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As the Catholic homeschool movement grows, so does the dilution of authentic Catholic education. Catholic education and the traditional methods to transmit it, as taught by the Church, have been insidiously infiltrated by "Christian" (meaning Protestant) ideas. Dogma and doctrine are mixed with false ecumenism, offering a watered down message to homeschooling parents whose original intention was to remove their children from these influences. Liberalism, modernism, rationalism, and sexology are seeping into homeschool curricula the same way they were introduced in public and parochial education. The original issues that gave birth to the homeschooling movement must again be re-examined by parents.
In the 1960's, the new religion texts began to omit the basics - the Ten Commandments, Original Sin, mortal and venial sin, sanctifying grace, the necessity of Confession as a sacrament, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and the traditional prayers of the Church. The Baltimore Catechism disappeared from use in parochial and CCD classes. Benzinger published the first sex education series, Becoming a Person. Family Life Education programs furnished explicit sexual material. (1)
The following pattern emerged: Alarmed parents who drew the line at sex education in the schools approached their pastors, diocesan boards and even their bishops. Their complaints went unheeded. With nowhere to turn, parents began founding their own schools or chose home education. (2) However, in the name of Vatican II, the "innovative" changes in the parishes and parochial schools surged forward. The number of Catholic homeschooled children grew to an estimated minimum count of 50,000 or more such children today.(3)
The Catholic homeschool movement seemed to grow rapidly in the early 1990's. Catholics had discovered that already formed "Christian" groups were mostly Protestants who did not consider Catholics fellow Christians. "Christian" homeschool conventions did not allow Catholic materials. Talk of the need for Catholic home educators to network and have their own conventions resulted in two new groups, the Leaders Network (later called the Round Table of Catholic Homeschool Leaders) and NACHE (National Association of Catholic Home Educators) with Fr. John Hardon, S.J., as spiritual advisor to the latter association.
The Round Table's (RT) purpose was to be a meeting of equals, comprised of local and state leaders, looking for mutual support and discussion of issues. NACHE's primary purpose was to host an annual Catholic convention, complete with speakers and vendors. Two Catholic home study programs were regularly providing their enrollees and individual subscribers with their own publications (Seton Home Study Newsletter and Our Lady of the Rosary Magazine). In 1993, Dr. Mary Kay Clark published Catholic Homeschooling, the first complete book on Catholic home education. The Leaders Network shared a newsletter, Mother of Good Counsel.
By the spring of 1994, fifty local and state leaders attended the first meeting of the Round Table of Catholic Home School Leaders. That number included local and state support group leaders, two pro-homeschooling priests, a college professor, a NACHE representative, and both the director and lawyer from Seton Home Study. NACHE's national newsletter, The Catholic Home Educator, made its debut a few months earlier. The Catholic Family's Magnificat! Magazine, which I founded, next appeared in late spring of the same year. Laura Berquist's booklet Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum transformed into a professionally published book by Ignatius Press. The summer 1994 NACHE convention swelled with over 1,000 attendees. Everything looked promising in the Catholic homeschooling world, but lines of division over many issues were already being drawn.
The first inklings of division were made manifest at the 1994 RT meeting. With the topic of Catholic resources on the agenda, the NACHE representative claimed their board, which contained a good number of recent converts, had deemed certain Catholic materials "schismatic." The NACHE representative inquired as to how many leaders used the Seton Home Study program.(4) Surprised, leaders were then asked how many used Our Lady of the Rosary or designed their own curriculums. Leaders questioned NACHE as to what was the point of this informal survey regarding choices in curriculum. It appeared that NACHE wanted to know who endorsed Catholic home study programs or preferred designing their own curriculums. At the time, the assumption was that Catholic education as taught by the Church was the focal point of homeschooling. It has since then become apparent that NACHE's views on Catholic education deserve a closer look.
Before enumerating the following problems, it must be made clear that what follows is not a personal attack on the individuals mentioned, but a critique of their statements and principles.
