A Homeschooler’s Memoir

[ 2 ] February 29, AD 2012 |

I am homeschooled, and I always have been. My parents decided they wanted to teach me at home where I would be safe and where I would learn good things. My dad was a great math and history teacher, and my mom helped out with everything else. I feel like through homeschooling I’ve been able to catch on to a lot more than I would’ve in regular school–not just because it gave me more time to grasp  each subject, but because I got to travel and see what I was studying.

My friends would all give me strange looks when I told them I enjoyed homeschooling. In fact, they still do. There seems to be this universal bias that a homeschooler has no life and is stuck in the house all day with heavy books and the windows boarded shut. My life as a homeschooler could not be farther from that!

I go to Peru with my mom and my brother almost every year. I remember in 2007 we took another plane there to Cuzco, and were able to see the magnificent Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. I had read so much about them at home, and seen pictures from my parents’ visits to the place years earlier. I got to go see the ruins twice, gaze up at the mountains and feel the humidity. I was standing in history even as I learned it.

This was during the school year, when most other kids would be in a classroom just looking at pictures of the place. The pictures don’t even come close! I’ll admit that back then I didn’t realize what a blessing it was.  The enormous stones put together create a maze-like structure with towers and long stairways all over. The sun bears down on it while the river sings nearby. It’s a surreal experience. To this day people cannot figure out what it was used for!

I got to see many other different ruins in Cuzco, all built by the Incas and all so much bigger than they seemed in the pictures. I would read books on the train back and forth, meet people of other cultures, and see ancient churches. I have visited the Cathedral of Lima. I’ve also seen the tomb of St. Rose of Lima, the house where she lived, and I’ve been to the church where they keep the body of St. Martin de Porres. I’ve seen world history, Church history, practiced a different language, and tasted a different lifestyle. If I wasn’t a homeschooler I wouldn’t have been able to take my books to another country and read them there.

I used to get uncomfortable when my friends gave me strange looks. They’d make me wonder if I really was missing out on something. But now that I look back at all the Lord has shown me, everything I’ve achieved with this lifestyle, I know that–at least for me–it was the best thing to do. This is the life God gave me, and it’s taken me so far. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Now I can say with certainty that I love being homeschooled. It doesn’t limit you to just home, the place where you live! For me, I got to see the world–a home so much bigger than home.

The whole world belongs to us, and I want to see it. Homeschooling has allowed me to take the first step.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Mariella-Hunt.png[/author_image] [author_info]Mariella Hunt is determined to become a saint–or at least prove that it’s possible to be one. In 18 years she’s been many places, but the most beautiful place she’s entered was the Catholic Church at age 13. Since then she’s faced many trials, physically and emotionally, but is now prepared to spread the Gospel and tell the world that Jesus is real and so is His love. Her interests vary from classical literature to apologetics to country music. She hopes to someday have a big family and live by Lake Geneva, but for now she can be found blogging as A Catholic Sheep contributing to Universal Faith.[/author_info] [/author]

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Catholic Education, Columnists, Symposiums

About the Author ()

Mariella Hunt is 20 years old and lives in the Treasure Valley. She writes fiction and reflections on the Catholic faith. In 2014, she is self-publishing an anthology of short stories and a Young Adult novel, Dissonance. A practicing Catholic, she is actively involved in the New Evangelization. She’s an associate editor for Catholic websites Ignitum Today and Catholic Lane, and is a book reviewer for Catholic Fiction. Recently she has also started a vlog for the New Catholic Generation video movement.
  • http://fumblingtowardgrace.wordpress.com Sarah B

    Beautiful reflection! Thank you for sharing.

  • Edward G. Radler Rice

    Ms. Hunt,

    Here’s are excerpts from a long email on homeschooling that I sent to Matt Abbott at renewamerica.com. The email was sent in response to the comments of Fr. Peter Stravinkas regarding Catholics who homeschool their children.

