religion, Unschooling

Is Catholic Unschooling Worth it?

Catholic Unschooling Learning and living together as a family. Children. adults, we are all natural learners. We unschoolers acknowledge that learning can happen at any age and that a person will be most motivated to learn when he needs to know or use what he is learning.

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

What works in Catholic unschooling is this relationship with God and with family..and that unschooling is not a school at all. Unschooling is education in homes, in parks at the library. on the computer, with friends, in groups, on your own , on the trampoline, with video games and movies, via volunteer work and service..with mass and prayer and talking…and crying..and laughing.

There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. Mother Teresa
Catholic unschoolers have this time, by the sheer fact that days are not eaten up by school. Even busy, working, ADD mothers like me have time, via Catholic unschooling, time to be there for the family.

It is worth it.

7 thoughts on “Is Catholic Unschooling Worth it?”

  1. Beautiful Leonie. It's the same for all us other unschooling Christians of other flavours too. I love spending time with my family. I love that today one was working on a bible college assignment, another was helping to resource her and Maths was happening at the kitchen table while I did my crossword and cooked.It's a really beautiful life and I get to take our children along on our Faith journeydaily,Thanks for writing,Roz

  2. Excellent …. thanks as this is JUST what I needed to hear as I start to think about our next few months) …God bless and thanks for your "wisdom of the ages" …

  3. Wow, thank you everyone for your comments. I was inspired by the words of the two priests whom I mentioned..their thoughts on Trinity Sunday made me think about things in our family and why and how we intereact the way we do. And why I am very glad that we are/have been Catholic unschoolers.

  4. +JMJThank you for your beautiful post! For bringing out the fact that Catholic Unschooling is so worth it, despite the worries and difficulties we encounter from the outside world — because of RELATIONSHIP — both with God and with our family. It was so affirming to read that! I also loved this line: "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 fact, I, too, have just written a post on Catholic Unschooling in response (a long overdue one!) to a Catholic blogger, who was curious about our "homeschooling methods." I wanted to add a line about fear and how traditional parenting & education were developed as a result of it. And then I remembered your recent blogpost link from Unschooling Catholics. God is so good! What you had written was just what I needed to hear. May I have permission to use this line in my post? If you have the time to look at it, here is the link: again! By the way, I also loved the meditation from Trinity Sunday. I remember our pastor's homily. He also talked about the Relationship and the Love between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and how we experience that love in our lives just by remembering and acknowledging the love others give us and the love we give to them. For me, it was a much needed reminder, especially when life gets hectic, and I start taking these things for granted.God bless!

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