The Lost Tools of Learning

April 30, 2021
Posted in Education
April 30, 2021 Robyn Van Eck

The Lost Tools of Learning

When I was first learning about Classical Education, I was encouraged to read “The Lost Tools of Learning,” an essay by Dorothy Sayers.  I had no idea what a delight lay before me!

Dorothy Sayers was a colleague of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford, and occasionally was a part of their literary society in Lewis’ rooms, The Inklings.  If you fancy their writings, you will love Sayers’ witty and biting comparison of Modern Education with the Classical Trivium.

The essay enjoyed a revival in the past couple of decades, sparking a renaissance of classical education methods.  Still, I have discovered that it is very difficult to find online.  Most of the online copies I’ve found are abridged (without any note that it’s not the original essay!).  But I love you all so much, that I searched far and wide for the unabridged text, so you can enjoy both Sayers’ insights and her pithy commentary, in all their glory.

“The Lost Tools of Learning” should be required reading for all homeschooling parents.  You might want to print it out and read it the old-fashioned way.  Read it aloud with your spouse, and don’t be discouraged if you need to read a sentence a couple of times, now and then.  It’s so worth it.




…now that you’ve read it, what was your favorite part??  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for dropping by; please keep us in  prayer!

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Comments (2)

  1. VJJK81

    In Dorothy Sayers, Lost Tools of Learning, my favorite part was the end when it mentioned that "modern education teachers are taught to do the pupils work, when the student should be doing the work for themselves." It’s true the public education system is conditioned to put out subjects at the same time and the children don’t have time to understand it but they are just given ways to complete it within an amount of time. They are graded by their completion of the work, not by if they understand the content. Children don’t have enough time to truly understand the material and it is not retained unless they continue with repetitive questions/problems but then it only becomes repetitive and not understood.

    The Trivium seems real intense (because I know my kids are taught differently in public school) but practical and purposeful. I attended public school my whole life and my two children have attended as well. I will be taking my kids out of public school in which they will be entering 2nd and 6th grade, to homeschool full-time and for the first time. Homeschooling this way is a bit scary because they are doing well in their subjects now but I don’t think they can explain clearly the "how" and "why" in a literary way clear and purposefully. I pretty much will be "un-schooling" everything they are used to and I’m hoping they will find appreciation in the way schooling at home will be their new normal. I have to get out of the thinking of grades will measure their accomplishments and if they are keeping up with the public school children. My goal is to make Bible studies the main focus along with the guide of the Trivium and the rest will be history.

    Since becoming a Christian at a later age, I have been more attracted to the path less traveled by, especially in the Christian circles and more pertaining to homeschool. Most homeschoolers mimic public school subjects but I want something that is solely Biblically foundational and challenging that when my children are ready for later education years, they will be fully equipped and my mama mind will be at ease knowing they are ready to be let out into this cruel world.

    • Robyn Van Eck

      Those are excellent insights; I pray the Lord will bless your homeschool efforts with your precious babes!

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