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Hello, I have read through most of the threads about Plutarch posts and would like to get some help as to how to get balance.
First, some context as to where I am at:
First, I like the idea of reading one lesson per week of Plutarch, and I understand its purpose to build character. The teaching is clearly from a Greek/Roman pagan/human wisdom training.
Secondly, the Bible directs us to teach our children diligently of his Word, and the stories/testimonies of God. In Hebrews, it says that the Old Testament people/stories were there for our example. For us to learn from. The Bible also instructs to model ourselves after Christ, and the other believers as they are following Christ. It tells us to follow God’s word and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
So my question is… would it not be more useful to use the people in the Bible as our Character studies instead of Plutarch. I know a person can get good wisdom (That is human based) that can certainly help us, but it is not God’s wisdom. I want my children to make their choices and build their character on the Word of God, not from paganistic ideas (no matter how good they are).
I have been thinking of changing out Plutarch for the Character Sketches volumes. Do you have any ideas as to one way or the other? Have you done this and how have you done this? I welcome ideas and discussion from both sides of the issue.KeriJParticipant
It was suggested here recently to study great missionaries and heroes of the faith instead. That’s basically what we have done rather than Plutarch.
That is a good idea! Thank you.
Hello Kerij, Is there a link to that discussion? I would like to read it.psreitmomParticipant
I think you are perfectly fine not using Plutarch. I have never used Plutarch, and after your description, I never would use it. If it does not include Scripture and the lives of other Christians to back up the character trait you are studying, it will not have the impact on the child that it should have. You want the trait to be learned because it is what God wants so, yes, you are right when you say it would be better to teach from stories in the Bible.
I have just begun a study with my daughter called ‘The Teenage Years of Jesus Christ’ by Pastor Jerry Ross. We were just talking today about wisdom. In the book he shows the three main men of Proverbs. The simple, who is ignorant of the teachings of God’s Word; the foolish, who has the knowledge of the principles of God, but rejects them; the wise, who is taught the principles of God’s Word and chooses to believe them and apply them. The simple have the world’s wisdom. Maybe some of the traits match up to biblical traits, but they are not being applied for the right reasons.
My daughter is very sensitive and I came to a point in the ancients that I saw no point in going into a lot of detail about some of the pagan worship and practices. That is not what I want sticking in her mind. So, when it comes to teaching her character, the Bible needs to be the foundation.
Hello Psreitmom! Thank you for your comments and ideas. I really appreciate it. You expressed exactly what I was trying to articulate. The world’s wisdom which can be good, but it is still not God’s. I want God’s wisdom and direction to be implanted in my children’s hearts. I know that will never fail them.
Do you read Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves with your children? I have been debating about this book also. I am wondering if it is too much about fixing ourselves and not enough relying on God. I will admit I have only read a bit of the first book. And it seemed confusing in my opinion with the story of the mansoul. Would you be able to give me any insight into using this book or not?Tamara BellModerator
For convictions similar to yours, we do not read Plutarch…not the full fledge Plutarch anyways. We use Weston’s Plutarch for Boys and Girls but only 1 term. We read missionary stories all year long.
Hello Tamara Bell! Thank you for responding to my question. I appreciate it.
I decided I really need to fully understand WHY Charlotte Mason suggested these books in particular. I have had a hard time understanding their purpose when I first began learning from her own owrds, but today, I took the time to really understand and I was pleasantly surprised to read her reasons.
From my understanding, she chose to use Plutarch to teach character studies because the stories of people first and foremost are to inspire our children to good character on their own (instead of constant exhortation, which we know is not as useful to teach it). Secondly, Plutarch is to give our children knowledge proper to a citizen. It enlarges their understanding of the government and times they live in. She says, “…knowledge which should make children perceive that they too are being prepared to become worthy citizens, each with his several duties.” (Vol 6, pg 186) There is more to it, but that is the simple explanation. I agree that people’s stories inspire us to be better and improve our character. I also understand that we need to understand how our society and government works etc, and these stories also help with that. Also, reading these stories helps us to understand the roots of our government which I might add were not as Christian as people think, for they have roots in paganism (Greece and Roman ideas), but I would bet some is also based on the Bible (though today you would not see that as much). Also, this article explains much too: http://www.charlottemasonhelp.com/2009/07/in-praise-of-plutarch.html
Her use of Ourselves is clearly explained here: “know where he is in his efforts to ‘be good’ as the children say. The point of view taken in this volume is, that all beautiful and noble possibilities are present in every one; but that each person is subject to assaults and hindrances in various ways of which he should be aware in order that he may watch and pray.” (Vol 6, pg 189) Again, there is a little more to it, but I agree, that though we are free from sin as Romans 6 and 8 explains, we also have a responsibility to not yield our bodies to sin, but rather, we are to yield our members (body parts) to righeousness. And we need to know about how this happens.
