Friday, May 31, 2013

Classical Mamas Read - The Well Trained Mind: Ch 1-2

Pin It

I'm excited to be starting this discussion today!  Thank you so much for joining me as we take a look at The Well Trained Mind. (affiliate link)

What is The Well Trained Mind?

In case you are not familiar with the book, The Well Trained Mind is a comprehensive look at classical education.  Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise teach us all about the trivium, training our children to think and understand, and examples of what great materials can be used at each level of learning.  The book is broken down into sections, teaching us what classical education is, a detailed look at each of the three stages of the trivium, and then information about how exactly to do it (with lots of helpful resource suggestions).

This is a hefty book, coming in at just over 800 pages, but don't be daunted.  Most people say that this isn't a book they would sit down and read all at once, but one that they love to have on their shelf to reference over and over again.  I'm not sure how much of it we will cover each week in this forum, or if we will even discuss the entire book, but we will discuss as long as everyone is finding it helpful and encouraging!

Are you ready?  Today we will be discussing the first two chapters of The Well Trained Mind.

Prologue: The Story of A Classical Home Education


Chapter 1: Uncharted Territory

This chapter is written my Jessie Wise, and gives us the story of how she began educating her children at home.  Here are some of my thoughts on the chapter.  Please feel free to respond or share your own thoughts in the comments below!

  • Ms. Wise taught her children to read (using phonics) before they entered kindergarten.  She didn't call them 'smart,' just 'prepared.'
    • I love this.  People often assume that my little ones are extra smart because they began reading at age 3.  I don't think they are any smarter than the average child, but I did teach them the sounds that each letter makes and with that knowledge and a little coaching they can begin to read.
    • I know that each child is different, I am just trying to illustrate the point of purposely preparing your children in any arena of life.

  •  Ms. Wise talks about filling her children's heads with facts when they were little, keeping books everywhere, and having them memorize lots of information.

    • This is the essence of the grammar stage.  We all know that kids are like sponges, soaking in everything they can (the good and the bad).  We might as well take advantage of this and fill their minds with lots of great information!
    • My family could definitely make strides in this area.  My kids (my son especially) spends a lot of time reading and looking at books, but also too much time watching TV (actually desiring to watch TV).
    • We have made memorization a key part of our school day, but I think we have been doing it in more of a Charlotte Mason way (not that that is bad!), memorizing Bible verses and poetry.  I want to start adding all sorts of other facts into our memory box starting this summer.

  • "I was the best teacher my children could possibly have had because I was their parent." (page 9)
    • I heard someone else say this before and it really stuck with me.  What a great encouragement to remember that God made us perfect for our children and our children perfect for us.  Now, that's not to say that anything is going be easy =)

  • "Children need friends.  Children do not need to be surrounded by the large groups of peers who inevitably follow the strongest personality in the crowd." (page 10)
    • Yes!  I agree wholeheartedly.  I think anyone who homeschools believes this.

Chapter 2: A Personal Look At Classical Education

This chapter is written by Ms. Bauer  and gives us an overview of what classical education is and how it looked in her life.  Here are some of my thoughts on the chapter.  Please feel free to respond or share your own thoughts in the comments below!

  • Classical education is language centered, not image centered.

    • I often find myself bothered by all the computer/e-reader learning that is being promoted, and even all the traditional texts that are full of catchy pictures but empty of much content.
    • On the flip-side, I often find myself drawn to the plain, little old books like the McGuffey Readers and Ray's Arithmetic for teaching my kids.  I love that they are filled with content and not with distractions from the content.
    • I toy around with the idea of getting rid of our TV completely, but also know that the TV is not the problem, I am the one that turns it on!  It's just such a temptation for the kids (who don't turn it on themselves without asking, but boy do they ask!)  Do you have a TV?  How do you deal with using it wisely and/or limiting its use?