Today, the increasingly marked tendency among homeschoolers to blindly disregard the Church's teachings on education can be attributed to many factors. First one must look at the use of the word "Christian" and the prevalent ecumenical message of unity. Protestant and fundamentalist books proclaim they are Christian. Yet their educational resources do not contain the fullness of the Catholic faith, containing heresy and denigration of Catholic dogma. Instead, they are permeated with "Christian" thought and in some areas, especially history and literature, anti-Catholic ideology is propagated.
The second factor is that Catholic homeschoolers also have easy access to secular and "Christian" educational material. Catholic publishers no longer provide purely Catholic textbooks because the majority of parochial schools do not demand them.
Additionally, many homeschooling parents, poorly catechized since Vatican II, rarely saw Catholic texts in parochial schools. It becomes easy to understand why many do not realize that "religion must permeate the curriculum." (5) Lastly, Catholic homeschoolers are receiving a simultaneous message which subtlety denigrates the Catholic home study programs while endorsing the idea to "Catholicize" Protestant resources. These messages are coming from prominent Catholic names.
For example, Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson, NACHE board members and co-authors of the 1996 book Homeward Bound, express a curious attitude toward "packaged" programs. NACHE may claim otherwise, but their denials do not explain their lack of enthusiasm toward Catholic programs, as seen throughout the Hahn and Hasson book. The authors suggest such programs are appealing to those who are "newcomers to home education," "consider themselves disorganized and need a system that somebody else has already thought through," or believe that "education at home should reflect classroom education." (6) Those who design their own curriculums, they say, "feel confident enough to pick and choose among the best from both Catholic and secular sources." (7) But "choosing from the best" is not the message either they, as individuals, or NACHE offers in other areas. Further, Kimberly Hahn's recent and formal inclusion on the NACHE board has lent an air of credibility to an organization which is revealing more of a "cafeteria" educational mentality than a Catholic one.
NACHE board member Mary Hasson perpetuates the theory that "While many homeschooling families still adopt the 'school at home' approach - using a packaged program that provides texts, grading and oversight - the majority of Catholic homeschoolers today prefer to design their own curriculum." (8) Yet there has never been a formal study to substantiate that claim. Rather, it appears to be a mere handful of influential leaders, leaning heavily on association with or endorsement by Kimberly Hahn, which encourage homeschoolers to not only strike out on their own, but "Catholicize" Protestant educational materials. Though it is true that a parent-designed Catholic curriculum is an option, homeschoolers' first duty is to study Church teaching on education. Secondly, Hahn and Hasson seem to imply that any materials parents find reasonable are acceptable for Catholic education. (9)
This tendency to subtly dismiss the need for authentic Catholic curricula, whether self designed or using the services or materials offered by Catholic programs, also has been evident at NACHE conventions, which publicly claim to be "not associated with any curriculum provider." The idea of such a convention is laudable, but its very nature makes it unnecessary for NACHE to provide a disclaimer to any sponsorship connections with home study programs.
In addition, the following NACHE policy statement provides specific guidelines for Catholic vendors and very general ones for non-Catholics:
"1. Catholic vendors must have a reputation of faithfulness to the Magisterium and may not exhibit materials that openly contradict the teaching of the Church or that may, in the opinion of NACHE, lead attendees away from the true teachings of the Church. Catholic vendors will be noted as such in Convention materials.
"2. Followers of Archbishop Lefebvre and other schismatic groups will not be permitted to rent space. Catholic vendors, even if not specifically allied with the Lefebvrists, may not exhibit any materials promoting Lefebvre's views.
"3. Non-Catholic and secular vendors may rent space at the Convention subject to NACHE's judgement that the materials they offer are suitable and of some benefit to Catholic homeschoolers."10
Herein is exposed the heart of the problem in Catholic homeschooling today. It is understandable that some resource policy is needed for anyone hosting such an enormous undertaking. It would seem the vendors and publishers of non-Catholic or secular vendors, publishers and materials should bear even more scrutiny than Catholic ones. Instead, NACHE reserves the judgement for itself. According to Fr. Hardon, S.J., the organization does not seek his counsel when making such decisions.
