The Well-Trained Mind

A Guide to Classical Education at Home
Book cover: 'The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home'
Jessie Wise
Susan Wise Bauer
W.W. Norton
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
764 pages

Jessie Wise started homeschooling her daughter (and co-author Susan Wise Bauer) in 1973. In this book they elaborate ideas and resources for a complete classical curriculum from preschool through high school. From a Catholic standpoint, I think this book would be most useful for those who are already using Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, but looking for additional ideas. I found the explanations of the stages of the Trivium very helpful as well as some of the ideas for types of writing assignments, lists of subject material and tidbits on scheduling and record-keeping. I also found the order in which certain materials are to be studied (particularly for History which they recommend studying in chronological fashion starting in first grade) to be more to my liking than the order proposed in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum because I'd like to have my children studying the same topic in History at the same time. The authors had some important things to say about the problems with television and I really enjoyed (as a bit of a vindication of my own educational ideas I suppose) the story about Dr. Seuss and why he wrote The Cat in the Hat.

I would be reluctant to give this book to a mother who is already feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling or one who has just pulled her children out of a conventional school and is beginning to homeschool later in the game. Although it is not intended to be, I think it might be intimidating at this stage. Although the authors (who are not Catholic) don't fall into a number of "traps" regarding the Catholic Church that one might expect (as is clear from their segment on Religion), some of the resources (especially with regards to History) contain biases against the Catholic Church and should be used only with caution. A great deal of their recommended materials are those recommended by Greenleaf Press and/or published by Dorling Kindersley - I use materials from both of these sources, but many should be approached with caution if not avoided altogether.

I have not read the book in its entirety yet (I finished the Grammar segment and skimmed the rest). Overall, I found it worthwhile reading, but not "required reading", and some things should be taken with a grain of salt.

You can find out more about the book at the Well Trained Mind website run by co-author Susan Wise Bauer.

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