Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” as Want to Read:
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  705 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Public education in America has run into hard times. Even many within the system admit that it is failing. While many factors contribute, Douglas Wilson lays much blame on the idea that education can take place in a moral vacuum. It is not possible for education to be nonreligious, deliberately excluding the basic questions about life. All education builds on the foundatio ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Crossway Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise BauerDumbing Us Down by John Taylor GattoA Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMilleHow to Read a Book by Mortimer J. AdlerHow Children Learn by John Holt
Best Homeschooling Books
64th out of 190 books — 261 voters
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil PostmanThe Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte M. MasonRooftop Perspectives by Eric ReendersThe Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton GregoryRecovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson
Best Books on Christian Education
5th out of 22 books — 11 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,595)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mark Congdon
May 17, 2016 Mark Congdon rated it it was amazing
If you ever have the privilege, as I have, of conversing with Douglas Wilson you will quickly discern that he has a thorough and comprehensive grasp of what Education can and should look like (hint: Classical and Christian). This is a MUST-read for any parent who has wrestled with the Public vs. Private vs. Home education dilemma. (And if you haven't thought twice about it, this would be a good time to do so.) Each system is approached objectively and dissected with painstaking accuracy. Devote ...more
Megan Larson
A very good book on the importance of Classical education based partly on Dorothy Sayers' essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning." Written from the perspective of a Christian school administrator, there are several chapters that apply directly and exclusively to that area of education. Wilson does a good job of pointing out the places where public school fails, and discussing what, if anything, can be done. One chapter does address "The Homeschooling Alternative," but from an outsider's perspective ...more
Amy Kannel
Sep 26, 2012 Amy Kannel rated it liked it
Shelves: education
It quickly became clear that the subtitle here should be “THE Approach to Distinctively Christian Education.” I found it extremely useful for helping me understand classical education, and it certainly challenged me to think carefully about education as a disciple of Christ. But Wilson’s tone is graceless; he takes a very dogmatic, “if you don’t agree with me, you’re WRONG and quite possibly SINNING” approach. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was the opinions of a fallible man, not ...more
Josiah DeGraaf
Dec 05, 2014 Josiah DeGraaf rated it really liked it
Wilson writes an engaging and perceptive book here, spending a lot of time on why the public school system could never work in the first place before moving on to his solution to our education problems. I very much enjoyed his historical and philosophical analysis of that issue. Part Two, on how to bring about a distinctively Christian education, was quite good and he had a lot of good thoughts on a Christian view of reality and such. Part Three, on how to bring about a distinctively classical e ...more
Feb 06, 2016 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
4 stars (composite rating).
In addition to rating three elements of this book, I also perceived a natural division in quality. The second half--focusing on classical learning in particular--was markedly better. Even the writing improved.

This book is as true in 2012 as it was in 1991. Its discernment is rarefied and balanced, and its emphasis on parental responsibility is a focus in its coherent ellipse of dual subjects. The writing was not succinct enough, and occasionally repetitive. But the ref
Sep 01, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing
If there was a school like the one Doug has set up anywhere near me I would not be contemplating home education for the whole of my children's education. He has properly diagnosed the problem and come up with a thorough answer--classical Christian schools with tight discipline and heavy parental involvement.

This book is researched, highly readable, thorough and concise. If you want a book that deals with the crisis in education, the duty of parents to give their children distinctly Christian ed
Jun 03, 2013 Thadeus rated it it was amazing
This was real eye opener for me. I hadn't heard of the trivium before I read this book. I am very thankful to have come across this title in a used bookstore while my children are young. I look forward to teaching myself and my children according to this method and intend to be more attentive to the curriculum and educational philosophies of my children's teachers, principals, supers, and school board members.

