I was recently asked an odd question concerning my homeschooling. That question caused me to really think. The question was ‘aren’t you looking forward to being done homeschooling so that you can read what you want and catch up on TV?’ Hmmmm…I have homeschooled for 20+ years and I must say that it has been the HARDEST job that I have ever done. Being responsible for teaching my kids to read, for mapping out their curriculum, for making sure they knew math and science…I could go on and on. It is not a task for the faint of heart. My book shelves are bulging with curriculum, some well-used and some never used as those books weren’t worth opening.
But there are a couple shelves containing books that are so worn that the bindings are nearly gone, the margins are no longer white because of the comments in the margins, and some of the pages are missing because they fell out. Those are the ‘great books’ that made it onto our co-op’s list of great reads throughout history. Aristotle, Homer and Plato made the list. Virgil, Shakespeare, Plutarch and Livy show up in 10th grade. Boethius, Dante and Twain entertain and challenge our 11th grade and finally in 12th grade, we have the likes of Pascal, Descartes, Swift and Paine. The friend who asked me this question about finally ‘reading what I want’ has heard me talk about these books. I can’t say I’ve read them through all the way…chapters, sections, and synopses here and there. I’ve talked with my children about these books and have learned a great deal through ‘chewing’ on the words of these authors of old. And then there is summer reading. My book list is long…it seems to grow exponentially and bookshelves overflow. Ayn Rand has been a favorite recently and Twain is a favorite ‘go to’ author. I currently am working through Federalist Papers and none of this writing is easy to read and process.
But as my friend realized, my days of homeschooling are just a few years from being over and then I can read what I want. However, I have been to the fountain. I have learned from the best. I have seen words woven together in such a way that I can’t leave them behind. I come to a fork in the road. I could return to mindless fiction for a steady diet of information or I can continue to meet with the great voices of history and delight in a hearty diet of great words!
You see, my children have been classically educated. This type of education is reaching the WHOLE person and in my situation, it has reached the WHOLE family. As my children have read and I have read, we have engaged in rich discussions, asking questions and pursuing truth. The structure of a classical education involves educating children appropriately according to their age and stage of development. But this education also involves integrating subjects and making connections. Our current government run education involves compartmentalizing everything. You take math, you take science, you look at a portion of history. But with a classical education, we want to work through history and understand how science was influencing a culture, why different people groups were fighting, how the church was being persecuted and changing. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We want our students to question, to debate, to draw conclusions and ultimately to find truth. There isn’t a different truth for each person that lives in the world. There is THE truth and we are on a path to discover that truth. From the moment a child enters Kindergarten until they take the stage for their Senior Thesis, we want them to grow in the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ and to know how to think and affect the world around them.
So, back to the question at hand. What will be on my reading list in a couple years? I can’t say for sure, but I can say with certainty that I have met some pretty remarkable guys…Plato, Homer, Virgil, Twain, Dickens, Franklin…I think that I want to hear from them and chew on their words a bit longer. I’ve been classically trained myself over these last 10 years and I don’t want to stop.
Won’t you join me?