Now I grew up in the public school system, and I only knew one family that homeschooled. And let me tell you, they were weird. Yes, they were the epitome of homeschooling weirdness. You know the type, they dressed funny and kept to themselves on a farm.
So naturally I assumed that all homeschooling families were weird, until I went to graduate school. It was there, in my very first class on philosophy, that I sat next to a man who was witty and smart and didn’t dress like a ninny. I was shocked to learn that he was homeschooled, all through high school no less.
A few years later I found myself married and settled in a strange, new city. I didn’t know anyone, and I was lonely. But a kind, homeschool mom of 7 invited me over to her home. In fact, she’d let me come over to her home any time to just hang out, and I was so thankful. Later, she invited my husband and I to join their weekly rosary group, which we did.
It was at this time that we started rethinking homeschoolers. For here was a group of six families, all homeschoolers, that found time to pray together every week. They took the faith seriously. They were all active in their parishes. Their children were kind to my children. They themselves were fun to be around and have discussions with. It was a true oasis–a monastery in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
It wasn’t long, and we were hooked, and as you know, we homeschool.
And Now For a Rant
Yeah, we homeschool. We homeschool like Greek Spartans. Except that instead of training our boys to become hardened warriors for the State, we train them to become masculine warriors for Christ. Instead of instructing our girls to become tenacious women, we instruct them to become virtuous heroines for our King.
There’s an old Spartan saying that goes like this, “Come back with your shield or on it.” This meant that you better be victorious in that battle or don’t bother coming back. I appreciate this maxim. Certainly it’s brutal, but I’m tired of mediocrity, and I’m tired of settling for less.
Let me give you an example. 13 years ago, when my husband and I first moved out to western North Dakota, we walked into the local Cathedral and were astounded. I naively didn’t realize that cathedrals could be built so ugly. I had just spent 6 years studying art history and traveling all around Italy and Greece and had never seen anything so…boxy, so bare, so disordered, so…ugly. I looked at the stained glass windows. I couldn’t figure out what they meant. I looked for the tabernacle. It was nowhere to be seen.
The worst part is, I felt bad. Everyone around me, including the priests, were trying to tell me that it was beautiful. I even had one priest give me a booklet on the stained glass windows, which attempted to explained them. He insisted that I read it.
And I tried. Honestly, I tried. But let’s get real and call a spade a spade. That building is ugly, and the whole point of stained glass windows is to tell a story to the illiterate, and those windows fail.
Which leads me to homeschooling. I’m tired of apologizing for homeschooling. Look, all around me I see Mass attendance declining and Catholic schools closing. But guess what isn’t declining or closing? Catholic homeschools. We’re on the rise. In fact, our Catholic coop is so big that we have waiting lists to get in. And most of our families are young families. And they’re having babies.
You want to know the advantages of homeschooling?
- We don’t give a damn about sports. Yes, they’re good, and yes, we like playing them, but get real. I’m tired of all the emphasis on sports.
- We’re serious about our academics. I have a 6-year-old that can tell you all 46 books of the Old Testament. My 8-year-old can recite The Charge of the Light Brigade. My 10-year-olds can decline nouns in Latin. My 12-year-old can write a 2 page essay on whatever. Yes, there are schools out there that get it too, but so do we.
- Christ comes first, and we mean it. We’re not just paying lip service here. It’s all about Him. We begin our day with Him, we attempt to walk all day with Him, and we end our day with Him. Prayer permeates everything we do.
- Our children have to help out. Of course homeschooling isn’t perfect. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out a way to take Sick Days. And I’d really like to get myself a Lunch Lady and a Janitor. I guess the children will just have to help out and grow in virtue.
- We get thrown under the bus all the time, and it forces us to be sharp. Shoot, even our bishop throws us under the bus! (Click HERE for that one.) How many times have I heard, “If you would just send us your kids to our school, it would be so much better.” Yes, it would be, and thank you for the compliment, but there’s a reason why our children would improve the atmosphere. It’s because they’ve been taught at home.
Now I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I know some of you will misunderstand me, so I’ll say it anyway. I am glad that diocesan, Catholic schools exist. They are a good thing. I’m just tired of pretending that homeschooling isn’t a good thing too.
To all you homeschoolers out there, take heart! Keep homeschoolin’ it like a Spartan. Or better yet, as Dr. Taylor Marshall says, “Be the Maccabee.” And if you don’t know what that means, go read both books of Maccabees. Or, if you’re pressed for time, just read my favorite, 2 Maccabees 7.