Friday, February 17, 2006

More from Homeschooling with Gentleness by Suzie Andres

Here is a part that particularly struck me from my own experience contrasting a traditional Catholic school environment for grade school and a relaxed homeschool experience for high school:

"But the Catholic parent may still worry that unschooling does not take into account the results of the fall. He may frame his objection thus: Due to the fall, we all suffer from laziness. If we are not made to do things, we take the path of least resistance and do nothing. Children, especially, must be made to learn and do assigned schoolwork, otherwise they will do nothing, or at least nothing they find difficult, and will fail to learn what they need to know." (pg. 41)

I have always found this argument interesting and a little confusing, because for myself, the contract between traditional elementary school and relaxed homeschooling for high school proved to be the opposite.

"Second, to the extent that laziness is an imperfection, venial sin, or weakness resulting from the fall, its remedy will be grace, not hard work." (pg. 42)

Honestly, I don't think I agree with this statement, since habit plays a big factor in forming the will and grace and nature work together. Ora et labora.

"From this I conclude that while our nature has been damaged by the fall, we are not so devastated that we cease striving to learn." (pg. 44)

I do agree with this and I think we can easily take the concept of Fallen Nature to one extreme (it has completely damaged our ability or desire to learn) or the other (basically ignore it and assume children need no guidance). I don't think the author is really taking either extreme, but I'd love to see a clear exposition on some of these ideas with particulars about will, intellect, conscience, etc.

"It is love, not tricks and techniques of thought, that lies at the heart of all true learning." (pg 46 - quoting Holt)

"Fr. Pichon, a holy Jesuit and spiritual director of St. Therese's family, said that there is more variation between souls than between faces. Therefore it should not surprise us that the Church allows and encourages her children to follow a variety of paths up the mountain that is Christ. We see this beautifully incarnated in the variety of religious orders and their charisms." (pg. 57)

I would add that we see this also in the diversity of the Saints.

"Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be." (pg. 59 quoting St. Therese)

Questions and concerns every homeschool parent faces:

"I remember a funny conversation I had when we were beginning to homeschool Joseph. Although we were only doing first grade, I immediately started to panic about whether he would get into college! Since my husband is a college philosophy professor [Christendom College], I had easy access to a college admissions director, who also happens to be a homeschooling father. Running into Paul after Mass one morning, I asked him, "What do I need to teach Joseph so he will be ready for college when the time comes?" Paul smiled and explained, "You don't have to worry about the particulars. Just try to instill in him a love for learning, and he'll be all set." I walked away disappointed. "Of course we want him to love learning," I thought. "But what about the particulars? What exactly does he need to know?" (pg. 69)

"We imagine that learning=education=schooling, and that we have twelve years (not counting kindergarten and preschool) in which to pour all necessary information into the little brains under our care." (pg. 69)

"Yet as Paul implied years ago, there is not a list of subjects or facts that comprises a perfect education. I periodically remind myself that I have retained very little of what I learned in grade school and high school. Furthremore I continue to delve into new areas of study that awaken wonder and enrich my life." (pg. 70)

"Instead of fearing that our children will have more to learn when they leave home, let us rejoice that none of us will ever be finished learning. We do indeed have so much to look forward to." (pg. 71)

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