Tag Archives: school

A Case for Public School (…kind of)

Question:

I’m a mom and cradle catholic who is wondering about how to school my kids. I see from your info on this blog that you attended public schools through high school. To what do you attribute your strong faith now? What people, practices of faith, challenges, shaped you into the person you are today? What would you do differently?  You also seem to have a good balance with popular culture, not shunning it altogether yet being discerning in your choices. This is an important skill to learn, because we’re social by nature and it is hard to share Christ if you’re too sheltered. Any thoughts on this aspect of being a good Catholic?

Answer:

Good question.  I will warn you…the short version of my answer to the homeschool vs. public school vs. private school question is simply: “I don’t know.”  It is something I go back-and-forth on all of the time, to be honest.  I will try to answer your questions about my specific background and we will see if that is helpful to either of us :)

Hands down, I attribute my faith to my family more than any other influence, and specifically to my parents (and of course it goes without saying that I was given such an amazing and faithful family by the grace of God).  Yes, I went to public school and no, we didn’t always get a family rosary in or memorize the Baltimore Catechism, but I never once questioned my parents’ love for Christ and His Church.  Religion wasn’t a game; and God was real.  Conviction like that demands your attention no matter how it is expressed.

For my family, it was expressed by living out the faith no matter what situation we were in.  If my sister and I had a cheerleading competition that happened to fall on Sunday, we may have had to skip out a little early and miss the awards ceremony because mass came first.  One year, we hosted an “All Hallows’ Eve” party at our house, which included listening to a portion of the Screwtape Letters on tape.  If we happened to have school on Good Friday, we would be taken out a little before noon to spend the afternoon either at service or in silence.

It wasn’t always easy; but I don’t think any path ever is.  Homeschoolers sometimes talk about feeling like they were missing out in high school when I often found myself feeling like I didn’t fit in entirely (there aren’t a whole lot of teenagers who are serious about taking their faith seriously).  Fortunately for me, that classic “rebellion against authority” phase that teenagers are often prone to often found its expression in taking pride in the fact that being a devout Catholic isn’t exactly “mainstream”.

And my parish youth group helped.  Actually, my youth group helped a lot.  And so did the fact that my parish had a blessed sacrament chapel open 24/7 to those who knew the door code…not that my parents ever let me go by myself past 6pm, but that chapel meant everything to me in high school.

Bottom line: I don’t think my parents laid out a battle plan the day my oldest brother was born and had it all figured out.  I think they followed God’s will to the best of their abilities and, for us, that ended up meaning living very much in the world, but always doing our best not to be of it.

All of that being said— I spent the past three years of my life in college getting to know some of the best people I have ever met.  Being at a small Catholic university, a good amount of them had been homeschooled.  And I’m not afraid to admit: there is a lot to love about homeschooling.

First of all: these people knew more about the faith when they were twelve than I knew going into my freshman year of college (and I was no dummy!).   Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they loved God more than I did—but they knew a lot more about Him and therefore were able to love more about Him than I could.  Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much when I was nine…but who knows?

Secondly: as a public schooler, talking to a homeschooler about the books I have read (or, um, haven’t read) can just be embarrassing (a lot of smiling and nodding along happens).  Of course, there are exceptions: homeschoolers who hate reading and public schoolers who read everything.  But by and large, homeschoolers have read the classics by age 10 and public schoolers can graduate high school with an eighth grade reading level.

When it comes down to it, there are pros and cons to everything.  If you choose to homeschool, your kids will miss out on certain things, but the same will be true if you choose to put them in public school.  There is no objectively right or wrong way here; it is just what works best for you and your family (and ultimately, what will help get your children to Heaven…because, as far as I can tell, that is why God gives people children in the first place).

So, that’s my take.  Any homeschoolers out there want to share their perspective?

 

 

 

 

The Back-to-School Post

It’s officially September.  And as it seems the rest of the young adult world returns to classes or goes off to college for the first time, I find myself 9 days away from my college graduation.

As such, I thought this would be prime opportunity to impart a very important piece of wisdom for those of you continuing or just beginning your college years.  And that is, if your experience will be anything like mine was…

Very few things will go according to your plan…and I mean that in the best way possible.

Translation: Don’t stress :)

I know this is going to sound terrible (and odd, since it happened in three years)—but graduating from college was never really a high priority on my to-do list.  Like a lot of girls (girls that other women often scoff at for giving womankind a bad name), I was always kind of hoping I could get away with just a year or two of classes and an MRS. rather than a B.S.

