29 October 2007

Worlds Collide

OK, cast your mind back to everyone's favorite show, Seinfeld. Scene: Jerry's apartment, with a little editing--

GEORGE: Ah you have no idea of the magnitude of this thing. If she is allowed to infiltrate this world, then George Costanza as you know him, Ceases to Exist!

You see, right now, I have High School George, but there is also Homeschool George. That's the George you know, the George you go to Church with -- TLM George, Co-op George, Blogger George, Family George.

JERRY: I, I love that George.

GEORGE: Me Too! And he's Dying Jerry! If High School George walks through this door, he will Kill Homeschool George! A George, divided against itself, Cannot Stand!

Recent events have caused me to think about this episode, where George tries desperately to salvage his friends-only world from being invaded by his fiancee. In my case, though, the context is homeschooling.

My family homeschools, and unless you have not been paying any attention at all while reading this blog, you know we also attend the Traditional Latin Mass. We are now in our fourth year of homeschooling. We had sent my oldest daughter to parochial school through fourth grade, and my son through first grade. Then we couldn't take it anymore. My traditionalist conversion, so to speak, occurred more recently, about 2 1/2 years ago.

Our little history is not so unique, given the well-documented rise in the popularity of both homeschooling and the Traditional Mass. But it does create the sometimes comical situation of having two separate groups of friends and acquaintances: the novus ordo, parochial/private school crowd, and the traditionalist (or very conservative) Catholic homeschooling crowd.

Leaving the old group is at first sad, of course, as you realize the costs involved in placing the Catholic faith in the position it deserves in your life-- i.e., first place by a mile. A necessary corollary to this reality is the new found commitment you have to imparting the real Catholic faith to your children, and defending their faith from attack by well- and not-so-well- meaning teachers, pastors and administrators.

However, once you experience the manifold blessings of embracing a fully Catholic lifestyle, the sadness subsides and the comedy begins.

Your old friends and your non-traditionalist family both think that you are absolutely insane. They suddenly take more interest in your doings than they ever have before. They lecture, they cajole, they arrange interventions, etc. Some of them would like to accuse you of belonging to a cult, but they usually realize that the Catholic Church is their religion, too, or at least the one they put on census forms.

As Catholic homeschoolers, you know that they need your prayers, and that you have plenty of your own faults that require God's mercy, so you forgive them the many rudenesses they perpetrate against you. You may know the litany already, but here it is for the uninitiated: First, they assume that your homeschooled child will be a pasty, red-eyed, in-bred cracker who will be a complete mind-numbed automaton. We are over sheltering them and rendering them unable to cope with the "real world". As soon as they inevitably escape our clutches and are forced to reenter the "real world", they immediately will go berserk and become drug addicted pimps and prostitutes with illegitimate children in at least seven states. How do your friends and family know this? Because they had a friend whose cousin was homeschooled and it happened to them.

They elevate the qualifications of the teachers your child is leaving behind into Aristotelian status. Not that there is anything less than noble about the teaching vocation, but these are the same teachers about whom they complain constantly for being so unfair and arbitrary with their own little school-aged geniuses Brittany and Chase.

They make OH-so-subtle attacks on your intellectual competence, like, "You are going to have them tested, though, right? You mean it's not required by the state? Are you sure? How will you know if they are keeping up with kids in school?"

But, most of all, and constantly, the single biggest damage you are doing to your child is to deprive them of ... [duhnh, duhnh, DUHNH] SOCIALIZATION! Yes, good reader, Socialization is the be-all and end-all of traditional education. It is the absence of Socialization that makes your children into the awkward losers they are destined to become as homeschool graduates. Letting little broken-home Larry serve as the primary values educator of my second grader is to be preferred to keeping that job in-house, you see.

Socialization, in my opinion, is just another way of saying that my child will be turned into a Socialist.

As for mixing with the outside world, I guess soccer, football, karate, boys club, baseball/softball, dance, girls club, basketball, charitable efforts and friendships with their siblings and other homeschool friends isn't "real world" enough.

In desperation, they try to turn your children into the "Solvers of the World's Problems: Children's Division". After they fail to refute your case that your children would be better off at home, they try to make you feel guilty for not putting them in school to be a positive influence on their classmates. After all, little Dymphna is such a good girl. She should be there to be a good example to the others.

After this argument fails, they tend to throw up their hands and chalk you up as a lunatic. They don't have the time to try to save you anymore, as they have to run to pick up Mackenzie from detention.

And I have to admit (and probably should confess) that I really enjoy telling them all about homeschooling, or the Traditional Mass, just to irritate them into making some of these comments. I really don't mind being thought of as insane, and it is pretty funny to disagree in small doses.

