By Patrick S. J. Carmack
Highly motivated parents actively involved in homeschooling are clearly interested in the well being of their children. Their many concerns include the pursuit of academic excellence, effective moral and spiritual training and the strengthening of family ties. The use of the myriad optional teaching tools available in our time are profitable for our children only if parents and educators exercise good judgment and proper diligence in their use. Used badly, these same good tools can be quite harmful. The analogy comes to mind of the markedly different outcome expected from the use of a scalpel by an unsupervised medical student or by an accomplished surgeon.
Many different media adjuncts are available to homeschoolers at the beginning of the 21st century. Traditional news and opinion available to our forebears in the newspapers and magazines have long since been supplemented by the cinema, radio and television. Today we also have access to computer programs, DVD’s, audio and video tapes and the rapidly growing Internet. Reviewed and recommended educational videos and cassettes will be posted on the internet at greatbooksacademy.org and angelicum.net
A novice Shakespeare student can currently access the Internet through a relatively inexpensive computer and within a short period of time purchase new or used copies of the Bard’s plays and any number of biographical and criticism texts. Audio or video tapes of one or more play performances or lecture series by university professors are also readily available. The student can even “virtually” visit the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and purchase a coffee mug with a suitable Elzabethan motto. E-mail correspondence with experts in various disciplines is available as well for those with special interests.
The future is very bright for those who are willing and able to make use of the many tools given to us in this new millennium. But in the end it is the development of the basic skills of reading and thinking (the liberal arts) and their application in the study of works of great substance (the great books) that will bring the greatest reward. For all the advantages we have in our day, most of us have been denied the great good of a solid, classical education. I dare say the greatest number of the best educated or our human race have long since passed from this life. However, our children, and ourselves, can yet profit from the wisdom of the great thinkers of earlier times and acquire this great education with the use of both traditional and modern means. Indeed two new classical homeschooling academies are working hard to make this possible: The Great Books Academy and The Angelicum Academy.