I’ve jokingly written titles in the past related to why I homeschool my kids and why you should homeschool as well. But this time it is no joke. Listen carefully and take heed. Some of you may disagree and others may not like what I will say. I thank you for your interest. Nonetheless, here is the story.
I committed my life to teaching others when I was younger. I committed my life to teaching the Catholic faith. I was not a “traddy” then. I was just me – a Catholic man who was raised to go to daily Mass and to live the faith.
I had been homeschooled by pioneering parents. I am the fourteenth in my family. There are two more after me – my twin sister died in childhood and our youngest sister. One day in 1989, while watching an episode about homeschooling on Donahue of all things, my mother, the every loving and ever street smart New Yorker who never feared anything, stated that she herself was going to teach my younger sister and me. My father, no coward himself, protested. “You can’t do that! What if doesn’t work out?!” She replied, “I wasn’t supposed to have 16 children either. And if it doesn’t work out, so what? Is there really a school on earth that won’t take them back?”
And so in September of 1989 in Newark, NJ, I began my education in earnest. We used a program (Seton Home Study) and I quickly adapted to this new life. I loved it. I learned that there was so much more to learn than I’d ever realized. And I learned most importantly that I loved learning and I really loved teaching. You see, I became autodidactic. I began to teach myself. I picked up my books and I learned at my own pace – with a mother and father to guide me – and I devoured the truths of the faith and I fell in love.
Years later, after college and graduate school – we’re no dummies, us homeschoolers – and after a brief stop off in the world of TV production, I fell into a quite natural career as a Catholic school teacher. I laughed the first day I walked into a high school classroom because I had never been in one before. And again I fell in love. I had been given a chance by God to share what I had learned with a new generation. I loved my students. I loved the faith. God was very good to me.
I rose through ranks. I served as an administrator in a few different Catholic schools.
And then things changed.
Fifteen years and the Coof lockdowns both taught me a lesson.
Let me address the latter first. I will try to refrain from being graphic but I can’t make any promises. In July of 2020 my older brother committed suicide. He was older by 13 years. When he was young, my parents were still trusting that the Catholic schools would teach him the difference between right and wrong and that murder – even of yourself – was a mortal sin and what mortal sin even was. There were many factors. He was a classic “social animal”. The lockdowns hurt him tremendously and I come one step shy of hatred for all those who imposed that nightmare on the world. I hope they don’t have a clue the evil they unleashed. He was also a product of his generation. By his early 50’s, he had been in the “care” of a psychologist who thought that prescribing antidepressants for years was a good idea. There is a special place in hell for people like that.
The pain… I still cry for him. He was my big brother. I hope and pray God has mercy and overlooks. The pain for my mother that night. At 82, no woman should have to hear those things. The pain for his wife. I still imagine what it was like to find her husband hanging in the garage like that. The pain for his kids to lose their dad like that. And I cast my abject sorrow to God and to the Blessed Mother.
That was but one reason why I knew I had to take my own kids unto myself.
But I also realized something else.
It was around that time that I began to notice intensely that it only takes one kid to ruin one other. With my brother it was likely a combination of things but the school environment did not help. And I could see this clearly from my own years of teaching. Sure, the misguided and malformed teachers of his day didn’t help. They not only failed to teach him right. They actually taught him wrong.
But let us consider the other students. I saw it. You see it too. And it doesn’t take but two minutes of honest soul searching to know what I’m talking about.
First of all, I want to tell you that in fifteen years I literally witnessed kids get dumber before my eyes. I started teaching The Screwtape Letters one year. The high school juniors in my care could understand and discuss it with me. Six years later I had to walk them through, line by line. Something had changed. I witnessed a seismic shift from a handful of kids on “medication” to treat a disorder we used to call hyperactivity in boys to almost universal acceptance that every child – boy and girl – was also disordered and needed brain-altering drugs to remain calm. Throw a year or more of “online learning” into the mix and boy would that be fun… But I saw it very clearly at the end. Social media – the devil’s playground – and anti-hyperactivity drugs – the devil’s candy – were clearly taking their toll.
It only takes one disgruntled kid who’s parents don’t know or don’t care that they’re on Tik Tok and the whole classroom is toast. This isn’t to say that every student is weak. But think about it. You’re supposed to turn over control of your kids’ formation as human beings for 8-12 hours a day to an adult you do not know and 20 other kids who’s families you do not know. That’s a lot of time and a lot of other influences. Think about it. And think about how even one deviation from how you would deem it appropriate to form your kids, in the hands of another, can change the future of the world for good or for ill.
Your children are the most precious gifts God gives you. They are your charge from Him to raise up to Him. Turn them over to others or do it yourself. The choice is yours. And don’t think you can’t do it either. He gives the grace to do what He asks of you and He never disappoints.
It isn’t easy. We struggle daily with the attacks of the devil – especially the sin of sloth – but we pull ourselves together. And I always know both as a former teacher and a present father that no matter what, they are always learning more from me on days when we do nothing at all than they would in the outside schools on days when they discuss sex, trannies, and equity or in the so-called better schools where the other kids’ discontent rubs off on them.
They are my responsibility. I will care for them. I will teach them or I will die trying.
And in the end, if my children learn nothing more than that their father loved them enough to suffer the humiliation that comes with sacrificing career, prestige, and human respect in order to insure that they learn to know, love, and serve God, then I will have done my job.