Very highly recommended!!
Apr 20, 2013 David rated it it was ok
I was excited from the first lines. However, as I progressed, the arguments supporting classical education became weaker and weaker. It ends up becoming a brochure of his school rather than being a legitimate model. His rhetoric appeals to emotion hidden in hollow "logic." The cracks became chasms. The house of cards could not stand.
Great book to demonstrate a mix of great rhetoric and faulty logic.
Carleton Raisbeck
Apr 23, 2016 Carleton Raisbeck rated it it was amazing
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning 23/4/2016

I have not really read any other books on education so I can only compare this book to what I remember of the state education I received growing up in the UK and of the 'educated' people I have observed. In this book I've learned that there is a clear distinction between learning 'subjects', as most do in their schooling, utilitarian and shallow, and learning to think and learn for oneself, which is the true mark of an education. In that sense, ther
Richard Minor
Mar 14, 2014 Richard Minor rated it liked it
My wife and I purchased this book as part of our investigation on education. We wanted to know more about classical education and the arguments for it and this book delivers that very well.

Douglas Wilson writes as one of the co-founders of a rather successful Private Christian Classical School (I am not sure if that is the proper terminology, but hopefully you get the picture). He begins by discussing the failures of American Education and then moves on to discuss the reasons for a return to cla
James B.
Nov 02, 2009 James B. rated it it was amazing
Through this book, Doug Wilson has shaped my thinking about what education is, and what it should be.
Jul 12, 2015 Katherine rated it it was amazing
Finished again 7/12/15. One of my two very favorite education books.
Jun 03, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing
If Classical Christian Education is a cult, I want to join it.
Jan 11, 2013 Jonny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
A great book for every parent to read.
John Weis
Jan 16, 2016 John Weis rated it it was amazing
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning - Douglas Wilson
An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education
Part One - The Failure of Modern Secular Education

Wilson's analysis of the failures and possible reforms of the public education system is more than thorough. His explanation of the systemic problems should be convincing even to the most staunch defender of the public system that the game is up.

This portion has ample data to support the premise. This book being written in 1991, we now have

John Wise
Apr 08, 2016 John Wise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education, top-10
I had a pretty good experience in public school, so everything I say is out of love. Perhaps we need to consider that public school was a doomed effort from the start. When Christians were in control of public schools we imposed our views on others. Now that secularists have gained control, they are imposing their beliefs on us. If Muslims gain control, they will impose their views on Christians and secularists. The problem isn't that Christians need to be in control. The problem is that if a de ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Momma rated it it was ok
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Doug Wilson.

Odd book.

The author spends 90 pages building a strong case for a classical (3 staged) Christian Education. The author spends the first chapters, 70+ pages building the case that parents are accountable to god for their children’s education, and parents alone hold this responsibility before the Lord. Then he spends 2 meaty chapters discussing a truly Christian education rather than a “cleaned up public school with a couple of prays and a Bible
Oct 04, 2009 Abrahamus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
This book was simply a life-changer. I first heard Doug Wilson articulate the ideas contained in this book during a radio interview and knew that I had found a huge missing link which had long eluded me. As one who reads a fair amount of history, including first person accounts, it had been steadily gnawing on me for years that a person in this country who had received, let's say, perhaps eight years of formal education during the mid-nineteenth century, consistently displayed both a breadth and ...more
Scarlett Sims
Well, I read this because I was considering becoming a teacher at a classical school and the principal lent it to me.

At this point, there are a few things that are a bit dated--it would be nice if there were a newer version with an appendix of updated information. There were a few points he made where he seemed a bit stodgy, but overall he's right on the money.

Any thinking person who has gone through our public school system should be able to see its failings. Yes, there are schools that aren't
Bob Ladwig
Aug 08, 2012 Bob Ladwig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson is an indispensable work. Wilson ably highlights the failures of modern American education ranging from the substance of the education, its secular non-Christian nature, and the top heavy bureaucracy that has no incentive to reform education. Wilson explains the nature of education Biblically and the need for parents to be actively involved. He further goes on to make a case for the private Classical model of education.

All along the way Wi
John Gardner
Aug 16, 2010 John Gardner rated it it was amazing
This book, published in 1991, has become an incredibly influential book. In fact, an entire association of schools exists largely because of this book . In it, Douglas Wilson, a pastor in Moscow, ID, lays out his educational philosophy and a vision for Classical Christian schools. He relies heavily on examples from Logos School, which he founded in the early 1980's to implement his educational philosophy.

The title of the book comes from a Dorothy Sayers essay entitled "The Lost Tools of Learnin
Sep 06, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
This is an excellent primer for understanding the reasons for Classical Christian education. He argues that parents have the obligation to instruct their children in the wisdom and admonition of the Lord. This requires that all education be Christian in nature. He then argues that the best--most proven method of education is the classical model--following the trivium.