Thus, when even a national Catholic home education association publicly endorses such a mentality, it seems apparent that the Catholic acceptance of "Christian" (Protestant) and secular materials (and their views) as totally trustworthy is almost complete. The end result is that Catholic homeschoolers are unwittingly embracing "Catholic education - Protestant style."
Division among national Catholic groups are demonstrated by the actions and evolving changes in the closely associated groups NACHE and TORCH (Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes). TORCH is a Baltimore, MD based homeschool support group, which now claims to be a nationwide chain of local chapters. TORCH has strong ties with NACHE and invites newly forming or existing groups to join them. Overlapping key officers in both organizations clearly show their similar ties and philosophies.
Both TORCH and NACHE list Mary Hasson and Miki Hill as board members, with Mrs. Hill recently stepping down as TORCH Chairman of the Board. However, NACHE board member Mrs. Hasson and her husband are now Co-Directors of TORCH. As previously noted, Mrs. Hahn is also a NACHE board member.
Both NACHE and TORCH changed their original statements of purpose, which now define the former as a "networking and referral service" while the latter is a "nationwide network for the domestic church." (11) These changes came about after the early 1996 founding of CHSNA (the Catholic Home School Network of America, an organizational arm of the Round Table) which protested the NCEA's (National Catholic Education Association) intention to produce their own homeschooling policy statement. CHSNA was aware that an internal NCEA action of that kind could result in diocesan sacramental guidelines for homeschool children. Since that time, over fifty diocesan guidelines have been instituted in the U.S. The majority of them attempt to usurp the catechetical responsibilities of parents as primary educators.
TORCH and NACHE favor dialogue and guidelines, and offered cooperation to the NCEA, thus philosophically opposing CHSNA. (12)
It is worth noting that The Domestic Church is the title of CHSNA's newsletter and the organization's purpose is to network, receive and distribute information on Catholic home education and the issues that affect it nationally. (13) TORCH and NACHE's sudden introduction of the same words, "network" and "domestic church," blurs the lines of distinction between them and CHSNA. (14)
Articles written by TORCH or NACHE leaders, printed in national Catholic papers and even local support group newsletters, tend to gloss over the serious reasons parents choose homeschooling. Instead, they make claims like, "The mass exodus from public schools has created a huge demand for private and parochial education," citing tuition costs as prohibitive. (15)
In a similar vein, Mary Hasson wrote, "Although dissatisfaction with the quality or orthodoxy of Catholic schools is still an impetus to homeschooling, it is no longer the only, or even the primary, reason Catholic families are choosing to homeschool." (16) There was no information provided which substantiated that claim, except the following quote from Kimberly Hahn, who "believes that the benefits to faith and family life make the homeschooling lifestyle so appealing to young families."
Mrs. Hahn was also quoted as saying that her own family "has chosen to homeschool not because the local Catholic schools fall short, but rather for all the wonderful things we can learn alongside our children about our Catholic faith, as well as all the academic disciplines." (17)
There is no question that homeschooling unifies the family in a unique way. Nonetheless, TORCH and NACHE dismiss the battles in the parochial schools as the problems of a bygone era. Those parents who say they homeschool because there are serious problems in the parochial and public schools are stereotyped as negative, fearful or reactionary.
Kimberly Hahn promoted this notion when she said, "There are a few home educators who exemplify stereotypes - the '60s anti-authoritarian type or those who seem more Catholic than the Pope, who really wish Vatican II never happened." (18) At best, this is a prejudicial statement by Mrs. Hahn who herself is a recent convert and cannot begin to understand the confusion and suffering that most traditional cradle Catholics have endured.
