The Awkward Downside of a Classical Education

We live in the country, we let our egg laying chickens free range, we grow our own food, and this year we are learning about canning, putting away all sorts of things for eating later this winter.

My boys are creative to the nth degree. Their little minds are like sponges gobbling up everything we feed them. So, I try to feed their minds with great literature, poetry, studies about the Ancient Greeks, and lots of art and music. We follow (loosely) the outline suggested in What Your Third Grader Needs to Know by the group that proposes Core Knowledge is essential for a good education. I say we follow it loosely, because I also just add things that I think will peak their curiosity – things that involve loud noises, explosions, or engines.

Sunday night, Bean fell asleep before dinner and slept through the night. During dinner, my 8-year old brought up an article he’d read in a magazine that was saying that girls and boys should be separated in school. He was telling me the arguments for separation and the arguments against. We talked about how boys and girls develop at different speeds, and they develop in different ways. There are good reasons for them to be educated differently. But there are also fun reasons for them to have time to be together to learn how the other side thinks.

After dinner, Ben and I had a chance to read just the two of us. We have a library book about the Ancient Greeks, and we were reading through the part about what education was like for young men and girls in Ancient Greece. Girls were mostly taught at home, but boys went to school. Ben thought that was crazy. He couldn’t believe girls didn’t get to go to school at all.

I thought we were having this very enlightened discussion about a classic time in history, but over breakfast the next morning, he couldn’t wait to tell his little brother that the Ancient Greeks did their exercises completely naked. They were cracking up at the table, doubled over laughing.

Yes, it’s true. That was part of what we read – that the boys would take all their clothes off to work out, and sprinkle their bodies with dust or powder so they wouldn’t get cold. That was something I had forgotten, or perhaps never learned when I studied the Greeks in school. Strange. But completely memorable to an eight-year old and his four-year old brother. Now, I can’t get that out of my head. I do not want to find these guys wrestling in the nude. But that is so very likely to happen. They put what they learn into practice all the time. Oh dear. What have I done?


Leave a Reply