The Well-Trained Mind by Susan and Jessie Wise

posted in: Homeschooling Books | 0

The Well-Trained Mind is supposed to be a scope and sequence and bibliography for a classical education.  Well I don’t know about how it compares to the classical education taught in the early 1800s or even earlier than that because I wasn’t around then and nothing was really recorded on what was taught.  That being said, I would not recommend this book to any homeschooling family.

For example, on page 57 the authors recommend teaching ancient western civilization (world history from 5000 BC to 400 AD) in first grade, medieval to early Renaissance (world history from 400 AD to 1600 AD) in second grade, late Renaissance to early modern (world history from 1600 AD to 1850 AD) in third grade, and modern (world history from 1850 to present) in fourth grade.  Most kids aren’t ready to learn world history until 9th grade.  Learning it at first grade is a waste of your child’s time and frustrating.  Kids should be allowed to be kids.  I can name quite a few college grads who were lucky to get Cs in college ancient world civilization class.  It’s that boring and yet complicated at the same time.

On p. 68, the authors recommend Writing Strands, a government subsidized writing program that my kids tried and absolutely hated.  Every homeschooler that’s tried it (that I’ve met or read about) has hated this series.

So I’ve already given examples regarding why I disagree with the scope and sequence included in the book.  Here’s why I disagree with the recommended bibliography.

On p. 75 the authors begin the reading list for ancient history with the Bible.  Great if you’re Christian.  Not so much if you’re not.  Although many non-Christians read the Bible as a historical text (and point out what they believe are inaccuracies), I wouldn’t recommend it to a little kid.  It’s better to teach them stories from your religious text than to inundate them with the big book right off the bat.

There are some pages worth reading, which list the classical texts read by our forefathers, you know the guys who founded this wonderful country.  But I wouldn’t teach my kids according to this curriculum or scope and sequence.

Now let’s talk about a “classical education”.  It’s founded on lots of reading and not much more.  That works for about 10% of homeschooled kids, the ones who excel at book learning and have a visual preferred learning style.  Those who have a preferred auditory or tactile learning style will not excel in this program.  So if you’re a homeschooler and every single one of your children is a visual learner, then this may work for you.  For everyone else, it’s setting your kids up to fail.

Overall grade:  D



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