Experienced homeschoolers see that this alarming inclination, propagated by groups like TORCH and NACHE, to disregard the real dangers of conventional education, is affecting the entire grassroots movement. It is causing division among homeschoolers.
Parents should be aware that, like the same examples given above, influential homeschool leaders ignore certain areas of truth. A point of reference is the saying that everything that is true and beautiful is Catholic. Today, that truth is used to advocate, allow, promote and excuse the heavy use of secular and Protestant resources in Catholic homeschooling. With these kinds of ideas reinforced by the same people associated with "national" groups, many homeschooling families believe they can "catholicize" Protestant educational materials - including Protestant Bible studies. This is a wearying task for those with a solid Catholic background in the doctrines and dogmas of our faith. Those less experienced or denied a sound catechesis themselves will find the task nigh impossible.
The 1929 encyclical Christian Education of Youth, teaches:
"The proper and immediate aim of Christian education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian. For precisely this reason, Christian education takes in the whole of human life, physical and spiritual, intellectual and moral, individual, domestic, and social ...Hence, the true Christian, a product of Christian education, is the supernatural man who thinks, judges, and acts constantly and consistently in accordance with right reason, illumined by the supernatural light of the example and teaching of Christ." (19)
This truth, expressed by Pope Pius XI, is challenged today since many believe the word "Christian" always means Catholic. The experiences with "Christian" homeschool groups, which exclude Catholics as Christians, have failed to teach many Catholic homeschoolers that the same disdain for Catholicism can be expected of Christian educational materials.
Catholics are accepting the different educational methods, all the result of various Protestant and secular experiments in homeschooling. Some ideas include "child-led learning," "unschooling," "Biblically-based education," and "unit study." These various methods of education are proliferate because the Protestant homeschooling movement encompasses a broader scope of religious sects. Therefore, their materials and ideologies are abundantly expressed in their homeschool magazines, catalogs, conventions, conferences, how-to books, reference and review books, and much more.
Catholics cannot take chances using an abundance of Protestant homeschool materials because, to do so would border on presumption. The seeds against the Catholic faith could easily be planted in homeschooled children's minds. Children will think Protestant ideas acceptable if their parents primarily use Protestant books. These seeds may take years to come into fruition, especially during the difficult teen years, but bloom they will, no matter how vigilant parents are in cutting out portions of a heavily Protestant curriculum. The focus on keeping the curriculum Catholic becomes hazy.
Supporting parental choice in methods and approaches is one matter, but it has always been presumed that the Catholic Church's teachings and examples on education would be closely followed - especially in Catholic homeschool publications. However, with the exception of the newsletters provided by Catholic home study programs, there is no national publication that addresses pure and authentic Catholic education through homeschooling.
An example of the easy acceptance of Protestant materials, questionable methods and unusual ideas mixed with truth is illustrated in NACHE's national newsletter, The Catholic Home Educator (CHE). CHE's one article addressing authentic Catholic education, entitled "Catholic Education Must Be both Education and Catholic," was, at best, awkward - both in its title and body. It offered no Church teachings and no quotes of Church documents. The article specified the "two basic elements of Catholic education are, first, that Catholic education is truly education and, second, that Catholic education is truly Catholic." It cited a mishmash of thoughts attributed to Plato (who believed children should be removed from their parents' influence at the earliest possible age), Socrates, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson, claiming that although the latter two individuals "were critical of aspects of progressivism in education, especially its relativistic denial of a proper order of learning, they were not advocates of mere rote indoctrination." (20)
Centering upon the works and ideologies of Dr. Mortimer Adler, "a renowned Aristotelian philosopher associated with the Great Books program and friend of Maritain," the article also proclaimed Adler as the "primary force behind the Paideia Proposal, a secular plan to reform American education." The article did not focus on Catholic education, as was expected, but leaned rather heavily on the issue of teachers' roles as "facilitators." The article then addressed three kinds of learning, again turning to Adler's ideas. (21) Nothing in the article could be construed as a definition of authentic Catholic education.
