A Latter-day Renaissance

This is a call to repair the ruins of education, both individually and within the Latter-day Saint homeschooling community.

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There is a common phrase used in classical Christian education: repair the ruins. It is a Biblical phrase, referring to the verses from Isaiah that speak of raising up the foundation of many generations, and rebuilding the ancient ruins. Classical Christian educators use the phrase to describe how they are seeking to restore the wisdom of the ages, the knowledge of the West, and the understanding that all truth, goodness, and beauty points us back to God. The education of the human race is not to be cut off and separated from the knowledge and intelligence of God. Repairing the ruins is an act of recovery, to seek a reunion with the most perfect God:

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 we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.

John Milton, “Of Education”

For the past twelve years, I have been repairing the ruins of my own education. I am a very different person than the one I was when I began. I have drawn closer to God, and every homeschool day I am sufficiently humbled. I have learned many things, one being that there is so much I do not know. When my oldest son started Year 1 of Ambleside Online, I too, was in Year 1 of Ambleside Online. Next fall we will begin Year 7 together, and I will simultaneously repeat Years 5, 3, and 0, with three other sons. The books in each school year have prepared us sufficiently for the subsequent year, and we find ourselves stretched, challenged, and augmented into new forms, into new beings, fresh-faced and turning our eyes to God.

The authors whose work we read are noble companions. Most of them, now dead, haunt us magnanimously from the grave, humble teachers of the dust, their memorable work timeless, worthy, and lifechanging. “And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject.”1

While repairing the ruins of my own education, it has been impossible for me to not notice more ruins in need of repair. The Latter-day Saint homeschooling community is hurting, and perhaps it always has been. From “celestial training” to rampant unschooling, from poorly-written LDS curriculums to child-led unit studies, I have seen fads come and go, and I have seen very mixed results. It is easy to point out academic mediocrity, and how many LDS homeschool moms throw in the towel after elementary school, but what is more troubling than the academic ability our students lack is what they appear to have gained: common arrogance, a disregard for authority, and selfish entitlement. This sweeping generalization does not include every student, of course, but I have listened to reports detailing enough evidence of this from both the moms themselves, and from public school teachers who end up with these kids in their classrooms.

It it time to correct course, to repair the ruins within Latter-day Saint homeschooling. We can do better, and our students are capable of so much more. This is a call to repent, to embark upon an educational renaissance within our religious community. I seek not to simply be a critic, but to encourage good philosophy, to share practical tips, and engage in lessons beyond the books.

I am not a warm and fluffy grandma, here to pat everyone on the head. We need those sweet grandmas now and then. We have all gleaned from their wisdom. But we are in desperate need of warriors, generals who do not pamper and coddle their soldiers, true captains of the rising generation. I have a fighting fire in my belly. I am in the trenches with you.

Who am I? I am no one. I am the dust of the earth. But I have been inspired by the Holy Ghost to share the lessons I have learned, so here I seek to please no one, but God.

I am ready to share what I know, brick by brick.

[B]uild the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

Isaiah 58:12
  1. Charlotte Mason. School Education, 171.
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