religion, Unschooling

Unschooling and the Inter-relations of Knowledge

Someone and I shared a quippy comment today..Don’t they know I have a life outside work? I’m supposed to be homeschooling, too…Supposed to be!

To an outsider it can appear that our homeschooling is laissez-faire. Free form. Without structure.

Yet, even on our busy days and in my busy life, we learn. The kids learn both informally and fomally.

Neil Postman, in The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, observes that any subject can be given scholarly value if we trace its historical development. If we reflect on its origins. If we theorize about its future. Every topic, when treated thus, sheds light, sheds insight, on the human endeavour, on the way man has lived, on the way man lives.

So, amidst our busy Wednesday of Kumon meetings for me, shops and the library for kids, reading, Akkadian, junk mail folding and delivery, there was space for religion reading. And discussion. The more formal part of the unschooling day.

Only one formal subject on Wednesday?

It would be well, I think, that each pupil should learn to do one, or two, subjects really well, while taking a few classes in subsidiary subjects, so as to keep his mind open to the inter-relations of all knowledge. Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning.

What was read for this formal religion reading?

The kids read Sermon I on the Dormition of Mary By St. John Damascene . I’d already read some of it; after it had been posted on Facebook by a priest from our parish.

Boy, St John can go on for awhile said Thomas. Yes, perhaps a lengthy sermon..But interesting.

Joachim and Anne were the parents of Mary. Joachim kept as strict a watch over his thoughts as a shepherd over his flock, having them entirely under his control. For the Lord God led him as a sheep, and he wanted for none of the best things. When I say best, let no one think I mean what is commonly acceptable to the multitude, that upon which greedy minds are fixed, the pleasures of life that can neither endure nor make their possessors better, nor confer real strength. They follow the downward course of human life and cease all in a moment, even if they abounded before. Far be it from us to cherish these things, nor is this the portion of those who fear God. But the good things which are a matter of desire to those who possess true knowledge, delighting God, and fruitful to their possessors, namely, virtues, bearing fruit in due season, that is, in eternity, will reward with eternal life those who have laboured worthily and have persevered in their acquisition as far as possible. The labour goes before, eternal happiness follows. Joachim ever shepherded his thoughts. In the place of pastures, dwelling by contemplation on the words of sacred Scripture, made glad on the restful waters of divine grace, withdrawn from foolishness, he walked in the path of justice. .


We talked about shepherding, guarding of thoughts. Of what it might mean to walk in the path of justice. Of homilies, sermons, we have heard; that we remember. Of the importance of education, of thinking, of the tools of learning. One might be poor in material goods but one can be rich in faith and in thinking, education.

As a fellow Supervisor said at yesterday’s Kumon meeting…Sometimes, we do more when we do less.

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