The whole thrust of this blog is to present the icing on the cake; or as I prefer: Bells & Whistles. Really! What is an education without the extras to add spice to life? By extras, I mean wealth of wisdom that is ours to find in World Literature, and in the love of God. This, I say, from personal experience: by the time I and my five siblings entered first grade, we had been home schooled in World Literature. We were already primed to learn; and God still reigned supreme in America. In my life, that has made all the difference!
My goal is to capture the true spirit of home schooling, and to capture it in the essence of my birth-right Quaker mother; (1904-2001) who gave up teaching high school Latin and English to stay home and raise six children. For that decision I shall always be grateful; even as I recall the hard times our family endured.
Back then, the country was in a long, slow recovery from the great 1929 depression. Like other farm families, we lived frugally. Seldom did we venture further than two miles from home; but our sagacious mother took us around the world on the merits of some of the finest, most beautiful thoughts ever written and recorded. Both real and imagined people marched out of the pages of World Literature and into our lives. We loved those who were good. We wanted to be like them. But, those who were bad cast us no whit of appeal.
I’ve not checked with my siblings, but the real luxury of my youth was having a stay home mom. By filling our minds with the best of mankind, she accomplished much more than just making her brood want to be good. She made us avid readers, and gave us a love for vocabulary, quotations, poetry, and all the other marvelous trappings that go with World Literature. We were primed not just for grade school, but for life as well.
Now, alas! Formal education has declined. I look back upon a time, when even children sprinkled their conversation with ancient quotes of Shakespeare….. “a horse, a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” …… and other literary and historical greats; of how the high school education of my parents, in many ways, was superior to that now taught in universities and colleges. Indubitably, times have changed!
Far more mothers now work outside the home; in other homes stay at home parents are fathers, and some of them home school their children; computer websites and blogs provide home schooling assistance. Certainly, home schooling curricula abound. It is because of this last fact that I’m gaily stepping from the bounds of ordinary to dish up what made America great and good.
My expertise on this blog will center on World Literature, which you might surmise, is my favorite part of formal learning. I’m dismayed, in these modern times that that which gives human minds such expansion, increasingly, has been given short shrift. Public school curricula have deemed World Literature to be less relevant than in the past; that the wisdom of Shakespeare is no longer important in the cultivation of young minds. Even libraries have emptied from the shelves, many of the notable, wonderful books from other centuries. What a pity!
When I went to the library ten years ago with a list of favorite books of my uncle’s youth; alas, not one did I find! “The space”, I was told, “is needed for videos and newer books.” I was further told, “If no one is checking them out, they are removed”. I wanted to weep! Literature once anchored each generation to the past. It was reflected in love of country, and in strong relationships between each generation. With heavy heart, I’ve continued to witness so much slipping away; along with depth of thought in the collective American mind.
So, here, am I; to give my all! My memory, my experience, my files, and my bookshelves will yield their treasures to my fervent yearnings, which are:
- that World Literature, once, again, reign supreme in the human mind
- that God, once again reign supreme in America
- that, once, again, there be reverence for that which transmitted to past generations a wealth of knowledge; fertile ground for rational thought.
After all: it is World Literature and obedience to God that contributes largely to the character of the American soul. The earlier both are introduced to children, the better for the mark they will make in life. I don’t believe there is another person living who knows this any better than I. Of course, my mom did, and up there in heaven, I’m positive she is looking down with a serene smile and an approving eye.
Vocabulary words, to impress upon your children, are contained in this opening blog. Let them look the words up in a dictionary. Let them observe you, often, reaching for the dictionary. These are the two best ways to develop in young minds, a life long habit of keeping the dictionary handy, and a zest for learning new words.