When I look back on my years of home schooling through high school, I am sure that I will have many fond memories of WISDOM’s Online Courses. Since the autumn of 2003, I have taken seven online courses, all of which were profitable. I take one every season – In fact, one season I took three at the same time! My plans are to continue into my eighth course in the upcoming school year. I do not wish to stop!
I was not sure that I would feel this way when I first signed up for a course three years ago. This was the “Introductory Great Books” course. When I looked at the reading list initially, I was uncertain as to whether I could manage the weekly reading assignments, or discuss them adequately. After all, books such as the “Iliad”, the “Aeniad”, and, at that time, “War and Peace”, can seem rather intimidating to a nearly-thirteen-year-old! I thought that the conversation might be over my head, especially as there were students in the class several years older than me. However, encouraged by my parents, and made hopeful by seeing that such favourite authors of mine as Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien were on the list, I took a deep breath and signed up for the course.
I will never regret doing so. The course proved to be manageable, valuable, and most enjoyable! I began to truly look forward to the weekly meetings in the online ‘classroom’. Any portions of the book which I had failed to grasp were cleared up, and I gained a better appreciation for the works of the great authors. But more importantly, I was realizing and conversing about deep, universal ideas and truths, which will shape the rest of my life. I was filling my mental and spiritual money pouch with the wealth, that is, the insight of the wise that have gone before me. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I saw far, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” These great authors are giants indeed.
As I progressed further through the course, I found that the readings were not over my head at all. Not understanding parts of books, even large parts, should not be mistaken for “finding the book over one’s head”. Just because we are confused about a section of a book does not mean we should cast it aside. After all, no one, not even a university professor, understands everything in a classic at the first reading. That is one of the reasons they are such great books – one can go back to them time and time again, always gaining more understanding, and gleaning more wisdom.
Another reason why I enjoy the courses so much is the use of Socratic discussion rather than a ‘lecture mode’ in class. The moderators and tutors in the courses should not be mistaken for teachers – the teachers are the classic authors themselves! The moderators draw our impressions and ideas out in an encouraging and non-intimidating manner. Questions such as “Do you think that ‘so-and-so’s’ actions in this story were honourable?”, “What is justice?”, or “How can we recognize truth?” both engage our minds and our tongues. And we are not alone in discussing them – not with the giants of the past to back us up!
There are also the writing courses – these are also very worthwhile. Like the great books courses, they are centered around discussion, although there is definitely more instruction than in the book courses. The writing courses are not only useful in showing one how to deal with different forms of writing, but also stress and build on the idea of truth in writing, rather than simply expressing whatever is desired. I would say that it well-demonstrates the statement that the ultimate goal of the program is truth.
I am very blessed to participate in WISDOM’s online courses, and would not hesitate to recommend them to any home schooled student.
-Maria McDonald is a 15 year old home schooler with WISDOM, and has been an eager participant in most of our online courses. She is an avid reader and writer, and works part time in the WISDOM office. We hope to tap her skills for many years to come.
For information on our online courses, please click here.