The Hoot of it All

– Maida Korte

The most recent edition of National Review includes an essay on Home Schooling which has prompted my response below. 

Dear National Review Letters:

I read with considerable interest Sarah Schutte’s essay on Homeschooling.  Over 30 years ago I entered this very particular land of tutorage with four little girls in tow.  At the beginning my reasons for schooling my daughters at home were not profound.  We lived in Chicago and at this particular time satellite schools, robust in education, did not exist.  (They do now I have come to understand.) So several of my girlfriends and I decided we would miss our kids and were not ready for them to be away from us all day.  We also felt that kindergarten was possible in our able and capable hands with the various college degrees among us.  We plunged in and designed curricula for five year olds. All of the younger siblings would be required to play while the older and ‘luckier’  kids were taught all sorts of interesting things.  There were ten children between the three of us moms and it was a blast.   From “How To Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons” (Siegfried Engelmann) to V.M. Hillyer’s “A History of the World” to timelines wrapping high at the top of all walls scribbled and drawn upon til almost undecipherable and the constant memorization of the addition and subtraction tables, along with hearty renditions of “The Pirate Don Dirk of Dowdee” (who was indeed lovely to see) we felt strong and mighty in our determination.  We added to this mix the ever present music lesson of piano and violin and voice, and the absolute requirement of sport.  Sports were daily and in the form of pointed toes tucked into ballet slippers to chlorine sodden curls springing out of swim caps to smallish tennis rackets, leotards for gymnastic routines and then the ordinary roller skates, jump ropes and bicycles cluttering up everything. On one particular day one of my daughters said in exhaustion, “We should be called Home Sports” but even this did not sway us from our determination to be all inclusive and just try and do it better.  

No car but a solid bus system prompted one of my daughters to wisely proclaim that “Mommy we never walk – we march” and she was right.   We protested the Chicago Public School system publicly holding up signs and asking for the Department of Education to be abolished, we formed a support group titled C.U.B.S. (Christians United for Better Schools), played a role in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra allowing a ‘once-a-month’ Home School Day to descending on Springfield with pies in hand to be placed on the desks of frightened representatives.  Well, thousands of smart moms walking stridently toward you with a pie and a firm and knowing smile across our faces that said, “We know what our children need and we will have it” could be intimidating I suppose. 

One year led to another and as our ethics in child rearing formed from deep foundations in Scripture and the ever present NR on the coffee table, heady conversations with oh just everyone, we began to launch into first grade, then second and so on until one day it was time for college. Our adventure included musicals, costumes, drills, recitals, camps, quizzes, tests, essays (one that included an angry child writing the necessary essay that was to include an animal, an adventure and a conclusion that said all told “I caught a rabbit.  I cooked the rabbit.  I ate the rabbit.”) In order to wrap this up I will conclude by saying that my four daughters all attended colleges where bright minds abounded – all four graduating with various undergrad and graduate degrees, including one from Hillsdale, (who then interned at Heritage and on to Millennium Challenge to settling at World Vision) one University of Chicago graduate (the first home-schooler accepted) who went on to Pritzker with Phi Beta Kappa and Robert Wood Johnson fellowships in her sweet possession (now a surgeon) , to a graphics designer turned medical (she is artistic and so working both ends of the educational spectrum suits her – she climbs mountains and rock climbs with her husband so nothing shocks us) to Butler/Drake graduate who raises daughters of her own.  With our seventh grand-child just born we are blessed and bowed.   We home-schooling parents are not always ‘paper out of pulp’ people.  Thank you for shining a light on this arena where letters and numbers can indeed be aided by technology and sometimes the reasons are formed less by doctrine and more by just wanting a little bit more time in order to enjoy the hoot of it all. 

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