Monday, March 20, 2017

Looking Back On a Nonconformist's Homeschool

Now that my time of homeschooling our three sons is over, I have plunged into a new era of looking
back at it all. The one lesson that God taught me over and over again during our 20 plus years
of homeschooling is that the boys' education is NOT in direct correspondence with my performance as a homeschooling mom. In other words, some of my biggest 'failures' have provided opportunities for great learning and growth. Some of their studies have been the result of things that I didn't cause directly. Instead they were a result of the lifestyle and the priorities we set: To love and appreciate people, nature, hard work--and also, poetry, art, and great books, and over it all to love God. We attempted to keep secondary the frantic pursuit of a transcript. In fact, we just threw it out!

Many of the books that I read in my college years (in the 1970s) are so relevant to the issues we discuss in classical homeschooling....  After "dropping out"of Wheaton so that I could study more leisurely at the local university (where I was allowed to study part-time), I read books like Jacques Ellul's Technological Society, Riesman's The Lonely Crowd, Lasch's Minimal Self, Lewis' Abolition of Man. The ideas in these books are much more relevant to the issues of education than they first seem. They talk about the disintegration of human life and community, exacerbated by techne and mass media; this goes hand in hand with a lack of vision and integration in education. There are even chapters on education, which at the time I simply glossed over since I was not attempting to raise children. Now as I look back...

The World's Curriculum Plan

The World's 'Curriculum Plan' is confused, and really somewhat bankrupt. There is a profound and spiritual value in the concept of not conforming to the world's curriculum plan. With fear and trembling (sometimes) I chose not to let the state university's requirements dictate our lives as homeschoolers. Instead we spent time learning what we thought was important to life, and this included learning to build and wire. Academically that happened to include the trivium and Latin, and a few other classical subjects--especially history. And surprise, surprise! This sort of learning served our guys very well. The emphasis on respecting others and serving by working with their hands (which they mainly learned from their dad) is not such a bad thing. And then there is simply that thing called taking the time to just sit and chat.... about what you're experiencing or studying.

Chairs like this are more and more empty. I guess that I am either the victim--or rather the beneficiary--of being encouraged (Grandma paid me $5) to memorize Romans 12 when I was a kid.  As a result, this verse always came to mind when I was planning our studies:
Therefore, be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.


Is the Proof In the Pudding?

So at this point you may be wondering, "So how did it turn out?!" Well, I had expected, and you may be thinking, "At least they are loving, hard-working carpenters or electricians!" And I would have been thrilled with that! My husband is one, and we are super proud of him. So I don't tell you this next stuff, because I'm bragging or because I think that this is the ideal result. I just want you to know that you don't have to worry so hard about the "approved transcript," if your student wants to go to graduate school or become a lawyer.

Our oldest son (homeschooled unconventionally from 4th-12th grade except for one disastrous year in public high school) is a graduate of William and Mary Law, and he passionately serves as a public defender in a large southern city. Our second son (homeschooled from 1st-12th grade) did a long stint in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne, and then came back to get a BS in Economics, having a great job waiting for him when he finished that degree. The youngest son (homeschooled for most years but practically a dropout--long story!) has always been too busy for college, considering it a luxury that he cannot afford. So instead he studies on his own, while pursuing a career with his band, Trismalux, and his voice acting. He supports himself with waiting tables in a French restaurant!

But the most thrilling of all to me is that all three of them desire to always grow in loving God and their neighbor. This is success.