Book Review: The Well-Trained Mind

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I was thrilled to find this book at my library so I didn’t have to purchase it as I really just wanted to puruse it and it was quite a pricey book to begin with! I’m at the beginning of researching different types of homeschooling methods. Thus far I have just read different blogs and seen what people have done personally but decided I should do some more official research and look at official methods and published books to help guide me in whichever direction the Lord has for our homeschooling journey.

I really enjoyed learning about the classical education method. It makes a lot of sense to me.

They summarized it up by saying that classical education is: from page XXII

  • language-intensive (not image-focused i.e. TV/videos)
  • history-intensive
  • trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions
  • self-discipline

There is a 3 part pattern of learning: from page 15

  • mind supplied with facts and images
  • logical tools to organize those facts and images
  • equipped to express conclusions

And basically from this 3 part pattern of learning they broke it up into age ranges of the brains development: from pages 13-14

  • Grades 1-4 = absorption – the “grammar stage” – memorization
  • Grades 5-8 = critical thought – the “logic stage” – the why? and analytical stage
  • Grades 9-12 = expression – the “rhetoric stage”

I like the thought that “there is nothing wrong w/a child accumulating information that he doesn’t yet understand. It all goes into the storehouse for use later on” p.24. This falls in line with what I’ve been learning about the importance of teaching our children the catechism. It makes a lot of sense to me and to see how quickly Amelia can memorize something and the knowledge out there of the brain’s ability to memorize at such a young age. I do see the value in helping them to memorize all this information to be used for understanding later on. They won’t need to memorize to understand later on because that beginning step is already done.

Classical education is a big proponent of teaching children how to learn. The approaches they use are to encourage self-learning so when the children are older they have the desire and know where to find the means and have the discipline to learn on their own.

I read the introduction; took some notes on their suggestions for preschool and kindergarten curriculum and then returned the book with plans to later visit it again when we’re heading into first grade.

I will note that this book did not address the Trivium in great depth which is the whole history and basis of classical education. I plan to do some more research on this later but for right now the concepts I described above will really help me in not beating myself up over Amelia not understanding the meaning of this or that although she can memorize this or that… the understanding will come at a later time : )


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