"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Review: Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctly Christian Education

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!


Bear with me… this is going to be a long one.

This book is an answer to a prayer that I never prayed, but I should have prayed if I had really been turning over all of my concerns to Christ.  This is a subject that I have spent considerable mental energy on, turned over in my mind and never had an answer to on my own, and God is so gracious that he helped even though I did not ask him for help!  My dear friend Lacey sent me this book after Isla was born, and it has taken me months to finish it (its not a tough read… its just hard with a baby!), but now that it is done, I am reminded that my Heavenly Fathers knows my needs and always provides.  How I love Him and how generous He is!

Long before Isla was even conceived and around the time I began to “own” my faith in Christ, I became very preoccupied with the concept of education, specifically, mentally reviewing my education in relation to my Christian walk.  I am the product of two very different kinds of high schools, one kind was academically rigorous, but intensely secular bordering on hostile to Christianity.  The differences between what my Bible said and what the curriculum said were very confusing to my young mind, and as an adult I realize that my faith barely escaped with the skin of its teeth.  The unlearning process from my time there has been incredibly painful.  The second high school was a Christian high school, but I found it very unchallenging after my previous high school.  It did not contribute to my ability to think critically, although I was grateful for the shelter of a school that encouraged my values and my faith.

And I began to wonder… how will I educate my children? 

What I want for my children, is for them be to able to love the Lord their God with all of their minds, which means using their minds in a way that honors God.  It also means using their minds to their fullest capacity for His glory.  I want my children to be given the tools to think, to debate, to challenge, and ultimately to defend His ways, but most importantly, I do not want an education for them that contradicts his Word or teaches them that God’s Word is untrustworthy or untrue. 

I felt like I only had two options, should I send my children to a tough, but secular school and try to constantly un-teach them the secularism that they were being indoctrinated with or should I send them to a Christ centered school where I was afraid that they might easily get straight As, but not be taught to really think!?! 

I don’t want to get into a debate, but public school has never been an option for me.  There are many reason why I won’t, but here is one (taken from the book and I completely agree): I know that some Christian parents feel that they should send their children to public school to be “salt and light”, but be honest with yourself… how many Christian kids are actually being “salt and light” in the public school system?  I can tell you that when I attended a secular school, I was a new believer, and I was not very strong or mature in my faith, and I found myself continually reverting back to my old heathenish ways to fit in, make friends, and be cool.  I am sure that I sent a very confusing message to people who were curious about Christianity, and I now pray frequently that I did not hinder anyone from coming to Christ.  Also, that seems like a lot to expect from a child who isn’t fully mature in his or her faith… especially when you consider how poor Christian parents are at being salt and light in their jobs!

Before reading this book, I had pretty much decided that home school was the only way for me to go if either A) we could not afford a private school or B) we were unable to locate a Christian school that met my standard of academic rigor.

Then I found out what God had to say on the subject of educating your children: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).  What a responsibility!  It is quite daunting to me, clearly God wants me to use every waking opportunity to teach my children about Him and His Word!  If He created the earth and everything in it… how could an education that fails to acknowledge Him in any subject really be called complete?  He is the master and creator of ALL subjects.  So a private, secular school was also taken off the drawing board.

As to homeschooling, although I have no desire to homeschool, I find it very frustrating that some people think that only away from their parents can children really learn to think freely and independently.  Young children by nature do not know how to think for themselves, they do not know their “right hands from their left”, and the Bible tells us that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15).  Children regurgitate what they see and are taught, which is why it is so important to be careful of what you put into their precious little minds.  God has charged parents, and only parents, with the education and raising of their (His) children; it is sacred, which makes it all the more grievous when parents betray the charge that God has given them.  Why would I send my children to a place where they will spend countless hours under the influence of someone who does not have the same purpose and intent for their education that God does?  The answer: I WON’T!

For those who are reading this and thinking “Whoa, Stori has gone off the deep end, and she’s somewhere in a realm bordering on fundamentalism!” Trust me, that could not be farther from the truth!  As I mentioned, I want my children to be able to truly think, which means making sure that they understand the world that we live in and all of the doctrines of this world.  They will have exposure to many things that are not of God.  They will always hear both sides of any argument, which is the opposite of indoctrination!  That is more than you can say for most schools where God is not even allowed to be mentioned in the curriculum.


So let me get around to finally tell you what this book is about and what it is answering in that giant window into my tiny brain!  If you followed all that above, then you already have some inkling of the book’s subject matter.

