Congratulations! Your homeschool tween has reached substantial mastery of the three skills of the classical trivium, and you’re ready to tackle high school. Where will you go after the classical trivium? You are in for a wonderful, thrilling adventure as the high school journey begins. Follow me, and I’ll explain.
You may recall that the Greek “paideia” is the foundation of an authentic classical education. Webster defines paideia as the training of the physical and mental faculties in order to produce an enlightened mature outlook harmoniously combined with maximum cultural development. To the ancient Greeks, learning was the path to a higher nature through the exploration of abstract concepts such as truth, goodness, and beauty with the expectation that such examination would lead to noble character, gracious behavior, enlightened minds, and enriched society. The Greeks were searching for knowledge that would transform their culture, but remember this was a pagan society. Man is limited in his knowledge; he needs inspiration. The Greek paideia is not enough.
Most contemporary Christians cannot read Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, so you might be surprised to discover that the Apostle Paul uses the word paideia at least seven times in his letters to the Hebrews, the Ephesians, and to his disciple Timothy. Trained with a Jewish adaptation of authentic classical education, Paul defines the word paideia as “discipline” or “instruction in righteousness.” Paul knew that the Greeks had a good idea, but their educational philosophy lacked one critical component: the inspiration of the indwelling Spirit of God. True education is a transformational process of growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Jesus gives us the perfect example of what this looks like in the Gospels. Like the one-on-one tutor relationship established between the Socratic elder and the Greek youth, Jesus lives with his disciples. (By the way, “disciple” is a derivative of the word “discipline” which is the English translation of paideia.) In the course of everyday life, Jesus conducts an ongoing dialogue about big ideas:
- ideas about God
- ideas about man
- ideas about man’s relationship to God
- ideas about man’s relationship to man
- ideas about life
- ideas about death
In short, Jesus instructs his disciples by asking them questions about the fundamental realities of life. Sometimes he provides immediate answers, but more often than not, he allows them to wrestle with the questions through life experiences, parables, and more dialogue. Like Socrates before him, Jesus knew the value of dialogue or conversation in learning. He has always sought relationship, and in that ongoing intimate relationship, the student learns more and more.
So what do the post-trivium years look like in an authentic classical education? They look like the Socratic model that Jesus followed with his disciples. As parents, we supervise the dialogue that our teens are having with the classics and with other authorities like university professors. We narrate. We write. We disagree. We agree. We listen. We discuss the big ideas on a daily basis. We allow the dialogue to drive the instruction. Sometimes we end up going off on tangents, but that’s okay because we are wrestling with knowledge. Every minute is an opportunity for learning as parent and teen engage in an ongoing dialogue about the fundamental realities of life.
To fully realize the classical Christian paideia and disciple your teens in meaningful ideas, complete the following “absorb, do, and connect” activities.
- Listen to An Enlightened, Mature Mind (5:00)
- Read Mentoring Teens in the Pursuit of Knowledge
- Read Home School Disciples Gain Progressive Responsibility
- Read Supervised Independent Study
- Read Instruction in Righteousness
- Read Socratic Dialogue: Leading Questions Illustrated
- Read Worldview Qs
- Grab a copy of 10 Best College Majors for Your Personality by Laurence Shatkin
- Browse Fav bloggers on discipling Christian teens
- Did you know…?
- Complete the pdf
- Have your teen take the same Myers-Briggs personality test that you took in Lesson 1
- Have your teen take the VARK Learning Skills Questionnaire
When you understand how to apply the fundamentals of the classical Christian paideia, it’s time to make your selections from the bounty of Western classics so that you can fill out your high school curriculum and long-term plan. Go to the next question of your High School Classical Makeover: What Classics of the Western Canon Will You Use?