Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

In “A Just War Theory of Homeschooling” (, William Fahey reminds us that homeschooling, while desirable in some circumstances, “can also become a destructive ideology”:

Contrary to the Catholic understanding of education, there is a rising individualism that is worming its way into our literature on homeschooling. Homeschooling in this nation was spearheaded by the hippies of the 1960s and has largely been embraced by Protestants; some 95 percent of homeschoolers today are Protestants, and the tone of the literature and materials often reflects that make-up.

More alarming, homeschooling has risen alongside home-churching. The ” Non serviam ” banner has long been unfurled by those who do not wish to recognize the sovereignty of Christ in the temporal or ecclesiastical order. Homeschooling at all levels is not rooted in either the Western tradition or . . .  in the Catholic tradition. It is a proper response to a crisis within society and (we must be very sad to admit) within some quarters of the Church.

By analogy, war— justly pursued—is a legitimate response to a threat to a community’s life. Yet war is not a norm, even if it is regularly present or must be sustained for long periods. What I am calling for is a sort of “just war theory” of homeschooling. After all, we are engaged in the defense of hearth, home, and the families entrusted to us. Should we not also have carefully thought-out principles of education rooted in natural law, Scripture, and the Catholic tradition? Should we not also have an objective for this struggle beyond the solitary education of a child

A thoughtful discussion ensues.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles