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Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series)
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Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  626 ratings  ·  72 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

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published (first published April 1st 1991)
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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
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
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
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
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!!
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.
Richard Minor
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
John Wise
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
James B.
Through this book, Doug Wilson has shaped my thinking about what education is, and what it should be.
Finished again 7/12/15. One of my two very favorite education books.
Brent Pinkall
This is a wonderful introduction to classical and Christian education, as well as a very thought-provoking critique of public schools. Although some accuse Wilson of too harsh/dogmatic a tone in his critique of public schools, I think he is charitable and clear-headed. My biggest complaint is that there are a number of typos (repeated words, etc.) that apparently came about by a formatting fluke by the publisher. This is unfortunate, considering that the book focuses largely on the importance of ...more
A great book for every parent to read.
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
Abe Goolsby
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.'
Angie Libert
There were some gems to have in the reading of this book. Even if I did not agree with his sentiment that a private school is better than homeschool.
ok, really this is a 4.7, but that's not really an option so i rounded up. i docked him .3 because i don't think his section on homeschooling is appropriately circumspect. but i was surprised to find myself agreeing with him - surprised because he has gone frightening places lately in his theology, and i expected to see some of that in this book. i guess back in the late 80s he was still solidly orthodox in his doctrine. anyway, good book - and it's basis in dorothy sayers' "the lost tools of le ...more
If Classical Christian Education is a cult, I want to join it.
David Linton
A classic must read for anyone interested in education.
Richard Damiano
Great job discussing the failures of our current public school system and why it is failing and then laying out a solution and discussing alternatives. Classical Christian schools organized as he recommends are fantastic.

We home schooled our daughter through third grade and for the very reasons he mentioned (not able to keep lace with what we knew needed to be taught) put her in a classical Christian school, she is a junior now and what she knows, how she expresses that knowledge and how she ti
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  • Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style
  • The Lost Tools of Learning
  • Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education
  • Reading Between the Lines
  • The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education
  • Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
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  • When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling
  • Invitation to the Classics: A Guide to Books You've Always Wanted to Read (Masterworks Series)
  • The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home
  • Home Education
  • Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning
  • For the Children's Sake
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  • Charlotte Mason Companion
  • Educating the Wholehearted Child
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I write in order to make the little voices in my head go away. Thus far it hasn't worked.
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“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.” 2 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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