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What is Classical Education?

Is Classical Education for Christians?

The classical book list entitled the “Great Books of the Western World” contains the writings of Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, and other men who declared that the answers to life’s mysteries and problems are found in men and not in God (even the Koran is on the list). Our children should be immersed in the sixty-six great books in God’s Word, and books by Christians, not in writings by men who knew not our Lord!

This surge of interest to return to Greek classical education cries, “We need to return to the traditional literary culture, the classical standards of the past.” Insistence on a “back to basics” curriculum of “reading, writing and arithmetic,” has again become popular. It is a desire to turn back to the fork where we took the wrong road.

classical education

The classical method that was developed in ancient Greece and Rome, and established in the Middle Ages, was used almost exclusively in the Western world until the nineteenth century. The main focus was reading the Greek and Roman classics. To be in touch with literary arts marked one as accomplished.

We understand this desire to return to a better way, but believe that, instead of returning to the ancient Greeks’ ways, we need to return to the biblical model. Our only hope for a stable, ongoing, integrated culture is placing the Word of God at the center of our thinking, speaking, and acting. Literature and all literary arts must give place to mastery of the Bible. And they themselves become servants to the Word of God.

The Greek model is comprised of three phases of learning: 1) grammar, 2) dialectic, and 3) rhetoric. It is similar to the biblical model except for the main ingredient: true wisdom cannot be gained by unaided human reason. The Greeks wanted to conform to the good and natural things of the world, but without God this is not possible.

We must do more than rail against godless education. We must identify a distinctly Christian curriculum—one that takes its identity, its motion, from the reality of our redeemed condition—one that begins with the authority of the risen Christ speaking through His Word.

It is not enough to know what we are against; we must know what we are for. Dismantling the world is one work; building the kingdom is another. If we fail to make a positive contribution to education, if we keep the same old public school agenda packaged in Christian dress, our children will not prosper as they should. Without fundamental changes, we are only straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel. We cannot let the wolf of antichrist values in because he is wearing sheep’s clothing.

There is a long tradition in this country of resistance to the wisdom of the Greeks: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Noah Webster all judged the classics to be of scant use. (Learning from the Greeks, Commentary Magazine, Valiunas, 1998)

Literature is a blessing, but should never be the purpose or center of learning. When we return to Scripture-centered education, two things occur:

  1. We can view language in its splendor without the danger of it replacing religion. We can appreciate it as God’s gift to us.
  2. Considering language as a skill, we can study it in a deeper way.

There can be no doubt that literary education is more whole, more human, and more satisfying than scientific technological education. But is even literary education enough? Good literature—Scott, Milton, Virgil—promotes courage, insight, high morality, and imagination—but it can never do what the Bible does.

Why Go Back to Ancient Greek Ways? Why Not Return to Biblical Methods?

David Mulligan, author of Far Above Rubies, explains that when we hear the phrase “returning to traditional methods” we need to ask “whose tradition?”

In reacting against modernist educational failure comes an instinctive turning to traditional schooling. What does this mean? Does the bare use of nineteenth century educational material safeguard the essential Christianity of our school? There is a nagging sensation that we have not yet gotten down to the bottom of things. What is traditional education? What is the tradition? It isn’t modernism. We know that traditionalism offers another way to look at the world. We know that, but what is it? Where did it come from? Is it just a haven for Christians playing modernist Babylon?

We just want to be sure, lest we be like the man who, to escape the lion, ran into the house and was bitten by a serpent. An essential element of this truly Christian education is discovering what we mean by traditional or old-fashioned education, and to that question we have now turned.

Teachers of philosophy give their lives to examining convictions by which people can live, in order to develop a consistent worldview and way of life based on reliable evidence. The Bible warns against philosophies whose highest realities and concerns are atoms, energy, cosmic laws—or even humanity—those founded on the basic principles of the world and not according to Christ.

To build a thoroughly Christian educational system, we must begin with a thoroughly Christian definition of education. What does the Bible tell us about education? What is it? What is it for? As we have stated, nothing is self-defining or of absolute value except God, so how can education be thought of as having intrinsic value? The value we usually give to education is the value imputed by man. Is that really valid? The intrinsic value of education is so taken for granted in our culture that our institutions of learning are intellectually considered to be common ground between the believer and the unbeliever.

The Emperor is Naked!

I have watched this growing trend reflected in the availability of numerous Greek mythology and philosophy books in homeschool catalogs and at curriculum fairs. I feel like the little boy who felt that he must point out the emperor’s obvious lack of clothing. Well-intentioned Christians have combined classical Greek educational methods with Bible-based curricula, which is exactly the same error that the early Church committed!

The classical Greek approach focuses on Greek literature and man’s reasoning.

Ancient Hebrew methods focus on God’s Word and faith.

Why Go Back to the Ancient Greek Ways?
Why not Return to Biblical Methods?

The Bible warns us about Greek philosophies:

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)

Under the ancient Greek system, learning begets goodness. Under the biblical system, goodness begets learning. All non-biblical education assumes that man can become learned without God. Biblical education makes knowledge the foundation of learning.

Greece was a once mighty empire. The ancient Greeks promoted beautiful fashion, fine dining, sonorous music, aesthetic arts, vigorous athletics, captivating entertainment, and a bevy of similarly stimulating activities. The ancient Greeks were the most advanced and sophisticated culture of their time. Were it not for their excellence (applying the principle to modern terms), we would not have heart transplants, ballet, air transportation or, for that matter, the Internet.

So why didn’t the ancient Greek empire survive more than a few hundred years? Historians concur that they were destroyed by moral decay. Pursuing knowledge without God is a recipe for disaster. We simply cannot survive without clear moral direction.


Three Approaches to Classical Literature—and HOW’s Alternative

Currently there are three different approaches to literature using the classical approach:

  1. With the traditional focus on mythology and Greek philosophy.
  2. Using the classical methods, but rejecting material written by pagans.
  3. Immersion into the classic literature from a critical viewpoint.

1. Traditional Focus on Classics

The focus of the traditional classical approach (as promoted in the book The Well Trained Mind) is on Greek mythology, philosophy, logic, and Latin. The current best-selling homeschool book on the classical approach focuses on creating a student Plato would be proud of. Students of all ages, beginning with kindergarten, are immersed in stories about Greek gods. Mythology and philosophy are encouraged, while there is no emphasis on Bible study, and only a scant mention of religion. The authors suggest reading the Bible during history studies because it “ought to be treated as a serious philosophical document.”

There is legitimate cause for concern when a curriculum’s focus is on mythology and philosophy rather than the Bible. Proponents of classical education defend the study of mythology (which is really the study of false gods, idols, and/or demons) by saying that the myths are an integral part of our Western literary heritage. (Rodd)

It is short-sighted to use the argument that children need to study mythology in order to be adequately aware of the world; the same argument would imply that our children should be immersed in books on New Age philosophies, astrology, witchcraft, reincarnation, or Harry Potter. A well-grounded Christian adult with discernment may safely choose to study these subjects, but we should be careful not to feed these as entertainment to our children. Jesus said, Therefore, be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).

2. Adoption of Classical Methods but Rejection of Classical Literature

Some using the classical approach avoid the pagan literature. There are Christian homeschoolers who use the classical approach because they view the Trivium— grammar, logic, and rhetoric—as a worthy form of structure, but reject the writings by pagan authors (which is somewhat like trying to order a cheeseburger without the cheese). There is nothing inherently wrong with acknowledging these three discernible stages of learning (grammar, logic, and rhetoric); it is only common sense that children go through certain basic learning stages that build upon each other. It seems somewhat ironic to me, though, that one would use classical methods designed by classical authors, but reject the classical authors’ writings. I do, however, applaud their efforts to avoid evil.

3. Focus on the Classic Literature From a Critical Viewpoint

There are other Christians using the classical approach that focus on the Bible. They immerse students in the “Great Books of the Western World,” but do so from a critical viewpoint–—to teach their children about the positive and negative influences these books have had on our culture—which is an understandable endeavor. But this too seems an irony—that one would use the classical methods designed by the classical authors to teach students the deficiencies of the writings of the classical authors. But I am glad to see they are evaluating the writings from the standpoint of Scripture.

Heart of Wisdom’s Alternative

We recommend reading the good books–but not the books on traditional classical list.

Download Our List Here 31 pages PDF includes classics by grade level

Ask yourself if the book has value; does the book emphasize a Biblical worldview in some way?

