To know God and to make Him known.

How Classical Education Prepared Me for Africa

Never had I imagined that I would be homeschooling a few Ugandan high school girls; it’s too crazy even for me to dream up. Thankfully, God prepared me for this long before I knew to prepare myself. Only two months after hearing about the job I boarded a plane and traveled to meet my new students. Now, after three months of teaching and living in Uganda, I have to thank God and my parents for giving me the education I am now able to pass on to more of God’s children.

My parents always insisted I study broadly and deeply, learning the seven liberal arts while contemplating the beautiful thoughts and people of history. During elementary school my mom homeschooled me; during high school my dad primarily took over the role of teacher and guide. At a very young age I developed a taste for learning. I truly believed that, given enough time, I could learn anything, and since my parents led me, this was fairly true. My parents gave me the freedom and guidance to study all the liberal arts and develop my curiosity. Then I went to college.

My dad often reminded me of the need to study all seven liberal arts rather than specializing too early, while keeping the real goals in mind: wisdom and virtue.

I began to study Biomedical Humanities and Fine Art to become a pediatric surgeon, but I remembered my father’s words and continued to study both widely and deeply. My advisor thought I chose my classes like a fool: filling important time slots with a Shakespeare intensive for pleasure or, out of curiosity, taking the Rhetoric of Social Movements. I only affirmed my advisor’s opinion when I refused to declare a practical purpose for my art major. How could I explain to him without being mocked that I studied painting to make my soul more beautiful?

Then, like most college students, I needed money. And because God’s plan is perfect I got a job I didn’t want: teaching students who didn’t fit the desired mold in a local public elementary school. This included both excellent and poor students. Here I fell in love with struggling kids, dropped my medical plans, and became a teacher.

By the time I graduated from college I had studied all seven liberal arts as my dad had desired and I had not even begun to quench my thirst for knowledge. I grew frustrated, feeling that my desires for learning and my personal calling couldn’t be met in a typical American school. After a few years teaching in a private school I developed the conviction that education ought to be personal, just a few students with one teacher all day. I loved every subject and wanted to continue studying them all in the light of Christ with students who needed Christ, too. Basically, I believed I was called to homeschool. However, in case you didn’t notice in my life history earlier, I don’t have any children. How could I possibly be called to classical homeschooling when I am not a mother? My whole education and training had led me to this seeming dead end. Was I supposed to accept defeat and just continue teaching Latin and art in a school somewhere?

Once again, God proved His perfect plan by providing the perfect job. I now teach a few Ugandan high school girls all their classes—homeschool style. Here, under a large Jack fruit tree alive with monkeys and birds, we get to discuss great ideas and enjoy God together. Now I see that all those courses I took without a practical goal in mind gave me a love for learning and ultimately for God, and they equipped me for teaching classically and loving God’s children in Africa. I never imagined that a love of Shakespeare, Geometry, and Latin could carry me across the ocean, but I praise God every morning that He did.

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

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