I’m currently reading through Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning by Robert Littlejohn & Charles T. Evans. A great deal of the book certainly has to do with the proper design of a Christian private school, but the sections on curriculum design have much to offer for homeschoolers. One quote about history, in particular, inspired me to write about two very important and yet very obvious requirements for a good history curriculum.
1. The study of history must be in chronological order.
“That history is, in fact, a story seems to have been lost on many [curriculum publishers]. Instead, we are served with ‘thematic’ studies, in which various cultures and civilizations are compared on the basis of social values, almost irrespective of dates and historical context.”
- Wisdom and Eloquence, p. 100.
History is not merely the study of cultures and daily lives in the past (though that is certainly a part of it). History is one big story–the very longest story we have. If we do not wish our high school students to wonder if Abraham Lincoln was a part of the Revolutionary War or whether WWII occurred in the 1860s, history needs to be studied chronologically.
2. In order to cover history in depth, its study must be spread over several years.
Those history curricula that are not a muddled mess of social studies are covered too frequently and briskly for students to truly grasp. The idea that the entire story of the world can fit into one book the size of Homer’s Illiad and can be studied over and over each year is unfortunate. The result is a cursory understanding of history and an extreme boredom at being told the same exact story 12 times over. If, as homeschoolers, we do not have state standards or Common Core directing what we need to cover each year, or some sort of year-end ancient to modern world history test, then we do not have to repeat world history every year for twelve years. We can spread it over 3 or 4 or 6 years and cycle through it, increasing the depth of study each time. By doing so, we have time to read lots of living books and biographies.
- “The Lost Tools of Learning.” Sayers read this paper at Oxford in 1947. Since the 90s, this essay has been the major inspiration for neo-classical education.
JESSIE & SUSAN WISE BAUER are homeschool authors, publishers, and all-around inspirational people. I highly recommend anything they have written or published!
- The Well-Trained Mind. This book is on its third edition. I cannot recommend it enough! It is so practical, well-explained, and detailed that you will have plenty of confidence to homeschool after you read it. Because it is so practical, don’t get caught up trying to follow it exactly. Use it as a resource and a guide.
- The Well-Educated Mind. Use this for educating yourself, or use it as a guide to use for high school literature. The value of this book is its in-depth teachings on how to analyze and think about books. You will be better equipped to discuss books with your logic and rhetoric aged children after you read this.
- Peace Hill Press. Invaluable resources!
- The Well-Trained Mind Forums. Best place to discuss classical homeschooling with other parents and get advice and resource ideas.
- If you can hear Susan speak at a homeschool convention, it will be well worth it!
HARVEY & LAURIE BLUEDORN are homeschool authors.
CHRISTINE MILLER has a huge website with a classical homeschool scope & sequence and tons of resources.
- The old Classical Homeschooling website has tons of great ideas and resources.
- She has been updating it here. Keep watching her site for more!
LEIGH BORTINS is known for starting up Classical Conversations, a sort of classical co-op for homeschoolers with branches all over the United States.
- Classical Conversations. These groups have been taking off in the past several years. Parents pay to have their children tutored one day a week. In the elementary grades, this mostly involves the tutor introducing memory work through chants and songs and the parent reviewing the material throughout the week. In the upper grades, the program is even more thorough and involves research, rhetoric, and debate. The website has valuable resources, even if you don’t join the program.
- The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education
- Leigh Bortins’ website.
DIANE LOCKMAN is a homeschool author.
- Trivium Mastery: The Intersection of Three Roads. Lockman disagrees with most neo-classical educators. She argues that grammar, logic, and rhetoric are various subjects to continually work on. She says that they do not correspond to childhood stages. Nevertheless, her book is an interesting argument, and contains much useful information for the classical educator.
OLIVER DEMILLE is a homeschool author.
LAURA BERQUIST is a homeschool author.
ROBER LITTLEJOHN & CHARLES EVANS are proponents of classical, Christian private schools.
DOUGLAS WILSON is a proponent of classical, Christian private schools.
MORTIMER ADLER was a twentieth century philosopher who proposed the study of Great Books in high school and college curricula.
- Any of his works would be useful to the classical educator.
- How to Read a Book is a great resource for understanding how to go about studying and thinking about the Great Books.
SISTER MIRIAM JOSEPH wrote a useful book on the trivium.
VERITAS PRESS is geared toward both private schools and homeschools.
MEMORIA PRESS is specifically geared towards classical homeschoolers.
BOLCHAZY-CARDUCCI is a publisher with a focus on classical language studies.
- Bolchazy-Carducci publishes a wealth of texts and supplemental resources for Latin and Greek studies.
CLASSICAL TUTORIALS are teachers offering online correspondance courses in classical languages and Great Books. Some of these are no longer offering classes. They are useful in that they often have articles or course outlines and booklists.
- Schola Classical Tutorials: Great Books I-IV, Greek I-II, Rhetoric, Church History
- Artesian Wells Classical Tutorials: Introduction to Latin, Latin I-IV, Logic, Introduction to the Great Books, Great Books I-III
- Oxford Classical Tutorials: C.S. Lewis, Great Books I-III, Latin I-II, Logic, Rhetoric, Tolkein/Lewis, Writer’s Workshop
- Escondido Tutorial Service: Great Books I-V, Euclid’s Elements, Shakespeare, Classical Greek, English Literature
- The Lukeion Project: Latin I-IV, Greek I-IV, Ancient Greek History, Ancient Roman History, Classical Mythology in Ancient Literature, The Witty Wordsmith, The Barbarian Diagrammian