To know God and to make Him known.

Celebrating Twenty Years of Home Education

Welcome to the twentieth-anniversary edition of the Classical Conversations catalog! The year 2017 is a big year for our community of classical families, and I’m excited to feast on challenging ideas, warm Christian fellowship, and scrumptious food as we celebrate. In the church our family attends, we believe that Sunday morning is a focused practice for the rest of the week. Each day should contain warm welcomes, repentance, forgiveness, prayers, singing, reading, listening, and celebratory feasting with friends old and new. Classical Conversations’ anniversary events will contain many of the same elements.

We have written this catalog to invite you to the celebration and to encourage you to live daily in celebration with your family, church, and Classical Conversations community. We have woven a ribbon of CC history throughout the catalog. We’ve included scrapbook photos of our own CC family members, and celebration is the theme of all of our articles. Be sure to look into National Memory Master and National Number Knockout, our local science fairs and debates, and Mock Trial—all events designed to celebrate our students’ academic victories. And I hope to see you on our Capstone Cruise where we celebrate with the families graduating from Challenge IV. Finally, watch our website for announcements about September’s National Classical Conversations Anniversary Party in North Carolina as well as local celebrations around the country.

I spent the Fourth of July week with some of the CC leadership team reflecting upon the history of Classical Conversations and what I’ve learned over twenty years. It’s reassuring to know that the title of my first book turned out to be the correct one—Echo in Celebration. The title comes from the idea of catechesis. Most of us are familiar with catechism in church as the practice of an adult asking questions and a child echoing Scripture responses. In this way, young children are ushered into church fellowship by knowing God’s Word. In our Foundations program, we follow this same model so that our children can be ushered into the great classical conversations by knowing God’s world. We practice catechesis by echoing great thoughts. In fact, one of the definitions of catechism is to “echo in celebration.” When we learn about God’s world, our natural response is to celebrate. Reflecting on these practices led me to examine the echoes that have resounded in my family and in CC communities.

The biggest echo to celebrate is that the Lord’s light reflects off me more brightly than it did twenty years ago. In other words, He was able to change me to be more like Him. I remain a very faint echo, but an echo nonetheless. The next echo I hear is in my family. As our sons have matured, they have become brothers in Christ to my husband, Rob, and me. And while they will probably always echo some of the traits and quirks unique to our family, I rejoice to hear their echo of our Father growing stronger. But the most surprising echo is you, my dear reader. It is moving to know that so many people around the world have appreciated this work of recovering classical, Christian education lived out through communities. It has been a privilege to serve you.

Remember, an echo is not the real thing. It is less solid and dissipates from its origin if not re-created moment by moment. It’s up to each of us to learn how we are made in God’s image and to live out His call to us while remembering that our choices rebound across the globe—and even time—no matter how faint or strong the sound becomes.

So, here’s my best advice: Remember that although you were called to love and educate your children, this journey may very well be just as much for you. God’s purpose in gifting us with children is to draw us closer to himself, to teach us to love like our Father loves. Yet, even though we know He is working in us to perfect our love for our children, we will often hear an inner voice that says, “I just didn’t do enough.” We are sometimes called to lead our children where they would prefer not to go. We can present all of the information, questions, experiences, and conversations, and they may appear to ignore us. Yet, God is at work; the culture of a loving and God-honoring family will still be absorbed, and as your children move from sons and daughters to brothers and sisters in Christ, you will be stunned by how much they attended to your life. So, learn to listen for the truer voice saying, “Well done. You persevered for my glory; thank you, faithful servant.”

So what are some things you can attend to so that your echo of the Lord will be louder? In Echo in Celebration, I addressed three main ideas that are vital for homeschooling parents. In light of the above reflections, I’ve realized my advice hasn’t really changed. That’s the beauty of the classical model—since we all become copycats of the best conversations, we appear wiser than we really are. With more than thirty years of homeschooling behind me, I can still echo the best advice I received from earlier mentors.

1. I am going to work hard and consistently as my children’s primary discipler. From the beginning of my homeschooling journey, I firmly believed that parents are the best educators for their children, and I want to encourage you to keep believing this even when the going gets tough. I don’t regret the time I invested in becoming my children’s best teacher. As I look back, every moment has been worth it—even the difficult ones. Now, as I welcome my sons into the next generation of homeschooling parents, I am excited to support their efforts to equip themselves as my grandchildren’s best teachers. Will you join us in a commitment to be and continue becoming the best educator for your children?

2. I am going to concentrate on teaching my student the tools of learning anything. I have always claimed that learning the tools of learning is more important than learning the thing itself. One amazing blessing of the homeschooling journey is that parents can restore the gaps in their own education. Over the years with my boys, I took two approaches to subjects that I didn’t know or didn’t know how to teach: I either dug in and learned the subject alongside my sons, or I found experts to teach me how to teach it. I showed my children that it is possible to start with little confidence and no knowledge, and yet achieve great things. After all, that is what I hope they will do. So, as you educate your own children, take time to honor mentors, wrestle with study skills, organize your spaces, over-practice things until you like them, and rest in deep conversations with friends.

3. I am going to find many resources that mold my children’s minds and hearts toward their true purpose. Throughout our homeschooling journey, we found that both a plan and a willingness to adjust the plan when needed are essential. Even when our ultimate destination is clear, life sometimes requires us to walk down a side path for a while. Two companions made our journey beautiful—good friends and great books. I learned to seek out fellow travelers for the journey because I needed friends as much as my children did. Our church members, neighbors, local employers, skilled artisans, and homeschooling community provided a rich array of resources and people who could love me and my children. Finally, of course, we had our non-local companions: beloved books. We repeatedly read beloved books written by authors that we can admire and learn from.

One of the pleasures of reading these books within the intimacy of family is the freedom to cry while reading. We cry because good books inspire us to be better than we are today or to be angry at cruelty or to be joyful at the triumph of goodness. And we cry because we don’t want to say goodbye to beloved characters. This thought leads me to the greatest echo of all—grandchildren!

Our oldest grandchild, little Lily, cries whenever we leave her. We are more to her than characters in books, but we are her first characters. I hope she will see the best of us in literature and rejoice in the gifts God gave her. I hope she will see the worst of us in literature and wonder what she can do to improve our family’s heritage. Mostly, I hope she will read literature to learn more reasons to celebrate the riches of her Father’s world. Just like she runs to us when we greet her, may she and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren that follow learn from us to run to Scripture as the day breaks, to run to church when the bells ring, and to run to our Father for all things.


CATEGORIES: Articles, Big Ideas: Truth, Beauty, Goodness and more!, Classical Christian Education, College and Post Graduation, Homeschooling Life

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