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Why Give a Classical Education at Home?

By Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #26, 1998.

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Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn


If you want your children to have a good classical education, isn't your best option a good classical Christian school? Why would any parent choose homeschooling over a private classical school?

This question is especially timely. Classical education is becoming more popular, and dozens of classical Christian schools have popped up all over the country, drawing many students out of homeschooling.

There are three reasons why we believe that parents need not abandon homeschooling in order to pursue a classical education.

Academics

Some homeschool parents have the attitude, "We can't do the classical approach. We have to leave that to the experts." They unknowingly throw out one of the many strong arguments for homeschooling: private tutoring is much more effective than classroom teaching. Is there something about classical education which nullifies this argument? Is classical homeschooling not practical?

In the past, private tutoring in classical education was common. Today, some parents question whether they can act as competent tutors when they have little or no experience in teaching such subjects as Greek, Latin, Logic, or classical literature. But there are many friendly, digestible, self-teaching materials available in these subjects. Any parent with little or no familiarity with classical education can indeed act as a competent tutor with an ordinary amount of effort - a hurdle he has already jumped when he entered the ranks of homeschooling. No special degrees are required, except a Ph.D. (Doctor of Parenthood).

Homeschooling Helps Parents, too!

If we parents value a classical education for our children, why should we not value it for ourselves as well? Just because we did not learn these things in our youth does not mean that we should not learn them now, nor that we cannot learn them as we teach our own children. We never learn anything so well as when we ourselves have to teach it. What a blessing it is to have children to teach these things. Let's face it, we twentieth-century graduates of public education were cheated out of a lot. We need to teach these things to our children - for our own sake!

The Correct Socialization

We started homeschooling in 1980. In 1985, we were involved in an attempt to found a private school based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Despite working very hard at setting up this school, organizing schedules, and deciding on curriculum, one problem persisted: no students. Efforts at arousing interest in such a school failed. Undoubtedly, the only attendees would have been our own children. So instead, we moved away and continued to pursue homeschooling. At the time we were disappointed. We did not then understand, as we do now, the real value of homeschooling.

Most children who attend a classroom school - private or government, Christian or secular, classical or traditional - are pulled toward their peers. They bond with their peers, and they are drawn away from their parents. The authority of the parents is undermined - subtly and perhaps quite unintentionally, but nevertheless unavoidably.

In The Socialization Trap, Rick Boyer says, "Peer socialization breaks down family relationships... [it] separates kids from both their siblings and their parents through time commitments, interests and emotional bonding." Oh, sure, the child still loves Mommy and Daddy. But the heart, the affection, the attention, the very life of the child becomes bound up with his peers. Parents lose the hearts of their children.

If you had asked us in 1985 why we homeschooled our children, we would have responded that we wanted our kids to get a good education. We wanted them to learn Latin and Greek. Today, we would tell you we homeschool because we don't want our kids to be socially bonded to their peer group. We want to keep the hearts of our children where they ought to be, with their parents, until it is time for them to marry and to leave home. We parents need the sanctification which comes from teaching our children, and our children need the same from us. So even if we couldn't teach them Latin and Greek, we would still homeschool them.

But the fact is that we can teach them Latin and Greek. Our experience is that classical homeschooling is practical for our children, profitable for us parents, and preferable for our family.


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