This is a series of posts I am writing about The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Although the WTM has a decidedly homeschooling bent, it is an excellent reference book for any parent who is interested in taking an active role in their child’s education.
Over the next few weeks I am reading the WTM again for the second time, and blogging about my thoughts chapter by chapter. I want to be conscientious about not violating any copyrights, so I will not be including quotes from the book on my blog. I will however, be referencing specific page numbers from the third edition. I invite you to read along with me, and chime in your own thoughts in the comment section below.
General Thoughts: I found it interesting reading Susan’s account of a Classical Education at home, because I had a very similar education in the Seminar program of the San Diego Unified School District. It makes me wonder how the educational path of the Wise family might have changed if they had had access to public schools of similar caliber to the ones I attended. The discrepancy between school districts is one of the great shames of our country.
Page 13: Once again, I am probably offending a great portion of America, but I still wonder if grammatical errors are a bigger issue in certain regions, but less of an issue elsewhere. Certainly when I taught English Language Learners in California I contended with grammar issues, but this was not the case in the wealthier district I taught in. Children from predominantly upper middle class families in California spoke well naturally, because they had developed the ear for correctly spoken English since birth. I did teach grammar in the 3rd/4th grade, but I did not spend a lot of time on the subject.
Page 13: I learned how to write persuasive essays starting in 5th grade. My teacher, Mr. Gray, had a list of 60 “Keys to Understanding Mankind”. We would choose a key that applied to the book we were reading, and use the key as our thesis statement. The essay would follow from there. Eventually we learned to write thesis statements without having to first choose a key. By high school I was shocked at how so many of my peers (who had not been taught by Mr. Gray), still did not know how to write a five paragraph essay.
Page 14: Regarding high school age students specializing in a certain area… I have often heard that selective colleges look for applicants that are like puzzle pieces. They want an athlete from over here, a history buff from there, a humanitarian from here etc. This concept fits in nicely with what the authors are saying. Competitive college applicants need to be more than just well-rounded students.
Page 15: The four year pattern of studying the ancients all the way to modern time is very similar to the SLE curriculum I studied in college. Stanford was on the quarter system however, so Winter quarter we studied the medieval period through the late Renaissance, and the Spring quarter was modern times to the present.
Page 16: The authors’ spiraling science curriculum is very similar to what many state science standards already are.
Page 17: It is interesting that she mentions Mortimer Adler, because part of my public school curriculum was Junior Great Books, which he helped found.