Monday, September 20, 2010

You May Skip This Post if You Aren't a Catholic, a Homeschooler, or Both.

A friend recently sent me a link to this article and asked me what I thought.  I warned her that my opinion would show up here, because quite honestly I think the author failed to make his point (actually, I think he failed to make any point at all, except that he doesn't know how to formulate a thesis and defend it properly).

The first two paragraphs of the article made me think that the author was going to end up exhorting me, even laying on the guilt trip, to immediately take myself to the nearest Catholic school, signing my children (and my limited funds) away thither until such time as secular, government-supported schools quit calling Christmas vacation "winter break" and go back to giving kids the whole of the Easter weekend off (as in, Great and Holy Friday through Bright Monday).

A little further on he mentions that his concern is not "socialization", but after he gives the erroneous definition that this term has come to mean - spending the majority of one's time with those who are the same chronological age - he fails to define true socialization, which is the ability of a person to conduct oneself properly, with good manners, in the company of anyone, no matter what their age.  He then continues:
 "I mean something much more radical and (perhaps initially) more difficult for homeschoolers to accept: that education is for the perfection of the child, and the child is perfected for a life in society."
I agree with this.  I do not, however, agree with his next statement in which he says that "The common approach to homeschooling today is inherently dangerous, because it may go against what our entire Western tradition and the Catholic Church herself teach about the education of the young – that education should not be done in the homeat least not for long, except during a time and place of crisis."

In the first place, I think the Church document he then proceeds to quote in an attempt to justify the preceding statement (which still has me scratching my head, if anyone can see how he got that quote above, from the three quotes he cites in the article, please educate me in the comments.  Because I don't see the connection) have most likely been taken out of context.  Secondly, at this point in my reading I am convinced that this is just thinly-veiled advertising for Catholic schools, so I'm waiting for him to start promoting that.  Instead, he goes off on yet another tangent about "home-churching".  (I don't know any Catholics who are "home-churching".  I know Protestants who are, and it so happens that they are also homeschoolers.  But I don't think that those are related in the case of which I am most aware).

Read on a bit further and here we find the major, glaring error in the article:
Homeschooling calls for a heroic life, but the Church has never held that it is necessary for parents to lead a heroic life in the pursuit of simple, natural things.

At this point I want to invite the author over for dinner and, after we've had dessert, take him by the shirt collar and shake him till his teeth rattle.  What a ridiculous statement!  The Church calls everyone to sainthood.  Everyone.  Not just the rich, or the people who drive blue cars, or those who send their kids to Catholic school, or those who cover their heads in Church.  Everyone.  You, me, the grumpy old man who lives around the corner, the girl at the checkout in the grocery store who can't count back change without looking at the cash register display, my mom, your grandma, my best friend's in-laws........
And how do we achieve sainthood?  By living the virtues (remember those?  there are seven of them) heroically.  Maybe we won't ever be formally canonized, with Mass propers or a proper Tropar and Kontakion, holy cards or medals, icons and relics, but if we live our lives the way the Church calls us to do then we are to become saints, because the Church wants us to go to Heaven (Remember the Baltimore Catechism?  "Why did God make me?  God made me to know, love and serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next." ).  We have NO EXCUSE.

When my kids act like they'd rather be part of any other family but ours, I sometimes tell them that "God sent you to ME, because He knows that I am the best person to bring you up to follow His plan for your life."  If the purpose of an education is the perfection of the child so that he is able to follow his discerned vocation and achieve sanctity for himself, then who could possibly be more qualified than the child's parents?

And what do you know, at the end of the article we discover that the author is a homeschooling father.  You want to know why I think he wrote what he did?  Because he thinks homeschooling is more like "school at home", where the kid(s) sit at desks or a table and do work out of textbooks, and it's turning out that he's feeling guilty over discovering that a lot of homeschooling (especially Catholic homeschooling) isn't like that at all; it's more like life, where the children learn theology and the Catechism by living it, and most other subjects are covered in the course of daily living in a family where Catholic means 'who we are', not just 'what Church we attend.'


  1. Excellent I expected!!
    Perhaps his comment on "home-churching" indicates that he might be one of the types who feels threatened by those of us who provide the bulk of our children's religious education & sacramental preparation at home...??

  2. I could not agree with your analysis more. William Fahey's article reeks of institutionalized compulsory education. This guy needs to seriously, and I mean SERIOUSLY, read some John Taylor Gatto.

    And consulting a dictionary might not hurt either. I like the way he kinda tries to make it look like homeschooling is actually opposed to Church teaching. One of my favorite parts is: "The Compendium goes on to describe the "primary importance" of parents working with "scholastic institutions" in the education of their children." Um, Mr. Fahey, Seton Home Study, HSLDA, homeschool support groups and even the local public library, by definition, can all be considered scholastic institutions (organizations which promote education). But, somehow, I don't think he had these kinds of groups in mind...

    Did I mention that I think Mr. Fahey should read some John Taylor Gatto???