Teaching The Trivium: A Review
Dear readers, our topic for today is one of the most important books of this century: Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style, Harvey and Laurie (RIP) Bluedorn, Trivium Pursuit, Muscatine, Iowa (2001). If my review drives home nothing else, then I must at least emphasize that this book is critical to those who either have young children or who intend to have young children. It’s also important for those with older children, or grandchildren, along with those who have no children, or those who only want to further their own intellectual development. It is a cogent defense of and general plan for preserving high Christian Civilization.
Do not send children to schools. Let that stand as my second critical point. Please take all contrary excuses and burn them. I am angered by the fact that generation after generation of our children (this includes you, your children, your grandchildren, your parents, and even your grandparents) have been, are being, or will be misled or forced into the same trap. Most people do not realize what they’ve missed and what we’ve collectively lost. Teaching the Trivium sheds a bright light on this tragedy while offering a wonderful escape from it.
When I finally sat down with the book and started thumbing through it, I was struck by how comprehensive the Table of Contents alone is, and how much the relayed organizational wisdom differs from what passes for institutional educational doctrine. For purposes of commentary, I reproduce a small segment, for Chapter One:
(Bluedorns, Trivium, page 11).
Contrast any part of the foregoing with what passes for valuable systemic pedagogy in, say, fag queen pedo hour, a horror with a purpose even conservatives finally begin to notice.
Perhaps the greatest veritas of this partial page is the line: “All true education must begin with the revelation of God.” The entirety of the text is a roadmap for implementing proper Holy education. One of the tell-tale Hasbara one-star reviews I read at Amazon, while subtly chastising Christianity, stupidly lamented the lack of a comprehensive, easy, ready-to-go curriculum. “Breaking out of the mold” means just that; this is a task that no formal syllabus is capable of adequately presenting or fostering. As a guide, it is an extensive map of a long, meandering road – one well worth the effort. The Table of Contents is fourteen pages, and it sets a better cursory direction than any other work I have ever seen. It covers everything from the Christian formation of the nuclear family to fueling the family by having children, to raising children, to shielding children from the evil of the world, to properly coaching children through grammar, logic, and rhetoric, to successfully sending children forth on their most important earthly endeavor – having and raising more children. The whole matter is a testament to God’s plan; the “conventional-minded” detractions I’ve read are also, negatively and indirectly, testaments to His intention.
The Bluedorns note, on page 34, “Education is for a purpose. If the purpose does not have God in view, then it is godless education, and it will eventually produce godless results.” They also maintain, correctly, that the only real education begins with, and consistently maintains, the revelations of Almighty God. One may be aware that in the USSA, God has been banned from schools and from the larger society, and the result has been a kind of hell on earth. The book also does a masterful job of clarifying and interweaving the Greco-Roman classical model of learning with that of fundamental Christianity. In that context, their wise view of the purpose of education does not so widely differ from Old Tully’s: “The purpose of schooling is to free the student from the tyranny of the present.” For a century and a half, our wicked, stupid culture has dispensed with all such wisdom, with our schools becoming the tyranny of the present.
With very few exceptions, homeschooling children, under the authority of the family, is not only the best way to educate the young, but it is the only way that fulfills various Biblical commandments. That may be the key takeaway from the book, along with the general “how-to” structure of the curriculum. It offers a one-size-fits-one approach; the exact Bluedorn route might be slightly different from mine, as mine might be from yours. This is fine and, in fact, great for us, but it is anathema to the luciferian status quo. And make no mistake, the schools, by design, are satanically evil. They were always that way, literally instituted to turn people into wage slaves, dumb down the population, terminate the family unit, and destroy Christian Western civilization. They have been extremely successful, an Enlightenment gift that keeps on killing. They cannot be fixed unless the fixing involves a Caterpillar D9 and an ample quantity of fire. But my own experience, and likely the reader’s, is almost exclusively set within the confines of the unnatural, anti-traditional, and unproductive K-12 classrooms. We are to be forgiven then, or at least a little lenient with ourselves, as we think about the schools and about saving future generations from them.
To properly assess the wickedness of the schools is to ultimately dismiss them. Perhaps the best words to that end belong to Anthony Esolen. “There are only two things wrong with our schools: everything that our children don’t learn there and everything they do.” Esolen, Out of the Ashes, page 68 (another must-read). The Bluedorns partly refer to this as teaching trivia instead of the trivium, coddling along with pre-packaged nothing facts rather than teaching the elemental processes of thinking. This maleducation is a grievous sin. It also fails even by its own pitiful metrics.
The cat is out of the bag that the USSA’s school systems produce results, in all areas, far below other developed, or even developing countries – even as compared to foreign systematized schools. George Carlin summed it up well when he said “they” only want people who are “just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept [all the Carlin-Esque explicatives]”. Again, the schools have not failed in their intended purposes. They have worked almost perfectly. And that near-perfect working literally kills real learning and any notion of legitimate education. The Bluedorns have a subsection about this phenomenon called “Regressive Learning,” pages 97 – 98. They’re not alone.
