I think these approaches [ETA: "Great Books" taught with a Christian apologetic emphasis] can have value as a sort of "crash course in worldview" for converts or reverts, or young adults who didn't have a good formation. Especially if they're done in person.
As for homeschooled children, though... maybe I'm completely out to lunch here, but from what I've observed with a limited sample, when they understand the basics of our faith (even at a third-grade level), and have some knowledge of reality (again, just from childhood experiences), then it's fairly blatantly obvious to them why, say, Hitler or Rousseau were wrong. Their eyes get all big when they realize some people think this way. "But didn't they know... [insert wisdom of the innocents]?"
I would like to work with that, and provide them with the means to strengthen their sense of truth, goodness, and beauty. Not go through some master list of worldly ideas, and address them one by one. If that makes sense.
I just came across something in a blog post about Andrew Pudewa that reminded me that I have similar concerns about the John Senior type of emphasis. Both "Good Books" and "Christian Great Books" -- when used as focused pedagogical methods -- appear to take their justification not so much from traditional child-rearing, nor from Montessori-style scientific observation of the child, but from the personal experience of adult converts. For instance, here's the passage:
"Andrew shared how he was raised in a home where the religion was sailing, and dabbled in a New Age cult as a teenager. Eventually, as a young man, he discovered the joy of faith in Christ. He asked himself later what in his background could possibly have led him to a deep embrace of the gospel. The answers were rather surprising: Nature and Fairy Tales."
Which is great, if that's what worked for him. But does it mean that an emphasis on nature and fairy tales is a "method" that would best prepare the path for all children everywhere? I feel as if that's how it's being presented, a lot of the time.
We don't tend to see this connection being made in the biographies of of saints raised in devout Christian homes, or in older Christian writings on education. It doesn't fit with my own experience, either, although -- like both Pudewa and Senior -- I was raised in a nominally religious atmosphere, and went through a stage of being drawn to "new age" ideas. Without getting into the various factors that drew me back, I'm pretty sure that frogs and fairy tales don't rank especially high on the list.
I don't know what to make of this whole trend. Is it an attempt to seem neutral? As in, these parents and teachers want the children to know and love Christ as they do, but don't want to seem like they're biasing them in that direction - since, as Fr. Henle says, traditional adult-to-child "formation" is considered suspect these days?
Edited by ElizaG, 07 May 2016 - 01:52 PM.