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17 July 2012


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Amy F

This was a wonderfully timely post to read. Over the past month, my homeschooling plans have changed repeatedly as I've learned more about what's out there. Maybe it's because of the particular blogs and forums I've found, but I've had this niggling feeling that the CM approach is the ideal route to go. Of course that's silly, there are a zillion ways to homeschool and different things work better for individual kids. But I still feel like I'll have to defend myself for mixing and matching things and not just following the Mater Amabilis plan.

I'm sure I'll adapt and change ideas as we really get started and see how it works for our family, but I'm with you -- I want them to know how to think and learn and I want to improve their characters while they're learning. Since I have wiggly boys unless they're immersed in a good book, my plan is to get as many good books as possible and let them read those. I'll use IEW's writing and spelling stuff and CWH's history and Saxon math because we're familiar with it. Maybe I'll let my writing-averse 6 year old give me answers orally.

Anyway, I've been trying to read about some of the educational philosophies and I get so bogged down with it. There's a reason I avoided liberal arts colleges. I just keep thinking, well that's nice, but I'll pick and choose what feels best for my kid.


Excellent post! I find the Sayers article inspiring, but as a springboard for thinking about how education should be inspiring, not as a prescriptive. For one thing, as you say, Sayers never taught children.

Every year we try things a little differently to tailor our style to the varying needs of the kids, and every year I worry that we don't do enough. But the proof is in the pudding -- do they speak well and articulately? Can they tell me (or better yet, other people) what we've been learning? Am I seeing them seek out learning on their own and not just when I insist? Can they apply skills I've taught them? Often the answer is yes, and when it isn't, we go back and review. The purpose of education is to be able to live life well, not to test well (though that's a handy skill to learn).


I, too, love the Sayers piece but found fault with it because she had no experience with children. I found a great book called _Trivium Mastery_ that helped put me at ease with not killing myself because my kids didn't fall perfectly into the classical education definitions of grammar, logic and rhetoric stages.
But, I also understand M's situation, having a few kids that struggle with learning (not because they are autistic, but struggle with other things) not fitting in to that model. I think we have to be careful with all the advice out there and realize that not every child fits the model and it is up to us to find the right fit. It's not always easy.
Thank you for the very thoughtful analysis.


This is great. It's wonderful how you articulate so clearly the reasoning behind what I've already been doing and thinking.

I love reading all the various educational theories and I love reading homeschooling blogs and seeing snapshots of how various people implement various ideas in their real home situations. But though I have been inspired by the Sayers piece and by stuff I've read about Charlotte Mason and by various unschoolers and Montessori and all sorts of things, I don't feel a great desire to conform what I'm doing here to any particular method or theory. It's all been percolating on the back burner for the last few years. And then when it came time to think about buying books I turned away from all that theorizing and went back to looking at Bella and thinking about who she is and what I'm going to do with her that will work with where she is right now and help us to get to where I imagine we will want to be in the future. And then also considered what will be fun for me as well as fun for her because this school stuff shouldn't feel like drudgery, even though I know there will be days when I have to drag myself through it.

I expect much of what I've planned will fall apart and it will be back to the drawing board. But that will be fun too.


Seriously, my first captcha had Greek letters! I don't know how to do that on my keyboard. Was I supposed to transliterate to English?


Well, if you are living in classical society, the child's paedogogus at home already had taught the kid the three R's. Classical schools started kids from somewhere around 7-10 years old. In the medieval world, it was sometimes parents or family members, sometimes a tutor, sometimes a local convent or grammar school.

Amy Jane (UntanglingTales)

I'm been scanning through your weight-loss story, then jumped up to where you are now.

This could be the conversation spoiler, but I'll throw it out: My husband recently told me he'd like our children to switch to Christian school from homeschooling. With as much compassion as he could offer, he said he didn't think I could handle teaching along with momming and household management.

It was heartbreaking to hear, but I can't (evidence-based) argue with him.

Maybe that's why I find one statement particularly comforting: "If I somehow form my children in ways that deteriorate my own character, I'm equally wrong."

Homeschooling sometimes places almost self-cannibalizing demands on my energy, so something has to change, but I really like this standard/question of how the effort affects *my* character.

I hope it's not egotistical to say I like to think the state of my soul is as important as that of my children.


It isn't egotistical.

I suspect that there is never a direct conflict between forming your own soul (or character, for the benefit of any readers who may prefer that term) and someone else's -- some paths are just better at serving and forming everyone.

That must have been a difficult conversation to have, but a necessary one. I hope you have good options to choose from, ranging from radically altering the homeschooling scope and style to enrolling your children in a school that feels right to you.


I'm just catching up here, but I really appreciated this thoughtful summary. It's so easy to compartmentalize our teaching styles, and for that matter our children, but to me the whole point of homeschooling is just what you said, forming a good human being who has the capacity it learn throughout life. Sayers was on to something if not to be taken literally at least to be taken up on, that our children have the capacity to learn in unique ways, and often right at home.


Indeed. Taking Sayers too literally can result in *more* compartmentalizing -- into "grammar" "dialectic" and "rhetoric". Most of the time what is needed is a mix of the three kinds of learning Sayers describes -- plus probably some that doesn't fit into those pigeonholes.

Amy Jane (UntanglingTales)

I hope we have good options too {wink}. I'm holding my breath, and praying earnestly, because I have the glimmer of hope (of wonder) that this "break" might be the key to health and writing-time that I've almost-angsted about while I asked God those familiar *timing* questions.

You know the kind: "I see what you want me to do, and I want to do it, but there's the small problem of physics..."

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