    Here’s the link to Abbott’s article:

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/110528

    And some additional commentary:

    http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=41603

    My email excerpts are below.

    ——————————
    First, I greatly appreciate the work of the Catholic Education Foundation.
    Second, I have actually had lunch with Fr. Stravinskas. He spoke at a school where I once worked and he made a good impression on me.

    The section on Stravinskas from which you quote opens by stating he “champions the idea that Catholic children should be educated in Catholic schools.” Alright, I don’t have a problem with that…

    However, the next point concerns the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers did not run institutions of primary or secondary education such as those to be found here in San Antonio.

    Please refer to the following New Advent (Catholic Encyclopedia) link on schools:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13554b.htm

    The following quote is from the same article on Schools in the section on Monastic Schools:

    Monasticism as an institution was a protest against the corrupt pagan standards of living which had begun to influence not only the public life of Christians but also their private and domestic life. Even in the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom testifies to the decline of fervour in the Christian family, and contends that it is no longer possible for children to obtain proper religious and moral training in their own homes. It was part of the purpose of monasticism to meet this need and to supply not only to the members of the religious orders but also to children committed to the care of the cloister the moral religious, and intellectual culture which could not be obtained elsewhere without lowering the Christian standard of life (emphasis mine).

    It is true that “catechesis is the job of the whole Church, with the main responsibility resting on the shoulders of the pastor, not the parents.”

    What, however, is the exact responsibility of the pastor? Is it his task to provide every child within the parish boundaries individualized instruction in the faith? From my experience working with pastors, I’ve seen that the responsibility of catechizing children and young adults is, for the most part, delegated to laypersons. In parish programs of catechesis, instruction is generally not individualized. In other words, we don’t see a professional tutor (meaning one who has earned at least an bachelor’s degree in religion from a faithful, Catholic university) working with three, four, or five children; rather, it’s a volunteer instructing (and disciplining) 20-30 children in a cramped classroom or multi-purpose room. In Catholic elementary schools, the situation pertaining to catechesis is not always found to differ from that of a parish catechetical program. The teacher will be degreed, but it’s unlikely that they will have majored in catechetics, and their instruction will not be individualized.

    Stravinskas’ next point: “And Catholic parents who choose to home-school when there is a Catholic school available at least implicitly send the message that they do not trust the Church to educate their children properly, and the children get that message.”

    At first I laughed when I read this comment since some teachers are not to be trusted. I think that this line of argument from Fr. Stravinskas is nothing other than a straw man. To claim that those parents who distrust a particular teacher, a principal, or a bishop even, must therefore distrust the Church is somewhat ludicrous. I would think that the scandal from which we are really only now beginning to recover sent the message that parents ought to be vigilant. Let’s imagine that a priest is assigned to a school. Unbeknownst to parents, he has a particular inclination to boys. My son (not yet conceived, mind you) is assigned to his class. My son tells me that the priest inappropriately touched another boy….We’ve gone into this abyss before, we don’t need to go into it again.

    We’ll play with the next straw man from Fr. Stravinskas: ”’On the same property where they go to church on Sunday is a school where the parents don’t wish to send them,’ he said. That leads to a subtle anti-clericalism, he said, because the children learn that priests cannot be counted on to hand on the faith.”

    Anti-clericalism, a subtle anti-clericalism? Once again, some priests cannot be counted on to hand on the faith…Shall we play with this straw man and imagine another situation? There is only one Catholic parish in your town of five thousand people. The next Catholic parish is forty minutes away. The Catholic parish in your town has a school. However, the pastor is an anti-Humanae Vitae die hard; he doesn’t mind dissent, but his masses are licit (barely). Now the school’s faculty are not all that bad; they’re just a little, say, confused. The math teacher happens to be the history teacher and the religion teacher for the fifth graders. She’s knows the math and depends on the textbook for her history lessons, but when it comes to the faith, she’s not exactly “straight” in the sense of being “ok” with “gay marriage” and what not… Your daughter is in fourth grade. After complaints being
    heard by the pastor, the fifth grade teacher is coming back next year…

    I suppose that if my family were in the situation described above, my children would learn that priests cannot always be counted on to hand on the faith. I would be saddened that they had to learn that lesson so early, but I would know that eventually they had to learn that lesson. This lesson has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-clericalism, but rather, with confronting and, if necessary, fleeing from the evil of dissent.

