Friday, April 5, 2013

A Lively Literary Life

As a Latin teacher I cringe whenever I hear "rigorous" describing a course of study, since this is derived from the Latin term rigor which means a "board-like stiffness." You've heard the phrase, rigor mortis? Instead I like to use the word "vigorous," which comes from the Latin term vigor meaning "fullness of life." A Christian homeschool family we have the freedom to educate in the creativity of the Spirit; may ours be a wholesome and invigorating lifestyle of learning.

God has called us to live a life of love, and this calls for creativity--and balance.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ...Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:2-10)

In the Harvey family, during our twenty years of homeschooling, we sought a vigorous literary curriculum in the early years, surrounding our children with wonderful literature and lively discussion. Later we added more structured courses in the intellectual disciplines gradually as they matured. As the mom and teacher I was passionate about learning and reading great literature. As little boys my sons were not so enthusiastic, but they were obedient and desired to please most of the time, so we got a little bit of 'schoolwork' done. And when they were young, as long as they had some play dough or blocks in hand they would absorb the words and the stories.
When we finished those years, to tell you the truth, I felt like a total failure as a 'schoolmarm.' I hadn't gotten them through all of the standard courses, although we had read and discussed a lot of books together! Hoping that somehow they would be smart enough to make their way through college, or find a skill to pay their way in life, I prayed that God would help my intense love for them to 'cover a multitude of sins' in this area. He answered my prayers most graciously!
While they spent most of their school hours building forts and creating clubs, I spent most of our homeschooling years teaching myself and studying what education meant. Intrigued by Latin and the medieval ideas of the Trivium, I studied everything I could get my hands on about these things, including medieval history and Latin. The more I improved my own education, the smarter my sons seemed to get! Its almost as though they learned to study by simply seeing me doing it! I long to help more homeschoolers give up the educational rat race, and learn to love God's gift of language, to cultivate it with meditation on the Word and more.
The ultimate purpose of a deep study of language is not just to do well in college and land a great job--nor is its ultimate purpose to win an argument--although both of these may be fringe benefits of this sort of study. Language is God's gift to the human, for the purpose of leading us into fellowship with one another about great ideas, so that we may build a life of love on the foundation of the truth and goodness of God.


  1. Welcome to the blog world, dear Beth.

    I oove your aim: "I long to help more homeschoolers give up the educational rat race, and learn to love God's gift of language, to cultivate it with meditation on the Word and more."

    I especially love the part giving up the educational rat race.

    Homeschooling sure has come a long way since we started, eh?

  2. Yes, Susan! I long for the days when homeschoolers stayed home a little more. There are still a few of them around, taking the time to read great books aloud with the kids. And memorizing poetry and Bible verses. We must keep that alive.

  3. May I quote your last paragraph, Beth? I'm glad you're blogging!

  4. Interesting post, I do agree that Language is God's gift and one should knnow its worth but sadly we just get it worth when we don't know it. Good post, thanks for sharing it with us