Why the Tree of Life?


Growing Into Goodness

We attend a very small Friends Meeting that is currently unaffiliated, but has strong conservative-branch leanings. Our choice to homeschool has always been welcomed, and there is even another family in our worship group who is planning on homeschooling. I visited the larger liberal-branch Meeting in town a couple of times several years ago, and while I felt that I had finally found my spiritual home with Friends, it was very clear to me that my home was not necessarily with that Meeting. As nice as everyone was, and even though I have since become aware of a family of homeschoolers who do attend that Meeting, I got a very real sense that homeschooling was a bit suspect and not too welcome by some of the members. I don't know if I would have had the experience that the homeschooling family at The Feather and the Harp has had, but I think I would have felt a little defensive at times with certain members and not particularly supported by the Meeting in our endeavors.

And yet, even though we are really happy with our own Meeting and have come to love each member of our small group, we are lacking in elders and some of the benefits of guidance that come from a larger, more established worshiping body. Also, I am so new to Friends that I am struggling intellectually about how to make our faith real in our home. I'm feeling like I'm reinventing the wheel a little bit. Not having grown up Quaker, I am finding that there is much that would perhaps be second nature to a birthright Friend. I am wanting to be open to God's leadings in our family life and parenting, but I am also wanting that to be evident to our children. I don't want our daily life to be divorced from our spiritual life, and happily, one of the benefits of homeschooling is that our family can have a spiritual life every day of the week and not just on First Days.

But what could that spiritual life look like for our children? Since Enki is a holistic method and its worldview has much in common with a Quaker worldview (from my perspective), it is a nice complement to our faith, but how exactly do I blend the truly Quaker bits of our faith into our learning?

I'm wondering how other homeschooling Friends have approached this? I've searched online for fellow Quaker homeschoolers, for Friends who want to be Spirit-led in their parenting, but I've really only found one. I'd love to connect with others, or even inspire others to start blogging.

I did find one book: Paul Lacey's Growing Into Goodness. It's a collection of essays considering a Quaker philosophy of education. It should be interesting and perhaps a starting place for me. In addition to our normal posts and pics about our family and Enki homeschooling (whenever we're back on our homeschooling feet), I'm thinking of posting my thoughts on each essay as I read it. Perhaps some dialogue with other homeschooling Friends might result?

I'm hopeful... I know they're out there somewhere...


  1. I'm glad to read this post. We too are educating our children at home. Their education as young Friends is a significant part of our family mission. Our spiritual beliefs are a key reason (although not the only reason) for our rejection of conventional education. We have had our share of "concern" from those who are uncomfortable with our choice.

    Always good to connect to other parents who share some of our experience as homeschoolers.

  2. We are nearly the end of our homeschooling adventure with our children. We have three kids. Our oldest, Rachel, started homeschooling in high school. She went on to Guilford and now is a librarian at Harvard. Our middle child, DAvid, loved conventional public school so we let him choose that route. He is now a Chemistry major at NC State and doing fine. Our youngest, Mark, will finish up high school at home next year.

    The first thing to stress is that every child is different and the biggest advantage of homeschooling is that you can tailor the program to the child. As for incorporating Quaker values into your homeschool, I would say just let it naturally happen. If the testimonies are deep in you, then you will live them out in your daily life and that will include homeschooling. For example, the truth testimony. If you really hold to strictly telling the truth all the time your schooling will be quite different from what goes on in big public schools. The same goes with our testimonies about equality, peace and simplicity. There isn't really a need to try to figure out ways to make the education deliberately "push" Quaker values. By living them consistently you send a big message and the fact that your kids are with you all day amplifies the message.

  3. Just wanted to say a quick hi. I'm in MA, my husband and I have two sons, 4 and 2, and we're just beginning a journey into Quakerism. We're planning on homeschooling (that plan pre-dated the start of our Quaker journey, but I think they're going to dovetail nicely).

    I'm glad to find your blog. Very beautiful family!

    I'd never heard of Enki, I'll be checking it out.


  4. Hi,
    When Richard said that each of his children needed different paths in education, and that he and their mother respected and supported those differences, a practice of Quakerism was at work in their family. It seems to me that when people who were not brought up in Quaker families seek to live Quaker lives and teach their children to do the same, they express a desire for more visible ways of doing it. But the thing with living a Quaker life is that much of what is visible in other religious traditions is less immediately so among Friends. Learning to be simple, quiet, and faithful to all that flows from the basic belief in that of god in each person is difficult partly because it means restraint at the same time as openness.
    Silence around the dinner table rather than a spoken prayer, simple dress that does not shout anything about what a person's religion is, limiting possessions to those most useful and least demanding, these are ways that my siblings and I learned, as Richard says, by the way the grown-ups around us lived. I remember thinking that the kids I met in school were lucky because their punishments were so quick and clear. My transgressions triggered a long silence followed by queries and an "opportunity" for meditation and reflection in my room. My mother has a look that can turn you into a pillar of salt at 50 paces! Mine isn't that good, I admit. I don't remember her or any other adult in my meeting community, growing up, telling me much about how to be a Friend, but I sure do see what they taught me then when I try to do it for my children. It's not easy!
    The conversation will be a long one, but I am sooooo glad to find that there is one about it here, maybe one day in more meetings?

  5. Everyone,

    It is good to hear from you all, and your insights have been much appreciated. I hope continue this conversation!


  6. Steph,

    Feel free to email me questions about Enki if you get interested. Glad to connect with you!


  7. I am pleased to find your blog. We homeschool (never heard of Enki) & I attend our local monthly Meeting. The children & I attended a small nondenom church on our island until recently when we began looking for something that suited the call God has placed on their lives better.

  8. Nice to hear from you, Ganeida!

  9. Jennifer - I'm interested in knowing more about Enki.

  10. Hi kimmie,

    You're welcome to email me about Enki if you'd like. jennifer DOT marchman AT gmail DOT com

  11. Hi mama! I'm just starting my blogging journey: barefootedfamily.blogspot.com

    We are a waldorf inspired attachment parenting family and although my official label is pagan i find both unitarian universalist and quaker both meet almost all my religious needs and certainly fit my philosophy of life.
    i'm definitely going to be subbing to your blog and you are more then welcome to sub to mine if you like. perhaps we can share some of the journey together.

  12. I LOVE your blog ! and am so happy to find another homeschooling family that are Friends.While we are not offically Friends ourselves (mostly because there is no meeting in our town at all and its too hard to get to the nearest one with any regularity)we believe the things Friends esteem such as ,earth-care,simplicity in lifestyle,silence,the Spirit in everyone,non-violence,and equality. While still conservative in many ways (such as pro-life)we are universalist in our belief and don't follow traditional Christian doctrine.
    We have two little boys ages 2 and 7 mths. We live in Alaska :-).We free-birthed the boys at home and believe in attachment parenting and unschooling.
    Are you on FB at all ? Feel free to "friend" me if you want. I am : Rebekah Lohnes , location: Skagway,Alaska

  13. Hi Rebekah,

    It's so good to hear from you. I would love to see Alaska someday! Best of luck on your journey.