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Developing A Well Educated Mind

Updated on October 26, 2011
Read the classics for well rounded understanding of literature and history.
Read the classics for well rounded understanding of literature and history.

If you are interested in reading and finally understanding the greatest written works of civilization, Susan Wise Bauer can help. In her book The Well Educated Mind: A Guide To The Classical Education You Never Had, she fully explains, instructs and outlines how to pursue this goal step by step.

It is Bauer’s opinion that in order to achieve a well educated mind and fill in the gaps left from a less than ideal education, one needs to read and study some 30 major works across five genres including poetry and drama, history/politics, autobiography and fiction. She encourages the reader to use her plan and techniques for studying, reading and note taking.

Designed for adult learners and high school students, her methods are highly structured and require discipline. She maps out a plan for the reader to follow consisting of 30 minute sessions 4 days a week.

She suggests taking on these great works in three phases.

  • First, read the material to learn the facts.
  • The second read through is for evaluating those facts.
  • The third read through is when the student can begin to form their opinion based on what they have already comprehended.

Note taking is an essential activity in obtaining a complete and thorough understanding and the reader is encouraged to mark up their text or notebook with observations, analysis and interpretations gained in the process. Included in the book is ample advice on improving your reading skills to achieve a higher, more desirable level of literacy.

Bauer’s plan is extensive, but easy to follow. She also includes a synopsis of each recommended work, and additional resources to aid the student in developing their skills.

Susan Wise Bauer is well known for her book The Well Trained Mind that she co-wrote with her mother, Jessie Wise . The Well Trained Mind has become the guidebook for parents educating their children at home with the classical model of education. She has also published an educational series designed for home school parents teaching reading and history from a classical approach.


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    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      a well educated mind: well you have it and it's rubbing off on me!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting, thank you. I enjoyed reading this hub.

    • Atheist Classical profile image

      Atheist Classical 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      What a great summary of the book! Thanks for the post. I agree with John that I learned most of what I know at home or in college. I would even add that I learned more at home than in school, even when I was in school. Makes you wonder.

      "The Well Educated Mind" had become an important resource in our home. Until this year, it was mostly for me - my son (now 17) was reading many of those classics (Gilgamesh, The Iliad, The Aeneid, and others) but was unwilling to follow her approach. Watching me annotate and keep a commonplace book (I actually have three - one for philosophy (which I read daily) and another for literature (which I read when I can), and a newer one for books on homeschooling and educational theory.

      Watching me study and write seems to inspire my son to do the same. It's taken two years, but he's just about on board, and I think it will be a lifetime habit for him.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi John, thanks so much. I totally agree - most of what I have learned has been far beyond school and self-taught. And still, there is so much more to learn! Our educational system just keeps watering down history and basic skills and teaching only to pass the required tests.

    • John Chancellor profile image

      John Chancellor 

      10 years ago from Tennessee

      The comment about the gap created by a less than optimal education system is right on target. I found that most of whai I have learned in life, I learned after school and college. It is rather unfortunate but our education system seems to be an oxymoronic term. I think it would be more appropriate to call it an information system. For that is what it does, provides us lots of information.

      Good job.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Peter and Steph!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Wow - very cool. I think I want to check this out. Thanks, Steph

    • Peter M. Lopez profile image

      Peter M. Lopez 

      10 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      Sounds interesting and most definitely worth reading. Thanks.


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