Recently I’ve been listening to some older episodes of my favorite podcast, Close Reads, as they discuss Wendell Berry’s novel “Jayber Crow.” In the episode I heard today, they were talking about the (fictional) town of Port William and how it was dying out at this point in the novel – its very way of life as an agrarian society was disappearing. They discussed how farming is more rewarding when done as part of a community, how there’s an internal satisfaction in doing your work, on your farm, while knowing that your neighbors are doing the same sorts of things on their farms. You plant at the same time, you harvest at the same time. You help each other. You share the experience with the community around you. Tim observed that if you’re working a farm alone, just you and your family, it’s just a lot of hard, often discouraging work. Living in an agrarian community changes the experience of farming.
Homeschooling can be like that. When I’m alone, isolated, trying to educate my children can be a hard and often discouraging task. I question myself. I question the curriculum. I question my ability to do this enormous thing.
And the kids question. They wonder why they need to learn Latin. No one else learns Latin. Why read the Iliad? Why study Greek myths and classical civilizations? Why memorize poetry?
My oldest wants to go to the classical school down the street next year, and we’re in the midst of that application process. But now I’m thinking about the other two, and wondering if learning in community might challenge them, force them to dig deeper, and increase their understanding, while also adding joy to the entire process.
Ben will take Latina Christiana next year. What if, instead of only teaching him, I found a few other families who were interested in starting Latin and taught a class once a week?
What if we also explored Greek Myths together? Did some memory work? Learned the States and Capitals as a group? [All these from Memoria Press – Third Grade Core]
Emma is well into her Latin series, so a new group wouldn’t be able to start there, but what if she did her Literature work in a group? Or American History? What if a group of kids set a goal to memorize Horatius together? Worked together on Grammar recitation and diagrammed sentences in class?
I don’t know how to find people who might be interested in this kind of group. I’m just dreaming at this point. I’m imagining something small, a little like Mystie’s mini co-op. I haven’t lived here long, but so far the only classical educators I’ve seen have been in a full-time school or Classical Conversations. What if classical homeschoolers had another choice?