Homeschooling. A Family’s Journey

I just finished reading this book by Gregory and Martine Millman.

I liked it. A good read. I enjoyed their personal story, their analogies, the way they combined their knowledge of journalism and of the financial world with their homeschooling experience. I found most of their conclusions on homeschooling to be relevant, to be generally descriptive , if sometimes a bit smug.

I hope smugness, or complacency, isn’t a problem for homeschoolers. Like me.

Yet, living daily with our children , having our faults drawn to the light, seeing our interactions sketched in their lives, this living often forces us on our knees. Into prayer and not complacency.

Definitely challenges us. Takes us out of our comfort zone.

Br. L. mentioned challenging ourselves spiritually during Advent, at the parish Advent programme last night.Homeschooling challenges us spiritually. If we let it.

The Millmans write ~

We found in the course of our homeschooling that the most important part of education is a close personal relationship that folds a child in arms of love and deep respect. This is a relationship in which the parent makes a perpetual self-gift. It means that the parent never has a moment for herself ( or himself), never tries to take anything just for “me”. …

Parents can make it easier or harder for a child to live and choose and love. Many of our social institutions, and especially schools, make it harder to live and choose and love in freedom. We homeshool so that our children will be able to live and choose and love, to seek the truth in freedom.

Let me first clarify. I do have moments to myself. My workout. My morning prayer time. My time with dh. My time with friends. It is just that these moments are usually enjoyed with the kids present, around, being there…Occasionally, dh and I will go out together. Alone. Or I go out with my friends sans kids. Homeschooling is all about self giving but not really always about self sacrifice .

That said, it is the self gift that makes homeschooling work. Not the lesson plans,books, curricula.

The giving of self in presence, in discussion. And these discussions or teachable moments come not when planned but when guided by the minute, the time taken to pick up on something and talk and clarify and share.

Yesterday we had a no formal work, typical unschooling day. I could write in my homeschool log that the kids played with a friend, played computers,went to the dentist, read, watched DVDS. Making it sound like a do nothing, learn nothing day.

But I am an unschooler. I see learning everywhere. I know it is impossible to stop learning, especially the often hidden agenda of learning in the affective realm, the learning that happens inside, the thinking, the touching of the soul, the formation of the character, the learning how to be with others, how to live.

So, on our no formal schoolwork , typical for us unschooling day we also got into a long philosophical discussion on actions that are morally right or morally justified. This was over a game – my four teens, including my 13 year old, and me and one of the kids’ friends. We talked about what the Church teaches and then our friend asked, simply because he is not Catholic – but how could what the Church teaches apply to me? So then we talked about truth, about absolute truth, about logic, about the Bible…

Truth is a relation which holds (1) between the knower and the known — Logical Truth; (2) between the knower and the outward expression which he gives to his knowledge — Moral Truth; and (3) between the thing itself, as it exists, and the idea of it, as conceived by God — Ontological Truth. In each case this relation is, according to the Scholastic theory, one of correspondence, conformity, or agreement (St. Thomas, Summa I:21:2). the Catholic Encyclopedia

I couldn’t have planned a better religious and philosophical discussion had I tried. We didn’t do our usual Wednesday religion reading. But we did discuss Truth. We researched. We debated.

I stopped working on a carols booklet in order to discuss and research. Yes, I gave my time. So what? That is what I am called to do. There is no extra merit in stopping one thing to do what I am supposed to do, as a homeschooling mother. Giving of myself. And yet I still received blessings, the blessing of discussion. Of being with my sons and their friend. Of sharing faith.

Love. Saint Josemaria Escriva said ‘Love is deeds, not sweet words.’ When we say love we do not mean tender feelings and we do not mean tough love. We mean self-sacrifice and self-gift. This love that can only come from faith and trust. Give yourself. Sometimes giving yourself means being tender and sometimes it means exercising discipline to help a child grow in strength and character. Always examine yourself to make sure that the choice you are making is not for yourself but for your child, so that your child will grow in freedom and truth.” To quote the Millmans yet again..

12 thoughts on “Homeschooling. A Family’s Journey”

  1. It’s often difficult too to keep smugness out of writing, particularly didactic writing. I know that I usually come across with what T S Eliot (talking of himself) called ‘the arrogance of a timid man behind a typewriter’…or then again maybe I’m just arrogant 🙂

  2. I know. Or worse – I write something, and it inadvertantly sounds like I have it all together. Which, as anyone who knows me can attest, I don’t …Then, I usually find something happens that proves my writing wrong, anyway.I write about learning all the time – the kids then veg out. I write about helping others – then think something uncharitable. I write about happy marriage then argue with dad.It is the paradox of blogging – one writes and then the converse happens, the converse of that of which you have written.I got off the computer yesteday, after writing of self gift, and have a fit over T’s grumpiness and complaining – we had a big argument. Totally not giving of self.:-(Don’t worry, I apologised later. 🙂

  3. Lol – I loved your last paragraph. Partly because I can just imagine it…But I also think that such honesty helps to avoid smugness – you can’t really be smug AND admit your failings at the same time.And it also helps to give a more rounded picture of what you mean – as an ideal, it’s something to which we aspire but don’t always reach. In this sense, it’s not so much what we do as what we’re trying to do – not where we are, but where we’d like to be. Do you think? (Or do I just sound smug too, lol?)

  4. Hi Leonie, I have been reading your “homeschooling a family’s journey” post and i found it so inspiring.I love your comment “it is the self gift that makes homeschooling work”. I have been reading a book called “the sacred marriage” that speaks of giving of the self – as a gift – as one of the key tenets of a great marriage. It was amazing to read the same thing, in respect to homeschooling, on your blog.I often pop in and have a read of your blog – it is always inspirational.Take care, Stephanie(Not sure if you got my previous comment – I am at my sisters house and the computer signed me in as her hubby – thought it might completely confuse you to get a message from him!). So im re-posting, hopefully you dont get two messages

  5. Leonie,I read that book too! And I understand what you said about smug, it seems like EVERYTHING went right for their family, lol. I plod along. BUT, I did enjoy seein how homeschooling works for other families. Thanks for the reminder that no one has it all-together~it makes me feel better!!

  6. Thanks for your comments about the book. Your post went up on our Thanksgiving Day, and we were busy with a family reunion, so have only had a chance to respond this morning. Smug? We hope not. Didn’t mean to be. We welcome constructive criticism of course. Let us know where we went smug and we’ll try to address it. We’re delighted to learn that people are reading the book in Australia. Sometimes, writing a book is like putting a note in a bottle and tossing it into a river. It’s great when you hear that someone got the message. How did you hear about it? Thanks again.Best,Greg and Martine

  7. I like the post and the quote from the homeschool book, both. I agree, too, with your thoughts on an “unschool” day and what really is gained from it. Good posts!

  8. Stephanie, good to hear from you! How’s life?Cheri- no one has it all together. We just pretend!Millmans – as Greg and Luke said above, smugness is infortunately a danger for us all when writing. We write and we aim to tell it like it is but, obviously, we can’t give blow by blow descriptions. So our writing inadvertently gives us the title of expert. Hence apparent smugness. As I said, I really enjoyed the book and am encouraging friends here to read it. Heard about it via amazon – it was a suggestion for me there..Lisa, been enjoying your book related homeschooling posts on your blog.

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