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Jay Currie

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1/01/2005

Home Schooling Update

For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of education--lip- service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school-leaving age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.
the lost tools of learning, dorothy sayers
My friend, the Reverend Susan Hutchinson, read my earlier thoughts on home schooling and sent along Ms. Sayer's essay. Which defines the educational problem almost perfectly.

I am not sure that Susan and I are quite ready to embrace the Trivium whole. (I am still inclined to think that science and natural history and hands on "shop" like learning need a place.) But as I read through homeschooling materials the idea of "classical education" makes a good deal of sense.

Of course, so does "unschooling" in all its child centered splendor - but my political schizophrenia seems to extend to educational issues.