Homeschool Resources

Gluten-Free Table At A Potluck – Homeschool Resources

By Lauren Gideon

As I travel from state to state, I find two tables of homeschool resources: those that are total free-market options and those that are fully or partially taxpayer-funded. These resources could include tutoring services, classes, extracurricular activities, sports, fine arts, and so much more. What I have found remarkably interesting is that just like a gluten-free table, free-market options are either sparse or plentiful, bland or diverse.

An Illustration From My Gluten-Free Friends

Nearly every potluck I attend anymore has an accommodating table, based on the reality that a large segment of our population has chosen to abstain from gluten. We know there is a spectrum of reasons. Nearly every gluten-free consumer has some moderate to severe negative consequence they try to avoid, yet others take a proactive approach.

I also bet some are on the train because…well, they get on all trains.

Motivations aside, in my lifetime, the potluck scene has completely changed to accommodate this demographic.

Ok, nothing against my anti-glutenomist neighbors…If I still have you, follow me with the illustration.

The gluten-free consumer made a decision (forced or voluntary) that altered a major portion of their life. They have their position prior to any potluck. Once there, they are either delighted or depressed with the variety of gluten-free options. The most strict in this demographic choose only from this table. Rarely, in their disappointment, do they ever compromise and decide to browse the non-gluten-free selection. (If you have ever hung out with someone like this who has had accidental gluten contamination, you know why.)

Specifically, if there is no cake on the GF table, the consumer does not reluctantly go to the other table to get their cake; they simply go without cake. If this happens enough times, one of two things will probably happen. The friends and family of this individual will have compassion and bake a diet-friendly cake, or the consumer will get frustrated enough to bake their own cake.

How In The World Does This Intersect With Homeschooling?

As we evaluate options on the two tables, we must first step back and evaluate our commitment to the homeschool resource “diet.”  What are the pros and cons of only consuming free-market options? Are there any consequences to sampling options from the subsidized table if you don’t find what you like in the free market? Some states provide an “all or nothing” choice. In these states, no state-funded options are available for those who have chosen to homeschool.

Do you know what they DO have? They serve a feast of quality, diverse, competitive, free-market services. How do they have such options? There, you will find a rich legacy of groups and individuals who found a way to make a GF cake—by that, I mean a robust free-market buffet because the consumers in the state required that accommodation. In other circumstances, we find that families solved their own dilemmas with conviction and creativity.

In Many States The Free-Market Table Is Lacking

If you are in a state like mine, the free-market table is lacking. One reason this is true is due to the fact that the other table is easily accessible. Families discouraged by the free-market are welcome to browse the state-funded options. At first glance, this seems warm and hospitable. Consumers say things like, “I do not have a choice; the option I wanted (or a quality version of this option) was not available on the free market.”

Do you know what happens to our table when this is our outlook? Nothing. It stays sparse and bland.

What will drive change? The options are the following:

  1. Families will set their “diet” and commit to it before they ever attend the potluck
  2. Families will ONLY chose the bland options, or…
  3. Families will create better options, and more homeschool resources for the next generation

We all have a choice, and as we all know; all choices yield outcomes.

Lauren is a regular contributor. You can find Lauren’s other blogs here.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations®.  She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

looking through a magnifying glass lens at the first words of the Declaration of Independence, "We the People"

9 Resources for Learning About the U.S. Constitution

By Lauren Gideon

There has been a revival among conservatives to improve our functional U.S. Constitutional literacy. It’s only natural when things devolve into disorder and chaos to wonder, 

“What happened?” 

“How did we get here?”

“Where did we get off course?” 

To answer these questions, one would have to learn what the course was and where the course came from before one could assess the deviation from that course. This curiosity to rediscover the “course” is a good thing. The human experience is full of good things, and like all good things, achieving or acquiring them requires of us the same weighty virtues of ownership and discipline that Classical Conversations® highlights for students in the Challenge programs. 

Thus, before proceeding to the following list, heed this disclaimer: 

If you want a “quick fix” for improving your U.S. Constitutional literacy…. this is NOT the list for you. 

The U.S. Constitution

When learning about something, one should always start with the thing itself. It’s interesting that when you finally meet someone that you have heard much about ahead of time, you can’t ever really unhear those things or unknow them. 

For better or for worse, you will (at least initially) always see that new person through the lens of what you heard about them. The same is true of ideas and documents. This is one of the reasons why classical educators are so passionate about reading source texts before we turn to functional summaries or commentaries. 

Webster’s Dictionary 1828

Inevitably, you will run into words that are outside our modern vernacular. Look them up! And look them up in a dictionary completed in close chronological proximity to the document itself. 

