Friday, February 28, 2014

Principles for the Study of Literature - Teaching the Trivium Ch. 8

Pin It
This post contains an affiliate link to the book that we are going through.

Welcome to another week of the Teaching the Trivium book club!  I am so excited to read and discuss this book along with you.  I loved the discussion last week and would love to hear from more of you!  Today we talk about literature.

Chapter 8 - Principles for the Study of Literature

The big question of this chapter was what kind of literature is worthwhile of our time, and what principles should guide our decision making when it comes to picking the literature we have our children read.


The first almost 20 pages of the chapter are devoted to talking about culture.  

Culture consists of those products of work and thought, from a given community of men, which are transmitted across generations.  This includes customs, habits, traditions, language, literature, arts, skills, technologies, beliefs, philosophies, governments, laws, institutions, and anything else which characterizes the activities of men.   (pg 193)

The point is that when we read the literature from civilizations past, we are learning their culture.  Sometimes this is good for us, and sometimes we need to be careful.  Sometimes the culture will encourage us toward the goals we have for our family, and other times it will promote things that do not serve our purposes.  Many times in the chapter, the Bluedorns made the point that if (as Christians) we are going to read secular literature, we have to be able to redeem it for our purposes.  I don't know that I've ever really heard anyone say it that way before.

Before your read this chapter, did you consider the culture of the literature your kids were reading?  

If so, how does that impact how your approach pieces of literature?


The rest of the chapter deals with literature itself.  What are the classics?  How do you classify literature?  How do you choose what to read?

The Bluedorns define classic literature as "What is of good form and lasting value."  They acknowledge that there can be differences in what people think fits this criteria.

What I also really appreciated is how they encouraged us that there is only so much time in the day, so not to worry about tackling everything or missing something.

If someone shared their long list of classics which their children are reading, then do not begin to doubt or fret, but look back at your list of principles and stick to them...Require your child to read those classical works which agree with your family's principles, and forget the rest.    (pg. 221-222)

How do you decide what classic literature to have your children read?  

Do you have a certain criteria that books must meet?  

How do you approach subject matter that is contrary to how you believe?

So far I have had to deal with this very little since my kids are young.  The Bluedorns do give some advice as to how to redeem literature that is not in line with your family's beliefs.  One of their suggestions is to critique the writing and compare it to what you believe.  My husband and I definitely don't expose our children to inappropriate things, but we don't keep things away from them either.  If we encounter something that is different than what we believe then we take the opportunity to talk through how the particular situation lines up with the Bible.  I know this will get harder as my kids grow and are exposed to much more!

Thanks for reading along this week!  Leave comments here on the blog post, or share about it on social media (#ClassicalMamasRead).  I'll be sharing too, so follow me on facebook, twitter, or google+ and we can chat about it there as well!  Don't forget, if you want to share your thoughts about Teaching the Trivium on your own blog, link it up below so we can all come and visit!

Next week we will be talking about chapter nine of Teaching the Trivium.  If you haven't gotten your own copy yet, make sure you check your library or order one soon so you can be ready for next time!  Also, this is a 600+ page book, so I am only touching on certain points of each chapter.  There is so much great information that I am not covering, so if this discussion interests you, you are going to want to make sure to pick up your own copy so you can read more!

Classical Mamas Read Link-Up

Did you write about Teaching the Trivium 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!

I think I'm going to keep this link-up ongoing since there aren't going to be a huge number of posts and then anyone new will be able to be encouraged by the other book reading ideas and discussions.  If the number of posts gets too large, I will fix it.

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

 photo SubscribeButton_zpsdc17ac56.png


  1. Before your read this chapter, did you consider the culture of the literature your kids were reading? Yes, because I assign a great deal of OLD materials written to a higher reading level. Back in the old days (public domain stuff), books were not "dumb-down." The Henty books are wordy, but they are smart words. Heritage History type books are the non-fiction choice. We have 7 kindles on one account shared amongst our five family members. No one buys things or reads things that the others are not allowed to read. Some in our home would argue that the Warrior books the girl reads are twaddle, but she doesn't read them for school. So, they exist in the system. Many of the books at Judy at Contented at Home recommends are old adventure books and my kids like them. They read so much that when we ask them to read CLASSICS of Literature, they don't baulk and just attack the challenge (some reluctantly and some not so).

    1. I love how we can get scores of great books online that are public domain! We enjoy the Heritage History collections as well. Right now we do not have any e-readers, but I can see how they will be helpful in the future. It is a little frustrating to have to look at ebooks on my computer =) but right now, my kids are too drawn to electronics that it would be more of a distraction than a help lol.

      It sounds like you are doing a great job! Thanks for sharing!

  2. How do you approach subject matter that is contrary to how you believe? First part, something that contains a worldview we don't believe is included in a group of books that are must reads for cultural literacy. Second part is that those books are discussed in the context of our worldview and developing their worldview according to how God built them (them being our 3Gs, b/c each is very different).

    1. Sounds good! I think you are right on with discussing them, but in the context of your own worldview.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...