and now a word on TWTM

The method I use for homeschooling Alexander is based on the Trivium, a method detailed in The Well-Trained Mind. We are secular citizens, and indeed, we are not even Christian. Yes, we've encountered problems with some of our textbook choices taken from TWTM. Introductory Logic is one example of a problem textbook (it is extremely Christ-centric). Despite some of the obstacles that the Bauers' curriculum presents, I do believe that the Trivium gives "legs" to a student's academics.

I find in most American schools, particularly with public schools, skills are never really focused on and honed in through different grade levels. There is no national standard to follow (but different guidelines implemented by different states). So as a student, once you finish one teacher's curriculum for the year, you are at the mercy of whatever Teacher #2, #3 or #4 decides is relevant. It is a haphazard way to go. And it's just too easy.

Although I am American, I attended private Church of England boarding school for secondary studies in England. My parents were not rich and at the time schools abroad were relatively cheap. The students at my school were religiously diverse(Muslims, agnostics, maybe another Jewish one I didn't know about). The students I encountered who had been educated there longer than I had been were much better at critical thinking than I was. The school did not use the Trivium. The foundation, though, was there. The students had something that I did not have. Perhaps that school's curricular foundation was an appendage from an earlier era when the Trivium was the standard. I don't know.

I also noticed when I began taking Art there that all the students knew had foundational training, as well. How to measure their subjects. All the the students were trained in perspective. They knew how watercolors, when the paint was layered just so, also gave perspective. They knew about different lead content in pencils, charcoals, cross-hatching, and the effects given to depth when using those. Okay, these are not exactly intellectual methods. Yet, even in a non-academic subject, a foundation was given. It made sense: If you want to later become a free-thinking abstract painter, you've absolutely got to know what you are doing. My art master used to scoff at "modern artists" who would simply draw a canvas plain black: "It's just too easy," he'd say, "and there is no evidence of any improvement. You need to be able to look frame-to-frame and see a progression of skill of some sort."

And so I believe that is true with everything in life.

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