beauty and the beast

“Beloved I need to love you – every aspect, every pore.”

And this time God said,

“There is a hideous blemish on my body,
though it is such an infinitesimal part of my Being-
could you kiss that if it were revealed?”

“I will try, Lord, I will try.”

And then God said,
“That blemish is all the hatred and
cruelty in this
world.”

– fr. “Could You Embrace That”, Thomas Aquinas, c. 1245

I love literature, I love the written expression of thought!  I have loved innumerable books with  a quiet, tremendous passion which in many cases has eventually extended to the individual responsible for expressing his/herself so formidably in words!  I have loved stories!  I have loved the sustained expression of original idea.  I’ve loved and adored many writers and thinkers — and beyond that — Life itself, the mysterious ‘without which’, neither thinker nor thought would arise!  I love and have always loved just wondering and thinking about Life —  the Great Mystery that even Nikola Tesla (well, maybe Nikola Tesla) and even Dennis McKenna (well, maybe Dennis McKenna) haven’t, with all their original human brilliance, yet been able to solve.

When my kids were younger, I homeschooled them.  I had heard about homeschooling and had met and talked to a few homeschooling families.  The remarkable self-composure of homeschooled children made an immediate impression on me.  I reflected upon my own public school education for a few seconds and contrasted my own teenage insecurity and immaturity with what I saw in teenage homeschooled children, and decided to give homeschooling a try.  I didn’t have the wealth to pay for the kind of schools I wanted for my kids and I believed they’d be better off without the tutelage of unintelligent, mediocre minds.  It isn’t that I believed myself to be a brilliant individual capable of educating my kids all by myself–no, in fact the enormity of the (unpaid, 24/7) job was daunting. When I looked back upon my own education in public school, all I saw was excruciating boredom, marked and defined by the interminable length of time one minute took to tick by on the ever-present black and white classroom clock.

My husband, now x, was agreeable.  So without further ado, I launched into home education.

For the next ten years, I traveled a long and winding road of discovery.  In the process of home-educating my children, I became educated, for the first time.  I realized, little by little, how completely worthless my 13 childhood years from kindergarten through high school, spent in the school institution, had been for me and no doubt were for very many others, I believe the vast majority.  Not only did my 13 years at school produce an uneducated person, they produced a confused person, confused and ignorant about world history, American history, and science; essentially the world around me and the story of human beings through time.

Although I was always an “A” math student, I came to realize that all of the wonder, all of the beauty of discovery, all of the evolution and story of the development of math, from Pythagoras until Einstein were omitted from school math, which was introduced to children as a body of pre-fab, formulaic, increasingly complex knowledge to be memorized.

When I, a college graduate BA English Literature, began, at the age of 34, to teach my children science, I was confused about what “Science” is.  If somebody had said to me, “Define “Science”, I would have been confused, and probably would have mumbled an unintelligible guess.  I don’t know what my answer would have been, but surely I wouldn’t have known enough to say, “Science is looking at the mystery of everything around us, including us, with curiosity, and trying to make sense of it.”

Science was presented, like math, as a pre-determined, given body of information to be memorized.  From the very beginning, in kindergarten or first grade, we were given textbooks with chapters about planets or plants or rocks or dinosaurs, with vocabulary words to be memorized and remembered, and fractured information to be tested upon, which then proceeded to determine where one registered on the omnipresent scale from very smart to incredibly dumb.

 

 

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