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Classical Christian
Classical Education
at Home

Christine Miller

Classical Christian
Homeschooling FAQ:
Classical Education and Girls

This page last revised:
February 2003


Classical Education & Girls

Christine Miller

Understanding the Purpose

The question is often raised, “Since my daughters will grow up to be wives and mothers, rather than career women, is a rigorous classical education superfluous for them, or should they be educated, in regard to academic learning, differently than our sons?” In order to answer this question, it would be helpful to understand the purpose of a classical education. Is it solely to increase vocational prospects and success? Wes Callihan of Schola Classical Tutorials and co-author of Classical Education and the Home School, says this:

“The goal of a classical liberal arts education is to free a person (thus “liberal” = liberating) from the narrowness, rigidity, and prejudice which is the natural characteristic of our minds. The goal of a Christian classical education is to do so for the glory of God. While it is true that apart from salvation an educated person may be nothing more than an educated fool, it is also true that an ignorant Christian, no matter how godly, is limited by that ignorance; an educated Christian is a more effective servant of God because his natural abilities and talents have been developed rather than allowed to atrophy. The tradition of education in western civilization has been propelled for nearly two millenia by Christianity, during which time it has always assumed diligent training in godliness by a child’s parents as an underpinning to education.

“That assumed, the liberation of a child’s mind is accomplished by teaching him the following, which can be grouped according to the classical Trivium -- grammar, logic, and rhetoric (the first five points) -- and Theology, the King of the Sciences (the last two points):

• to listen and read carefully;
• to think clearly and express himself persuasively;
• to comprehend his position in space, time, and culture and his relation to other places, times, and people;
• to appreciate and learn from the difference between his own and those other places, times, and people;
• to enjoy a wider range of beauty as a result of that wider exposure;
• to devote himself to continued learning on his own, using the tools of learning acquired in the previous five points;
• to evaluate, and ascribe the proper significance to, all of the above in the light of a transcendent, absolute standard;
• to construct and defend a coherent, biblical worldview as a result of his education.

“It is NOT to get a job.”

Preparing Younger Children for a Great Books Education by Wes Callihan
Schola Classical Tutorials

Classical Education in the Home

Career-related success is not the primary goal of a classical education (although, because the individual has been worthily educated, career-related success is common). Listening and reading carefully, thinking clearly, communicating persuasively, enjoying a wider range of beauty, and constructing and defending a coherent biblical worldview are abilities needed by every human being, regardless of gender, and regardless of that human being’s life’s work. The liberation of the mind greatly benefits wives and mothers just as much as laborers, professionals, and statesmen.

But let us look at a hypothetical adult life of a classically-educated Christian woman, within the construct of the biblical career of wife and mother that God has ordained for her. Before she can be a wife and mother, she needs to attract a potential husband. It is fair to assume that a classically-educated Christian man, looking for someone with which to share his heart, thoughts, and life, will be drawn to a godly woman who possesses a coherent biblical worldview. Her value as a helpmeet, and therefore her attractiveness as a potential mate, increases if she is also able, because of her education, to discuss many issues of importance to him intelligently and thoughtfully.

Now that our happy hypothetical couple is married, our classically-educated woman finds herself occupied with home management and child-rearing. It is a common lie of today’s secular society that homemaking is a job any dummy can do. Any woman that has made homemaking and motherhood her primary career will attest to that lie, and it is common to hear professional women that have left the board room for the nursery say that mothering is by far the most demanding work with which they have ever been involved. The fact-finding and problem-solving skills classical education teaches are required to successfully navigate children on the path of godly maturity. The ability to use language and logic well are necessary skills in any career dealing with people, and child-rearing is certainly no exception.

Moreover, a classically-educated mother will not be hampered, but helped, by her education when she begins homeschooling her own children, some of whom may very well be sons. Her daughters, likewise, will benefit as much from a coherent biblical worldview, clear thought, and a wider appreciation of beauty as from training in the home arts.

Helping our Husbands

In the meantime, our hypothetical husband needs a helpmeet in his life’s calling. While the Bible calls women to be their husbands’ helpmeets, it does not categorically limit the form that that help can take. In this is wisdom, as godly husbands in different life situations and the gamut of careers can be flexible enough to determine what would be “helpful.” John Adams, one of our nation’s founders, greatly valued discussing political and philosophical issues with his wife Abigail, and respected her common sense and perspective. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs appreciate their wife’s help with the family business. And once, when my husband had been severely injured at work and required rehabilitation for one and a half years, I took a part-time job to help our family make it through that time. All of these examples, and many others not mentioned, constitute “help,” and may make necessary business or political acumen, or skills valued in the workplace. A woman’s life calling of homemaking and motherhood does not automatically restrict her from from acquiring that acumen or those skills.

Then there is the worst-case scenario: the woman who has been widowed or abandoned, left with children to provide for. In generations past, such women had a safety net: male family members who took their provision and care upon themselves. In today’s secular and splintered society, such safety nets are rare, unfortunately. But a woman, faced with the prospect of becoming the primary bread-winner for her family, should not be further hampered by a diluted education, as quality of education is usually related to personal income.

I know a local family in which the wife homeschooled their three daughters, while the husband ran a small business. When he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at the age of 40, it was a complete shock to everyone, but his wife, heroically, took over the management of his business, running it out of their home, and was able to continue to homeschool and provide for their children at the same time.

The Underlying Premise

The premise that underlies the question, “Why should Christian girls who are going to be wives and mothers bother with a classical education,” is this: classical education is for the purpose of earning money, and Christian women fulfilling their biblical calling will never have to earn money. On both counts, the premise is flawed. Classical education is not primarily for the purpose of earning money, and Christian women sometimes fulfill their biblical calling by helping their husbands earn money, or, in the worst-case scenario, by earning money themselves.

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