In Catholic unschooling, we avoid fear and over use of coercion….fear is a bad incentive for learning…while Love is the best incentive of all.
In St Anthony’s teaching on prayer we perceive one of the specific traits of the Franciscan theology that he founded: namely the role assigned to divine love which enters into the sphere of the affections, of the will and of the heart, and which is also the source from which flows a spiritual knowledge that surpasses all other knowledge. In fact, it is in loving that we come to know.
Anthony writes further: “Charity is the soul of faith, it gives it life; without love, faith dies” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi II, Messagero, Padua 1979, p. 37).Pope Benedict XVI General Audience,10 February 2010, on Saint Anthony of Padua
We have seen the role of Love in Catholic philosophy and theology. We see the role of Love in nature and in nurture. Since grace builds on nature, what is true in nature provides a firm foundation for our life as Catholics.
Unschooling can be as simple as not doing school. It can be as complex as treating each family member with respect, and respecting personal choices, choices in relation to education and food and TV, for example.
While the term unschooling can seem rather nebulous, there is a common thread in all the lives of Catholic unschoolers. Trust.
Trust in God and His Church. Trust in the family.Trusting that the child is born with a desire to learn. And that he will learn. Trust that learning is everywhere, all the time, that one never stops learning.
So, after years of Catholic unschooling, can I answer the question is it worth it? Worth the being different, the concerns about academics or lack thereof, worth the time and discussion and worth the mental arguing with one self, worth having to defend the different educational choice to others ( family, friends, Education Dept, priests, acquaintances, that man at the doctor’s surgery, the woman at the morning tea, other more traditional homeschoolers..), worth the daily effort, the mess, the noise, the cluttered house and mum’s cluttered mind, worth spending nearly all your time with your kids, worth the self control required of parents, the sharing, the living your life as an open book for your kids to read?
Catholic unschooling is very worth it.
Because of relationship.
That list above, the list of is it worth it, means time has been spent. Spent together. Not always qualtity time, in the nice mummy-and-daddy-sit-together-and-read-stories-to-children in our twenty minutes before bed quality time. Not fairy book family time. Not Brady Bunch quality time . But quantity time, messy, real life, every day, day in and day out quantity and quality time . Spent together doing chores, working, reading, arguing, praying….
Especially praying. Prayer really is the foundation of Catholic Unschooling. Our Faith is one of relationship, relationship with the Triune God. As a priest pointed out to me yesterday, on Trinity Sunday, we worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We see the relationship between the three persons in one God. As Fr said, relationship between God, with God, with our neighbour, with ourselves.
The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance.” Indeed “everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship.” “Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 255
As we live our Faith, as we pray at mass together, we share Love and thus we are formed by our Faith and our Love..and we share this with our families (For, as another priest pointed out in his homily yesterday morning, the mass is not a feel good exercise; we adore God, we receive Him and then we take His Love to others..)..and so relationship becomes the key to Catholic unschooling.
Therefore, Catholic unschooling is definitely worth it, simply because of relationship.
Our family has experienced some less than pleasant stuff recently ( hassles never come in dribs or drabs do they??) but I see that, as things happen to us, our family pulls together and is stronger rather than being a family that falls apart.
We might yell ( and swear) at each other but then we laugh and unite against the common problem!
That is the fruit, I think, of years of living and learning together, spending time together, respecting each other as people, not setting up adversarial relationships over chores or school but, in our imperfections and disagreements, keeping the lines of communication open. And always hanging together and praying at Mass together
Catholic unschooling is SO worth it, so worth the being different, the criticism from others, the worries about lack of academics, the worries about too much screen time…keep up the prayers and the talking and the simply seeking joy together and the rest follows. Over years. Over time.
It is not easy. But it is also not hard. We have the sacraments to help us. We have faith and love and time. And that prayer.
It is significant that precisely in and through prayer, man comes to discover in a very simple and yet profound way his own unique subjectivity: in prayer the human “I” more easily perceives the depth of what it means to be a person. This is also true of the family, which is not only the basic “cell” of society, but also possesses a particular subjectivity of its own. This subjectivity finds its first and fundamental confirmation, and is strengthened, precisely when the members of the family meet in the common invocation: “Our Father”. Prayer increases the strength and spiritual unity of the family, helping the family to partake of God’s own “strength”. In the solemn nuptial blessing during the Rite of Marriage, the celebrant calls upon the Lord in these words: “Pour out upon them the grace of the Holy Spirit so that by your love poured into their hearts they will remain faithful in the marriage covenant”. This “visitation” of the Holy Spirit gives rise to the inner strength of families, as well as the power capable of uniting them in love and truth. Pope John Paul II Letter to Families, Gratissimum Sane
It is worth it.