To ignore the classics would be like a doctor disregarding the symptoms of a serious disease. We need to understand the classics for ourselves and to teach our children the impact of these works on our history and philosophy.

We can reject the classical teaching approach, as the Hebrews did, but study the impact of classical literature on our culture. Our children need to understand the world’s philosophy so they can recognize and avoid it, just as a doctor must study in order to recognize disease. However, when a doctor studies a disease, he takes precautions lest he catch the disease. He does most of his studies at a distance. When he does examine a patient with the disease, he does so with limited exposure. We can teach spiritually mature students, from a biblical worldview, about the influences of the classical authors sufficiently, with historical analysis and brief excerpts, without immersing them in pagan writings.

John D. Beckett explains in his book Loving Monday: A biblical worldview has awesome implications for those of us in the secular, Greek-thinking West. As we allow it, the Bible speaks to us concerning government, economics, education, science, art, communications and business. Really, it speaks to all of life.

Abraham Joshua Heschel encapsulated this approach to study by saying that

The Greeks study in order to understand while the Hebrews study in order to revere.

God’s Word and ways are ineffable: only by doing them can one understand them.

Don’t get bogged down in the knowledge of the Greeks. Spend your time learning what the Bible says about education.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS MOVE BACK TO CLASSICAL EDUCATION?

I’m curious—what do you think about this giant movement toward classical education? What do you think about The Well Trained Mind being the most popular book for homeschoolers? Sound off in the comments section below.

Also see: Should Christians Teach Logic?

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Comments

  1. Robin, Thank you so much for your obedience to God. I had been homeschooling through a charter school until last year when my husband, through God’s leading, lead me out of my “homeschool prison”. God then lead me straight to your website. We did HOW Year 1 last year and it blessed my socks off! Your article on classical education is a great reminder that the most classical of all literature is the Word of God! Lead on brave lady–there were weeks there where the Holy Spirit led me to pray for you both day and night–so thankful to God you are on the mend. God’s richest blessings to you!

  2. Comment by Sabrina Thompson :Thank you for pointing out the Biblical reasons to reject the Classical approach.I bought the best selling book on classical education “The Well-Trained Mind” and found it to be the worst home schooling book I have read. It is impractical, irrelevant and sometimes ridiculous. This book hardly mentions Bible and when it does it is obviously Catholic.The author appears to be unaware that children learn by doing, that learning is meaningful, and that there are many ways to learn. I can’t imagine why anyone would be attracted to this book except Satan influence to get us off the Biblical course.
  3. Comment by Peggy :AMEN! We need to focus on THE living book- The Bible. We don’t need Homer and Plato answers to life without God. Nor do we need the modern teacher of the classical approach (author of The Well Trained Mind) Susan Bauer’s ideas (rigid, stifling, harsh, severe, and downright boring) zapping all the fun out of learning.Philo of Alexandria (and many others), a Hellenized Jew merged Hebrew mythical thought with Greek philosophical thought in the first century B.C. which resulted in almost 2000 years of pagan Christianity for the Catholics and a very distorted view for many protestants. Bauer doesn’t really try to merge the Bible- she just ignores it or misquotes it.
  4. Comment by Jennifer :Acckkk….guurgggll…bleh. Oh, sorry…that would be the choking out of yet another child’s joy in learning, the removing of yet another child from actual Truth. Classical homeschooling of the Greek persuasion has caused so many families, while striving for truth and excellence, to steer farther and farther away from the One who is truly excellent.Over 3 years ago, when I was a new homeschooler attempting to traverse the waters of curriculum and philosophy, a friend excitedly shared The Well Trained Mind with me, and I dutifully researched it all over the internet. Site after site claimed that it was the best thing since sliced bread, and not sharing it with my child would be an extreme injustice. So I bought SotW, along with some other recommendations, and started my child out on the path of learning for knowledge’ sake. Well, about 3 weeks into it, my 7 year old son (how open a child can be!) asked why he had to learn things that weren’t true. Manual in hand, I plunged forward, confident that I was doing what was best. Didn’t all the sites say so?A few months later, he had approached me a few more times, asking me why history contradicted God’s Word, and why his history curriculum consistently contradicted even the books it suggested he read. Well, even my trusty manual couldn’t answer that one for me…so I bravely took matters into my own hands and (gasp!) gave up the manual. We floated for a while between unit studies, workbooks, and just reading what looked good. While I felt a bit lost without a manual as a compass, this allowed me to see that I was removing him from his true Compass, and I began to search out what I should do according to God’s Word. I realized that I was given the responsibility to raise my son to be a wise, godly man that could be used by God to His glory, not a godless thinker who seeks to glorify his own knowledge and abilities. Eventually, I found Heart of Wisdom when I was searching the internet one day, and I was intrigued. I was a bit put off by yet another Classical approach, but I downloaded the free excerpts, and wow…was I impressed. A teaching approach that strives to glorify God in our children while teaching them to study to show themselves approved. I couldn’t get enough of it, but I thought there had to be a catch somewhere. I read through hundreds pages of excerpts…and there was no catch.The Hebrew approach to teaching has turned things completely around for both my son and me. He loves to learn in order to become who God would have him be, and I am constantly and consistently challenged to present knowledge of the world around him, worldviews, historical information, and scripture in a way that will truly illuminate God’s plan for him.
  5. Comment by Kim :Thank you so much for allowing God to use you to help lead Gods people OUT!!!
    Getting out of Egypt seems to be the story always told, but getting Egypt out of us is the ongoing saga of the wilderness!

    Seems like every year the pressure to go back and conform to the pagan model of education places such pressure on us. Fear that our children will not measure up to the education system and standards (standards, yeah right!!) of this world is a fear most homeschool parents go through time after time.

    Again, I must repent for “respecting” the educational gods of this world and allowing them to intimidate me back to the pagan pattern.

    All over the country, even the world, God is calling HIS people OUT. He is calling us out of the murky waters of compromise and syncretism found not only in education but in churches that are becoming more and more liberal, corrupt politics, immoral entertainment… all over the world!

    Does anyone else hear the cry of the spirit that we are hearing?…. “Who is on the Lords side, come out from among them and be ye seperate!” I believe its getting louder and louder.

    Your website and articles have blessed us beyond words as God continues to confirm what we are hearing in our spirits.

    Thank you!

  6. Comment by Kara :Thanks Robin, I have been so blessed through HOW, and I pray my children are being blessed because of that. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the idea that they need this “classical” approach to education because it is so accepted!!! It is hard not to just follow, it seems safer. But quite honestly it just doesn’t make sense when we consider what our purpose here on earth is! Thanks for continuing to very clearly spell that out!
  7. Comment by Suzanne Watkins :I do not at all like the idea that The Well Trained Mind is the best selling homeschool book! I don’t think it’s worthy of that at all and I have read it (well parts of it). As a matter of fact, I read parts of it and even bought SOTW and found it so dark and offensive to my soul that I trashed it rather than reselling it; I just plain didn’t want anyone to end up with it because I was willing to basically give it away.But, I guess here’s where I’ll get the bash, I do like another classical ed book that is VERY focused on the Bible and does not use the pagan classics. It blends perfectly and reinforces much of HOW for me. It’s called Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn and I do like it. They are serious about the Bible being foundational and permeating everything. They are also VERY serious about not treating children like recepticals and using the better late than early approach for “bookish studies” like the Moores. This is the ONLY classical resource that I have found helpful. In the early years they are much more CM like HOW is and they even focus on the fact that at any age, all literature (no matter it’s rave reviews or classical status) is not suitable or edifying to the body of Christ). I know this may be the most unpopular post in response, but I truly do not see that much difference in the Bluedorns approach and the HOW approach with the exception of HOW focusing on Hebraic roots I think the Bluedorns have actually included that in their teachings without calling it the same things, too. Just my .02; I think by blending them, I get more encouragement for homeschooling my children God’s way. I love HOWTA and am so thankful for all the encouragement. I also love the Bluedorn’s and find them equally encouraging along with the Clarksons, who minister to me greatly!
  8. Comment by admin :Thanks Suzanne. I agree. “Teaching the Trivium” is not in the same league as “The Well Trained Mind” at all. They do not recommend the pagan writings and they FOCUS on the Bible. The Bluedorn’s and the Clarksons are very encouraging! Thanks for bringing this up. No bashing here. :)
  9. Comment by Shirley Peaberry :I was appalled to see a review calling “The Well Trained Mind” the “homeschooling Bible”?!!! The only thing biblical about this book is its length. A book’s popularity doesn’t make it a classic; it merely makes it a fad.If this is what it takes to have a well-trained mind, I don’t want one. Implementing just a few of the book’s suggested methods created a joyless learning experience for my children and me. Training (instructing/drilling) and educating (developing/enlightening) are clearly not the same thing. Also If the authors have such well-trained minds, why do they take so long to make their points? The book is BORING!We should know there is a problem when EVERY private Catholic school is uses the classical appraoch.
  10. Comment by Stacy Smith :Robin,
    I was blessed to have had the Lord lead me to you before any of that stuff! I am currently reading ‘Assumptions That Affect Our Lives’ and that should be recommended reading for all homeschoolers!
    May God continue to bless you! I am praying for you.
    stacy
  11. great article Robin!
    We need to be careful not to love traditions and unfortunetly people have loved tradition above God’s truths.
    GBU,
    Eren

