Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Book Review - Wisdom and Eloquence

Before I put Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning (by Robert Littlejohn & Charles T. Evans) on the shelf, I decided to sit down and do a quick review of it.

Wisdom and Eloquence is a description and defence of classical Christian education. It is written primarily to Christian school teachers and organizers and this audience would be the ones to benefit most by it. However, the description of classical education is useful for anyone, be they teachers, administrators or homeschool parents. Littlejohn and Evans cover the purpose of education, philosophy of classical education (including what it is not), worldview in light of the liberal arts, and curriculum. Curriculum choices do not include specific texts or authors but instead which subjects to include in a classical education.

The most helpful concept for me as a homeschool parent was the concept of 12-K. The authors recommend that instead of starting at Kindergarten and working up to grade 12, that those planning curriculum for a school begin at the end - what should an ideal grade 12 student look like? What end product are we looking for? Then work backwards throughout the years to ensure that what is taught is always working towards that goal.

One of the most difficult things I have found as a homeschooling parent trying to educate my children classically is to know where we are going. It's easy to say that students will follow a typical school curriculum. But part of the reason we homeschool is that we have a different ideal for our children. And because we haven't been through this process before sometimes I don't know where to turn or how to achieve the results that we are hoping for. I am greatly indebted to an online community of homeschooling classical educators - I could never have gotten this far without their support, help, ideas and recommendations. However, sometimes I still feel like I'm in a bit of a fog - not really knowing where we are going. Wisdom and Eloquence helped to clarify that it's better to start at the top and work backwards and that has helped greatly. It's still foggy sometimes but it encourages me to keep on going.

I recommend Wisdom and Eloquence to anyone interested in education - whether public, private or homeschool. If you are in a public school, I hope that you will catch a vision for Christian education. If you are in a private school, classical or not, I hope that you will also catch a vision for what classical education can be and how beneficial it is to students. And if you are a homeschool parent, I hope that the concepts in this book will be encouraging and help you to have a vision for classical Christian education if you don't already and if you do already have that vision to help you to know that you are not alone and it's worthwhile to keep striving in the education of your children.

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