I borrowed a copy of Teaching the Trivium (Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn) from a homeschooling friend of mine, and it's been a very interesting read thus far. I'm going to throw out some thoughts here, and I'd love a little bit of conversation on this, some feedback, and even some holes poked where I'm not quite thinking straight. I'm sure that'll happen here and there. One thing that I wonder about is if there aren't some communication gaps because of the difference between the words that "Protestant Christians" use when talking about their faith and the words that "Mormon Christians" use. I've noticed that in other conversations and I wonder if that's not causing some of the troubles that I'm having with this book.
Some sections have some great ideas - I'm currently setting up a notebook for my Japanese study based on the book's ideas, as well as mulling over the idea of teaching Greek or Hebrew. But there are some other things in the book that I find a bit disturbing, most particularly the suspicion that the authors seem to have toward academic excellence.
Consider the following quotes:
"The Scripture is sufficient to educate us in all necessary areas of life." (page 37)
Maybe I'm missing the point, but my first thought upon reading this sentence was "what about laundry? and cooking?" I love the scriptures, and I can't begin to define the value they are to me in my life, but I don't think that I learned any of my practical daily "life skills" from them. And that's just one area. There are whole fields of information that are useful, good, and true, that are not included in Scripture. As I understand it, Scripture's job is to help us to remember God, to remember His covenants, to teach us how to return to Him, and to point our minds and hearts to Christ. In essence, Scripture teaches us to live "after the manner of happiness," which is in compliance with God's laws. I'm just not convinced that everything we need to know to conduct our daily lives, practically speaking, is in there. Nor do I believe that ALL truth is in there. There's just not that much Scripture, and it's a big universe full of all sorts of truths!
I like what the Bluedorns have to say about the family being the intended place for children's education. They have some really great Bible verses that make a lot of sense to me. But after they establish the importance of family in a child's training and education, they go on to say,
"There is more to life than what is styled 'academic education.'" (Page 39)
This statement is true. But the way that the authors make it seems to betray a distrust of a strong academic education, or a the very least an uncertainty of the value of strong academics and higher education. By itself, it's not a bad statement at all, but in the context of their book it becomes part of a pattern of thought that I'm not able to agree with at all. This suspicious approach to academic excellence is more apparent here:
"Why Follow a Classical Model and Method?
1.Academics. Certainly, some parents choose a classical style of schooling because they are attracted by the academic achievement. They want their children to achieve high academic goals in classical languages, in logic, and in communication skills. They want them to study a very high level of material. Perhaps some of this is driven by a sort of academic snobbery, but much of it is driven by a sincere desire to see their children challenged and excel for the glory of God." (Page 41, emphasis mine)
I'm not finished with the book yet, and in spite of the fact that I've picked on this one aspect of the book, I'm finding a lot that is useful in the book. Not the least of which is the way that it makes me think about the goals of education and ponder what is the Lord's method of education. Teaching the Trivium approaches a Classical Education from a different direction than The Well-Trained Mind. I plan to stick with TWTM as my main reference, but TtT is certainly an educational read which I am enjoying!