Modern Pioneers in Classical Education: Susan Wise Bauer

One of the first Classical Pioneers of the 21st Century is an English Professor from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

Susan Wise Bauer first entered the homeschooling community as a student. Though homeschooling was mostly unheard-of at that time, her parents not only created a solid educational environment, they followed a neo-classical style of their own design (including teaching Susan Latin at the age of 10). She was a good student, devouring everything that they offered her. Books were the central feature of her education and weekly trips to the library were a special treat. By the time Susan was 17, she had completed her studies at home and was accepted into college as a Presidential Scholar and National Merit Finalist. While in College, Susan earned a B.S. in English with a Minor in Greek. She went on to complete a Masters of Divinity and a Masters in English from two different universities (adding Hebrew and Arabic to her languages). From there, Susan began teaching at William & Mary, a “Public-Ivy League” College in Williamsburg, VA. While teaching at the college she continued her own education and earned her Ph.D. in American Studies.

After Susan married and began homeschooling her own children, she wrote a book with her mother (Jessie Wise) outlining her own homeschooling experience and giving practical guidance for others who wished to teach their children with a classical method. The book is called A Well Trained Mind and has continued to receive much praise after its release in 1999. After writing the book, Susan was able to develop an online support to homeschooling parents and began speaking at conventions around the country. After the success of her first book she wrote a companion piece called A Well Educated Mind (2003) in an effort to offer support to parents who never received a classical education of their own. In her second book, Susan gives suggestions and book lists for adults who want to improve their own education without having to “start from scratch” with the Trivium.

After the success of her books, Susan went to work writing her own history curriculum for elementary students, publishing a four book set in 2004. The Story of the World is an engaging narrative for elementary students following a classical method. It can be purchased as a book or a CD series and you can also purchase an optional activity book with coloring pages, craft ideas and maps.

The history series Bauer create for older students is named for the time periods they cover (i.e. The History of the Ancient World, etc.) and will also be written in four volumes. So far only two of them are available for purchase. In 2007, Susan published The History of the Ancient World and in 2010 she published The History of the Medieval World. The remaining books are presumably still in the works.

In 2008 Susan published her own writing curriculum entitled The Complete Writer. Like the History curriculum, this set is available in a four book series for younger students (Writing with Ease, books 1-4) while she is currently working on another series for older students (Writing with Skill) that are currently being developed.

Though this is still an evolving curriculum, Susan’s experience and background give her a unique position as a writer and educator.
All of her material as well as the curriculum written by Jessie Wise are available through Susan’s publishing company, Peace Hill Press.

With its inception in 2001, Peace Hill offered not only individual books but also curriculum packages and helpful guides for parents who are new to classical teaching. They have even developed a YouTube page to answer e-mail questions, show interviews and examples of the curriculum in action. It’s a wonderful resources for those interested.   

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