Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Religion and mythology

This probably fits best under the, "Ask a religious homeschooler" heading. I've talked to people both online and face to face about this, so it seems to be a pretty common concern.

I'm referring to the concerns about teaching ancient history, with all the varied gods and goddesses. I have to say that it never occurred to me to be concerned with talking about ancient beliefs and mythology- I felt quite chagrined when I first heard the concerns voiced. Once I got over my mommy guilt, however, I felt pretty good about extensively covering ancients with my small children.

First, we read a lot here. I think reading to small children is very important, and I think that's something I can say pretty safely and without any controversy. One of the things my children have been read from early on is fairy tales and fables. Is there really that big of a difference between reading about a lion and a mouse working together to remove a thorn then talking about Gilgamesh and Enkidu? Why would one be more faith damaging then the other?

I also looked at a basic premise of classical education- that this certain type of pedagogy has produced some of the most flexible and brilliant minds in western history. Church fathers were well versed in the classics and the mythology behind them- and if the faith of Martin Luther and Augustine remained strong it seemed likely that it would be possible to expose my children to the same enduring works and ideas with similar results.

I think that children have a great capacity to understand the differences in their world. We pretend to fly or be animals around here and I've never seen an indication that my children believe they are actually flying cats. Perhaps they wish they were, but they know that they are children. I think talking about other people's beliefs is a wonderful way to frame our own. I'm confident enough in the apologetics of my faith that I think open discussion can only strengthen our family beliefs.

So I embrace talking about other religions and cultures in our homeschooling. I think there are real benefits in producing culturally literate, articulate citizens.

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