  •  Ms. Bauer talks us through the three stages of the trivium:

    • Grammar Stage - absorption of facts
    • Logic Stage - criticism and analysis
    • Rhetoric Stage - express conclusions clearly with force, elegance, and originality
    • Also, that through all three stages, history is studied chronologically with other subjects linked to the history 'spine.'  I like the chart that she has on page 16 showing how science is tied into each history period. (I just realized that I'm reading the 2004 edition, so my pages might be different than yours.)

  •  "Rigorous study developes virtue in the student: the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right.  Virtuous men (or women) can force themselves to do what they know is right, even when it runs against their inclinations.  Classical education continually asks a student to work agains her baser tendencies (laziness or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) in order to reach a goal - mastery of a subject."  (page 17)
    • This is something that I really desire for my children (and myself!)  I want them to know how to make good decisions even when they don't feel like it.  Hopefully continuing in the classical model will help with this!
    • Aside from education, this is what being a Christian is about.  We continually need to put off our sinful desires (even those of pride, laziness, selfishness, etc.) and choose to do what is right.  I had never thought of that in the context of classical education, but I suppose that is part of why I am drawn to it (although I'm sure there are many Biblical applications in other methods of schooling as well).

So there are some of my thoughts and some quotes that I especially liked from these first two chapters.  Did you read this book last week?  Do you remember reading it in the past?  What are some of your thoughts?

In case you'd like to prepare, next week we will be discussing chapters 3 and 4, which talk about preschool and kindergarten.  If you don't have the book already, you can look for it at your library or get it on amazon (The Well Trained Mind.) affiliate link

Classical Mamas Read Link-Up

Did you write about these chapters on your blog?  Have you been reading and blogging about another book (for you, not a children's book)?  Do you have a book club going on at your blog (once again, not for a children's book)?  I'd love for you link up here so we can all be encouraged by each other and maybe find another great book to read! 

Please note, all posts must be on topic (about a book you are reading) and appropriate (think family friendly).


  1. I'm thinking ill just let you read this book for me and I'll stop in to see what the best parts were! Lol!! I'd love to read along but just not the right time. I love the insightful quotes!!

    1. Ha! Even so, feel free to comment with any insights you have! I've followed other people's book clubs before without reading along, and I enjoyed it because it still gave me good ideas for new books to read in the future!

  2. We don't do the normal TV thing anymore. We simply ended up getting rid of it. Now-a-days we just have a screen so that we can watch the occasional movie. It does make for a lot less viewing, but it also frees us up to focus more on school and other things.

    Re book: I liked that they both give an introduction to the book. It was good to see where they were both coming from.

    1. We got rid of cable many years ago and just got a $10 'bunny ears' antenna. We lovingly call it the 'bunny ear' now because the kids slowly/accidentally broke off the other one. So what we get isn't much and it doesn't all come in well, but it's fine for us. I'm envisioning one day moving the TV downstairs and using it like you do (movies, etc.) It's in the office/school room right now, but I'm hoping that the Lord will bless us with another baby one day and if that happens I think we would change that room to a nursery and kick all the office/tv/school stuff downstairs. That's what I'm hoping anyways!

      Good point about each of the authors writing one of the introductory chapters! I agree, it was nice to see where they were coming from.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  3. Hey Amy! I have read this book & am now doing a re-read of it. I hope to get a post up about it soon! If I do it in time, I'll share it here too : ) Thanks for giving a forum to talk classical books. Love it!

    1. Well, thanks for coming along! I'm late on responding to this comment, but I did see your post about the WTM today and that you linked it up. Thanks!

  4. We got rid of our cable about 4 years ago. My kids are 6 and 7. They don't miss anything. We do rent movies and watch educational YouTube videos from our Apple TV though. No cable is the best way to go, we have so much more free time than other families. Great blog!

    1. I completely agree! I'm glad you have had a good experience with getting rid of cable. I think you are right about having more free time. Thanks for the comment!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...