  12. Comment by Melanie :Robin,
    WOW! God inspires me again through your writings. I have studied HOW for a few years but this is my first applied year of embracing the method. I deeply desire for my children to be trained Biblically!
    I feel like my family’s alone in this, then at a perfect time I find an article to encourage me to hold on to the truth I know. We must not blend with the world’s methods. We are a peculiar people, a holy priesthood, set aside to be a light on a hill, to be salt to this generation. If we lose our saltiness, what good are we to God’s kingdom? Robin,May God continue to bless your ministry!! In Messiah’s Love, Melanie
  13. Comment by Kathleen :This is the key paragraph – I love it!The Greek model is comprised of three phases of learning: 1) grammar, 2) dialectic, and 3) rhetoric. It is similar to the biblical model except for the main ingredient: true wisdom cannot be gained by unaided human reason. The Greeks wanted to conform to the good and natural things of the world, but without God this is not possible.Robin, an individual who is not regenerated by the Holy Spirit will simply be unable to understand God’s ways. I dare say most people who claim to be Christians today are not actually saved, but have simply agreed with someone that they are a sinner and have “received” Christ as their Savior as a response to an open-ended invitation. God is the only one who can save a person. You can not save yourself – not even by “making a decision for Christ.” Today’s evangelism pleads with people to turn to Christ and accept Him instead of just preaching the news and letting God’s Holy Spirit convict and regenerate. Man has very little to do with saving souls. He is called to preach. God saves.Until He does, man’s understanding is darkened and no amount of “education” or logical argument will turn on the light. Prayer is the only hope.
  14. Comment by H0MEFree :It grieves me when I think of how Christians absolutely REFUSE to make Bible the center of their homes. Even worse, homeschooling Christians.

    Churches are full of children and teens who do not know the Bible! Beyond a couple stories of Noah, Adam & eve and Jesus walking on water, they do not know a thing.

    I urge new & veteran homeschoolers alike- make the Bible and study of it your priority.
    Most nod and say “I know” or “I do”, but what they really mean is that they have a Bible workbook or textbook and teach Bible as a class or subject. They totally have missed the point.

  15. Your post reminded me of when a few years ago & I became aware for the first time the many different methods of homeschooling. The classical approach seemed interesting to me so I did some research. I was co-leading a group of homeschool moms with a friend that was very structured with a classical curriculum. So I dealved more deeply & kept trying to implement it, but something just kept stopping me. I tried to read books on the classical approach & it just didn’t make much sense to me. Everytime I would share some it with my husband he was quick to say, “I don’t want my kids taught like that, go back the scriptures.” His wisdom saved me so many tiems from going the wrong direction in our school. Now, we are firm in our “approach”. IT is all based on the word of God and teaching our children how to live an abundant life based on His precepts. Thanks again Robin!

  16. Comment by Yeshua_is_Lord :Shalom my Beloved Sister }}!I hear/feel the cry of your precious spirit and when I got your e-mail, I wanted to write in to you and comment as you’ve requested.By the GRACE and MERCY of Abba Father Alone, He has given me a “grieving/conviction” to AVOID this type of material for my own reading/consumption, let alone to “feed” to our children, whom the Lord has Blessed/Entrusted us with their care for these years (and how FAST these years are passing :o)Robin, I’m so excited and blessed that The Holy Spirit is actually leading me and our family to “feed on” Jesus in a “new” way for our family. He has given me a Strong Desire to Call my Jesus Yeshua now too. The Holy Spirit is saying to me, yes…that’s okay, call Him Yeshua–don’t be ashamed/afraid/hesistant/proud to and The Holy Spirit Inviting/Calling us to Join Him in the Feasting on Jesus/Yeshua thru learning (and simultaneously teaching) our children about our Hebrew Roots of our Beloved Christian Faith. (MINUS and being ever mindful against any and ALL pride/superiority that *may* rear it’s ungodly head in our lives because of this “new” way of Seeking His Wonderful Face and that our total Focus MUST on Jesus (and NOT making the external an object of idoltry–which He is warning me is easy to do/fall into, if we are led by our flesh and understanding instead of His Holy Spirit Alone…of course :o)It’s actually AMAZING that I got your e-mail, because the Holy Spirit has just started “wooing” me just about a week now to begin this Fantastic Journey of Discovery and Deeper Love/Obedience to our Heavenly Father!

    We’re very much looking forward to checking your Biblical Holidays out from the library. It’s actually coming thru inter-library loan and will take about 6 weeks for me to actually get it. It’s totally worldy/sad how our BIG CITY library has little or NO books on Hebrew Roots of Christianity, at all–but if I were looking for ANYTHING on “classical” education or anything pagan…tons and tons books available. So WHAT! I’m counting it all joy anyway–knowing that God’s Ways are NOT our ways.

    That’s another thing the Holy Spirit is daily whispering to me in regard to us accepting His Invitation to discover This is a “new” way of Feeding on Jesus AND seeking God’s Heart/Wisdom on His Ways of Old and to understand more the Heart of Jesus and what His earthly lifestyle/background was when He walked this earth and Taught/Called people in Israel), that’s what our Sweet Holy Spirit is leading me to learn and teach our children from now on. The Scripture verse He’s gave me in this “Mission” is:

    “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” Proverbs 22:28 and

    And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Exodus 12:14

    Our family is VERY interested in learning more about this (the meaning of Biblical Holidays and how they related to the Coming of Jesus and Fulfillment of The Old Testament too…

    Robin, I’ve been praying for you and thinking about you and this e-mail you’ve sent about Classical Education. Here’s is what The Holy Spirit wants me to ask you and then share with you about this matter:

    1.) Robin…are you praying/interceeding with deep groanings and consistency for these folks(OH PLEASE DON’T ANSWER THAT HERE, OKAY:o), If not, PLEASE do :o) For Father’s Sake and theirs.

    2.) NOTE: Robin, NO MATTER how many hundreds or thousands of times you’ve read this text of Holy Scripture, READ it again BEGGING Abba to open the eyes of your beautiful spirit and give you a FRESH revelation/illumination on this text and PLEASE Beg Father to show you how He wants you to think/react/believe regarding this matter of the worldliness of classical education. (PLEASE don’t forget to REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS and again I say Rejoice while you’re counting this seemingly grievious matter of Classical education being a stumbling block to untold thousands of saints, counting it ALL JOY, Because Our God IS Alive and He Rules and Reigns and Know/Sees ALL and Jesus/Yeshua in Lord and in TOTAL control of EVERYTHING :o)…We MUST Remember that and Trust Him with all our spirits and NOT trust our DESPERATELY Wicked hearts.

    The Sermon on the Mount
    1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.

    The Beatitudes
    3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
    4 God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

    5 God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
    6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.
    7 God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
    9 God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
    10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
    11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.

    12 Be happy about it! Be very glad!

    For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

    Teaching about Salt and Light
    13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

    14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

    Teaching about the Law
    17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.

    19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    **** 20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!****

    Teaching about Anger
    21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone,you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot,you are in danger of being brought before the court.

    And if you curse someone,you are in danger of the fires of hell.

    23 “So if you are presenting a sacrificeat the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

    25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.

    Teaching about Adultery
    27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye[l]—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand[m]—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.

    It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

    Teaching about Divorce
    31 “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.
    Teaching about Vows

    33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. 35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black.