But God clearly had other plans.  And, contrary to what I probably would’ve said had I seen the program schedule He had in mind from Day 1, I like His plans much better than mine…

So here’s to beginning college in one state and graduating in another…  And putting off declaring a major to the last second and then choosing the one that your school technically doesn’t even offer yet…  Here’s to taking an entire year to actually open up and talk to people (actually, please learn from my mistake on that one and begin to socialize… NOW :) )…

And to all the ups and downs you will experience in your walk with God during this time in college, and remembering that no matter how far you fall He will always take you back.

College will be great.  Work hard; but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re the one in charge.  It’ll be more fun His way.  I promise.

Impossible Standards

For almost as long as I can remember, I have had the title of a “good student”.  Typically, I take my schoolwork pretty seriously.  I work hard on my homework assignments, and I usually fare pretty well in my classes as a result.

I wish I could say this was because I always cared a lot about the specific assignment, or simply because I am just a really smart individual… but to tell the truth, I think it often has more to do with a kind of fear of failure, and conversely—a near constant and impossible struggle for perfection.

When it comes to school or work, this kind of attitude can definitely have its benefits; but I am realizing more and more as I grow up that there is a significant difference between desiring/really working to be your absolute best, and struggling in vain to meet some vague and undefined standard of perfection out of fear of failure.

As a Christian, I know that God tells me to “be perfect” as He is perfect.  But seeking perfection for perfection’s sake isn’t exactly the message of the gospel.  I think sometimes us Christians get too bogged down in this struggle for perfection, and somewhere along the line we forget that this life is not supposed to be a struggle we face on our own.

The truth is that the minute we start to think we are alone, or that failure is something even worth being afraid of, we have already lost the battle.  When it comes down to it, a Christian is not someone who thinks he or she is perfect.  A Christian is someone who knows and offers all that they are to the one who is.

“…As for me, I will glorify Thee by manifesting how good Thou art to sinners.  In me Thou will show that Thy mercy is superior to all our malice, that nothing can exhaust it, and that no relapse, however shameful and culpable it may be, should make a sinner lose hope in Thy forgiveness”

Regretting College

In less than nine months, I will join the ranks of people who call themselves college graduates.  It’s kind of a crazy idea to wrap my mind around.  According to certain statistics, this simple fact means that I will potentially be able to make nearly twice the amount I could make if I just had a high school diploma; I will be twice as likely to get and keep a job, and, according to some, I will be just an all-around happier person.

Sounds like a pretty good deal.  So then why is the National Inflation Association reporting that college education is possibly one of the largest scams in U.S. history?  Well, perhaps because many people my age let it be so.

College is expensive.  There is no arguing that.  But I truly believe that the education you can receive in college can be worth every penny put down, and then some.  However, at the end of four years, many people my age are finding they have not gotten out of the college experience what they hoped they would when they started.  Why is this?

Personally, I think this has everything to do with the mentality of us young adults in college. Rather than going to school to get ready for the “real world”, I think many people use college as a means to put off growing up.

We fall back on the old “everybody experiments in college” line, or make other excuses for our stupid behavior.  “Everyone else” gets drunk every weekend, so we do it, too.  “Everyone else” is sleeping around; “everyone else” is smoking pot; these things are “just what you do” in college.  We’ll grow up a little closer to graduation.  Right now, we just want to have a little fun.

Well, contrary to what a lot of people might say, people don’t grow up by getting the young and stupid behavior “out of their system”.  We grow up by choosing not to take part in childish or stupid behavior at all.  Stupidity is not the absence of knowledge.  Stupidity is acting contrary to the knowledge you have.  Saying you have to be stupid before you can be wise is like saying you have to be sick before you can be healthy.  It’s just not true.

It kills me to see people in our generation settling for this.  Put aside for a moment the fact that, upon graduation, we will have no idea what to do with our lives, having squandered our time and money spent on college going to parties and sleeping around.  The real tragedy of a college experience spent like this is what it does to a person.

If college is a “scam”, it’s not because we spend too much money on an education that doesn’t get us a job at the end of four years.  If college is a “scam”, I believe it is because we pay tens of thousands of dollars in order to live a lifestyle that slowly destroys us.  There is no happiness in that kind of lifestyle.  In truth, there is a lot of pain, and a lot of regret.

I think that, as a generation, we need to point out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes here. Let’s stop buying into this lie that college is for acting stupid on the way to growing up.  Why wait until graduation to start making a positive impact on the world?  Positive change has to start with you.