CHE has also begun to positively refer to Montessori education, unschooling, and Protestant unit study, namely, KONOS. In the latter case, the author claimed unit study was originally meant for enrichment but it soon became the curriculum. The author also felt it was easy to "catholicize" since it contained "science, art, literature, practical living, social studies, and not just religion."(22) The author also admitted, "Soon KONOS became the source of our reading lesson, and sometimes of our religion lesson as well [emphasis mine] (saints' biographies, Bible verse memorization)."(23) Though the author's educational approach is admittedly her choice, an article of this kind in the national association's newsletter helps perpetuate "Catholic homeschooling - Protestant style." CHE did not even provide a disclaimer that using Protestant religious material is a serious matter for Catholics.
Neither was there mention of the Church's teaching that the Catholic "religion must permeate" the curriculum. To give credit where it is due, however, it must be noted that someone associated with CHE was willing to heed the advice of experienced Catholics - at least when it came to KONOS. A short commentary was added after the unit study article, declaring, "KONOS has recently begun to release its high school level curriculum, and according to long-time Catholics,the curriculum is 'violently anti-Catholic' in some parts of the Tenth Grade year." The note added, "... you should always be vigilant about such things when you choose to Catholicize a Protestant curriculum." This note bore the initials "K.H." - presumably Kimberly Hahn. (24) However, the moral issues of why Catholics would primarily use a Protestant curriculum, financially support any anti-Catholic business or use their texts for religious instruction were not addressed.
Only once did my Magnificat! Magazine address KONOS, a promising-looking unit study, just for areas of history and science. (25) The Catholic author assured us that KONOS was not anti-Catholic and was, in fact, very open to her idea of writing a Catholic manual to accompany KONOS. However, we discovered after the article was published that KONOS materials were becoming increasingly anti-Catholic. Having learned a valuable lesson, our magazine never again included article references to any Protestant materials, even those that appeared to be "Catholic friendly." We learned one of the aims of evangelical publishers is to convert Catholics, even if they assure us otherwise.
Unfortunately, encouragement continues for the heavy use of secular and anti-Catholic materials. They are even promoted by Kimberly Hahn and her co-author Mary Hasson, in their book Catholic Education: Homeward Bound, printed by Ignatius Press. The book deserves examination as to whether it is a trustworthy guide for homeschoolers, regardless of the authors' notoriety.
Homeward Bound appears to contradict itself in many areas. First it makes the semi-truthful claim that "Some Catholic schools have substituted time-bound, current ideologies for timeless Catholic values. They have wanted to appear 'relevant for today.' In so doing they have relativized the Faith, watering it down at best or diluting it with poison at worst." (26) It could reasonably be argued that most Catholic schools today have endorsed "relevant" ideas. Yet it appears from the information gleaned from the book that the authors promote the same line of relative thinking that they condemn.
On the subject of teachers, the authors write, "Some teachers in Catholic schools, in the course of their education, have had their own faith gutted; but they have been trained to be teachers. So what are they to do? Admit they no longer believe the Catholic Faith and start over vocationally? Or continue to teach in a Catholic school anyway, 'enlightening' the children with values clarification, amoral sex education, one-sided historical-critical approaches to Sacred Scripture and a laissez-faire attitude toward the Church's teachings on any issue the child wants to challenge?" (27)
Mrs. Hahn and Mrs. Hasson are correct in this observation. Nonetheless, they contradict themselves three paragraphs later when asking if it is necessary for parents to "...send their children to Catholic schools in order to support parochial education for those children who cannot be taught at home? No! ...we do not want to spoil Catholic education for others, nor, on the other hand, do we need to feel compelled to send our children to those institutions. (For some practical suggestions about how we can be involved in local Catholic schools as a support without sending our children, please see Chapter 14)." (28)
It must be asked why the authors believe parents would want to support teachers and schools that have failed miserably in teaching the Faith. How can homeschoolers "spoil Catholic education for others" by not supporting schools that are Catholic in name only? No Catholics are obligated to work with such educational institutions that have broken their trust. Will such encouragement lead to directing parents to such schools for homeschool help?
