Education: It Must Begin and End With Virtue


“We are not raising workers or consumers for the materialistic state, but souls that will live forever in paradise. Poetry. Drama. Art. Music. These are the skills of the lady or gentleman……Produce art, don’t consume it.”

Even if you do not homeschool, there are invaluable treasures in the following article that any parent would do well to ponder.

We don’t consider ourselves “eclectichomeschoolers; I have, however, over the past ten years of homeschooling, discovered a whole world of education that looks rather different from the 8-3 classroom setting we all came to think was “the only way to do school.” We have enjoyed a “lifestyle of learning” that extends education beyond a desk and classroom. (Read more about this idea in my ebook “Think Outside the Classroom“)

If you are an 8-3 homeschooling mom, that’s fine! Every family, mom, child and situation is different. What some families thrive in doing, others find miserable. I just LOVE presenting the reality that there ARE many freedoms and alternative methods of giving our children wonderful educations.

The following excerpt is by John Mark Reynolds, homeschooling father and author.  His wisdom is profound and the article is very worth the read for any parent.

“I have seen children from every type of home schooling and have never seen a success from an unhappy and unloving home…and never a failure from a relaxed and happy house running over with love.

First, education must begin and end with virtue.

Liberty, soul liberty, must be the default position if we wish our children to reach true adulthood…

Three Educational Lessons:

Too often home educators try to set up a government school at home. How foolish I was with all my records, charts, tests, and clip boards at the start!

Students should read well, write well, be numerate, and cultured.

~He must read….If he can read, then Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, and Lewis can be his primary teachers. If he cannot read, then he is limited to teachers in his neighborhood. I home school so my children can study under Aristotle and Saint Paul, not under me.”

I have to add something here…he is not just using the word “read” to mean the literal ability to read. When I taught high school English Literature, most of the senior students glazed over when we read Shakespeare or Hawthorne. I had to “interpret” any reading that exceeded a 5th or 6th grade level. That would be an example of a student “not reading”…meaning their level of understanding fell below what was once considered reading for a general audience. (Shakespeare’s plays were written for a mostly illiterate audience…and few people today can understand it…that means we’ve been dumbed down.)

(Back to the article…)

“Provide the bulk of the school day to exploring books and show him the way to his public library.

~She must write…Grammar is good…Latin is better. Have her copy the essays and style of her favorite authors…that Bronte style can tutor her in the language of passion.

~They must be musical….We are not raising workers or consumers for the materialistic state, but souls that will live forever in paradise. Poetry. Drama. Art. Music. These are the skills of the lady or gentleman…These musical disciplines bring the passion, intellect, spirit, and body into harmony…Produce art, don’t consume it. (Ultimately, we worship God with mind, soul and body through art.)

Read and write all the poetry you can.

We imagine the perfect home school family, in our case the Evil Home School Family Von Trapp. We see them sitting about their antique dining room table (built by Father and the Lads) sharing a dinner made by their charming old Auntie (who conveniently has moved in to do all the house work for free).

All the Von Trapp children can read Greek while playing the violin simultaneously solving physics problems. The Father looks like an erudite and sober Mel Gibson . . . the Mother like Julie Andrews before Victor, Victoria. The entire family has the piety of Saint Francis while living in the little home they built themselves on the prairie with the proceeds of their Internet business and cheerful herd of Alpacas.

We are not that family. Both of us struggle with dark moods, a sense of failure, and organizational skills that often end with the purchase of the day timer we forget to use.

At the end of this decade of home schooling, however, looking back on the best we could do . . . I realize that most of our failures did not matter much and that our children still love us, read, play the piano (some more than others!), and are much better than either of us were at their age. They are pleasant and charming people. We like them . . . and most days we suspect that they like us!”

We are not perfect educators . . . most days we are just good enough, but we are who we are! I suspect that is a good thing . . . as the million home school house holds will all be unique, failing at different things, and flourishing in their own odd ways.

Finally, the home school family is creating culture . . . and in most houses that rests on the mother. She, like Dante’s Beatrice, is a figure of beauty that calls a culture back to true love and life. It is a job that our culture ignores or despises since it defies every convention and every demand of our materialistic age. She works without wages, teaches for the love only of her students, and receives only the honor we can give her.”

More from John Mark Reynolds:

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22 Responses to “Education: It Must Begin and End With Virtue”

  1. The Inept Aspirant says:

    I just had to respond to Anonymous. My homeschool curriculum is called Google 🙂 It’s the greatest invention yet! How did we ever live without it? My girls come up with the questions on their own (as kids do out of their natural curiosity) and being the unschooled mother I am, I don’t know the answer, so I say, “Let’s Google it and find out!” I have learned so many interesting facts I almost feel qualified now to play Trivial Pursuit. But the best thing is, my children know where to go to find answers to their questions (and it ain’t to Mommy! LOL)

  2. Jennifer says:

    I always thought the point of teaching was being a teacher. You will teach your children virtue, how to read, and Scripture.

