Book Review: The Well-Trained Mind (Bauer)

Everyone involved in Christian education should be familiar with Susan Wise Bauer. She has written many great history books, both for children and adults. I linked to her works throughout my series on history curriculum (ancient, medieval, modern Europe, and American). Bauer has a complete four-part children’s series (with activity books and test & answer keys), and she is continuing to work on her adult-level history series.

Susan Wise Bauer is not only an advocate of classical Christian education, but she is also an advocate of homeschooling. Her most important book here is The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, which Susan wrote with her mother Jessie Wise.

The Well-Trained Mind is a valuable book for any homeschool family. The authors in this work provide instruction on how to give children a comprehensive education. Bauer and Wise explain the classical method of education, which uses the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and emphasizes ancient subjects such as logic and Latin.

The book also provides lists of many helpful books and resources for homeschooling from a classical Christian perspective. Originally published in 1999, this work has been continually updated and is on its 4th edition.

There are four parts to the book. Part I covers the grammar stage (kindergarten – 4th grade), with guidance for teaching and resources for every subject (math, English, history, Latin, etc.). Part II follows a similar format for the logic stage (5th – 8th grade) and Part III for the rhetoric stage (9th – 12th grade). Part IV provides specific helps for homeschooling parents, including information on planning a schedule and keeping grades.

At 800+ pages, this is definitely a reference work. But it is a reference work that every educator—parent or school teacher—should have on the shelf.