Why do we teach children about history (or literature or any of a number of subjects)? What is the best way to teach these subjects? How do we know if we have taught them successfully? In Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, Karen Glass explains the choices facing all of us who have the responsibility of teaching children. When we choose to present or not present certain topics, even more so when we choose to present topics in particular ways, we are making philosophical choices whether we know it or not. These choices have a profound effect on the way each child views the world.
Karen explains that today's preferred methods of teaching resemble the old story of the blind men and the elephant, as we present children with disconnected bits of information without ever showing them the whole. Without that view of the whole, children do not come to care about the subjects of their studies or to care about the process of learning about the world around them.
There is a better way, and it is not new but yet it is fresh and lively. The original classical educators, back in the distant past, aimed at pursuing virtue through "synthetic" learning. (Synthetic meaning all the parts together, like the whole elephant.) Charlotte Mason, back in the early 20th century, studied the principles espoused by classical educators and found ways to apply them with her own students. Our job is to do the same today, if we want to equip students to pursue truth and virtue. "There is nothing quaint, nostalgic or old-fashioned about a desire to educate in the classical tradition. It is a radical thing to do. We do nothing less than demand that chaos resolve itself into order, simply by saying, 'There is truth and I want to know it.'"