While you are at it, pick up a good biography of Noah Webster for a fascinating window into how unique and essential this dictionary was for the formation of American culture.

The Declaration of Independence

After reading the U.S. Constitution thoroughly, you might be disappointed. Let me explain. No one gets through reading the rules of Monopoly and says to themselves, “Wow, that was profoundly inspiring!” Rule books, by nature, are quite dry and boring. The point of the rule book is not the rule book itself, but the rules allow you to play the game! The game of Monopoly is enjoyed by many families for something other than the excitement of the rule book. 

The U.S. Constitution is merely the rule book. The Declaration of Independence articulates so beautifully the “why.” These documents are so intertwined that they ought never to be divorced. The U.S. Constitution is the manifestation, the conduit, and the protection of the truth claims spelled out in the Declaration of Independence.

The Articles of Confederation

It is important to remember that the U.S. Constitution was a “do-over.” It was not the first attempt to make manifest the principles of the Declaration of Independence. However, there was enough unfavorable public sentiment surrounding the Articles of Confederation and the perception that they had missed the mark, to tolerate what was called the Second American Revolution. 

The new form of government created was literally illegal under the Articles of Confederation. 

While this may cause internal conflict for those with warm affection for the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution, it is something worthwhile to wrestle with. It’s important to remember that things haven’t always been the way they are, nor is there any assurance that they will stay this way if the public perception and sentiment wills otherwise.

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

In modern America, there is debate on whether we can know what the Constitutional Convention meant by the words and phrases they used. This question is only tolerated by those ignorant of James Madison’s exhaustive notes on every conversation that transpired. 

What was included, what wasn’t included, why did they choose the words they chose; all this and much more give us the conversational context to every element debated. The fewer the debates, the more unanimously certain positions were held by the convention. 

Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers

Beyond the internal debate, a national debate transpired as well. The Federalist Papers argued for the U.S. Constitution, while the Anti-Federalists opposed ratification. More important than the sides men took are the ideas they unpacked. Often, these papers hospitably acknowledge the weakness of their positions while confessing the limitations of a free society.  

By reading these papers, we can deeply dive into the comparison, circumstance, relationship, and testimony of these ideas.

Discourses Concerning Government—Algernon Sidney

Like people, ideas have family trees and ancestors. While the ideas that shaped the U.S. Constitution are as old as time itself, curious observers have done their part to articulate what previously lived outside of the body of human discovery. 

Algernon Sidney was one of those discoverers. His thoughts ultimately cost him his very life when his own unpublished writing was used against him as a second witness to convict him of treason. Sidney’s writings, though written about 100 years before the American Revolution, were so influential that Thomas Jefferson had this to say about them in a letter to Henry Lee:

Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration—John Locke 

The other modern author named by Jefferson was John Locke. His Two Treatises of Government was published around the same time that Sidney was alive. These two men pioneered ideas such as “just power being derived through the consent of the governed,” which flew in the face of the Divine Rights Theory. So, it is plain to see how the Declaration of Independence did not invent any new ideas. The Declaration merely served as an inventory of collective sentiment shaped by the ideas discovered and shared by brave men who gave their lives for the transcendental ideals enumerated in our Declaration and consequently informed and transformed our form of government, the U.S. Constitution.

The Bible

It cannot go without saying that the U.S. Constitution is not divinely inspired. Only one text can make that claim. So, when looking at anything else in the created order, we must consider the authority of Scripture. 

We began this conversation considering “the course” or “how things ought to be.” While the Scriptures may not explicitly say how humans ought to form a good human state, it does teach us about spheres of authority, the principle of justice, the idea of having multiple witnesses, the image-bearing nature of humanity, and other building blocks. 

While we may often wish for a cookie-cutter example that we could cut and paste, there is no quick fix for searching out the mysteries of Scripture either. Let us remember Proverbs 25:2 (ESV), “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” 

It is our joy and responsibility to bring everything under the dominion of Christ’s authority: to discover, to name, to identify, to compare, to understand, to inform, to discern. In this discernment of revelation through Scripture and the created order, we, too, can wisely participate in this enduring classical conversation. 

Read other articles by Lauren here.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations.  She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

an overhead shot of a table with pumpkins, fall leaves, and a sign that says "be thankful always"

Thankful to Have Homeschooling Resources

Over this Thanksgiving holiday, have you been blessed by spending more time with family? Have you considered homeschooling but are at a loss for how to get started? Do you have friends that don’t want to send their children back to school? Perhaps these resources could help you get started:

Maybe you want facts and statistics? Check out the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). You can also catch Dr. Brian D. Ray, President of NHERI, on Refining Rhetoric, a podcast hosted by Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations.