Friday, November 14, 2014

A "Cool" Homeschooling Project

Our backyard in winter - not the ideal gardening environment
     Our faith calls us to live our lives by standards different than those of the secular world: “’My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).  God’s ways and the World’s ways seem further apart than ever.  As society at large becomes ever less Christian, it becomes correspondingly more hostile to the practice and the values of the faith, a hostility which is intensified in the public school system, which tends to be dominated by leftist and materialist ideologies.  To put young children there, at an age when character, values, and worldview are still being formed, seems too much like exposing tender plants to rigors of cold weather too soon.  State schools are simply too firmly committed to forming their students in the Ways of the World.

Marigolds protected in the unheated greenhouse
     Catholic schools are a much better option, of course, and a Godsend to countless Catholic families and others looking for a saner, healthier educational environment for their children.  Even here, however, the influence of the secular world can often have a more powerful effect than we would like, despite the best intentions and efforts of those who run the schools (and as one who has taught in Catholic schools for almost three decades, I know about both the good and the, um,  less good) .  And so a small but growing number of us are choosing (along with many of our separated brethren in other Christian traditions) is to teach our children at home.
     For us, then, the choice to homeschool  has been based mostly on a desire to have more influence over the character development of our children, in the hope that when they do go out on their own they’ll better understand what it means to be “in the world but not of it.”  As it happens, there are also some practical advantages as well.  For one thing, our children have been able to work on long-term projects that would have been impractical or even impossible if they had to schedule them in or around school attendance:
Marigolds from the same bed as those above left outside
several of them have written books and made feature-length movies, one has composed a piano sonata, and they all have participated a couple of times in productions of Shakespearean plays  (organized by a local Baptist Pastor with extensive training in theatre) that were intensely  involved, demanding, and rewarding.
     Their most recent project has been to convert our little front porch into a cold weather greenhouse. This is a whole-family project, but the main movers are my son John and my lovely bride, Linda.  John and Linda have just started a blog , “Little Greenhouse in the Woods” [here], chronicling the progress of the project.  Feel free to stop by to encourage a worthy homeschooling project, and to see how things are growing (God willing) through the Maine winter.