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Susan Wise Bauer

December 5, 2010

Although Susan Wise Bauer (born in 1968) is not a homeschooling teen, she used to be and now she homeschools four children of her own (including teens)! Many homeschoolers have read her history series The Story of the World as well as The Well-Trained Mind, which Bauer co-authored with her mother Jessie Wise. She has also written several other books including The Complete Writer series on teaching writing.

Susan grew up in Virginia and was homeschooled along with her brother and sister in the 1970s – the “dark ages” of home education. Bauer recalls, “My mother had taught in both private and public classrooms…so she was an experienced teacher. But she would be the first to tell you that her teacher training didn’t help her be a better homeschooler; she says that her education classes mostly taught her how to manage classrooms. So when she began homeschooling, she was starting from scratch – like many homeschool parents.”

Susan’s pioneering parents taught her at home for most of elementary and middle school, and all of high school. “I remember my parents giving us the option to go back to school at several points, but we never took it,” Bauer explains. “I counted up the number of hours that I would spend on buses, standing in line, doing homework, and so on, and decided I’d be better off at home.”

Bauer learned Latin at age ten. In high school, she worked as a professional musician and wrote three (unpublished) novels before she turned sixteen. She also toured with a travelling drama group, galloped racehorses at a Virginia racetrack, taught horseback riding, worked in ghostwriting and newspaper ad sales, learned enough Korean to teach a Korean four-year-old Sunday school, and served as librarian / reading tutor for the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Center in Williamsburg.

At age seventeen, Susan entered college as a Presidential Scholar and National Merit finalist. Three years later, she received her B.A. from Liberty University with a major in English, a minor in Greek, and a summer spent studying 20th-century theology as a visiting student at Oxford. In 1991, Bauer earned a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where she added Hebrew and Aramaic to her languages.

Bauer has been a member of the English faculty at The College of William & Mary in Virginia since 1994, where she teaches writing and American literature. In 1996, Bauer completed the M.A. in English Language and Literature at William & Mary; her concentrations were in translation theory, 17th-century devotional poetry, and Psalm paraphrase in the Tudor period. In 2007, she received her Ph.D. in American Studies from William & Mary, with a concentration in the history of American religion.

Dr. Bauer continues to serve as editor-in-chief of Peace Hill Press, her family’s publishing company that produces history and literature resources for parents and teachers who are educating students in the classical tradition. According to Bauer, history and literature go hand-in-hand. “I tend to teach literature historically – in chronological order, with attention to the world events taking place during the writer’s lifetime.…History is endlessly fascinating….In order to understand any field of endeavor – science, literature, government, mathematics – we also need to understand how we arrived at our present state of knowledge. And the only way to do that is to study history.”

Bauer’s husband, Peter, is minister of the nondenominational Peace Hill Christian Fellowship, which serves the rural community of Charles City as well as students from William & Mary. The Bauer family lives on a farm with dogs, cats, horses, and chickens. “Peace Hill is the farm my mother inherited….It’s one of the original names on colonial-era maps of Charles City County; our farm sits on the hill where a peace treaty was signed between the Native American residents and the colonial settlers.”

Susan and her husband share in the task of homeschooling three sons and a daughter, with additional help from Susan’s mom. “Now that I have children of my own, I homeschool because it seems the natural way to live. People ask me, ‘Isn’t it hard to have them home all day?’ Frankly, I can’t imagine laboring under the restrictions of a school schedule. Always meeting the bus, only taking holidays when the school allows it – that seems like a much harder schedule to me.” (Her oldest has since graduated from high school and started college this fall.)

“I’m convinced my children flourish with one-on-one attention to their individual strengths and weaknesses. I’m sure there are some subjects that a school would teach more thoroughly than I do. But I don’t think any school could duplicate the flexibility and creativity of home education. I love giving my children the opportunity to investigate areas that pique their interest, and I know that if they were in school their time would be far too limited to pursue their curiosities.”

http://www.susanwisebauer.com/bio/c-v – Susan Wise Bauer’s curriculum vitae (Latin for “course of life”), a summary of academic and professional history and achievements.

http://twitter.com/SusanWiseBauer – Follow Susan Wise Bauer on Twitter.

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