Doug Wilson contends that "All the instruction received by the children should be permeated with God's Word." He adds, "...we are
Jun 03, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it
This is a book that promotes and defends the need for classical Christian education. I read it for a class and am thankful I did. Douglas Wilson points out numerous Biblical principles for all parents as they educate their children whether you agree with the classical approach or not.

Here is my introduction to a class review I wrote for this book.

After reading Douglas Wilson’s Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, I understand why the book has had such an impact in Christian education. Wilson d
Aug 01, 2014 Lexi rated it really liked it
Wilson believes that education is about the training of a whole person and he explains that how we choose, or don't choose, to train and educate our children has eternal consequences. In this book he presents a strong case for the value of a Classical and Christian education. I appreciate how he not only promotes a certain type of education, but also addresses some modern secular and Christian educational "reforms" and why they don't work. (And in the Christians' case, why some of them are unbib ...more
Paul Charles
Aug 06, 2013 Paul Charles rated it really liked it
This is a tough read if you care education, especially as it might well make you feel a lot less positive about your own as a result. Wilson puts together a good case for Christians who try and lead their kids through the secular education system and hope they'll come out the other side committed to a Biblical worldview. Although he strays far from what Dorothy Sawyer had in mind when she wrote her original essay, and also may be closer to Fundamentalism than many may be comfortable with, he arg ...more
Jared Mcnabb
Dec 31, 2014 Jared Mcnabb rated it really liked it
Some of the chapters on the "current" state of education are sorely dated, but the general idea still stands. That being said, much of what Wilson puts forward positively is great. The chapters on the nature of knowledge and the trivium lay the foundation on which a classical Christian education rests.
Jun 09, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
This book offers a succinct summary of the Christian criticism of public education. The case for classical education has since been made more effectively, but given that this idea was revolutionary at the time of publishing, mr. Wilson's ideas were certainly trailblazing. I did find the homeschool discussion lacking a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. There is a point at which a family cannot sacrifice any further in order to pay for private edu action. However, the income question was not ra ...more
Seth Mcdevitt
Jul 16, 2016 Seth Mcdevitt rated it it was amazing
Very helpful. This definitely helped put words to my concerns with public education. This also sparked my desire to provide a classical education for my children. Easy to read. Incredibly useful for citizens of the kingdom. An essential for anyone worried about raising children in the Instruction of the Lord.
Feb 12, 2014 Kate rated it did not like it
Shelves: home-school
To be honest, I read the first few chapters and skimmed the rest of the book. The weight of this book is on "Christian" rather than "Classical." I actually think Charles Murray accidentally outlined a better plan for a"Christian education" in his book Real Education wherein he discusses teaching virtues. This book is just full of Bible quotations, study quotations, and quotations from other educators. It's very choppy and doesn't leave a parent with a good plan for educating their child. It does ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: education
Because of its narrow address to a particular historical moment and its small substance, this was rendered more or less obsolete by Wilson's later 'The Case for Classical Christian Education.'
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 53 54 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Seven Laws of Teaching
  • Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style
  • The Lost Tools of Learning
  • Reading Between the Lines
  • Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin
  • The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education
  • Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education
  • When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling
  • Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
  • Home Education
  • Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Reenchantment of Education
  • Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning
  • The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home
  • Educating the Wholehearted Child
  • Charlotte Mason Companion
  • For the Children's Sake
  • Invitation to the Classics: A Guide to Books You've Always Wanted to Read (Masterworks Series)
  • A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual
I write in order to make the little voices in my head go away. Thus far it hasn't worked.
More about Douglas Wilson...

Share This Book

“In Acts 14:1, we are told, "At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed." This is what should be sought in Christian schools, not just teaching, but effective teaching. Christian content alone is insufficient. It must be presented in a certain way, and that way cannot be reduced to technique. Nevertheless, God has graciously made it possible to bring people the truth by how the truth is presented.” 3 likes
“The Biblical educator must not only have a Christian understanding of the material, he must have a Biblical understanding of the student. If he does not, then the result will be a hybrid Christian methodology employed to achieve a humanistic goal.” 1 likes
More quotes…