    Fr. Stravinskas’ next point, which he ties into the straw man of anti-clericalism, is simply false. “It shows in what he sees as a dearth of vocations from home-school families. ‘Why would you want to join the club if its members can’t be trusted to their jobs?’ he said.” There is no evidence that home-schooling causes a decline in the number of men interested in pursuing a vocation to the sacred priesthood. When it comes to the Catholic priesthood, the notion of it being a “club” is highly problematic. Startlingly, Fr. Stravinskas appears to be unaware of the term’s simple inaccuracy when applied to the priesthood. (Oddly, the term “club” also bespeaks elitism, which Fr. Stravinskas will comment on later.)

    The next point offered by Father Stravinskas: “He also believes it is psychologically unhealthy for mothers to spend 24 hours a day with their children as they get older, and it’s academically nearly impossible for one person to teach all that is included in a
    modern high school curriculum.”

    Here Father is really highlighting the preferable “modern Catholic high school.” I’ll dare say that in some schools, private or public, it may, could, perhaps, possibly be psychologically unhealthy for young adults to be inculcated with teenagisms, forced fed teenageology, and branded as teenagers in perpetuity. By the way, it is impossible for a faculty to teach all that is included in a modern high school curriculum. It’s supposed to be, so that high school teachers never find themselves with nothing to do…

    Lastly, we have the following: “‘What’s more, he said, some home-school families say they have no issues with the faculty or teaching at their local Catholic schools, but they don’t want their children exposed to others whose families might not have the
    same values as theirs. ‘That sets up an elite, a church within a church, and that is to be avoided,’ he said'” (emphasis mine).

    Here, I think Father is trying out mathematics, division to be precise. His explicit concern is with the establishment of “an elite, a church with a church”. If I’m boring you with my hypothetical situations, please excuse me. My imagination has perhaps not been exposed enough. Bear with me however. Here’s another situation: I have a child now. Her name is Ana Sofia Trinidad. I don’t care, moreover, if my child is “exposed” to other kids “whose families might not have the same values” as mine. Really, I’m valueless and I want Ana Sofia to be a contraceptively mindless, gnostic nihilist or something or not or whatever. It doesn’t matter to me with whom she happens to associate.

    The situation above is actually, and nothing other than, a description for the corruption of youth. Now, that is not how I am raising (and will continue to raise) my daughter. So if the contraceptively mindless, gnostic nihilist is valueless lunacy, then the Church must want us to have real values, right? For a moment, then, consider the term “exposure”. Ana Sofia is going to be “exposed” to all sorts of values, some of which are not values at all, but evils. I don’t care for the terminology so I’ll put it like this: As a parent should I be open to my daughter learning about “values” and beliefs, which are opposed to natural law, right reason, and the Catholic Faith? Is a dad being elitist if he were to think that maybe he doesn’t want his daughter being courted by that boy who is “OK with abortion,” who thinks that contraceptives will solve the problem of overpopulation, and is going to be the best man at his homosexual brother’s wedding?

    You know, I think that if I were ever in that situation, I would sleep soundly, no worries at all; and I certainly wouldn’t want to be called an elitist by Father Stravinskas, a card carrying member of “The Club”!

    No. No, I’m not worried about anyone labeling me an elitist and no Catholic home-schoolers, who live, work, and teach according to the Holy, Salvific, Catholic Faith, should be worried either.
    —————————–

    Thank you, Mariella, and keep up the good work…

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Edward
    High School Theology Teacher
    San Antonio, TX
    M.Div.; currently completing Masters in Catholic School Leadership