Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home (Un?) Schooling, Relaxed Catholic Charlotte Mason Style

"Relaxed Catholic Charlotte Mason" is a rather wordy way to explain my homeschooling style, but it will have to do right now, while I am in a phase of re-evaluating, re-defining, and setting a new course. I know what Romeo (or was it Juliet?) said about a rose by any other name smelling as sweet, but in the end it really did matter that he was a Montague and she a Capulet.

Charlotte Mason was Christian, but I don't know if she was specifically Catholic. At any rate, it is clear that she and Maria Montessori, who was Catholic, have influenced my philosophy and practices of education heavily, and for me, the Catholic part of Beezy's education must come first. Faith was at the heart of helping children to learn and grow in every area of life for these two lovely ladies. So whether or not I will definitely use the term "unschooling", I will most certainly be teaching my child in the way she should go.

"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni! which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."  
( John 20:15-17 )

Mary Magdalene calls Jesus "Rabonni", the Jewish word meaning My Great Teacher or Master, the title of highest honor. Jesus was (and still is) the greatest teacher of all time, and all Christians are to emulate him. The Bible is full of exhortations to parents to teach their children well, not to allow them to "self-regulate" willy-nilly.  That being said, Jesus did not proscribe to the practices of the traditional teachers of his day. The man was radical. He danced to the beat of God's drum, and God's drum alone. He wanted the children to come to him and said that we must be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Children full of awe, wonder, humility, curiosity, innocence, exuberance, and faith. The public schools by and large crush these qualities in children. I fear that in the effort to disassociate from the traditional schools and their methods (which actually aren't the truly traditional ways of America), some homeschoolers have rejected teaching as well as schooling. They have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

If I decide to be an unschooler, I will mean it in the sense of de-institutionalizing my homeschooling. In fact, the word "homeschooling" doesn't really make sense at all, as the home is a domestic church, not a school by way of the most common definitions. Unschooling better reflects the reality of home-based education, or at least it should.  I will continue to explore and define what unschooling means to me. But one thing is for sure: if I do declare that Catholic unschooling is my style of home education, teacher will not be a dirty word. If it's good enough for my Lord, it's good enough for me.

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