I am still thinking on what I will do, but this has helped to understand the purpose of citizenship and the books she used.psreitmomParticipant
I have never read Ourselves, so I can’t help you there.
I think sources can be found on any topic that would be biblically-based, so even learning about government and citizenship can be accomplished without Plutarch. Each one must decide how they will teach their children in all manner of life. Some teach Bible separate from other subjects, so a book like that would not be a problem. I prefer having the Bible incorporated into the other subjects as much as possible, so I would look for that type of resources.Rachel WhiteParticipant
I’d like to offer another point-of-view.
Why look at it from an either-or perspective? Why can’t it be And?
Also, consider this: humans are made in the image of the Creator, all of them. Speaking specifically about Greeks/Romans, pagans had a divine soul within them as well.
His Truth is not limited to being communicated via believers only. In fact, many self-proclaimed believers have NOT spoken His Truth. Alternatively, non-believers can actually speak His Messages very well, if you listen. Sometimes better, and in a way more accessible, than how believers do it.
I recommend Circe Institute for great articles discussing the redeeming qualities, and what we can learn about Him, through reading pagan literature alongside the Bible. Those who write for CI really articulate and flesh-out these issues and concerns very well.
I am reminded how unlimited He is. How He has been communicating with humans through all these varied peoples and cultures, culminating in the Messiah.
Thank you psreitmom! That is a good idea – “having the Bible incorporated into the other subjects as much as possible.” How do you do that? I do not have any curriculum that does that.sherazParticipant
Children aren’t dumb. Please don’t underestimate your child and the Lord – your child will be able to see the difference without the forced connections of tying everything to the Bible. It actually turned my children off after a while and I learned that I unintentionally denied the Holy Spirit’s ability to reach and teach my child all truths when I did this.
I whole-heartedly agree with Rachel. Why can’t it be both? And Circe has some great answers to these questions. Angelina Stanford especially has a talk about this subject.Sonya ShaferModerator
We can have good character traits reinforced by reading a variety of good literature. The Bible is definitely the standard and the primary source. Charlotte Mason stated, “It is, no doubt, to the Bible itself we must go, as the great storehouse of spiritual truth and moral impressions” (School Education, p. 235). She ranked Plutarch’s Lives next in line, as well as all the wonderful literature that the children were reading.
It is good to have a bountiful supply of good material. I believe the Bible is the most powerful of those books, not just to teach character but for salvation of the soul. So we have chosen to emphasize the Bible in the SCM Curriculum. The accounts of the men and women in Biblical history is the emphasis of our studies in the first three years, while bringing the ancients alongside. In my mind, that includes Plutarch, who wrote about the ancients.
I use him sparingly and only in the upper grades, because frankly, some of the men he wrote about embraced ideas that I don’t want my children emulating. Parts of his biographies don’t need to be in my children’s heads. So I chose to give my high school children only a taste of his work, with careful selections, while we are studying Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as biographies of the time period. And that’s how our curriculum is set up.
Plutarch is one possible tool for encouraging good character. You choose how you want to use it.sherazParticipant
“Children aren’t dumb. Please don’t underestimate your child and the Lord – your child will be able to see the difference without the forced connections of tying everything to the Bible. It actually turned my children off after a while and I learned that I unintentionally denied the Holy Spirit’s ability to reach and teach my child all truths when I did this.”
*I need to clarify that there is nothing wrong with a Christian based education. I was specifically referring to the need of some curricula to make every.single.lesson of every subject have a teacher verbally give the Biblical moral lesson. That’s what was turning off my children. They could see it for themselves and they told me that.
This situation is one of those great blessings of homeschooling. You can choose what works for you and your family. =)
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