Homeward Bound makes three astounding claims, of which the first is, "Since what is authentically Catholic includes anything that is true, good, and beautiful, materials that reflect excellence in these areas should be used, regardless of who the author or publisher is." (emphasis mine) (29)
The second assertion says, "Catholic education does not mean, however, that religion is a theme in every subject." (30) Third, "... sadly, not everything that proclaims itself 'Catholic' truly is. How can we make sure that our children will learn from an authentically Catholic curriculum?" The authors offer their opinion: "Our own faith, the Catholic atmosphere we create in our homes, the specific resources that we use to teach the Faith (emphasis mine) and our ability to weave the Faith into our children's lives are really what ensure a Catholic curriculum." (31)
The authors are loosely referring to four pillars of education offered in Christian Education of Youth, yet they support "catholicizing" Protestant texts or refer to Protestant educators and curriculums in their book.
Abandoning the use of Catholic text was the first step of the Catholic schools' downfall. The encyclical Militantis Ecclesiae teaches that "Religion must permeate and direct every branch of knowledge whatever be its nature."
Abandoning both the primary objective of education and the use of Catholic materials is dangerous for the Catholic family, especially for those who have accepted the obligation to homeschool in order to transmit the Faith. Parents today should learn the lesson given by the many Catholic schools which went from using Catholic texts to "Christian" texts and, finally, to secular texts. Those schools abandoned the truth that the "teaching, the whole organization of the school, its teachers, syllabus and textbooks must be under the direct and maternal supervision of the Church," as taught by the Ordinary Magisterium in Christian Education of Youth. Contrary to Homeward Bound's claim, Church teaching leaves no room for disregarding the authors or publishers of syllabus and textbooks. Homeward Bound seems to entirely miss the point that the four elements given in Christian Education of Youth must be present when providing a pure Catholic education.
Thirty years of experience clearly illustrate the effects of those Catholic schools that discarded the four pillars of Catholic education. When abandoning Catholic text and materials, such schools erroneously believed that the teachers' faith and the atmosphere would be enough to provide a Catholic education. Slowly the parochial schools abandoned the use of an entirely Catholic curriculum. Next to go were the regular practice of morning prayers, daily Mass, and the noon Angelus. This method has resulted in an entire generation of Catholics in name only. Homeschoolers must be careful not to make the same grave mistakes.
Homeward Bound also adds an almost flippant and irreverent comment to the teaching of Christian Education of Youth. Quoting the Holy Father Pope Pius XI who wrote that every subject in Catholic schools must be "permeated with Christian piety," the authors again add their own opinions when writing, "Yet this principle doesn't mean that a math curriculum, for example, is made Catholic because the workbook problems have the children count pictures of crosses instead of sticks." (32)
Mrs. Hahn made a similar comment in an interview in which she was asked, "Is there anything different about Catholic homeschooling?" Her reply was "I'd say yes... A Catholic education is a well-rounded, excellent education. It doesn't mean that every book is stamped with an imprimatur ...It doesn't mean that in "Catholic math" you count crosses instead of apples."(33) There was no mention of the true purpose of Catholic education, which Christian Education of Youth teaches,"... in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime goal for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man's last end."
In addressing materials for teaching the faith, Homeward Bound recommends The Revised Standard Version (RSV), Catholic Edition published by Ignatius Press for Scripture study and The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). (34) There is no mention of the Douay-Rheims Bible. Perhaps this is because the authors would reason that the CCC adapted Scripture quotations from the RSV and the New RSV rather than the Douay-Rheims.
