The Homeschooling Revolution

Enjoy our conversation with Margaret Visser, and invitation to dialogue on Dr. King & the Classics

Gracious reader,

This week, we’ll explore:

  • The homeschooling revolution

  • Recording of our conversation with Margaret Visser on manners & the ancient world

  • Dr. King and the classics: an invitation

The homeschooling revolution

For better or worse, many schools responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by closing their facilities and moving online. These lockdowns forced many parents to make a painful decision: Do I ask my child to try e-learning via their ordinary school, or do I homeschool myself?

Both approaches involve education inside the home, in contrast with a traditional physical school.

At the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, many parents chose to homeschool in place of e-learning, and today, even while many schools are back in person, even more parents are choosing to withdraw their children from conventional schooling environments.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, from spring 2019 to spring 2020, the number of K-12 students schooled at home roughly doubled, rising from 2.5 million homeschool students in spring 2019 to 3.7 million homeschool students in spring 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau has corroborated these findings.

It’s too early to tell exact numbers for this school year, but many indicators suggest that the number of families electing to homeschool has risen even more. Take, for instance, Mothers of Divine Grace, a classical homeschooling network—their founder, Laura Berquist, shared with me that 64% of their new enrollees from last year have continued this school year, even as many schools have reopened.

Similarly, Robert Bortins, the CEO of Classical Conversations—a community of classical homeschoolers that serves over 100,000 students—has informed me that his membership rose from 114,000 last fall to 130,000 this fall.

All this indicates that many parents from across the political spectrum are finding value in educating their children from home. The reasons parents decide to homeschool range from avoiding politically charged curricula or school closures, to customizing pedagogy and enhancing family relationships.

This resurgence of interest in homeschooling reminds us of two important truths: (1) every parent, as their child’s first and most important teacher, is inevitably a homeschooling parent, and (2) one doesn’t need an institution or a classroom for learning to happen.

All parents are their child’s first and most important teacher

It’s easy to think that we are outsourcing our child’s learning when we send them to a formal school. It’s easy to forget the central role that parents have on our child’s education and moral formation. Today, however, with children spending so much more time at home due to the pandemic, many parents have recognized that they cannot avoid playing an important part in their child’s education—for better or for worse. The way we live our lives is our child’s principal textbook; our children are always reading us.

In response, many parents have reasserted responsibility for their children’s education. And even if we’re not parents ourselves, we should remember that we nevertheless have a role to play in the education of the many children in our lives. How can we make the most of this important responsibility to cultivate young minds?

We must recover education beyond the classroom

The pandemic and school closures have forced us to remember that we don’t need a classroom or a school to see our children learn. In fact, for most of human history educational institutions as we know them today didn’t exist. Learning happened—indeed, had to happen—outside the classroom, and often in the home. Socrates, of course, taught in the agora, the public square. Consider too the original university, the University of Bologna, which for many years consisted of teachers and students meeting in homes and churches; the university was a community of learners before it was a collection of buildings.

As we’ve discussed many times here at Civic Renaissance, too often our mainstream educational institutions inhibit true learning; such institutions tend to excessively focus on easy-to-track metrics and pay insufficient attention to offering students a chance to engage with the big questions in life. And as we know, no education is complete without having encountered important ideas, having asked big questions, and have formulated our own answers—who are, why are we here, what is the best way to live?

In fact, an education of this nature is never complete. We need to reject the mindset that our education ends when our schooling ends. We don’t need a school for learning to happen. We must instead embrace the fact that education is a lifelong endeavor. It starts early and never ends, as Confucius (in his Analects) tells us.

“Be deeply committed to love of learning and maintain, even unto death, the sterling (or good) Way (Dao.)” -Confucius

Recording of our conversation with Margaret Visser on manners & the ancient world

Thanks to those of you who joined our dialogue with award-winning author and classicist Margaret Visser. We had a lovely time discussing the etiquette surrounding the symposia of Ancient Greece—did you know that the Greeks cut their wine with saltwater, or that they ate while reclined? It was a fun and enlightening conversation! Thanks also to those Civic Renaissance subscribers for joining our private dialogue before the event. To be included in future exclusive opportunities, consider subscribing to and supporting Civic Renaissance.

To enjoy our conversation, click on the video below.

Dr. King and the classics: an invitation

How was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of America's greatest civil rights leaders, able to accomplish what he did?

What wisdom influenced him, gave him strength and moral courage to confront enormous injustices?

Not everyone realizes, but Dr. King was hugely affected by the classics. In fact, he mentions Socrates no less than three times in his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail...but that's not all.

Find out on October 16th in our FREE Webinar and Q&A how ancient literature influenced the great Dr. King, and what this means for us today.

I’m delighted to partner with Dr. Angel Parham of the University of Virginia and Anya Leonard of Classical Wisdom as we explore the moral, ethical, philosophical, and religious foundations of King's educations.

The event will take place on Saturday, October 16th at 2pm EDT. It is completely FREE for those who register.

Can't join us LIVE? Don't worry! As long as you register in advance, you will receive a recording of the event.

I hope you can join us!

Register now!

Thank you for being part of the Civic Renaissance community!