Where was I? Oh yes, the new friends. As a whole, these are the best people I have ever met, and most of them ooze goodness from every pore, putting me to shame. We have grown quite close to so many wonderful Catholic homeschooling families. The fact that we have common goals, similar histories and made similar sacrifices for the faith and our families allows us to become close in a surprisingly short period of time.

Just like the old friends, there are certain actions, though, that are beyond the pale. Recently, I was discussing the decision my wife and I are making about where to educate our oldest for high school. We intend to homeschool, but we left the door open a crack for a private Catholic high school that shall remain nameless. You see, someone told me that if I didn't send my daughter to high school that she would be a pasty, in-bred cracker who would become a drug-dealing prostitute in college (or, worse yet, a protestant). That, and the fact that the school had a nifty, color glossy brochure, really intimidated me.

So, we casually mentioned to our friends that we were going to have our daughter fill out an application for this high school, and if eyes could pop out of a person's head through sheer horror, this would have done it. They were eager to give a quick and persuasive list of reasons not to send her to high school. Of course, I can't disagree with the reaction or the reasons. In fact, I share both myself! The high school option was really just to provide a safety net if we were for some reason to change our mind or be unable to homeschool. And, unlike with the old group, I give great credence to their advice.

Their reaction did help us to solidify our plan to homeschool, though. After all, I can only handle being an outcast of one group at a time.

I decided to keep my worlds from colliding.


Christopher said...

Wow Timman EXCELLET article

My wife and I have been struggling with this very same issue, and we Do think we will home School starting next year.

Keep up the Good work

and if you need someone to chase down your prostitute daughter and bring her home let me know I might be able to help :P

thetimman said...


Careful how you say that, dude!

Samantha said...

I absolutely love this blog. You had me cracking up at work (don't worry though, I am not on the clock). I cannot wait to have the opportunity to homeschool my children one day!

thetimman said...

Thanks, Samantha!

Christopher said...

LOL, I guess reading it a second time it could be skewed the wrong way LOL

We will be picking your brain later for your expertise on this homeschooling issue

Thanks again

Michelle said...

WOW! Did you just hit EVERY issue I've been having the past couple of weeks or what?!?!?!? In case you're not a homeschooler, you'd be amazed at how common everything in this post is! I keep trying to remind myself that Jesus was persecuted time and time again and I need to offer up all these "little" crosses every day. Some days I say to myself "Man, can I catch a break and just have ONE non-confrontational day"!

thetimman said...

Christopher, no sweat, I didn't take it the wrong way. Just having a little fun :-)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind seeing some posts on how Catholics might home-school their children. If you know of good websites for materials, how to fill-out required forms for the local school district, etcetera, many might appreciate this.


Anonymous said...


Check out the St. Louis Catholic Homeschool Association website (listed on the right side of the blog). Also, good sites for materials include sacredheartbooksandgifts.com, seton.com, catholicheritagecurricula.com, & emmanuelbooks.com. You may also want to check out the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at hslda.com.

Feisty Muse said...

Hey, Timman... you left out the part where the school-kid parents quiz your kids with questions about what they are learning in school, to check up on you and make sure you really ARE teaching them something and not just sitting around drinking Mimosas all day while you subject them to unfair child labor pracices (i.e. chores).

thetimman said...

Feisty Muse, thanks for the next post idea. Because of course, you're right!

PuxaAsturies said...

Tossing aside the argument of home schooling vs. secular schooling, I see no correlation between home schooling and being a good traditional Catholic. While not belittling Traditionalist that do not home school, the writer ties home schooling with being a traditionalist. One subject home schoolers never breach: the stupidity of the home "teacher." For example, I have an acquittance that home schools. I don't mind that she is protestant as much as I mind that she is dumb as dirt and yet home schools. She could not raise her first children to graduate from high school, to stay off drugs, to not sleep around and have children out of wedlock, yet from her demented perspective, it was the public school’s fault. She can’t balance a checkbook, does not work, yet she is allowed to be the “teacher” of her child. I know of more than one home schooler that did not graduate from high school. How are these families to teach complex algebra? And, as stated in the opinion piece, there is little oversight. Has the writer not run into an example such as mine? What would the writer recommend in such a scenario?

thetimman said...

Puxa, the writer only ties homeschooling with being a traditional Catholic because it is my own experience. Near the top of the piece, you'll see that we started homeschooling well before becoming attached to the Traditional Mass.

As for the stupidity of some homeschool teachers, I did not broach it for the same reason I didn't broach the stupidity of some school system teachers. I just tried to write a light hearted piece drawn from my own experience. I don't think my wife is stupid, for instance. I also know a homeschooling mom who was an elementary school teacher. She seems quite bright, and I don't think she got more or less intelligent when she decided to homeschool.

