I chose to homeschool for so many reasons, and I’m passionate about it – though I do understand that homeschooling is not for everyone. I adore seeing the confidence and grace a good school can bring to some of my children’s friends; watching them thrive has been such a joy to me. It’s encouraging to see schools that do so much to form minds gently and with respect for their unique potentials! But I chose to homeschool, and one of my primary reasons is Beauty.
Schooling ought to focus on beauty, truth, and goodness instead of “success in college and career” as the common core emphasizes in their mission statement. It’s a common enough mission for schools – straightforward and unexceptional – but neither college nor career are foremost in my mind as I educate my children. If Yarrow and Ilya never attend college; if they reject the conventional career-path as their parents did – or if they chose to immerse themselves in that world in order to change it for the better – I will be thrilled; because my primary goal as my children’s educator is to help them develop an intimacy with beauty and truth. I want my children to be comfortable in the role of ‘necessary other’ – whether artist or nun, hermit or poet, philosopher, priest, or some combination all their own – saints in the world are always ‘other’ in some way, and the role is easier the longer it’s worn. I want my children to tend to the people around them with gentleness and love; to tend the earth and to mourn with it as it suffers at the hands of humanity.
And my schooling depends on mystery, on magic, and the wild beauty of the natural world to make the mysteries of goodness tangible things for my children to reach out and hold to. I am hoping that this will build within them an intimacy with wisdom and with the sacramental imagination that is so alive in children and in all of us who spend too much time in stories and under birches. ‘Living books’, abundant reading, art, music, painting, saints lives, liturgical seasons, long walks in cemeteries and along streams, the night-sky’s-stars, and the ever-changing moon form the back-bone of our curriculum; because my intention is to raise adults who can rest quite in beauty, who trust their instincts above ‘peer-reviewed’ articles, and who “love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.”
It thrills me to see their friends schooled away from the broad path that leads to bureaucracy and productive citizenship as well. To know that abundant educations, rich in beauty can be had alongside the home as well as within it. But, especially in state schools, it’s rare and generally limited to a few beleaguered teachers working at odds with the system at large; and I’m resting easy, far from those battles, in the little woodland cottage I’ve built. For which I’m abundantly grateful!