Mrs. Hahn and Hasson claim other catechisms like The Baltimore Catechism and The New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism, "provide for basic memorization of Catholic doctrine." Yet later, in mentioning "pre-conciliar texts," the authors say parents should not consider such resources "...complete in and of themselves, as they do not contain references to either the Second Vatican Council or the Catechism of the Catholic Church." (35)
Firstly, The Catechism of the Catholic Church itself has proclaimed, "This translation is subject to revision according to the Latin typical edition (editio typica) when it is published." (36) How and why should any previous and officially promulgated catechisms be modified to a new catechism that is itself subject to revision?
Secondly, elementary age students do not need to know about the pastoral Second Vatican Council. They do not even need to know of the unquestionably dogmatic councils. All these matters can be presented in due season, according to the abilities commensurate with the age of the children.
In the chapter on decision-making, which includes general advice on packaged programs, unit study, catalogs, and other educational matters, the authors provide a hardly noticeable disclaimer at the end of a paragraph, "Remember that non-Catholic Christian sources will not alert you to materials that may contain conflicts with our Faith." (37) Disappointingly, neither does Homeward Bound.
Within both the body and the index of the book, Homeward Bound provides copious references to non-Catholic, even anti-Catholic, homeschool resources and publishers, without offering the reader the benefit of any distinguishing remarks. Those cited as experts by Mrs. Hahn and Hasson include Mary Pride (an ex-Catholic, who does not allow any Catholic advertisements in her Practical Homeschooling Magazine), Greg Harris of Christian Life Workshops (a strongly prejudiced anti-Catholic homeschooling speaker and workshop leader), John Holt (commonly called a "secular" educator but most notoriously known as an atheist), and Raymond Moore (a Seventh Day Adventist). (38)
Not one of the traditional Catholic publishers like TAN Books or Neumann Press is recommended in the actual book, its index or bibliography. Neither is there specific mention or even an attributed quote to any of the national Catholic trailblazers like Dr. Mary Clark, Janice Smythe, Robert Brindle or Fran Crotty. While the Catholic Mrs. Berquist's book is referred to in Homeward Bound and listed in the index with the Protestant and secular educators, that courtesy is not extended to the 400 page plus Catholic Homeschooling - A Handbook for Parents by the highly respected Catholic home education authority and leader Dr. Mary Clark. The latter book is only listed in the bibliography. (39)
Homeward Bound even prefers the Protestant Calvert Home Study over Catholic home study programs, describing Calvert, a curriculum permeated with secularism, as "not overtly Christian; classical in approach." (40) Their partiality to the secularized program is clearly evident when the authors write, "One of the best programs provides absolutely everything you need for the entire year, right down to pencils and paper" and provide a footnote reference to Calvert. (41)
On the same page two paragraphs later, the book provides an anonymous homeschool mother's praise of a Catholic packaged program as well as Laura Berquist's expressed satisfaction with a Catholic "fixed curriculum." (42) Homeward Bound fails to footnote that reference, which Mrs. Berquist claims in her own book is Seton Home Study School. (43) There is no off-hand, traceable reference to any other Catholic program. Homeward Bound does list the Catholic curriculum providers in its Appendix C. (44)
The book includes a section entitled "Suggested Resources," featuring "Kimberly's Choices" and "Mary's Choices." Mrs. Hahn's Catholic Bible and Church history study helps are, as she notes, out of print. (45) KONOS is used for Social Studies and character development, as are Calculadder and Alphabetter by Providence Project - a company that avoids any public association with Catholics. We learned this when they refused to advertise in The Catholic Family's Magnificat claiming that we were "too Catholic."
Also included are materials from Great Christian Books (another big fundamentalist home education publishing house), the secular Scholastic Company, and Timberdoodle (also fundamentalist). (46) For religion, Mrs. Hahn uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Faith and Life series by Ignatius Press. (47) For history, she primarily uses secular resources and the Protestant Greenleaf books but includes the Catholic Old World and America by TAN. (48)
Mrs. Hasson's selections include A Beka Books (49) for her children's math, cursive writing, and science classes, and history materials from the fundamentalist Elijah Company. Her Catholic selections are Christ and the Americas, (50) Faith and Life, the out-of-print Christian Child Reading series, and various, unspecified saint stories.
