In spring of 2005, Craig and I and our four little girls were in the midst of a major life transition. We were moving from Colorado Springs, where we'd lived for a dozen years while Craig was on staff with The Navigators, to St. Louis, where Craig was was about to begin seminary. In the two-month interim (intentional for the sake of decompressing from the former and preparing for the latter), we lived in a farm house in rural Illinois. During this time we read a lot of books and watched a lot of corn grow. And Craig shot a lot of raccoons.
It was during this stint that we spent a week in Oklahoma, visiting my parents in Owasso and also seeing some old friends in Norman. These friends had recently helped start an interesting school called Veritas Classical Academy. The school was finishing up its first year, and we arrived just in time for the end-of-year roller skating party.
With kids who were then 6, 4, 3, and 18 months, we didn’t really enjoy the skating so much (even today, roller skating comes in at a very strong 2 on a fun scale of 0-10 for our family), but we did enjoy finding out more about the school – a blended model classical Christian school in which the kids only attended twice each week and were homeschooled the rest of the week. To a mom planning to homeschool her four daughters, this sounded pretty awesome to me.
I remember drilling my friend, Julie, about the school the rest of our time in Norman. I think my questions included (but were not limited to):
- Help me understand what you mean by classical education?
- Douglas who?
- Dorothy who?
- Veritas Press what?
- And you just gathered a group of people together to start reading books together and suddenly you had a school?
Apparently it wasn’t quite as easy as that. Still, I was curious. When we left Oklahoma at the end of that week, I was sure of two things: 1) I wanted to know more about classical education; but 2) there was no way on the planet I was going to attempt to start something similar in St. Louis.
Instead, we returned to the farm and I hopped on Amazon and ordered what, at the time, I thought was the Bible of classical education: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I also got a copy of Susan's book for parents called The Well-Educated Mind. The epic volumes arrived. I began reading the former; Craig, the latter.
We might as well have been reading The Well-Blown Mind. Craig became depressed by all the books he felt he should have read but never had; I became depressed that what I was doing with our 6-year-old wasn’t cutting the classical education mustard.
It was a watershed moment for both of us, but neither Craig nor I had any idea at the time of how it might shape our family's future – either generally in educating our girls at the time or specifically in moving to Oklahoma six years later to lead the very school we had just visited.
A lot can happen in six years, and a lot did…
(Picture: Megan and girls on the farm in May 2005.)