The late, great John Taylor Gatto went into some depth with this lurid concept in his 2009 book, Weapons of Mass Instruction (read it too). Gatto noted, as early as 1990, that homeschooled children were five to ten years ahead of their state-abused peers. Things have become much worse since then. In addition to noting the disparity and that compulsory schooling indisputably lowers things like literacy rates, he focused on a little-known university study about university studies (the UCONN study_. Read all about “Another Inconvenient Truth,” pages 37 -38, and how roughly half of the colleges in the USSA teach nothing and the other half force negative learning on their victims.
I’ve added to this sad observation, elsewhere, by tracking mathematical failure, in a Georgia school system, from elementary (14% math proficiency), to middle (11.9%), to high school (7%). From end to end, our worse-than-useless schools reverse learning. Frequently, the longer a child is in school, and the more he is instructed, the less he will know.
Something like eighty to ninety percent of US schoolchildren are doomed to languish in evil government-run schools. Roughly ten percent (my hasty estimate) attend private schools, of one degree of value or another (most increasingly dreadful as they conform to public expectations). Around five to ten percent of our kids, the homeschooled champions, receive one degree of real education or another. I once said that the C19 Hoax was the best thing that ever happened to the schools because it temporarily closed them. No education is better than maleducation! And, happily, a few more parents woke up and started allowing their children to learn. Still, the hyper-majority of them continue to send their precious young off to indoctrination and grooming centers. For that, they should perhaps be horse-whipped. Or, perhaps, forgiven. They either don’t understand the importance of education, or else they just don’t care.
But the other side does care about homeschooling if malice counts as caring. The nefarious educrats, most of whom deserve to be burned at the stake, know that the valid alternative of home education not only makes them and their evil work look like what it is, but they also know that homeschoolers, like latter-day monks in little, quiet monasteries, hold the potential to carry the seeds of civilization through the spreading fires. Therefore, the acolytes of the devil’s enlightenment hate with a passion the ordinary Christian families who properly raise and teach their children. These low, crawling Deevs make war on noble homeschoolers. Know their intentions and actively resist them.
Chapter two is an exposition of why the family, and certainly not the state, has genuine authority to educate children. Subsequent chapters explain what, exactly, that entails, along with how to go about doing it. For most of us, this is foreign territory. For instance, while we may associate classical grammar with Latin instruction, too many of us would neglect Greek. I, for one, was somewhat surprised by the logical and forceful arguments for including Hebrew studies as well.
The recommended course of instruction is broken down by age and ability levels, and also by sex differences. The book assumes that some or most parents will not have anything but a rudimentary understanding of what they are teaching their children. Rather than viewing this deficiency as an obstacle, it is presented as a great opportunity, with the adults gaining a real education alongside their children. As many autodidacts have discovered, it is never too late to learn. The Bluedorns note that as many as three generations of homeschoolers may be required before parent instructors are masters of the material they present. Happily, those who started early are now one generation into the new era. May many more follow the trailblazers.
The Appendixes are almost 200 pages of relevant articles and resources, beginning with The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers (1947). In short, there is something for everyone within these immaculate 600+ pages of encouragement and wisdom. Some of it may appear unusual, but all of it is unusually beneficial. Several myths, even as held by general homeschool advocates, are dispelled. For instance, my understanding of the theory of “un-schooling” was misplaced, barring, I still suppose, exceptional circumstances. Read chapter ten to understand why. And there are so many more topics even the intelligent and curious might not have independently fathomed.
Personally, I have already taken one such lesson to heart: “Protecting a Child in the Library”, page 325: “Libraries have become dangerous places for children. The covers alone on some books on display are very wicked.” This was observed over a decade before the pedo queers in dresses and clown makeup first polluted the library assembly rooms. But it was observably true, just as to the book covers, and it was so at the beginning of this century as well as at the end of the last one. Therefore, I have resolved that no book cover of mine, regardless of subject, shall ever appear risque or salacious, to say nothing of appearing “wicked.” I am proud to say that no existing cover of mine risks contributing to this problem, though I had never reflected on the possibility; however, having now reflected, I intend to keep it that way. The odds are that no matter who one is, one will find something of interest and value, even if it is something as mundane as my example. If one happens to have young children, then the odds are one will be walking into a goldmine with Teaching the Trivium. I still have never developed a rating system, therefore I will merely mark this book as an absolute must-read. Read it!
And, if one has a little extra time, then I have another book to recommend – and it’s a short one: Christian Nationalism, Andrew Torba and Andre Isker, GAB AI, Inc. (2022). It’s not perfect, but it is one heck of a statement in defense of Christendom in the post-modern age. Among other things, it provides a list of the official state religions, through time, of the several sovereign American States (one will note that they all fell away by the latter half of the 19th century when the unofficial religion of the US Empire was instituted), and a rebuke of the heretical nonsense of the “Judeo-Christian” idea.
Read, read often, and teach your children a love of reading. Deus vult.