For reasons previously cited, it is understandable that not every single educational text can be Catholic. However, the number of Catholic resources vs. the profusion of secular and Protestant ones adopted by alleged noted authorities on Catholic home education is perplexing. The importance of a pure Catholic education is no longer the aim and the message in homeschooling. Catholic parents once knew the primary use of Protestant and secular resources defeats the purpose of Catholic education. Today, homeschooling parents must still be on guard against the same tide of "new ideas" and "methodologies" which overtook the parochial system and is now washing over the homeschool movement.
(Accompanying footnotes are published after links below.)
Marianna Bartold offers free information and articles via the Keeping It Catholic! (KIC)Website, served as homeschool editor to Sursum Corda, published The Catholic Family's Magnificat!, and founded three different Catholic home education organizations. The KIC address is http://members.tripod.com/~catholic_homeschool/index.html
Personal email address: email@example.com
1. Clark, Dr. Mary Kay. Catholic Homeschooling - A Handbook for Parents (Rockford, IL: Seton Home Study School Press and Tan Books and Publishers), p. xxvii.
3.Verbal estimate by the Round Table of Catholic Home School Leaders, April 1994. Numbers are based on total families enrolled in each Catholic home study program, plus an estimate that a minimum one percent of all homeschool families nationwide are Catholic. There has never been any formal survey by any group, including NACHE, which borrows its number from the RT's estimate.
4. Author's tape of the meeting, April 1994.
5. Encyclical Militantis Ecclesia, August 1, 1897
6. Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson, Catholic Education-Homeward Bound (San Francisco: Ignatius Press), p. 171
7. Ibid, p.166
8. Mary Hasson, National Catholic Register, August 25, 1996
9. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit., p.123
10. NACHE Vendor Information Packet, available by calling (540)349-4313
11. Kristen West McGuire, Catholic Twin Circle, July 21, 1996
12. NACHE letter to the NCEA, dated December 6, 1995
13. Kristen West McGuire, loc. cit.
14. The author of this article, Marianna Bartold, originated both the idea and name of CHSNA, serving as its first president.
15. Kirsten West McGuire, loc. cit.
16. Mary Hasson, loc. cit.
17. Mary Hasson, loc. cit.
18. Michael Aquilina, Our Sunday Visitor, June 2, 1996.
19. Encyclical Christian Education of Youth (Divini Illius Magistri), 1929.
20. Mark Brumley, "The Catholic Home Educator," Pentecost 1997.
21. Mark Brumley, loc. cit.
22. Barbara Rice, The Catholic Home Educator, Pentecost 1997.
23. Barbara Rice, loc. cit.
24. Barbara Rice, loc. cit.
25. Mary Hennessey, The Catholic Family's Magnificat! July/August 1994
26. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit, p. 42
27. Ibid, p. 43
29. Ibid, p. 123
30. Ibid, p. 124
32. Ibid., p. 165
33. Michael Aquilina, op. cit.
34. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit.,p. 167
35. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit.
36. Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co.), facing page to Table of Contents
37. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit., p. 182
38. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit, Index
39. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit, p. 377
40. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit, p. 368
41. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit., p. 170
42. Hahn and Hasson, loc. cit
43. Laura Berquist, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (Warsaw, ND: Bethlehem Books and San Fransisco: Ignatius Press), p. 16.
44. Hahn and Hasson, op. cit, p. 228
45. Ibid, p. 346
46. Ibid, p. 348
47. Ibid, p. 356
48. Ibid, p. 349
49. A Beka Books is strongly Protestant and Anti-Catholic
50. Hahn and Hasson, p. 360
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