About twenty years ago, Doug Wilson set out with the same questions that I had.  How to create Christians who loved the Lord, their God, who loved knowledge and learning, who could think critically, and debate and explain God and his word with eloquence and passion?  In other words, how do we create a bunch of little C.S. Lewises? Smile

Wilson first goes into what he calls the “failure of modern secular education”, and discusses the many reform movements, both secular and Christian.  In the second part of the book, Wilson describes what a “Christian education” should look like using the scripture as his only guide.  I am grateful for the fact that he never fails to hit home the point that education is not the answer for the ills of society, CHRIST is always the solution.  We live in a fallen, broken world and it is only in Christ that we can find true freedom from sin and depravity.  That point cannot be emphasized enough.

Finally, Wilson provides his own solution to Christian education crisis.  The answer is to return to the old ways of learning, also knows as a “classical” education but with a Christian worldview.  You can read more about what a classical education is here.  Coincidentally, or not, it is also the way that the ancient (and maybe modern) Rabbinic schools operated in Israel back in Jesus’s day!  The model – from knowledge flows understanding, and from understanding – wisdom; it gives children the ability to know how to learn and think, not just regurgitate facts. 

After reviewing all of the possible learning environments for educating children - the ideal learning environment (in Wilson’s opinion) is at a private Christian school where parents are actively involved in their children’s education, although he does concede that had he not been able to locate that school then he and his wife would have home schooled their children.

Wilson felt so strongly about educating his children right that he started his own school, Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, which in turn has spurred an entire Christian movement in the return to a Classical Christian education.


YES, read it please!  I have been literally jumping for joy since I found this book, and I have found so many materials to accompany this, and I am very hopeful that I will be able to educate my girl the way I want. 

There is now an accreditation process for Christian schools to be considered “Classical” via the Association of Classical and Christian Schools.  There have not been many schools that have received this accreditation with Logos School being the first, but I was excited to find one located in Spring, TX!

Even if Nick and I were unable to afford private school, home school is a definite possibility, the best one I’ve found being Classical Conversations.  I have absolutely ZERO desire on my own to homeschool for many reasons that I won’t get into, but I do feel that if I had to, then I would.  I like Classical Conversations because, in addition to following the classical model, from what I can tell, it is sort of an educational coop, where children gather with other homeschooled children either one or three days a week so it isn’t 100% exclusively just me and my kids.  I know several people who have had experiences with Classical Conversations and loved it.

Anyway, obviously I still have a lot of time before any decisions need to be made, but I am so thankful that there are solutions out there… I am not sure why I always think that I need to fight these battles on my ownSmile

I really do not care if Isla is a scholar or not, she is who she is, but I do want to make sure that I do everything I can while I have this precious girl to help her find Jesus at an early age and only grow to love him more as she grows… everything after that is just gravy!


  1. in·doc·tri·nate
    1.to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., esp. to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view.
    2.to teach or inculcate.
    3.to imbue with learning.

    "They will always hear both sides of any argument, which is the opposite of indoctrination!"

    How will your children have the foundation to decide which side of the argument is correct if you do not indoctrinate them?

    Would it not be better to teach your children that God has SPOKEN!

    Education is not man trying to figure out life - it is the creature sitting at the feet of its Creator. Romans 11:36 - From Him and through Him and to Him are all things! To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10) God commands His people to raise their children in a context where love for God and communication about God are pervasive. (Deut. 6:4-8) God has revealed Himself to man, and His revelation is central to all of life.

    It is impossible to understand this world aright until one understands the God that stands behind this world sustaining it by the Word of his power.


  2. My husband and I have been believers for a very long time, but around a year and a half ago, we made the decision that we would not have any opinion on any subject that was not in line with the word of God. We decided that we would not rationalize something that did not make sense to us and say "Oh that miracle only applied to THEM in that situation," which is something that we were very guilty of doing.

    And that decision has brought about the greatest of blessings, including the birth of our beautiful daughter.

    I thought that I made it clear that God is the only authority in their education and upbringing when I said "I do not want an education for them that contradicts his Word or teaches them that God’s Word is untrustworthy or untrue."

    And again when I said "If He created the earth and everything in it… how could an education that fails to acknowledge Him in any subject really be called complete? He is the master and creator of ALL subjects."

    What I meant by making sure that she hears both sides to any argument, is that I want my daughter to be able to recognize false teachings when she sees them. I do not want her dumbfounded by this fallen world as soon as she leaves the shelter of our home at 18. I did not mean that other teachings would be presented with the same authority as God's Word.


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