Monday, 25 June 2012

Teaching Homeschoolers to Restore our Republic

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What is education all about? In my view, the purpose of education is to pass on to the next generation the knowledge, wisdom, and moral values of the present generation. That about sums it up. Knowledge includes history, geography, science, economics, mathematics, etc. Wisdom entails reading the Bible, which is the Judeo-Christian source of what is wise and truthful. Moral values are based on belief in God and His Ten Commandments. Practically none of this is taught in the atheist public schools.

So it is left to Christian homeschoolers and private schools to carry forth our Judeo-Christian civilization. However, the revival of classical education among homeschoolers poses a problem for Americans concerned with the political future of this country. We are presently in a dire situation, on the brink of losing our freedoms, on the edge of seeing our constitutional republic being replaced by “social democracy,” in which we cease to be a nation of laws, but a nation of vampire-like politicians and statesmen whose only interest is in power to lord it over a once free people.

According to Jennifer Courtney of Classical Conversations, the foremost dispenser of classical education for homeschoolers:

In his pamphlet titled “Of Education,” John Milton, a seventeenth-century Christian poet, thinker, and statesman, wrote that “the end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him.”  As Christian parents, this is surely our aspiration.

In other words, homeschoolers should educate their children to become the equivalent of saints. A noble aspiration but not very practical. Miss Courtney continues:

Classical education is steadily gaining momentum as more and more classical Christian schools open around the country. Likewise, many homeschool families have turned to this model as they seek to educate their children with excellence. ... The classical model follows the biblical pattern found in Proverbs 24:3-4, which identifies three levels of learning: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

The classical curriculum is based on the three stages of the Trivium, which is Latin for “three roads.” The first elementary stage concentrates on grammar, in which memorization is the key means of learning. The second stage of the Trivium is the dialectic, which entails understanding the facts learned in the grammar stage. The third stage is rhetoric — the study of oral and written communication techniques.

In the midst of all of this, the study of Latin is considered vitally important. Why Latin? Because it helps develop mental discipline. “The process of memorizing and translating Latin develops excellent study habits as students learn to memorize, to apply their knowledge, to thoroughly observe details, to work carefully, and to persevere.”

Latin also improves students’ understanding of English grammar and vocabulary. Students who have studied Latin generally do better on the SATs because of their larger vocabulary. Latin also helps students learn other languages, particularly the romance languages — Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian — since those languages are derived from Latin. And, of course, if you can read Latin, you can read some of the Roman classics in their original language, as well as theological writings in Latin. And you can read such common phrases as “e pluribus unum,” out of many one.

But since there are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, or month, or year, time becomes an important factor in deciding what a child should study. Most parents would agree that their child should be taught a second language. When I was in junior high school in New York City back in the 1930s and 40s, we were taught French. French was spoken not only in France, but also in Switzerland, Belgium, Quebec, and in France’s colonies in Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. French was the language of diplomacy. But what made French interesting for the American student was its literature, its novels, its poetry. 

Today, I strongly believe that homeschooled Americans should become fluent in Spanish. Why? Because we have a growing population of immigrants from Latin America who don’t speak Latin but speak Spanish, and if we want them to become good, patriotic Americans as eager as we are to defend our constitutional Republic, homeschoolers should become missionaries spreading Americanism among these Latinos.

While second generation Latinos learn to speak English, most of them attend our socialist public schools, where they never get a chance to become familiar with traditional American values. Marco Rubio may be one of the exceptions, which proves that American children of Cuban and Mexican immigrants can learn to appreciate what America is all about. And since the future of our republic depends on an informed Latino population, homeschoolers should learn Spanish not only for its economic advantages but also as a tool for missionary work.

I learned Latin at the City College of New York, where it was required. It did not add much to my academic advancement or professional career as an editor and writer. I majored in English which prepared me for a literary career, and after college I spent two years in France studying at the Sorbonne, where I got one of those certificates of attendance, the same kind that Walter Cronkite got.

Incidentally, I learned to read Hebrew in Hebrew School in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah. I wish now that I had learned to understand what I was reading so that 60 years later I could converse in modern Hebrew as spoken in Israel.

One never stops learning. Indeed you start learning only after you’ve graduated from college and then can really learn what you want. In 1999, at the age of 73, I decided to write a book on the Shakespeare authorship controversy, proving that the plays and poems were actually written by Christopher Marlowe, not the actor-businessman William Shakespeare. It took seven years to write, and required reading all of Christopher Marlowe and all of Shakespeare. I loved every moment of the ordeal, which proves that there is no end to one’s education. And that is the key to growing old gracefully.

Today, homeschoolers have the freedom we did not have back in the days when all of us attended the public or parochial schools. In those days the public schools did a fairly decent job. But now, in homeschooling, parents and their children are partners in the great adventure of education, which means that parents are learning as much, if not more, than their children by becoming expert home tutors. This revival of educational freedom is the first step in our being weaned away from big government and its clammy claws. We’ve learned that the billions being squandered on the atheist public schools are simply being used to dumb us down.  What a wretched system for a free people.

So the question is choice. Shall we teach Latin, or Spanish, or German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, or Swahili? English is now the world language — in commerce, technology, aviation, and popular culture. So why not perfect one’s English? Everybody else is learning English.

I like to think that it is the young homeschoolers who will save America. They have been taught to appreciate what the Founding Fathers gave us. They have been taught that God is our sovereign, not some temporary resident in the White House. Their numbers are growing, but have they been taught to be the soldiers in this life-and-death struggle over the future of our country?

Michael Farris, founder of Patrick Henry College and author of The Joshua Generation, estimates that homeschooled students are between three and five percent of the school-aged population. He states:

I am convinced that this small percentage of students will grow into a very large percentage of the highest leaders of the next generation who take seriously the Christian assignment of redeeming culture, especially in the most visible vocations.” This belief is at the heart of the focus of The Joshua Generation. As a result of this belief and confidence in God's plan for the future, I take it very seriously when I am introduced to future senators, governors, presidents, and Supreme Court justices. Like their parents, I see great things for our nation through the Joshua Generation.

So we hope that some of the Joshua Generation will learn Spanish. By the way, the Declaration of Independence was translated into Spanish in 1821. A copy of it is on the Internet. Here are some of those famous words in Spanish:

Nosotros creemos ser evidente en sí mismo, que todos los hombres nacen iguales y dotados por su Criador de ciertos derechos inagenables: que entre estos son los principales la seguridad de la libertad y la vida, que constituyen la humana felicidad: que para asegurar estos derechos se instituyeron entre los hombres los gobiernos, derivando sus justos poderes del consentimiento de los pueblos: que siempre que cualquiera forma de gobierno se haga destructiva de estos fines, toca al derecho imprescriptible de la sociedad alterarla, ó abolirla y escablecer otra nueva, zanjando sus fundamentos sobre aquellos principios, y organizando sus poderes de la manera que juzgue mas conducente para el efecto de su seguridad y felicidad.

I was not able to find a Latin translation of the Declaration. The first German translation was published as a broadside by the printing press of Steiner & Cist of Philadelphia in 1776. There are also translations of the Declaration in Russian, Chinese, and many other languages. The communists have their own Marxist interpretation of the Declaration which is the one being taught in many American colleges by Marxist professors. Regardless of what the radical left may think of the Declaration, It is still the most radical pro-freedom document in human history.

The Joshua Generation have a mission: Restore our constitutional republic. Learning how to do this should be the central object of any homeschool curriculum.

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