A teacher’s consent to homeschooling – some thoughts

When she was hardly more than a girl, Miss Minnie had gone away to a teacher’s college and prepared herself to teach by learning many cunning methods that she never afterward used. For Miss Minnie loved children and she loved books, and she taught merely by introducing the one to the other.  (A Consent, from That Distant Land, by Wendell Berry)

Miss Minnie – the above two sentences – epitomizes my teaching life and my view on education.  

Since I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. The education that happened to me in school and in teacher training was based on stuffing ideas into an empty mind, imposing a fixed content of ideas and doctrines to be learned by rote, setting tests and giving marks for correct facts. I was a well-trained parrot and a good one. My heart told me that this was neither teaching nor education. After several years of teaching I awoke one day to see my two children in a small private school: one parrot to be, and one labelled attention deficit. I did not want parrots and I did not believe in labels. My heart told me to teach them at home. I did no research, I did not know that this is known as homeschooling, I had no political or religious reasons for this step – my heart merely ached seeing what was happening to my six year old girl and my seven year old son.  I took them out of school and started teaching them at home. I was challenged from day one. I realised that homeschooling was going to be aimed at me, and that my children were merely coming along for the ride.

For Miss Minnie loved children and she loved books, and she taught merely by introducing the one to the other.

Hours and hours of searching, reading, researching, and tests and trials brought me at the doorstep of Miss Minnie’s teaching method. One evening, 12 years ago – unintentionally –  I asked my husband if I can use the internet to search for “something”. I remember my fingers typing “school at home and christian” as key words in the search engine, and my astonishment at the wealth of information. Three, no four homeschool support groups – their philosophies and beliefs – invited me, offered what I was searching for, and after 12 years have stood the test of time: Harvey and Laurie BluedornSusan Wise-Bauer,  Christine Miller , and the ladies from Ambleside Online (mentioned in  no particular order).    

Mortimer Adler, in some book somewhere, said – the good student uses his teacher just as a child uses his parents – as a means of attaining maturity and independence. I had the benefit of both wor(l)ds: as parent and teacher I could show my children how to learn and think for themselves. Or as Harvey Bluedorn stated it: homeschooling is for the parents, we need to teach our children for our sake, and our children need to be taught by us – for their sake.

I enjoyed each and every precious moment – sweet and sour.



4 thoughts on “A teacher’s consent to homeschooling – some thoughts

  1. Poiema, thanks for dropping by – i appreciate it; a few years ago i had to put some thoughts together on home education (i was studying). Reading Wendell Berry’s book awakened and re-emphasised those thoughts of yester year – This (blog)sharing left me feeling content, happy and satisfied.

  2. Hey~I just dropped by this evening for the 1st time after seeing your comments over at Carol’s blog. You have some lovely thoughts here. I appreciate the simplicity of just bringing kids and books together in love. Works for me!

  3. thanks Carol… i appreciate your kind words.
    I fell in love with Wendel Berry’s writing. He has the gift of wording a lifetime of happenings – acts, reactions, thoughts, nuances – in a single sentence… a rare gift…

    The selection of short stories in A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor, had a similar effect on me.

  4. Oh, I love these quotes. It makes me want to stop everything and start reading Wendell Berry. Isn’t he a wonderful writer?

    I think both loves are requisite: love of children and love of books. And how simple it is–introduce one to the other.

    I’m working on next year’s curriculum and one book I’m considering is Mortimer Adler’s How to Read A Book.

    Oh I just want to linger here…I love this post.


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