    37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’
    or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
    Teaching about Revenge

    ****** 38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[q] carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.********

    Teaching about Love for Enemies
    43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[r] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies!Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

    Signed,

    A sister in Christ

  17. Comment by Penney Douglas :Hi Robin,I’ve just started reading, or should I say, devouring the HOWTA. I’ve read samples from your website and I’ve read parts of What Your Child Needs to Know When, but now I can hold the HOWTA book in my hand, and read over and over again until it sinks in what you are really saying, and I’m finally getting it. I’ve learned to let the Spirit lead in our homeschooling more and more. He has never led me to the Classical approach, even though it seemed attractive to me several years ago, because it seemed like a way for me to have very polished, well-educated students who could hold their own in any intellectual debate or other setting where they would need to have superior thinking skills. It seemed like the best way to educate, because I wanted my kids to have well-trained minds. I just liked that concept. Well, I never got anywhere near it. The Lord never led me to buy the book or really try to research the methods at all. I didn’t know why. Now I know why, thanks to you! I’ve been using your ideas, on a shoestring, for about a year now. I have been studying the Bible with my kids and using teachable moments to really discuss things as they come up in life. We are really applying the Bible to issues we deal with such as jealousy, sibling rivalry, pride, anger, love, sharing, rejoicing with others when they rejoice and weeping with others when they weep, etc.

    I’ve tried to teach more like Jesus did, since I’ve started really digging into the HOWTA. The Bible reading has been fascinating, using the Narrated Bible. Your recommendations have been so helpful and spiritually inspiring. We never would have learned such things from trying to use the classical approach because we would have been so caught up in knowledge that we wouldn’t have had time to seek wisdom. I’m really starting to see the difference between the two. I’m starting to really value wisdom, too. And I feel very good about teaching my children true wisdom.

    I am concerned about the many homeschoolers that are just “doing school” at home instead of ministering and really teaching their children in the ways of the Lord. I’ve seen some homeschooled children who are bored, legalistic, obnoxious, worldly, etc, and I don’t believe that God is being honored or put first in their homeschooling, or they wouldn’t be turning out that way. I think your challenge to homeschoolers to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead them in their home schooling is a wake-up call to many home schooling moms who are just going through the motions or doing what seems right to them or whatever is popular. And we need to pray without ceasing for all of the Christian homeschoolers to start really relying on the Holy Spirit to lead them. I know He will lead them to what is good and wholesome, and I know that He will lead them to His Word first! I personally know many homeschoolers who are only doing it because they know the public schools are not right for their children, but they would put them in Christian school if they could afford it. They see homeschooling as a last resort. I see it as the very best way to educate and train and raise up our children in the way that they should go, if we do it His way. Heart of Wisdom is the best way I’ve seen to do it His way. I haven’t really researched other similar approaches. God led me here, and I’m happy with the fruit I’ve seen in myself and my children from using this approach.

    Robin, thank you for sounding the alarm, and helping others to see the danger in using false measures of what comprises a “good” education. God is using you mightily. Keep on going with all He’s leading you to do. It is a great work. I’ll pray for you, my sister, for strength and wisdom and every spiritual blessing!

    Love,
    Penney

  18. Comment by Penney Douglas :I’m sorry for not leaving breaks for paragraphs. I guess my post isn’t the easiest to read. Sorry about that. I was kind of in a hurry :)
  19. Comment by Stacy :Robin,We are in our second year of homeschooling. I found the HOW website during the time I was praying about homeschooling. Your article about Classical education on the website helped me so much. If I had not read that article I could have been one of those new homeschooling families that began using classical education curriculum because I was very new and inexperienced.
  20. Discernment and wisdom come from experience, prayer and warfare. When we are “new” to something we most often lack that discernment and wisdom. I was very thankful that you shared this information on your site. It is very convicting. I feel that the enemy is using classical education just as he is using “religion” and replacement theology to mask the truth from Christians. Anytime we remove God’s Word from our lives and our decision making processes we are opening a door for the enemy to enter in and wreak havoc in our lives. These two scriptures came to mind while I was thinking about how to comment:Romans 12:2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.Matthew 6:33Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

    When I reflect on all the mistakes or hard times I’ve gone through in my life, I always see where I didn’t allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and I didn’t go to the Word of God for directions. He gave us a handbook full of truth. Each scripture has more than one layer of information. The more we study and read the Word, the more the Lord can show us. When we don’t teach our children the Word of God, not only are we walking in disobedience, but we are depriving them of the only thing that will help them through their walk in this life and keep them on the straight and narrow path to Jesus. Our live are not about man….IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS!

    Blessings,
    Stacy

  21. Paul was concerned that no false teacher take the Colossian believers captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.

    Any man-made philosophy that has no place for Christ is unworthy of our consideration. We are rich in Him; why lower ourselves to follow man-made doctrines? Let religious teachers come along with their “hidden doctrines”; we have all wisdom hidden in Christ, and we are “hid with Christ in God” (3:3).

    Paul wrote not against all philosophy but against false philosophy, as the Bible also speaks against false religion (James 1:26). The particular false philosophy at Colosse was “hollow” (kenes, “empty”), “deceptive,” and based on human tradition . . . rather than on Christ. True Christian philosophy “take[s] captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

    Philosophy is the love of wisdom, but if one loves wisdom that is not Christ (the Sum of all wisdom, Col. 2:3), he loves an empty idol. Such a one will be “always clearning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).

    This kind of philosophy is based on the world’s basic principles (stoicheia, “elementary principles” or “elemental spirits” (Col. 2:20; Gal. 4:3, 9). This may refer to the evil spirits who inspire such heresy and over whom Christ triumphed (cf. 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 6:11-12). Such a philosophy is demonic and worldly, not godly or Christlike.

    Unless believers are careful, such philosophy may ensnare them, taking them “captive.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

    So burdened was Paul, he was in spiritual conflict, wrestling in prayer against Satan who was seeking to lead these believers astray. Paul knew how to overcome Satan—prayer and the Word of God (Eph. 6:17–18).

    He longed to see the saints united in Christ, enjoying the riches of blessing in Him. The false teachers had their fascinating philosophies, but in Christ we have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (v. 3).

    Man’s philosophies are attractive. They give a show of wisdom and intelligence, and too often young Christians are “beguiled” by these “enticing words” (v. 4).

    How tragic it is when young people go off to secular schools and fall prey to man-made philosophies that deny Jesus Christ and the Bible. “Beware lest any man take you captive” (spoil you—v. 8), warns the apostle. How is the believer to overcome these philosophies? By walking in faith and growing in Christ.

    As you were saved by faith, so walk by faith. As you were saved by the Word, so walk according to the Word. As you were saved through the work of the Spirit, so walk in the Spirit. The Christian life continues as it began, by faith in God.

    Have roots that dig down into the richness of the Word. Have foundations that are strong, laid upon Jesus Christ. How important it is to be taught the Word of God! Believers fall prey to religious philosophies unless they are rooted in Christ, grounded in the Word, and built up in Bible truth.
    (Wiersbe, W. W.)

    Bottom Line: The Biblical concept of education was not “to impart knowledge” or to “prepare oneself intellectually”. It was to produce holiness and to impart a distinctive lifestyle. When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus about the importance of teaching in the Church, his concept of education was Hebrew, not the popular Greek classical of the day.

  22. I completely agree with you Robin. It seems to me that the “new” found classical approach is nothing more than a redressed lie from the enemy of our souls; Satan. He roams about seeking whom he may devour and with the classical approach teaching the things of the pagans he has an open door to the minds of children.

    The Word of God is our foundation and should be given and taught to our children as our foundation. All else is sinking sand.

    Here are a few Scriptures that all Christian families would do well to heed.

    Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

    Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the Armour of light.

    Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

    Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

  23. I agree that is why I chose not to go with classical education. I chose HOW and combining student of the word to use for my children.

