22 February 2010

Well Trained Mind from an Australian Perspective

Hello dear readers! Now that I have a nice nav bar and contact info in an easy-to-find place, I've already gotten 2 emails from readers! Yay! Interaction! Looking forward to hearing from more of you!

Here is one of those emails, from a new homeschooling mother of 4, and her oldest child is in the Grammar stage. I broke it up Q/A, Q/A for you.

1. As we live in Australia, will The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home be just as applicable and useful to us? Or does it contain a lot of American content to be taught?

I think that WTM is definitely not an American course. She tries very hard to present a full range of world history. The US doesn't enter the scene until the 3rd year. All of the Literature selections are from the countries of focus, so the reading is based on Greek, African, Chinese etc.

She presents a near-extinct (though enjoying a revival) method of education. It's based on the old way of learning, that's why it's called Classical. I would confidently say it would be a good fit for any family in any country.

2. I'm an art teacher, who has taught mostly mathematics. I was wondering how these subjects fit with The Well-Trained Mind.

Math is a core subject that is taught every year. Art is focused on more in the 5th and up ages just because getting a basis for English and math is so crucial. History and Science, in the first four years, are more about wonder and awe and the big picture- whetting their appetite with stories.

3. I did not grow up valuing English. I did well in my grades, but didn't aim to excel or improve my skills in this area. I realise now how wonderful language is. I have suddenly become really passionate about learning all I can about reading and writing - and desire to be able to teach more than just the basics or standards being met in schools.

I didn't understand how cool English was until I took "Grambo" (grammar + Rambo) in the Air Force. It was a 6-week English grammar course to help us make it through our language school. Susan Wise Bauer wrote a book for parents who were publicly educated and want to be more prepared to educate their own kids, it's called The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.

If you are doing phonics and math with your oldest, I would not worry about much else. I would buy "Well Trained Mind" and read it once through, and go back and read the how-tos and the grammar stage again. She has a really reassuring and confidence-increasing manner of writing. If you could, maybe get the The Well-Educated Mind for yourself.

4. I was wondering if I should just buy [WTM] and read it before buying the workbooks? Are there specific literature requirements that I'll need to purchase. Or, is it a matter of choosing your own materials and applying the same concepts to what you use?

Concerning materials... She has extensive material recommendation lists at the end of each section. She knows we each have our own budgets. She encourages library use A LOT and buying used books. She has written the history series and grammar and writing series. The are re-usable, excellent, and thorough. They are way less expensive when you think about re-using them for each child. (For instance, a $24 workbook seems expensive for one kid. But if you use it for each kid (by having them write on a separate paper), at the end of your time with it, you have spent $6 on EACH kid. Then you might be able to sell it, so it isn't that bad after all. But imagine how much you might spend on private school or day care!

Many of the books she likes are older editions written in a time when people didn't assume kids were stupid and had to be entertained, lots of them are on Amazon for about 5 cents but then you have to ship.

Go to my classical book review site, Classical Curriculum and all the books are reviewed out and easy to sort through.

I'm so pleased you are reading Higher Education!
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Teresa (Tracy) Dear

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