Part 1: Guiding our children spiritually intro
Part 2: the VIOLIN years
Part 3: the VIOLA years
Part 4: the CELLO years
Part 5: adding in the academics
For a number of reasons, we stepped away from that path in 2019, and it threw me into a bit of a panic at first. I had assumed we would follow this philosophy through to graduation. Now what?
Through lots of research into classical learning, and by talking with other homeschool parents, we have landed in a place where we are happy academically now. That process showed me that our previous approach was not the only way to approach classical education, and in fact that those ideas of the trivium as stages of learning were not rooted in history, but in one woman's unique analogy comparing the trivium with then-recently developed ideas about child development.
We ditched the curriculum, the company, and the approach in favor of other options that we felt were stronger academically and ethically, but I kept thinking about the roadmap. Although I now knew that the classical trivium was actually a trivium of skills (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and not stages of learning, I also knew as a mom and a former teacher that children do learn in different ways at different ages. Slapping the trivium skills as labels of those stages, I felt, muddied the waters of classical education in a very confusing way, but that didn't mean there was no truth to the overall idea. Was there still something there I could find that would help me chart my children's academic, and even spiritual, journey?
I began exploring what others said about child development, as well as looking at what the Bible says about how parents are to teach their children, and I began to take notes. As I thought and prayed on this, the image that kept coming to my mind was a string ensemble - stringed instruments of different sizes, played in different ways and making beautiful music together. I began to play with some ways to use that image to express what I was learning in a way that would be memorable, and could be applied to both classical and spiritual learning, but would not use classical educational terminology in a confusing way.
That is what I want to share with you in the next four posts. It's something that is now helping me as I make plans and set priorities for my children, both spiritually and academically, and I hope it will help you as well.
Begin with the end in mind
Let's look at those three key phrases and what they mean. First, "bring them up" in Greek is "ektrephete," which carries the idea of "nourishing to maturity", or giving a child what he or she needs to become a mature adult. It is not just marking time while a child grows up, but parenting with intention and purpose.
"Discipline" is the Greek word "paideia," not referring simply to punitive discipline, but instruction that trains someone to reach maturity. In ancient Greek culture, this was a term loaded with meaning. It referred to the system of educating and training the ideal citizen, one who would likely lead others. It was a holistic education, with intellectual training taking place alongside practical skills, moral instruction, and physical conditioning. Paul's Gentile readers of the letter to the Ephesians would have understood this idea instantly, although he was clearly applying the contemporary idea to an entirely new context - “in the Lord.”
Finally, "instruction" here is the Greek word "nouthesia", or "setting the mind through God-inspired warning". In other words, it is the careful use of the Word of God to train the mind to reason well and to choose rightly, understanding the danger and consequences of not doing so.
Putting this all together, our goal as Christian parents (with special responsibility given here to Christian fathers) is to direct our children's education, training, and instruction with the goal in mind, not of simply reaching a certain age, but of maturity in the Lord. What does that look like?
Belief in the Lord: We want our children to have a firm and unwavering belief in who God is, what the Bible says about who He is, who we are, and what our purpose on Earth is. We want them to understand and believe the Bible and commit it to their understanding and memory. We want them to have an unshaken faith in the gospel, that Jesus died for our sins, was crucified, dead and buried, and on the third day rose from the dead.
Availability to the Lord: We don't only want our children only to have head knowledge of God, but to be committed to following Him as Lord. We want them to be ready to say "yes" wherever and however He leads them. Between belief and availability, we want them to live out the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Service to others: We don't want our children to be "so heavenly minded they are no earthly good". We want them to live out the second greatest commandment, to love their neighbor as themselves, through service to others and sharing the gospel as well.
Sanctification: We want our children not only to master the "talk" but also the "walk". We want them to be committed to growing in holiness, not through legalistic measures, but by personal conviction of right and wrong according to the Scriptures, and by an awareness of their need for, and daily reliance on, the Holy Spirit.
Another way to look at these is that we want our children to be fully mature in the Lord, encompassing their head (belief), heart (availability), hands (service), and habits (sanctification). In the coming days, I will share the other members of our string ensemble to see how we can encourage this outcome. We cannot guarantee that our children will follow the Lord or that they will not fall into sinful patterns, but we can be faithful with what the Lord has entrusted to us, to prepare the soil of our children's hearts so faith can grow, and to create a faith-filled home environment to which even the wayward prodigal can someday return and find the faith of his or her childhood.