  24. Robin,
    I am so glad you wrote HOWTA and other articles about this issue. Because we as true believers are in the Diaspora, it is hard not to be influenced by the world’s philosophy of education. Long ago, before I came to the Hebrew roots of the faith, the Father showed me that “Christian” education was just like the world’s…it just had a few Bible verses thrown in, maybe some “Christian” books, prayer before class, chapel, etc. (I went to Christian school and Christian college so I feel qualified to make this assessment.)
    Even now, I am still learning HOW to teach my children from a Biblical perspective and being led daily by the Ruach/Spirit. His ways/thoughts are not the world’s ways/thoughts. They are HIGHER! We must be careful not to let the world press us into its mold (Rom. 12:1). I feel like I am on a journey, like Abraham…I know where I’m leaving, but not quite sure where I am going! :) But HE knows, so I just strive to follow Him day by day.
    It is my belief we are entering the last 7 year Biblical cycle…we are preparing for Yeshua’s return to rule and reign and we will not necessarily be spared the hard times coming on this world leading up to the time of His return. I want my children to be prepared for whatever He has for us in these next few years. How will classical education prepare them for THAT?
    So…as far as classical education, I see it as a last ditch effort by the Enemy of our souls to snatch our children/families away. We are commanded not to learn the way of the heathen. He does not like mixture! So we cannot take something that is founded on worldly philosophy and make it Biblical! BEWARE whenever you hear someone say, “All truth is God’s truth.” That is usually from someone who is NOT basing their thinking solely on Scripture.
    Keep up the good work Robin. And I am glad to see you moving from the DC area…for your protection.
    Shalom,
    Cindy in eastern NC

  25. Wow! Wonderful words of wisdom and many of the comments above fit my heart’s desire.

    Thank you for sharing this :) (and I look forward the book list that you link to).

    BTW, my Spiritual Sunday is up here:
    http://www.traininghearts.com/blog/?p=475

    Blessings, Tamara
    http://www.TrainingHearts.com

  26. I started out with WTM, loving the “intellectual” approach to homeschooling, reading “Repairing the Ruins” and other books by Christian classical-schooling authors. SOTW was a real disappointment, Baruch HaShem!!!

    Robin, your words and concern about the classical approach really resonated with me with I found HOW and I knew I wanted more Bible than greek philosophy in teaching my girls! HOW has really impacted my whole approach to homeschooling!

    I have many homeschooling friends who love the classical approach, and I have shared with them, gently, some of the concerns. I’ve found many to be receptive, and shared my copy of HOWTA with many. One thing I’ve gently shared is that the classical approach is the basis of humanism – it’s where the secular humanistic culture we have comes from.

    When they ask what “curriculum” I use for Bible, I say, just use the Bible. I use the NKJV and my 5 year old has no problem. I also remind them to focus on Israel for ancient history, and that immersing themselves and their children in the Bible & Biblical culture can only have a wonderful effect on them all!

    And to Him who sits at the Right Hand of the Father be all the glory!

    Shalom and L’Shanah Tovah!
    Pati in WA

  27. Robin,
    Thank you, once again, for your godly wisdom and insight. If only I had discovered your approach to education five years ago when I first began my research into homeschooling.
    My oldest daughter was then only 3 years old, and a very well-intentioned friend tried to mentor me and suggested several homeschooling books for me to read, one of which was The Well-Trained Mind. She said that it was a “must-have for every homeschooling mom, whether you decide to use the classical method or not”. (Another one she recommended was Gayle Graham’s “How to Home School– A Practical Approach”, which I love…these books are quite the opposites, I think).
    In an effort to educate myself about how to homeschool, I bought WTM and read it. I was not only overwhelmed by the book, but also discouraged and confused. I wanted to give my daughter a ‘good’ education, but the approach seemed rigid, academically strenuous, and quite frankly, boring. (I did not know enough about Greek vs. Hebrew education to make a judgment about it from that perspective.)
    I kept the book on my shelf, knowing that I would never implement a classical education but thinking I might ‘need’ some bit of information from it at some point. I think the only real benefit I gleaned from its many pages was the idea of keeping notebooks for certain subjects. That and the fact that I think it drove me to search for a far different approach to teach my children. (I finally decided that the book was a waste of space on my precious bookshelves and sold it last year at convention. Had I been able to read your article first, I may have been inclined to trash it instead.)
    For the first couple of years, we went with Sonlight and that worked okay for us. I really loved the idea of a literature-based approach, but I still felt that something did not quite fit or was missing. I leaned heavily toward giving the Charlotte Mason approach a try, but was too chicken to totally give up workbooks and other traditional methods (I forgot to mention that I have a M.Ed. in secondary science education, but I am retraining my thinking about education… all those years learning and teaching in public schools makes for a hard habit to break :o).
    A couple of years ago, I found your web-site while doing a search on notebooking. I have been totally blessed by the e-group and your blog articles and all the information on your site. I have learned so much without even reading HOWTA (which I have purchased and plan to read by this year).
    We have implemented Bible reading/study as the first part of our daily lessons. And I am weaning off workbooks in favor of learning- by-doing. My children and I are enjoying learning together even more as I learn to relax and not worry about checking off my little boxes as we complete a lesson (though I do still keep a lesson plan, but try to use it more as a guide and not an inflexible plan).
    I plan to begin using the HOW year-one in a couple of years when my oldest is in 5th grade. I so look forward to doing the studies with her. By the way, I looked over the classical book list, and my eyes glazed over by the middle of the 10th grade list. Your book list is far more appealing with several books that we have already read and many we look forward to reading.
    Well, I got long-winded without intending it, but Robin, I just want to thank you for your heart in sharing the wisdom and knowledge that God gives you about His ways and the opportunity for us to share in response to your teaching. I pray rich, abundant blessing on you and you family as you continue to seek and share His Truth.

    In the Fullness of His Love,
    Kelly in GA

  28. Dear Robin:

    Here is our experience with Classical Education. After having pursued a classical education for some time with our children we began to see disturbing streams of common thought. Basically, that “I am what I think” and “I think due to the wonderful literature to which I’ve been exposed” and an attitude that the Bible is fine as an educational tool as long as it’s kept in its place…its very little place on the shelf alongside all the other intellectual pursuits called “education.” I began to feel a twinge of caution, but disregarded it. After all, we were creating well-trained minds, right?!? Wasn’t that the most important goal of education?

    When we began studies of the roots of our faith right alongside Classical Ed. we saw vast differences in educational approach as well as religious mindset. As we went deeper into what we considered some of the “Founding Fathers of our Faith,” (all the way to Constantine), we asked ourselves why had these men striven so desperately to obliterate everything Hebrew from our religious practices??? What was so wrong about Hebraic lifestyle, worship, and thought that was so abhorrent to them? Wasn’t our collective Messiah a Jew??? Without going into detail (you can find more than enough information on this easily for yourselves w/o my risking general offense here), we became so disturbed by the message of Greco-Roman Classical Education & its anti-semitic bent — basically, that all information of value comes from the Greek cultures & great minds of worldly thought of that era and that our responsibility as parents was to make sure that our kids are as intelligent & talented as we can possibly make them (outward appearance of perfection)– that we discarded the C.E. approach lock, stock, and barrel. I was most disturbed by the fact that it took us a year and a half to fully realize how insidious this approach can be as it takes over the whole mindset of a family & home educating community.

    When an educational approach makes my children blend in and actually supercede their worldly counterparts, intelligence- and talent-wise, it begs the question: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” We must remember that we have been called “chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…peculiar…” that we should show forth the praises of Him who has called us OUT of darkness into His marvellous Light. Different. If we are not different than the world, then what’s the point of calling ourselves His? If we are teaching our children based on Greek standards, then we are not following the God who has made abundantly clear “What fellowship has Light with darkness?”

    I pray that those considering a Classical approach are more discerning than I was. I pray that they will learn from the experience of those who have gone before them, tried it, and regret the experiment deeply. I pray that our precious Father will impart wisdom to the homeschooling community at large by granting boldness to those who have the opportunity to influence many — thank the Lord for families such as the Sampson’s — to speak forth that wisdom and save innumerable children from growing up to think more highly of themselves than they ought due to an education steeped in the philosophy of self and self-actualization brought to them through an educational philosophy based upon Greek classical literature, not upon God and His commands to His children. Whose children ARE we? Let’s look to our Father for His guidance and discard the so-called wisdom of man.

    Sincerely & tremblingly His,
    Elisa

  29. Amein Elisa!

  30. God bless you, Robin, for your heart and your obedience to God’s Word. The path of education, in general, is disconcerting. Not only do they expect all children to learn things that of no Kingdom value, they expect us to blindly follow them down that road, regardless of the fact that we homeschool. I have purposely chosen NOT to follow the “world” and teach my children from the Bible. I don’t care if they ever hear or learn anything by Plato, Socrates, or any of the other classical authors. If it doesn’t acknowledge and honor God and His Word, it’s not going to be used in this homeschool! God bless you and I am praying for your continued recovery,
    Mara

  31. Dear Robin,
    I’ve noticed a cycle in my fairly new homeschooling experience. Every time I have begun to fear I look again at the Well-Trained Mind and the Story of the World series. Then when I repent and put my trust back in our Saviour, where it should be all the time, He leads me back to HOW just like that first time over a year ago.