    • Debbie says:

      IF you were the teacher, then your child would only learn what you know. Letting the child teach you of his interests we all learn more.

      • Jennifer says:

        Yeah, that’s cool, you should help the kid learn more than you know. But you’re still in the position of teacher.

  3. KTHunter says:

    The “Evil Home School Family Von Trapp” description really made me laugh. Thank you for sharing that. I may recommend this to a friend of mine who is homeschooling her daughter.

  4. Word Warrior says:

    Sorry if comments are confusing…I re-posted this post from the archives, but instead of copying it and posting it as a new post, I just changed the date to today’s date…thereby posting the old comments with it (oops!) I should probably just go to bed late at night.

    I’ve removed the ones that were dated from the old post, but a few I’m not sure about.

  5. I love your honest (if albeit probably harsh) asessment of your homeschool. When my oldest graduated from high school I cried.
    Some of it was due to the fact I had just given birth the day before and had a newborn sitting at my feet. My main reason for the flood of tears and lump in my throat was that I saw such a great picture of the verse “faithful is He that calleth you …who will also do it.”
    We just obey and, praise Jesus, He does the rest while smiling as we put forth our feeble best efforts. Now my oldest is getting ready for his senior year in college … and Jesus get’s credit for that too!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for posting this Kelly! I am really hard on myself and worry often that my kids are not getting enough. Thanks for reminding me that they are!

  7. Ginger says:

    Love it, love it, love it! My mom asked me the other day why I do so much fine arts w/ my kids. I just want to do all the things I missed out on! I think I read 2 Shakespeare plays in school. And both were dumbed down as you described. And we didn’t do any art or music appreciation at all!
    What I love about teaching my children to love learning, is that once they get that lesson, they will teach themselves everything they want to know. Charlotte Mason was a genius! 😀

  8. Jennifer says:

    That’s a good point Debbie, though if anyone’s being a teacher during the process, I assume it’s you.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Arghh, my reply to you is above your comment. Oh well.

  10. Love it Kelly! I will have to check out more from this man. Sounds like some good stuff!! Sharing for sure!

  11. Silvia says:

    Thanks for this. It nurtured me, it rings true to me. And I had a great laugh too!

  12. Amy says:

    What an encouraging piece! I’ve been tutoring some homeschoolers in subjects their parents want extra help with and the culture of these homeschools is so positive and so much better from what I remember of my own schools growing up.

    Amy
    http://makingajoyfulhome.blogspot

  13. Amy Kilpatrick says:

    Hi, Kelly. Would you mind getting in touch with me? E-mail would be fine or you have my number if you prefer to call. I didn’t know how else to contact you. I did leave a message in the contact section here and tried to reach you by phone using the cell number you were using the last time we spoke in May but couldn’t get through. Ray has lost Aaron’s number and would like to touch base with him. We continue to pray for you all. I’m sorry to see some of the comments and issues you deal with here. I’m praying for you to be able to continue to rest in the Sovereign care of our faithful God and the truth of His Word. You seem to be able to do that very well even in the face of the unfair accusations and characterizations. This, too, is clearly God’s provision for you.

    Blessings,
    Amy in AL

  14. Renee says:

    Lovely. My older two go to public school but I’ve always done extra with them at home. My daughter was always into arts and now she goes to an art academy. My eldest son is in a self contained classroom but I still taught him extra at home too. I’ve been entertaining the idea of homeschooling my third child but often wonder if a FT working Mom can pull it off as the material gets harder. We are set for Pre-K at home next year. Regardless, I’ve always done the extras that I felt were missing in public school (real life applications, arts, and Bible). I’m very much a field trip, experiments & fine arts, and hands on object lesson kind of gal. I’ve never used curricula. Scrapbooking mother daughter book club was way too much fun! Or figuring out new sensory integration activities in the community. I believe my youngest son is a kinesthetic learner. Pre-K will be very fun. Homeschooling is so much more suited to non-traditional learners (which is everyone isn’t it) who would otherwise be considered “slow” or “troublemakers” or “daydreamers” or “unmotivated” can really excel learning things the way God made them to learn.

  15. Kim M says:

    I loved reading this post again! I saw my old comment from three years ago and I remember all the questions I had (and uncertainties).

  16. Jasmine says:

    Great post. So needed. I’m one of those women who love charts, but I’m learning to relax. Reading, writing, and the arts have been on my mind lately, so this is definitely a confirmation of God’s leading.

    Thank you, Kelly.

  17. Katrina says:

    Good thoughts – definitely something to chew on!
    Do you happen to have an updated weblink for the John Mark Reynolds article? When I click on it I get a main page, but not the article (and I’ve skipped around some on the site there to try and find the “original”, and have been unable to…). If not, no biggie – but I thought I’d ask! Thanks.

  18. Lisa says:

    Kelly, I would greatly appreciate a link to the article by John Mark Reynolds. My husband and I wholeheartedly agree with this and would love to read more~

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