I have been reading Eugene Peterson’s memoir, The Pastor, and one particular chapter really warmed my heart and reminded me of the wonderful experience of home education that we can give our children. It’s the chapter about his education, entitled, The Carnegie. Let me quote from this superb book:
The Carnegie was the public library in our town … From an early age I loved learning but never cared much for school. The Carnegie was my school of choice. Schools were okay – I made friends and played games. But the Carnegie was where I found myself in a place of uninterrupted learning. I could lose myself there and indulge my curiosity in the magnificent world of books. I started early, soon after I could read. By the time I was in the seventh grade, I was riding my bike after school to the Carnegie and spending Saturday mornings there discovering novels and poems, captured by writers who led me into the way of words, the world of imagination.
… The Carnegie supplied me with a faculty of great teachers. As I marched along the prescribed school itinerary from grade to grade, I acquired the rudiments of getting on in the world but my education took place in the Carnegie. That is where I learned to love learning for its own sake.
… I was twenty-four years old with diplomas from high school, university, and seminary before I finally set foot in a school that rivalled the Carnegie. I entered the Johns Hopkins University to do graduate work in Semitic studies and found myself in a world of learning that I never knew existed… a world of learning embodied, vibrant with energy. This was the Carnegie plus.
Isn’t this amazing, that he didn’t find anything to top reading good books until he was doing post graduate work on one of the best universities in the world?!
When we are homeschooling we have the opportunity, starting afresh every single day, to set before our children a wonderful smorgasbord of learning from the great teachers of the world; from Dickens to Tolstoy, from Galileo to Faraday, from Vivaldi to Saint-Saëns, from Shakespeare to Shute, and so on and so on.
Never underestimate the power of good books. Never underestimate the value of the time you spend with your children. Never underestimate what you and your children can achieve with good books and without formal schooling.
And if you are looking for a good read for yourself, then you might enjoy The Pastor by Eugene Peterson