"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Intellectual Friendships (Part 4 of 4)

In the little gem of a book by Mark. C. Henrie, called A Student's Guide to the Core Curriciulum, he discusses Intellectual Friendships in the section "A Core of One's Own."
Friendship is so important, Arisotle devoted two books of his Nicomachean Ethics to it - and only one book to Justice. One of the highest types of friendship is intellectual friendship....
In the everyday course of intellectual friendship, friends share with each other their moments of insight, present them to each other for testing. Such moments in turn require us to reconsider not just that discrete matter, but everything else in our view of the whole that touches upon the matter....As Socrates knew twenty-five centuries ago, the normal mean for penetrating further and synthesizing our knowledge is dialogue. Intellectual friendship consists in a great ocean of dialogue and discussion and those who have tasted it know it is among the highest human pleasures.
I am so blessed to have lots of intellectual friendships. For me, first and foremost are my friends that I meet with irregularly to discuss home educating our kids. I must admit that 99% of my friends are home educators and of that subset, about 95% are Catholic. So, to say we have a lot in common is an understatement. This has been the biggest blessing for me. Via our home school support group, I have had the opportunity to make some really great friendships. They are the kind of friendships where we're not afraid to challenge each other when we need to or when hear each other say something that doesn't sound right. They are friends that feel the same way about HOW we want to educate our kids. We may not be using the same curriculum or syllabus, but we have some vision that is common and most often there is the beauty of our religion that we have in common.

So, with that being said, I think it is hugely important for moms, especially home educating moms, to have support that equates to intellectual friendships. Seek out those friendships with like minded others. Find people in similar situations. Now, you may say that that is not best for us, to have a non-diverse set of friends. I disagree, to start out with, but agree if you have become comfortable with yourself.

You see, I think many of us received such poor educations ourselves that we don't feel comfortable charitably debating topics or sharing the "ah ha" moments that might not resonate with someone else. Also, our education choices for our children are both very personal and usually very deep rooted. I happen to know a lot of friends that make judgments about other home educating families based purely on their curriculum choices. Keep your eyes on your own work, folks!

So, when you find someone with similar, if not the same, values on educating your child, become friends. Build that relationship. Find out what they are doing and respectfully challenge each other and get to know why they made the same choices you have. Then, get to know more about them personally and you will most likely find a friend with whom you can have a truly intellectual conversation.

When I first came upon the concept of Thomas Jefferson Education, it was the summer of 2007. My mom was terminally ill. I had just had a baby with some issues at birth. Many of the friendships I had made had disappeared because I wasn't able to keep up with my end of the equation. I had to take care of my family first and foremost. I was on fire with the TJEd concept. I introduced my husband to the book and the concept. He, too, was fascinated. We both had some issues with a piece here or there. He encouraged me, though, to start educating myself. The "You not them" key. I started. Then, I had a couple come from Wisconsin to talk about TJEd. Lots of my old friends and many new came to listen. Many left thinking, "What are they thinking!!!!" while others said, "Yes! That is it!"

Following that meeting, I started a small group which consists of home educating parents with similar education values. We have become friends, reading books and writing papers together as well as talking about what works for us and what doesn't. I appreciate the dialogue all most as much as I appreciate the great dialogue I have with my husband (but not quite as much - I still find him the most fascinating person on the planet.) We have been meeting for the last two years. While we sometimes read a common book and discuss it, usually we are discussing home education and what is/isn't working. I come away from those discussions not just energized, but feeling challenged to do better, reflecting on what is working for me and planning how to change what isn't.

Now, go! Find that friend. Get talking. Find out what they think. Find out how they got where they are and LEARN, CHALLENGE and SUPPORT each other.

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