Homesteading and Homeschooling

If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably know that I love to read about “pioneer days.” Life on the prairie, homesteading, life in the Old West — I think these things capture my fancy because they have to do with living an independent, original life.

I am by no means completely independent: for one thing, I depend upon my husband’s salary for the money I need to live. And I am not entirely original: after all, this isn’t the only blog written by a homeschooling mom. But in many ways, I can identify with the homesteaders in that, as a family who lives without school, who lives with one income, who lives with one car, who shops at the thrift store, and who watches about five of the hundreds of television channels available to us, I often feel that we are on the prairie of modern American life.

Like the homesteaders of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, people like us have chosen to go to a different place. Sometimes it might feel like a lonely place, but most of the time it’s a beautiful place. And, most of all, it’s our place.

Maybe I have homeschooling on the brain, but while I was reading Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart I kept thinking that, with a few word changes, many of her descriptions of living as a homesteader could easily be descriptions of living as a homeschooler. It’s a wonderful book, totally true and completely comprised of Elinore’s letters to a friend. If you’d like to look at it without buying it, click here.

Here’s a picture of Elinore.

To show you what I mean about homesteading and homeschooling, here are a few quotes from Elinore’s letters:

I am very enthusiastic about women homesteading. It really requires less strength and labor to raise plenty to satisfy a large family than it does to go out to wash . . .

She’s talking about living off the land vs. being a washerwoman to earn income, but I think you can see how her words could apply to staying home with your children vs. sending them to school.

To me, homesteading is the solution of all poverty’s problems, but I do realize that temperament has much to do with success . . .

You can replace “poverty” with whatever word you’d like — I’d say “society” — but again, I think you will agree that Elinore could just as easily get her head around homeschooling as she did around homesteading. In fact, as a homesteader, she was a homeschooler.

So, here’s wishing you a happy day on the prairie, fellow pioneer. Be proud of your decision to “head West.” Maybe we can do for America in the twenty-first century what the homesteaders did for America in the nineteenth century: move the country to the next level.

Note: Partial credit for the idea in that last paragraph goes to Colleen, with whom I shared a brief “Comment” conversation about revolution.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    The Family said,

    I have always admired the strength that homesteading women had so I love the comparision to homeschoolers.


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