As we move forward into a summer of preparation for not only a new school year, but an entirely new co op, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the groundwork beneath and behind, as well as some of the curriculum and vision we pursue.
I first had to ask myself, why do I feel the need for a cooperative work with other families as part of my family’s homeschooling endeavors?
One, it is valuable for my children to learn from other adults, and a co-op is a simple way to implement that into our home education.
Two, it is important that my children have friends regularly in their lives, and a co op is an obvious way to make that a regular habit. It teaches them to foster friendships, those both which come naturally and those which take more work.
Three, I need frequent accountability in the educating of my children. Both in being diligent to continue pressing onward and upward, as well as in teaching subjects that I might too easily overlook on my own at home.
Once I established personal reasons for our family’s desire, I wanted to capture the purpose of a cooperative work in a concise way. What would be the purpose of our co op?
To encourage one another to pursue excellence in the home education of our children for the glory of God, and to encourage the faith of each parent and child represented in the co op. We will endeavor to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, for the furthering of His kingdom to His glory and His peoples’ good. Using a basic Classical approach of excellence, literature, historic subjects & habits, we can encourage the habit of lifelong learning.
And in order to create a communicable vision, I sought to identify principal emphases as well as Scriptures to reference:
Excellence without elitism
Truth, goodness, and beauty
Servanthood (not business acumen)
And then I named the endeavor. I first pondered a lot of different words: Caritas (charity), New Covenant, Ordo Amoris (ordering of loves), Sapere (pursuing knowledge), Theopoline (God given), Theopolis (city of God), Theophilus (lover of God), and Paideia (all-encompassing enculturation).
Thanks to my parents, I have long been convinced that names matter. Titles and epithets matter. Words matter. And naming things is one way that we, image-bearers-of-God, imitate our Creator. When God created something new (Genesis 1:1-27, but even just verses 3-8 show the point), He called it something, in addition to speaking its purpose. We also see that some things (like the four rivers) have names, and Adam gave names to all the living creatures (Genesis 2:19-20) as God directed him. We also see throughout the entirety of Scripture that naming people and places and practices is hugely important. Words are efficacious.
So I named our cooperative effort Paideia Studies.
This matters. It is important. It means something.
If you to know a simplistic, succinct meaning of paideia, I would say that it means the all-encompassing enculturation of people, including instruction, discipline, nurture, education, and atmosphere.
If you are interested in a more deeply-pondered and parsed meaning, I commend to you this essay called “Paideia of God” by Douglas Wilson.
And while I do add the tag “co op” onto the tail of Paideia Studies from time to time, the official name is simply two words. We are not forming a business, a nonprofit organization, or anything resembling a school affiliate. We will be studying together: pursuing knowledge and wisdom and wonder and worship and truth in a weekly gathering led by parents (and grandparents or grown siblings, as the case may be). There is a steering committee, a board, a handbook… but these are for a blessing and aid of the group, not for some elite nod or financial kick. We are purposing to be the utter depiction of an old-fashioned cooperative where families of a like mind and single purpose are linking arms and burden-bearing together to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord as we pursue knowledge and wisdom and truth, and provide our children with a feast of goodness and beauty and delight.
This last week, I had the pleasure of reading through three small books on Classical Christian education (The Paideia of God, Classical Education and the Homeschool, and Classical Me Classical Thee), and am currently reading another (Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning) while waiting for today’s bookmail to arrive so I can participate in a book discussion with long-distance friends of yet another (The Case for Classical Christian Education). It is good to bathe myself in these things, especially as I prepare to walk in the way the Lord is urging me: as the director of a small, local cooperative of families that will educate in a Classical, Christian model.
Cooperative. Classical. Christian. Education. Paideia.
Oh Lord, please equip us well to walk with our children, and alongside these other families, and show us Your grace in these things. Amen.