If you Google “classical homeschooling”, you might think that classical homeschooling is a method of education exclusively for Christians, since many of the publishers of classical homeschooling materials are Christian companies that publish materials with a Christian focus.
If you Google “classical homeschooling statistics,” you won’t find much information to disabuse you of the notion that classical homeschooling is definitely a Christian thing.
Why is this?
Well, there are many reasons. Christianity has played an enormous role in shaping the history of Western Civilization. In the middle ages, the Church charged itself with preserving the great works of the past and carrying that knowledge into the future. So, for centuries, there has been a Christian tradition of preserving classical education. Although there were certainly secular roots to the modern homeschooling movement, a new group also emerged. A large number of Christian families decided to homeschool for religious reasons. The classical tradition was there waiting for them.
Since there aren’t many detailed statistics on homeschooling in general, I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t find anything reliable about the number of non-Christian classical homeschoolers. Therefore, this article is anecdotal in nature, based on what I have experienced in my homeschooling circles, both in real life and online. I’m here to tell you that classical homeschooling is for everyone, regardless of religion.
My little family is a prime example. Our children receive religious instruction in my husband’s family’s non-Christian religious heritage (which is different from mine), but we are all basically agnostic and do not homeschool for religious reasons. Our homeschool has a secular focus.
I was fortunate to attend a small liberal arts college. At the time, I didn’t understand just how lucky I was. But as I read and researched on various homeschooling methods, I have come to realize just how well my education has served me in life and how much I want my children to have that advantage. I recently listened to The Modern Scholar: How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value. It renewed my conviction that I have chosen a sound path for my family.
See, a classical education is all about learning how to learn. It’s about learning to be a productive citizen. It’s about learning how to think for yourself and to work through problems using logic and reason. It’s about learning the steps to becoming an effective communicator. This is what the Greeks taught to their children. This is what the Romans thought their patrician class needed to know in order to run the empire. This is what my liberal arts college thought we needed to be well rounded individuals that could be successful in any direction life might take us.
Many of the Christian classical education enthusiasts like to say that the purpose of classical education is to discover what is good, true, and beautiful. That sounds good to me, too. Subjective, maybe, but nice.
I have met many, many families who feel as I do. They can see the benefits of training your brain with classical methodologies, regardless of materials. You need to learn how language works, how the parts of speech come together to form sentences. It doesn’t matter if you use the Bible to study language or if you use translations of Greek myths. The poetry of language is evident in both. You need to understand how history has affected literature, politics, art, and science. It’s all interconnected. You need to learn the mathematical principles that help us control and use our surroundings. To transmit human knowledge to future generations, you need to know how to put the information down in a logical way. To convince someone to agree with your ideas, you need to learn how to present your opinions in a clear and persuasive way. None of this necessarily has anything to do with religion, although it would definitely help to proselytize if you’ve learned the art of rhetoric.
As a secular homeschooler, I do wish there were more secular materials available. However, I have used materials from Christian publishers because they were excellent materials. And quite frankly, you can give yourself or your children a solid classical education just by utilizing what’s available at the library.
I’m not opposed to religion. In fact, I think learning religious stories, especially Christian stories, will help my children to understand cultural references in the literature and art of the Western World in which we live. Learning religious tenets of other faiths will help them understand where their fellow citizens come down on various issues regarding morality and politics.
While I don’t have numbers to give you, I do have personal experience, and I know many families of all creeds – and no creeds – who have chosen classical homeschooling. So, if you haven’t considered classical education for your homeschool because you think there is a religious bias to it, I invite you to reconsider and read some information about classical education with an open mind. For more information on what exactly is classical education, check out our Classical Ed. Glossary. For further discussion, join our Facebook group – everyone is welcome.
photo by Ian Barnard from freeimages.com
Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past 4.5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school. Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment. Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio. Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature. She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables. You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.