    Thank you for your humble spirit to obey HIM, your failful example and encouragement.
    Sandy M. (in Portland, TN):)

  32. Sorry for the typo…..It was supposed to say ‘faithful example’
    Sandy M.

  33. I must say that I was very blessed when I came upon your Web site. I have been trying to explain to people about Greek education for quite a long time but it seems that they all think that is where the wisdom and knowledge comes from. I really like your article and your Web site. May the Lord continue to bless you and your ministry. May He also bless those who have taken the command to “teach your children” seriously.

  34. HI Robin,
    Once again, you have expressed my belief’s much more eloquently than I ever could! I praise God for “teachers” like you that help ME to keep my focus on training my children for the Lord’s glory and not for man’s (or MOM’s) glory!! Thank you for your faithulness in spreading the Word God has give you.
    Deanne

  35. [...] week I found Robin’s article on Classical Education inspiring.  It’s very interesting and she is seeking input so I thought I would feature it [...]

  36. I have been a subscriber for awhile and a reader for a long time. My children’s favorite curriculum has been Adam to Messiah. This has been the *** BEST *** article regarding classical education I have ever read. I totally agree with you. I met with a well-known author of a classical curriculum once. Every fiber of my being was screaming NOT to follow this. First, I had a problem introducing my young children to Greek ideals. I discussed with her that most importantly my goals for home education are to 1-develop my children in Biblical ways so they will establish their own relationship with the Lord and 2-a lifelong love for learning. I did not see where the classical method supported either of these. My children love to go off on rabbit trails and if in the process of memorizing all those facts they want to learn more about something, I am told they have to wait until it is covered in x year. If my children express a desire to learn, I will not tell them no. If I wanted to depress their curiosity and immerse them in worldly ways of thinking, I would have sent them to public school!!

  37. [...] are doing it, ever thought about doing it, heard of it (you have now ) please go over and read the best article I have ever read concerning it. And if you would like a really good Ancient World History program [...]

  38. Hi Robin,
    I’m sorry it’s been a while since I last visited – summer busy-ness and all, but I just wanted to pop in before I even have read your post and say how much (or should I say “HOW much” lol)I appreciate you and your ministry and your willingness to stand up for the TRUTH. I am soooooooo with you 100% on Classical Ed., I have even pondered writing a book about/against such. I’m sending this post to my email so I can read a hard copy of it in the morning – in my comfy chair.
    Love you.
    Best Wishes for your move and wishing you continued healing.
    Shalom & Blessings to You and Yours!

  39. Robin,

    I have to say that I enjoy the HOW. The Well Trained Mind is not the final authority on a Classical Education (I personally do not like it at all). A true classical education has little to do with unbiblical classical literature, but rather with the stages of learning. It is not all joyless, rote learning, but rather organized, thoughtful learning. I have classically educated my children for 9 years following recommended methods in Teaching the Trivium, including a dyslexic child. They have prospered both in their minds as well as in their hearts. I have children who love the Lord and have a passion for His word and truths and I am saddened that your posters assume, rather falsely, that all classical educators remove God from their homeschool and pursue knowledge not wisdom. I think there are many, many methods of home educating, and that one particular philosophy does not mean that the Lord is not central. I hope your readers will actually look back over their posts and see the judgement they are putting forth. It seems rather unbiblical in and of itself.

  40. After I left my last comment, I felt I really wanted to say one thing more. I think as homeschoolers, we need to do our best to support one another. I know I am doing what I absolutely believe is the very best I can to train my children up to be wise, biblical thinkers who have a heart for God. But as I began pondering all of the previous posts, I realized as well that many of those posting have probably encountered others who are arrogant in their choice of curriculum, certainly some who are Classical educators. So for those of you who have never encountered humility from a Classical educator, may I humbly submit to you that not all classical educators are cut from one mold? I hope that each and every reader pursues God first and has a blessed journey in their homeschool.

  41. I understand what you are saying, Julie. I am not familiar with Teaching the Trivium, although I have heard of it.
    Robin is trying to get back to the source of education the way YHWH intended. She has sought out the source of classical education which is from Greek philosophy, which is humanistic. The question we need to ask is can we take something that is humanistic at the core and “Christianize” it? I don’t believe it can be done, but that is my opinion.
    I am glad you are pleased with how your children are turning out. Praise His Name! May we all seek to do His Will in the education of our children.
    Cindy in eastern NC

  42. While I understand that any curriculum or plan can be used in a way that is not Christ centered, that does not mean that just because you follow the outline of a certain book or method you are therefore doing what those others are doing. Does that sound as garbled as it seems, lol?

    I enjoyed reading the WTM book because it gave me a lot of helpful suggestions that I have utilized successfully in our homeschooling. I use notebooks…just not one for every subject. I love using dictation to see how well my children grasp a topic and their memorization skills are phenomenal after having used this method for two years now. We memorize scripture and use the WTM methods for having them stand straight and still, look at their audience, and speak clearly. I think it’s improved their public speaking skills enormously and they love to show off all the poetry and scripture they’ve memorized.

    The WTM suggestions for what order to teach science in have been very helpful to me, whereas before reading that book I was floundering in a sea of information. It also made me realize that it’s okay to focus on learning as many facts (multiplication tables, states & capitols, etc.) as possible while they are young and soak it up like a sponge. That way they will be ready to use this foundational knowledge when they are studying subjects more in depth during middle and high school.

    We are reading the SOTW, volume 1, currently and have enjoyed it immensely. I like that they are getting a good overview of chronological history at a young age and we consider the stories from other cultures to be a sort of “social studies” and a jumping off point for discussing how these groups departed from biblical truth.

    So, to sum it up, I read many different books and websites about homeschooling methods and then I use them in a way that we feel is pleasing to God and gives our children a broad education with a biblical view point while still being orderly, but not rigid.

    Jess

  43. Doesn’t it bother anyone that the Catholics all use this educational approach WAY before it began fad in homeschooling? Thomas Aquinas’s (the patron saint of education) loved classical education methods and Greek philosophiers.

  44. Jess,

    I understand what you are saying but I completely disagree and your post confirms Robin’s point why classical is so dangerous!

    Homeschoolers get excited about WTM because chronological history, 3 levels of learning, memorization, etc seem so good compared to dry textbooks. This is COMPLETLY missing the main point.

    Robin does not object to the teaching methods. She objects to the PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE METHODS. Just as the philosophy behind the public school is humanistic– classical education is HUMANISTIC. This does not mean all the mothods public school or classical uses are bad or wrong but it does mean we need to be AWARE of the underlying philosophy!

    I (like you) teach the chronological history, Latin roots, memory work, etc. That’s not classical, they are teaching methods that work (actually more Hebrew than Greek).

    The thing Robin objects to is the books on the”Great Book” list, 95% of which promote humanistic thinking. Let me repeat, The books on the “Great Book” list PROMOTE HUMANISTIC THINKING. What logic is there in learning about men whose lives were morally opposed to our own?

    The “great” Greek philosophers were so morally depraved, anti-God, and anti-Semitic. Why do you want your children to learn from them? Hitler used successful teaching methods too. Should we follow him? You don’t have to follow Catholic author using humanistic authors to use methods that work.

    I am sure there are Christians using these methods that love the Lord and focus on Bible but I also have to say I never met one. Every single person I know using this approach (well over 20 in the last few years) are wrapped up in pride and superior attitude. Any conversation that shed a negative light on classical made them defensive.

    Robin’s book explains the subtle deceptions between Greek and Hebrew thought that most people are not aware of. She recommends we learn about and teach our worldviews before reading Greek philosophy!

    God cares about what we THINK about. He wants us to renew our minds according to His word not according to Susan Bauer, Homer, Thales, Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle

    Again, I understand what you are saying. The approaches seem good–but what is under the surface? Satan always throws in truth with his deceptive ways to keep us off guard.

    Have you read anything on worldviews?

  45. [...] or “Classical Education (for one of the BEST articles I have read on Classical Education click here), a Lifestyle of Learning or even “Family worship”. Yes, home education is a good thing and [...]

  46. The information in this post is not new for people who are familiar with the HOW method.
    However, I am glad you posted it.
    I have gotten to the point where I am beginning to feel classical ed is evil.

