Posted By Jennifer McBride on August 17, 2011
Although I was homeschooled myself and had a rough idea of where to start, I wasn’t quite sure which “method” I should use when it came to schooling my own children. As the children grew out of toddlerhood I started praying for clear direction in how to best educate them. The Lord answered my prayers abundantly when He drew my attention to the Christian Classical and Charlotte Mason methods.
I had seen them both mentioned over the years in homeschooling magazines, but thought the Classical method seemed difficult and boring and full of studies of old Greek and Roman stuff and had no idea what the Charlotte Mason method was.
One day, around the time I first began to pray for direction, I came across an old issue of The Homeschool Digest with a short article by Harvey Bluedorn on Christian Classical homeschooling and something called the “Trivium.” Mr. Bluedorn described the “Trivium” as the three stages of learning –which he defined as “Knowledge”, “Understanding”, and “Wisdom”. He mentioned how these definitions are mentioned throughout Scripture and how a child’s brain actually develops and gradually grows into maturity in all three areas. For example, when a child is young, they don’t have much reasoning ability, but they are excellent at memorizing and just soaking up information. Therefore, at this stage you would concentrate on just pouring Scripture, good knowledge and character training into them, thereby laying a strong foundation for the next level of learning when they are able to start reasoning and understanding the “why” of things. This made wonderful sense to me and my interest was piqued.
I went to the Bluedorn’s website read their article Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten and discovered exactly what I had been looking for. That article was truly a life changer. Sometime after that I read the Bluedorn’s excellent book Teaching the Trivium and was even further convinced. I don’t think I have ever read a better, more Biblically based argument for homeschooling than what they have written in the opening chapters of the book.
Around this time I also started looking into the Charlotte Mason method, since I was quite curious as to exactly what it involved and soon found another answer to prayer. In reading through Miss Mason’s own original writings as well as articles and books by others about her methods I have found that they merge beautifully with the Bluedorns (Or Christian Classical) method.
In a nutshell, both methods– or philospohies– are very Biblically based (Charlotte Mason was also a Christian); both draw parents and children together (which goes back to being Biblically based); both encourage real life learning – upholding the discipleship model we see in Deuteronomy 6 of teaching our children as we sit, rise up, walk and lie down; both believe in training the mind in how to learn and to love learning, (rather than just filling children up with facts…. “not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire”); both believe in teaching children in a manner that works with the way the Lord has created the mind to develop; both are strong proponents of character training being an imperative part education– and of laying a strong foundation of this in the early years (Charlotte Mason especially wrote much on the importance of habit training); both put an emphasis on lots of hands on learning in the early years, and and both use good literature and “living” books (as opposed to text books) as a huge part of a child’s education.
I have found that both the Bluedorns and Miss Mason give wonderful reasons for the “Why” of their methods, but the Bluedorns leave it a bit more up to the parent as to how to practically implement it. They do offer guidance and suggestions, but Miss Mason really offers a lot of help in the “How” of practically applying this style of education.
There are a few areas where Miss Mason and I don’t agree (She and I don’t see eye to eye on the importance of reading fairy tales and pagan myths to children, for example), but her thoughts on short lessons, lots of reading, narration, habits, hours outside in the fresh air and nature study just thrilled me when I first read them (and still do).
To sum it up, the Bluedorns offer a solid, Biblical philosophy and methodology of education, and Charlotte Mason offers incredible help and insight when it comes to practical, day to day application. Both have been a huge blessing to me and lifted a heavy burden from my shoulders. Whether you are just considering homeschooling or are struggling with burnout, I hope the articles I’ll be posting over the next couple of weeks are as much of an encouragement and help to you as they have been to me.
(Note:”Christian Classical” homeschooling as the Bluedorns define it is different from Classical homeschooling, though there are many similarities. From what I can tell “Classical” homeschooling tends to be built more on a secular, rather than Biblical foundation.)