The number one searched post on this blog today is “My Community Is Closing – Now What?” In light of that, I wanted to share a resource with those who might be searching. Obviously there are many options for homeschooling, so many that it might be overwhelming. If you would like some help sorting out options, identifying your needs, and learning how to run a compliant program, check out the Classical Program Consulting Program with Jamie Buckland.
I met Jamie through social media and have appreciated her insight. So I asked her five questions – and now get to share her answers with you!
What are three things about which you are passionate?
#1 – Christ’s Completed Work
#2 – Education
#3 – Maternity Care in the US
Jamie, why do YOU homeschool?
I wanted to be with my kids, to be in charge of our schedule, and to avoid handing over the authority of my children to someone else.
What’s a Favorite Motivational Quote?
Confession. I had to Google motivational quotes. That just isn’t something I think I have an inventory of! I could not find one that I feel like I have ever used…so I searched my MacBook for “quote” thinking maybe I’ve stored something somewhere. This came up. It is fitting.
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” Wendell Berry
Why did you become a Classical Program Consultant?
When I decided to not return to CC in 2016, I worked incredibly hard researching options and finding out how we could ethically and legally conduct the activities of our group in the way we desired. After we got started, I shared some of what we were doing. I began answering questions on social media. Over the last few years, that snowballed into having a following of peers looking for answers. I started CPC in January (2019) so I could afford to take time away from my family to gather all my thoughts and experience into materialized documents and webinars in hopes of offering guidance to group leaders in the 3 areas of a program: business, administration, and curriculum. I now have over 100 clients and have realized there is a great need for what I am offering.
What is your motto?
“Do less, do it well.”
Classical educators are known for having higher standards. I think that’s great. I think there is a major difference between a private school with paid teachers and a homeschool program. I think acknowledging the difference and talking about the various realities of the difference are two things many in the renewal are failing to do. I am seeing the effects of it-stressed out, defeated, exhausted mothers who renounced modern education’s industrialized approach to learning to instead embrace the freedom of nurturing a whole child through home education. Now they do not know whose prescribed definition of classical education is the best one, the worthy one, or at least the one they can implement in between laundry, meals, newborns, music lessons, and a never-ending to-do list.
Like many others, the first voice in my ear calling me to do less and to do it well was Sarah Mackenzie’s with her book, Teaching from Rest A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. On a beautiful fall day in November of 2014, as I drove to a CC training hours away, I listened to the audio companions included with the book and was introduced to concepts which turned my world completely upside down. We were having 8-hour school days, fighting from morning until night, constantly striving to fit everything in, doing all things poorly, and never catching our breath. I was fielding constant questions about how to get it all done and felt a heavy burden of admitting I was just as worn out as those looking to me for guidance.
Are those leading the renewal hearing these stories? I do love the message of rest being given to us by theSchole Muses, and I applaud their work.
But who else is hearing us? As the call to excellence continues to ring out, who is defining that excellence? Who is prescribing that excellence? Better yet, who is describing that excellence?
“Buy a box curriculum!”, that is what one leader of the renewal recently told me. But then the mother feels pressured to tackle everything in that box on the schedule recommended by the publishers and I’m concerned that is not always doable.
“Well, choose not to do some of it.” Sure, that sounds simple. But moms don’t feel confident choosing what things to let go of! It’s like we need permission from someone that it will be okay if we choose to do less in an attempt to forge ahead. After all, the expert curriculum developers think all of this is necessary, who am I to argue?
I recently attended the National Classical Education 2019 Symposium. At the last panel of the day, deans and admissions officers from various colleges answered a question I had.
“What do you have to say to the homeschooling mother?”
“Keep going. Start somewhere. You’re doing a great job and impressing the academic world.” (paraphrased)
Moms need to know that doing less and doing it well is enough. It is more than enough. I want homeschooling mothers seeking to educate their children in the classical Christian tradition to take back their joy and leave behind the daunting feeling of inadequacy.
But more than that, I want them to use caution and discernment in choosing who they deem as an authority on all areas of their child’s education. We, the homeschooling mothers, are in a unique position, in my opinion. The decision-makers for public education are the committees set in place by the government, and we can all acknowledge the influence on those committees from those who stand to profit from selling their ideas or curriculum.
The decision-makers for home education are the mothers and the fathers of the youth being educated. But when I take notice of the chatter between mothers, I am compelled to make mention that our chosen methods and materials are also influenced by those who stand to profit from selling their ideas or curriculum.
Can I add a disclaimer here? This is not a condemnation of having something to sell. I recently discoveredPamela Barnhill’s work and am truly thankful for her materials, as I see them meeting a great need. I want to set apart those who I find working, as am I, to get good things into the hands of homeschooling moms who could benefit from them. Sarah Mackenzie, Brandy Vencel, Angelina Stanford, Mystie Winckler, Kathy Weitz,Cheryl Swope, Cindy Rollins, Carol Topp, Colleen Kessler, these mothers are serving other mothers, and they are doing a fantastic job at it. There is something different to me about marketing something you’ve developed and developing something to market.
Continuing the disclaimer for fear my readers will assume I enjoy tossing babies with bath water, please do not hear accusations where none exist. It is not that I am asserting those seated at the head table of the renewal have no less than our best interests at heart, however, it is to be noted that those seated at the table have products and programs to sell. And like with any product or program, some are bad. Some given the title of leading the classical movement through home education are not worthy of the title and are doing more to damage classical education than to renew it. Some are worthy, their product worthy, their program worthy, but not an end-all, and what we are lacking is a philanthropic voice at the table without a method, a product, or a book to sell.
Please, please note my use of particular pronouns here. I am 100% behind many of these programs, authors, and materials, but I am also 100% convinced discernment is in order. There is as at least one popular organization working tirelessly to exploit homeschooling mothers, and unfortunately, only those exploited are the ones caring enough to speak up. Somehow classical educators believe in naming things, calling it as it is, seeking out the matter, calling men to a higher standard, until it involves businesses where you’ll be sued or threatened for pursuing Truth.
Man, did you ask for a novel?!
Who am I? Why does it even matter if I am calling moms to do less and do it well?
I am a consultant to homeschool group leaders who want to build programs, but I admit programs are not for every person and not for every season. My motivation for what I do is rooted in advocacy for the homeschooling mother. If she wants community, I want her to have it. I want her to have it ethically, legally, with sustainability, and I do not want her to sacrifice her own homeschool to get it. I want her to do less, do it well, and to be connected to veteran moms who want to give her permission to do just that.
Jamie Buckland lives in southern WV with her husband and 4 children. Jamie is Executive Director and Headmistress of Appalachian Classical Academy, a tutoring program for homeschoolers. She also works with homeschool group leaders as the Classical Program Consultant. With a heart for the homeschooling mother, she wants to see them able to enjoy communities without sacrificing their own homeschool. She will graduate her eldest this year, her youngest in 16 years, and a couple in between! You can find Jamie atwww.jamiebuckland.net