Teach Your Children Something Useless

Summer CampEvery once in a while, educational fads turn toward “back to basics.” Schools emphasize necessary and useful subjects–meaning, useful for getting a job. Math, reading, and science take center stage. Other subjects get cut. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms of the new Common Core Standards is its utilitarian, vocational perspective on education.

In contrast, I urge you to teach your children “useless” subjects. The liberal arts were so-called not because they appealed to left-leaning politicians, but because they were free.  They do not serve any utilitarian purpose. They will not necessarily earn you college admission, a steady job, or a good salary. But they will enrich your life. They have value in and of themselves.

Remember why you chose to homeschool?

Think about the reasons you teach your children. If you keep them home in order to teach them about the Faith, your main focus is “useless” according to the world’s standards.

Some people homeschool primarily to help their kids excel on tests, in college, and in their careers. I am not one of them.

We waste a lot of time in our homeschool on such useless things as:

  • reading and memorizing the Bible
  • art appreciation and art projects
  • music lessons
  • literature
  • catechism
  • cursive handwriting
  • listening to opera
  • acting in plays

Making memories

My boys may use one or two of these things if they choose specific careers. But that’s not why we do them. We do them to make our lives beautiful, virtuous, fun, and meaningful.

I read aloud nearly every day after lunch, and I plan to continue this until my youngest child finishes high school. Some of my favorite memories are of my dad reading aloud to the family in the evenings. I would not deprive my children of this for all the prestige in the world.

It is said that the best things in life are free. Teach your children the best things. Teach them the free arts. Teach them subjects that are useless.

Connie Rossini blogs on faith-based education and Carmelite spirituality at Contemplative Homeschool and administers Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network. She has recently published a short e-book, Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life.  She lives with her husband and 4 sons in southwestern Minnesota.
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