Saturday, November 07, 2009

Classical Lutheran Unschooling

Is "classical Lutheran unschooling" an oxymoron?
Or not?

According to most proponents of classical education,
academic subjects should be integrated into a whole body of knowledge instead of separate topics,
wisdom and virtue are to be cultivated in the student,
critical thinking is necessary,
learning is done in certain steps -- grammar, logic, rhetoric,
history provides education's framework,
and there are certain things everyone should know (even though not everyone agrees upon what those things are).

Amazingly enough, most of the Lutheran unschoolers I know teach this way. Some of us have been teaching this way since before "classical" became popular in the last 10-15 years. And yet, most classical educators say that unschooling and classical education are antithetical. Unschooling is usually imagined to be the epitome of what classical education is trying to avoid.

I've been thinking about this. For years.

What do unschooled kids want to learn? There are a gazillion specific answers. But I've been thinking about what guides their interests, what guides their desires. To some extent, unschooling works because of the mentors. Someone (whether in real life, or in a book or other media) provides guidance and information and helps keep the love of learning alive.

Few of the kids in my house have been interested in motors and mechanics; that's partly because my husband and I have little interest or skill; neither did we have the resources to obtain a mentor when a child showed a little interest in the subject. Most of my kids are interested in reading and cooking and Shakespeare and theology and music and writing and frugality; those are subjects that they see as part of normal family life around here; it's what grown-ups DO. So they become interested too. Furthermore, one child's passion will spread so that the others, even if not particularly interested themselves, will learn something about the topic.

If the homeschooling parents are critical thinkers and place a high value on teaching their kids to think critically,
if the parents are interested in participating in the Great Conversation,
if the parents love history and teach the kids to organize their view of the world around the progression of world history,
if the parents present truth, beauty, and goodness to their children,
then the children are inclined to follow.

Then, when the children are allowed to do "whatever they want" in school, it's going to look "classical."

And sometimes I wonder if that's what classical Christian education is actually striving for.

For more on this topic, see
what Jane wrote last August.

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