By Kim Bauer
Today’s home school lessons consisted of an all day adventure with my parents and children to the splendid Huntington Memorial Library and Gardens in San Marino, California. For five glorious hours, we pretended to be Henry E. Huntington who earned his fortune as owner of the Southern Pacific Railroad during the pioneering days of the Gold Rush. Notably absent were period costumes and horse drawn carriages—never the less, we were fully engrossed in our fantasy as we strolled around the 120 acre paradise which showcases his vast assortment of botanical species. One of the most important business magnates of his time, Mr. Huntington became a collector of fine art and purveyor of rare books. His world class collection now adorns the walls of the Beaux Arts Mansion and several extraordinary galleries dotting the property with understated elegance.
The timing for our adventure was impeccable. We are learning about the American Revolution, the US Constitution and the larger than life, principle driven personalities of our Founding Fathers. We just memorized the preamble to the United States Constitution which promises to “secure the blessings of liberty”. But what does that really mean to the average American citizen? As a ‘homeschooling-mama’ living in a state ranked in the bottom 10% of American public schools, I am grateful for the blessings of liberty granted to me to educate my children in the manner I see fit which often includes outings like this.
I have learned to set an agenda and then remain open to the possibility for small miracles to manifest. The first miracle of the day appeared when my daughter spotted an original portrait of George Washington hanging proudly over a fireplace in the Huntington family dining room. We’ve been greatly inspired by the selfless service of our first leader, and it seems the Huntington’s also found inspiration in his image. I pictured the Huntington family seated around their exquisite dining table, thanking God for their food and George Washington for their freedom. And for a moment, we bowed our heads in homage to this great man who at the tender age of 21, led the Battle of Trenton, guaranteeing future generations the blessings of liberty through a series of selfless, high-minded choices.
In the Huntington Library, we pored over the personal records Washington kept in an effort to organize the scrappy Continental Army. Miracles continued to appear. We were delighted to find a printed transcript of the US Constitution which was given to the delegates as a “keepsake” commemorating the event. We even discovered an original version of Thomas Payne’s renowned pamphlet, “Common Sense.” We imagined what it must have been like to purchase one exactly like it in those gloriously unsettled times in our nation’s history.
Our education continued at home by taking the US Immigration and Naturalization test—the same test that immigrants are required to pass in order to become a US Citizen. Even though we hadn’t prepared for the test, my intention was to demonstrate that all US citizens, not just those who enter this country as immigrants, should thoroughly understand the content and meaning of the great documents that govern our nation. We will study until we can pass the immigration test with flying colors. We will understand the seven articles of the Constitution and 462 words of the Bill of Rights. We will become familiar with the intricacies of our government and how we, as citizens, can effect legislation. Most importantly, my children will be taught the blessings of liberty and all the rights granted to us by one of the most profound governing documents ever written.
Daily, I watch our precious freedoms, born of the blood and principles of our forefathers, being replaced by policies that drive us further and further into personal and national debt. At a time of such pivotal importance to our country, I wonder why we have stopped teaching our children to value the blessings of liberty above all else. Are we so far removed from the world of our founders that we have forgotten the hard earned lessons of the past?
With the teaching of American History being systematically “written out” of the curriculum in our school system, we begin to slide down a slippery slope. If we continue to take the blessings of liberty for granted, the very freedoms granted to us under the Constitution will quickly and quietly disappear. It’s no wonder self-reliance of our founding fathers is being replaced by a sense of entitlement that now seems to dominate the “American Mindset”.
I fear that we Americans are at a profound turning point in our evolution in which the continual devaluing of our freedoms are giving rise to a nanny state that will make us third rate, credit poor nation. Will we shamefully pass the legacy of our insatiable need for instant gratification to our children in the form of insatiable national debt? Just for fun, check out the international debt clock at http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/ to see “the blessings” our children stand to inherit. Is this Liberty?
Copyright, 2009: Kim Bauer, wife, mother, and writer www.homeschoolin-mama.blogspot.com.