When you hear about classical homeschooling, are you intimidated? Do you picture your kids logging hours at the kitchen table, slogging through lists of prepositions, and complaining about the overwhelming reading list?
Or do you imagine a leisurely breakfast with Mozart drifting through the kitchen, time spent watching robins pluck worms from the yard, snuggling on the couch to read together from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and reciting, along with your children, a beautiful bit of Emily Dickinson?
Unfortunately, classical education sometimes gets a bad rap for being dull, lifeless, and unpleasant.
In our minds’ eye, we see long lists of grammar forms, copious amounts of memory work, and dusty copies of Homer and Plato. Many of us avoid the idea of the classical tradition because we feel rather… well… ordinary.
But the true aim of the classical tradition is to nurture wisdom and virtue, to help a person become more fully human, and to know and love God with all that we are.
The purpose of Classical Education is to cultivate virtue and wisdom. The classical Christian does not ask, ‘What can I do with this learning?’ but ‘What will this learning do to me?’ The ultimate end of Classical Christian education is to enable the student to better know, glorify, and enjoy God.”
I’d bet a lot of us are more classical than we think
The principles are, in many cases, already being lived out in our homes. Recognizing what those principles are and taking steps to embrace them more fully helps us become effective and content in our homeschools.
If you’ve ever thought you needed to focus more on character than your curriculum checklist, or ditch memorizing facts in favor of an inspiring poem, you’re already well on your way.
In fact, if you’re tempted to tear the schoolish poster off your wall and replace it with a large reproduction of a classic painting, spend a whole afternoon reading aloud from an engaging work of literature, or ditch the day’s lessons entirely and head to the beach instead…
You might be more classical than you think.
It is utterly human to seek truth, goodness, and beauty everywhere. A child’s thirst to know and understand is unquenchable. Teaching well requires diligence, patience, and a lot of hard work- and learning well requires perseverance, fortitude, and a habit of attention.
In this series, we’ll explore some key principles of classical education, and you might be surprised to learn that, without even knowing it, you’re more classical than you thought you were!
Posts in the Series
What we’re really setting out to do is grow our children (and ourselves) in wisdom and virtue, and we’ll explore why the true goal of education is not to earn a diploma or get a job, but is something far bigger (and better!).
If what we desire is to nurture virtue, then the way to get there is by digging deep into ideas- to stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from the greatest thinkers throughout the ages. Learning and memorizing facts plays an important role in this endeavor, but we’ll explore why those facts always bend to serve ideas, which give life to the intellect and stimulate growth.
The natural home atmosphere is the perfect environment for educating children. The sounds and smells of home- pleasing music in the background, soup simmering on the stove, natural light filtering through a window, flowers in a vase, candles lit at supper… the very essence of home nourishes the soul and feeds the imagination. We’ll discuss why beauty is so important and isn’t the big expensive project we often make it out to be.
Living competently, learning attentively, and loving profoundly is a lifelong project we do alongside our children. We grow and become with them, apprenticing as we go. Teaching is the art of being imitated, and we’ll think about what that means for the ordinary homeschooling mother.
Curriculum is not something you buy but rather a path of learning that infuses every facet of life. The opportunities to contemplate big ideas and gaze on the true, good, and beautiful are everywhere for the homeschooling family that chooses to slow down and savor the small moments in an ordinary day. We’ll consider the important role of leisure and poetic knowledge in the homeschooling life.
Often, the most meaningful changes take place not when we overhaul our entire lifestyle, but rather when we make a subtle shift in paradigm.
This series is about changing the way we look at what we are already doing so that we can focus more energy into growing the practices that help our families thrive.