the dry cleaner. So I took a visit to the reference section at my local library and found a directory of Dry cleaning Industry. There I compiled a small list of newsletters for the Dry cleaning Industry. I was able to obtain a complementary copy. Through this search I located the grammar stage of the silk fibers, a little about their properties and then moved to the logic stage in hopes of trying to understand how this stain could be removed with the appropriate agent. Lastly, I applied the rhetoric stage and used the correct solvent to successfully remove the soil. I was delighted and encouraged by the results to further my problem solving in applying the “TRIVIUM” to real life problems. We saved $10.00.
3. WARNING: Certified professional technician should… replace natural gas stoves into propane. Those were the words we read on the “Conversion kit” package for converting our stove to propane. But, then we thought what about the “TRIVIUM”. My husband learned the Grammar stage of the parts of the kit, then proceeded to understand the how and where of the conversion. Finally, he did the rhetoric stage by applying what he learned in the two previous stages. We saved $100.00
What implications does this have for the “Classical Trivium Homeschoolers”? Everything! We can all learn a new subject on our own. Can you think of something you would like to know the “Trivium” of? What problems can you solve for your family that can bring gain or relief to your pocketbook. Try it. It becomes a way of thinking after a while. I created some “Trivium” exercise sheets for our family. Do not become discouraged because a subject matter you choose may seem lofty or only for the professionals. Remember you already broke the mold when you joined the ranks of “Homeschoolers.” I like Harvey’s quote “FREEING US FROM THE DRUDGERY OF TASK PERFORMANCE AND CAUSING US THE PARENTS TO BECOME INDEPENDENT SCHOLARS.”
Teaching the Trivium” by the Bluedorns has placed voluminous aids within the reach of our minds. Praise be to our LORD for the trivium. I would love to hear of how other “TRIVIUM” families are using the trivium to solve real life problems.
Commentary on Terrorism in America
by Harvey Bluedorn
On September 11, thousands of lives and billions of dollars of property were destroyed within a moment’s time, making a heap of rubble which will take a year to clean up. The cause has been attributed to extreme Islamic terrorists. That was only the immediate cause. The ultimate cause was God.
Amos 3:6 . . . shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
300,000 Jews of that generation were destroyed in the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Many of them were buried under the rubble of collapsed walls, towers, and buildings. Do you think these Jews were somehow justified because their destroyers were infidels? Not at all. Because these Jews did not repent, they perished by the chosen instruments of God’s justice.
The Lord used the example of the sudden and violent deaths at the tower in Siloam to warn Jerusalem of its inevitable doom if it continued on the course it was taking. The Lord has now used the example of the sudden and violent deaths at the tower of the World Trade Center to warn America of its inevitable doom if it continues on its present course. Thank God that He has given us a warning sign.
Luke 13:6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
13:7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 13:8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
13:9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
Sadly I watched as the nation reacted in proud and vengeful tones. The president declared a war to defend freedom against terrorism. But what “freedom” would he defend? Is it the freedom that our forefathers fought and died for? Not at all. Our forefathers died to defend American freedom from a revolutionary overthrow by the despotic hand of a King and a Parliament who were usurping fundamental God-given rights and violating fundamental jurisdictions — and breaking well-established English law in the process. They died to defend God’s order in the world, which is true freedom — freedom to do what is right in God’s eyes. But what freedom would we defend today? Freedom to choose what is morally wrong. Freedom to kill babies in the womb, then experiment with their remains. Freedom to practice perverted lifestyles and to infect young children with these ideas in the compulsory schools. Freedom to protect young children from learning of moral absolutes taught in the Bible. In short, freedom in America to terrorize all that is good and right and wholesome in the sight of God. For decades we have been hi-jacking political jet-liners and flying them into the cultural edifices of freedom under God. America is a land filled with terror because America has no fear of God. America is free from God.
Psalms 73:19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
What should have been our reaction? Self-examination, self-humiliation, fasting, confession, and bringing forth the fruits of repentance, lest our tree should be cut down. Then we should go out, find the perpetrators of our national sins — our own terrorism against God — and do justice with them in the sight of God. After this, we can go out, find the perpetrators of this terrible disaster — the death and destruction in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania — and do likewise with them.
Second Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . .
Please join me in praying that our nation be once again renewed to repentance. If it is not renewed to repentance, then we have only to wait out the clock until we are finally brought to complete ruin.
Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.