The Challenge

This is part of the series: Classical Homeschooling

If you’re considering giving your children a classical educaction at home, you might as well be aware of the challenges you’ll face. This may be depressing, but read on homeschooling mama:
For generations, parents have been obsessed with giving their children a better education than they themselves received. For modern homeschooling parents this challenge is made more acute by the fact that very little to none of the actual planning and teaching is outsourced to a professional staff of administrators and teachers.

student in a one room schoolhouse writing at desk

photo by Irving Rusinow, public domain

Then, parents who would homeschool using the classical model must face the fact that modern culture has completely forgotten–even shunned–everything about classical education. Our national discourse is full of hand-wringing about poor test scores, high school graduates who don’t seem to know anything, and the economic implications of a failing educational system.

Almost nowhere in that national conversation does one hear anything about returning to a pedagogy that has worked to produce an educated citizenry in the past. Western culture–Americans especially–are obsessed with the present. We feign a care about the future, yet we ironically squander our children’s chance at a country with any kind of a financial future. How many families are doing this on a microcosmic scale with their own finances? But I digress.

Our culture has only a vague, if any, idea about what a classical education even is. “Classical education? Isn’t that where people a long time ago learned Latin and memorized stuff? Why would anyone do that now?”

Any inkling that a classical education might have held some worth for generations gone by is dwarfed by our other obsession: the practical.

Workforce training. College and career ready. These terms flood our national discourse. In private discourse, though, it goes more like this: “But I want my kid to get into college. Spending six years studying Latin is a waste of our valuable time. He should be studying computers.” “There’s no way she has time to study logic. We have to fit four extracurriculars into her schedule just to get looked at by college admissions officers.”

As if college a degree was a magical key to a fulfilling job and abundant paycheck, I hear things like, “Yeah, but when you have a kid in high school…”

The pressure of practicality on parents and students is immense.

So here we sit: we want to give our kids more than what we got for an education (even if ours was good.) Yet we don’t have much support from the culture, and we doubt the practicality of this insane endeavor.

Amid these rather convincing challenges, a contingent of edu-warriors has formed. Men and women with the constitution to stick it out for the long haul, to face the self-doubt and cultural pressures. You can find them meeting up in the summer for conferences like this one or this one.

Welcome. You’re among friends here.

Tomorrow we’ll take on the practicality of classical education. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how practical it can be.

 

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