  47. I liked this article very much! Thank you for the encouragement.

  48. Dear Robin, Thanks for a very well done piece. Articulate, straightforward and right on!!!! My oldest of seven is 20 and I’ve done the homeschool thing throughout. I love my life and that whole classic approach, exhausted me just thinking about it. I knew it wouldn’t work for me but some of your points I had never even thought of. I am now more grounded to share with others as I have young mom’s ask me a lot of things. I just came across you as a resource today, I’ve been in the dark about you too. It will be a pleasure to share your info. Thanks for your commitment and sharing your wisdom with me/us. Joyfully, Pam Rinas

  49. I was so glad to finally see someone saying what I’d been thinking! I want my child to have a solid education, but I just can’t see the value in concentrating so much time and energy on pagan “classics.” A general knowledge of the subject matter or story-line is plenty.

  50. I’m a bit confused. My children attend a Classical School and they teach using the trivium. However they also teach the Bible. I’m afraid I don’t really understand the Classical method of education. I ready some info about it on a website and began studying it in depth after I realized that the school does not teach Black History nor did it show any interest in the Inauguration. We are an African-American family and the school where my children attend is geared toward drawing inner-city African American children although there are some Caucasian students. They keep saying they want the children to be multicultural but teach the children nothing about their own culture. What I read says this about teaching them their own culture: 3) It gives all children competence in the current system of language and allusion that is dominant in the nation’s economic and intellectual discourse.

    This third requirement raises a question about including a strong element of the so- called “dominant” culture. Common sense and experience both dictate caution in trying to revolutionize American culture through the school curriculum by neglecting or even rejecting the currently dominant culture. That would simply harm children who are in most need of help. In order to get a good job a young person must be able to communicate in speech and writing in the standard language and allusion- system of the marketplace. Since this system of intellectual currency is in broad use by millions of adults, it is a highly stable system that is slow to change. Hence, in order not to penalize students, schools must include as part of the curriculum the system of language and allusion that is currently in place.

    This means that a cosmopolitan, centrist curriculum will initiate evolutionary rather than revolutionary change in American culture. Nonetheless, wherever there is an opportunity for fostering greater cosmopolitanism, it should be encouraged as insistently as is feasible without injuring any child’s practical chances in life.

    As earnestly as I welcome this movement towards a multicultural redefinition of American culture, I must quickly add that the issue of multicultural redefinition must not distract us from the issue of educational excellence and fairness in areas beyond the history and literature curriculum. For even after our curricula have included many more elements of African, African-American, Native American, Asian, and Latino culture, we still face the task of giving all children a good education.

    It will do black American children little good, for example, to learn a lot about their African and African- American past if they still cannot read and write effectively, do not understand natural science, and cannot solve basic mathematical problems. In the information age, such educational defects simply prolong victimization by keeping people in menial jobs, if there happen to be enough menial jobs to go around. The only kind of multiculturalism that can overcome this victimization is the kind that invites all children to become active, effective members of the larger cosmopolis. Every child should be able to read a serious book or training manual. Every child should be able to communicate with strangers in the larger society, give a talk to unknown fellow citizens, and to understand what is being said in such communications.

    Cosmopolitanism is a true friend of diversity. It is the only valid multiculturalism for the modern era. Only a cosmopolitan, centrist core curriculum can enable all children to be well educated. The great ethnic diversity of America is not going to disappear just because we adults decide to empower children with a core of commonly shared knowledge — a common school-based culture in addition to their home culture. If we Americans are to choose between the narrow ideal of ethnic loyalty and the broad ideal of social fairness, let us without hesitation choose fairness. To me that seems a bit racist because it teaches them that the “dominant” culture is White European and that’s how they should pattern themselves. Someone please help me understand so that I won’t misinterpret what I’m reading. Thanks.

  51. Robin summarizes Greek society and education by stating, “Pursuing knowledge without God is a recipe for disaster.” However, it strikes me that since God created the world and everything in it, there is great value that can be gleaned from even pagan methodologies and education styles. Paul cites Greek poems to Zeus while he speaks on the Areopagus about the “Unknown God”; this implies that pagan religious poetry is useful for understanding how God operates and interacts with mankind.

  52. Excellent article with many good points. However the idea that, “Historians concur that they [the Greeks] were destroyed by moral decay,” is very misleading. It is abundantly evident to me that historians do no such thing. The Greeks had rivalry and division working against them, not moral decay. (That was Rome’s problem.)

    “All of these accomplishments came from a group of small city-states in ancient Greece. And yet Greek civilization also contains an element of tragedy. For all of their brilliant accomplishments, the Greeks were unable to rise above the divisions and rivalries that caused them to fight each other and undermine their own civilization.” (Western Civilization, Volume I: To 1715, Jackson J. Spielvogel)

    Rome ultimately conquered Greece, but not before trying to fix them. In 196 B.C. Rome brokered the freedom of the Greeks from Macedonian rule and spent the next fifty years trying to broker a peace between the warring factions without taking direct control of their lands. This was because Rome loved everything Greek, even importing Greek tutors for their children. Rome’s love for everything Greek, and adoption of so much Greek culture was to such an extent that some historians have even stated that Rome was, in large measure, a continuation of Greek culture. Unable to fix the Greeks, Rome conquered them. Greece simply “fell” to an overwhelming military might.

    I actually agree with Robin that the study of the Bible should take pre-eminence over classical education. People who have HAD that “Classical Greek education” are the very ones who most need to hear Robin’s message.

  53. Can you go in to more detail about the differences between “Classical Greek” and a “classical approach” that is well steeped in the Bible?


Comments (19)

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  1. Lee says:

    Out of curiosity, why not teach both and let the children decide?

  2. Peter Rubel says:

    Jesus is the apex of the revelation of God. The progressive canon was effectively completed with Jesus and the writings of Scripture together are uniquely sufficient to prepare the people of God for every possible good work (cf 2 Tim 3:17). No other source, text or set of texts provides the same infallible framework enabling the Spirit-filled reader to know and please God.

    The human authors of the Scriptural text also wrote within and toward a wide variety of cultural circumstances, and often presume certain linguistic and other knowledge, external to the text, to interpret the text. Further, the text infallibly comments on a wide variety of cultural circumstances. It alternately demands or presumes that the people of God interact with the culture(s) they encounter.

    Warning against the dangers of culture is a dominant theme of the text, but understanding, using, and addressing culture, sometimes with favor, is also frequently either presumed or taught. Theologians talk of “common grace,” here meaning that the wisdom and knowledge of Aristotle or contemporary non-Christian writers and teachers are often in line with God’s created order and not inconsistent with the Bible. Typically, in merging the horizons of Scripture and culture (borrowing Anthony Thiselton’s metaphor), the Christian pleases and obeys God.

    Except where need arises to flee temptation, failure to engage the culture is isolationism, which usually denies mission and calling. On the flip side, to be part of the world, but fail to follow the text of Scripture is to deny the distinctive character and actions of the people of God, to become worldly in Apostle John’s sense. Intimately engaging both Scripture and culture are essential to most aspects of Christian education.

    For the Christian, there are debated pros and cons of classical Greek versus more contemporary educational models, although the principial tension between Scripture and culture is fundamentally the same on both sides. Or it should be, in my view.

    May I then propose that aside from various loose morals enhanced by contemporary forms of education, a segment of classical education proponents may simply be reacting against the prevalent lack of mental discipline in study, perceiving in classical education the hope of a return to superior mental acuity. You do well, I think, to point out the loose morals of ancient Greek writers. (Ironically, even Plato complained of the disrespect and unruly behavior of youth in his day.)

    Of course, knowledge puffs up (to use the KJV language). Pride may be another motivating factor behind the waning push toward classical ed.

    Lastly, in affirmation of what you posted, only the Scriptures, combined with the resurrecting power of the Spirit, are able to make the student “wise unto salvation.” Spiritually blind teachers will only lead their students into a pit as far as the gospel and (often) ethics is concerned (alluding of course to one of Jesus’ metaphors).

  3. Tamara says:

    Robin, Thank you so much for your obedience to God. I had been homeschooling through a charter school until last year when my husband, through God’s leading, lead me out of my “homeschool prison”. God then lead me straight to your website. We did HOW Year 1 last year and it blessed my socks off! Your article on classical education is a great reminder that the most classical of all literature is the Word of God! Lead on brave lady–there were weeks there where the Holy Spirit led me to pray for you both day and night–so thankful to God you are on the mend. God’s richest blessings to you!

