Through a series of trials and errors I have come to a realization, and I will make a bold statement; there is no such thing as an Orthodox homeschool curriculum, nor will there ever be. There are no set courses that constitute a school of Orthodoxy. What I do have is the life of the Church, which is the Life of Christ in the Spirit. It takes a radical shift in my thinking to accept and trust that the “mind of Christ”, what is often called Orthodox phronema is not a subject to be taught in a classroom. However, it is the most important pursuit I can encourage as a so called educator. And that begs the question, “How can I, a mother in training myself, teach my ultimate desire, that my children have, or better yet, attain the mind of Christ?” The answer is so counter culture, so educationally unorthodox, so against the norm, that at times I want to abandon this faith and escape back into my systematic, scholastic religious world. I want to check boxes and make schedules, and teach facts, and be certain, and rely on ideology. I want a curriculum. If only I were still Catholic. They seem to have this education thing down. Man, Orthodoxy is lacking, its behind the times, it is not meeting my family’s needs. These are my fears, these are my shameful frustrations.
And then I stop, and I listen, and I pray, and I know. It is not a knowledge of this world, but the knowledge the Church offers. And I am prompted by my spiritual father, by the pious mothers of the saints, by the saints themselves, and by the constant reminder, “Let Us Attend” that the Church is where my heart will find wisdom, where my children will become by grace what I try so desperately to teach them.
A homeschooling Orthodox family has to come to terms with the lack of Orthodox teaching materials. This acceptance is not about doing without, but discovering the fullness of the life of the Church. I too would love the ease and comfort of curriculum based education, but I am coming to the wonderful realization that my alternative is so much more. In a series of posts, I hope to share with you what I have discovered after 10 years of homeschooling, four of which are post conversion. I am not claiming that my way is perfect, and I by no means know what the ultimate Orthodox homeschool looks like. However, maybe my experiences and yours will help all of us anxious Orthodox mothers to open our hearts and trust, to gain perspective and peace. Here is a sample of some things I hope to share about our homeschooling journey in the next few weeks, all of which come from personal experience: