Check out Seven Little Australians for this issue of the Carnival.
The Wide View....
How does your family’s ‘big picture’/goals/educational philosophy affect/guide your planning and translate into what your highschoolers do on a daily/weekly basis?
Do you generalise or specialise?
School has already started in our corner of California, but my family has been spending the past couple of weeks working on our yard and swimming at our local lake. Today my husband, who works at home, took three of our boys on a hike to Kaiser Peak.
Why am I mentioning this in a post about the Wide View? Well, for one reason, because on the top of the peak, you get the widest view.
For another thing, I thought it made a good example of three items of the "big picture" vision we have for our children's education, and also might illustrate how we try to put them into practice on a regular basis. To me, taking advantage of "back to school" to do things that aren't necessarily schooly is part of our family's Wide View.
The late Pope John Paul II inaugurated his papacy with a quote from the Archangel Gabriel: "Be not afraid!"
This simple phrase has so much meaning in so many areas of life! Surely we are a fear-haunted generation. We seem to believe that if we just take enough precautions, just do everything totally "right", our road will be smooth and easy and successful. But fear is like gluttony or avarice. It never rests; there is always something else to beware of.
One would think that by homeschooling, we would take a step outside of the box of conventions and "shoulds" and "musts", but it doesn't seem to be so. Instead, we too often replace the old box with a new one, or even put the new box inside the old one, adding a whole new list of fears to the standard ones.
But there are no guarantees and God does not bless superstitious rituals. The servant in the parable who buried his talent in order to be safe was not commended by his Master. That doesn't mean we are to be careless and lax. It just means that there are times when, if we are following His call, that we will have to go beyond the conventional safety margins. The behavior of others around us can't be our standard. Our ideal is nobility, not the norm.
If you want to see more about how this might translate to a high school education, here is one version of preparation essentials from a very good book, Escape from Skepticism.
This is "freedom from..." but there is also "freedom for....". Freedom is not simply the right to do whatever one wants. It is freedom for excellence. Which leads me to the next item on my list.
To get up to the top of Kaiser Peak, and then back down, my husband and the kids hiked over 11 miles and went up 3000 feet, from 7000 elevation to 10,000. But the view!
When I talk about "challenge", though, I'm not necessarily talking about Doing Hard Things. I admire that, and I look for ways that I and my kids can get practice in going beyond our comfort zone, but I also really like comfort zones.
I'm talking more about listening to God's voice. ,,, maybe more "calling" than "challenge." My kids might be called at a certain time to just keep showing up, day after day. They might be called to think differently than the crowd they work with. They might be called to change jobs, or life directions. "Calling" doesn't seem to be a one-time thing, but an ongoing process, and I pray often that my children are prepared to listen and respond, whatever form that takes, whether into the lion's lair like Daniel, or to unknown lands, like St Francis Xavier, or into humble obscurity, like the Little Flower, and the many unknown devoted saints she represents.
“When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.” GK Chesterton
I don't know what I could add to what Chesterton says here! It's sort of our family motto.
Furthermore, as Catholics we are born into a larger family than just the people in our home who share our last name. We are brothers/sisters, sons/daughters of the Holy Trinity and thus born into a truly incredible adventure, surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses". We are friends and protegees of powerful invisible beings (the angels) and of great men and women from far-distant times and places (the saints).
How does this translate into what we do in the ordinary day and week? Do highschoolers in our house generalise or specialise?
I will just say that for both the Ryans and the Bryans, combining freedom/challenge and family closeness adds up to using living, whole resources and methods as much as possible. It means:
Real Books -- living books that don't have only a single topic or message, but that you can learn different things from at different stages of life.
Real Life -- nature hikes, field trips, volunteer work, galas!
Also, trying to accept life's trials and blessings and opportunities as part of God's curriculum, even when that means Non-Schooling!
Family and Friends! in all seasons!
Being a life long student!
I think both Chari and I try to allow for our high schoolers to generalise AND specialise. We are both very concerned to give our kids the best liberal education we can provide. That means letting them learn from the masters, the best writers and thinkers throughout history. Friendship with authors and artists, as with saints, isn't altogether limited to one's own time and place.
Neither of us want to prematurely cut off options, so we have our high schoolers generalise -- continue their learning in math, science, and foreign languages as well as religion, literature and history.
At the same time, having seven grown children in all between us, we've learned that every homeschooled high schooler develops his or her own unique set of talents, interests and opportunities. Homeschooling gives the teenager TIME -- time to freely explore, seek out and meet challenges, and be around siblings, parents and friends. So a given day or week in our lives with high schoolers could involve traveling across the country, climbing a mountain, going to a college class, computer programming for the family business, quietly studying a Latin book, or watching or acting in a play.
Charlotte Mason quoted the psalm:
“You have set my feet in a wide room”and this is another thing I think homeschooling through high school can give a teenager -- space to explore, both mental and geographical.
I hope that over the course of this High School Carnival series that Erin and others have started, Chari and I will be able to share more details of day to day life with highschoolers.
In the meantime, check out the Homeschooling High School Carnival at Seven Little Australians for contributions from other moms who are homeschooling through high school.