  4. Sabrina Thompson says:

    Thank you for pointing out the Biblical reasons to reject the Classical approach.

    I bought the best selling book on classical education “The Well-Trained Mind” and found it to be the worst home schooling book I have read. It is impractical, irrelevant and sometimes ridiculous. This book hardly mentions Bible and when it does it is obviously Catholic.

    The author appears to be unaware that children learn by doing, that learning is meaningful, and that there are many ways to learn. I can’t imagine why anyone would be attracted to this book except Satan influence to get us off the Biblical course.

  5. Peggy says:

    AMEN! We need to focus on THE living book- The Bible. We don’t need Homer and Plato answers to life without God.

    Nor do we need the modern tracher of the classical approach (author of The Well Trained Mind) Susan Bauer’s ideas (rigid, stifling, harsh, severe, and downright boring) zapping all the fun out of learning.

    Philo of Alexandria (and many others), a Hellenized Jew merged Hebrew mythical thought with Greek philosophical thought in the first century B.C. which resulted in almost 2000 years of pagan Christianity for the Catholics and a very distorted view for many protestants. Bauer doesn’t really try to merge the Bible- she just ignores it or misquotes it.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Acckkk….guurgggll…bleh. Oh, sorry…that would be the choking out of yet another child’s joy in learning, the removing of yet another child from actual Truth. Classical homeschooling of the Greek persuasion has caused so many families, while striving for truth and excellence, to steer farther and farther away from the One who is truly excellent.

    Over 3 years ago, when I was a new homeschooler attempting to traverse the waters of curriculum and philosophy, a friend excitedly shared The Well Trained Mind with me, and I dutifully researched it all over the internet. Site after site claimed that it was the best thing since sliced bread, and not sharing it with my child would be an extreme injustice. So I bought SotW, along with some other recommendations, and started my child out on the path of learning for knowledge’ sake. Well, about 3 weeks into it, my 7 year old son (how open a child can be!) asked why he had to learn things that weren’t true. Manual in hand, I plunged forward, confident that I was doing what was best. Didn’t all the sites say so?

    A few months later, he had approached me a few more times, asking me why history contradicted God’s Word, and why his history curriculum consistently contradicted even the books it suggested he read. Well, even my trusty manual couldn’t answer that one for me…so I bravely took matters into my own hands and (gasp!) gave up the manual. We floated for a while between unit studies, workbooks, and just reading what looked good. While I felt a bit lost without a manual as a compass, this allowed me to see that I was removing him from his true Compass, and I began to search out what I should do according to God’s Word. I realized that I was given the responsibility to raise my son to be a wise, godly man that could be used by God to His glory, not a godless thinker who seeks to glorify his own knowledge and abilities.

    Eventually, I found Heart of Wisdom when I was searching the internet one day, and I was intrigued. I was a bit put off by yet another Classical approach, but I downloaded the free excerpts, and wow…was I impressed. A teaching approach that strives to glorify God in our children while teaching them to study to show themselves approved. I couldn’t get enough of it, but I thought there had to be a catch somewhere. I read through hundreds pages of excerpts…and there was no catch.

    The Hebrew approach to teaching has turned things completely around for both my son and me. He loves to learn in order to become who God would have him be, and I am constantly and consistently challenged to present knowledge of the world around him, worldviews, historical information, and scripture in a way that will truly illuminate God’s plan for him.

  7. Kim says:

    Thank you so much for allowing God to use you to help lead Gods people OUT!!!
    Getting out of Egypt seems to be the story always told, but getting Egypt out of us is the ongoing saga of the wilderness!

    Seems like every year the pressure to go back and conform to the pagan model of education places such pressure on us. Fear that our children will not measure up to the education system and standards (standards, yeah right!!) of this world is a fear most homeschool parents go through time after time.

    Again, I must repent for “respecting” the educational gods of this world and allowing them to intimidate me back to the pagan pattern.

    All over the country, even the world, God is calling HIS people OUT. He is calling us out of the murky waters of compromise and syncretism found not only in education but in churches that are becoming more and more liberal, corrupt politics, immoral entertainment… all over the world!

    Does anyone else hear the cry of the spirit that we are hearing?…. “Who is on the Lords side, come out from among them and be ye seperate!” I believe its getting louder and louder.

    Your website and articles have blessed us beyond words as God continues to confirm what we are hearing in our spirits.

    Thank you!

  8. Kara says:

    Thanks Robin, I have been so blessed through HOW, and I pray my children are being blessed because of that. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the idea that they need this “classical” approach to education because it is so accepted!!! It is hard not to just follow, it seems safer. But quite honestly it just doesn’t make sense when we consider what our purpose here on earth is! Thanks for continuing to very clearly spell that out!

  9. Suzanne Watkins says:

    I do not at all like the idea that The Well Trained Mind is the best selling homeschool book! I don’t think it’s worthy of that at all and I have read it (well parts of it). As a matter of fact, I read parts of it and even bought SOTW and found it so dark and offensive to my soul that I trashed it rather than reselling it; I just plain didn’t want anyone to end up with it because I was willing to basically give it away.

    But, I guess here’s where I’ll get the bash, I do like another classical ed book that is VERY focused on the Bible and does not use the pagan classics. It blends perfectly and reinforces much of HOW for me. It’s called Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn and I do like it. They are serious about the Bible being foundational and permeating everything. They are also VERY serious about not treating children like recepticals and using the better late than early approach for “bookish studies” like the Moores. This is the ONLY classical resource that I have found helpful. In the early years they are much more CM like HOW is and they even focus on the fact that at any age, all literature (no matter it’s rave reviews or classical status) is not suitable or edifying to the body of Christ). I know this may be the most unpopular post in response, but I truly do not see that much difference in the Bluedorns approach and the HOW approach with the exception of HOW focusing on Hebraic roots I think the Bluedorns have actually included that in their teachings without calling it the same things, too. Just my .02; I think by blending them, I get more encouragement for homeschooling my children God’s way. I love HOWTA and am so thankful for all the encouragement. I also love the Bluedorn’s and find them equally encouraging along with the Clarksons, who minister to me greatly!

  10. Shirley Peaberry says:

    I was appalled to see a review calling “The Well Trained Mind” the “homeschooling Bible”?!!! The only thing biblical about this book is its length. A book’s popularity doesn’t make it a classic; it merely makes it a fad.

    If this is what it takes to have a well-trained mind, I don’t want one. Implementing just a few of the book’s suggested methods created a joyless learning experience for my children and me. Training (instructing/drilling) and educating (developing/enlightening) are clearly not the same thing. Also If the authors have such well-trained minds, why do they take so long to make their points? The book is BORING!

    We should know there is a problem when EVERY private Catholic school is uses the classical appraoch.

  11. Stacy Smith says:

    I was blessed to have had the Lord lead me to you before any of that stuff! I am currently reading ‘Assumptions That Affect Our Lives’ and that should be recommended reading for all homeschoolers!
    May God continue to bless you! I am praying for you.
    stacy

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  13. Ooh shoot i just wrote a big comment and as soon as i strike reply it came up blank! Please inform me it worked correct? I dont want to submit it again if i don’t have to! Either the weblog glitced out or i am an idiot, the second option doesnt surprise me lol. thanks for an excellent blog!

  14. hair transplants are overly expensive but i can say that the results are great’;;

  15. Resan says:

    sort of appreciated this article =) not all of it – there was some things which i found a lttle bit off however all in all it was a pleasant read, thanks for the post! =) Best regards, Resan

  16. Mamacita says:

    AMEN Robin!! I HAVE to share with you that I recently received a catalog in the mail that offered many of the worldly classics in it…books I have NO desire to read to my children EVER. I felt the urge to figure out what other Christians felt about this “classical” approach. So without knowing exactly what to search for, I typed “isn’t classical education teaching evil” and here I found you again!!! I love you Sister! Thank you God for directing me to Robin’s site once again. You are a blessing from God to many!
    :)
    So there were your thoughts on the matter. Thank you.
    In my home, I have taught my little ones this with everything that comes their way…
    “Does it glorify God?”
    Why would I want to immerse my children that I have been blessed with, with these oh so popular, worldly, classical books??

    Thank you God as I recall in my public high school HAVING to read Hamlet, etc. etc. I was BORED, and I thank God for steering me away.

    Thanks again Robin! God bless you and your family!

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