Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Homeschooling By Faith Part 5--How is Classical Education Different from Modern Ed?

I looked out over the auditorium of moms, all at practicum to learn how to classically educate their children, and asked for a show of hands as to how many had been classically educated themselves. Not one hand was raised. 

The reason I have felt the need to emphasize faith and vision so emphatically is because of the enormity of the task that is before us. We are attempting to do something very difficult--to educate our children in a way we ourselves were not educated.

But faith is a powerful force in the world. I would rather have homeschooling parents armed with an unshakeable faith in the power of the gospel to transform the world through their children, with no classical knowledge, than parents who know classical education inside and out but have not the faith, and therefore not the motivation to act on it. Take heart, faith spurs one to step out and do great things.

However, I don't want to leave you without knowledge of classical education. If faith is a powerful force, faith that is equipped is more so. Proverbs tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Over the last 10 plus years of reading about classical education, others' thoughts and ideas have sharpened my mind, and I want to pass that along to you as succinctly and clearly as I can.

The Ocean Liner
Before we begin to explore classical education in depth, I want you to imagine that you are driving a small speed boat or jet ski. As you speed along, you realize that you have been focusing on the water right in front of you. AS you lift your eyes you realize that you have been heading in the wrong direction, away from the shore you are meaning to return to. How long will it take you to get on the correct course. Maybe a few seconds?

Now imagine you are the captain of an ocean liner and you realize you are sharply off course and need to turn 90 degrees, in the direction of a different shore. Will you be back on the correct course in a few seconds? Of course not. It is going to take some time and diligent effort to correct the mistake. During the time you are turning the ship, you will need to keep reorienting yourself to the correct direction.

Our minds are much more like ocean liners than they are small speed boats. For at least 12 years of our lives, we were modeled modern education and we practiced modern education techniques. The most powerful teaching techniques: modeling, imitating, and practicing, formed our minds in ways that we are not even aware of.

We are not going to change over to thinking about education classically in a day or even in a week. Reading one book or blog post is not going to suffice. No, changing how we think about education is going to be a long, slow, and tedious process. 

If this is going to be a successful paradigm shift in our minds, we will need to continue to reorient ourselves to where we are heading. We will need to be familiar with the terrain of this new shore line that we are setting our sights upon. We will also need to know a little about the terrain we are leaving behind, so that we can forsake it if we see ourselves turning a longing eye toward the wrong shore.

These thoughts led me to frame the rest of my practicum thoughts by comparing modern education to classical education in three ways.

Point #1: The classical model seeks to draw from the wisdom of the ages whereas modern education is on an endless search for innovation. 

Point #2: The classical model has a completely different orientation than modern education methodology. The focus of the classical model is on having students acquire the skills of learning.

Point #3: The classical model differs in that all knowledge is integrated back to Christ and integrated with itself.

The rest of my blog posts will be unpacking these three points with examples.

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