Certainly there are some parents who are not well-educated. I was graduated from a fairly well-repudiated university, though, and there were several education majors whose intelligence didn't overwhelm me, either.

Given a choice between a parent who loves their child and a school system teacher, assuming both are of relatively equal intelligence, I'll take the parent every time. You see, homeschooling is not for everyone, of course. But the parent who chooses to sacrifice so much for the well-being of their child will usually do what it takes to ensure the education of their child. They know their child, love their child, and can make use of the 1:1 or 4:1 or whatever the student-to-teacher ratio is. Parents can read the teacher's edition of textbooks just as well as a teacher. I am oversimplifying but you get the point.

If there are parents who homeschool in name only and don't try to educate the child of course this is wrong. But I don't believe this happens but extremely rarely. Why would a lazy and stupid parent bother to make even the minimal effort? Isn't it much easier to send them to the bus stop?

There are many resources for the homeschool parent to teach algebra or any other subject you find advanced. First, texts geared to homeschoolers. Second, homeschool curriculae monitored by other educators. Third, co-ops, friends, community colleges, independent learning centers, etc.

Point is, homeschool or send them to school as you see fit with your own children, and God bless you. As far as your "dumb as dirt" friend, I would try to help her, or pray for her. You see, I would be more concerned that she is Protestant than that she homeschools.

The rosary is a good place to start most endeavors.

Feisty Muse said...

Dear Puxa,
I'm with thetimman on this one. You wrote: "She can’t balance a checkbook, does not work, yet she is allowed to be the “teacher” of her child. I know of more than one home schooler that did not graduate from high school. How are these families to teach complex algebra?"
I'm not sure why she needs to balance a checkbook if she is married and her spouse does this task. I'm glad she doesn't work because I would be extremely concerned about the demands on her time if she did. And yes, she is probably the best teacher for her children. Complex algebra? Let us not forget that our world would be much better off with more godly mechanics, more godly cashiers, more godly ____insert job category here____. I have one child that is of high school age and cannot grasp simple multiplication, let alone complex algebra. Not every Saint was a scholar like Aquinas. I educate at home to grow (hopefully) saints, not scholars. I teach my children to read, write, and do mathematical computation so they can use these skills to glorify God; whatever their vocation should be. Not everyone is destined for University; nor should they be.
Perhaps you could gift your acquaintence with a book about the truth behind the Reformation this upcoming holiday season? On tape if you're concerned her reading skills aren't up to parr.
Feisty Muse

PuxaAsturies said...

"...I would be more concerned that she is Protestant..." The original comment was made in jest, however I am still unconvinced that I want her on the Catholic side...hahaha

PuxaAsturies said...

I have to disagree with your argument. There is a difference between “need” and “ability.” She may not “need” to balance a checkbook, but if she is teaching youths, she should have the “ability.”

You seem to go the step further than thetimman in tying Catholicism to home schooling. They are neither inclusive or exclusive of each other. The statement, “I educate at home to grow (hopefully) saints, not scholars.” is out of place in discussing education at home. There is no correlation between home schooling and raising saints, which was my original point and what I should have stuck too. You raise possible saints by instilling Catholic principles into their hearts through the Mass, prayer and acts of charity. There is no common denominator between home schooling and raising future saints. The common denominator for raising saints is the Church.

In the example of the lady home schooling, you support my underlying premise: there are some parents who should not home school, yet home schoolers never breach this subject. You exemplify the problem by jumping to the women’s defense. I see something ajar with, “I have one child that is of high school age and cannot grasp simple multiplication...” Maybe, we have a different idea of “simple multiplication.” For me, it is the multiplication table up to 12 x 12. If a high school aged student - home school or secular - can not reel such numbers off the top of their head, I would worry. I do not believe going to a university is essential. I do not believe a doctor is (spiritually or humanly) better than an auto mechanic.

Nonetheless, I was only attempting to make two statements. One, there is no correlation between home schooling and being a good, traditional Catholic. Two, some parents should not be home schooling due to a lack of ability, which is a point home schoolers care not to discuss.

thetimman said...

Puxa, re: your last to me: mine was supposed to be funny, too. No problem. I do not of necessity tie the two together-- the faith and homeschooling. But, you will admit, homeschoolers tend to be, tend to be, evangelical Christians or conservative-to-traditionalist Catholics. I really have not come across a Catholic homeschooler that fits your dumb-as-dirt example. But that is just my experience, not a broad statement.

I don't think we disagree on what you claim is your essential point, that they are not linked. But I would of course advocate homeschooling in most situations.

God bless.