Classical Education for Homeschool Science

What is Classical Education and how does it apply to homeschool science? | Elemental BloggingDoes classical education for homeschool science really work?

Normally when one thinks of classical education for homeschool, they equate it with literature, Latin, and history rich studies. Science is often seen as an afterthought or as a weak, book-centered addition to typically rigorous curriculum plan.

I would like to dispel this myth over the coming weeks with a series of articles about how the classical education model really treats science. I want to share with you all how I see the partnership between classical education and homeschool science.

My history with classical education

We have chosen to follow the classical education model laid out in The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer in our homeschool. The goal of this educational model is to produce a well-rounded student who knows how to learn.

I have also spent the last six years writing and publishing homeschool science curriculum for the classical homeschooler. Although we as a company have branched out to other methods of science instruction, I still hold a special place in my heart for the classical education model.

Today, I want to share a bit more about the theory behind classical education for homeschool & how science fits into that method of instruction.

What is classical education?

Classical education, in a nutshell, is an educational model that focuses on teaching the students to think critically as well as training them to be familiar with how to learn. Classical education does not believe that you will be able to cover everything in the 12+ years the students are in school, rather it covers the highlights and provides the students with the skills to know how to fill in the gaps on their own.

There are several flavors of classical education in the homeschool world.  The most notable are:

  • Susan Wise Bauer (The Well-trained Mind);
  • the Bluedorns (Teaching the Trivium);
  • Leigh Bortins (The Core);
  • Charlotte Mason (Ambleside Online).

Each one of these resources teaches that there are stages, or cycles, of learning that every student goes through in his or her educational journey. The student begins with the grammar stage, which we know as the elementary years. Then he or she progresses into the logic, or dialectic stage, which typically happens around the middle school years. Finally, the student finishes with the rhetoric stage, otherwise known as the high school years.

In each stage, you are teaching to the student’s strengths and working on building the skills that will become assets in the next stage.

How does homeschool science fit into the classical education model?

Science is taught like any other subject in the classical education model. You focus on the different skills of the subject that are appropriate for each stage while seeking to build their knowledge base at each level.

In the grammar stage, you are working on sharing basic information.

In the logic stage, you are building on the foundation by asking why things are the way they are. in the rhetoric stage you are analyzing what you know and learning how to apply it to what you don’t know.

In the rhetoric stage, you are analyzing what you know and learning how to apply it to what you don’t know.

For science, The Well-Trained Mind suggests that you do this by following a four-year cycle, with each year focusing on a different field of science.

  • In year 1 you focus on biology;
  • In year 2 you focus on earth science & astronomy;
  • In year 3 you focus on chemistry;
  • In year 4 you focus on physics.

Then you rinse and repeat, digging deeper into each discipline as you progress through the stages. The other flavors of classical education have similar goals, but different nuances in how those goals are carried out day to day.

Over the coming weeks, I plan to share with you how classical science really can be enough along with advice on how to teach science to each of the different stages. If you have any questions on classical education and homeschool science, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

by Paige Hudson

Classical Science for Homeschoolers by Elemental Science