The first very-important truth is… I don’t. This blog consists of five years of projects, ideas, reviews, rabbit trails, and general nonsense. If you recorded all of the stuff you did (or thought about) in a five-year period, I would venture to say that you would have way more than the amount of material I have posted here at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood. (And… it would likely be much, much better.)
The second very-important truth is… my husband believes in me. He believes in home education and my vision for helping others in whatever way I can here from our log home in rural middle Tennessee. He willingly sacrifices himself to give me time to do these things. Without him, none of this would exist.
So… today, I want you to meet Gary, the most amazing man in my world, better known in these parts as “Brandy’s Husband.”
Why I Attend the Classical Conversations Practicum
by “Brandy’s Husband,” Gary Ferrell
When I walk into a CC Practicum one thing immediately sticks out like a sore thumb. Me.
Amid the crowd of children and moms milling around, signing in and catching up with friends, I am generally the only man in the building old enough to vote. It takes a bit of getting used to as I am introduced as “Brandy’s husband”, or just simply “the Dad”. It is understandable that most men do not have the flexibility to attend practicum, but I just wanted to let some of you know why I go, in case you have the opportunity and are wondering why in the world you would.
CC practicums are held for the purpose of equipping parents to homeschool their children with the classical model in a God-centered way. During these three days, the model is explained, examples are given and parents are able to participate in the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric phases of the program. This enables us to see the vision of education that is at the heart of CC. For parents to be able to learn the model, participate, discuss potential challenges, and learn from veteran homeschoolers is fantastic. But this is not why I attend practicum.
Homeschooling is a frightening concept to most parents when they begin, and even afterwards! As we ask ourselves “How can I possibly teach?! I was a horrible student!” or “Am I going to ruin their lives forever?” it is comforting to see families that have already completed the journey with some of their children. As we hear their success stories, and as we learn that there is grace in educating our children, the weight of the burden eases and allows us to breathe. Having attended practicums for several years now, it is exciting to see these moms each year and to follow along in their journeys. These women are indeed on the front line of a cultural revolution in our country, and it is a pleasure to know them and to fellowship with them. But this is not why I attend practicum.
The success or failure of the homeschool philosophy rests mostly on the shoulders of these women. They are called to not only be a mother, with all the duties that that entails, but also to guide their charges through math, literature, writing, English grammar, science, fine arts, spelling, composition, and Latin all the while being questioned whether they are socializing enough, testing enough, participating in sports enough, or whether the kid will ever be accepted into college. And these questions start at age 5! I see that burden on my wife’s shoulders and I want to help. But I’m a fix-it type guy, and there is no easy, quick fix for this one. This is not a battle to be won, it is a journey to be taken which is full of doubts, obstacles, and tears. But it is also a journey full of wonder, gratitude, and joy, such as when a child grasps a math concept, or when he gets excited about an adjective that describes exactly what he means, or when he sees a phrase in Latin above an institution and has an understanding of what the founders believed. I can’t always be there for those moments, for either the tears or the joy. But I can show my wife that I believe her job is important, more important than mine. I can show her that I support her and the way she is educating our children. I can attend the practicum. And that’s why I am here, in a room full of women, talking curriculum.
Dads, you might not be able to schedule three days off to attend CC practicum, and that is understandable. But if you have a chance to spend a morning, or an afternoon, or just drop by for lunch, you are making a statement not only to your wife, but to your children. You’re saying, “This is important, this is worth my time. I approve.” That’s about the strongest statement you can make.
And don’t forget to wave at the other guy across the room. I’ll be there, every chance I get.