Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sacred Spaces I: Homeschool Edition

I hated school. 

I am pretty sure that I hated school up until my second time through seminary.  That's a looong time to do something you don't like and do it virtually every day.  Every once in a while--when it got really bad--my parents would give me my own short vacation and send me to work with my father.  Many of my favorite memories of childhood were of being essentially by myself at the Maine State House or the nearby state museum.  Or in a similar condition in Washington DC.  I think I learned quite a bit more on those "days off" than I ever learned in a classroom.

Ever since then, I have been most comfortable in those sorts of settings. Large institutional buildings of a particular sort of architecture and a particular sort of mission have positive associations for me.  Good memories.  I seek out places like this when I have the time.

I thought of this yesterday while Norm and I were going about our usual Friday routine.  First we hit the Athenaeum to return some books and get new ones.  Then we headed to the Museum of Fine Arts.  In an earlier post I talked about how homeschooling naturally sets one apart.  It is different.  I have also mentioned that there is a tendency toward wanting to instill a certain set of values in our children and that this is also part of what homeschooling is about.  For conservatives this is often obvious.  There are specific issues and concerns that they have with public education.  For liberals it is less obvious but no less true.

I have realized that my actual goals for this homeschool year may be a bit different from what I have said they should be.  Yes, the "three 'r's" have their place and he will continue to grow academically, but these cultural concerns are at least as important--probably more.  I want all my children to be the sort of people who feel at home in libraries and museums.  I want them to know how to change trains in the subway.  I want them to know how to paddle a canoe and feel comfortable and happy on a mountain in northern Maine.  I want them to experience these things for a very selfish reason.  They are what I love to do.

Spaces--museums, churches, the inside of a subway train--influence and comment on the people who occupy them.  Those same spaces hold limited interest to some and generate great excitement in others.  They make some uncomfortable...or bored.  Our houses, of course, tell us a great deal about what we value.  This is true if you are a parsonage dweller like me as much as if you own your own a McMansion.  Yet our houses are only one place we feel at home.  The other places tell us as much or more about who we are and what we value.  These are also the spaces we inhabit. 

For me, school was not a place I inhabited well.  Church--though that came later in life--is such a place.  It probably would do us all come good to consider what places make us feel comfortable or uncomfortable and why that is so.

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