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Ask the Beasts and They Shall Teach Thee

Andrea G. Schwartz
  • Andrea G. Schwartz,
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As I mentor homeschooling moms, novice and veteran alike, I attempt to convey the idea that they must embrace their roles as family caretakers, managers, and administrators. While the academic responsibility of their job is very real and important, it is by no means the one with the highest priority. Education should not be equated with academics. Rather academics is the subset of education. We learn from all facets of our lives, sometimes much more effectively than by just reading a book. The beauty of the homeschool setting is that the alert mother/manager/teacher can utilize any and all circumstances to teach her children valuable and lasting lessons and bring many sorts of “teachers” onboard to help in the process.

Yesterday, my husband, daughter, and I said goodbye to one such faithful teacher -- our golden retriever, Sierra. In many ways, Sierra was an integral part of my homeschool. Her presence was the springboard for teaching about discipline, training, service, and faithfulness. Although she started out with us as a puppy, all too quickly in “dog years” she joined me as one of the “older ladies” of the household. We grew gray together and witnessed my children grow up. She never shirked those duties entrusted to her.

Had my schedule been so full of other commitments and activities, I would not have been able to orchestrate a proper goodbye to Sierra. If I had not emphasized over the years that we must focus on family life over and above other activities, we might have had to “dispose” of Sierra, rather than give her the sort of memorial her years of service deserved.

It is easy to let our worth be determined by how much we do and how many people witness our achievements. Yet, such a focus delivers cheap rewards, rather than the lasting ones that bear fruit in this life and commendation in the next. Being available to deal with the ups and downs of life, and their aftermaths, is as important a function as any in the rearing of one’s family.

Golden Retriever Extraordinaire
(June 1995 – September 2008)
(Her full name was Sierra Sunrise, because of the countless early Sunday morning trips by car to Vallecito, located in the Sierra Foothills of California, in order to sit under the teaching of R.J. Rushdoony at the Chalcedon Foundation.)