Monthly Archives: September 2013

Secular Classical Homeschooling Curriculum

What’s harder to find than a needle in a haystack? Thats right, a classical education curriculum that’s not Christian. How can one honestly teach a logic or philosophy class when the first chapter of the curricula says we must assume only ONE thing and that’s that the Bible is true. What? that’s not logic, to assume such an obscure and ridiculous proposition. It was this mentality that made me lose affection for The Well-Trained Mind when my kids reached the high-school ages.

But there is a really much more relaxed Classical Education model that flows easily into the high school years without being preachy. It’s called the Thomas Jefferson Education and Oliver DeMille writes about it in his book; A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century. It involves reading, writing and discussing classical literature. Mortimer Adler’s selection of Great Books are on the official suggested reading list, but for our family, anything is fair game for reading and discussion. It might not sound like unschooling, but it meshes well with unschooling and with stricter philosophies. Reading and discussing things are just plain smart things to do with your kids.

In response to a discussion on the Thomas Jefferson Education, whereby one participant believed that unschooling was just “winding them up and letting them go” the following was explained by Lisa, who recently blogged about Different Homeschooling Philosophies:

A Thomas Jefferson education is about sharing quality literature with your children and discussing it, and writing about it. There’s a lot of debating about the characters, the situations, their decisions, what would have been different if X, how could Someone have X?

Unschooling is not simply winding them up and letting them go. I’m afraid you’re missing out on some fascinating family stories and amazing insights into the nature of learning if that’s what you think.

Unschooling and the Thomas Jefferson philosophy are very complementary, with the exception that the Thomas Jefferson method has book lists and the Unschooling philosophy recognizes that ANY book, television or even video game, discussed and debated with an older and wiser person, can help a child (and the adult) learn. The Thomas Jefferson method would not mesh with unschooling for a family with opposing media preferences. Parents and children must be reading the same books or watching the same movies, etc, in TJed.

So- unschooling CAN contain elements of TJed, as long as none of it is forced or coerced.

The “wind them up & let them go” really bothered me, sorry. I might have written the EXACT same thing 15 years ago, before we dove deeper into unschooling, it certainly was my first impression. I’ve learned so much, though and we are totally hardcore unschoolers here now.

Instead of “wind them up and let them go” it’s more like “share their passions and enthusiasm, exploring the world together.” It’s joyful, refreshing, REAL LIFE, authentic living, and the only thing “winding them up” is their own preferences, talents, passions and desires.

An unschooling mom’s job is to facilitate, chauffeur, listen, discuss, share information, learn new things, explore her own interests, and help the child find the resources they need to delve further into their passions. I absolutely love it:)

TJED- puts into words what we already DO with our children. I have a house full of daughters, we talk, debate and discuss constantly. Movies, books, song lyrics… My daughter who loves to write tends to write essays and literature reviews and comparisons, she’s 12. My 16 yr old prefers to draw and talk. Her writing tends to be more song lyrics and poetry.